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I am a disabled person and need help programming my Baofeng UV-5R with all the pertinent emergency frequencies that apply to my area, which is Aurora, Colorado. I'm not a licensed ham and want to stay within the legal frequency limits.

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  • $\begingroup$ Stack Exchange is more for specific questions and answers than for help. For what you're looking for Id recommend talking to some folks on discord if possible. Discord, if youre unfamiliar, is an intuitive chat program with "servers" which are areas with particular topics, and channels within the servers to talk in. It sounds more complicated than it is. Heres one: discord.gg/8Pf4DNB3 ... they should help you set up chirp and use radioreference and such. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Deven
    Commented Dec 30, 2021 at 3:19
  • $\begingroup$ When in doubt though, 156.800MHz is the international distress channel. I recommend memorizing it. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Deven
    Commented Dec 30, 2021 at 3:19
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    $\begingroup$ VHF/UHF spectrum is tightly regulated. If you're not licensed as an amateur or by another authority, you can't transmit there. The only exception is the FRS, where the radio type is licensed by the FCC, but the UV-5R is not, so can't be used there either. You can listen to anything you want though. $\endgroup$
    – tomnexus
    Commented Dec 30, 2021 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ @tomnexus I'll be needlessly pedantic and point out that MURS is another license by rule radio service in the VHF/UHF range. I point this out knowing I'm setting myself up for someone to be even more pedantic and highlight some error or oversight I made. $\endgroup$
    – MacGuffin
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ @macguffin TIL, thanks! Similar in that it requires type-accepted MURS equipment, so no UV5s there either. $\endgroup$
    – tomnexus
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 15:59

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There is a very neat programming aid called CHIRP which can be used on the UV-5R and similar radios from B-Tech/Baofeng. It allows you to type up a spreadsheet on your computer with all the pertinent info on every channel you wish to monitor and then load it into your radio via a special USB cable, all in one fell swoop.

This is a big deal because the default user interface on the UV-5R is crippled by extremely poor product documentation coupled with a teeny display and a teeny keyboard with lots of shifted function keys. The CHIRP spreadsheet files can be shared between computers and between radios so if you know someone in your area who has programmed their radio for all the important local frequencies, repeater offsets, digital and analog access codes, etc. then you can copy the file and download all that info into your radio in a jiffy.

CHIRP is open source, no cost, and downloadable off the web. I use it and it's great. I'll never buy another 2M radio that isn't CHIRP-programmable.

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  • $\begingroup$ I bought an HT from Alinco that isn't supported by CHIRP (yet). I was able to slightly modify the spreadsheet I use with CHIRP to work with the Alinco software. It was a hassle that probably cost me 30 minutes, which I think was worthwhile given that I saved a bunch of money on the radio. So personally I'd say that I'd rather not buy another VHF/UHF radio that wasn't supported by CHIRP or similar software. As always, someone else's situation and life experiences may lead to a different conclusion. $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3
    Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ @rclocher3, I have an alinco mobile radio for my car which does not support CHIRP and it is almost impossible to program manually; which model alinco do you have? Mine's the dr-635T $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 2:46
  • $\begingroup$ It's a DJ-VX50T. I really like it because it has all the features I was looking for and was at least $60 cheaper than competing models with the same features, but I do wish it was supported by CHIRP. The Alinco software is adequate. I haven't tried programming a channel manually, but the manual makes the process seem similar to the way it's done with Icom or Yaesu VHF/UHF radios. $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 14:58
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If you contact your local ham radio club, they should be able to program your radio for you quite easily. They should have the software, the programming cable, the expertise, and the list of frequencies that you'd need.

You can legally use your UV-5R to listen in the US, but the only bands you could legally transmit on with a UV-5R are ham bands, and you would need a ham license to do that. (The other bands covered by the UV-5R such as FRS, GMRS, etc. all require radios that are type-accepted for their particular radio services, which the UV-5R is not.) Unfortunately all the UV-5Rs I've seen make lousy scanners, because their scan speed is quite slow, maybe four channels per second, but they are inexpensive, so if you're on a tight budget then using a UV-5R to listen could be worthwhile.

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