(Continued from Part 2.)
Editor’s Note: The following section of the article describes some high power and out-of-band transmission modifications that are not legal under most circumstances. In an absolute disaster situation, anyone can operate outside of normal bands/channels without a license and probably without any legal repercussions. But doing so in normal times will surely get someone arrested, their gear seized, and some hefty fines. Beware!
BACK TO THE FUTURE, CB RADIO IS BACK!
Although Citizen Band (CB) might not be a part of our primary radio communications plan, we may need to operate a CB to talk to neighbors. Although it appears that CB has fallen into disuse, it is not forgotten, in fact it is fast making a ‘come back’. And there are yet many hidden away that will be dusted off and put back into service in a disaster. It could be the radio that connects and informs the masses. A low-cost example should then be in our radio shack even if it is not our first choice, since it will be the first and only choice for many neighbors. And it would be good enough for most local situations.
Sigle-sideband (SSB) mode CB offers twice the range and four times the COMSEC as a standard CB. Yet if there are no other SSB CBs that we could contact, then SSB is not a practical choice. Unless of course we planned ahead and SSB CBs were apart of our primary or alternative radio communications, and members standardized on SSB CB. Standard CB radio is a good alternative, if the operation requirement is less than 3 to 8 miles. Cost and technical barriers also weigh heavily on our decisions, and may force us to compromise and choose the CB. If a radio choice is too difficult for the least technical capable member, then it is not a good choice. CB could at the least be a contingency radio option.
My approach tends to favor lower-cost radios coupled with the best antenna that I can afford. This usually works out well in the field. Connect a lower-power, or lower cost radio to a optimal antenna, and it usually will outperform, or perform just as well as a better quality, and higher priced and powered radio that is connected to a sub-optimal, or sub-standard antenna. There is a general tendency to purchase brawn (power output), rather than using ‘brains’ to get the job done.
The choices of transceivers and antennas available is impressive and overwhelming. In this day and age, vehicles have evolved beyond the traditional CB antenna mounts of the past. In this comparison, I’ve chosen to use a decent performing magnetic mount 5 foot long antenna, because it is easy for the average person to install on modern vehicles. There are better performing antennas, but the goal is to find and examine combinations that are a sensible balance of cost, performance, with a low technical barrier. Motor homes, pick-ups, and even base stations could use a no ground plane (NGP) antenna if a full-sized antenna is out of reach. Whatever the application, there are numerous options that are offered as solutions that will allow us to install a better antenna. Ask around, and choose the best performing antenna for your situation.
Generally speaking, the longer the antenna, the better it propagates. This is especially relevant when it comes to CB antennas. As a rough rule of thumb, for every one foot of antenna height, we might expect 1 mile of range. However, there are too many variables to estimate the actual range. If the range requirement is modest, then buying the best antenna one can afford, will likely allow the radio to perform adequately. There is likely a better antenna that can be used if the installer is up to the technical challenge. Those with older vehicles and trucks would do well to install a Hustler 102″ Stainless Steel Whip that is 8.5 feet in length:
Hustler 102 Inch Whip CB Ham Antenna Stainless Steel – 18 ft RG8X Coax – Spring & Mount
Modern pickups and other modern vehicles are better served with compact radios and modern mounting brackets. Here is an example from CB World’s “Help Center”:
And here is a kit complete with CB for modern pickups found at Amazon:
Pro Trucker Pickup CB Radio Kit Includes Radio, 4′ Antenna, CB Antenna Mount, CB Coax, SWR Meter w/Jumper Coax, Speaker, and Springhttps://www.amazon.com/Pro-Trucker-CB-Antenna-Speaker/dp/B01N7U4Z74/ref=sr_1_5?crid=C9981K8XF9AZ&dchild=1&keywords=swr+for+cb+radio&qid=1611950300&sprefix=swr+for+cb+radio%2Celectronics%2C213&sr=8-5
SSB CB, and CB TRANSCEIVERS
SSB CB is good long-range choice for alternate or contingency communications. The might be your first choice after a collapse, and when GMRS is too risky to use. The built-in layers of COMSEC that SSB CB provides could be life-saving. I would have both GMRS, and SSB CB, or standard CB mobiles in my vehicle, and as a base stations to talk to my vehicles and handhelds. MURS handhelds would be much more secure than FRS/GMRS handhelds, and SSB CBs would be far more secure that standard CBs, and have greater range, if needed. However, If we cannot afford an SSB CB, then go with a standard CB. We gotta have a CB, or three. Redundancy is priceless. I would buy three standard CBs if I could not afford two SSB CBs.
