How To program my radio

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Once you've taken that shiny new radio out of the box--or charged up the battery on that eBay or hamfest find--it's time to get it set up with your favorite repeaters and simplex frequencies. There are two ways to do this:

  • Via the buttons on the radio. There's a wide range in the intuitiveness and ease of programming radios via the buttons, and also in people's ability to get into the swing of programming radios this way. With the new Baofeng and other Chinese radios that have become so popular, the general consensus is that programming via the buttons is counterintuitive. So for a lot of hams, that naturally leads to the second way of programming the rig:
  • Via programming software and a serial cable. With this method, you create a configuration file on your computer, and then send it to the radio over a special cable. Most radios don't come with the cable, so you'll need to acquire the right cable for your rig and computer; it's easy to find out what you need online. There are proprietary programming apps, and there is also a popular open-source program called Chirp.

Whichever method you choose, as with so many other things, a little time with a search engine will yield multiple forms of instructions, from official manuals to ham-created how-to pages, to YouTube videos.