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Getting the most from a CB Radio

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Borderland420

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Aug 16, 2016
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4
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Boston, MA
I am in the process of buying my first CB Radio and right now I am seeking insight from experienced CB users on how to have the most worthwhile time with one. Now I know that they are often used to give and receive emergency and weather alerts but I'm sure they must have numerous other uses as well. How do you find others that share the same interests as you and are pursuing the same things in the world? I've heard that two way radios can be used as lifelines too. So how do all of you get the most out of these for personal fulfillment?
 

mmckenna

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A good antenna is #1. If you have a crap antenna, your useful coverage is going to be very small.

Since CB tends to be short range (reliably) finding others is hit or miss. With a good antenna you'll get better coverage.

Still, don't expect miracles. High noise floor and most of the "average" people have abandoned CB years ago. Finding people may be difficult and may require other resources. I've seen many posts on here were others are trying to arrange contacts with other CB users by asking them to go to a certain channel at a certain time/date and see if they can talk.

If you are really interested in having meaningful conversations via 2 way radio, you'd be much better served by amateur radio.
 

TheSpaceMann

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Apr 3, 2014
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Also, if you are getting a new CB radio, make sure to get one with SSB (sideband)! It increases your range and number of channels, and you will find an interesting bunch of people who use the sideband frequencies! :)
 

KC5AKB

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Joined
Aug 8, 2010
Messages
291
Location
North Texas
Borderland both Mmckenna and TheSpaceMan offer good points
I am not sure how many folks you will find on CB in your area .
If you know of a cb shop or find one in your area go talk to the customers
about cb. Look up cb base antennas some of the brands are Maco, HyGain ,Hustler - Newtronics
Cubex , and Mosley for base antennas .There are lots more .
The Storm Spotters I know use ham radio / you can get local road conditions at times on the cb but need to be with in a couple of miles of the mobile giving them where as the hams use repeaters like the public service people do so you can hear them all over town . I like cb for certain things
Each type of radio has good and bad points. Welcome to the fun of radio!
 

KD8DVR

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Apr 11, 2004
Messages
1,126
Location
Columbus, Ohio
As always, Matt's info is correct.

My insight: unless you have buddies who are all gonna go in on cb stuff, you won't like it. All you'll hear are jokers trying to make ILLEGAL long distance contacts.

AntiSquid Disclaimer: All comments are personal opinion only and may not indicate a claim of actual fact.
 

Rred

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Nov 21, 2014
Messages
829
"Now I know that they are often used to give and receive emergency and weather alerts "
Not my specialty, but I think that applied, past tense, more in the 1970's than today. The REACT groups often used CB to monitor and assist motorists on highways and in the boonies, more so than in major cities. If you can find a REACT group, they can tell you more of what is being done today.

There are inexpensive weather radios with NOAA SAME local alerting these days, and those same alerts also push to cell phones with free software, so weather alerts...not really any need to those to be manually sent over CBs.

Similarly emergency aid has changed. Cell phones provide 911 service from the professionals in most of the country. In the boondocks, that may not work, but Boston ain't the boondocks.

If you want to participate in event or emergency support, I would suggest holding off that purchase. Contact a Boston ARES group. ARES is an ARRL program that nationally puts amateur radio operators (many with just a technician's license and an inexpensive radio) into an organized structure to support local charity events, storm shelter backup communications, and other event and emergency coordinations. More activity than you'll find on CB in the urban parts of the country.

FWIW.
 

TheSpaceMann

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Messages
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"Now I know that they are often used to give and receive emergency and weather alerts "
Not my specialty, but I think that applied, past tense, more in the 1970's than today. The REACT groups often used CB to monitor and assist motorists on highways and in the boonies, more so than in major cities. If you can find a REACT group, they can tell you more of what is being done today.

There are inexpensive weather radios with NOAA SAME local alerting these days, and those same alerts also push to cell phones with free software, so weather alerts...not really any need to those to be manually sent over CBs.

Similarly emergency aid has changed. Cell phones provide 911 service from the professionals in most of the country. In the boondocks, that may not work, but Boston ain't the boondocks.

If you want to participate in event or emergency support, I would suggest holding off that purchase. Contact a Boston ARES group. ARES is an ARRL program that nationally puts amateur radio operators (many with just a technician's license and an inexpensive radio) into an organized structure to support local charity events, storm shelter backup communications, and other event and emergency coordinations. More activity than you'll find on CB in the urban parts of the country.

FWIW.
You can find local R.E.A.C.T. teams here.... REACT International
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
65,126
Location
Virginia
CB

#1 Buy a Cobra or President cb or modified 10 meter if you can swing it. (has more modes like SSB)
#2 Buy a K-40 or Wilson 1000 antenna
#3 Mount antenna on center of vehicle.
#4 Enjoy!

Copper Electronics is a nice place to start.
 

jaspence

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Mar 21, 2008
Messages
1,831
Location
Michigan
CB channels

Sideband does not increase the number of channels. If you use a channel on sideband, and another person in the same area uses it for AM at the same time, neither conversation would be listenable.
 

TheSpaceMann

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Apr 3, 2014
Messages
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Sideband does not increase the number of channels. If you use a channel on sideband, and another person in the same area uses it for AM at the same time, neither conversation would be listenable.
However, it is possible to have 2 conversations on the same channel if one is on USB and another is on LSB.
 

