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  #41 (permalink)  
Old 10-29-2015, 1:09 PM
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I need to put another thing out there about radio use and what's been more useful to me.

About 13 years ago, I used to drive from the Midwest back home in the Northeast along the Interstate several times a year, usually during the summer and winter. I would usually drive through a snow storm or two. I did have a 2 meter and 440 radio (and a CB), but second to the CB, the most useful radio was HF. I had 14.300 up and would check in as a mobile. I would get "flight following" from the net control, and if something happened and I couldn't call 9-1-1 directly, I had someone on the other end of the radio who could do that for me.

So, anyone who wants to use amateur radio while driving longer distances, I would recommend checking into the nets, particularly the ones that are not geared to rag chewing like the ones on 14.300. That and CB have been way more valuable to me than monitoring 2 meters and 440, whether it's repeater or simplex.
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Old 10-29-2015, 8:15 PM
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A Solarcon A99 antenna – widely considered a good starting point for a CB beginner building up a base station – is usually within 3:1 SWR on the 6, 10, 12, 15, & 17m bands as well. That's a lot of bands for $70+coax. Another $40 for a CB transceiver ($130 if you want SSB) gives you the ability to talk across town to friends who never quite get around to a Tech ticket. That is a valuable thing come hurricane season, and reason enough to keep at least a minimal CB capability.
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  #43 (permalink)  
Old 10-30-2015, 12:29 PM
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A little perspective on truckers and CB Ch19. They are at work, on the clock, working a job. They are trying to find out why the traffic is jammed, which lane is clear, what exit to get off and what's the best route around. They ask for directions to a local warehouse, travel plaza for fuel, etc. Do they need to swear and use foul language? No. They don't all swear, they might be a little rough around the edges, but CB for them is a work radio, not play. They are not chit chatting about radios, antennas, etc. Sometimes they chit chat to pass the time, but not like our ragchewing

I drove a truck many years ago. Now that I am a "four wheeler" I still have a CB in my car, I keep CH19 on for my commute. I have always found that CH19 in a metro area can be the best, live, up to date traffic report. No matter what city or state I was in, coast to coast, I could get on CH19 and get an answer to a question. I also kept an HT with 146.520, and a repeater guide handy, but in those cases I was having actual QSOs with the local hams in that area. An actual chit chat and many times that ham really couldn't answer my trucking questions (scales, bridge heights, fuel, etc).

In my opinion, the truckers are the only users that have made good use out of CB, albeit just one channel.
  #44 (permalink)  
Old 10-30-2015, 1:20 PM
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I have tried listening to the CB frequencies on the general coverage portion of my HF radio and I don't hear anything. It's like CB is completely dead and I live smack in the middle of a large Southern California city.
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Old 10-30-2015, 9:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb2hpw View Post
A little perspective on truckers and CB Ch19. They are at work, on the clock, working a job. They are trying to find out why the traffic is jammed, which lane is clear, what exit to get off and what's the best route around. They ask for directions to a local warehouse, travel plaza for fuel, etc. Do they need to swear and use foul language? No. They don't all swear, they might be a little rough around the edges, but CB for them is a work radio, not play. They are not chit chatting about radios, antennas, etc. Sometimes they chit chat to pass the time, but not like our ragchewing
That's been my experience as well. It's not the truckers on Ch 19 who cuss, and scream, and spit radio waves at each other, it's the local miscreants. And the locals and the truckers basically hate each other, or at least they did a few years ago when I listened a lot. But man the locals could be funny. I spilt a gut many a time listening to Country Girl and Homewrecker duke it out on the air waves. Hilarious.

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  #46 (permalink)  
Old 10-31-2015, 7:45 AM
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It's the same here in the Albany area. CH19 will have truckers chatting back and forth, then there will be this annoying guy butting in. Saying stupid stuff, noises, just a creep. And it's not the same guy. So it amazes me someone will go thru the trouble of installing a radio (power supply, coax, mount antenna) or even if it's just a mobile setup with a mag mount....go thru that much effort...just to get on the air and be an idiot. People say CB radio is dead? Oh no, very much alive!

You don't hear the decent people on air anymore. It was common to tune the channels and hear locals (from their homes, base stations) just chatting away. CB was still a hobby radio. Some probably became hams, some just got older and died off.

But I do hear on occasion people chatting on CB. I did a commute to Schenectady every day for a few years and there were 2 guys on CH18 in the mornings. Sounded like 2 guys in town just getting on air every morning like a daily check in. Then there was the very early Sun morning CB guys, must have been like 1:30am but I was tuning the CB channels (from my home station, fixed antenna). Sometimes I get insomnia and you'd be surprised what you hear in those hours! Anyway these two guys were funny, must have come back from drinking. But they were fixed stations, signals not strong at my QTH but steady.

