I received two UV5R plus radios a couple of years ago as a gift to use for hunting. I've never used them, but I now have time on my hands due to some medical issues so figured I'd play around with them. I'm using them as scanners for police, fire and road crews.

It is fun to listen, but one radio gets the signals I'd expect - mainly local stuff, maybe everything in a 20 mile radius. They other one is getting signals from 50-60 miles away. Is that normal? They have the same antennas. So is one radio sub par or do I have one that's above average?

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    $\begingroup$ Do the radios have the same squelch setting? $\endgroup$ – mrog Mar 13 '18 at 19:10

The earlier iterations of the Chinese radios had their issues. This has gotten notably better in the last year or two but people largely dismiss minor issues since they are so inexpensive. So it could be a quality problem with one of the radios.

It could also be a difference in the performance of the antennas. Try swapping the antennas as an experiment. If the receiving distance follows the antenna then you know you have your culprit.

At VHF and UHF frequencies, communications are largely limited to line of sight. But signals can bounce off of certain objects. So if the radios are not side by side and on the same frequency for your comparisons, you could be experiencing issues with the path of the signal.

When receiving an FM signal, the audio is unmuted through the squelch control circuit. If one radio has a "tighter" squelch than the other, it may be receiving the signal but it simply isn't unmuting so that you can hear it. Try using the monitor function, which forces open the squelch, to compare the two radios while receiving a signal.

If all other things are equal, a VHF frequency will be usable over a longer distance than a UHF frequency. So make your comparisons on the same frequency at the same time.

Finally, the only way to tell definitively is to use a calibrated RF signal generator to measure the MDS (minimum discernable signal) of each radio and compare that to the manufacturer's specifications.


The manufacturing processes used for this brand of radio aren't very consistent. So, it wouldn't surprise me at all if one worked better than the other. You might also notice differences in how well the batteries fit, how sensitive the microphones are, etc. It's hard to say if one is subpar or the other is above average. That's because par for this brand is all over the place.

You'll find similar issues with all of the budget-friendly radio brands. This has earned them a poor reputation in the ham radio community. But if you have one that works well enough, there's no reason why you can't keep using it. I only own one radio, and it's a Baofeng. It's not a great radio, but it works well enough for my current needs.

Since you seem to have some time on your hands, you should consider studying for the entry-level (technician class in the US) license exam. It likely won't take long, and it will open up a lot of options for using your radios. I think you'll find that being able to transmit is a lot more enjoyable than just listening.

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    $\begingroup$ Technician-class exam will only apply if the poster is in the US. $\endgroup$ – Jim MacKenzie VE5EV Mar 13 '18 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, @JimMacKenzie, for pointing that out. I edited my answer to make it less US centric. $\endgroup$ – mrog Mar 13 '18 at 21:55

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