Letter Re: Communications in Times of Crisis

Hi, Jim:
As a licensed Ham and (ever since the 1970s) a licensed CBer (those were the days when CB licenses mattered.) I had to go quickly back and check the Communications in Times of Crisis posting one more time, and sure enough I did find a couple of small errors/omissions which need mention. First, the 12 watts output mentioned by the author for CB radios only applies when operating in SSB mode. If in AM mode, you are still limited to 4 watts out. Yes, I know some folks run “foot warmers” (illegal [linear] amplifiers); but, remember that those babies splatter all over the bands causing all sorts of interference to adjacent services and (due to the harmonics generated) to who knows what other agencies/users. And, trust, me…if Uncle Sam gets enough complaints from other spectrum users, your neighbors etc., he will come calling; perhaps with a big fat citation/fine/confiscation order for your equipment in hand and the boys in blue in tow.

Also, I must disagree that single sideband mode is not–repeat, not–a secure mode where CB is concerned. Besides being able to be picked up by any other SSB-capable CB radio, SSB CB transmissions are available to anyone possessing a communications (read short-wave receiver in the 3 – 30 MHz bands. They can also be read on any VHF scanner that has SSB mode available. And of course, scrambling any transmissions on the CB band would be illegal.

One final note. While having the best antenna system possible is indeed important, don’t forget that the maximum legal distance limit for any contact (AM or SSB) is 150 miles. While the CB bands may seem inactive or dead now, that’s probably due more to the facts that 1.) the CB craze was replaced by the Internet craze in the 1990s; and 2.) the sunspot cycle being near minimum, currently. Once the cycle begins to rise and peak over the next few years, you will again hear many CB stations attempting to make illegal long-haul contacts state-to-state and even country-to-country, again (known as “shooting skip”.) This is another method of incurring the ire of not only the FCC, but more importantly, your fellow CBers. As already mentioned, there enough bucket mouths and malcontents on the air. Therefore, in closing I would implore all CB users to exercise a little common courtesy and on-air cooperation. Perhaps we could then restore some real utility to the CB band in times of crisis. – Gandalf in Hawaii