The January edition of QST has some disturbing data about dirty transmitters in BaoFeng HTs.
Amateurs are responsible for their transmitters being clean, but most of us don’t have the test equipment to check that. Also, manufacturers must meet the FCC regulations for every transmitter sold.
The ARRL Lab set up at hamfests and tested the HTs that hams had with them. Over four years, only 5% to 9% of BaoFeng HTs passed the test. Alinco, Icom, Kenwood, and Yaesu had 100% pass rates. Wouxon improved from 83% to 100% over the years.
From “Technical Correspondence”, QST, January 2020, pages 60-62. This chart is on page 61. QST is available online to ARRL members. This is a link to the article online.
The FCC rules for spurious emissions are in 47 CFR § 97.307 – Emission standards.
What if you already own a BaoFeng, like me?
Run low power. This will reduce the amount of power in the spurious emissions. Reducing the power from 5 W to 0.5 W should reduce the spurious emissions by 10 dB. The spurs still won’t be 40 dB below the carrier, but they will be lower in terms of absolute power. It can’t hurt. It will make your battery last longer, too.
What if you want an inexpensive HT?
Instead of a $50 BaoFeng, save up a bit more for a $75 Yaesu FT-4XR. From my research, this is the only HT under $100 from a major radioo vendor.
The FT-4XR uses the same chipset as the BaoFeng, so it has roughly the same feature set. But it has a clean transmitter and better interference rejection in the receiver. It also has ham-specific firmware, like automatic repeater offsets. That should make it easier to use.
The FT-4XR also uses the same antenna connector as BaoFeng, so aftermarket Nagoya antennas might fit. I would probably try the Nagoya NA-771 for $17, which might fit. I’ve heard recommendations for the Diamond SRJ77CA ($27).
I linked to DX Engineering’s page above, but the FT-4XR is available at similar prices from Ham Radio Outlet, Gigaparts, and other ham stores. Amazon has it at a higher price ($83), oddly.
How did this happen?
It appears that the BaoFeng radios were designed for the much more lenient Part 90 emission regulations and do not meet the amateur radio regulations.
An article by AD5GG compares BaoFeng UV-5R emissions to Part 90 (private land mobile) and Part 97 (amateur) regulations. The BaoFeng meets the weaker Part 90 limits, where spurious emissions are not to exceed -20 dBc (dBc is relative to carrier). Part 97 limits spurious emissions to -40 dBc, 100X lower than the Part 90 limit.
Designing for the Part 97 limits requires additional low-pass filtering on the output. The new parts may only be pennies, but it would require a new board design. Maybe new versions of the BaoFeng HTs will be designed to the stricter standards, but I’ll have to see proof of that. The UV-5R is up to the third generation, at least, and still not compliant.
Great article with some great recommendations. I think the $75 price point of the Yaesu is fantastic, and if that had been around back in 2012 when I bought my first UV-5R, I would have bought that instead. Also, thank you for linking my blog post!
I can attest to the “wide band” tendencies of the BaoFeng. I own a 2003 Ford Excursion with the 6.0 diesel. Every single time we key’s the HT, the truck shut off. ICOM, Yeasu, etc never had this issue. Not the truck, it was the radio. KG8S
Trying to find the correct wiring connections I presume on a 2.5mm jack plug to program the FT-4XE. Like looking and finding Rocking Horse droppings. (i.e tip, ring and shaft of plug). Interestig coments all appreiciated. Most outlets have gone out of stock on the Yaesu SCU -35 leads and other places are asking stupid prices for the same. 73 to all de John – G0WXU.
After buying cheap cables that don’t work or are flaky, my last couple of programming cables are from Valley Enterprises. The most recent is for a Yaesu FT-8900R. They cost $20-25, but I’ve had zero problems with them.
This page has a wiring diagram for building your own.
Don’t forget about one other low cost alternative for a better handheld…purchase used equipment from your club, qth.com/qrz.com/eham.net classifieds, eBay etc. For an Informed buyer, deals are out there. 73, Mike