CB, Top Popular Choices:
Uniden 980P SSB CB https://www.amazon.com/Uniden-Sideband-WeatherBand-Cancelling-Compatible/dp/B007B5ZAES/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2QFQN2EHE163R&dchild=1&keywords=uniden+980ssb+bearcat+cb+radio&qid=1612407809&sprefix=UNIDEN+980+SS%2Caps%2C-1&sr=8-2
C29LTD – Cobra® Classic CB Radio, https://www.wearecb.com/cobra-29-ltd-classic.html
Galaxy DX949 SSB CB, https://www.wearecb.com/galaxy-dx-949-cb-radio.html
Standard CBs for a low-cost option:
Uniden PRO505XL CB Radio
(We can use a SSB CB with this antenna as well)
Wilson W500 54″ Magnet Mount cb radio
Here is my top choice in SSB CB, a power supply and base station antenna for it:
Uniden CB Radio with SSB
$194.07 (I do not recommend their ‘peak and tune’ service)
We can use a standard CB instead with these components.
Samlex SEC-1212 10 Amp Switching Power Supply for CB’s
PATRIOT – ProComm 12 Foot CB or 10 Meter Base Antenna (pre-tuned for CB’s)
If no metal roof, or other larger area ground plane exists, this is other half of the antenna:
PAT12GPK – ProComm Ground Plane Kit for Base Station Antennas Patriot And Proton
Use RG213 coaxial cable up to 100 feet. A base station CB antenna takes up lots of space so the cable will need to reach
an area that is suitable.
Next, an unusual and easy to install and use, portable and mobile CB of note.
It is the most versatile, popular, and interesting CB for the money. It has this slot in this list, because of the price and utility. While it is not the most cost-effective, it is also the easiest to install, and that is where part of the value could be found. See the Amazon reviews and video to fully appreciate this one. When attached to the same external magnetic mount antenna as a mobile CB, the range should be similar.
Midland 75-822 Portable / Mobile 2 in 1 CB Radio
“Midland is known for its portable radios. Now it takes CB to true portability with the Midland 75-822 Micro Mobile-Portable CB radio! The 75-822 is a 2 in 1 plug and play two way radio that’s a lightweight hand held and a mobile CB all in one powerful package!”
Reviews as found on Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Midland-75-822-Channel-CB-Way-Radio/dp/B00000K2YR/ref=sr_1_16?dchild=1&keywords=anytone+at6666+cb+radio&qid=1611963568&sr=8-16#customerReviews
A video that best explains this transciever: https://d2y5sgsy8bbmb8.cloudfront.net/v2/be377865-f4de-539d-a7f5-cec9efc64457/ShortForm-Generic-480p-16-9-1409173089793-rpcbe5.mp4
Other part, and component needed to be used in its mobile, and portable with external antenna configuration that is not demonstrated, but possible with an adapter is used:
Eightwood UHF Female SO239 to BNC Male Adapter Antenna Extension Cable 3 feet for CB Ham Radio Antenna Scanner
Wilson W500 54″ Magnet Mount cbradio
OUTLAW RADIO, THE WILD, WILD WEST OF CB
While these radios are outside of our topic of easy to use, these could be interesting enough to inspire one to delve into these deeper waters. They offer exceptional range, COMSEC, and freedom. It is the last bastion of freedom on the airwaves, and few dare go there these days. It is wide-open territory, it is truly the radio equivalent of the free range of the pioneer west. While I can’t afford to go there, I’m fix’n to get there ASAP. IMHO, the best choice to start are the affordable, yet capable Anytone Smart.
