I love my Baofeng. Not because it’s cheap. No, I love it because it’s smart and so different from my FT-60 that I sold some time ago. The FT-60 is considered by many to be superior to the Baofeng. I’m convinced that these people have never used both. NiMH battery technology is outdated. The FT-60 drains the battery completely, after that no reception is possible anymore. A Baofeng disables transmit so you can continue receiving some some time, that’s smart… I know that this is required in order to save the Lithium-Ion battery, but it would benefit NiMH as well.

Baofeng’s two channel reception is very practical. Many conventional handhelds support this using a feature called priority watch. This works asymmetrical, meaning you have to configure a special priority watch channel. With Baofeng both channels are handled equally, like VFO A and B. Since the FM radio uses a completely separate receiver, you can listen to it and at the same time monitor two VHF and/or UHF channels. It think that’s smart…

Many quote the bad suppression of harmonics and consider it an indication of the inferior quality of a Baofeng compared to traditional handhelds. Actually this is one of those price point tradeoff one has to make in order to sell a Baofeng for $30 and make some profit along the way. Invest a little more in the low-pass filter and you can get a perfect score. Unfortunately this requires more tuned coils and capacitors, something expensive compared to PCB’s and SDR chips. So Baofeng implemented some low-pass filtering, with a large variation when reading the various measurements found on the internet. But definitely not that bad as some might have you believe.

Another issue are the firmware bugs, especially in the early models. Another tradeoff, maybe driven by commercial targets? Combine a Dorji board with an Arduino and you can program the firmware yourself. The Dorji boards are programmed with AT style commands. This means that you can program them directly from a terminal program using a serial port cable.

I wish my FT-817 had Baofeng’s battery technology. Unfortunately Yaesu decided to ignore any smart battery technology, resulting in a great transceiver to be carried around together with an Alarm-System battery (the 12V-7Ah model).

If Amateur Radio wants to survive, we have to thank Baofeng for a smart handheld, thank RDA Microelectronics for the RDA1846 chip, and thank Dorji for some great development boards, instead of playing them down.

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