Saturday, April 20, 2013

Baofeng UV-B5 and UV-B6 Review

Two new radios from Baofeng have just arrived today, the UV-B5 and the UV-B6.

Baofeng UV-B5(left) and UV-B6 (right) 

Both radios sell on the Internet for less than $50 U.S. and have similar features such as 99 channel programmable, UHF/VHF, dual watch with 5 watts of transmit power.  Both units received an excellent audio quality report when I tested them on a couple of local repeaters.

Baofeng UV-B5 with channel selector knob and alarm button

Baofeng UV-B6 with LED Flashlight

The slight differences between the two radios can almost immediately be spotted.
The UV-B5 has a channel select knob at the top of the radio where the UV-B6 has an LED flashlight.  The radio must be on to use the flashlight.  

The UV-B5 has an red alarm button just below the antenna where the UV-B6 has none.  The instructions on the B6 claims to have the button on the microphone/earpiece/programming jack but we have not found it yet.
Both radios use the same USB Prolific programming cable as the Baofeng UV-5R series as well as any microphone / head set systems.  The programming software is unique, which can be downloaded from the Baofeng website:

Chirp software has a daily build for the UV-B5 & UV-B6:

The Belt Clip on both radios have extra firm springs.   The chance of losing this radio from your belt or vest is slight as it has a very strong grip.

One very cool feature about this radio is the volume knob.   When you turn on the radio the volume knob appears to stick around the first quarter of the volume control.   I thought that this was a defect on the first radio until I noticed the same thing with the second radio.   I think it is intentional.  When you turn on the radio and set it for a desired volume around the first quarter turn of the knob there is less of a chance of that being identically turned down to zero should the radio be attached to your belt or vest and you brush up on something.  For someone using this radio with a headset in a security job setting this could prove a valuable feature.

LED read out on both radios is not as big as the UV-5R series but it is legible.  You can also turn off the back light on the LED to conserve battery.

The Battery on the radios charge up in about 5 hours, according to the manual.  The charger cradle has an LED that will turn green when it is fully charged.

The important thing to know about these radios is that you should not allow your hand to make contact with the battery charging terminals on the back of the radio while you are transmitting.   I noticed that they tend to generate some heat, which could result in a mild burn.   It may have been the humidity adding to the factor here in Long Beach when noticed this.

It's all Chinese to me!!

Programming the radio with the Baofeng software is pain free except when you load the software in from the site it is defaulted to Chinese.   When you run this software for the first time it literally is all Chinese to you.
To switch to English simply press ALT S to get to the Settings Menu. then  L, select English with your mouse and hit Enter.   

Switching the software to English

You can also use mouse controls by selecting the second pull down menu from the right (or second to the last menu) and selected the bottom option on the menu.

There is also a red short cut on the menu to switch languages.

All in all, both radio are super, easy to use and put out a great signal.  They will remind you of another popular radio that comes from China.   The only thing I really did not like about these radios is that they took about 4 weeks to get here from China.   Best have patience if you order this from a vendor overseas or pay a little extra and get one sooner from a US vendor who might stock these.

I still prefer the Baofeng UV-5R series but will keep these radios in the to go bag for back up.


1) Output : 5W/2W
2) Frequency Range: 136.00-174.00 MHz
400.00-470.00 MHz
3) PC or Manual Program
4) Radio Function
5) Voice Prompt
6) DTMF Code
7) 50 CTCSS and 104 DCS Codes
8) Time-out Timer (TOT)
9) Step Frequency(5,6.25,10,12.5,20,25KHz)
10) Battery Saving
11) VOX Function
12) Busy Channel Lock Function
13) Low Battery Warning
14) Dual Band, Dual Display and Dual Standby
15) Auto Back Light
16) 3 Scanning Ways (Time, Carrier wave, Search )
17) PTT-ID (Press PTT to transmit code, release PTT to transmit code, or both can transmit
18) Frequency Difference Setting
19) Keypad Number directly choose the Menu Function
20) Reverse Frequency Function
21) Emergency Alarm
22) High &Low Power Switchover
23) Priory Scanning Function
24) Wide/Narrow Band Selection
25) ANI Code Edition
26) Relay Forwarding Confirmed (1750 HZ)
27) Noise Reduction
28) U/V Cross Band Dual Watch
29) Dimension: 116x58x36mm
30) Packing Details; 30 Units/CTN, Carton Size: 52.5x33x67 cm
N. W: 16 KGS G.W: 17 KGS
Technical Index:
Unity Section:
Frequency Range: 136.00-174.00 MHz
400.00- 470.00MHz
Storage Channel 99
Step Frequency 2.5/5/6.25/10/12.5/20/25KHz
Rated voltage DC 7.4 V
Battery Capacity H-1800 mAh
Battery Life About 10 Hours
Frequency Stability ±2.5ppm
Work Temperature -20 ℃ to +60℃
Frequency Combination PLL frequency synthesis
Antenna Impedance 50 Ω
Wok Mode Same Frequency simplex Operation or Different
Frequency simplex Operation
Dimension 116x58x 36 mm (Excluded Antenna)
Output Power 5W/ 2W
Modulation Mode(W/N Band) FM (F3E)
Maximum Frequency Deviation (W/N Band) <5KHz(W), <2.5KHz(N)
Spurious Power ≤7.5 μW
Adjacent channel power 65dB (W) ,55dB (N)
Spurious Radiation <-60 dB
Audio Distortion <5%
SNR 45dB(W), 40dB(N)
CTSCC/DCS Frequency Deviation(W/N Band) 0.7±0.1KHz (W), 0.4±0.1KHz (N)
Modulation Sensitivity 8-12mV
Transmitting Current ≤1200mA
Sensitivity <0.20 μ V (12dB SINAD)
Audio Power 1W
Inter modulation
Interference Resistance
≥65dB (W), ≥55dB (N)
Adjacent channel Sensitivity (W/N Band) ≥65dB (W), ≥55dB (N)
Audio Distortion <5 %
Receiving Current ≤400mA