Love them or hate them, Baofeng HTs are here to stay. If you have one (or likely half dozen) you well know that they are also a pain to program from the keypad. That’s where Chirp steps in to save the day. This nifty piece of open source software allows us to find repeaters, edit frequency presets and radio settings in bulk including the hidden settings not available for manual editing. The list of supported radios includes dozens of brands and hundreds of models including many beloved Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood transceivers.
To enjoy the benefits of Chirp all you need is USB to serial cable that lets your computer talk to your radio. There is no shortage of cheap cords available on the market but many are plagued with counterfeit components and less than stellar OS compatibility. I cracked open the cord that came with my HT and (predictably) it featured CH340 UART. Although not awful, this chip clearly indicates the priority of the profit margin over the user experience. The two reputable options with wide system support are UART chips from FTDI and Silicon Labs.
Digirig is built with latest Silicon Lab’s CP2102N and it can easily double up as a serial interface for programming your radios using Chirp.
When it comes to Baofeng, the connector is this weird combo of 3.5mm and 2.5mm TRS jacks. The good news is that (1) it is standard across many models and (2) there are many cheap accessories that can be salvaged for it. My first attempt at building the cable dead ended when I learned that the cord for external mic/speaker doesn’t have necessary connections in it – I’ll use it in my next project connecting Digirig’s audio/PTT for digital modes over VHF/UHF. The correct cable came from old serial programmer. Here’s the pinout:
With the completed cord, I was able to download and upload config to the HT.
Though this is an easy build, let me know if you would like to see this cable offered as a stock item in the store.
A quick reminder that at the time of publishing there is still a small stock of Diririg Mobile available in store with about 40 more units on the back order. After all that is gone, I’ll be out of stock until probably late May. I would like to thank you all who purchased Digirig and provided valuable feedback. You are awesome!
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