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Old 10-25-2015, 12:19 PM
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Question Is CB Radio worth considering for a HAM?

I know only very little about CB radios, so I'm wondering if getting one is even worth consideration now that I've got my HAM license?

If I understand it correctly about CB:
- No license required at all.
- CB has 40 fixed channels with no privacy codes.
- Limited to 4 Watt max output.
- There are no repeaters for it.
- Can be good for urban and open-road environment but not good in city.

Despite its limitations I can understand its popularity due to its "just buy and use" operation. So, what's the bottom line on CB? Is it worth considering for a HAM, or save my money on some HAM stuff instead?

Also; I've seen a couple of handheld HAM radios that can be modified for different worldwide band coverage as well, including CBs. These are the Magnum 1012 - Albrecht AE 2990 - Dragon SS 301.

Any experience with these or other handhelds? Anyone selling them with the mod-options built-in?

Thanks.
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Old 10-25-2015, 12:50 PM
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CB is a "license by rule" radio service, which means your license is based on following the rules set forth by the FCC.

CB is meant for local communications, and long haul is excluded in the rules. (The sensibility of legislating that bit, in a frequency band that is inherently long haul, has been argued to death.)

In all, no a CB is not good for any ham useage, except to talk with CBers.

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Old 10-25-2015, 1:16 PM
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Default CB for ham

In a true emergency, any radio is better than no communication. I have CB, FRS, and MURS radios in addition to my ham equipment. In a true emergency, you can hand a FRS or MURS to anybody and they can be one extra person to help or provide information.
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Old 10-25-2015, 1:29 PM
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Personally, I think you'll be pretty disappointed with CB radio. There is no oversight on it's usage, so depending on where you are and how much you use it, you'll get a healthy dose of foul language and people running highly modified radios trying to blow everyone else out of the water.

I became very disenfranchised with CB radio many moons ago. That being said, everyone has different expectations, so you might find that the 27MHz band meets your wants and needs.
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Old 10-25-2015, 1:39 PM
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What determines how useful a CB is in your area is your local people on CB. You could luck out and have some polite knowledgeable folks who have interesting conversations but more than likely you will be really turned off.

The hand held radios you mention work well and on 10m amateur they can get some amazing range. On CB they are a bit of a waste due to all the interference you will be competing with. They also command a very high price and I've seen a Magnum and Dragon go for over $300 used.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGClips View Post
I know only very little about CB radios, so I'm wondering if getting one is even worth consideration now that I've got my HAM license?

If I understand it correctly about CB:
- No license required at all.
- CB has 40 fixed channels with no privacy codes.
- Limited to 4 Watt max output.
- There are no repeaters for it.
- Can be good for urban and open-road environment but not good in city.

Despite its limitations I can understand its popularity due to its "just buy and use" operation. So, what's the bottom line on CB? Is it worth considering for a HAM, or save my money on some HAM stuff instead?

Also; I've seen a couple of handheld HAM radios that can be modified for different worldwide band coverage as well, including CBs. These are the Magnum 1012 - Albrecht AE 2990 - Dragon SS 301.

Any experience with these or other handhelds? Anyone selling them with the mod-options built-in?

Thanks.
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Old 10-25-2015, 3:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGClips View Post
Also; I've seen a couple of handheld HAM radios that can be modified for different worldwide band coverage as well, including CBs. These are the Magnum 1012 - Albrecht AE 2990 - Dragon SS 301.
There is some legal issues with this. CB radios in the USA must be type accepted as a Part 97 CB radio to be legal. Modifying amateur radios to work on the CB band, while popular, is technically against the rules.
As a new amateur, I'd think you'd want to stay on the right side of the law at least until the ink on the license is dry.

As for the validity of a CB, others have covered it pretty well. It -really- depends on the local ecosystem. If there are others on CB in your area, it can be a good tool. On the other hand, if you have not been on CB before, you'll likely be disappointed. It's a pretty noisy racket and with 4 watts and a cheap antenna, results will be disappointing when compared to what you can do with a 2 meter FM radio and a repeater.

A few years back I was on a road trip on a major interstate. I decided to install the CB and an antenna on one of my spare NMO mounts. I had it on for a couple of days, only heard two truckers talking the whole time. The rest of it was noise from the high power stations running illegally in the southern USA. Gets kind of boring listening to that racket after a while.

