note: article first appeared in December 2015
The ability to clone radios is a nice feature and can be very advantageous in the field. While there are benefits, there are some limitations.
But, you may be asking, “Why do you need to clone a radio anyways?”
And that my friend is a good question, maybe even a great one. If you are serious about the UV-5RA radio for your emergency communications you probably already own them and have the RT Systems software to program them. So why not just program a radio vs. clone a radio?
The only response I have to that is, “What if you don’t have a computer available to program a radio?”
Yup, you get together with a neighboring self-reliance group and need to make your radios talk to each other for a mission. You are using the AHTrimble standard channel plan, but the other group is a little backwards and are not using it. They like your plan and want to have the same frequencies and channels as yours. Now what?
We will assume that they are savvy enough to also be using the Baofeng UV-5RA (or compatible), so cloning will be no problem. You simply whip out your cloning cable and “BINGO!” you are ready to go.
Or, you may be in the field with your group. You have to make a programming change in the CommPlan for a tactical reason. Once the change is decided upon everyone can sit down and reprogram their radios to match the new CommPlan. Or, the radio guru (Comm Unit Leader) can change his radio and then clone everyone’s radio within a couple minutes vs. an hour of programming.
Whatever the reason, having the ability to clone radios is a high-value feature.
With the Baofeng UV-5RA radio there are only a couple of limitations to positively ensure cloning compatibility; 1) both radios should be UV-5RA model radios, 2) both radios should have BFB297 firmware or above.
NOTE #1: The UV-5RA and the UV-5MHP are not compatible when it comes to cloning. They will not clone.
NOTE #2: Only channel information will be cloned. The general radio menu options will not transfer to the receiving radio.
The cloning process is pretty simple and straightforward. Making sure you get it right is important.
There are two radios involved; 1) the sending radio (the radio that holds the programming information your wish to send to another radio), 2) the receiving radio (the radio that will receive the programming information and will “look like” the sending radio when the cloning process is over).
In the steps below the sending radio is on the left, the receiving radio is on the right.
So here are the cloning steps:
- Turn both radios off.
- With both radios off, plug the cloning cable into the receiving radio’s accessory jack. Ensure that the plug is seated firmly.
- With both radios off, plug the other end of the cloning cable into the radio’s accessory jack.
- On the sending radio depress the “moni” key and hold. Turn on the sending radio.
- The sending radio will display “coping” on the display screen and the status LED light will flash red.
- Once the status LED light begins to flash red you no longer have to keep the “moni” key depressed.
- The receiving radio’s status LED light will flash green.
- When the cloning process is complete both radios’ status LED lights will stop flashing and both radios will momentarily turn off and then back on.
- Turn both radios off and unplug the cloning cable.
The radios are now ready to be used.
I’ve tested two different cloning cables, both performed 100% perfectly. Why? Because they are the same cable. So, why did I buy two different ones? Well, one was advertised under the name Tenq and the other was an AnyTone cable.
Note: The cloning cable sold by Powerwerx is the same cable as well.
When they arrived I looked them over closely and they are the same cable. Both are probably made in China at the same factory and then sold to US suppliers for private label. There was one difference, $9.99 vs. $13.95. The Amazon link to the Tenq cable, $9.99 is below…
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Is this sensitive to the firmware level? I’ve found that chirp is and I end up cutting and pasting freqs to individual files rather than downloading the same file to multiple radios.
I too had problems with CHIRP, to the point where it just wasn’t worth the time, effort, or constant frustration. I have not found RT software sensitive to different firmware sates. I have been extremely happy with their software. There is a download latest version option on the menu, I use it often to stay up to date with the latest and greatest. They are very responsive and quick to update any changes to a radio model family. RT is worth every dime to buy! AH