The Ham Radio Guide: Navigating the UV-5R Menu

   12.21.22

The Ham Radio Guide: Navigating the UV-5R Menu

The UV-5R has plenty of features, but it can be difficult to set up. This guide covers all 40 functions of the UV-5R Menu in depth, teaching you how to configure channels and advanced functions.

New to Ham Radio? Read Our Other Guides

Accessing The UV-5R Menu

Power on the radio. The antenna does not need to be connected. Press the MENU button on the keypad. While programming, place your radio on LOW power. To do this, press the # button. You will see an “H”, “M”, or “L” in the top-left corner of the screen, indicating HIGH, MEDIUM, and LOW power. If your keypad is not functioning, it might be locked. A small key icon next to the screen’s battery indicator will be present. Press and hold the # button to unlock the keypad.

How the Menu Works

The UP and DOWN arrows allow you to navigate through all menu options. You can jump to specific options by typing in that option’s menu number. For example, pressing MENU and keying in “14” will bring you to option 14, which controls the radio’s voice prompts. The MENU button also acts as the ENTER and SAVE/CONFIRM button. Once you navigate to the option you wish to modify, press the MENU button a second time to access the option’s available choices.

Select the choice you want to use with the UP/DOWN arrows, or by typing in the necessary value with the keypad. Then press the MENU button a third time to SAVE/CONFIRM the choice. The EXIT button brings you back to the main screen.

(The Important Settings, First)

If you just want to get your UV-5R up and running, focus on these settings. To learn more about what each one does, reference the list of options further down in the guide.

  1. Squelch (Option 0). We recommend setting your squelch to 1 to 5. One is minimum sensitivity, 5 is moderate. Anything higher, and you might not hear incoming transmissions.
  2. TXP (Option 2). To ensure you get good range, set transmit power (TXP) to HIGH. While programming and using your radio at close range, set it to LOW.
  3. SAVE (Option 3). Turn off “Battery Saver”. Having this on may result in missed transmissions.
  4. TDR (Option 7). The UV-5R can monitor two frequencies at once. With TDR on, the radio will switch to whichever frequency is receiving a signal (A or B). We’re not suggesting you turn this on or off — it’s personal preference. But keep it in mind.
  5. Voice (Option 14). Tired of the UV-5R giving you annoying voice prompts? Turn this option off.
  6. AL-MOD (Option 32). Ensure the Alarm Mode is set to “SITE”. Holding down the orange CALL button will trip an annoying alarm. The “SITE” mode only trips the alarm on the radio’s speaker. The other options will transmit that alarm over the air, annoying anyone who’s listening.

Option 0: Squelch

Squelch acts like a noise gate, or filter. It ranges from 0 to 10. When set to 0, the selected frequency or channel will be active at all times. You will hear static if no one is transmitting. Setting Squelch to 1 provides the most sensitivity without hearing static at all times. This allows you to receive weak or broken transmissions. Higher Squelch decreases sensitivity, allowing only strong or nearby transmission to come through.

Option 1: Step

Frequency stepping. This determines how much the frequency goes up or down when pressing the UP/DOWN arrows, or when you’re scanning. This is only applicable in VFO (Frequency) Mode. By default, the UV-5R steps up or down in 25 KHz increments.

Option 2: TXP

Transmit power. Its function is redundant to the # key. Some UV-5Rs have “HIGH” and “LOW” options, for minimum and maximum power. Newer models include a “MEDIUM” option, which operates at half power. The base UV-5R can transmit at 1 or 4 watts. Some variants can operate at 5, 8, or 10 watts.

Option 3: Save

Battery saver. Enabling it reduces how often the radio listens for transmissions. Its values range between OFF, and 1 to 4. The higher the value, the less often the radio listens. We don’t recommend using this function. When enabled, you may not pick up transmission from those who are attempting to contact you. This is unwanted in an emergency situation.

Option 4: VOX

With VOX enabled, the radio will automatically transmit when it hears your voice. The available levels (1 to 10) dictate how sensitive the VOX is. This function is useful when you need to use the radio hands-free, or when you’re using a headset.

Option 5: WN

Narrowband or Wideband. The latter option provides better coverage and range. Narrowband is useful for reducing interference between users transmitting and receiving on similar frequencies.

Option 6: ABR

Automatic Backlight. Values range from 0 (always off) to 10 (seconds until the backlight turns off).

Option 7: TDR

Dual Receive Function. When enabled, the radio will simultaneously monitor and receive transmissions on both A and B channels or frequencies you’ve selected on the main screen. Turning off TDR allows you to force the radio to only monitor the line you’ve selected with the A/B button.

Option 8: Beep

This function turns the key press beeps on or off.

Option 10: TOT

Transmit over time. This function’s values range from 0 (off) to 600 seconds. This governs the length of time until transmission ceases, even when the PTT button is held. Turning this function off allows for continuous transmission as long as PTT is held.

Options 10-13: R-DCS / R-CTCS / T-DCS / T-CTCS

DCS and CTCS are inaudible tones that your radio transmits (“T-“) or receives (R-“), in addition to regular voice communication. In lay terms, these tones allow users to share a single frequency without interfering with others. When you and another radio operator use the same DCS or CTCS tone, you can talk to each other privately. Think of it like a one-on-one chatroom inside a larger server.

Of course, anyone else also using the same tone can listen in or transmit. DCS and CTCS tones areĀ  required for accessing repeaters, which function as range extenders. There are 50 available CTCSS tones, and 105 available DCS tones.

Option 14: Voice

Like we mentioned, this function dictates what language the radio’s onboard voice prompt uses. The prompts can be turned off, too.

