BaoFeng BF-F8HP Review

Introduction

The radio market has a lot of options, to say the least, and it is very rare that we come across radios that are so packed with features yet at a price point that does not seem elusive for the person just starting out in this field- it is amazing what this unit has to offer. The BF-F8HP is yet another offering in this flooded market. Is it worth the price?

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The BF-F8HP

The BaoFeng BF-F8HP is a dual band handheld radio that improves on the UV-5R with more transmit power based on a new generation chipset – along with new concierge service. The BF-F8HP has the latest N5R-340A firmware which is not available on any other model from BaoFeng.

Let’s dive in into the pros and cons of this nifty little unit

 

Pros

  1. Cost
  2. easy to use out of the box
  3. good sound quality and seems decent reception (with rubber ducky ) and good transmit power.
  4. For the most part the manual allowed me to start listening from day one (no license at the time).
  5. decent battery life when scanning only.
  6. Simplex mode easy to figure out

Cons

  1. Display is hard to read with polarized sunglasses
  2. duplex and repeater use has proven to be trial and error
  3. you may need to use the USB cable and computer to configure.
  4. Seem memory mode does not store PL code, offset, etc.
  5. Difficult to program, especially for long time hams used to other radios programming. While others may be “frequency, tone, save”, these Baofengs are “frequency, save, tone, offset, offset +/-, save” making it more difficult to manually program. Some radios have automatic offset, these do not.

 

Recommended accessories

  1. A car antenna: This has helped improved reception as one would expect.
  2. A Slim Jim antenna for home/field use
  3. A Diamond RH 77CA Antenna for work use

 

Performance & Build Quality

The manual that you get with the box and has language that has straight forward and easy to understand. A lot of Amazon buyers have said that the BF-F8HP is difficult to program without a computer. However, we found that it is really easy once you understand how the software on this device works.

There is one thing different on this unit when compared to other radios. When trying to save to the memory of the BF-F8HP you need to go through a two-step process, whereas this process is generally one step for most devices that you can potentially find on the market. BaoFeng’s reasoning behind this is that it keeps you from transmitting accidentally out of band. The belt clip, although it’s plastic, seems pretty solid, and a metal one from Icom/Kenwood/Yaesu can easily be modified to replace it, if you don’t trust it.

It’s size is small but packed with features. The buttons have nice travel and you don’t feel that they have gone cheap when choosing plastic for the device. The antenna feels well stuck in place, and the device is light, but not too light. The thing can sure take a good number of hits, and we suppose that drops on carpeted floors won’t affect this thing unless dropped with a lot of force. We have used this device in 2-3 terrains and can say with surety that the range and sound clarity is decent. The range is about 12 miles when we are talking on a surface that does not have a lot of obstacles on it. We have sometimes even hit 20-25 miles on this thing. The provided antenna with the 8-watt output is pretty awesome. The battery life is very good, we charged the BF-F8HP once in 3 weeks, we have used it several times a week on high power.

Listening to Radio on this is fun!

The BF-F8HP includes a different antenna (model A-V85) from the rest of the Baofeng series, which we believe this same antenna is typically included with their higher end commercial models.  With an aftermarket or external antenna and the expanded battery, it becomes a longer distance radio lasting for days. Like the other Baofengs and suffers from horrible intermod issues. Luckily Chirp has a recent update that allows you to adjust the squelch levels for most UV-5R based radios, including the BF-F8HP. After this update and adjusting the squelch levels, intermod is almost completely gone. The 8W output you get for the cheap price is unbeatable. The closest equivalent 10W single band Chinese mobile radio is 2-3 times the price of this unit.

 

Things to Keep in Mind

There will be a conflict with your memory channels if you utilize the same channel numbers for the 2 bands. So, whichever band you decide to program first start with 1 and then annotate the last channel used in that band. Our honest advice to buyers is to spend some money on a correct programming cable. You could then utilize the CHIRP software and you’ll be able to easily program your radio automatically as opposed to manually. This will save you a lot of time and will probably result in less programming related headaches for you. BEWARE, that you cannot transmit until you’ve earn your technician’s license.

Conclusion

If you’re new to amateur radio or just want to be able to listen to amateur radio transmissions this is a great starter radio. This radio is a workhorse for the price. If you’re new to amateur radio or just want to be able to listen to amateur radio transmissions this is a great starter radio. If you need a radio that you know is going to go through a lot of drops then this is the device that you are looking for. Since this device is packed with features it can be a little annoying to program the BF-F8HP without a computer. The key takeaway is that it has a price point that is really enticing, and that is really stable under heavy workloads. These radios are for short, quick comments, not long winded drawn out conversations lasting 30+ minutes. Typically, they do get a little warm, but anyone saying it is too hot to touch after a while has self-control issues with their long drawn out diatribes, not a radio problem.

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