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  • Two way radio programmability

    The two way radio is a powerful tool for short range communications, and for a number of reasons. There are no recurring connection charges, no subscription or usage fees, and it is easy to operate. Perhaps the best reason is the almost instantaneous connection. There is no dialing involved. Simply push a button and talk.

    That is how a two way radio is supposed to work, and that is what users expect it to do. Many expect the radio to do it as soon as it is turned on, right out of the box, and some radios do. However, some of them don't, and a user who is not familiar with how a radio works may assume their brand new, freshly unboxed transceiver may not work at all. To those who are new to radio, it can be a real source of confusion and frustration.

    While it is possible to receive a product prone to malfunction, such damage or defect isn't usually the issue. In fact, in all likelihood, there is probably nothing inherently wrong with the device itself at all. More often than not, the radio simply needs to be programmed.

    The two way radios of today usually fall under one of two general categories: those that need to be programmed by the user, and those that don't. Some radio services, such as FRS, GMRS, CB and MURS, require the devices to operate on specific frequencies and/or within certain parameters, which means the radios operating within those services are generally pre-packaged and "hard programmed" at the factory to meet those requirements.

    Other radio services are more flexible, and the radios operating within them are more flexible as well. These transceivers are designed for partial or full programmability by the owners themselves. That's a lot of accessibility, power and control over a device, particularly one used for communication, and many radio operators want and prefer to take full advantage of it whenever possible.

    As these programmable two way radios become more sophisticated, so does their programming. Many can be programmed from the units themselves, usually either through a set of buttons or a full keypad embedded in the radio. However, some of them don't have that option, and even some that do require additional input by the user that can be cumbersome, complicated and often confusing for anyone who hasn't studied the manual from cover to cover (and if it is a manual for some imported radios, even if they have). In such scenarios, programming the radio via computer is generally considered a more practical or desirable option.

    Some radios, such as lower end models used by many small businesses, retailers or localized business operations, may need to have only limited user programmability or may need to be completely locked down to prevent users from tampering with their functions and settings. These radios may be pre-programmed with frequencies, CTCSS/DCS codes and other features at the factory or by a dealer, allowing the end user a preset choice of programmable options.

    Most higher end radios used for commercial, industrial, business purposes or public service operations are fully programmable and may be programmed by the dealer or the end user. Transceivers used in amateur radio are almost always fully programmable, and are usually shipped without any pre-programming from the manufacturer or dealer. These units must be programmed by the end user before they are able to transmit or receive calls.

    The chart below lists the programmability of different types of two way radios we carry at Buy Two Way Radios. It is not intended to detail the programming capabilities or limitations of every make and model, only to provide the basic differences between them.

    Two Way Radio Programmability Chart

    Radio Service Manufacturer Model Programmable Programmer
    Airband Icom IC-A6
    Yes Dealer/End User
    Amateur (HAM) Baofeng
    All Yes End User
    Citizen's Band (CB) Cobra
    All No Manufacturer
    Business Band BlackBox






    Vertex Standard
    All Yes Dealer/End User
    FRS/GMRS Cobra




    All No Manufacturer
    VHF Marine Cobra
    All No Manufacturer

    Additional resources:
    Motorola RDX Two Way Radio Programming Software
    How to program Motorola DLR1020 and DLR1060 Advanced Configuration options
    How to Clone a Motorola RDX Two Way Radio
    Don't Let Your Two Way Radio Dealer Hold You Hostage
    How to Wirelessly Clone Kenwood Protalk Radios
    How to program the Wouxun KG-UV920P mobile radio from a PC
    How to program a frequency into the Wouxun KG-UV920P-A
    Radio Compatibility: Which Models Will Work Together

  • What to do if the programming cable does not detect the radio

    The programming cable for your two way radio is installed and operational. It's plugged into your radio. The programming software finds your cable, but it doesn't detect a radio. What's wrong? Is it the computer, the cable, the radio, or something else?

    Follow these steps to troubleshoot and resolve the issue if your radio programming cable does not detect your two way radio.

    Step 1. Verify the programming cable is installed correctly.

