I’ve been singing the praises of the $40 Baofeng UV-3R+ since I purchased one at the Charlotte Hamfest a few weeks back. It’s the perfect combination of cheap and good. It’s also very lightweight.
Several hams in the local area were very interested in the rig when I brought it to the last meeting and I knew a few fellows ordered one. Additionally, many of the new hams in the area (their callsigns are up to KK4P** now, wow!) have these Chinese handhelds and have been using them to check in on the local “newbie net” with varying degrees of success, depending on how far they are from the tower.
But I’ve noticed an issue with my UV-3R that could be a deal-breaker.
Last week I was mobile, monitoring a net on 2 meters, and the control op called for a group of check-ins. Minutes went by and I heard nothing. The display on the radio looked normal. I thought the repeater had died, since we’ve been hearing some random noise on it recently. I was nearly at my destination before I decided to key the radio and see if the repeater was still working.
I keyed up, and the radio crackled back to life. The net was still in full swing, and no one was complaining about the repeater.
Last night I was on my evening walk and listening to the same repeater. I checked in, was acknowledged by the net control station and he was listening for more call groups. Another long period of silence followed. Fearing the rig had “locked up” on me again, I switched to another frequency and then back to the repeater. The control op was back and apparently I’d missed three check-ins during the period of silence.
A search of the Baofeng Yahoo Group revealed some similar complaints. Apparently the rig’s “power save” mode causes the radio to go comatose from time to time. Pressing a button will wake it back up.
In both of my cases, I had just turned the radio on or had recently keyed, so it shouldn’t have gone to sleep. I hope turning the power save mode off will correct this issue. Otherwise, there’s no way I can reliably use this radio for public service.
Last night I used the earpiece and pendant mic for the first time and it worked, albeit questionably. Turning the volume up to a comfortable level resulted in unlistenable crackling audio. No report on how the mic sounded, but I was able to successfully check into the net, so it was good enough. This morning, I noticed the flimsy panel on the side of the radio that covers the earpiece and mic ports doesn’t close properly — a minor annoyance.
So you get what you pay for I guess.