The best antenna for your BaoFeng VHF/UHF handheld radio.
Many preparedness-minded people have purchased at least a pair of the popular BaoFeng UV-5R (or variants thereof) 2-way radio. Often, several sets (or more). The stock BaoFeng antenna is less than ideal.
First. Why the BaoFeng brand? Sure there are better radios! But,
- Price vs Features. BaoFeng found an inexpensive sweet spot.
- Wide frequency range for Transmit (Tx) and Receive (Rx).
- Easy to program with free ‘CHIRP’ software.
- No technical restrictions to transmit on any frequency of the radio’s capabilities. (Though there are Legal restrictions)
BaoFeng UV-5R Ban of New Sales
For your information. The popular BaoFeng radio is falling under new FCC restrictions in the United States. Effective September 30, 2019 it will be illegal to sell them. Why? The reasons are somewhat technically complicated among the FCC rules and regulations. However in short,
- Because it is essentially an ‘open’ radio and can transmit anywhere between 136-174 MHz and 400-520 MHz without restriction.
- Because it can transmit at higher power levels on bands / frequencies with existing FCC power restrictions.
Sales of FRS combination radios prohibited.
Effective September 30, 2019, no person shall sell or offer for sale hand-held portable radio equipment capable of operating under this subpart (FRS) and under any other licensed or licensed-by-rule radio services in this chapter (devices may be authorized under this subpart with part 15 unlicensed equipment authorizations).
No person shall be permitted to manufacture or import, sell or offer for sale any radio equipment capable of operating under both subpart B (FRS) and any other service, other than part 15. The Commission grandfathered the operation of any existing combination radios as set forth above, and reminded operators of such existing devices that fit within the reclassified GMRS category that they must obtain a license before operating a GMRS device.
In summary, as of this writing, the existing BaoFeng UV5R radio variants are banned from sale in the United States.
However it is not illegal to operate them, provided that you operate within the constraints of FCC rules.
Why Are BaoFeng Portable 2-way Radios Popular Among the Preparedness-minded?
For the curious, Why do preparedness-minded people like to have 2-way handheld VHF/UHF radios like the BaoFeng UV-5R or BF-F8HP?
Because they fulfill the need for information gathering and communication. This will become very important following disaster or SHTF collapse. Today’s conventional modern methods of communications may fail. Cell phones, internet, and other digital communications may be inoperable without grid power and/or EMP/CME event.
Portable 2-way radios will enable a local community to communicate with each other. This will provide serious advantages for local security. Similarly, 2-way radio communications will enhance one’s personal / home security.
Better Aftermarket Antenna For Your BaoFeng Radio
With that said, there are a ton of these BaoFeng radios out there. I too have several sets (among other brands). So I wanted to share with you my recommendation for an aftermarket antenna which will perform better on your BaoFeng radio. I have them for all my BaoFeng radios.
BEST BAOFENG ANTENNA | NAGOYA
Okay, enough already! What about the antenna?
I don’t want to get all technical here. But to an extent I do have to dip into it. If you already own this radio then you likely have a sufficient technical understanding of this subject.
Your antenna choice depends on what frequencies where you intend to operate. Antennas are designed for specific frequencies or range of frequencies. Therefore operating (transmitting) on a frequency outside the antenna’s design parameters will produce poor results. It could even damage the radio!
BaoFeng Antenna For HAM Bands
The HAM bands within the functionality of the BaoFeng radio do require a license to transmit. They are as follows:
VHF (HAM band) 144-148 MHz (2 Meter band)
UHF (HAM band) 420-450 MHz (70-centimeter)
The NAGOYA NA-771 antenna is Tx optimized for 140-150 MHz and 420-450 MHz.
The exact optimization is 144 MHz and 430 MHz, and has a gain of 2.5 dbi. It’s whip is nearly 16 inches long.
There is a newer design of this antenna with slightly less gain (2.25 dbi) but with an extra thin flexible whip. The NA-24J.
BaoFeng Antenna for ALL OTHER BANDS
I’m going to lump the other bands with one ideal best BaoFeng antenna.
This antenna will function best when operating FRS, GMRS, MURS, Maritime, or PLMRS.
The NAGOYA NA-701C antenna is Tx optimized for 150-165 MHz and 450-470 MHz.
The exact optimization is 155 MHz and 455 MHz, and has a gain of 2.5 dbi. It’s whip is 8 inches long.
FRS (Family Radio Service) are a set of frequencies near 462 MHz and 467 MHz. You do not need a license to operate here. It’s basically today’s low power “walkie-talkie” band.
GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) are also a set of frequencies near 462 MHz and 467 MHz (some shared with FRS). It is also popular and often shared on FRS/GMRS “buble pack” radios. Transmitting on GMRS-specific frequencies do technically require a license. Although apparently the FCC has not enforced this requirement that I know of.
MURS (Multi Use Radio Service) is a set of five frequencies near 151 MHz and 154 MHz. There are a wide variety of radio products that use MURS frequencies beyond just voice communications. Transmitting on MURS designated frequencies does not require a license.
Maritime Mobile or the Marine radio band falls on frequencies within the spectrum between 156 and 162 MHz. Mariners and boaters use the Marine band to communicate. In the case of recreational boaters, for the most part, no license is required.
PLMRS (Private Land Mobile Radio Services) is within the spectrum between 150 and 174 MHz. It’s also generally known as the business radio band. Transmitting on these frequencies does require a license.
The purpose or use-case scenario of the typical inexpensive BaoFeng radio is not for the HAM radio bands. HAM operators will typically have more expensive radios, given the hobby.
That leaves the other bands which I’ve listed above. “Legally” without a license for transmitting, FRS, MURS, and GMRS (by defacto). So the best aftermarket BaoFeng antenna for this is the NA-701C. It is the antenna which I’ve purchased for my BaoFeng radios.
Now if you consider post-collapse SHTF, you might say that “legality” of transmitting on frequencies which require license, may be “out the window”. Either way, the two aftermarket antennas by NAGOYA that I’ve listed above will have you covered for this particular radio.
Continue reading: 2-way Radios for Communications