    • If the cable is installed correctly, proceed to Step 2.
    • If it is not installed correctly, uninstall the cable and re-install it according to manufacturer's instructions.

    Step 2. Check to be sure the radio is on.
    Believe it or not, this is not uncommon, especially when one is programming radios on the fly. One can connect the cable on both ends and simply forget to turn on the radio. Before cursing the cable or the computer, check the radio, to be sure.

    Step 3. Check to be sure the cable is plugged all the way into the radio.
    Sometimes the cable can appear to be connected without a real connection.

    • Unplug the cable from the radio and plug it back in to be sure.
    • For some radios, the cable may require an extra push to snap it in all the way.
    • If the cable detects the radio after reseating the connection, the issue is resolved.
    • If the cable still does not recognize the radio, go to Step 4.

    Step 4. Try another radio.
    Sometimes it's the cable, sometimes it's the radio. To find out which, first swap out the radio.

    Step 5. Perform a reset on the first radio.
    At this point, it is probably safe to figure the problem may be with the radio itself.

  • What to do if the programming cable does not work

    If you program your two way radio from a computer, the programming cable is critical. It is the one and only data link between those two devices, and it needs to be reliable, stable and easy to install. It needs to connect and work every time. If you have an XLT Painless Programming Cable, it's usually not an issue.

    The programming cable for your two way radio is supposed to simply install, connect and work, but what if it doesn't? What if it doesn't seem to work at all?

    There is more to a programming cable for a typical two way radio than just the cable itself, and there are several factors that determine its connectivity, functionality and performance, most of which involve your computer. If your radio programming cable isn't working, consider them all before you tie yourself and your cable into knots of frustration.

    Follow the steps below in order to properly install and resolve issues with two way radio programming cables and drivers.

    Step 1. Verify the correct driver is available for the cable.

    • If the correct driver or driver CD is available, proceed to Step 2.
    • If the correct driver is not available, locate it on the CD/DVD provided with the cable or download the driver from the manufacturer's web site.

    Step 2. Before installing, be sure the radio is off, the computer is on and the cable is not plugged into either device.
    The purpose of this step is to ensure a clean install according to the instructions of the manufacturer.

    • If this is the first attempt to install the cable, skip to Step 3.
    • If a previous attempt was made to install the cable and/or the cable driver, completely and thoroughly uninstall the cable and all elements of the driver according to the manufacturer's instructions, then disconnect the programming cable from all devices and reboot the computer.

    Step 3. Follow the manufacturer's step-by-step procedure for proper installation of the USB programming cable and driver.

    • If installation was successful, skip to Step 6.
    • If installation was not successful or the cable is not recognized, go to Step 4.

    Step 4. Try other USB ports

    • If the cable successfully installs when plugged into another USB port, skip to Step 6.
    • If installation failed on all USB ports, go to Step 5.

    Step 5. install the cable on another computer.

    • If another computer is available, proceed with installation.
    • If installation is successful, Go to Step 6. Note: If the installation is successful on another computer, the issue may be with the first computer. You may need to contact a computer repair technician.
    • If installation is not successful on another computer or another computer is not available, contact the cable manufacturer. If the programming cable was purchased from Buy Two Way Radios, contact us.

    Step 6. Verify successful installation in the system and note the COM port number.
    You may need this information to configure the programming software.

    Step 7. Install and run the programming software for the radio.

    It is important to note that our scope of support is limited to the two way radios, programming cables and programming software we sell at Buy Two Way Radios. We do not service, support or troubleshoot computers or computer operating systems.

  • What to do if the radio programming software does not detect the cable or COM port

    You've just received your two way radio, taken it out of the package, and now you want to get it operational. You plugged in the programming cable, downloaded the driver, set up the software, and connected the cable the radio to program it.

    There is just one small glitch. When you run the program, the software can't seem to find the radio. It can't connect to the cable. It can't even find the COM port. What gives?

    First, don't panic or blow a fuse. There are several devices in the mix and multiple connections here, plus an entire computer system. It could be anything. Before you pack up all the new stuff and send it back to the dealer, find out what the real problem is. It may not be as bad as you think. It may even be quick and easy to resolve.

