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I had originally bought a set of BaoFeng BF-888s+ radios that perform very well and perfectly suit my needs.

Needing more, I bought another set, this time buying BaoFeng BF-888s radios.

(Same model code, except the "+" at the end, apparently just a restyling).

The new radios don't talk to the old radios, despite being on the same channel. Both radio sets work well among themselves, but the two sets don't communicate with each other.

I bought both sets from Amazon, delivered to a US address. I live in a country where regulation is not an issue (not the US).

How can I make both sets talk to each other?

I've read somewhere that these BaoFeng radios have a programming cable (that I don't have). If these radios can actually talk to each other, I would very much prefer to fix them without using a cable (e.g., using keys on the units in a way that allows configuring them), as I don't have one, and getting one would be both expensive and time consuming considering where I am now. Otherwise, if getting a cable is the only option, is this a standard cable that can be bought in computers/electronics shops? Is their software readily available?

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  • $\begingroup$ I believe that radio has 16 channels. Even though they're not programmed identically, have you tried to see if any of the channels match up? Perhaps channel 3 on one pair matches channel 14 on the other. $\endgroup$ – Lance Mar 25 '17 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Lance I did, but no. $\endgroup$ – magma Mar 27 '17 at 12:43
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Unfortunately, you fell into one of the traps of the Chinese radios! You can't really assume what frequencies are they programmed with.

Basically, the radios are designed to be programmed with a certain set of frequencies, just like so-called "professional" radios of many other manufacturers. The "channel" on the radio is just a memory location, into which a frequency is written. As you figured out, you can't rely on them being the same across the models, so you'll need to make sure that on both sets of radios, same channels contain same frequencies.

Unfortunately, just like with many other "professional" radios, BF-888s aren't programmable without the cable. For "professional" radios, this part would normally be done by your dealer, in accordance with your license, but since you're getting the radios yourself, then you also need to do the programming on your own, or find a radio dealer close to you who might do it for you. IF you can't, then you need to get the programming cable and do it yourself.

The programming software is readily available. It might come on the CD with the cable, or you might need to get it yourself. Here's a nice page with some software versions. Another option would be to use program called CHIRP.

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    $\begingroup$ Thumbs up for CHIRP. And if I remember correctly, the programming cable is just a dumb TTL converter with a 3.5mm connector. Maybe one can find schematics/howtos online. Anyway, those things can't be expensive on amazon. $\endgroup$ – Marcus Müller Mar 23 '17 at 23:07
  • $\begingroup$ @MarcusMüller oh no, it's super cheap on Amazon. but I'm on an island in the middle of nowhere and shipping will kill me. $\endgroup$ – magma Mar 24 '17 at 1:53
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreajaKo great answer and super useful links, thanks! $\endgroup$ – magma Mar 24 '17 at 1:55
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    $\begingroup$ @magma … that's why I mentioned the possibility to build one yourself $\endgroup$ – Marcus Müller Mar 24 '17 at 8:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Marcus Müller Yeah, the cable is just a TTL converter, but sometimes, they also have USB to serial converter as well. Those cables are the sources for much of the issues and mythology behind the programming cables, since they quite often have dodgy chips inside. $\endgroup$ – AndrejaKo Mar 24 '17 at 14:53
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All good answers and comments given.

However, what strikes me is that you do not know what frequencies you are using.

Therefore it could very well be, and very likely, that you are using frequencies which you are not licensed for.

If that is the case:

  • It is ILLEGAL to use frequencies which you are not licensed for, or which are outside the allowable license-exempt allocations in your country.
  • It is DANGEROUS to use frequencies which you are not sure of, as they may interfere with official communications, such as aviation, maritime, emergency services, and other licensed services.

If you do not know what frequencies you are using, and/or if you are not licensed for those frequencies, I would strongly recommend that you STOP using the radio

[Edit based on commments]

That out of the way, the answers and comments already given are detailing how to program frequencies, but do not detail what frequencies you should program and use.

I live in a country where regulation is not an issue (not the US).

OK, even when living in a country without strict regulation about radio-usage, you should try to adhere to some international agreements.