If you can find a cheap/free CB and antenna, it's worth a try to see whats going on in your area. I wouldn't spend a bunch of good money on a new CB until you know if it'll do what you want.
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Old 10-25-2015, 3:23 PM
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It has been years since I've used or listened to CB radio. Unless something drastic has changed over the last couple decades, you can expect it to be nearly useless (except for very very close communications) in an urban environment. The noise floor is very high requiring very tight squelch (unless you like listening to all the garbage) and if you are near the mexican border, forget it, there are so many illegal stations operating makes the whole experience a nightmare. It probably has better appeal and usabililty in rural areas, far from big cities where there is just too much noise. YMMV.
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Old 10-25-2015, 3:33 PM
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It's just my "newbie's curiosity" I guess about radios.

The three handheld HF units I've found (Magnum 1012 - Albrecht AE 2990 - Dragon SS 301) already have the regional codes and frequencies built into them, so no major modifications are necessary, no "messing around" much, that's why I asked about them. Having a HT with all-in-one capability for HF would be great!

Here is the clip about it. I'm sure most of you guys already seen it, but for me, it's interesting stuff!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YT4aibFv0mA

And here is a clip where a gentleman makes a super-long distance transmission with this HT. Impressive!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTyuOe22xDw

Unfortunately I haven't found a single reputable dealer here in the US selling them.

All the other 4-band Mobile radios I checked out lack the CB frequency by default, that was the second reason I considered the idea, but I think I drop it as is, because it's not worth buying a new CB now that I can have much better and much more for the same price in HAM frequencies that I can enjoy using my license.

I appreciate the informative answers, hopefully others can learn from them as well.

Thanks again!
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Old 10-25-2015, 3:37 PM
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SSB is 12W PEP...

I have used CB maybe a dozen times in 10 years... Mostly to let truckers know of an issue with their trailer (lights out, dragging chains,etc)

I still keep it for interoperability reasons. A lot of truckers and even state police/patrol still use it.

Equipt. is cheap and what's another hole in the roof? lol

Cobra 19 is around $30, and a NON-MAGNET MOUNT antenna will run you another $30ish or so.
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Old 10-25-2015, 4:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGClips View Post
Unfortunately I haven't found a single reputable dealer here in the US selling them.
And, you probably won't. If these radios aren't FCC certified for their intended radio service, then it's illegal to advertise them for sale in the U.S. Citizens Band in the U.S. requires FCC certified radios.
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Old 10-25-2015, 4:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jparks29 View Post
SSB is 12W PEP...

I have used CB maybe a dozen times in 10 years... Mostly to let truckers know of an issue with their trailer (lights out, dragging chains,etc)

I still keep it for interoperability reasons. A lot of truckers and even state police/patrol still use it.

Equipt. is cheap and what's another hole in the roof? lol

Cobra 19 is around $30, and a NON-MAGNET MOUNT antenna will run you another $30ish or so.
I have CB in the motorhome but I use it infrequently.

On the road, I've found that there's a lot of trash on the CB air. Some of the trucker's language has embarrassed me and I'm no prude. I've always had a CB unit somewhere around but it was usually in a box in the closet My first call sign was 17W3288 and my first unit was a Channel Master, 3-channel crystal-controlled. What does that tell you?

Like someone said earlier though, it won't cost much to give it a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
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Old 10-25-2015, 5:01 PM
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CBs must be certified under Part 95, not Part 97.
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Old 10-25-2015, 5:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveNF2G View Post
CBs must be certified under Part 95, not Part 97.
Yeah, typo....

Unless these radios have a valid FCC certification under Part 95, they are not legal for use on the CB channels in the USA. Doesn't matter what youtube says, FCC says no, they are the law in the US.
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Old 10-25-2015, 8:20 PM
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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.
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Old 10-25-2015, 9:23 PM
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Default If you would like to have a CB radio

