Baofeng DM-V1 DMR Radio Review
The Baofeng DM-V1 is one of, if not the, cheapest DMR radios made. Is it also the worst? Spoiler alert, yes it is. Read on to find out why.
When I first ordered the Baofeng DM-V1 I figured it was cheap because it was basically the Baofeng DM-5R without the screen or buttons. Think of it as the DMR guts from the DM-5R with the rest of the electronics and case from an 888s. That may not be too far from the truth, but making this little Frankenstein had some serious unintended consequences (so did the original Frankenstein).
The physical Baofeng DM-V1 is not bad. If you are used to their 888s style units, this one is actually a little better. It has an easily replaceable battery and a nicer belt clip than the 888s and is a little larger. It feels pretty reasonable in the hand and the knobs and buttons work well enough.
The software that programs the Baofeng DM-V1 is also more than up to the task and seems to be a modified version of the same DMR software you see on many of these type DMR radios. The terms used are what you would expect and everything is laid out reasonably well.
The Baofeng DM-V1 programs through a micro-USB cable that works well, once you jump through some serious hoops to get the drivers compiled and installed. Yes, I said compiled. I would have to guess that the USB port is USB 1.1 as it is extremely slow to read from or write to the Baofeng DM-V1. Fortunately, that is not something most people do all that often so I am not sure that is that big of a deal.
Audio quality in both transmit and receive of both digital and analog from the Baofeng DM-V1 is about what you would expect; reasonable in digital and pretty pathetic in analog. This is nothing surprising as virtually all middle to low-end DMR radios are just as bad. That doesn’t make the Baofeng DM-V1 good, it just means it is typical in this regard.
The big problem with the Baofeng DM-V1
Where the radio really shows how bad it is, and this is a whopper, is in the fact that sometimes you get audio, and sometimes you don’t. Explaining exactly how the Baofeng DM-V1 behaves in this respect might just make your brain melt so let me try and explain this slowly and from the beginning.
When I first got my Baofeng DM-V1 I had programmed quite a few DMR radios and owned and used several different hotspots. I was by no means a newcomer to this.
Once I had programmed the radio to what I thought should work I was shocked that I got no audio out of the Baofeng DM-V1. What I mean by this is that when you turned it on, you had audio. When you changed channels, you had audio. The radio would gleefully announce Channel 1, Channel 2, and so on without missing a beat. The problem occurs when you should hear a station on the air, the Baofeng DM-V1 stays eerily silent.
Let me explain this by using DMR talk group 9990, the Parrot. On this channel, you press the Baofeng DM-V1’s PTT button and say something into the mic. The Parrot records what you say and then sends that recording back to you. So if you press the PTT button and say “testing 1, 2, 3, 4” and release the PTT button, after a second or two the activity light will turn green signifying that you are receiving a signal and you should hear your own voice in the speaker “testing 1, 2, 3, 4”. It is an excellent way to test the Baofeng DM-V1, or any radio, on DMR.
The problem here is that the activity light on the Baofeng DM-V1 would turn green, but you would hear nothing. Switch from channel 1 to channel 2 on the radio, the radio announces “Channel 2”. Switch back to channel 1, “Channel 1” comes out of the speaker. Transmit “testing 1, 2, 3, 4”, wait a second, green light and no audio from the Baofeng DM-V1.
I try a different radio, and it works perfectly. I leave the second radio on and transmit on the Baofeng DM-V1 and the green light comes on the Baofeng while the audio comes out of the second radio only. What?
I go online and post on some forums. I get a working codeplug and try it, same issue. Everyone agrees I have a bad Baofeng DM-V1 and need to return it, so I do.
The new Baofeng DM-V1 comes in, and it has the exact same issue. Maybe there is a bad batch of Baofeng DM-V1 radios? But wait, I hear something! Parrot worked on this one after a few tries. Then it stopped working. So I return this one too and get a third. Same problem.
Eventually, I find other people online who have the same problem with their Baofeng DM-V1 radios. One guy wacks his on the desk and it works for a while, another takes the antenna off and puts it back on. More people than I can count just return theirs and buy something different.
So I play with this Baofeng DM-V1 and after months and months of messing with it I can say for certain that it never misses a beat transmitting, but you have about a 20% chance of hearing a signal that the radio is receiving. The green activity light comes on 100% of the time, with or without audio. Yes, I have tried an external speaker, and I get the same result.
What makes this really weird is I can have the Baofeng DM-V1 listening to a talk group and if I listen for a while I will start to hear audio. Sometimes one of the parties talking, sometimes the other, sometimes both, and sometimes neither. So there is no logic behind it.
Of course, this makes the Baofeng DM-V1 completely worthless. Even if you watch the green light and know you are receiving a signal, you may, or more likely, will not hear the audio so you will have no idea what is being said.
This makes it a little difficult to actually carry on a conversation with a Baofeng DM-V1.
|Belt clip||Not bad|
|Transmit audio||CLICK TO LISTEN|
|Frequency accuracy||446.000 @ 446.000|
|Maximum power output (2m/70cm)||.3 watts / .1 watts|
|Actual weight||6.8 oz|
|Radio manual||CLICK TO DOWNLOAD|
|Programming software||CLICK TO DOWNLOAD|
Just no, do not buy a Baofeng DM-V1. If you somehow wind up with a Baofeng DM-V1 in your possession, do not waste your time and just dump it in the nearest electronics recycling bin. Personally, I have dreams of more of a Viking funeral but there hasn’t been much rain around here lately and I have a lot of pine trees.