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Product Review – The Bible of Baofeng Guerrilla

I came upon a Facebook post one day promoting this book and offering free Kindle copies for review. Being the owner and regular user of Baofeng radios, I was naturally curious. Wondering what more there could be to learn about these amateur radios, I accepted the review offer. Here are my thoughts.

The first chapter, entitled The World of Radio Communications provides a brief description of radio technology and includes a description of common terms used in radio communications. While this may prove helpful to the newbie, anyone with a ham license would already be quite familiar with these terms and their concepts. It should also be noted that in Canada, it is actually illegal (although rarely enforced) to own an amateur radio without the proper license. More on this later.

Some real issues with the book became quite apparent in the second chapter, as the author makes a brief claim of “long distance communications”. This claim was made in comparison with standard walkie talkies. With the public at large having access to inexpensive FRS/GMRS radios available at Walmart, the claim would hold true. FRS/GMRS radios are limited to 1/2 or 1 watt of output, depending on the channel selected. Baofengs on the other hand are rated for 5 watts for basic units with some models claiming 8 watts. This would give them a range advantage over Walmart radios, but to call them long range is more than a stretch. Regardless of output power, UHF and VHF radios are limited to line of sight communication, and no amount of output power will overcome that. True long range communication cannot be achieved without the help of HF frequencies and proper antenna configuration. Not all in this chapter is bad. The author goes on to explain the uses of Baofeng’s in emergency situations. The points made under this scenario are, for the most part, valid. It should be noted however, that certain uses such as event security, camping and hiking, as well as others, would all require the users to hold a valid license in Canada. I have no idea where the author lives, but much more care should have been taken to explain that many countries restrict the use of amateur radios to license holders. Yes, I’m likely going to mention this fact many more times in the review.

As I continued to read, some really alarming claims jumped out at me. There are references in the book to Baofengs being used by military, swat, and other tactical operations. To date, I have never seen any official tactical unit, military or otherwise, rely on what is most likely the cheapest amateur radio on the market. They are simply not made for that kind of demanding environment. Simply put, this is all hype and these claims seem to have been gleaned from some of the Amazon or EBay listings that were prevalent some years ago. We are all aware by now, just how reliable some of those foreign sales pitches were. In fact, many descriptions of uses mirror these outrageous claims so closely, that I suspect the book was written with the help of AI sourcing information from the ever reliable internet. Sarcasm intended.

The author does make a few references to the wide availability of accessories available to Baofeng owners. On this, we agree. The list of accessories is extensive with a range from extended life batteries to helmet style headsets and beyond. Pretty much anything you could wish for is available for a reasonable price (relative to quality) for these radios.

In closing, this book simply isn’t worth the cost. Given that I have no idea how much the author intends to sell it for, that says a lot. There is so much in this book that is obviously gleaned from over hyped advertising that it is down right misleading at times. Also, much more attention should have been given to differing national regulations. The book gives the impression that you can simply purchase a couple of these radios and be good to go. The truth, as previously mentioned, is that most countries require you to have an amateur radio operator’s license to even own, let alone operate on of them. Canada included.

Yes, in a true TEOTWAKI, Grid Down, WROL scenario, all of thee rules pretty much go out the window, but you can’t learn to properly operate them without real world experience, and that requires a license. Let me recount a story, here in Canada, of a group of paintball players that used these radios for a tactical advantage. The players used a non-ham frequency, thinking that would keep them out of trouble. The problem was, they used a commercial radio frequency that was being used by a nearby business causing interference with their day to day operations. Businesses pay for the exclusive rights to use these frequencies, so naturally, complaints were made. As a result, Baofengs were all but banned in Canada because they were able to transmit on these frequencies. Not only can Baofengs transmit there, but they can also be used on frequencies reserved for emergency services such as police, fire departments, and ambulance services. The concerns are obvious.

If you want to use Baofeng radios for preparedness, and they are very useful for certain aspects of EMComm, take a course from a local ham radio club and write the test. A proper ham radio license will give you all the good knowledge contained in this book, and steer you away from the bad.

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