Monday, July 13, 2015

High Power Review: UV-82HP / UV-5R Radio Comparison



Can a measly few watts of power make much difference? 

When folks at Baofeng Tech asked me if I'd review the new UV-82HP radio, the FIRST thing I thought of was to pit two different models against each other at their max power setting, and see how great a difference there was in range. A totally unscientific comparison, but doable, since I own two Baofeng's already, two Baofeng UV-5R's. I figured it would settle,(at least in my mind), the range question from a practical standpoint, and give me a reference point radio to compare. 

Let’s start with a practical assessment...

UV-82HP: you can play the FM radio for three full days at work on a full battery charge. 
For some, (like me), that’s important. It’s also a practical test of current drain, like turned on scanning memory banks all day. Figure perhaps 18 to 24 hours service between charges & light duty cycles.   Audio volume & clarity is VERY impressive. I'm also impressed with the radio's fit & feel. There's substance to the radio, but because of it’s slim form factor, there's no problem with it clipped to a pants pocket all day. It’s not a bulky brick. 
If ever I hear some blow-hard spout off about "cheap Chinese Radios" I'd hit them with this one... it'd leave a dent.  
The LED flashlight has a enclosed lens & reflector, a great improvement too. I've always loved the handy flashlight on both of my UV-5R's... this one's a lot brighter

UV-5R: (First this Crevat: I LOVE my UV5-R's The radio resembles a handheld radio version of a Sherman Tank, a small Sherman Tank. The '82 is slim & curvy, the '5R, like a leading edge of a bowling ball. While part of it's appeal has been it's utilitarian chunkiness, I always found the '5R to be a bit top heavy clipped to my belt, the antenna trying to upend the radio, so I seldom kept the radio clipped to my side for long. I usually just carried it. As for volume, compared to the '82...it's no comparison, the 5R's speaker sounds thin & tinny, the female voice commands a mumble most of the time, except when saying "Low Voltage" after a long day turned on.  

Please understand, I know I'm comparing Apples to Oranges here, the UV-82HP is a different radio model from a feature standpoint... as I soon found out, testing how both worked from a level playing field.

Rubber meets Road...RF meets Ozone
Testing for typical performance, I used both of my stock UV-5R HT’s & the '82HP at the same power output, to compare signal reports through a local repeater about 5 miles away.
I discovered the UV-82HP receiver had some signal fading due to antenna orientation, vertical being distinctly stronger than horizontal. So did the UV-5R's, only not as much.
Yippie Ki... Huh? What?
Holding the radio upright, the received signal clears up fine. It’s not a big problem, it just means I can’t look cool holding the radio sideways like they do on TV or in the movies.

All things the same, only different...
It turns out under identical power levels & operating conditions, the UV-82HP’s transmitted audio signal into the repeater was louder than both UV-5R’s. This was confirmed through signal reports from my contact, who didn’t know which radio I was using. Perhaps carrier deviation is just hotter in this particular HT, but over all, the UV-82HP had a better quality signal than both of my UV5-R’s. Actually, I’m more lead to think it's the battery capacity of the different radio models making the difference, the UV-5R’s using stock 1500 mAh. batteries, vs the UV-82HP, with 1800 mAh. (That’s a little radio tech secret… you get a cleaner signal with greater battery capacity.) 
The batteries and supplied chargers are not interchangeable between the UV-82HP & the UV-5R.  
This may also explain the longer times between charges, just listening to the FM radio.

The Main Event
On testing range, I tried all three... the two UV-5R's, and the UV-82HP, to get into a distant repeater, each using their highest transmit power.
It ended up being no contest...
For this test, I worked into the 1500' blowtorch of the Pee Dee region, the W4PDE 2 meter repeater outside of Dillion SC, 57 miles away, it covers a 125 mile radius. 

