As you should be more than aware of, maybe painfully aware of, I love the Baofeng UV-5RA handheld Ham radio. I think it is just the most awesomest prepper piece of gear that you can find…especially at that price of about $ 25 – $27 each. But, being the open minded person that I am, I keep trying to find options and alternatives that are better, or at least the next best thing to improve your standing as a prepper. The Baofeng UV-82 is the target of this review.
Just to make sure you are aware of the demands I place on a radio to be used in the world of emergency preparedness, here is the mission –
“Provide reliable radio communication in a variety of emergency, disaster, and grid-down situations at the individual level.”
Restrictions & Requirements –
- Must be easy to use.
- Must be programmable.
- Must be battery powered and batteries must be easily recharged.
- Should be capable of UHF/VHF frequencies as well as FRS/GMRS/MURS frequencies.
- Should be lightweight and easily concealed.
First Impressions –
I liked the looks of the radio while doing some research online, it had a “solid” look to it as well as a appearing to be a nice size radio as well. The price was right so I ordered one to give it a try and evaluate it for a potential replacement of the UV-5RA radio model that I love so much. Why search for a substitute at all? I want to make sure that there is always a replacement radio model in case my original choice falls out of production.
As soon as I opened the box I was impressed. The radio does in-fact have a nice look to it, clean lines, and it just has a nice “feel” to it. Then I noticed that the buttons on the radio are much larger than the UV-5RA which is really a very nice feature for this guy with big clumsy fingers.
My opinion continued to climb exponentially when I saw the nice big volume knob that you can easily grab hold of. The knob also has a seriously high-quality feel to it. And…as a bonus…there is this little shield that protects it from being bumped hard and damaged. But, things started turning downward a bit with the battery. Well, that isn’t entirely true.
The battery is much larger than the battery on the UV-5RA battery, both in size and capacity. This UV-82 standard battery is rated at 2800mAh. That is slightly more than a 50% increase in overall capacity. Additionally, the battery size matches the full length of the radio. That really adds to the “hefty” feel to the radio…and that is a good thing. But, that battery was a freaking nightmare to get installed the first time.
No, of course I didn’t read the instructions first. You shouldn’t need to read instructions to install a battery. But, it was a serious pain in the rump to get installed. Then I went back and read the instructions and it was easier the second time, but only the process not the “fit.” I noticed that the fit can be horrible.
What I mean by “can be” takes a little explaining. To verify it, I repeated installing the battery again to make sure I was right with my original opinion. First off, as with most battery installations in handheld radios, there is a “click” when the battery is in-place. Well, hang on a second…the battery clicked into place but there was a large gap all the way around the battery between the battery and the radio housing. Problem? Yes! That gap allows water, dust, dirt, insects, and maybe semi-large mammals to get inside the radio to almost assuredly damage it.
Part of the problem is the battery retention clips on each side of the battery at the top, on each side. So, I fiddled around again with it. You shouldn’t have to “fiddle” with a radio to make it work. The battery fit absolutely sucks! To get the battery back off of the radio I had to use my knife to pry it off because it was so stuck in-place. Not a good thing. But that wasn’t the worst of it.
I tried to reinstall that battery and it wouldn’t slide back into place without hammering it with the butt of my Smith & Wesson HRT knife. Yup, you read that right…hammer it into place to make the battery seat properly. So, how does that make you feel about radio whose battery won’t properly seat without being “hammered” during the installation process?
A very unique “key” feature to the radio is really kind of interesting…the PPT button. Well, technically the PPT button is two PPT buttons. If you push the top of the button you transmit on the upper band, you push the bottom button and you transmit the on the bottom band. Now, don’t get confused with the upper and bottom bands. The radio is fully programmable so the bands are interchangeable between the 2m and 70cm bands.
OK, so I better clarify this PPT a little more. One of the things I tried to do was make the PPT button(s) transmit on both bands…or break altogether. So, the PPT is really a “rocker” switch…it goes one way or the other to prevent transmitting on both bands.
Moving on, there are two additional buttons on the same side as the PPT, the “F” and the “M” buttons. Pressing the “F” button switches the radio into FM radio band reception. You now have a rather decent little FM radio. But, don’t hold the “F” button done too long (more than 2 seconds)…or you set-off the alarm. And that means the siren starts sounding and the very bright LED light begins to flash. Momentarily pressing the “F” button again turns the alarm off.
No, I didn’t forget the “M” button. You press it momentarily you get the LED flashlight. Press the button again and the light begins to flash. One more momentary push and it turns off the light. If you press the “M” button and hold it looks as if you get a battery test. But, I need to discharge the battery more to test to see if the indicator bars change.
Moving to the other side of radio’s case gives you the accessory jack. Pretty much just the standard Baofeng UV accessory jack that consists two jacks. This does allow the radio to accept all standard UV5 accessories. Now here comes a pretty decent little feature that I like…the protective cap is very snug fit protecting the jacks…but it is also replaceable. There is a very noticeable screw on the side of the radio case that holds the protective cap to the radio’s case. I unscrewed it and removing the cap was easy. However, while it is a very nice feature, I haven’t yet been able to order a replacement cap. I will keep working on it, because if you can’t order a replacement protective cap…well, then the feature is pretty worthless.
