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Old but new CB'r Upper Mojave Desert

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Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
233
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Upper Mojave,CA/NV
#1
So I got my old Cobra 29 shipped to me after all these years and just can't pick up anything, I got some stuff on CH6 when I was in Ridgecrest and on 19 but it was garbled. At first I thought it was because it's set up as a quick setup and has a short magnetic mount antenna, it was literally line of sight anyways (if I couldn't see you, I usually couldn't talk to you.), or could it be there's just no traffic up here? Going through all adjustments it looks like somebody used it and screwed up the settings and transmitted anyways or it's just old and so far out of tune that until I find an O'Scope to use and check it out, it's pretty much a paper weight now.

So I went hog wild and bought a Bearcat 980 SSB for $110 plus a Wilson 1000. Being in the desert the SSB might be the only way to talk to anyone. I see there's a member on this Forum that is out of Mojave, I would love to try reaching him some day. He is only 30 miles away and I am up above him, being the desert and if it refracts around Red Rock canyon he should be within range. If he has SSB capabilities. If not I'll just have to get his handle and maybe we can talk next time I go that way. Plus, curious if there is a lot more traffic that way anyways. I might just go hang out at the Truck Stop in Tehachipi some night just to justify buying this thing, lol.

So did I just waste $200 or is it still used enough to justify it? Of course I did just discover that the first thing I should do is get a better Mic for it, another $35.I was thinking of getting my HAM license, but seeing that I am going to by driving cross country a lot in the next couple of years, I just wanted to get a CB first.

Anyways, hope it was worth it.
 

HummerMike

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 22, 2015
Messages
94
Location
Abbeville, S.C.
#2
I may not be the best reply for your question since I have never been out West. CB has lost some of its following from the masses. It is still poplar with the skip shooters and there are some local rag chew groups scattered through out the country. When the skip is rolling you will hear a lot of traffic on ch.6 AM and 38 LSB. You will be pressed to be able to do anything more than listing on these channels as almost all are running a lot of (not legal) power.
Ham Radio has many ways to communicate. Digital Mobile Radio is growing by leaps and bounds on 440. I don't know how many two meter and 440 repeaters are out in your area of the Desert. If you go forward and get a General Ham ticket, you will be able to get on the phone portions of the popular Ham Bands. I have a HF rig in my daily driver. I can work stations on 15, 20, 40 meters any given day while going to work. At night I can work a little on 80 meters. Mostly listen on 80 since the antenna is so loaded to be resonant, ( it does affect the range.)
In my area, I can always get someone on 440 or two meters on mobile.
When the wife and I travel somewhere together, we always go in my car. It's just not the same without my radios avaliable in the car.

Hope this helps.
Mike
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
10,213
Location
Point Nemo.
#3
So, I'm in California, but the Northern end.

I used to use CB a lot with family and friends, but that sort of came to an end when:
- family got their amateur licenses and we migrated to 2 meters FM
- friends gave up on CB and just use cellular phones.

I do a fair amount of traveling in the western USA. I don't have a CB in my truck anymore, haven't in about 10 years. Out of curiosity I did put my old CB in my truck for a long trip 2 years ago, just to see what was going on.
It was a north/south trip on Interstate 5 through California. I had a proper antenna, permanent mount NMO-27 base loaded 1/4 wave, tuned correctly, known good components.

I had the CB on for the whole trip. In 3 days I heard exactly one meaningful conversation between 2 trucks that were a few hundred feet apart.
The rest of it was noise, garbage, etc.

So, at the end of that trip I removed the CB radio and put it back in the garage. I think I've dumped it since then.

CB as a way to make random contacts is just that, random. Really depend on where you are. Some parts of the country the CB is used quite a bit. Not so much on the interstates, at least not around me.

The other thing that forced me to give up on CB was that I have my wife and son in the car, and there is no way I'll submit them to that. Even amateur radio can get pretty embarrassing at times.

So, it really comes down to where you are, what the local environment is like and/or if you are going to set up contacts ahead of time.

It might be useful on your cross country trips. If I was doing that I might be tempted to install a CB again.

