Quansheng UV-K5 Review: More on the Quansheng UV-K5

Keith Rawlings G4MIU revisits the UV-K5, describing the options available with the new firmware.

In October 2023, I gave a brief summary of the Quansheng UV-5K. This little hand portable is a dual-band VHF/UHF handheld transceiver with a stated maximum power output of 5W within the amateur bands and also AM airband reception. However, airband reception was found to be very poor and transmit harmonics could have been a lot better. Nonetheless, the radio is cheap and easy to use.

Enter the Quansheng UV-K5 (8)

At the time of writing, there is considerable interest in a new model of the UV-K5, the UV-K5(8). The ‘new’ radio, Fig. 1, seems identical to the earlier model but is claimed to have some improvements.

Quansheng UV-K5 Review

Differences?

The UV-K5(8) is the same size, and has the same general layout, as the UV-5K but the speaker housing is now slightly different as is the LCD surround. The LCD itself has been changed from a white background to a gentler amber colour. The speaker has apparently been improved but I found the audio is still piercing, especially when the volume is set to a high level. The A/B rocker switch on the UV-5K has been replaced with separate buttons and that seems to be it. Band coverage is still the same too:

  • 50.0000-76.0000MHz (RX only)
  • 108.0000-135.9750MHz (RX only)
  • 136.0000-173.9750MHz (TX and RX both)
  • 174.0000-349.9750MHz (RX only)
  • 350.0000-399.9750MHz (RX only)
  • 400.0000-469.9750MHz (TX and RX both)
  • 470.0000-600.0000MHz (RX only)
  • A document on the FCC website seems to confirm the radios are, electronically at least, identical!

A replacement

As I had given my UV-K5 to my son, I replaced it with a UV-5K(8), which was ordered directly from the AliExpress website and arrived within five days. It came with an antenna, belt clip, drop-in charger, wrist strap and user manual.

I did not order a package that included a programming lead as I already had one for the UV-K5. I just went for the cheapest offering I could find on the website, which was £ inc VAT delivered!

Both radios use the same CPS programming software, which can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website or, alternatively, the popular CHIRP programmer can be used. Unfortunately, in the new radio AM airband reception is just as poor as with the UV-K5 thus is pretty much unusable in this mode. However, for airband listeners the good news is that a freely available fix exists for this.

By simply upgrading the radio’s firmware with a suitable ‘User Generated Firmware’ file better quality AM reception becomes possible. There are a number of firmware files online, which have kindly been made available by fellow enthusiasts. I chose to use the popular Egzumer file on my radio, which is presently running at V0.19. Full details may be found here.

There are different ways to get the new firmware into the radio. One way is to directly select the various parameters found on the webpage below to select just the features you want and then send the changes to the radio.

There is a similar site here: https://uvmod.leechermods.com

Another way is to go to the following webpage, reading the instructions on this page first.

Then click onto ‘Egzumer firmware releases’ and click on the latest release ‘flash with a browser’ caption. You should see a box with ‘Flasher’ in the top left corner and the latest Egzumer file in the ‘browse’ window (If you have another firmware file saved on your computer you can instead load and use this here if you wish).

Next, select ‘Flash Firmware’. A box will appear and here you select the correct Comport for your interface. Click ‘Connect’, and the new firmware will be sent to the radio. Switch off and on then EGZUMER v0.19 should be displayed on the bottom of the screen, assuming you have used this file.

Yet another method is to use a small application called Portable Radio Update Tools. Put the radio into programming mode as before, run this program, select the correct Comport, load the appropriate firmware file, which will previously have to be stored on your computer. Click ‘Connect’ and then ‘Update’ and the file will be loaded to the radio.

This program may be found in the files section of the Quansheng UV Series Radio User & Modification Group Worldwide Facebook Group files section.

A tip!

Make a copy of your original firmware, or download a copy off the manufacturer’s website, and the radio can be easily restored to its original configuration if needed. Note that ideally you will still need the CPS software to program the memories and key functions on the radio.

In the case of the Egzumer firmware you will now have a radio with a number of added features with, as my son calls it, ‘a cool looking’ Spectrum Scope, Fig. 2, USB reception, backlight dimming, RSSI meter, long press button instead of F+, and, importantly for airband monitors, a working AM receiver with 8.33kHz steps, Fig. 3, among other improvements.

Quansheng UV-K5 Review
Quansheng UV-K5 Review

I have found reception in the civilian airband is now perfectly OK considering the cost of the radio and for those that do, Mil airband reception is also improved.

The receiver does still have a tendency to overload on strong local signals. As it is possible to inhibit the transmitter the radio also makes for a cheap general-purpose scanner for the unlicensed listener which now covers the frequency range 18 ~ 660MHz and 840 ~ 1300MHz in AM, FM, USB and also WBFM from 88-108MHz.

It is possible to open up the transmit side so that the radio is capable of radiating outside of the amateur bands. However, caution is needed here as it has been found that, although the fundamental frequency output can be very low outside of the standard bands, harmonics can be seen to mimic a porcupine with multiple spurs all along the RF Spectrum! A quick check with the UV-K5(8) transmitting low power into a dummy load on 50MHz while feeding a TinySA Ultra via a 40dB tap demonstrated almost identical levels on the 3rd, 4th and 5th harmonics as the fundamental.

Should you wish to wideband the transmit then you need to access the ‘Hidden Menu’. To do this hold PTT + Side Button 1 and then turn on the radio but do so with caution.

The new firmware offers a number of features, many more than can be described here, but you do also lose some of the standard features. For example, I have not found a way to now clone the two radios, so I recommend you thoroughly read and digest the wiki page first before deciding to make any changes, which are at your own risk.

As stated the UV-K5 and the UV-K5(8) are identical so if you already have the UV-K5 I can confirm the Egzumer firmware also works on that model, including the improvements to AM reception.

If you want a cheap VHF/UHF handy that also doubles up as a wideband scanner, then the UV-K5 family look like they are a bargain. I bought my one here but I advise to shop around as prices seem to vary with the wind.

8 Total Score
Quansheng UV-K5 Review

A bargain!

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Quansheng UV-K5: Price Comparison

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