Can a measly few watts of power make much difference?
When folks at Baofeng Tech asked me if I’d review the new 8 Watt UV-82HP UHF/VHF ham radio, the FIRST thing I thought of was comparing 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 already own two Baofeng’s, two Baofeng UV-5R’s. I figured it would settle, (at least in my mind), the range question from a practical standpoint, plus give a reference point radio to compare.
Let’s start with a first impression…
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.
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.
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?|
All things the same, only different...
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
It ended up being no contest...
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.
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")
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.