    Here are the steps to troubleshoot if the programming software for your two way radio does not recognize the COM Port or the programming cable purchased from Buy Two Way Radios.

    Step 1. Verify the programming cable is installed correctly.

    • If using our programming cable and it is installed correctly, proceed to Step 2.
    • If programming cable is not installed correctly, re-install the cable driver.

    Step 2. Verify the COM Port number assigned to your programming cable.

    • If you are running Microsoft Windows, go the the Device Manager and click on Ports (COM & LPT).
    • Note the number of the COM port assigned to your cable.

    Step 3. Verify the correct COM Port is recognized and listed as active in the programming software.

    • If the COM port assigned to the programming cable is listed as active and available, choose it and skip to Step 5.
    • If the COM port assigned to the programming cable is NOT listed as available, go to Step 4.

    Step 4. Assign another COM Port to the USB programming cable.

    • Open the Device Manager, go to Ports (COM & LPT) and right click on the listing for the USB programming cable.
    • Click PROPERTIES in the pop-up menu.
    • Click on the PORT SETTINGS tab.
    • Click the ADVANCE button.
    • Click the drop down list next to COM Port Number: and choose a COM Port below the number 10 that is not in use.
    • Click OK to save the setting, then click OK again to exit the Communications Port (COMX) properties window.
    • Note the new COM Port number assigned to the USB Programming Cable and go back to Step 3.
    • If a new COM Port number was assigned to the cable and it is still not recognized by your programming software, skip to Step 6.

    Step 5. Run or close and restart the programming software.

    Step 6. If the program does not recognize the programming cable or the COM Port assigned to it, refer to the manufacturer of the programming software.

    If you are using CHIRP programming software, go to the CHIRP web site at http://chirp.danplanet.com/projects/chirp/wiki/Home and download the latest daily build of CHIRP or report the issue to CHIRP.

    If these instructions are followed correctly, the programming software for your radio should be able to recognize the correct COM port and access your programming cable.

  • What to do if your computer does not read or detect the Buy Two Way Radios CD

    You may encounter a situation in which the CD or DVD drive in your computer may not detect or read the software CD provided by Buy Two Way Radios. Although troubleshooting your computer is outside our scope of support, we do need to determine if the issue is caused by a defective CD/DVD disc drive or a defective disc.

    Follow these steps to troubleshoot and possibly resolve the issue if your CD or DVD drive does not read or detect a Buy Two Way Radios branded CD.

    Step 1. Verify you have a genuine Buy Two Way Radios CD.
    The CD should have the official Buy Two Way Radios blue handheld radio graphic on the left side and the text www.buytwowayradios.com printed at the bottom.

    • If using our CD, proceed to step 2.
    • If a CD was included with a primary product purchased from us but it is not our supplied CD or is a copy created by a third party, contact us to request a genuine copy our CD. (The CD may have an additional fee when purchased separately). Important note: this applies to Buy Two Way Radios branded CDs only. We do not copy and sell duplicates of CDs or DVDs created and branded by the manufacturer or third parties.

    Step 2. Insert another commercial data or audio CD into the CD/DVD drive.
    The term commercial refers to a professionally or commercially mass produced Compact Disc or Digital Versatile Disc containing audio or data, such as a computer program, music or video CD/DVD.

    • If the CD/DVD Drive successfully reads the other commercial CD, proceed to step 3.
    • If the CD/DVD Drive does not detect or successfully read the other commercial CD, try a third commercial CD.
    • If it reads the third commercial CD, go to step 3.
    • If it does not read the third commercial CD, The CD/DVD drive may be defective. You may need to contact a computer repair technician.

    Step 3. If your CD/DVD drive can read other commercial CDs but cannot read our CD, contact us at Buy Two Way Radios.

    Please note: we do not service or support computers.

  • What to do if CHIRP does not list your radio

    CHIRP is a free, open source application created by a team of volunteer amateur radio operators. The software is used to program a wide variety of different makes and models of two way radios with a computer.