Amateur radio is an option, but it isn't necessarily any better. I recently drove from here on the coast of California to Denver and back. I had my VHF radio on and heard no traffic on the calling channel. Some amateurs would say that I should have been calling along the way to make contacts, but I didn't want to. Just had the radio on listening. Maybe there were people out there waiting to talk, maybe not. I didn't test the waters. What I do know is that the 2 meter calling channel is very sparsely used.
Repeaters would be an option, but you either have to have them pre-programmed into your radio, or you have to stop frequently and set them up for the specific area you are in.

Would be really interesting to hear your experience after you do your cross country trip.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
233
Location
Upper Mojave,CA/NV
#4
Yes, getting your HAM license is a good way to connect across country. But, I highly doubt there is a licensed HAM driving at the same time I am on the same Interstate.

I do miss the 80's where all the truckers had them on. Is there anything out there nowadays that gives you the connection you had like that while driving.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
233
Location
Upper Mojave,CA/NV
#5
Technology is a wonderful thing, it's great that it is making the world smaller, but the comradeship and bonds you made with your neighbor's is fading away because of it. Excuse that philosophical statement.

It reminds me of a thing I read years ago how something as simple as automatic doors are diminishing human interaction. Which once I moved out of the city and into rural areas I actually saw the point. So much friendlier feeling when you see someone reaching for the door and saying 'Here let me get that for you. How are you doing today.'
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2008
Messages
212
Location
Millers Creek, NC
#6
I have given up on CB as being a 'travel buddy' for the very reason you stated, little to no localtraffic. I use my HT (VX6R) now when I travel. True the "call channel" has little to no traffic, but I dont findit a problem to use local repeaters. I have pre-programmed the HT into travel banks. One bank each for 144, 220, 440 repeaters in NC (SERA index), one local, and the other six into my destinations. One bank covers main repeaters from my home to KY, another covers to the NC beach, and another covers the SE Idaho area. Travel is as easy as switching banks. I can also band scan and then tone scan if I find anything not already programmed in.
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2014
Messages
1,275
#7
So I got my old Cobra 29 shipped to me after all these years and just can't pick up anything, I got some stuff on CH6 when I was in Ridgecrest and on 19 but it was garbled. At first I thought it was because it's set up as a quick setup and has a short magnetic mount antenna, it was literally line of sight anyways (if I couldn't see you, I usually couldn't talk to you.), or could it be there's just no traffic up here? Going through all adjustments it looks like somebody used it and screwed up the settings and transmitted anyways or it's just old and so far out of tune that until I find an O'Scope to use and check it out, it's pretty much a paper weight now.

So I went hog wild and bought a Bearcat 980 SSB for $110 plus a Wilson 1000. Being in the desert the SSB might be the only way to talk to anyone. I see there's a member on this Forum that is out of Mojave, I would love to try reaching him some day. He is only 30 miles away and I am up above him, being the desert and if it refracts around Red Rock canyon he should be within range. If he has SSB capabilities. If not I'll just have to get his handle and maybe we can talk next time I go that way. Plus, curious if there is a lot more traffic that way anyways. I might just go hang out at the Truck Stop in Tehachipi some night just to justify buying this thing, lol.

So did I just waste $200 or is it still used enough to justify it? Of course I did just discover that the first thing I should do is get a better Mic for it, another $35.I was thinking of getting my HAM license, but seeing that I am going to by driving cross country a lot in the next couple of years, I just wanted to get a CB first.

Anyways, hope it was worth it.
When I travel through the southwest on business, I find many areas where there are loads of CBers and activity, and other areas where it is fairly quiet! This is especially true of California, where you have areas that are heavily populated and other areas where the inhabitants are quite sparse. Not sure where you are exactly located, but there is quite a bit of activity in the Sacramento-San Francisco area. Here is a website with an online CB radio receiver in that vicinity.... www.CBradioClub.com/san-francisco-bay-ca.html There is usually a lot of activity in the evenings.
 
