This blog was created to share my projects, ideas, and experiences in amateur radio with other operators around the world who also enjoy this wonderful hobby.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Baofeng UV-3R MK II Dual Band Mini Hand Held

Front view of the Baofeng UV-3R MK II The UV-3R is a mini dual band hand held that covers VHF from 136 thru 174 mhz. and UHF from 400 thru  470 mhz, power output is around two watts in high power and less than one watt in low power. The radio is available in blue, black, red, yellow and camouflage colors. The price fluctuates between $40.00 and $50.00 including shipping from different vendors on the internet and E-Bay. Most of the vendors are located in China, there are a few dealers in the United States, but expect to pay a little more.

Back view of the UV-3R MK II with the battery cover removed. the radio uses a 3.7 volt, 1500 ma. lithium ion battery similar to a cell phone battery. It is the same size and shape as the Yaesu VX-3R, also a mini dual band radio.

A close view of the right side of the radio. The top rubber protector covers the speaker
microphone/programming jack. the bottom rubber protector covers the dc input/charger jack.

A close view of the left side of the radio.From top to bottom,ptt switch, f/a switch and l/r switch. The antenna connector on the top is an SMA type and the antenna supplied is a dual band antenna. The older model before the MK II comes with two different antennas,one for VHF and one for UHF. You have to switch antennas when changing bands or upgrade to a dual band antenna. I have used the Nagoya NA-701 with good results with this radio and the Yaesu VX-3R.

Close up view of the top portion of the radio. From left to right: antenna socket (SMA male)
LED for the flash light function and rotary control with lock . When pressed inside, the knob is locked, when pulled, it un-locks and lets you change frequencies, memories, menu items and adjust the volume. The knob works in conjunction with the front and left side switches and even lets you program the radio without the programming software.

Rear view of the UV-3R with the battery and cover removed. The notch on the top part of the cover is for the belt clip installation. The belt clip is installed to the metal top portion of the case with a Phillips screw. The battery terminals are on the top right side of the radio's battery cavity. The cover is secured in place with a small sliding lock on the bottom of the radio.

The Baofeng UV-3R includes an external charging dock for the battery. You can charge the battery inside the radio or in the cradle. While the battery charges outside, the radio can sit on the back. Charge an additional battery while operating the radio.

Battery charging cradle with the charger connected. On the latest versions of the Baofeng UV-3R MK II the supplied charger is a USB type 5 volt charger, the USB to Baofeng mini jack cable is included. You can charge your battery from a USB port on your computer or with a USB car charger. On older versions, like this one, the cable can not be removed from the charger.

The remaining accessories included with the Baofeng UV-3R: The belt clip,ptt speaker microphone ( in ear type) and a landyard. I have noticed that on some versions the length and color of the  lanyard  varies. On this particular version the lanyard is blue and has power printed  in English and Chinese. (white letters) A problem has been reported in some versions when using the speaker microphone supplied or aftermarket hand held speaker microphones. The radio will stay in transmit after the ptt switch is pressed in VHF mode. A disc capacitor must be installed inside the ptt switch enclosure on the speaker mike. This modification is available on the internet and Youtube..

This is the programming software screen as it looks when you open the UV-3R programmer. The file was downloaded from Before entering any information, first you need to connect your USB or serial programming cable to your computer and configure the port (this is done under settings). In my case, I am using a USB cable with the Baofeng type plug on the radio end (a four contact 3.5mm plug). I ordered the cable from Mega 409 Shop on E-Bay. Once you are all set, start by entering the receive frequency, transmit frequency, receive tone, transmit tone (can be ctcss or DCS) wide/ narrow and tx power. Select the scan type on the left, the step (5,10,15 kHz etc) assign your priority channel, the squelch level, vox level, time out timer, and channel name if any. Remember the Baofeng UV-3R has 99 memory channels, start by channel number one and keep entering the remaining memory information in the order you prefer. I started with the simplex frequencies, then moved to the VHF repeaters and last, the UHF repeaters. Since there are not many active repeaters in Puerto Rico, I was able to enter all my favorite frequencies in just 49 channels. I noticed that the UV-3R program has some "bugs". When I started entering the frequencies on memory number 8 (146.83 rx and 146.23 tx) the frequency changed to 146.22999 automatically.The radio display showed this change. I had to program the radio with this frequency change and then manually, enter the correct frequency using the radio's programming instructions. This happened on several of  the forty nine memories I programmed.

This is the programming software screen as it looks with all the information entered for the forty nine memories. Once you have entered all frequencies ,tones and settings,verify there are no errors,open the
program tab and click, write to radio. You will see a small screen popping out showing a progress bar.
When it is done, click the file tab and "save" your programming information. If you wish to make changes later you can open the file,make the changes and reprogram the radio. You can also use the software to "read" what is programmed into it.To do this, open the program tab and click, read from radio. The software is free to download and works well, except for the "bugs" I have described. If you have any questions about the Baofeng UV-3R programming, manually or via software, feel free to contact me. Any other contributions to this information about the Baofeng UV-3R are welcome.

