This is my Bug Out Radio Kit. It consists of a really inexpensive, handheld HAM radio and its accessories in a case. I developed
it on accident when I wanted a cheap HT (Handie-Talkie) to play with. While perusing eBay for used radios I stumbled across
the Baofeng UV-3R and decided to look into it. eHAM
reviews were surprisingly positive for such a cheap radio and after
watching every YouTube video I could find about it, I decided to take the plunge. Then, fueled by my incessant desire for
Pelican (style) cases, I found a little box to keep it dry and in one piece. The BORK
The total cost is about $85. An even hundred could include a mag-mount antenna for use as a mobile. A decent little kit can
easily be made for less if you don't want some of the accessories.Items & Cost (shipped):Baofeng UV-3R Mark II
****: $45.80UV-3R Cable (w/CD)
***: $11.50OtterBox 2000
: $13USB Charging Cable
**: $5SMA-BNC Adaptor
*: $5UHF-BNC Adaptor
*optional for other antenna types - see External Antennas
**recommended - see USB Charging Cable
***highly recommended - see Programming
****there are two versions of the UV-3R - I adamantly recommend the Mark II. Understand why by watching the first video in myUV-3R playlist on Youtube
, and make sure you're getting the right one when you buy - eBay is a tricky place!Prices fluctuate often: I paid at least $5 less on my first setup, yet some things are cheaper now. I originally started buying on
eBay until I found the above prices. I've ordered 5 radios and many accessories from 409shop.com since then. They also have
an eBay store called mega409shop. It may or not be worth your time to shop around for dollar or three savings, but I enjoyed
it personally, and hope to have given those who don't like shopping a good start at the very least.The Radio
Now, obviously the radio is the key component and the most significant in cost. Anyone familiar with handheld HAMs really
knows how cheap this is though. In fact, the Baofeng UV-3R is an unabashed rip-off of a Yaesu - one of the top three HAM
radio makers - at ~¼ the price! And believe it or not, for many people, this cheap knock-off actually comes out on top of the
Yaesu VX-3R even without price as a factor: higher wattage on battery power, better display, off-band TX out of the box, and
FM broadcast receive, admittedly with a few less bells and whistles - but it does have a flashlight!
The final reason the Baofeng won me over though, was that this radio doesn't cost much more than a family radio, but in
addition to the FRS band
and NOAA weather channels
, it adds access to two of the more popular repeater HAM bands.FYI, transmitting on the FRS/GMRS frequencies with this radio is illegal ...but, who cares when I can hit a repeater 30
miles from me that blasts out 70 miles+ on the 2-meter HAM band!!?
Included with the HT are a wall-wart, battery dock, in-ear headset with PTT button and mic, dual-band antenna, belt clip, and
The in-ear headset is surprisingly good. The receive volume isn't super loud but works fine in my truck with the windows down
in traffic. It's adjustable to suit most ears, although probably not everyone comfortably. Included for free, it's perfect.
The belt clip is also good, and can't imagine much going wrong with it besides snagging it super duper hard on something. The
battery cover slides off under it easily which was a concern initially...until I figured out that there's a little sliding lock on the
bottom of the radio. Excellent design there. I've got a label maker so I typed out my callsign in case it's ever left somewhere,
and I use the belt clip to conceal the bright white label and to guard it from peeling off.
So far, so good, but wait! The battery dock is pure garbage: it doesn't regulate the battery voltage which can cause batteries
to explode - I'm not joking - I tossed it immediately.
The wall-wart is also horrible. It's designed for European(?) outlets with an American adaptor as an obvious afterthought. If it
were to be used as provided, it'd probably fall out of the wall on its own weight. I never even had a chance to try it out since
mine didn't include the US plug! This actually didn't bother me in the slightest since I'd planned on ditching the wall-wart
altogether.I've since had better luck with 409shop - I've always gotten decent, American wall-warts.USB Charging Cable
The included wall-wart outputs 5v DC which coincidentally matches the voltage supplied by USB ports. I have an iPhone and
have grown to love the stock wall-wart Apple provides
due to its tiny form factor and its adaptability. I also appreciate that
many phones and mp3 players can be powered via devices with USB; things like car adapters
and laptops. This now means that
USB ports are everywhere. The mashup of the Baofeng charging plug and a USB cable was obvious to me from the start.
When I got the radio, I fashioned a decent utilitarian charging cable that I was somewhat satisfied with...until I found a
prefabricated cable for $5!On my first draft of this post, I outlined the trials and tribulations faced with making the little cable. If you're really
interested in how I made it, feel free to ask for details. If you want to charge via USB, I highly recommend that you just buy
one though.External Antennas
The included antenna is pretty decent for the size and I can't really see upgrading it for something "better" - I do however plan
on buying a micro antenna to give me the tiniest form factor imaginable when needed.