There are low-cost amplifiers, but unless one makes sure your choice can handle the input, it will over-drive and eventually damage the amp. Be sure the CB you use is putting out less than 4 watts before hooking it up to an amplifier. Unless you know your antenna can handle the power out, do not use that antenna. Buy something that is rated for the power. I would also advise not to ‘peak and tune’ your CB. It may sound louder, but it is not a better radio afterward. I can use a spectrum analyzer and see if it adjusted correctly. Most have no clue that the crude meter on their radio in only indicating increase voltage and dirty RF. The best way to improve your CB is with a better antenna, then a high gain handset, then go to a SSB CB. If you want to have a high-powered, and finely tuned CB, send it to a competent radio tech who specializes in CBs, or look at one of the unusual choices such as the Anytone Smart listed below.
A Beginners Guide To CB Linear Amplifiers.
CB Radio Installation & Troubleshooting at CB World
A step by step guide for setting the SWR on a CB Antenna
Inexpensive low-powered linear amplifier for CB radios.
A 50 watt CB would a long-range radio. This amp, at CB frequencies, puts out about 100 watts. That is great performance for very little money, and that is all the power you need. Verify that your CB produces between 2 and 4 watts, and no more, otherwise the amplifier will be damage over time. If you are over-driving the amplifier, the audio will sound distorted. If you have a talk-back feature or another CB nearby, then you’ll hear the distortion. It is best to detune the CB to 3 watts You’ll also need 50 amp power supply if its used a base station CB. To extend the life of the amplifier, do not turn it on unless needed. Also, make sure the SWR is as close to 1.0 to 1 as possible. The CB will transmit normally thru the amplifier.
HYS HF Transceiver 3-30Mhz HF Power Amp for 3-30Mhz Handheld Radio with a Mini Fan
This power supply can be used to run the CB and linear amplifier using 110VAC power as part of a base station.
Universal Compact Bench Power Supply – 50 Amp Variable Linear Regulated AC to DC Power Converter/Power Supply Adjustable DC Voltage Supply with Amperage Gauge, Volt Meter, USB Port – Pyramid PSV500
Expensive, high quality, high power linear amplifiers:
Antenna basics and troubleshooting.
Testing CB antennas for SWR
Coxial Cable installation basics
CB antennas, Setting the SWR
CB antennas, A concise chart of antenna type, length and price
(for best performance, choose the longest length appropriate for your application)
This is must-have, and inexpensive SWR meter. I recommend that you get two:
Astatic PDC1 100 Watt SWR Meter
The Quick and the Dead
(A professional shop for CBs, the gunslinger’s, and trucker’s best kept secret.)
In this video, we see cutting edge of what can be done to a CB. He specializes in the Uniden 980 SSB CB:
UNIDEN BEARCAT 980 SSB S.R.C. QUALITY SETUP AND MODS FOR KIM
THE 1970S ARE BACK, MODERN FREEBAND CBS ARE BETTER THAN EVER
What is ‘freebanding’, and what are the free band frequencies?
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Number One Gun, The Anytone AT-6666, a high power CB with SSB, $289.95 while supplies last.
AnyTone AT-6666 10 Meter Amateur Radio with SSB(PEP)/FM/ AM /PA mode,High Power Output: 15W AM,45W FM,60W SSB(PEP)
Very Limited Inventory. 360 Memories CTCSS / DCS Option Included. Programming Cable Included
http://www.wouxun.us/item.php?item_id=378&category_id=64 The supply of these radios appears to be dwindling.
Snake Radio Customs also sells and modifies the Anytone AT6666 into a high power CB that can transmit in the U.S. CB band as well as other such as the Russian CB band and other European CB bands between 25 to 28 mhz. This would be my first choice in a multi-role CB that is also a 10 Meter Amateur radio, that would not only talk to standard CBs, but also a private network of friends in the freeband CB frequencies in with AM, FM, or SSB. Only a high end scanner, or USB Dongle or spectrum analyzer could intercept these frequencies. But it is not likely they would be even looking in this part of the spectrum in the first place or would mistake the signal as a standard CB. This is infamous part of the radio spectrum that back the late 1970s, where CB freebanders could go. With this modern radio, we could go where even the Freebanders could not, and with SSB! This would be a versatile and fantastic transceiver for COMSEC, and it is affordable. It is sold as a 10 Meter transceiver, yet is easily modified and several different ways. Instructions for these mods are widely available on the internet.
