Day 1 with the BTECH UV-5X3

21 Aug 2016

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Today I received the brand new tri-band UV-5X3 handheld from BTECH. Some people familiar with the Baofeng and BaofengTech lines recently noticed the UV-82X had become discontinued. This is primarily because the firmware had not seen an update in over a year and was not expected to be updated anytime soon by Baofeng with the current fixes found in other up to date UV-82 models. To remedy this, BaofengTech worked with Baofeng to create a brand new model based on an already familiar design, the UV-5R and BF-F8, but with some hardware updates. So while some may look at it and say it is "another junk Baofeng", others actually open their eyes and realize that the similarities are external only. Inside is a brand new board, new chipset, new filters, different from all previous Baofeng based models. This is not a clone or fake, it falls under a "3rd party model", which is manufactured by Baofeng to the specs set by BTECH. Because it is a brand new model and new line, it also had to undergo the modern and more strict spurious emission testing by the FCC. If the multiple radios they had sent for testing were even close to failing, these models would not be for sale today.

I figure I would show a list right away for those who prefer not to read through the entire story to get the bits and details. So here goes:


  • Tri-band: 144, 222, and 440 MHz
  • New internal electronics and hardware offering new capabilities and better filtering
  • Proper tri-band resonant tuning means full power in all 3 bands including the proper 222-225MHz frequency range
  • This case allows for use of all the current and future 5R/F8 accessories
  • Excellent 80 page manual
  • 1W speaker (instead of the usual 0.5W-0.7W)
  • DTMF gain
  • Updated electronics means clearer signals, less intermod interference, and additional capabilities.
  • Scan add/delete from the keypad, no longer need software to do it.
  • New scan options, Display Sync for Channel scanning, and Scan Range for VFO mode
  • Supported in CHIRP on release day

  • Requires either an antenna swap to make use of 220, or easily remedied by buying a triband antenna

Upon opening the box, all the contents inside are familiar to anyone else who has ever bought a Baofeng before, with one notable exception: 2 antennas. This bring up the first minor issue with this model, either in a rush to get this model released, or unable to source a company to build a stable and useful tri-band antenna, they instead decided to just package it with 2 antennas. One is the already familiar dual band V85 found with all the 8W HP models and UV-82 series radios, and the other looks very similar but is tuned specifically for the IARU Region 2 1.25m band (North/South America). A big difference in this case is where the UV-82X and its antenna was tuned for 240-250MHz due to the band plan and frequency use in IARU Region 3 (Asia), this radio and antenna is tuned for the IARU Region 2 (the Americas) 1.25m band plan 222-225MHz. How this difference translates to our everyday use is it allows for much closer to rated full power on this band, versus having the resonance at 240-250 MHz means using it at 222-225 MHz results in a much lower power output (around 2W instead of the full 4-5W).
After opening the box and looking things over, there are some key notable differences. The labels on the radio, battery and charger all say BTECH, even though they appear to be the same Baofeng/Pofung options sold with current BF-F8 models. The label on the battery shows some minor changes and corrections versus the Baofeng/Pofung radios. Originally the UV-5R and similar models were sourced to use the internals for an 1800mAh battery pack, but at some point that source dried up so they had to resort to using 1500-1600mAh batteries, but the label was never properly changed so it continued to show 1800mAh for several years, even today. As BTECH felt like it was inappropriate to mislead people, they use a corrected label for this model which shows the proper 1500mAh capacity. The battery model BL-5 is still the same as all the other 5R/F8 models, which brings up the next point.
One major benefit to using this form factor case is that all current accessories available for the 5R/F8 line will also work with this UV-5X3 radio. I have a 3800mAh extended battery pack, it fits just fine, and for almost 2 years now I have had a programming cable which I have already used to program my radio. This quite literally means if it works for other 5R/F8 radios, it will work for this radio as well, including batteries, chargers, antennas, programming cables, external cases, and so on down the list.

Another big benefit is the detailed manual where BTECH has shined when it comes to models under their name. Instead of the usual poorly translated "chinglish" generic manuals commonly associated with the Baofeng radios (and the fake Baofengs illegally sold by Foscam), BTECH has worked with the community and owners of various popular websites such as and the programmers behind CHIRP to ensure the wording, layout, and information is correct for this model, and easily found. More on this can be found right on the very first page of the manual.