    When programming certain models of two way radios purchased from Buy Two Way Radios, some of our customers, particularly those who are ham radio operators, prefer CHIRP in lieu of the programming software provided by the radio manufacturer. This preference for CHIRP is largely due to a couple of reasons. CHIRP is often easier to understand and use than the original programming software from the manufacturers of certain radios, particularly those in China. The use of CHIRP also often minimizes or even eliminates the need to install and use a different programming application for each individual product when using a mix of of different radios.

    CHIRP supports an impressively wide selection of radios, but not all of them. The list is expanding over time. When a new product is introduced to the market, depending on its popularity and relevance, The CHIRP project team may add support for the new model in a future version or build of the software.

    We often receive calls from customers who request tutorials, tech support or other instruction for CHIRP. Although we do include CHIRP as a free add-on with a few select programming cables, we do not support it ourselves, as it isn't ours. It was created by a community of ham radio operators, and relies on the community to support it. We merely provide the application as a courtesy to our customers who may need or want it.

    As of June 2016, CHIRP supports the following radios we currently sell or previously carried:

    If your radio is currently listed in CHIRP, you should be good to go. If your radio is not listed, download the latest daily build of CHIRP.

    If the latest build of CHIRP does not list your radio, CHIRP does not currently support it. The CHIRP programming team does accept requests for support of new radios. You can submit a request to the CHIRP project and ask them to add the radio to a future version or build of CHIRP.

  • What to do if the radio does not power on

    You stored your walkie talkies away for awhile and now you're planning that big weekend hiking or camping trip with your family or friends across the great outdoors. Naturally, you need them again, so you take them out, dust them off, turn them on and -

    Uh oh. Nothing happens. They won't go on.

    You have your company fleet of two way radios packed and ready to take to the next job. When you arrive onsite, you take them out of their case, pass them out to your workers, instruct everyone to stay on Channel 1, and -

    No, wait. They don't turn on.

    Yeah, it happens. Sometimes a radio may not power on. Of course, if it happens, it is a big deal, because the two way radio as we know it is considered one of the most stable and reliable modes of communication available to the modern world, especially during an emergency. As stable and reliable as two way radios are, it still happens. So if or when it does happen, what do you do?

    Follow these steps to troubleshoot, identify and hopefully resolve the issue when your radio does not power on.

    Step 1. Verify the batteries or battery pack is/are installed correctly.

    • Verify the battery pack is seated or batteries are installed correctly or with the correct polarity. If correct, proceed to Step 3.
    • If not installed correctly, reseat the battery pack or batteries.

    Step 2. Check to be sure the radio is really on.

    Some consumer FRS/GMRS radios turn on by pressing a power button or holding it down for one to two seconds. Sometimes there is a delay or there is poor contact internally and it needs to be held down a little longer. Other models, such as business, air band, amateur, CB and marine portable handheld radios have a power knob on top of the unit that must be turned to power them on. If the knob is loose, you might think it turned the shaft of the switch when it didn't. The on/off switch could also be defective.

    • If the radio is turned on and there is power, proceed to Step 5.
    • If radio switch is on but there is no power, check to be sure the battery or batteries is/are fully charged.

    Step 3. Check to be sure the battery is charged.

    • Swap out the battery pack or batteries with another or fresh one(s). If no spare batteries are available, put the battery(ies) in another known working radio to test.
    • If no other battery(ies) or radio is available, go to Step 4.
    • If swapping the battery(ies) or radio was successful and the radio has power, skip to Step 5.
    • If there is still no power, proceed according to battery type.

    Step 4. Troubleshoot according to battery type.

    • If the battery is rechargeable, recharge it according to the manufacturer instructions. If the battery charges, go to Step 5.
    • If the rechargeable battery pack does not charge, troubleshoot the battery pack and charger.
    • If the battery is non-rechargeable and replacement batteries do not power on the radio, check the radio for damage.

    Step 5. Turn the radio on.

    • If the radio turns on, the issue is resolved.
    • If the radio does not turn on, check the radio for damage and refer to the manufacturer for warranty support.