Here is a video of the Anytone AT6666 undergoing the modifications that Snakeradiocustoms can perform that turns it into a full feature 10/11/12 meter, AM/FM radio with SSB CB and Freeband CB. I would definitely give him call if you are a gunsling CB kind of guy.
The Compact EDC, The Anytone Smart, $59.99
AnyTone Smart 10 Meter Amateur Radio, compact Size, FM and AM PEP power over 16W. Frequency range 25 to 30 Mhz once modified.
It marketed in the U.S. as AM/FM 10 Meter Amateur transceiver. It is designed as a one size fit all radio marketed for all CBs services worldwide, and that also includes the 10 and 12 meter Ham bands. The different European CB services have different frequency subsets of the larger band. that is 26 to 28 mhz. Anyone who is a hobbyist could modify this one at home in less than 10 minutes with a soldering iron, allowing the user to select use all the CB services they wish the radio operate on. It can go where all other CB radios can not, and you cannot be heard unless you have this, or one of the other model Anytone radios. This puts one in a far more exclusive part of the spectrum than the 1.25 Meter Ham band, and because it can operate in the CB band, enforcement is just about nonexistent, particularly in lightly-populated regions in the western US.
I suppose that Snakeradiocustoms could modify it for less than $50. And the price might be lower if ordered through him, and purchased in bulk. IHMO, it would be well worth it for the rare capabilities of this radio at such a low purchase price. However this is only the little brother of the Anytone AT666. It is lower in power, and does not do SSB. Without peaking the radio, it offers low and high power that is 4 and 8 watts. When ‘peaked’ it can put out at much as 28 watts on high power. ‘Peaked’, or not, it is 2 to 3 times as powerful as a standard CB. And the price is right in that one can afford to buy a box full for your group or family. As is provides exceptional off the beaten path frequencies, and FM capabilities, thus 2 additional built-in layers of capability that provide additional COMSEC, and can also talk to CBs, all at a low price. It is so tiny that is could be carried in a 2 quart canteen pouch, and a long antenna attached to a pack. It really should be my number one choice as a standard issued transceiver for my friends and family. If I can scrape up enough for four of them, then I’ll go for it.
The one weak point is that there is no frequency chart provided by Anytone for the CB frequencies, on the 10 Meter part. I hear that a Stryker model radio provides a chart that corresponds with the channel # and frequency of the Anytone Smart. In reality, I would not be concerned with the actual CB frequency if I am using the Russian or Polish CB bands. All that is really needed there is channel number. One could also use a frequency counter, a USB Dongle, or a standard CB to identify U.S. CB frequencies and the assigned channel numbers. Simply select the U.S. CB band and verify that channel 1 in the Anytone Smart is the same as channel 1 on the standard 40 channel CB. I consider the price a bargain.
(To be continued tomorrow, in Part 4.)
Good info and resources!
I remember back in the day with my first set of tires running up and down the West Coast on a major freeway quite often. I got smart and added a cheap $40 CB to my truck and wired it into the truck speakers – cuz as a kid, in their first wheels, your truck speakers have to be amazing (or that was just me). Anywho, that CB saved me time and frustration so often I can’t count.
I’d come ripping down the freeway to a traffic jam, flip on the radio, figure out where the jam was and take side roads around it. I always felt sorry for the poor saps stuck on the freeway with no idea how far ahead the jam was, or how to get around it. Also, always have a good map to figure out alternative routes.
This was my lesson that radios aren’t just for when the world blows up. They are for when your personal world blows up. Having that small ability to communicate makes a massive difference.
Just a side note – at the time of my first rust bucket I still had a cheap cell phone. No way that would have helped me figure out the jamb – unless people start waiving their cellphone #’s out the window. Even with modern apps like Waze I have found those aren’t always accurate as well. CB gives you real time information as you work the line ahead of you. Tip: know your location so when Rubber Duck and PigPen announce that mile marker 85 is where the pile up is you know how far back you are and where to get around. Remember to flip the favor backwards when you clear past the issue – that’s why we call them COMMS!
