Purchased a BaoFang F8HP

Discussion in 'VHF/UHF - 50Mhz and Beyond' started by OLDS64, Mar 8, 2019.

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  1. OLDS64

    OLDS64 QRZ Member

    Hello, my name is Jesse. I just passed my Technician and General license tests on 3/2/19. Unfortunately, the FCC hasn't given me my callsign yet and I haven't been added to the online FCC database.

    Professionally, I am a FAA radar technician. So all things electronic are at least familiar to me. I haven't been exposed to HAM radio since I was a teenager though. My granddad; K0LXA, had a HF radio and I remember helping my dad and granddad install a directional antenna and rotator on grandad's house in KCMO.

    I downloaded Chirp on my home computer to program my BaoFang radio. I planned to watch Hoshnasi's video on YouTube to program it. I recall reading something about the F8HPs that they come from the factory with features that could get you in trouble if not turned off. I @$$ume Hoshnasi covers this in his video but I haven't watched it yet. I'm itching to get that FCC email. :D

    Long term I hope to buy a HF radio to install in my truck. I've read about the Yaesu 857D and my neighbor (who is also a HAM) talked to me about screwdriver antennas. For now I'll start small though. Any comments or help are welcome.
  2. W4EAE

    W4EAE Subscriber QRZ Page

    Congratulations on your general! A piece of advise, wait a couple of weeks and then go ahead and start studying for your Extra. It will be easier while you all ready have the Tech and General stuff fresh in your head.

    With an FM radio like the F8HP, programming should not be difficult at all with your background combined with what you had to learn for your license tests.

    As to the features you mentioned, I cannot find anything specific. It is true that a number of Baofeng radios have been sold without certification which is a no no. However, many are certified. There should be an FCC ID printed somewhere on the radio. Check that against the FCC's database. If you find a certification, you have nothing to worry about as long as you transmit in band with a properly modulated signal. Ignore anyone who says things like 'All Baofengs are illegal.' This is patently false.

    I would strongly advise against your first HF rig being mobile. I do not mean that you have to buy a $2,000 base rig, but that your first setup should fixed with a resonant antenna. The best screwdriver antenna does not work nearly as well as a simple dipole. Particularly with solar conditions being what they are, you will have a much, much easier time getting on the air and making contacts with a dipole. You will also spend about 95% less money on a dipole than a screwdriver antenna.

    The Yaesu FT-857D is a fantastic radio, and you really could not go wrong owning one. However; Yaseu, Icom, and Kenwood all make more advanced radios that fall into the same price category as the FT-857D.
  3. KX4QP

    KX4QP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I also have a shiny new license (I went for Tech, General, and Extra all in one sitting), and a shiny new BF-F8HP. I found two indispensable things about programming it. First, there's a firmware bug; you can't save an offset in a channel memory from the keypad. The work-around for this is that you can save transmit and receive settings separately for the same channel memory. Program with Voice ON, in Frequency Mode. Set the receive frequency, tone settings, and power level, delete the channel you want to save in, then save to that channel. The voice will reply "Receiving Memory." Now exit menu, change the frequency only to the value you'll send on (the repeater's receive frequency), and save again to the same memory location. The voice will respond "Tranmitting Memory."

    Now, if you bought a programming cable, and either have or can get the correct driver for the USB/serial chip in the cable (or bought the real PC-03 in the first place), you don't have to worry about all that. If you didn't buy the PC-03, you may have the same problem I had -- when I first connected the cable to the radio and powered the radio up, it started transmitting in short pulses, about a 1.5 second cycle around 50% duty cycle. Eventually, it settled down, but even then, and when I found how to get my (Ubuntu) computer to talk to the cable, it couldn't talk to the radio.

    Once I got the correct cable (and, for Linux, set the permissions for my user account to allow communication on the USB serial port), programming the radio was a snap.

    And that leads to the things that can get you in trouble. The BaoFeng hand-helds can be set to transmit on Public Safety, Government, and Business frequencies (i.e. outside US Amateur bands). If you got yours from BTech, it should have had the bands correctly set when you received it, but if you got it from a direct importer or Chinese seller, that might not be the case. Doing this would require you to have a radio that wasn't sold already limited, to set up a channel in those bands or to enter one in Frequency Mode, and then to push the PTT button, so it's not something you're likely to do by accident if you've actually learned what you needed to learn to get your Tech and General licenses -- but it can be done, and as I understand it is behind the recent flap over these radios and FCC acceptance. If you take just a little care to only program channels within band (one safe way to do so is to set up the calling frequencies for 2m and 70cm, and for local receivers by importing them with the CHIRP software), you won't have a problem.

    If you also want to use your HT to scan or listen on Public Safety channels, you can program them from CHIRP as well, but you must be careful to set your Duplex to <none> (not off) -- <none> tells the radio it can't transmit on that channel, while "off" tells it to transmit simplex, i.e. same frequency it's receiving on. Do that for any channel you want to be able to listen to, but don't want (or aren't authorized) to transmit on, and you won't wind up with the FCC beating down you door.

    FWIW, I've had my BF-F8HP for almost two weeks, and it seems like a nice little radio. Terrain permitting, I can hit a local area repeater that's up a TV tower (claimed to be 1400', but I'm not sure if that's above ground or above sea level, with the local ground close to 1000') from about forty miles, and another one (on top of a small mountain near my home, roundly 1000' above local ground level) from a similar distance the other direction. Both of these do require power H to do reliably, but don't forget the FCC requirement to use the least power that will accomplish the desired communication. I set all my channels to M (4W), and then went back and increased the power setting for the ones that needed 8W to get through.
  4. W4EAE

    W4EAE Subscriber QRZ Page

    This is the key. It really does not matter what your radio in the hand is capable of; what matters is that you know what you are doing and only transmit in band. Channelized radios are specifically for those who have not learned what you have learned by obtaining your Amateur license.

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