I know on some of the radios I’ve used in the fire world over the years that screw would be to hold a speaker/mic securely in-place. But, I am still searching for that style of accessory. I doubt it exists for this radio.
Now it was time to start testing the accessories…
The “G” style earpiece and lapel microphone. First of all, I was very surprisingly impressed. The cable was much heavier than the “G” that comes with the UV5RA, the PPT switch on that accessory is also significantly more substantial. This little puppy is far less likely to break than its UV5 counterpart. Then there is the matter of two buttons on the UV82 vs. one on the UV5RA. It has the same operation as the “rocker” PPT on the radio case. Pressing one button operates one band, and the other button activates the other band. Nice! Overall I really like this vastly improved accessory option.
To test inter-operation capability I did a cross-over test and yes, the UV5 earpiece and lapel mic does work on the UV-82 radio. I then tested my Anytone speaker/mic on the UV-82 and it worked. But, both accessories are designed to work on a UV-5 platform. So, when you press the PPT on the UV-5 accessory when it is installed on the UV-82, it will transmit on the lower band NOT the upper band. That means the accessories really aren’t compatible. There is a Baofeng speaker/mic that does work with the dual PPT, but it is not of the Anytone quality and it appears to be a bit cludgy to work with.
Now, a little “humble pie” for me. Remember that protective cap I wrote about just a few minutes ago? I found out, at least in my opinion, a great feature. When using something like speaker/mic accessory or an earpiece/lapel mic, you can simply remove the protective cap, via the screw, and now that cap is not in the way at all. When you are done using the accessory you simply put the protective cap back on. I also can see where it would greatly reduce the chance of ripping the protective cap off like you can on the UV5 radios.
The belt clip is fine. The piece that connects the belt clip to the radio case is metal but the clip part itself is plastic. No big deal, many parts on radios and even guns are plastic now. The test of time will prove if the plastic is substantial enough to hold up to field use…or bright sun throwing lots of UV rays at it. I will keep you informed as I keep testing this feature in the coming months.
The charger base appears to be just fine, the radio fits in it securely…very securely. I had to pickup the charger base with the radio in it to remove the radio. Yeah, I couldn’t just grab the radio out of the base, I had to use two hands to get the radio out of the charging unit. Replacing the radio back in the charger base I realized I had to work it a little bit. The radio didn’t just slide right into the base with ease. Kind of annoying really. No, not a deal killer, but annoying.
I wanted to test just charging a battery so I had to remove the battery from the radio. This time the battery came off the radio very easily. I am not sure why based on the earlier experience I had where I had to pry the battery off with my knife. Nice. So I tried to reinstall the battery to see if the installation process was now fixed as well. It wasn’t…it still sucks.
But I was testing charging the battery charging only, so back to that. Trying to install the battery into the charging base was very unsettling. Placing the battery into the charger base took some effort, it is a very tight fit and I kept feeling I was about to break something trying to get it to seat correctly. Then came this “snap” sound. Yeah, great! But, it appears that I didn’t break anything. The charging light came on red and it appears to be charging just fine. The battery charged up just fine and in a reasonable time-frame.
The antenna is the standard SMA connection and all UV5 compatible antennas fit the UV-82 radio. That is a nice relief knowing all the antenna options that are available out there.
So, as of now what is my overall feeling about this radio?
Sadly…the only significant feature that makes this an improvement over the UV-5RA radio is the additional 1w of power. Well, yes, the “G” earpiece is an improvement, vast improvement, but that is an accessory not really a radio feature, so I don’t consider that feature a true benefit. The battery does have a larger battery capacity but my testing on the real-world impact isn’t complete. However, there are 3800mAh battery options available for the UV-5RA radio. Yes, there is a 3800mAh battery option is available for the UV-82 as well, they run $12 – $20, substantially more than the same battery for the UV5 radio. So all of that cancels out each other. So, it is back to the 1w issue.
I decided to test it straight up against the UV-5RA radio for transmitting power. I used the same frequency and tested it on “low” and “high” power settings.
The UV-5RA tested (SWR reading and Power Ouput) –
- Low (1w): 1.2 SWR and 1w
- High (4w): 1.2 SWR and 1.9w
The UV-82 tested (SWR reading and Power Ouput) –
- Low (1w): 1.3 SWR and .8w
- High (5w): 1.5 SWR and 2w
At the “low” test setting, the UV-82 performed worse than the UV-5RA for both the SWR reading and the actual power delivered to the antenna.
At the “high” test setting, the higher rated UV-82 at 5w was only delivering .1 (1/10th) of a watt more power to the antenna. But, the UV-82 SWR reading was noticeably worse than the UV-5RA SWR reading.
So, am I giving the UV-82 “do not buy” recommendation!
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