Radio is a tool that has a very useful purpose. But just like modern phones, they don’t fix every problem (sorry kids). Thank TR for teaching us how to use this tool!
That is good story to tell as it reminds us why truckers still use CB and other radios. Although the range is usually limited, it is enough to be essential for truckers. It could do the same for a community. A limited range can also be a good thing in that it keeps the conversation local. FRS/GMRS hand held could serve in the same way. I would have a CB even if I would only listen. If someone has a problem, or needs some information, they can crowd source by putting out there on the air to see if any one knows how to fix a problem, or has a spare cup of sugar. An inexpensive CB can bring people together to help each other. I have two boxes of old CBs, and FRS/GMRS radio to hand out just for this purpose. I also have extra Boafengs for trusted persons who could be another set of eyes and ears. Every radio out there could be used to alert the community. This why a scanner is so important. I’ll listening not to emergency services for traffic that indicates unrest.
Although the FCC has not for decades enforce laws on the books pertaining to CB’s and freebanding, given that the FCC has stated recently, that it is a against the law to use *any* radio service to communicate for the purposes of subverting the government. Currently the FCC does not have the resources to enforce as it once did, however they might be funded, and weaponized in the future, and used to target certain groups. In recent years even law abiding and patriotic Ham’s have already been reported by their fellows, targeted and shut down. The First Amendment is dead, and soon they leave us with no other options. Using low power radio limits the audience as does off the beaten path radio frequencies, and uncommon SSB, and other modes such as FM or AM, and DMR. Directional antennas can greatly reduce the audience size for longer and short distances. It is all about reducing who hears us, yet always assume that somebody will be listening. MURS does not restrict some one from using codes, or to wit, even digital modes, and the same might be true about CB. CB can also be used to ‘hide in plain sight’.
We are entering a new era in radio that makes radio as essential as our firearms. Hams and others should hide some of their gear. Having a license as well as a record of credit card purchases, in effect registrars our capability and equipment. If we cannot communicate, as in shoot, move and communicate, then we cannot coordinate a defense. I am a cash and carry kind of guy myself, and I never have it all in one basket. Eventually as I see it, they will suspend or revoke Amateur license, as Commies usually do when that take over. Even during WW2, Amateur radio was suspended. If we are forced to go off the beaten path, have options.
If anyone would remind us of FCC regulations, yes, please do, yet keep in mind that they intend to move their censorship into all avenues of communication, and will use spies everywhere to find any communication that could be associated with activity they suspect might subvert their tyranny. Evidence to support their claims could be flimsy at first, and then become outright lies. The mere suspicion could land us in jail. This is where I and others see this going.
And if they can’t get the guns, as a prelude to war, they might go for the radios, or repeaters, especially Amateur repeaters. The first thing a military force does before it attacks is to cutoff the command and control (communications). They can also do this with jamming. By having a broad access to the radio spectrum, it makes jamming less effective. In some situations, at least hypothetically speaking, we can also use high powered radios and directional antennas to block the jamming signal, and to over come the jamming. Military jamming equipment can be propositioned, and operated remotely.
Of course, living in a remote area in Red state, could mitigate this risk for awhile. Eventually they will declare war against states, or regions of the U.S. that will not turn in their guns, or otherwise comply.
It took only two years to go from disappearing Milo and Alex Jones to banning content said to “amplify narratives that undermine faith in NATO.”
Imagine where the line will be two years from now.
Censorship is an intoxicating power that endlessly expands until it’s smashed.
Good advice about CB radios. Sometimes the inexpensive radios show up at Yard or Estate Sales. A person should be able to ‘hear’ if the radios still works.
The CB radio is a ‘stand alone’ type of radio, that could be powered off of a car battery. People might be able to talk to relatives during an emergency. [Texas just had a big power outage]
Of course with limited channels, the ability to talk during the daytime would be limited. Mostly likely, people could set a time in the middle of the night to talk to relatives. Even just a ‘beep’ code could be used to provided some secrecy if needed.
People need to develop some alternatives to standard communication systems. There seems to be a concerted effort by many of our government leaders to isolate people from each other. Many influential people also seem to want people to hear only ‘their’ version of the news.
