BaoFeng UV-5R is one of the widely accepted ham radios in the market. Most people who own this HT have this question in their mind:
Can I use the UV-5R as a walkie talkie?
If you are one of those people with this thought in mind, you have reached the right place.
In this article, we will discuss how to use BaoFeng UV-5R as a walkie talkie, whether you can transmit it in FRS/GMRS frequencies, the legalities behind this, and much more.
So, let’s dig in!
What frequency Does A Walkie Talkie Use?
First, you need to have an idea about the frequency range used by walkie talkies.
FRS or Family Radio Service is an authorized, private radio service for family and group activity purposes. It operates on 22 channels around 462-467 MHz (UHF band), which are also shared by General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). The most common FRS use is two-way, voice communication covering a short distance.
FCC Rules and Guidelines
The FCC governs both GMRS and FRS bands and has specific requirements for use, power output, and equipment. As per the guidelines of 2017, two-way radios powered 2-watts or less are now FRS radios and are license-free!
The FCC is rather strict when it comes to their FRS rules. The guidelines state that you must only use an FCC certified FRS unit. Additionally, you must not make any internal modifications to it. If you have made any changes, it voids your authority to operate the device in the FRS bands.
When you transmit on unlicensed frequencies, it can interrupt the communications of others. It can also potentially endanger the lives of other people. Thus, it would help if you used your HT responsibly.
Can Baofeng UV-5R Be Used As A Walkie Talkie?
Yes and No. Technically, you can use UV-5R for FRS, GMRS, MURS, Marine, etc., but it is considered illegal. Moreover, the unit is also over the permissible power limit for FRS.
Even with a license, you cannot use UV-5R for FRS/GMRS as the transceiver is not FCC certified. To comply with the regulations, you can obtain the GMRS license, which costs $70 for ten years.
On a side note, it is essential to note that in a life-threatening situation, the FCC allows you to transmit on any frequency legally. That means you can use your HT as a walkie-talkie to communicate to save your life.
BaoFeng UV-5R functions on public safety frequencies like EMS/ Police/ Fire. Although these are also illegal, you may use the rig to transmit on those frequencies in a life or death situation. The consequences are another matter – whether FCC decides to charge you with a penalty or not.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t transmit on frequencies termed illegal by FCC unless it is your last resort. Else, you may expect a fine.
Using Baofeng UV-5R Radio As A Walkie Talkie
If you’ve understood the limitations of using UV-5R as a walkie-talkie, and still want to proceed, here’s how to:
- Search for the transmit power (TRX) option in the menu. Set the power to low so that you’re not breaking any laws when using BaoFeng UV-5R on these frequencies.
- Find frequencies for FRS channels on Google. You can also find a complete cheat code here (https://imgur.com/T2bLL8r). If you’re unable to enter the exact frequency, use the up/down arrows to test until you hit the strongest signal.
- Make sure the frequency you’re choosing is FRS and not GMRS.
- Enter these frequencies in your transceiver by using the programming software CHIRP.
- To program frequencies manually, set your transceiver to frequency mode by pressing the orange mode button on your unit.
Many operators keep a UV-5R unit in their stash for multiple reasons. This handheld transceiver works excellently as a walkie-talkie, all thanks to its removable antenna. To use your HT on FRS channels, you may want to enhance the performance with an external antenna.
Moreover, it offers ease of programming both manually and by using CHIRP to add in FRS/GMRS frequencies. Most importantly, the adjustable power setting enables you to adjust it to more permissible levels.
You can also use UV-5R to listen to Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), which is pretty similar to GMRS and doesn’t require any license.
With UV-5R, you will get more power in the form of a walkie-talkie. More power translates to a better range, especially when you upgrade the stock antenna.
In short, BaoFeng UV-5R offers more range (not legally) on FRS than most standard walkie-talkies. That is due to it having ten times the legal transmit power.
However, the high power output can cause you to be operating outside the law. At these unlicensed frequencies, UV-5R is technically illegal without a HAM license.
If you have the resources and interest in both FRS and GMRS bands, we suggest you take the tests. The test is not as challenging as most people believe it to be!
Further, the links on the left side will take you to amazon page(the authorized seller) of BaoFeng UV-5R. You can get this little beast for less than $30.