for travel-emergency type of situation, ok. Just don't jeopardize your new Tech license. I have a Cobra 148 gtl and a Cobra 2000 gtl base. Do I use them? Too much trash and over powered station for my blood any more. Yeah, I use to run power about 20 so years ago, (100 watts), but because of the aforementioned trash, I gave it up. I use my ham license and get more than enough talk going.
The thing also as mentioned is the over powered stations. I find it much more exciting to go QRP and see how far I get out. It's easy and expensive to ADD power to your station, but more fulfilling to do a watt or two and get out to other places.
Here's something else to consider; with your newly acquired ham license, you can build your own transmitter, experiment with your radios to your hearts desire. You can not do that legally with CB. There's some that says so what, do it with you CB, the FCC ain't gonna bust ya for it. Maybe, maybe not. But if you're tempted to do it anyway, remember you heard it here first about possibly loosing your ham license and maybe a few thousand dollars out of your pocket for the NAL you could receive. It just ain't worth it.
From your other thread, you want your General license. Take the time tinkering with CB and apply it to the General ticket.
Enough of my ramblin'.
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Old 10-26-2015, 3:34 PM
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In my area, the Ham frequencies are generally populated with polite, intelligent adults. Sometimes their rag chews are very interesting, often they are quite dull. CB on the other hand is like the little kids table. Well, I mean the tattooed, whiskey drinkin' little kids that like to cuss a lot and throw things at one another. CB is like a dirty, nasty, and very, very wild west. Ham radio is civilized, orderly. That being said, I've heard some of the funniest things that have ever passed my eardrums on the CB channels. If you want to learn about coax and digipeaters, hang out on 2m or 440. If you want to learn about the Pickle Park, or what kinds of things truckers have to occasionally hose out of their cab, listen to CB channel 17. It will be an education.
Hope that helps
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Old 10-26-2015, 5:03 PM
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I gave up on the idea completely. I've seen a couple of clips with jacked-up 100 Watt (!!!) CB radios making pretty clear transmissions to about 50 Mile range, so that was kind of interesting, and some of those guys were just like HAM operators, simply making contacts, talking to one another, but you guys are right. Why mess around with that when a licensed HAM can do the same better legally with much higher quality equipment and service?

On the other hand, as the clips prove it, none of those people seem to worry about using those illegal radios, so I can only guess that the FCC doesn't give a flyin' you know what about CBs all together and left it for the masses as is, to be used and abused.

I'm done with the topic, thanks for the comments everyone!
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Old 10-26-2015, 6:16 PM
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Citizen Band ( CB) radio is low band first off. It's range is very limited even with a 5 foot antenna. Like others have mentioned it's full of trash talking and static galore. Low band had a hard time bending around landscape, through trees, penetrating cars and buildings so in reality it's not worth anyone's time for a good communication. As one member on here did mention it is good for emergency uses. Still YTD in 2015 most State Police Barracks still actively monitor channel 9 for emergency services just in case you happen to need help. This of course is only useful if your close enough to the police barracks for them to even hear your transmission. You'll see portable CB radios for sale. Don't waste your money on any of those if you are considering to buy. You wouldn't even be able to talk car to car 300 yards away because the low band frequency will be severely absorbed through the steel of your car. Mobile CB with an outside antenna is the ONLY way to go.

MURS ( Multi Use Radio Service) is a much better option. It is license free. Becoming surprisingly more popular now adays. Allows for privacy codes ( tone codes) to be used. There is however no encryption allowed on MURS and it is limited to 2 watts of power. It is in the VHF bandwidth of 151 a 154 MHz. There is no antenna restrictions that I know of.

Since you are a HAM user you can just purchase inexpensive ham equipment to operate on. Don't forget either HAM has gone digital as well with DMR and NEXEDGE and even P25 in some places. There are inexpensive digital alternatives as well that you can look at.
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Old 10-26-2015, 7:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnls7424 View Post
Citizen Band ( CB) radio is low band first off. It's range is very limited even with a 5 foot antenna. <snip> Low band had a hard time bending around landscape, through trees, penetrating cars and buildings so in reality it's not worth anyone's time for a good communication.
CB is technically at the high end of HF, not low band:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_frequency

And I think you've mischaracterized it here somewhat. It's range is typically limited to line of sight, but so is VHF. It actually propagates very well, but can suffer from local noise sources more than VHF. I've chatted mobile with friends who were also mobile on CB at fifteen miles distance, on just 4 watts of power. I don't think I could have done that on 2 meters without a repeater. When Sporadic E skip is in, or F layer skip, the distances CB can propagate can easily be a thousand miles or more. To say it's not worth anyone's time for good communication simply isn't true. Truckers have relied on it for many decades. Law enforcement has relied on VHF Low Band for decades as well, which is just a few MHz higher.

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Old 10-26-2015, 7:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparklehorse View Post
CB is technically at the high end of HF, not low band:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_frequency

And I think you've mischaracterized it here somewhat. It's range is typically limited to line of sight, but so is VHF. It actually propagates very well, but can suffer from local noise sources more than VHF. I've chatted mobile with friends who were also mobile on CB at fifteen miles distance, on just 4 watts of power. I don't think I could have done that on 2 meters without a repeater. When Sporadic E skip is in, or F layer skip, the distances CB can propagate can easily be a thousand miles or more. To say it's not worth anyone's time for good communication simply isn't true. Truckers have relied on it for many decades. Law enforcement has relied on VHF Low Band for decades as well, which is just a few MHz higher.

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That's nice to know, but I reject your reality and substitute it with my own.
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