    If these instructions are followed correctly, you should be able to quickly determine the cause of the issue and possibly resolve it. If these troubleshooting steps did not resolve your issue and your radio is out of warranty, contact us at Buy Two Way Radios.

  • How to reset a Baofeng UV-5R two way radio

    Baofeng-UV-5R-Reset.jpgCertain circumstances may require you to perform a reset on your Baofeng. Performing a reset is extremely easy, however if you speak only English and the voice prompts are in Chinese, performing a simple reset or recovering from one may require a little more attention.

    Follow the steps below to reset a Baofeng UV-5R, BF-F9, BF-F8+, UV-B6 or UV-82 two way radio from Buy Two Way Radios.

    To perform a VFO Reset
    1.Turn on the radio and press the MENU button.
    2.Press the UP and DOWN arrow key to select RESET (Menu Item 40).
    3.Press MENU to choose RESET.
    4.Press the DOWN arrow key to choose VFO.
    5.Press MENU. The radio will display SOURCE?
    6.Press MENU to confirm. The radio will display WAIT... for a few seconds, then beep twice to confirm reset is complete. The radio will revert to Chinese language mode. Reset is complete.

    To perform a FULL Reset
    1.Turn on the radio and press the MENU button.
    2.Press the UP and DOWN arrow key to select RESET (Menu Item 40).
    3.Press MENU to choose RESET.
    4.Press the DOWN arrow key to choose ALL.
    5.Press MENU. The radio will display SOURCE?
    6.Press MENU to confirm. The radio will display WAIT... for a few seconds, then beep twice to confirm reset is complete.
    7.The radio will revert to Chinese language mode. Reset is complete.

    To set language from Chinese to English
    1.Press MENU.
    2.Press the UP and DOWN arrow key to select VOICE (Menu Item 14).
    3.Press MENU to choose VOICE.
    4.Press the DOWN arrow key to choose ENG.
    5.Press MENU to choose ENG.

    NOTE: a VFO RESET only resets the frequency values in VFO mode. To reset the radio back to factory defaults, choose RESET/ALL. A reset may resolve some issues, but will not resolve them all. Some scenarios, such as inoperability due to an incorrect or corrupt image file cannot be resolved with a reset and require another resolution. It is, however, usually a standard first step when troubleshooting the radio.

  • What to do when the battery pack does not charge

    You put your two way radio or its battery pack in the charger at the end of the day, expecting it to be fully charged and ready to use again the next morning. But when you take it out of the charger and turn the radio on, either it doesn't power up at all or the battery dies out as soon as you press the PTT button to transmit. What do you do?

    First, don't panic. There are a number of possible reasons why the battery isn't charged, and believe it or not, a few of them are quite common causes that are surprisingly simple to resolve. The other possibilities, well, they may require a different resolution. Either way, before you start bashing batteries, cursing chargers or talking to tech support, try these simple troubleshooting steps to find out what is really going on. It may save you a lot of time, expense and frustration.

    Step 1. Check the connections.
    It may seem improbable, but the stability of any power connection is limited by its weakest link. Check the contacts and terminals for dirt, oils, corrosion, excessive wear or anything that can hamper a good, stable connection. This includes the battery contacts on the radio, in the charger, and on the battery itself.

    Step 2. Reseat the battery in the radio.
    It seems unlikely, but it happens. Some radios require a tight fit with the battery and may seem attached when they are not fully locked in place. Make sure the battery is seated properly and the battery pack locks firmly in place when attaching it to the radio.

    Step 3. Verify you are using the correct battery charger.
    Yes, this happens too, particularly when using a mix of different radios from the same manufacturer, and it happens a lot more often than you might think. Using the wrong charger can not only prevent your radio and/or battery from charging properly, it could damage your equipment. It can also be potentially dangerous.

    • If the charger you are using does not match your specific model radio and battery, find the charger that does and skip to Step 8.
    • If you are using the correct charger, proceed to Step 4.

    Step 4. Check to be sure the charger is plugged in and turned on.
    Sound silly, doesn't it? Well, it isn't really, because it does happen. It's one of the easiest mistakes to make when charging a fleet of batteries and one of the simplest to resolve.

