Baofeng BF-F8HP Review – Most Powerful Ham Radio
The ham radio market has a ton of options, to say the least. So, it can be challenging to find that one radio that has it all. Well, there is one that does have it all; the Baofeng BF-F8HP( UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8 Watt-Dual Band Two-way Ham radio. This is hands down the best Baofeng radio in the market today because it offers what seems like an impossible combination elsewhere; top-of-the-line features, unbeatable functionality, and a user-friendly interface, not forgetting how affordable it is.
We went ahead put together an all-inclusive Baofeng bf-f8hp review that will give you an in-depth look at everything you need to know about this one of a kind ham radio. So, let’s get right into it, shall we?
Baofeng BF-F8HP Specifications
- Battery: 2000mAh, 7.4v, Li-ion
- Frequency Range: 65-108MHz (FM Receive only) 136-174MHz and 400-520MHz (TX/RX)
- Antenna: High Gain Dual Band Antenna 7″ Antenna
- Mode of operation: Simple or semi-duplex
- Transmitter Output power: 8W/5W / 1W (Max 8W)
- Modulation Mode: 16k F3E / 11k F3E
- Maximum deviation: 5kHz(Wide) / <2.5kHz(Narrow) CTCSS/DCS deviation: 0.5+/-0.1kHz(Wide) / 0.3+/-0.1kHz(Narrow)
- Speaker/Audio output power: 700mW
- Audio output: Jack 3.5 mm headphone
History of the Baofeng BF-F8HP (Most Powerful Handheld Ham Radio)
For two decades now, Baofeng Tech has been one of the leading manufacturers of ham radios. They are not only known for creating high-quality radios, but also the amount of work and research they put into each of their gadgets to make them unique, and this particular one is no exception. But just what is the story behind this radio’s existence?
In 2012, Baofeng introduced the BF-F8HP’s predecessor, the Baofeng UV-5R, and have since made significant improvements to the device. In 2013 and 2014, the company created new and improved 2nd Generation Baofeng models from the previous UV-5R. These models include; UV-5R V2+, UV-5RE, BF-F8+, UV-5R+, UV-5RA, GT-3, and 997-S that either had the latest BFB297 or N5R firmware.
In late 2014, they introduced the BF-F8HP as the upgraded 3rd generation model of the UV-5R.
Who is it suitable for?
The Baofeng BF-F8HP is designed for personal and non-commercial activities. But there is a catch. As per the FCC rules and regulations, it can only be operated by those who have either of these valid ham radio licenses, a Technician license, a General license, or an Amateur extra license. So, it is not suitable for the general public.
With that being said, let’s jump into the Baofeng BF-F8HP’s features, shall we?
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Baofeng BF-F8HP Review – Features of this Ham Radio
1) Frequency Range
The Baofeng BF-F8HP operates on three frequency capabilities; the Very High-Frequency Capability (VHF), Ultra High Frequency (UHF), and Frequency Modulation (FM), which is meant for commercial radio reception only. These frequencies range between 130 and 176 MHz(VHF), 400-520MHz(UHF), and 65 and 108MHz(FM) when programmed. With both frequency capabilities, the gadget can cover a more extended range with better transmissions within an area.
Typically, the gadget’s UHF has a range of between 400-479.995MHz before it’s programmed. However, you can expand it by either programming manually using the keypads or using its programming software and an appropriate cable.
2. Power Output and Range
This is one of the features that has made the BF-F8HP earn its title as the most powerful Baofeng radio. The device features a maximum transmit power of 8 watts with three adjustable power output levels, including; 4 watts at medium level and 1 watt at the lowest level. You can set the power output to either medium or low settings to conserve the battery power. However, if you want the radio to operate at full capacity, we recommend setting it at the highest power output. Thanks to its high power output, the gadget can cover a maximum range of 20 to 25 miles depending on the available obstructions.
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The BF-F8HP features a tri-color LCD with selectable purple, blue, and orange background colors, allowing you to customize it to your preferred color for easier visibility and operation. What’s more, the display is perfectly laid out, making it easy to view all the information even at a glance. Thanks to the radio’s programming capabilities, the LCD can display a lot of information in the form of alphanumeric characters like numbers, letters, and other special symbols.
While the traditional programming software allows you to display up to 6 characters, the CHIRP software allows you to store and display a maximum of 7 characters. You can also manually program the device to display the battery voltage by pressing and holding down to the ‘zero’ key. This allows you to no longer depend only on the battery level icon to know how battery life is left.
Most baofeng radios are Dual-tone multi-frequency signaling (DTMF) enabled. However, the feature is upgraded in the BF-F8HP, making it possible to obtain the right DTMF A, B, C, D tones through the speaker and OTA by pressing the upper row keyboard buttons.
5. The Transmitter
The creators of the BF-F8HP know too well that a ham radio is just as powerful as the antenna is. That is why they included a powerful high-gain V-85 antenna that has very high sensitivity and does a great job of capturing and transmitting frequencies, enabling you to receive crisp and clear FM, VHF and UHF signals. However, most Baofeng BF-F8HP reviews have pointed out that its selectivity is poor, especially in highly RF congested areas like cities.