With several attempts, both UV-5R’s couldn't raise the repeater, no response at all. 
I expected that, it was quite a stretch for 4 watt UV-5R’s to get that far, with me standing at street level. But surprisingly, the UV-82HP hit the repeater first time with ease.  My contact, Tim W2SOC, reported my signal clear & readable with some white noise. Still, a VERY respectable report. Later on that evening, back home, The UV-82HP reached the Dillion repeater again, this time at 50 miles. Sadly again, both UV-5R’s couldn’t cut the mustard. In the past, I had got into the Dillion repeater from my front porch with one of my UV-5R's ...on a good day. It wasn't one of those days for a UV-5R, but another day in paradise for the UV-82HP.


 

All things being the same, the UV-82HP has better signal quality overall than my UV-5R's. As for it’s greater power settings, it’s obvious the radio’s range is significantly greater.

Showing Off...
At this years local field day, the UV-82HP was the belle of the ball because it was NEW! 

I got the radio in the hands of as many Hams as I could for their feedback.  Owners of UV-5R’s liked it's fit & finish, and everyone liked it's greater power output. Those who own older UV-82’s were envious, but knew it was the logical next step in the model line. 
The two-button PTT feature, used to select between two banks of memory, was initially confusing for UV-5R owners, but they quickly caught on to how it eliminates need to manually select between memory banks, and allows you to work two separate stations, just by pressing one or the other key button. If you don’t like the feature, you can turn it off in the settings using programming software. 
One noted the '82 seemed more geared for using preset memories, which it is, arriving out of the box set up in channel mode. You hold down the menu button when turning on, to switch the radio to frequency mode. I also showed both radios to Hams who don't own neither radio, asked them to pick which one they like. Most chose the UV-82HP over the UV-5R because it felt "more like a radio”, (One even called the '5R "a toy radio")

Assessing UV-82HP's set up & ease of use. 
Right off the bat I noticed manual programming is more refined than with the UV-5R series, however, a practiced hand is still needed to set up & load memories manually. It’s obvious the radio begs to be programmed plugged into a computer, using programming software like CHIRP.  Incidentally, the ’82 doesn't come with programming software or a USB programming cable. Not a problem with those who already have a earlier model Baofeng, but if you’re new to the brand, you should consider getting the programming cable too. Trust me, you’ll want one, even with this radio. The included manual is thick, informative, and written by someone here in the US.
Using the most recent daily build of CHIRP software, (it’s very good free software BTW), & accessing repeaterbook.com for the local repeater list, I had the radio on the air, 5 minutes out of the box.


Summing Up
I’m impressed with the UV-82HP, it's a big step up from the UV-5R, with a more refined design. Overall, the radio is easy to set up using programming software & a USB cable, (which most Baofeng radio owners already own), and it has plenty of transmit power. It’s a perfect alternative to the popular high power variant of the UV-5R, the Baofeng BF-F8HP. It appears cross-compatibility of batteries & chargers between same model series radios would be a factor. If your comfortable with how a UV-5R operates, and seek greater power, then go with the BF-F8HP. However if you seek a more refined design in functions & form, along with very respectable range, you should take a serious look at the UV-82HP, I think you’ll be very glad you did.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hatch Battening... Prepping for Spring & Summer Weather

The sweet early days of spring is time to make ready for a new season of storms. How prepared are you for lightning, rain, wind & hail to come visit you and your homestead? As seasons change, the number of storm events across the country increase in intensity & frequency. Strong winds & heavy rains often blow up in minutes with flooding, power outages, & wind damage the result. In preparing for a season of storms, it is power outages & wind damage the most common threats, so consider what you need to counter both.
For electrical outages, your prep list may include back-up power from a generator or battery bank.
A back-up converter to run household appliances is a smart idea 
In most instances power is usually restored within hours, but plan on at least a days worth of back-up just to be safe.  You don't need a huge back-up system, but is is nice to have something that can power some lights, a fan, or your comm gear.

