K5DDJ's Baofeng Radio Antenna Test

Shortly after obtaining my Baofeng radios, a UV3R+ and a UV-5R+, I started searching for replacement antennas. Reading reviews from various sources gave very diverse opinions. So I collected a few antennas and began developing my own test procedure. Shown below are the antennas that were included in my tests.

From left to right is a Nagoya NA-805 stubby, a Maldol AS-30 that I had used on another radio, a new Nagoya NA-771, a "no name" generic that I bought off of eBay and is available from several sources, a new Nagoya NA-701 and two Baofeng branded antennas. The first Baofeng is the one that came with a UV-B5 (a A-V85) which is a straight 6-3/4" long (I didn't like the UV-B5 radio and later returned it) and the last one is what came with my UV-5R+ (a A-5R), which is the shorter 4-5/8" tapered antenna. Both of the Baofeng antennas can be obtained from several sources on eBay or Amazon. I felt that this small group of antennas would provide me with the information that I was looking for.

First let me explain how I conducted my tests. The first procedure I performed was to determine the relative field strength radiated by each antenna. I used a rather simple home brew field strength meter at a given distance from my UV-5R+. Each antenna's signal strength was read on the meter at frequencies of 146.5 Mhz and 446.5 Mhz. The whole procedure was repeated a second time with the radio in a slightly different position. The findings from the two procedures were then averaged and are displayed below.

To record the SWR of each antenna was a bit more difficult. How do you, and where do you, place an SWR meter on a hand held radio? Here is what I did. I built a "simulated" radio out of a small aluminum project box with a RF input jack on one end and an antenna connector on the other. I then mounted the test antenna on it and fed a RF signal through a VHF/UHF SWR meter to the "simulated" radio. I held it in my hand as I took the readings so as to simulate an actual operating scenario.

The chart below shows the results of my tests. The VHF and UHF "Relative Out" figures are based on a zero to ten scale. The higher the number the greater the output. Although the SWR numerical readings may not be entirely accurate they certainly can be used for a comparative evaluation.

Antenna Test Results

Antenna Length VHF Relative Out VHF SWR UHF Relative Out UHF SWR
Nagoya NA-805
1-1/2 inches
10 : 1
1.7 : 1
Maldol AS-30
15-1/8 inches
2.1 : 1
5.1 : 1
Nagoya NA-771
15-1/4 inches
1.8 : 1
3.4 : 1
7-3/4 inches
2.8 : 1
2.7 : 1
Nagoya NA-701
7-3/4 inches
2.1 : 1
2.3 : 1
Baofeng A-V85
6-3/4 inches
2.0 : 1
2.0 : 1
Baofeng A-5R
4-5/8 inches
1.9 : 1
1.6 : 1

As can be seen none of the antennas earned a top rating in both the VHF and UHF categories. In general the longer antennas were better on VHF while the shorter ones were better on UHF. But evaluating all of the readings shows that the Baofeng 6-3/4" A-V85 antenna seems to be the best overall performing antenna in the group. So I am sticking with the A-V85 on both of my radios for general use on both bands. You can contact me with comments, questions, complaints, etc. at k5ddj@dacomp.com.

NOTE: (Added 10/16/13) This report was published after tests performed in early September of 2013. Since that time I have been made aware of the fact that counterfeits are being produced and being marketed as "Genuine" NAGOYA products. And since I have also been informed that some of the Nagoya products may be a knock-off of a Diamond product this makes purchasing an antenna a bit of a gamble. Were the ones I tested genuine or counterfeit, or even a counterfeit of a knock-off? This is really a genuine "Caveat Emptor" situation.

Copyright © 2013 Harvey A. Dapeer