Some may ask why include the 1.25m band at all, usually citing that "220 is dead" or "if the local VHF and UHF repeaters are never used, why bother with 220?", and to them I say if we don't use it, we lose it. Years ago amateurs already lost a chunk of the 1.25m band (220-222 MHz) to the highest bidder, which a short time later that same company found another set of frequencies and never made use of that spectrum. Still to this day, it has not been released back to the amateurs for full and proper use of 219-225MHz. In many highly populated areas, the availability of repeater frequencies available for VHF and UHF is non-existent, so naturally 220 is the next in line. During my travels throughout the southeastern US, I have actually found fairly regular use on "220" repeaters in Atlanta, Orlando, Tampa, New Orleans, and other areas. In my area specifically, there are no 220 repeaters, but I have been working with a local club to try to get one up. Luckily there are a few that use 220 simplex so I have had a few local chats on 223.500 MHz (the most common 1.25m simplex calling frequency).

There are other benefits to going to 220. The combination of factors that result in easy accessibility of radios for use on 2m and 70cm means some areas have a higher incident rate of idiots interfering with the local repeaters. Versus the limited knowledge and availability of 220 radios, the airwaves are usually clear and free of said idiots. Another big benefit is 220 is much less impacted by signal degradation due to commercial setups with excessive spurious emissions, and spurs caused by "frequency multiples" (aka a commercial system on 149MHz with spurs affecting signals at 447MHz, 149 x 3 = 447MHz). I had gone over this and other points in a bit more detail on another article I wrote come time ago here: - Making a case for 1.25m 220MHz use.

Back to talking about the UV-5X3, this model also includes multiple new features not found with any other Baofeng or BTECH model.

  1. One is DTMF/IRLP access with the capability of a DTMF gain adjustment. This allows you to adjust the DTMF audio to the transmitter to a comfortable level for both repeater control and IRLP access.
  2. Another is the Tone Burst for repeater or network access allowing for bursts of 1000Hz, 1450Hz, 1750Hz, and 2000Hz (accessible by pressing the PTT along with one of the four pre-assigned keypad keys).
  3. Scan Add/Delete: This feature gives us the ability to add / delete channels from the scanning list using the keypad. No longer a software only function.
  4. Display Sync: When in channel mode you can activate scanning the same way (*/SCAN), but when you activate this option in the Menu, while it scans it keeps both A and B display synchronized as it scans. This is especially helpful when you have one set to display the name, and the other displaying the frequency, so you can associate both with frequencies or repeaters you're less than familiar with.
  5. VFO scan: Previous models would just start scanning from the current frequency on up until you pressed a button to stop it. This new feature allows you set the range of the VFO scan. Say you enter 145:146, this means it will scan from 145.000 to 146.995.

Due to the newer hardware inside, it allows for much better filtering of "intermod", and although it is not perfect, it is a definite improvement over other Baofeng/BTECH models. This also allows for a stronger sound from the speaker since they pump out a full 1W to the speaker instead of the 500-600mW typical of others in the 5R/F8 line. The new chipset (RDA1846S and RDA5802N) provides reduced AGC switching noise and a low-IF digital audio processor for improved sound quality.

One minor downside is to actually make use of this model on 220, you need to swap out the antenna to the included resonant 220 antenna since the V85 is only dual band 144/440. This is fine for a temporary solution, but for more long term solution, there are a few sources for a tri band handheld antenna. One is the Nagoya NA-320A which was released around the same time as the 5X3 (BaofengTech was in contact with Nagoya to try to get the release timeframe synced), another is one that typically comes with the tri-band Anytone 3318 series radio. Cost is in line with other Nagoya options. Another possibility is if you rarely use 440MHz 70cm, there are some dual band 144/220 antennas around like the NA-702 and NA-702DV. Another possibility is using an extendable antenna like the NA-771R (or the older NA-773).

So why should you buy this one over any other Baofeng? Well if you need a little more power, the 8W BF-F8HP or UV-82HP is still the preferred model, but for regular every day use, even if you do not make use of 220 (much or at all), the updates and internal changes are definitely well worth the cost over the UV-5R and BF-F8 baseline models.

I appreciate you looking over this information, and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to join me in the Facebook Baofeng "BARN" group and let me know, or send me an email at km4fmk -at- afo -dot- net.
Thank you and 73!

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