Speaking of Comm Gear, as Ham Operators, we are usually more prepared than most to monitor weather events around the shack, with radios, computers & other gadgets that can alert us of storms & such. But for those new to Prepping, a great item to acquire is a weather radio, specifically made to monitor the National Weather Service radio frequencies which sends out automatic Severe Weather Alerts & Bulletins.
Some weather radios are feature packed
Most are simple desktop battery powered units, but some are available with built-in flashlights & able to charge cellphones & other devices. While all the whistles & bells are nice, the most important feature is the weather alarm function which goes off when the NWS spots dangerous weather in the area, giving precious minutes for everyone to take cover. In parts of the country where tornadoes are frequent, owing a weather alarm radio can be the difference between life & death.

Often the aftermath can be worse than the storm itself. Storms packing high winds often cause wind damage, torn up homes, roof damage from fallen tree limbs or smashed windows. A mess in itself, but what really makes things worse is in the damage which occurs to household things with exposure to the outside.
A "Blue Roof" Solution after a bad storm 
It's often necessary to have a way to cover things up. A smart idea is to always keep handy a heavy duty plastic tarp. Not only can a tarp offer temporary cover for roof damaged homes, it has many other handy uses as canopies or an outdoor primitive shelter.

Wherever you live, count on the occasional storm to come & however you prepare, count on prepping to weather a storms fury. Most often, if you prep for nature, you will have prepped for most dramatic events that may ever come your way.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Silent rooftop wind turbines could generate half of a household's energy needs.

Small wind turbines scaled to the right size for residential and urban areas have so far lived in the shadows of their larger wind-farm-sized counterparts. The power output has been too low for a reasonable return on investment through energy savings and the noise they produce is louder than most homeowners can deal with. READ MORE

Thursday, February 26, 2015

If in Doubt, Go to the Source




There's a steep learning curve for folk new to Ham Radio, brought on primarily by the plethora of terminology, jargon & idioms unique to the Hobby. While normal conversational speech is stressed when speaking on the air. Too often the content of the conversation is anything but normal. What's a new Ham to do in gaining a foothold in the rich tapestry of abbreviations, Q-codes, numbers, and assorted electromagnetic keywords? You consult a glossary of terms unique to Ham radio.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Field Ops is in the Bag

Operating into the night...
Being ready for the unexpected can be daunting, and in prepping a "Bug-Out-Bag" for excursions into the wild, acquiring proper communication hardware may just be one of several steps on a long list of provisions. It's not just a radio that's needed, but an operational plan, and a laundry list of support gear.
But ask any Ham who's worked a Ham Radio Field Day or two, operating a radio under field conditions is a far-ranging topic as well. Much depends on what your comm needs will be, from simple tactical communication in a remote setting, or an extensive communication base of operations, each has it's own. However, there are some items common to most settings, which often get overlooked. Let's run through a grocery list of items to make room for in your BOB, just as important as your radio, in maintaining proper communications.

YOUR FIELD LOG
Most field communications is the spoken word, but what's being spoken needs to be written down, hard to do when you haven't packed writing material. A Radio Log Book is an invaluable way to put "message traffic" on paper, all the better when it's waterproof.

Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern
PUSH BACK THE NIGHT
You can operate a radio any time of day out in the field, but it gets a bit difficult in the dark. A handy flashlight helps, but even better is a couple of these inflatable solar powered lanterns.

ALPS Mountaineering Weekender Seat 
MAKE YOURSELF COMFORTABLE
Sure you can do radio standing up, leaning, or in a crouch, but it's just more comfortable to have a place to rest your weary bones. Take along portable seating.

Throw Weight & Line Combo
THAT FANCY ANTENNA WON'T HANG ITSELF 
A simple wire antenna can be a godsend in getting a good signal out as well as in, but getting it up in yonder tree can be a totally unattainable task. You're smart to have a way to toss a line over a branch.  Carrying a Throw Weight & Line Combo makes that task a snap.

3800mAh 7.4V Li ion Battery

WHEN YOU NEED TO KEEP GOING, GOING, GOING...
You wouldn't think of packing for a few days in the field without packing enough food & drink to sustain you, it's the same thing to have on hand enough batteries to keep your gear juiced up. While you can consider packing additional recharging equipment, it's often not feasible to tote a generator, solar panel, or a very long extension cord. Pack fully charged batteries, ideally, one for each day of field ops.


