Protecting your Baofeng UV-5R (A & MHP) from an EMP – Part #2

Protecting your radio from an EMP strikeThis is the second article in a two-part series cover the subject of how to protect your radio from an EMP strike. In the first article I went over material regarding what an EMP strike really is, how to view it as a “risk” to be mitigated. I then went into the real-life aspect of it, the economic affect, and touched on the viability of Faraday Cages. I then went into detail regarding my solution. But I teased you into coming back to read this article.

If you haven’t read the first article you should, it will help this article make a lot more sense.

< click here to read the first article >

Here are the steps to my solution –

EMPradio-Step1EMPradio-Steps2-5EMPradio-Steps6-8EMPradio-Steps9-10EMPradio-Steps11-12EMPradio-Steps13-14EMPradio-Steps15-16EMPradio-Step17EMPradio-Steps18-19EMPradio-Steps20-21EMPradio-Steps22-23EMPradio-Step24EMPradio-Steps25-26EMPradio-Step27Summary –

The whole concept is to insulate the gadget from any electrical charge. And that is accomplished two ways –

  1. Provide insulating material that keeps electrical charge away from the gadget.
  2. Using a metal shell to redirect (i.e. disperse) electrical charges away from the gadget.

The bubble wrap is used as the insulating material. That keeps the gadget from contacting anything metal. Then the aluminum foil is used to disperse the electrical charges around and away from the gadget.

The concept of the aluminum foil is very similar to that of your car or airplane being hit with electricity. It is not the airplane jet struck by lighteningcar’s rubber tires keeping you from being electrocuted. It is the metal exterior of the vehicle or airplane absorbing the electrical charge and redirecting it (dispersing it) around the entire shell of the vehicle vs. having the electricity pass through the vehicle or airplane and hurting you.

The reason that multiple layers of bubble wrap and aluminum foil is used is simple…improving the likelihood of success. If a single layer was used – low likelihood of success. Three layers of aluminum foil = much high likelihood of success. Add in the metal trash can exterior for a forth layer = way higher likelihood of success. You also have six layers of bubble wrap plus the 1.75″ of Styrofoam cooler and you have a whole lot of insulating material.

For the average person that is about as good as it is realistically going to get. Will it work? I already answered that, “I don’t know.” I think the likelihood of gadget survival is very, very high. But, even military grade “hardening” of their sensitive electronics may fail. There are too many factors that play into exactly how an EMP strike might affect our country.

But, I can tell you this…You gadgets won’t survive if you do nothing. Following my solution gives you a pretty dang good chance of ending up with a working radio post-EMP strike.

Good luck and post question and comments!

Note #1 – I am not worried about the antenna itself very much. There are no electronics in the actual antenna. But for caution’s sake, I would use a single layer of bubble wrap and a layer of foil. Throw that package in the Styrofoam cooler with the packages of radio.

Note #2 – I use double layers of aluminum foil to reduce/eliminate the chances of a gap in the metal layer. Same is true for double layers of bubble wrap.

Note #3 – No US Post Office supplies were mis-used or destroyed in this project. Any use, or resemblance of use, was fictitious. All names were changed to protect the innocent. I re-used the UPSP supplies for their intended purposes.

Note #4 – DO NOT ground the trash can. If you ground it, the electricity will try to take the shortest path between the strike impact and the point where the ground is attached to the can. That could mean that the electricity would pass through the can vs. dispersing around the can. Passing through the can might mean passing through your gadget.

Note #5 – Protect the batteries as you would the radio. Treat them the same way. However, try to make them a little easier to get to. You will want to charge them up at last twice a year. Failure to top off their charge may result in battery failure.

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7 thoughts on “Protecting your Baofeng UV-5R (A & MHP) from an EMP – Part #2

  1. Pingback: Communications | One Planet Thriving

  2. Pingback: Protecting your Baofeng UV-5R (A & MHP) from an EMP | A.H. Trimble - Emergency preparedness information for disasters and grid-down

  3. How do you “test” it for effectiveness? I have seen other people place a cell phone inside their faraday cage and try calling the phone. With the cellular signal disrupted they claim this as evidence that it would also stop an EMP. While I’m not an expert, I don’t feel the power coming from a cell tower is anywhere close to the kind of electromagnetic signal that would be produced from even a small man-made source or from a solar flare. Do you or the person you consulted regarding this project have any other method?

    What thoughts do you have (if any) regarding steel mesh/screen? I have seen military installations (Co Springs) that line the inside of some rooms. I have also seen products like laptop cases and rucksacks with a copper or steel mesh inner lining impregnated inside a synthetic material so objects couldn’t accidentally touch the metal.


    • Thanks for the instruction but my question is – I use the radio at least once or twice a week so I can’t wrap it up and put it away, just in case. And it’s unlikely that we’ll get an announcement in time enough to wrap the radio and other gadgets, so what do I do?


      • John, I am in the same boat as you are. Maybe think of two options:
        1) Baofeng UV-5R(A or MHP) models aren’t that expensive. Buy a back-up and keep that secured.
        2) Create “sleeves” of bubble wrap and aluminum foil that you can slide the radio in and out of fairly easy. Make sure you have a good Styrofoam box that fits inside a good heavy-duty metal trash can that is easy to access.
        I personally have gone with a back-up set of radios, but just the basics. The antennas, etc. should still be perfectly functional.
        Another thought…I have storage cases for my radios, I will also use them for any serious move I make. They are SKB i-series cases; similar to Pelican cases. You could store them in those cases which are easy to access. Then store those boxes in a Job Box ( that you feel has a really good (i.e. gap free) seal to it.
        Man, I don’t feel like I was very helpful but that was all I could think of on the spur of the moment.


    • So I guess there isn’t a real “test” to speak of. Even the Navy using Empress I and Empress II admit that it can’t truly test all the aspects of a man made EMP. However they do suggest that shielding to withstand an electromagnetic field rated up to 50,000 Volts/Meter is sufficient. I was able to find a few Navy manuals that speak to shielding but here is the one I felt was most useful last updated in 2009: MIL-STD-1310H. The link for those interested:

      In short: Encapsulate the electronics and the wires in sheet metal (thicker the better), use insulation on the interior of the shielding to avoid contact of the electronics with the shielding, ground where appropriate, don’t leave gaps that expose the interior.


    • You know, I believe that anything is better than nothing. But, I don’t have a lot of confidence in something like a steel/copper in a backpack but I could be wrong. I think it has to be much more substantial than that.
      If you think about the power that a microwave has to contain (1000w or more at 120v) I think it does a good job…but only along a certain band of frequencies. A solar flare or a man-made device would produce far more power than a microwave but, it is then a matter of distance. The more the distance from the source of the power the lower the power affecting your electronic device. If you remember, EMPs and solar flares don’t kill people, so the power isn’t that great. Static electricity comes in at about 20 – 25k volts but you don’t get fried by it. But, that static electricity shock could fry a transistor if directly applied.
      OK, so the protective metal shielding just has to move that electrical charge around the electronic device to protect it. The insulation just keeps the device from contacting the metal.
      Also, you get killed by a sustained number of amps going through your body. Notice the wording…sustained. An EMP or solar flare isn’t sustained…they are pulses. Hence our body can resist them. Same is true for a protected device. If you put 240vAC through the same EMP protection and kept it there…well, I think you would end up with a pile of melted something. Well, at least a worthless device.
      I hope that helps to some degree.


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