Example:

  • you should not use any frequency which is in use by general aviation operations. 108 MHz-136 MHz
  • you should not use any frequency which is in use by general marine operations. 153 MHz - 163 MHz

Furthermore I would advice you to figure out your local emergency services, by either asking, searching on the internet. I would stay away from those.

Lastly, stay away from local broadcasters. This to avoid inteference either by you or to you.

Hard to believe that "regulation is not an issue", but you have not disclosed what country it is; so other than general statements on what frequencies to use is probably as best an answer you can get.

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  • $\begingroup$ While this is relevant advice, it does not actually answer the question. Please consider expanding your answer. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Mar 29 '17 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ @KevinReidAG6YO, fair enough; answer updated. $\endgroup$ – Edwin van Mierlo Apr 2 '17 at 7:51
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Different countries have allowed different frequencies to be used. Here is a chart comparing USA and Canada. It might help you for example have one radio on channel one the other on channel 9 . FRS is the USA GMRS is Canada FRS/GMRS Channels Channel numbers commonly used on 22 channel FRS/GMRS dual service radios are shown in the leftmost column. Most radios of this type are not capable of repeater operation and do not include the repeater input frequencies. Common Channel ↓ Frequency ↓ FRS Chan. ↓ FRS Max Output ↓ FRS Max Bandwidth ↓ GMRS Chan. ↓ GMRS Max Ouput ↓ GMRS Max Bandwidth ↓ Usage/Notes ↓ 01 462.5625 FRS 1 500 mW 12.5 kHz GMRS 9 5 W 25 kHz Unofficial national calling channel 02 462.5875 FRS 2 500 mW 12.5 kHz GMRS 10 5 W 25 kHz
03 462.6125 FRS 3 500 mW 12.5 kHz GMRS 11 5 W 25 kHz
04 462.6375 FRS 4 500 mW 12.5 kHz GMRS 12 5 W 25 kHz
05 462.6625 FRS 5 500 mW 12.5 kHz GMRS 13 5 W 25 kHz
06 462.6875 FRS 6 500 mW 12.5 kHz GMRS 14 5 W 25 kHz
07 462.7125 FRS 7 500 mW 12.5 kHz GMRS 15 5 W 25 kHz
08 467.5625 FRS 8 500 mW 12.5 kHz
09 467.5875 FRS 9 500 mW 12.5 kHz
10 467.6125 FRS 10 500 mW 12.5 kHz
11 467.6375 FRS 11 500 mW 12.5 kHz
12 467.6625 FRS 12 500 mW 12.5 kHz
13 467.6875 FRS 13 500 mW 12.5 kHz
14 467.7125 FRS 14 500 mW 12.5 kHz
15 462.5500 GMRS 1 50 W 25 kHz
16 462.5750 GMRS 2 50 W 25 kHz
17 462.6000 GMRS 3 50 W 25 kHz
18 462.6250 GMRS 4 50 W 25 kHz
19 462.6500 GMRS 5 50 W 25 kHz Use restricted near Canadian border 20 462.6750 GMRS 6 50 W 25 kHz Unofficial emergency/traveler assistance channel (PL 141.3) 21 462.7000 GMRS 7 50 W 25 kHz Use restricted near Canadian border 22 462.7250 GMRS 8 50 W 25 kHz

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  • $\begingroup$ You may only use "Type Approved" radio/sets on FRS/GMRS frequencies. The OP mentions that the sets he is using are of the brand "Baofeng" which are NOT certified by FCC. Furthermore, the OP is indicating that he is not in the US, so the information given in this answer is giving an appropriate answer. For these reasons I will have to down vote. $\endgroup$ – Edwin van Mierlo Mar 29 '17 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ Hello Louis, and welcome to ham.stackexchange.com. We appreciate your willingness to contribute, but please keep in mind that this site isn't like a typical chat forum. In particular we're looking for the best possible answers to questions, which get saved for posterity. The tour gives the basic idea. Your information is somewhat relevant, but doesn't directly answer the question, which is why it got down-voted. Contribute answers that do and we'll up-vote you! $\endgroup$ – rclocher3 Mar 31 '17 at 1:22

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