Military Tactical Shoulder/Waist Bag
STOW IT & PACK IT
Mobility means portability. Meaning, you're packing in what you use. You need a bag made to pack it all, so you can carry it all. This Military Tactical Shoulder/Waist Bag can hold it all & more.


Me. 3 field days ago.
Packing for field ops will come down to how you need to communicate. Whatever you pack, will make your communications happen, one way or the other.
'73 DE KI4HEE

Monday, December 29, 2014

8 Watts is the new Black

In the fashion world, a trendy fabric, a stylish new cut, an innovative design becomes the next big trend... it becomes the "New Black".
With handheld Ham Radios, it appears 8 watts is currently the New Black, and from all indications, it's quickly establishing a benchmark in performance that defines "the next new thing."

Within recent months a series of handheld radios have entered the market with one defining difference, greater output transmit power. Normally, .5 watts, 1 watt, or 4 watts is the standard output depending on make & manufacturer, a range that pretty much has been a given standard industry wide.
But with Chinese Manufacturer Baofang/Pofung offering hand held radios with twice as much output power, that standard is now, "old fashioned."

Here's a short list of new "Blowtorch" handhelds available...

BaoFeng BF-F8HP

Seems strange. This radio has only been out for 3 months, and it's now the "Grand Old Man" of 8-watt handhelds. Baofeng's BF-F8HP debuted mid August 2014, to rave reviews &  tremendous demand. An upgrade of the UV-5R model, it rolled out new firmware, a new antenna & a great new user manual that actually makes sense. Just recently the BF-F8HP has been upgraded with a new stock heavy duty 2000 mAh Battery.

Baofeng PoFung GT-3TP Mark-III

The earlier GT-3 model's biggest difference from the UV-5R line was it's cosemeticly redesigned two-tone case. But just in time for Christmas it got a new name and 3 new power modes: 1,4 & 8 watts.
offered by "Baofeng Radio US", Houston TX based Foscam Digital Technologies LLC.
The BF-F9 V2+HP is a stock BF-F9 model, with the ti-power upgrade. That & along with more letters & numbers to it's name. Most notable unique selling point? Offering models in Black, Blue, Red, Yellow & Green Camouflage color cases.

Doubling output power to 8 watts essentially adds 2.5 dB. in transmitted signal strength. In practical terms, it makes for a louder signal, offering greater range.  The trade off is greater demand upon the radio's battery. Naturally, more output power means quicker battery drain, so it should be noted, only the BF-F8HP is currently offered with a larger capacity battery as stock. (In time, that too will change).

Maybe someday in style again...

Will 8 watts become the new "Standard" in Handheld Ham Radios? A closet full of Neru Jackets is betting on seeing more powerful handheld radios being offered by other manufacturers in time. 8 watts of output power is fashionable for the moment. As fashion statements go, it is indeed a powerful one.
  


Monday, December 22, 2014

A Preppers Last Minute List of Christmas Stocking Stuffers

If you've been a good little boy or girl, you might expect good things to appear in your Christmas Stocking on Christmas Day. If you were a good little boy or girl PREPPER... little handy "gadgets" in your sock means you've been VERY good!.

Here's short list of stocking stuffers that would bring a smile on any Preppers face...

MPOWERD Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern

You may have seen these on the internet, but it's not until you have one in your hand do you realize how such a game-changer this little blow-up solar powered light really is. With 10 hi-intensity LED lights, the Luci illuminates the dark as a collapsable can-shaped clear vinyl lamp, that deflates flat. You can pack a dozen Luci's in the same space of a stack of DVD's, After a couple hours out in the sun, the energy efficient Luci keeps the dark away. Available Here

Replica Ships Radio Room / Cream Wall Clock

In the golden days of Transoceanic Steamships, the Radio Room Telegraph Office was a busy place as Morse code operators sent messages from ship to shore. This replica of a Ships Radio Room Clock shows the time on the dial when operators were required to be silent to listen for distress signals. Uses 1 AA Battery Available Here

