Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Digital Modes - Setting up a Baofeng UV5R - Guest Post By Prepper Radios Canada

We're all aware of Phone mode over radio.  Phone mode is what most people use a handheld radio to do.  It simply involves pressing the PTT button and speaking into the microphone.  But handheld radios can do so much more with digital modes.

Digital modes simply means that you are sending data over the air instead of voice.  With digital modes, you can send text, images and files over the amateur band.  Digital modes have been widely used over HF frequencies for some time now, but it IS possible to use these modes on VHF and UHF.

Thanks to the PR-Digi from Prepper Radios Canada, you can now enhance your VHF/UHF comms plan.  The PR-Digi interfaces your PC and Baofeng UV5R.  Using the free FLDigi software, you can use any digital mode.  Setup is simple with the included plug and play USB sound card.  Plug the appropriate cables into the sound card, and to the UV5R (use the imrfadaptor for the speaker port on the UV5R) and with a few simple configurations of the FLDigi software you're ready to go!

The above photo is of the prototype PR-Digi connected to my go bag radio and laptop.  The prototype, laptop, and radio all reside in my radio go bag.

In the short video above, we can see the PR-Digi in action, sending an image using the Thor22 mode.  Notice the red transmit light coming on automatically using the Baofeng VOX feature.

Using digital modes has several advantages.  First of all, it's quiet.  There is no voice to be overheard by others.  Secondly, you get more punch from your signal, allowing you to get out further than with voice communications.  Also, let's not forget the ability to send recon images and other files to others in your MAG.

The PR-Digi has been tested using the recommended FLDigi software.  Other programs may work as well but have not been tested.  Please use your call sign and observe the 2 meter and 70cm band plans.


  1. will the UV5R handle SSTV without overheating, some modes run for 2 minutes or even more ?? I reduce my HF rig's power output to max 50 watts and at times much less, depending on the mode.

  2. Great Question!
    This setup was used to send images using MFSK mode.
    No significant overheating was noticed. That being said, you should always reduce power to the minimum required to get the signal out. Also, chose an smaller image size when sending. This should reduce the risks.

  3. Thank you for your reply, would be good to be able to easily reduce to 2 watts, but I think it's either 4 or 1 watt with the UV5R, now I'm thinking there are SSTV modes that TX within 50 seconds, this mode is not good on HF generally, but FM could be quite good, and short bursts of PSK31 or similar should be no problem, and to compensate for reducing power, maybe a small light 2 or 3 element alum yagi, easily dismantled for portability, I must see if I can get a bit of time and try this out, and now there is a claimed 8 watt output Baofeng model, if a genuine 8 watts ??, reducing to half power is still a good working output.