Wednesday 15 August 2018

BAOFENG BF-F9V2+ Impressions.

This is just a little overview of my experience with the Baofeng BF-F9V2+ hand transmitter.
[Please keep in mind this review was written in 2018. I don't think this particular model is still available.]
I ordered mine from eBay and even though they're Chinese made transmitters, they all come from the United States. The are sold by Foscam or
Beware that since they come from the States, they come with US chargers that don't fit in European or UK wall sockets! (As I am situated in The Netherlands I just soldered on a European wall plug and covered the connections in hot glue and then with electrical tape. Works like a charm and it's safe too.)
I did a check on May the 12th 2019 and couldn't find a listing of these Hand Transmitters anywhere. It seems the BF-F9V2+ models are out of stock everywhere. It seems the new kid on the block is the Baofeng BF-UVS9+. This is the new model for 2019 but it doesn't seem to offer anything more than the older model except a higher capacity battery (3800 mAh instead of the 1800 mAh of the F9V2+), and a newly designed case which does look very cool and comes in 3 colours, black, silver and red.
It's also an 8 Watt model. They call it Tri-Band but they include in that the FM broadcast band on which you of course can not transmit. There are however also models that include the 200MHz range and are true tri-band hand transmitters.

Here's a picture of my BF-F9V2+:

Build Quality and Range:
This is a 3rd generation version of the well known UV-5R series of HT's and the exterior looks exactly like the UV-5RV2+ but it's most distinguishing feature is that it has the 8 Watt RF power option (although it doesn't really do 8 Watt, more on that later). I am familiar with FM transmitters and I know that in order to double your range with any transmitter, the general rule is that you need a 10 fold increase in output power. So I didn't think the extra power would have much influence on the range of this HT but it did have an effect. Not so much a big increase in range but an increase in penetrating power. The BF-F9V2+ has very good penetrating force. I must remark here that the first thing I did when I got this set is remove the original antenna and replace it with an original Nagoya NA-701. That is important because all the consequent testing is done with that antenna! Well, the signal goes through buildings and what have you like a hot knife through butter. For instance, I was underneath an overpass, a kilometer away from my house where the receiver stood (I used a UV 5RE+ with a Nagoya NA-701 antenna as receiver because at that time I didn't have a second BF-F9V2+ and I used a digital voice recorder to record the received signals.) I was inside my car with all windows closed and underneath that particular concrete overpass you're literally below ground level, and still the signal came in crystal clear. I was impressed I can tell you. That would not have worked had I used a normal UV 5R. An other thing I noticed is that the BF-F9V2+ has a better sound quality out of the build-in speaker than the UV-5RE plus. The BF has better low frequency sound. The UV sounds very tinny, with much more high frequency elements in the sound. The BF uses a new chip set with noise reduction features that block out noises caused by signal intensity changes and it also has a tail tone elimination feature.
The unit feels very solid. It's made from industrial plastic and has an aluminium frame inside. The loudspeaker is protected by a metal gauze over which they mounted a black anodized aluminium protection plate. This has a bevel in it which gives a shiny effect when the light hits it. It looks very cool. Also the lettering on the front around the LCD screen has a holographic effect which gives it all the colours of the rainbow if you hold it at different angles. On the back there is a spring loaded belt-clip which is made from plastic but feels very sturdy. It's the same one as on the UV-5R. I think you'd have to misuse it a lot in order to break it. The LCD display is protected by a hard plastic window so you can't touch the LCD screen itself whereas the UV-5R just has the display with the metal case around it. The UV-5R LCD-display is soft plastic and scratches easily in itself, but because of the raised metal edges it hardly ever scratches with normal use. The BF-F9V2+ has a hard plastic window over the display which protects the display but this plastic window is not protected by any metal so it will scratch in normal use. So that's a bit of a paradox. The protective hard plastic window should protect the display underneath from scratching (which it does) but because it is right at the surface of the unit it will scratch over time because things will rub against it. None of this is really important though in my opinion. They are meant to be used and hold up in daily use and they do. All the Baofeng units are very sturdy and excellent value for money.
One tiny thing on the front panel is different to the UV-5R; it's missing the 'Band' button. Leaving that out was a wise decision by the designers, because I don't think anyone ever uses that button. It's not needed because the band is selected automatically when you enter the frequency.
The unit comes in a nice brown box with a 74 page manual for which you'll need glasses with enormous magnifying power to be able to read it. The letters are 0.9 mm high. (Yes I actually measured them ^__^) It is however a very useful manual. It tells you everything you need to know, including how to program it. If you're sensible though, you should get a programming cable from eBay so you can use "Chirp" to program it. For those of you who don't know Chirp. It's free software you can download from the net and which makes programming this unit a breeze.
You can download CHIRP directly by clicking here.

The frequency range is as follows:

65 to 108 MHz (FM Broadcast band, receive only)

136-174 MHz (VHF) I found that it still works as low as 131 MHz and as high as 177 MHz.  You can transmit and receive from 131 to 177 MHz without problems. You can type in 130 MHz on the BF-F9V2+ and it will transmit but it only transmits weird beeping sounds. You can see it's not designed to transmit on frequencies as low as that, but the software does allow you to type it in. If you type in frequencies between 178 and 179 MHz and press the PTT button it just goes on transmitting even if you let go of the PTT button. You need to switch the unit off in order to stop transmission. It works fine up to 177 MHz though.

400-519.990 MHz (UHF) The UHF range is listed as 400 to 480 but goes up to 519.990 without problems. However, I tested the signal on my oscilloscope and it looks more like a modulated AM signal than an FM signal so I wouldn't use these frequencies if I were you. You can type in 520.000 MHz but again the transmission will go on even if you let go of the PTT button and you need to switch off to stop it. It's not designed to go that high. Best keep within the advertised ranges at all the bands.

The 5 bar signal indicator does actually work. It doesn't just go on or off if you receive a signal. It actually shows more bars as the signal gets stronger. This does not work if you press the Monitor Button. Then you just get all 5 bars at once. So there's a working signal strength indicator on all Baofeng HT's  (not just this model) but it's so small you can hardly read it. Oh well. =)

RF Power:
I measured the output power on a Diamond SX-600 SWR/Power meter with a 50 Ohm Dummy-Load attached as antenna and I measured an output power of 6 Watts on the 2 meter band (VHF) and 4 Watts on the 70cm band (UHF). That is less than advertised but it is still 2 Watts more compared to the UV-5R on both bands which I measured at 4 Watt and 2 Watt respectively.

The BF-F9V2+ with 2 UV-5RE+'s behind it. Note the lettering which changes colour according to the angle at which you hold it. It's the same in outward appearance as the UV-5RV2+.

BF-F9V2+ with the Nagoya NA-701 antenna. This is the antenna that I find the most useful for these HT's. Although the Nagoya NA-771 is a bit better it is also 38 Centimeters long (15 Inches). The NA-701 is 20 cm (8 Inches) long, which is much more practical. The original Ducky antenna is just 14,5 cm (5.7 Inches) and is pretty much useless. Get rid of it as fast as possible.

The inside is Aluminium and the battery is in a sturdy industrial-plastic casing.

Here is the complete manual in PDF form: click here

EDIT: In the recently started conflict between Russia and the Ukraine, I saw a Ukrainian soldier on a news item with a Baofeng UV5-R. It seems they are ideal for communication in close quarter fighting because of their long range, clear sound and long battery life.

That's is it for now, thank you for reading this. I hope you found it useful and if you did, I would love for you to leave a comment. Let me know your thoughts on the Baofeng products!
See you later!