Water & Wood Multi Tool Set Adjustable Screwdriver/Wrench Jaw Pliers & Survival Emergency Gear


A pocket-sized multi-tool with a crescent wrench instead of a pair of needle nose! Not just your typical multi-tool! Available Here

A world spanning shortwave radio that fits inside your shirt pocket, and  in Fire Engine Red to boot! Don't leave home without the ability to catch news & weather reports or enjoy some tunes. AM/FM & 2 Shortwave bands. Available Here

Monday, December 8, 2014

Getting the Word Out by the Numbers

Scattered across the shortwave radio bands, often on the fringe of broadcast portions of AM shortwave, or Amateur Radio allocated frequencies, are mysterious signals... mostly repeating music tones with a spoken string of disjointed numbers... they are covert spy "Numbers" stations.  It is the surest method to send coded messages to deep cover operatives in the field, without risking compromise of both the message, and who is receiving the message.
The mysterious "John has a long mustache... the chair is against the wall" types of numbers & tones isn't just a Hollywood plot device, they're how Intelligence Agencies instruct their deep cover field agents covertly.  Despite all the technological advancements in internet, computers and smartphones, nothing offers a safer, & completely unbreakable method of communication.
You can hear these stations yourself, you just need a shortwave radio receiver to tune in the frequencies these signals are broadcast. Enthusiasts in the Shortwave listening (SWL) hobby often post frequencies & times they've encountered a "numbers" station, it's a hobby of sorts to seek out these signals. The fact of these signals being publicized doesn't diminish their effectiveness at all. Websites like The Global Frequency Database, are akin to a White Pages directory, for some of the signals you may encounter.

The importance of radio hasn't diminished one bit, despite all the advances in technology. It's proven everyday by these ghostly signals, showing they are not a relic of the past, but still a vital part of intelligence today.

How well are you Prepared?
Do you have a good portable Shortwave Radio? There's a wide selection of portable shortwave radios available today, most able to monitor police, fire, & rescue, as well as the worldwide radio broadcast bands. Some able to be powered with a hand crank or solar power and can even charge other devices. It's always a smart idea to have one handy, just in case. How knows? Maybe hearing "Mary had a little Lamb" may mean more than just a nursery rhyme.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Handheld Radio Offers Colorful Strength

Just when you got used to 8 Watts of power in a handheld radio, Baofeng/Pofung ups the ante with a new tri-power powerhouse that comes in a variety of COLORS.
 Recently released BF-F9 V2+ HP delivers up to 8 watts of transmit power in a colorful assortment of cases.  The BF-F9 V2+ HP has an expanded frequency range like the UV-82 line, and a new chipset with noise-reduction features that block out noises caused by signal intensity changes along with tail tone elimination when transmitting or receiving signals between 50Hz-55Hz. The BF-F9 V2+'s tri-color display makes for easy reading on the bright LCD, and this radio can be programmed with or without a PC to work on private repeater systems. The most powerful, versatile Baofeng, it has transmitting power selectable up to 8 watts. It is fully backward compatible with all UV-5R accessories.
Just in time for the holidays, Baofeng has pulled out all the stops by offering this newest model for even less than it's other popular 8 watt handheld, the BF-F8 HP.
Not only can you have the most powerful 2 Meter/70 CM handheld radio currently available, you have a rich variety of case colors to choose from. The handheld radios are available direct from Baofeng via Amazon.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Local officials say radio can fill in for Internet in event of cyber attack

By Victoria Taylor
By vtaylor@wbbjtv.com

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. -- Life in the digital age is filled with the World Wide Web, which is why some first responders wanted to re-wire their ham radio skills Friday.

In order to continue communicating if the Internet fell victim to a mass cyber attack, agencies from across Tennessee would turn to radio.

"We can actually send email and attachments, video and what-not via ham radio without ever using Internet," said Mike Winslow, risk manager for Madison County. READ MORE


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