Option 15: ANI-ID

Automatic Number Identification. This function allows your radio to broad to other radios a particular ID or callsign in alphanumeric text. This can only be programmed with CHIRP software. This is not applicable to general use, and should be disregarded.

Option 16: DTMFST

Dual Tone Multi-Frequency. This function allows the radio to broadcast button-pressed tones. This is similar to pressing buttons on a phone’s keypad while on a call. The receiver can hear those tones.

Option 17: S-CODE

Signal Code. This function works in tandem with DTMF codes. CHIRP is required to program this function. This is not applicable to general use, and should be disregarded.

Option 18: SC-REV

Scan Resume Method. Selecting TO, CO, or SE tells the radio what to do when it stops scanning to listen to a transmission on the frequency it found.

  • TO: The scan stops when a signal is detected, but resumes after 5 seconds.
  • CO: The scan stops when a signal is detected, but resumes when it disappears.
  • SE: The scan stops permanently when a signal is detected. The radio remains on that frequency.

Option 19: PTT-ID

Push-to-Talk ID. This function works in tandem with Option 17. It determines when an ID is transmitted via the PTT button. Options allow the ID to be sent at the beginning (BOT) or end of a transmission (EOT), or both. This function is not applicable to general use, and should be disregarded.

Option 20: PTT-LT

Push-to-Talk Lag Time. It works in tandem with Options 17 and 19. This function is not applicable to general use, and should be disregarded.

Option 21: MDF-A

This option governs how the top line on the main screen is displayed. “FREQ” displays the programmed frequency, “CHAN” displays the channel number, and “NAME” displays the channel name if one was entered by the user using CHIRP.

Option 22: MDF-B

This options governs how the bottom line on the main screen is displayed. Again, options include “FREQ,” “CHAN,” or “NAME.”

Option 23: BCL

Busy Channel Lockout. Enabling this function prevents you from transmitting on a busy frequency. It is useful for ensuring you don’t interrupt or overpower another user.

Option 24: AUTOLK

Automatic Keypad Lock. When this function is enabled, the keypad will lock after 8 seconds.

Option 25: SFT-D

Frequency Shift Direction. This enables the radio to access repeaters in VFO (Frequency) Mode. Setting up a repeater in Freq Mod will be covered in a standalone guide.

Option 26: OFFSET

Channel Shift Direction. This enables the radio to access repeaters in MR (Channel) Mode. This will also be covered in a standalone guide.

Option 27: MEM-CH

Store Channel in Memory. This allows you to assign a frequency to a channel in the radio’s memory, saving it for later use. You can save up to 128 channels (0 to 127).

Option 28: DEL-CH

Delete Channel in Memory. Self-explanatory; you may select a stored frequency and delete it from the radio’s channel memory.

Option 29: WT-LED

Display Color in Standby Mode. This allows you to select the color of the backlit screen when pressing buttons or interacting with the radio.

Option 30: RX-LED

Display Color When Receiving. This allows you to select a different backlit color when the radio is receiving a transmission. This is useful for monitoring for a transmission when you want the audio muted.

Option 31: TX-LED

Display Color When Transmitting. Self-explanatory; select the backlit color that illuminates when the PTT button is pressed to transmit.

Option 32: AL-MOD

Alarm Mode. Holding down the CALL button on the radio will initiate an audible alarm. This function determines how that alarm functions. “SITE” mode means the alarm only bursts through the radio itself, without transmitting over a channel or frequency. “TONE” mode will transmit the alarm sound, too. “CODE” mode means the alarm transmits a series of numbers as keypad presses. This function is generally irrelevant and should be disregarded.

Option 33: BAND

Band Selection. In VFO (Frequency) Mode, this determines whether the A or B line is set to VHF or UHF bands. Like the “BAND” button on older models, this function is irrelevant and should be disregarded.

Option 34: TDR-AB

With TDR, or “Dual Receive Function” (option 7) enabled, this function determines which line, A or B (top or bottom) the radio returns to after receiving a signal, or when pressing the PTT button. If OFF, the radio will stay on the last frequency wherein it received a signal. If set to B, the radio will switch to the B line by default. If set to A, the radio will switch to the A line by default.

Option 35: STE

Squelch Tail Eliminator. This attempts to eliminate the typical “pop” or burst of static noise at the end of a transmission or signal. The radio you are communicating with must also support this function for it work on your radio.

Option 36: RP-STE

Squelch Tail Eliminator for Repeaters. This functions like Option 35. The repeater in question must also support this function for it work on your radio.

Option 37: RPT-RL

Repeater Lag Time. This dictates how long, after releasing the PTT button, the Repeater Squelch Tail Eliminator waits to kick in. This function is generally irrelevant and should be disregarded.

Option 38: PONMSG

Power-On Menu Message. “FULL” displays the entire LCD screen when powering on. “MSG” displays a simple 2-line Power On Message.

Option 39: ROGER

Roger Beep. When enabled, the radio bursts a simple beep tone when the PTT button is released. This lets users know you are finished transmitting. It’s useful for ensuring listeners understand your transmission was sent in full, and didn’t cut out or break.

Option 40: RESET

WARNING: This is equivalent to a factory reset. The “ALL” function deletes all saved channels, frequencies, menu options, and other programming. The “VFO” function resets all menus options, but it retains saved channels. Now that you know how all 40 menu functions work, proceed to Part 4: Basic Radio Programming (Frequencies and Channels).

UV-5R Menu

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Travis is a retired Joint Fires NCO, firearm collector, and long-range shooter with a penchant for old militaria. He reviews guns, knives, tactical kit, and camping and hiking gear.

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