The Baofeng UV-5R is an extremely versatile and inexpensive dual band handheld radio, which makes it one of the most popular and biggest selling transceivers around the world today. It's Baofeng's flagship radio, and they constantly tweak and update the UV-5R it to keep it on top in the marketplace.
Sometimes the updates are minor and are hardly noticeable, if at all, save for a higher firmware version number. However, if a more serious internal change is made, it may require a bit adjustment in the way the radio is programmed or operated, especially among seasoned users.
Such is the case with the most recent revision to the UV-5R. The latest known firmware version is N5R-20. The version number previous to this was BFS313. Up to firmware BFS313 the version numbers were fairly consistent, with only a change to one letter and/or number, an indication that even major feature updates and additions were not too radical as to affect overall compatibility of the programming data files between versions of the radio. With the introduction of N5R-20, the numbering system completely changed, a possible indication that the older and newer firmware may have more fundamental differences than previous versions.
This would explain why some users are experiencing issues when attempting to upload older programming files to the new radios using the CHIRP programming software. The older CHIRP image files from Baofeng UV-5R radios with BFB or BFS series firmware are not compatible with radios equipped with the N5R-XX version of the firmware.
For the first time owner of the UV-5R, this isn't an issue at all, since you would simply download the image from the radio into CHIRP, save the file to your computer, program your frequencies, and upload the same image file back into the radio.
For the user who is adding the new UV-5R to a mix of other Baofeng radios, this means that you can't just upload an existing CHIRP .img file from your old radios to the new one. The differences and changes in the latest firmware simply will not let it work with the old file. As annoying and time consuming as it sounds, the best practice is to create a new CHIRP image file for the radio. As with the new user, download the defaults from the new radio into CHIRP, save the file, enter your data, and upload them into the radio.
Of course, that's all well and good if you are reading this before you try to program the new radio, but what if you've already found out the hard way? You already uploaded your old .img file to your radio and it begins to act strangely. The UV-5R has no audio, won't receive unless you press the MONI button, or stops responding altogether. Performing a reset doesn't work to fix the issue. Has the damage already been done?
First, don't panic. You haven't damaged your radio. The firmware is permanent, and can't be upgraded, changed, or "flashed". The CHIRP image file doesn't alter the firmware in any way either, so it's all good. All you really need to do is clean out the bad data, so to speak, and re-program the radio.
To do so, you will need to use another version of CHIRP. Download the appropriate version of chirp-daily-20140714 for your operating system (Linux, Mac or Microsoft Windows) to perform the fix. You will also need an original or stock .img file from a UV-5R radio with the N5R-20 firmware.
If you downloaded the image from the radio to CHIRP and saved it to your computer before you uploaded the .img file from your old radios, you're in great shape. Otherwise, you will need to locate and obtain an .img file from a new or working UV-5R with the N5R-20 firmware. Note: If the radio was purchased from Buy Two Way Radios, we can provide the N5R-20 version of the stock image data that is typically pre-programmed into the UV-5R at the factory on request.
After CHIRP is installed, load the N5R-20/stock .img file into CHIRP and upload it to the radio. This should restore the UV-5R to its original settings. Use this new image file as your working image to program the new radio as needed.