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Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
233
Location
Upper Mojave,CA/NV
#8
I'm on the road to Death Valley, lol, so yes it is bare out here. The biggest reason I even joined this forum though was to get hooked up with Jay 35 miles away from me so when I am down by Mojave i could find out what channel he is on.
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2014
Messages
1,275
#9
I'm on the road to Death Valley, lol, so yes it is bare out here. The biggest reason I even joined this forum though was to get hooked up with Jay 35 miles away from me so when I am down by Mojave i could find out what channel he is on.
Well if you really want to reach him, you might consider using a small 3 element beam! :)
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
233
Location
Upper Mojave,CA/NV
#10
Well if you really want to reach him, you might consider using a small 3 element beam! :)
I prefer to keep my setup in my F350. Not really looking to go base quite yet. I guess I could have a portable antenna that I could set up when I am stationary. What's another $90 for an obsolete band right? lol.

Once I get set up. I'll be driving my F350 out to the El Paso's and be able to see Mojave with good binoculars 20-25 miles away. Then both him and I will get to test our range, lol. It just happens to be near my prospecting spot. So if I can reach him it would totally justify the $200 setup I just bought.
 
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1,275
#11
I prefer to keep my setup in my F350. Not really looking to go base quite yet. I guess I could have a portable antenna that I could set up when I am stationary. What's another $90 for an obsolete band right? lol.

Once I get set up. I'll be driving my F350 out to the El Paso's and be able to see Mojave with good binoculars 20-25 miles away. Then both him and I will get to test our range, lol. It just happens to be near my prospecting spot. So if I can reach him it would totally justify the $200 setup I just bought.
Sounds good! Maybe you guys can set up a time and channel to meet. It is quite likely that you might be able to hear each other late evenings or when the band is quiet, especially on SSB! I often make ground wave contacts on SSB late evenings, way beyond 50 miles. However if there are mountains or high hills between you, they could very well block the signals.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
233
Location
Upper Mojave,CA/NV
#12
Kind of why I am waiting for Jay to pop in if he actually monitors this group, to find out if he has SSB or not. With the refraction ability of HF versus VHF I might be able to reach him from my house.
 
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Messages
233
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Upper Mojave,CA/NV
#13
I'm pretty sure I'm moving on. Not as warm of a welcome on this site that I had hoped for.

But as always, The CB side was their normal '10-4, good buddy'. If Jay does read this post I'll be down in Mojave on whatever day and channel he wants to set up after my rig gets here.

It will only take me less than 1/2 hour to set up and 10 minutes to calibrate. After that it's time to haul on out of here. I'd love to have him on channel during my way down to Mojave to see when he first picks me up. I've never used SSB but they say that 50 miles on legal power limits is totally feasible in the open country like this. Except for red rock canyon half way between us, which might cause a problem. We should at least be reading garbled transmission once I get to the Jawbone Canyon road.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 13, 2007
Messages
663
Location
Mojave Ca
#15
Hello SOW: Tell me when you want to hook up, we can use 38 or 39 LSB.

Jay in the Great Mojave Desert




I'm pretty sure I'm moving on. Not as warm of a welcome on this site that I had hoped for.

But as always, The CB side was their normal '10-4, good buddy'. If Jay does read this post I'll be down in Mojave on whatever day and channel he wants to set up after my rig gets here.

It will only take me less than 1/2 hour to set up and 10 minutes to calibrate. After that it's time to haul on out of here. I'd love to have him on channel during my way down to Mojave to see when he first picks me up. I've never used SSB but they say that 50 miles on legal power limits is totally feasible in the open country like this. Except for red rock canyon half way between us, which might cause a problem. We should at least be reading garbled transmission once I get to the Jawbone Canyon road.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
233
Location
Upper Mojave,CA/NV
#16
Hello SOW: Tell me when you want to hook up, we can use 38 or 39 LSB.

Jay in the Great Mojave Desert
10-4, Good Buddy. Good to hear ya. Tracking the package says it's at the local Post office. But, although the antenna shipped 2 days prior it won't be here until next week. I suspect the length slowed down it's speed.

Well I can at least wire it up and read the manual. I did find a local shop that still does radio tunes if need be. Not sure if the 980's internal cal meter is enough or not.

I feel like a kid waiting for Santa to arrive, lol. I hope the lack of traffic isn't a major letdown.