    • If the charger is connected to an approved, working power source, proceed to Step 5.
    • If the charger is plugged in and turned on, but there is no power, try it in another verified, working power source or outlet in another location and on a different circuit.
    • If the charger still doesn't power on when connected to the other source, skip to Step 6.

    Step 5. Reseat the radio or battery in the charger.
    Sometimes a radio or battery seems like it's connected to the charger when it's not making contact at all. If it is a drop-in or desktop charger with a pocket or tray, the radio and/or battery may be able to sit in the tray without actually touching the contacts. If it is a plug-in type of charger, the plug may not be fully inserted. Be sure the radio/battery is properly seated or fully connected and the charging indicator light is on.

    • If the radio/battery is in full contact with the charger and seems to be charging, skip to Step 8.
    • if the radio/battery is in full contact with the charger and is not charging, go to Step 6.

    Step 6. Charge another radio/battery of the same make and model in the charger.
    Determine if the issue is really with the radio or battery pack.

    • If another battery of the same type and model charges, the charger is working. Skip to Step 8.
    • If another battery of the same type and model does not charge, go to Step 7.

    Step 7. Swap out the charger.
    Sometimes a dead battery is the result of a dead charger.

    • Plug another charger into the same power source. If another charger powers on when connected to the power source, the charger you are troubleshooting may need to be replaced.
    • If you don't have another charger, it will most likely need to be replaced. If it is still under warranty, contact the manufacturer. If not, contact us to find the correct replacement charger for your two way radio.

    Step 8. Charge the radio/battery again.
    Just to be sure, give it another chance.

    • If the battery charges, the issue is resolved.
    • If the battery charges, but charge is weak or the battery does not hold the charge, the battery has likely reached its EOL, or End of Life.
    • If the battery does not charge, battery may be defective or has reached its End of Life.

    Every battery has a limited life span determined by a number of different factors, including but not limited to how and where it is used, how much it is used and under what conditions. There is no set time table before a battery "kicks the bucket". As a general rule, the average lifespan can range from one to three years or more. If your battery has reached its End of Life, it's time to purchase a new one.

    Better yet, to avoid the sudden surprise or next day discovery that your two way radio battery has reached the end of the road, and at the moment you need it the most, have a couple of spare battery packs charged and at the ready for a quick and easy swap. A spare charger may also be good to have on hand, just in case.

  • Midland FRS/GMRS Two Way Radio Battery Compatibility Chart

    A key consideration in the purchase of any FRS/GMRS two way radio are available options for power. When choosing your radio, consider the types, sizes and quantities of batteries needed to operate your walkie talkies. Are they swappable with other models in the series? can you use both battery packs and alkalines in an emergency or a pinch? These are all important factors to consider.

    This reference chart provides information on power options available for Midland FRS/GMRS two way radios. Buy Two Way Radios is an authorized Midland dealer.

    Model Battery Type(s) Alkaline
    battery Pack
    EX37VP Alkaline/Rechargeable AAA (3) AAA (3)
    LXT118 Alkaline/Rechargeable AAA (3) AAA (3)
    LXT118VP Alkaline/Rechargeable AAA (3) AAA (3)
    LXT500VP3 Alkaline/NiMH Battery Pack AAA (4) BATT6R
    LXT535VP3 Alkaline/NiMH Battery Pack AAA (4) BATT6R
    LXT560VP3 Alkaline/NiMH Battery Pack AAA (4) BATT6R
    LXT600VP3 Alkaline/NiMH Battery Pack AAA (3) BATT3R
    GXT860VP4 Alkaline/NiMH Battery Pack AA (4) BATT5R
    GXT1000VP4 Alkaline/NiMH Battery Pack AA (4) BATT5R
    GXT1050VP4 Alkaline/NiMH Battery Pack AA (4) BATT5R
    GXT2000VP4 Lithium Polymer BATT12LI
    GXT2050VP4 Lithium Polymer BATT12LI
    GXT5000 Lithium-Ion BATT5000

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