On CH19 occasionally (during the day) I will hear a female voice advertising what I think is a truck stop/travel plaza. Sounds like she is rambling off the daily specials, etc. I think it's in Ohio but the signal is never quite strong enough for me to discern.

That's another reason I still listen to CB once in a while: band condition indicator. I can get a good idea of band conditions during my drive home, maybe get on 10m when I get home.

There are 2 fuel tanker trucks that go by my place from Port of Albany to VT. Like clock work every morning about 4am they do chit chat on their way by. Sound like decent guys, talk about family, etc. I think they split off somewhere in VT to their respective routes.

I don't think CB is dead, it's just very different and not the hobby radio it used to be. But it could be a hobby again. If you are a die hard radio enthusiast like me you don't hate any radio service. In fact I think it's a good idea for hams to know a little more than just their ham bands.
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Old 10-31-2015, 10:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSpaceMann View Post
When hurricane Sandy took out the electricity, cell towers and landlines, CB was the only from of communication still open to the average citizen. It's good to keep one around for emergencies or travel. If you get an SSB unit, you can still find some interesting local conversations similar to what you might find on the ham bands.
For many areas of NJ during Sandy (including my own) CB was a few people calling out to no answer except for kids and northerners doing their best imitation of the Dodge Boy Sheriff - complete with laughable rebel accents. For those police departments still having a cb rig on the comm panel, they haven't been turned on in years (or even dusted). In the absence of electrical power, your ht with the telescoping antenna gets you a mile or two.
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Old 10-31-2015, 2:16 PM
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It sounds like that in the heavily populated areas (NY, NJ, etc.), CB is a beaten-down field only visited by clowns who stop by to beat it down again to make sure that legitimate users stay out. That is depressing. It's not just a tragedy of the commons, it's the abandoning of the commons to a handful of lunatics who drive any potential users away.

The only upside is that CB's still pretty useable out in the hinterboonies. Well, maybe apart from Ch. 6. It's a useable radio service where it's easy to get 5-10 miles pretty easily and cheaply. I'm sure that can change too.
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Old 11-01-2015, 4:48 PM
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I still run a CB. I only use it for one reason. I belong to a Jeep club and not everybody has a HAM license. We use the CB to keep in communication with those who do not have a HAM license.
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  #50 (permalink)  
Old 11-01-2015, 5:48 PM
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Made a round trip from the panhandle of TX to Nashville in Sept.
Had 146.52 & 446.000 on the whole trip...heard nothing.
Listened to Ch19 to keep track of traffic, work zones, accidents,
& an occasional 'advertisement' for a diner, CB shop, or
mobile tire repair.
  #51 (permalink)  
Old 11-01-2015, 7:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elk2370bruce View Post
For many areas of NJ during Sandy (including my own) CB was a few people calling out to no answer except for kids and northerners doing their best imitation of the Dodge Boy Sheriff - complete with laughable rebel accents. For those police departments still having a cb rig on the comm panel, they haven't been turned on in years (or even dusted). In the absence of electrical power, your ht with the telescoping antenna gets you a mile or two.
But "a mile or two" can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. The police don't actually have to monitor CB for it to save someone's life. I heard about a fellow who was severely injured during hurricane Sandy when a tree came down on his vehicle. He tried to call for help on his phone, but the cell tower near the accident was out. Fortunately he was spotted by a driver who had a CB in his vehicle. The driver contacted a trucker a few miles away, and the trucker was able to reach police because the cell tower was still working at his location. Within a few minutes an ambulance arrived at the scene, and the injured driver was taken to the nearest hospital. He was bleeding so severely that a few minutes more without help could have ended his life.

Last edited by TheSpaceMann; 11-01-2015 at 7:45 PM..
  #52 (permalink)  
Old 11-02-2015, 11:11 AM
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I haven't used a CB since I was in high school back in the 80's. My family had a CB in the 70's when you still had to have a license to use one. I simply lost interest in CB along with most other people, but I never lost my interest in radio. So a couple of years ago I got my ham ticket and now don't look back at CB.

However, I do think that CB is another means of communications and I will not speak ill of it. There just isn't anyone in my area (out in the boonies) that uses it anymore except maybe some truckers passing through.
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Old 11-02-2015, 12:34 PM
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If you can grab a CB with sideband (ssb) mode, go for it. There can be hours of entertaining listening on some of the upper channels especially 38 LSB, which is the unofficial skip channel. Actually, quite a bit of dx rolls through when the band is open. Then there is the Channel 6 group, rogue operators on AM running very high power and shouting repetitiously over the top of each other, in flagrant disregard of all things legal.
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Old 11-02-2015, 12:38 PM
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I was licensed for CB back in 1965. I still remember my call sign of KQI2403. Back in those "ancient days" many of us were members of clubs, and I was among the first fifty members of the Arlington, VA REACT group. When skip was low, the squelch control was pretty much superfluous since there wasn't much background noise!

