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Audio problem with Baofeng UV-5RE

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by KJ7BRR, Oct 24, 2018.

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  1. KJ7BRR

    KJ7BRR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi all! This is my first post on these forums and I am looking forward to joining your ranks soon. I am hoping to take my Technician exam this weekend. Fingers crossed I pass!

    In the meantime, I have been listening to some local repeaters on my Baofeng UV-5RE and enjoying what I hear, can't wait to join in! However, in the last day or so, I have noticed a problem with the audio on the speaker of my handheld. While cooking dinner last night I was listening to some folks chatting and the audio got very quiet all of a sudden. I thought it was a bit odd and tried to adjust the position of the antenna but there was no change, so I simply turned it up and tried to listen in. It was pretty darn quiet still, even on the max volume. Eventually I turned off the radio and forgot about the issue until I turned it on again this evening.

    There is now a major problem where the audio seems to fluxuate...when you turn the volume all the way to the max, suddenly it gets very quiet. When you start to back off the volume, it gets suddenly very loud and then diminishes and starts to flatten out. It also doesn't seem to pick up all of the sounds. For example, pushing the buttons it will indicate with audio things like "channel mode" or "frequency mode" and will make a BEEP type tone. These sounds used to be very clear. Now they cut out and sound distorted. Sometimes they don't make any sound at all and only make a clicking noise when the button is pressed.

    In trying to troubleshoot the issue, I started to think about anything new that had happened with the radio lately and all I could come up with is that I had plugged in the earpiece to the mic/speaker jacks. Some googling said I should try plugging/unplugging the jack a few times to see if it fixed the issue, but it did not.

    Eventually my husband took the radio apart as a few forums had commented that the soldering was very poor on the speaker wires for this particular model. When we took apart the radio (following instructions we found online), we noticed the board looked a bit odd in places (like where the mic jack is connected to the board and where the antenna is connected to the board - there is some kind of sheen on the board) compared to the photo we saw in the instruction guide. I have included a photo of our board below, along with a photo of the board we found online. Our board looks much different. Does anyone have any idea if there is anything wrong with the board?

    My experience level is VERY low in electronics (with the exception of the Technician book), so I apologize if my terminology isn't completely accurate. As part of being a HAM, I want to be able to fully understand and repair my equipment whenever possible. Any help or guidance would be much appreciated. Thank you!!!

    Our board:

    Instruction guide board:
  2. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    It may be the speaker.

    I have a couple Baofeng radios with bad speakers. A very loud station seems to smoke them.

    So far, I just use a speaker mic on those radios.

    Try a hand speaker mic. (Maybe you already tried this ?)

    Good Luck.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
    KK4NSF likes this.
  3. K3RLD

    K3RLD Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is a very real problem with Baofengs. Many (most) of them work great (at least for a $25 transceiver), but some of them just plane suck. I have one that has some sort of tone squelch issue in that it REFUSES to keep open squelch at the lowest setting. Not good if trying to use them for satellites. But I have another that works dandy and is my full time "car" radio.

    I think if it isn't a problem with the speaker (try reflowing the solder joints for the speaker on both ends of the wire connnection), it may be the volume potentiometer. I've never seen this problem with transceivers, but I've seen it several times on cheapo clock radios.
  4. KJ7BRR

    KJ7BRR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the input so far! Really appreciate it.

    I tried testing with the mic + ear piece plugged into the jack and the audio problem persisted. I also tried to send audio using the mic to another radio on FRS it was really difficult for the other receiver to pick up the audio from the handset with the issue.

    What do you guys think of the strange stuff on the board by the antenna solder point and on the mic/speaker solder points in the middle of the white circle? It is white-ish and looks almost gritty in nature. Is that anything to be concerned about or am I just looking for something to be wrong? Maybe this is just the result of a cheapo radio, but I definitely am hoping to learn to identify all sorts of problems in the future and would love to hear what people think about it.
  5. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Looks like flux residue. Could try reflowing anything that looks cold (like a fracture in it), but it might be someplace else.

    Unfortunately, I'd consider going further to be "advanced" repairs and wouldn't recommend jumping in without more knowledge. By all means--work towards that--but it's easy to make mistakes. My thinking, if the radio is indicating it's unsquelching for signals properly, then it's probably in the audio section. Where, I dunno. I think there are schematics online. You could try finding that, and then seeing if you can follow that to find out what the audio IC is, and where it is on the board.

    I'd be shopping for a replacement. At the very least, a spare, that way you can continue to work on this radio.
  6. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you use these radios on FRS they are designed to brick. :eek:

    You need the special software and code to UN-brick them.

    Good Luck. Buy a FRS certified radio.
  7. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Moderator Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    It's probably just a bad speaker. Yeah, it was good for a while but I have seen (heard) these smaller speakers going bad even on much higher dollar portable radios before.

    These mass produced radios in particular are not using the best quality components inside and I doubt there's very much quality control either for that matter.

    I have 3 of these only because they were really cheap and I thought what the heck, why not. However, I knew they are all kind of a crap shoot for the money when I got them. Sometimes you get a good one, sometimes you don't. They're not really economical to bother repairing. These radios are kind of like toy radios you buy at Walmart. When they break, most people just throw them away and get another one. I won't be getting any more of them in the future myself though because I have hardly ever used them and prefer using higher quality equipment I already have instead. Yeah sure the better quality radio equipment costs more money, but you get what you pay for.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  8. KJ7BRR

    KJ7BRR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Apologies for the late reply. Just wanted to thank everyone for the advice and feedback. I've tinkered a bit more but still need to reassemble this guy and see if I can get him up and running again. In the meantime I've bought another cheap radio and trying to decide what is the best radio to upgrade to! Also got my license a couple of days ago, so hoping to get on the air soon with a quality transceiver! Thanks again all!
    WE4E, W4POT, W6KCS and 1 other person like this.
  9. KD2ACO

    KD2ACO Platinum Subscriber Life Member Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Congrats and Supah, on your license.
    Buying another cheapo HT is what I call, "...the Siren song of the amateur radio."
    25 bucks makes them hard to resist but you need to be prepared for disappointment sometimes! :p
  10. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    One nice thing about having 2 radios, Is that you have spare parts. :)

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