Another positive thing is that the radio has an SMA female antenna connector, making it compatible with all prior Baofeng upgrade antennas.
While a standard transmitter operates at a maximum of 4 watts, the Baofeng BF-F8HP’s VHF transmits at a solid 8 watts while the UHF transmits at 7 watts. It also has three power setting levels; high, medium, and low, giving you the pleasure of choosing which level you would like to transmit on.
6. Programming Software
The device can be programmed in two ways. You can either program baofeng bf-f8hp using it’s BF-F8HP CPS-rar factory programming software or using the versatile CHIRP programming software that allows you to program it on Windows, Mac, or Linux computers. Although most people have pointed out that the process is challenging, it is easy once you get the hang of it. However, since the package does not come with the programming cable, it’s essential to get yourself a good quality programming cable, to avoid spending a lot of time programming it.
7. Case Design
The BF-F8HP’s case design resembles it’s predecessors’ except for the bands’ button. It is made of robust black plastic material that has a rugged feel, so it’s guaranteed to last for a very long time. Most customers are also impressed by its simple design and large-enough buttons, making it easy to operate.
8. Audio quality
The Baofeng BF-F8HP has impressive audio quality thanks to its 700mw speaker that projects loud and undistorted audio. What’s more, it features a CTSS(Continuous Coded Squelch System) and a DCS (Digital Coded Squelch System) that are responsible for blocking unwanted transmissions from a channel, allowing you to have more private and clear communication.
9. Battery Life
When it comes to battery life, the Baofeng BF-F8HP really passed the test. It comes with a high-capacity 2000mAH battery, which is 30% larger than it’s predecessors’ battery. The battery can last up to 24 hours before it needs recharging, so you don’t have to worry about it going off amid your ham radio endeavors. The battery icon on the display keeps you in the loop as to how much battery life is left. What’s more, the radio repeatedly says “low voltage” right before it goes off, so you will know when to recharge it.
10. Weather Resistance and Durability
Although the Baofeng BF-F8HP does not have a waterproof IP-rating, it still works perfectly under all weather conditions. It has a rubber that completely covers all the electrical ports from possible external destructions like water. However, that does not mean you do not have to careful, especially while using it near water. As we mentioned earlier, the radio has a sturdy casing, with metal screws that hold it perfectly together, so it is guaranteed to last for months before having any wear and tear signs.
11. Weight and Size
The BF-F8HP weighs about 214 g and measures approximately 10.5 inches by 2 inches by 2 inches, so it’s very lightweight and portable. Most customers like the fact that it can easily fit into the pocket, of course, without the antenna. But you don’t have to worry since it comes with a belt clip that allows you to comfortably carry the whole device around.
Ease Of Use
The manufacturers of the Baofeng BF-F8HP understand that not everyone is skilled enough to operate a ham radio. That is why they ensured that the device is easy to use, making it the best baofeng ham radio for beginners. For starters, it has comes with an all-inclusive 76-page user manual that contains a step-by-step guide on how to customize the radio to your personal preferences. This includes steps on how to expand the range of a baofeng under the Ultra High Frequency. Sure, it can be confusing, but once you understand everything, it becomes very easy to use.
Another thing that makes the BF-F8HP user-friendly is its settings and capabilities. All its buttons are laid out perfectly for easier operation. However, most customers have pointed out that one cannot press the buttons with gloves on. The gadget also has a push-to-talk button that allows you to transmit on two frequencies simultaneously when switched to semi-duplex mode. The display also has a lot of information that is well organized for easier use. In simple terms, the radio is easy to use once you learn how to operate it.
Value For Money
It’s no doubt that the Baofeng BF-F8HP is worth every dollar on its price tag. For starters, the radio itself and its accessories are made of high-quality materials, guaranteed to last for a long time. It also has exceptional performance, which is very impressive for a ham radio that costs under $100. Most Baofeng BF-F8HP reviews are also impressed by its large internal memory. The device can accommodate up to 128 programmable channels that can be modified through programming.
What is included in the box?
- Baofeng BF-F8HP ham radio.
- V-85 High-gain antenna.
- 2000mAH battery.
- Power adapter.
- Battery charger.
- Hands strap.
- Belt clip.
- User manual.
- 1-year warranty support.
- It is very affordable.
- It is user-friendly.
- It has excellent audio quality.
- It has a high power output for increased efficiency and maximum range coverage.
- It allows the user to transmit on two frequencies simultaneously.
- It has excellent battery life.
- It comes with extra features like the VOX(Hands-free) function for better all-round performance.
- It is not waterproof.
- It does not come with an FTDI programming cable.
- Some customers have pointed out that the semi-duplex and repeater functions do not work perfectly.
Final Thoughts on Baofeng BF-F8HP Review
The Baofeng BF-F8HP remains a favorite among pro and amateur ham operators because of its new and improved features, stunning performance, user-friendly interface, and affordable price tag. So, if you are a newbie looking for the perfect ham radio to start your ham radio experience or a veteran looking for a radio to take your ham radio adventures to the next level, this is the ideal choice. However, before purchasing it, ensure that you are buying it from a verified distributor, to avoid getting a counterfeit one.