Ultimate Guide on BaoFeng UV-5R Range & Ways to Improve it

BaoFeng UV-5R has been a pleasant surprise ever since its launch. With its sleek design and power-packed functioning, it hit a wonderfully sweet spot in terms of specs delivered to money spent.

Considering the cheap price tag, most people often think about the BaoFeng UV-5R range before getting it.

The 5-inch stock antenna covers a decent-enough range of 6-miles. However, a frank answer regarding the UV-5R range depends on the Line of Sight (LOS) and a couple of other factors. We will explore all these later in this article.

To my surprise, UV-5R performs just as well as the $500 handhelds. It might be smaller-sized, but it delivers crystal clear reception, with no static. Despite being an economically-priced device, the transceiver doesn’t disappoint in terms of range coverage.

You can read our detailed review of BaoFeng UV-5R to learn more about its amazing performance

Factors Affecting the Range

Obstructions and Terrain

To accurately determine the range coverage of your UV-5R, it is essential first to consider the terrain between the two radios. With little to no obstruction over flat land, the signal will travel freely. On the contrary, vegetation like bushes and trees can slow down or block the signal.

Similarly, a hilly or mountainous terrain will significantly reduce the signal.

Additionally, anything that gets in the way to obscure the view can affect the LOS. That may include trees, buildings, walls, and other such obstructions, which can direct the radio signal away from the receiver.

Antenna Length

To enhance the distance covered, you want to look into an antenna upgrade. An external whip will deliver better signal even at a distance further away.

For any HAM enthusiast, the first step to scoring a better signal is through a longer antenna. It helps to improve your chances of transmitting and receiving better signals.

The factory antenna or “rubber duck” does an excellent job at 135-174 MHz and 400-480 MHz frequency bands. The existing antenna will be sufficient for those aiming for about 5 km of range. However, those into longer-distance communication may struggle even with a full battery and full power mode setting.

Here are some examples:

      • 5-Inch Antenna Whip

The 7.5-inch long whip is designed for a frequency of 144-146 MHz and 430-440 MHz. If you’re looking for an easy-to-handle antenna that increases the range to approximately 10 km, this may fit your needs!

      • 5-Inch Antenna Whip

On the other hand, an upgrade from the 5” stock antenna to a 14-5” whip will expand the range to a whopping 15 km.

Improve BaoFeng UV-5R Range with Antenna Upgrades

Many HAM experts recommend several antennas for the UV-5R model. I tried a simple antenna upgrade to see if I could pick up far off signals better.

I’ve had the BTECH Nagoya NA-771 for quite some time. This Nagoya antenna is compatible with BaoFeng UV-5R was a plus! This 16-inch whip is priced under $20 and is massive in comparison to the stock antenna.

I was able to replace the stock antenna with this external whip in under a minute without using any tools!

Verdict

For the test, I tried frequencies that I was not able to pick up as clearly before.

With the NA-771, the difference in clarity was almost dramatic! It significantly improved many frequencies that I previously had trouble with.

Since the antenna is remarkably long, you may want to switch to the rubber duck for regular use. I stowed the NA-771 in my backpack and switched between the two when necessary with absolute ease.

I could not help but also notice the difference in toughness between the two whips. The Nagoya NA-771 was far more flexible and robust than the stock antenna.

Considering the performance, improvement in range, and the length, NA-771 is well worth the price and a perfect match to UV-5R.

Other Options

Here are some other amazing antenna upgrades you can try to reasonably improve the range of BaoFeng UV-5R:

      • ABBREE Dual Band VHF/UHF 18.8-inch

This high-gain, soft whip antenna is compatible with BaoFeng UV-5R and some of its variants. The antenna is available in six sizes ranging from 13 inches to 42.5 inches!

It comes with a durable cable without reception loss. It delivers pretty much exactly what you need from it.

      • ExpertPower XP-669C 7.5-Inch Dual Band

Here’s another reputable antenna for your UV-5R unit. It is resilient, durable, and sturdy – perfect for outdoor use.

Most importantly, the product comes with 1-year warranty support to take care of damages. The ExpertPower XP-669C is available in 3 sizes: 2.7″, 7.5″, and 14.5″.

Conclusion

To use your UV-5R transceiver to its full potential, you must upgrade to a powerful external antenna. Try out a whip among these popular options to boost your device’s capacity to transmit and receive signals.

Remember, BaoFeng UV-5R is a handheld model and we have covered more info about improving the handheld Ham radio range here.

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