Since you have LSB I really think if I park the truck on the back of the house looking straight at the dove springs area by red rock canyon, I shouldn't even have to leave the yard in LSB.
 

dmack550

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Sep 14, 2013
Messages
100
Location
South bend, Indiana
#17
I'm pretty sure I'm moving on. Not as warm of a welcome on this site that I had hoped for.

But as always, The CB side was their normal '10-4, good buddy'. If Jay does read this post I'll be down in Mojave on whatever day and channel he wants to set up after my rig gets here.

It will only take me less than 1/2 hour to set up and 10 minutes to calibrate. After that it's time to haul on out of here. I'd love to have him on channel during my way down to Mojave to see when he first picks me up. I've never used SSB but they say that 50 miles on legal power limits is totally feasible in the open country like this. Except for red rock canyon half way between us, which might cause a problem. We should at least be reading garbled transmission once I get to the Jawbone Canyon road.
Sorry lots of cb haters on this site.... Mostly "elite" ham people. Just because us cb people don't have thousands of dollars to spend on a ham radio doesn't make us dumb hicks.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
233
Location
Upper Mojave,CA/NV
#18
I want my antenna, lol.

My 980 arrived yesterday. Man, that thar sure is a purtty radio. (On one of my other sites someone (a Ham) mentioned how Billy Bob at the feed store don't know anything about radios, so I might as well speak the part, lol)

I did hook it up to my other antenna and although I can get the WX crystal clear I still am not picking anything up. Pretty sure at this point it's that 16" antenna causing me the problem, lol. I so bad want to xmit, but I refuse to risk too much reflected power, so I purposely will not attach the Mic (PTT Button) until I get my Wilson 1000.

I did find a guy lives 4 miles away that still has a CB, although he is a SSB guy. I guess those folks don't call it CB, it's 11 meter. From talking to him and the different vernacular he used, I gather that they are the crossover between us common folk and the Hams (a lot of Hams quietly participate, apparently because it is a lot less competitive and more fun group.

So he has offered to help me to radio check back and forth as I am adjust the settings. So once I get that done I'll be able to hit the road.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 30, 2006
Messages
7,512
Location
So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
#19
If you do a search on 980 mods you will find an easy way to get rid of the awful beep every time you hit a button and also what to turn up to improve transmit audio.
prcguy


I want my antenna, lol.

My 980 arrived yesterday. Man, that thar sure is a purtty radio. (On one of my other sites someone (a Ham) mentioned how Billy Bob at the feed store don't know anything about radios, so I might as well speak the part, lol)

I did hook it up to my other antenna and although I can get the WX crystal clear I still am not picking anything up. Pretty sure at this point it's that 16" antenna causing me the problem, lol. I so bad want to xmit, but I refuse to risk too much reflected power, so I purposely will not attach the Mic (PTT Button) until I get my Wilson 1000.

I did find a guy lives 4 miles away that still has a CB, although he is a SSB guy. I guess those folks don't call it CB, it's 11 meter. From talking to him and the different vernacular he used, I gather that they are the crossover between us common folk and the Hams (a lot of Hams quietly participate, apparently because it is a lot less competitive and more fun group.

So he has offered to help me as a radio check as I am adjust the settings. So once I get that done I'll be able to hit the road.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
233
Location
Upper Mojave,CA/NV
#20
Well I was like a little kid and even though I haven't gotten my antenna yet I stopped at walmart and bought a cheapo $15 antenna, which is just that.

I have to have the levels turned down so low to stay below SWR 1.5 that I probably can't even get out of town, but in the middle of it all, somebody replied about my radio check. I came back but then he never replied.

I'm getting the Mexicans on 14 so at least I know it works. I did hear some truckers on 19 further up the road but either they didn't acknowledge me or I really suck on Xmit with the way it's set.

I have a feeling that once I get that Wilson 1000 I'll be good to go and be able to talk up and down the 14/395 from Olancha to Mojave and 4 corners. I am really excited.

Now I just have to figure out memory channels and memory scan so I can bypass the Mexicans. Not that I have anything against Mexicans, but my Spanish sucks. It would be a good way to pick up better Spanish though, lol.

The day time backight is pretty hard to see though, even at Max intensity. But it might be because I am in the Sunshine Capital of America.

I also decided to go all in on my setup. Got a Road Devil Mic coming too.
 
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