I currently have an Icom IC-V8000 mobile radio in my truck. It's connected to a mag-mount dual-band (2m/70cm) antenna on
my roof and routed through to the back of my center console for now. I can put the antenna in the back seat cup holder with
the feedline curled up under the seat if I need a car wash, or run it up through the door jam and onto the roof when I actually
need to get any distance out of it.
My eventual plan is to mount a ⅝ wave (~48") antenna to a rack in my bed. I'd then have the ability to use my current antenna
for the Baofeng in my truck, or take them out for use in another vehicle - hence the UHF to BNC and BNC to SMA connectors.
There exists a connector that adapts SMA (what the Baofeng has) to UHF (which is what most mobile antennas have) but I
wanted the flexibility to connect other common HT antennas that use BNC connectors. As it turns out, using two adapters gave
me much more flexibility in movement as well. Since UHF and SMA connectors don't spin freely, having the BNC portion
"between" them allows me to spin the radio 360 degrees with little friction Programming
While the UV-3R is super easy to use, I highly recommend getting the ~$12 programming cable. Compared to other cables,
this again, is a steal. It's not unheard of to pay nearly $100 for a cable alone...not including software! To my knowledge the
software is free and available online, but is included with the cable on a mini CD - which just so happens to fit in the OtterBox!
Also available is free, cross-platform, open source software that programs a decent amount of radios. You'll still need to install
the USB-serial drivers for the cable, but CHIRP
handles the rest.
Which ever way you go, programming the radio via the USB cable makes adding and organizing frequencies, tones, and
repeater offsets a walk in the park.
In lieu of the CD, I've copied the drivers and software to the USB stick I keep on my key chain Case
As I suggested earlier, the initial reason I wanted the case was because I love them; I'd been trying to talk myself into getting
one for months before I had anything to put in it
And, of course there's no free lunch with this radio. It's cheap, but cheaply made, and it's tiny. I haven't mentioned this yet,
but it's small enough to fit in a pack of cigarettes. Needless to say, it's not waterproof and isn't quite as durable as I'm sure
most zombie hunters would prefer. A strong waterproof case is exactly what's required for this to be part of one's survival or
The OtterBox is *said* to be waterproof to 100 feet deep. I've also read some reviews that claim they've ruined snorkelers'
phones. I take statements from manufacturers with a grain of salt, but for my purposes, and after having witnessed the build
quality, I'm confident it will suit my needs just fine - I'm mostly worried about dirt, sand, short falls and the occasional
drizzle or splash.
Why didn't I buy a Pelican? The reasons are threefold: Pelican's are double the price for cases this size, they don't include any
padding for the contents, and they're only water resistant.
I put another label with my callsign on the back, and inside I include a list of all the channels I've got in the radio with
descriptions. A necessary evil for micro radios...no alpha characters
A couple considerations when calculating case size. The radio barely fits depth-wise with the belt clip attached. I hadn't
planned for that and I was lucky. Important things to have in a radio go kit are batteries, power adaptors (car/110v house),
paper, pen, repeater directory, manuals and other bits and pieces. You're going to want to make sure you have room for those.
Since this was intended to supplement my EDC and/or BOB I've got most of the stuff on hand. Things like chargers (including a
AA powered USB charger), pens, and paper I already have in my kits. Other things are covered by my iPhone: an app calledRepeaters
works without Internet connection (and is better than any repeater book I've ever used) and I keep all of my radio
manuals in iBooks ( inPDF format) for offline access as well.Conclusion
While this setup isn't the fanciest thing in the world, it's easy to do and super cheap for what you get. It's fun to "build" and
it's an awesome way to get into HAM radio and more importantly, have some form of comms ready for the zombie apocalypse.
Is the UV-3R a good beginner radio? From a technical standpoint, it's debatable. It's easy to use but it lacks features like tone
scanning and it's not wide-band - so no air traffic reception ability. But from a price perspective, it literally can't be beat!
Did I mention it's got a flashlight?
- My YouTube roundup of the best Baofeng UV-3R videos
- Brick O'Lore is an awesome resource for all things Baofeng
- DealNews has helped me find OtterBox's for cheap (<$10) - Amazon typically has the best everyday price (note model no's)
- Speaker Mic that's an excellent accessory to the radio, although not part of my BORK
- Cheap Mag-Mount SMA Antenna that I have zero experience with - probably better than a rubber duck though
- Micro SMA Antenna that is almost useless on 2-meter, but makes the Baofeng pocket sized
- Repeaters app for iPhone/iPad/iPod isn't perfect but it's the best of the several apps I've tried
- HAM Technician License Prep YouTube playlist that helped me get my ticket