I use to take a CB Radio along when traveling on the road. I knew, I could contact a Trucker in case of an emergency. … Sometimes I would listen to the conversations. [There is ‘road’ news that was instantly provided. Otherwise, just the talk of lonely truckers, away from home.]
The way things are going, a CB radio might be a source of ~needed local news. [Speculation]
But, a CB radio is a ‘stand’ alone radio; powered by the car battery, that can be used in case of emergencies. They’re relatively cheap too, and easy to use. It also seems as though, our Electrical Grid is being designed to periodically fail.
Yes, an inexpensive $40.00 CB on an inexpensive antenna that has just a mile or two of range could make a world of difference as one would be able to listen, if not participate in a neighborhood ‘party line’ of sorts. CB, FRS, GMRS, and MURS should be in our scanners, and I would have at least one of each of these radios to connect with my neighbors. There is safety in numbers, and if you are in the right neighborhood, we can contribute to the safety of the neighborhood, and find neighbors who we might barter with. I will set up and promote a neighborhood network if one does not naturally spring up. They may not even know my name or where I live as I can work through a proxy. Each neighbor can at least act as a sensor for intelligence if they have some one to talk to. I will be listening.
Some of the smaller hand held CB radios permit a ~specified longer antennae to be attached. … Too long of an antennae, and the ‘amp’ draw is too much for the CB radio. when ‘pressing/using’ the send button. (It will burn-up the circuits)
For my handheld CB radio, I used a 3′ foot magnetic antennae on my truck, while on the road. … I could send and hear. … The Internet says I could expect 3 to 4 miles of range. … I had an 8 foot antennae, at home, for ~just listening. My small radio would ‘burn-up’ internally, if I tried to use the ‘send’ button. … “Dang it, I shouldn’t pushed the send button. It would be a $50 mistake” … I put the 8 foot antenna on top of a basketball hoop, and improved the reception substantially.
Like any antennae, placing the antennae at a higher elevation would increase the range of reception. The allowable length of the cable was a determining factor. … I could place my magnetic antennae on top of the truck cab, and improve performance. Unfortunately, while traveling, wind résistance would push the magnetic antennae off the cab.
I ended up, placing the magnetic antennae on a toolbox in the bed of the truck.
As an example of ‘elevation’ and how it improves television antennas. In the old days, I remember, the cities became a ‘forest’ of very tall television antennas poles. … It improved the reception for free TV.
… … Plus, even now days up the mountains, there are people, hiring a tree climber to climb 60 or 80 feet up a pine-tree and install a television antenna or ‘satellite’ dish.
[The elevation gives ‘clearer’ and better reception; especially for the dish antenna. No blockage of the signal.]
In my trailer-park home now, there are dish antennas placed on the roofs of the trailers. Some places have two old dish antennas. There’s a dish and direct antenna; Plus, sometimes a ‘free’ TV antenna too.
Yes, ”height is might”. See Parts 4 and 5 for more. What also constitutes a ‘good’ antenna for receiving and transmitting, is whether or not it is ‘resonate’. If one buys a CB antenna, it may or may not be tuned as well as it should. It is always best to test an antenna after it is been installed. Having on the tool box of a truck is probably not a good idea because the metal of cab could reflect some of the ‘raydio’ waves back into the antenna and mess up it;s ability to radiate. Somewhere in part 3 or 4 is a link to an $20.00 SWR Meter that could test the antenna.
It seems it would be difficult to find a place on a metal-truck that didn’t have a lot of metal nearby, to attach an antennae with a magnetic base for attaching the antennae to a metal object, that ‘holds’ a magnet,
Good thing my old Honeybunch wasn’t too ‘hep’ to characteristics of CB Radios. … She might have insisted, I stand in the Truck Bed, and hold the antennae aloft, like the Statue of Liberty holding aloft the Torch of Liberty. … Of course, while NOT knowledgeable about CB Radios, as a woman, Honeybunch was ‘hep’ enough NOT to say anything to the Truckers traveling the road.
Honeybunch preferred listening to the AM/FM Radio, anywho! Unfortunately, often the bigger-half is too Rude and Crude for everyone in the better-half of the Human Family.