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Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Linux or Win10

Programming the very affordable Baofeng UV-5R (also available as Pofung UV-5R) dual band mobile radio can be quite complicated. Luckily, there is a program called CHIRP. This free and open-source radio programming tool together with a USB programming cable makes setting up your radio a breeze. In this blog post we will install CHIRP and a programming cable on Windows 10 and Linux (Ubuntu/Mint/Debian) to work with the Baofeng UV-5R tranceiver. It will enable basic downloading and uploading of frequencies and settings from and to the radio. In later posts we will have a more in-depth look at al the settings available. Then we wil also see how to program the radio for GMRS or PMR use, and how to set it up as a basic radio scanner.

Disclaimer: this documentation is for educational purposes only. For operating this radio you are most likely required to be a licensed radio amateur or own a commercial licence. Be sure to check the rules and regulations in your area first.

Baofeng UV-5R handheld dualband tranceiver
Baofeng UV-5R handheld dualband tranceiver

Baofeng UV-5R (Pofung UV-5R) tranceiver

The UV-5R is a cheap but decent Chinese tranceiver that is sold for the ultra-low price of around 30 USD (25 EUR). The radio is dual band (VHF/UHF, 136-174/400-520MHz, 5 Watt) and has 128 memory channels which can be alpha tagged. Together with the scanning capabilities, this makes the UV-5R also a basic but useful scanning radio. The coverage of the GMRS, FRS and PMR bands, the FM radio (65.0MHz-108.0MHz) and the LED flashlight make it a popular choice for ‘preppers’. And for that price, the radio even comes with a wrist strap, battery and charger included.

BAOFENG Dual Band Handheld Transceiver Radio Walkie Talkie UV-5R
Tested and recommended by OneGuyOneBlog.com:

BAOFENG Dual Band Handheld Transceiver Radio Walkie Talkie UV-5R
Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 and Linux- USB to serial programming cable
Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 and Linux- USB to serial programming cable

USB programming cable

For connecting the radio to the PC I used this generic, cheap Kenwood-style serial cable. It came without any drivers, and at least for Windows 10 and Linux (Ubuntu, Mint) you don’t need any. Just plug in the cable and Windows and Linux will recognize it.

In Windows 10, you should find it as “USB SERIAL CH340 (COMx)” under Settings > Devices. This also shows the COM-port to be used in CHIRP later on.

In linux, the command LSUSB should list the USB-serial adapter like this:
Bus 003 Device 012: ID 1a86:7523 QinHeng Electronics HL-340 USB-Serial adapter

In my experience it’s best to connect it straight to the PC; connecting it via a USB hub may cause problems.

USB Programming Cable For BAOFENG Walkie Talkie UV-5R
Tested and recommended by OneGuyOneBlog.com:

USB Programming Cable For BAOFENG Walkie Talkie UV-5R

CHIRP radio programming tool

CHIRP is a free, open-source tool for programming amateur radios. It supports many manufacturers and models, as well as provides a way to interface with multiple data sources and formats. Another big advantage is that it’s multi-platform: it’s available for Windows, Linux and Mac. CHIRP not only makes the programming so much easier, it also provides access to features not available through the radio’s buttons or keypad. For exmaple, with CHIRP you can give each memory channel a name or ‘alpha tag’ of 7 characters. Then instead of the frequency, the tag can be shown in the radio’s display. This tagging can not be done by using just the radio’s keypad.

CHIRP: Windows 10 install

The Windows 10 install is pretty straightforward:

    • After plugging in the USB cable, download the latest Windows installer (“chirp-daily-xxxxxxxx-installer.exe”) from the CHIRP download page;
    • Run the installer, ignoring the Windows Defender warnings. After installation is complete, run CHIRP (from the application menu);
    • Select the “Radio” menu and then “Download From Radio” (Alt+D);

      Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 - Download from Radio
      Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 – Download from Radio
    • Choose your radio settings: the COM (USB) port (for me it was “COM5”), the vendor (“Baofeng”) and the model (“UV-5R”);

      Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 - Radio settings
      Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 – Radio settings
    • At the warning “Proceed with experimental driver?”, click “Yes” to continue;
    • Follow the instructions on hooking up the radio:
      1. Turn radio off;
      2. Connect cable to mic/spkr connector;
      3. Make sure connector is firmly connected;
      4. Turn radio on (volume may need to be set at 100%);
      5. Ensure that the radio is tuned to channel with no activity;
      6. Click OK to download image from device;

      Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 - Instructions
      Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 – Instructions
    • The image will now be downloaded from your radio (a.k.a. “cloning”).

      Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 - Cloning
      Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 – Cloning
    • After the image is downloaded you can use it as template. You can edit it and save multiple versions to disk, or upload an image back to your tranceiver.

      Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 - Image file
      Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 – Image file

CHIRP: Linux install

The Ubuntu/Linux Mint/Debian install (I installed it on Mint) is not very different from the Windows 10 one (for screenshots, see the Windows install above):

  • After plugging in the USB cable, issue these commands to download and install CHIRP:
    sudo apt-add-repository ppa:dansmith/chirp-snapshots
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install chirp-daily
  • After installation is complete, run CHIRP;
  • Select the “Radio” menu and then “Download From Radio” (Alt+D);
  • Choose your radio settings: the serial port (for me it was “/dev/ttyUSB0”), the vendor (“Baofeng”) and the model (“UV-5R”);
  • At the warning “Proceed with experimental driver?”, click “Yes” to continue;
  • Follow the instructions on hooking up the radio:
    1. Turn radio off;
    2. Connect cable to mic/spkr connector;
    3. Make sure connector is firmly connected;
    4. Turn radio on (volume may need to be set at 100%);
    5. Ensure that the radio is tuned to channel with no activity;
    6. Click OK to download image from device;
  • The image will now be downloaded from your radio (a.k.a. “cloning”).
  • You can now use the downloaded image as template. You can edit it and save multiple versions to disk, or upload an image back to your tranceiver.

Note: if you get an “Access denied” error when accessing the serial port, you need to add your username to the dialout group. For instance, when your username is “johndoe” you should issue the command:
sudo adduser johndoe dialout

Editing radio settings and finding the firmware version

With CHIRP, you can also edit the radio’s settings. You can even adjust a quite few settings that are not available through the keypad and LCD screen. Just click the “Settings” tab on the left, below the “Memories” tab. Here you will also find your tranceiver’s firmware version under “Other Settings > Firmware Message 1“. You can only upload an image to a tranceiver with a matching firmware version.

Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 - Settings
Install CHIRP for Baofeng UV-5R on Windows 10 – Settings

To be continued

In some future blog post(s) we will take a closer look at all the available channel options, the radio settings and how to adjust them for GMRS, FRS and PMR communications. And finally we will see how we can set up the Baofeng/Pofung UV-5R as a cheap and basic radio scanner. To be continued!

BAOFENG Dual Band Handheld Transceiver Radio Walkie Talkie UV-5R
Tested and recommended by OneGuyOneBlog.com:

BAOFENG Dual Band Handheld Transceiver Radio Walkie Talkie UV-5R
USB Programming Cable For BAOFENG Walkie Talkie UV-5R
Tested and recommended by OneGuyOneBlog.com:

USB Programming Cable For BAOFENG Walkie Talkie UV-5R

This post is also available in Dutch.

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