Over the next few decades though, as more and more folks bought CB radios, and fewer and fewer even bothered with licensing, it began the long and painful downhill slide into utter chaos. Finally the FCC just threw their collective hands in the air and eliminated the formal licensing requirement altogether. For many decades afterwards 11m band became essentially useless. Talking over a few short miles became very "iffy" at best, impossible at worst.

Years later when I got my ham ticket, I finally found my niche and regained my interest in radio. Imagine my shock though when I discovered the dirty little secret of the lids operating in the 75m and 80m bands. Gah, they were (and still are) worse than a drunk CBer!

These days I pretty much stick with 2m and 70cm, but gave up on HF entirely. There's just too much QRM around my house, surrounded as it is with power lines on three sides.
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Old 11-02-2015, 1:06 PM
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You right the HF bands are starting to go to the dogs.
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Old 11-02-2015, 3:58 PM
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Then there is the Channel 6 group, rogue operators on AM running very high power and shouting repetitiously over the top of each other, in flagrant disregard of all things legal.
It's comforting though, to know that when Jerry Springer finally retires the CB airwaves will happily carry that torch far, far into the future.

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Old 11-03-2015, 4:40 PM
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True, but if the power, cell service, internet, and landlines went down and you don't have a ham ticket, CB would be about the only game in town if you needed to call for help. This is exactly what happened to many areas when hurricane Sandy hit.
I've lived through Sandy in NJ along with many other such storms, just as you have. CB is only good if some agency has a rig in their dispatch and, even more unlikely, flipped the switch to turn it on. In my area, not one had a rig and monitored cb. Why? Because the kids with their HT's and local guys trying to sound like Buford B. Pusser practicing their false impression of a southern accent as well as the usual trash talkers with no life of their own. Its even funnier around Boston. The mix of accents and vulgarity is the reason most PD don't bother. In any dispatch center or EOC, there is already more than enough noise and chatter without adding another, uncontrolled variable. Wishful thinking does not guarantee a response when you have an emergency.
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Old 11-03-2015, 4:47 PM
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I've lived through Sandy in NJ along with many other such storms, just as you have. CB is only good if some agency has a rig in their dispatch and, even more unlikely, flipped the switch to turn it on. In my area, not one had a rig and monitored cb. Why? Because the kids with their HT's and local guys trying to sound like Buford B. Pusser practicing their false impression of a southern accent as well as the usual trash talkers with no life of their own. Its even funnier around Boston. The mix of accents and vulgarity is the reason most PD don't bother. In any dispatch center or EOC, there is already more than enough noise and chatter without adding another, uncontrolled variable. Wishful thinking does not guarantee a response when you have an emergency.
I can attest to this statement. I too live in NJ and really unless your pushing 200+ watts linear with your unit it's really useless for any good form of 2-way communication let alone for emergency purposes. Yes, the NJ state police monitor channel 9, but unless your also pushing 50+ or better watts their not practically going to hear you though building ( metal roofs, cars, trees, etc). I do find it kind of funny when you cross route 280; before the Pulaski skyway on the NJ Turnpike you can hear so many fowl mouthed people from the city cursing up a storm. Saying all sorts of stuff. Go down south using your CB and a nearby truck stop is blaring commercials VIA Amped up CB telling you to stop in a buy fuel, liquor, cigarettes and food.

HAM is much better. GMRS in reality is much better. Even MURS for at least a license free alternative ( maybe not for emergencies) is better in the private comm.
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Old 11-05-2015, 10:58 AM
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Really the only one you can count on to help you will be someone who's very close to you. My CB setup was a cheap radio at legal power with a mag-mount antenna. I was only able to reach about 5 miles up the road and 5 miles back behind me, at best. That was okay, because how I set the squelch, I didn't want any "skip land" coming through. Language is an issue, but secondary. As they say, probably "seen it, said it, done it." I don't keep it too loud and can turn it down until I get bored or come upon some other situation. With the squelch up, really the only thing you'll hear are what's around you (which is the important thing if traffic starts backing up).

The other cruising mode I used to do was put the search on VHF low band. That used to pick up most of the fire departments along I-70 in Ohio and Pennsylvania, along with some of the highway patrols along I-70 and I-95. Not anymore, though. It was nice hearing a report dispatched and then a minute or two seeing the troop car zipping up the shoulder, then hearing the size-up and knowing exactly what happened and how long we're going to be stopped for. But now most of those have migrated to statewide systems on other bands.

What bugs me severely are the "echo boxes" and "roger-D" beeps. Make those go away and in my view it wouldn't be so bad.
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Old 11-05-2015, 11:14 AM
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To answer the OP's question directly, I would say that the answer is Yes. Having a CB as part of your station is worth considering. The factors that you might consider are totally up to you.
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