Setting up a Baofeng UV-5R to receive PMR Analogue Radio

The purpose of this post is to show you how to use a Baofeng UV-5R to receive PMR analogue radio. Baofeng UV-5R's do not conform to the PMR radio specifications for transmission, but listening is perfectly fine. Should you encounter an emergency nobody is likely to know this, but officially it would still be unlawful.

You will need:

  1. A Baofeng UV-5R or similar.
  2. A Copy of CHIRP installed on your computer.
  3. A programming cable, such as this.
  4. Optional, but recommended: A replacement antenna such as this.
  5. This paste's contents saved as pmr-freqs.csv.

If an antenna is built for 70cm bands, it'll probably be fine for PMR.

Note I do not have nor endorse the cable above, there are lots of versions around, all with different USB drivers. Ideally aim for one with an FTDI chip.

Programming your new Baofeng

  1. Turn off the baofeng and hook the two jacks to the baofeng.
  2. Insert the USB connector.
  3. Identify the COM port being used. You can find this on Windows using Device Manager.
  4. Open up CHIRP.
  5. Go to the Radio menu, then Download from radio.
  6. Don't worry about the scary dialogs, just follow them and you'll be grand.
  7. Switch on the radio, tune to an unused frequency and turn the volume up to max when told by the dialog.
  8. It'll say cloning and you should see a progress bar.
  9. Once the progress bar completes you'll have a table full of frequencies.
  10. Press Ctrl-A, then right click and delete.
  11. Go to file, open and open the pmr-freqs.csv file saved from earlier.
  12. A new tab should appear. Switch to the tab, press Ctrl-A, then press Ctrl-C to copy.
  13. Go back to your radio's tab, click on the first row and press Ctrl-V
  14. The first line should be empty. This is deliberate.
  15. Go to the Radio menu, then Upload from radio.
  16. As before, follow the dialogs and it'll upload the new frequencies.
  17. Turn off your baofeng, unplug the connector and turn it back on.

The Frequencies are now uploaded and you're almost good to go. But before you go ahead, lets change some settings.

  1. On the baofeng, press menu, 2, 1, menu.
  2. Use up and down to set either Name or CH display, then menu
  3. Press menu, 2, 2, menu
  4. Use up and down to set either Name or CH display, then menu
  5. Now instead of displaying frequencies you'll either see entries like PMR 01 or CH-001.
  6. Press menu, 2, menu and set TXP to low. Then press menu.

That last step reduces transmit power output to 1 Watt, which is still over the threshold. It's just nicer than 5 or 8 Watts if you accidentally transmit.

What Next?

If you want a better quality manual, there's a good community written one here.

In theory you can use a Baofeng as a scanner. In practice you may not want to. It should be fine for scanning small ranges such as the 16 PMR channels but I wouldn't go further than that.

Code Green Prep has some tips on how to use your Baofeng.

Personally I'd stick to PMR to get to know your radio and it's settings. Essex Ham has some useful starting points.