For the price of this radio, I can not complain. It is a very capable radio,frequency wise. The only drawbacks are the two watt power output (sometimes two watts is not enough for distant repeaters) and the somewhat clumsy response of the front and side panel switches when operating or programming the radio via its own buttons. Leaving the confirmation beep on all the time helps with this issue. Make button presses slowly and listen for the confirmation beep. When programming from the radio, make a list of your frequencies and program simplex first, minus offsets second and leave the plus offsets for the end. Remember the Baofeng does not set your offsets automatically. The nice aspects of the radio are, the good ,loud audio (500 milliwatts) and the very little background hiss on receive. Other handhelds,even on strong signals have a very irritating hiss at the background. Radios like for example, the Kenwood TH-F6A, Icom IC-Q7 and IC-T90A are terrible reproducing the hiss. Another thing to keep in mind is that the UV-3R is a DSP radio, it is like a direct conversion receiver,going straight from the band pass filters into the DSP chip.Many people on the internet  describe it as a zero IF radio. The other radios on the market are conventional two or three conversion designs and I think that this difference is what makes the Baofeng so quiet and pleasant to listen . The radio also covers the FM radio band and has a very good recovered audio on this mode too.Like many Chinese transceivers, the built in flash light, torch, LED is included. RFI immunity is one of the weak points on the Baofeng, it is practically useless on the VHF band in close proximity to computer monitors and my D-Link DI-624 wireless router Wi-Fi signal interferes badly when operating on VHF. On the UHF band it works a lot better,with very little interference from monitors and Wi-Fi signals.The best radios I have tested regarding RFI immunity are the Alinco DJ-C5 and the Yaesu VX-3R. Both radios lack a powerful audio output but the resistance to interference is amazing. I hope this information helps deciding about the Baofeng UV-3R purchase. There is a new model that will eventually replace the UV-3R MK II ,it is called the UV-3R Plus. The same radio in a different case, styled to match the new UV-5R. I tested the UV-5R and found it to be a better radio in terms of power output and other features, but the audio is on the bright side and with higher hiss on the background than the UV-3R. Receive sensitivity (MDS) is comparable to the other radios on the market. The antenna plays a very important role, I have used the Nagoya NA-701 with good results on the UV-3R and the Yaesu VX-3R. For the price it is an amazing radio,even taking into the account the negative areas mentioned.


  1. how do you manually set and program UHF Channels? it seems the top disply is just for programed channels and there is no way to get to a UHF frequency to save it as a channel

  2. The UV-3R or UV-3R+ has two vfo's. The upper display is always UHF and the lower VHF when the radio is in frequency mode. To change from the upper display to the lower, press the U/V button. An arrow will move to the left of the selected display.
    To configure the radio for amateur radio use, select the upper display (UHF) and set your menu [10] OFFSET to 05.000 then set your menu [11] SHIFT to either OFF (simplex) plus or negative.

    1. It seems to me that you have the radio set for memory channel mode. When the radio is in memory channel mode you will see a number on the top left of the display. To switch the radio to vfo mode or frequency mode, a long press of the U/V button will switch the radio from one mode to the other. To program the radio, it always must be in vfo/frequency mode. Program UHF frequencies from the upper display and VHF from the lower.

    2. The lower vfo must be configured for amateur radio use before programming the same way it was done for the UHF vfo, the only difference is that the radio must be set to the lower display (VHF) in frequency mode. Set menu [10] OFFSET to 00.600 and menu [11] SHIFT to OFF, + or - . Remember to enter any CTCSS or DCS tones with menu [02] before programming to a memory channel.

    3. To program a uhf frequency. Make sure the radio is in vfo mode. Select the upper display (UHF), enter the frequency,set your shift with menu [11], set any CTCSS or DCS tones, power level, etc. Press the F/A button (button on top of the ptt), letter "F" appears on the top left display,press U/V,channel number appears,select the memory channel you want with the selector knob and press the U/V button again. Verify it programmed ok switching the radio to memory channel mode.

    4. To program a vhf frequency the procedure is the same as explained above ,except the radio must be in vfo/frequency mode and in the lower vfo (VHF). In memory/channel mode it is possible to select a UHF channel in the upper display and have a vhf frequency on the lower display. If dual watch is active (menu 8) the radio will monitor both the memory channel and the selected vhf frequency for activity.

  3. Contrary to the UV-5R, the UV-3R lower vfo is always on VHF. Dual watch operation is only possible in VHF/VHF or UHF/VHF. For dual watch operation in VHF/VHF, the radio must be set to memory channel mode, the upper display to a VHF memory channel and a VHF frequency must be entered manually on the lower display. Menu [8] dual watch must be on.

    1. so there's no way of getting the bottom VFO into memory mode then?

    2. Very useful description, thank you.
      KvsFeri from Hungary