AC9BX

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Joined
Jun 11, 2011
Messages
305
Location
Lockport, IL
Aside from using channel 19 while driving the best conversations I've had have been on sideband. That was a long time ago.
Please, no *power mic*, no add-on modulator, no echo, no beeps. A good microphone, speaking up and using good diction, a good antenna, and properly calibrated radio will perform better than any of that other non-sense.
My radio of choice, even as a base radio, was the Uniden PC122 (not the XL). Once it was up to temperature the sideband performance was quite good, very stable.
I'm not driving very much these days but if that changes, even being a licensed ham operator, I may well put a CB in the car. It has gotten me out traffic disasters a number of times and I've returned the favor.
 

TheSpaceMann

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Apr 3, 2014
Messages
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I am in the process of buying my first CB Radio and right now I am seeking insight from experienced CB users on how to have the most worthwhile time with one. Now I know that they are often used to give and receive emergency and weather alerts but I'm sure they must have numerous other uses as well. How do you find others that share the same interests as you and are pursuing the same things in the world? I've heard that two way radios can be used as lifelines too. So how do all of you get the most out of these for personal fulfillment?
You can read reviews and watch videos for a lot of CB radios on this website... CBRadioMagazine.com - The only online CB Magazine in the world
 

kc4jgc

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Joined
Mar 7, 2004
Messages
1,426
Location
Virginia Beach, VA
However, it is possible to have 2 conversations on the same channel if one is on USB and another is on LSB.
Ehhh, not so much.... If stations are far apart then MAYBE that's true. However if two stations are relatively close then no. If four stations are on say ch 16 with two on USB and two on LSB and they're all local to one another they are only 2khz apart; they're still in each others' bandwidth. A part of the stations' signals on USB can be heard on LSB and vice versa. It won't be intelligible but it'll be noticeable. Not really a good idea to simply QSY from one sideband to another on the same channel when there's a QSO on one sideband in progress.

On the ham bands, the MINIMUM separation between stations in sideband mode is 3khz.
 

JayMojave

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Joined
Dec 13, 2007
Messages
668
Location
Mojave Ca
Hello B420: Its just like any thing else or any group you want to join in. Have to tune around the channels and see whos out there.

The local area usually has a local channel that the locals talk on, and usually have a get together once and in a while and normally open to anyone. Give them a call on the CB after finding the local channel. We have a weekly break feast that we all get together and meet new people. It helps if you can listen in and get a feel of the people that may show up.

Its always more fun to have a few in the CB Radio, and theres sometimes a few Hams that can help someone get their Ham License. But as a group there will be antenna raising parties then followed by a BBQ. And there will always be some that help out with radio and antenna installations.

Theres always someone putting up a antenna, or needing help with a radio or linear and such.

The local 4 wheelers group may be a good place to start, or even the Ham Radio group on the local 2 meter repeater.

Discussions who has the biggest station, radio, linear, or antenna will always be there. Lots of fun to listen in to the Big Boys. The local Coffee Shop is a given for locals sliding by to have a cup and yep yap about the radio stuff.

The local channel will have all kinds of up dates on weather and local events, giving info on what web site has what info. The CB radio crowd will not care about all the other services but its kind of like the local pipe line of current info. During severe weather I keep and ear on the 2 meter (144 to 148 Mc) local repeater and the local CB Channel, and the Weather Channel on TV so I know when I have to pick up my tools and such. Your mileage and conditions will be different but not a hole lot. Good Luck.

Jay in the Great Mojave Desert



I am in the process of buying my first CB Radio and right now I am seeking insight from experienced CB users on how to have the most worthwhile time with one. Now I know that they are often used to give and receive emergency and weather alerts but I'm sure they must have numerous other uses as well. How do you find others that share the same interests as you and are pursuing the same things in the world? I've heard that two way radios can be used as lifelines too. So how do all of you get the most out of these for personal fulfillment?
 

N4GIX

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May 27, 2015
Messages
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Hammond, IN
You can find local R.E.A.C.T. teams here.... REACT International
Here in the Midwest, only 1 out of 8 listed groups are still active, and that one in Muskegon, MI is more ARES oriented than R.E.A.C.T., and who's members are all amateur operators.

There is one other in North Chicago (4815 - Chicago Metro REACT) that exists on digital paper, but since I know the contact person quite well I also know that the "Team" currently consists of one person, and he's more active in another organization: North Shore Emergency Association (NSEA) that is exclusively GMRS oriented.
 

TheSpaceMann

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Apr 3, 2014
Messages
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Ehhh, not so much.... If stations are far apart then MAYBE that's true. However if two stations are relatively close then no. If four stations are on say ch 16 with two on USB and two on LSB and they're all local to one another they are only 2khz apart; they're still in each others' bandwidth. A part of the stations' signals on USB can be heard on LSB and vice versa. It won't be intelligible but it'll be noticeable. Not really a good idea to simply QSY from one sideband to another on the same channel when there's a QSO on one sideband in progress.

On the ham bands, the MINIMUM separation between stations in sideband mode is 3khz.
I usually have little difficulty tuning in stations on USB when there were stations on LSB on the same channel. Often I've even been able to understand and copy sideband stations when an AM signal was present! Of course, it depends on how close the stations are to your QTH, the selectivity of your receiver, the antenna that you are using, etc. The signals from many stations that do come in in 11 meters, especially the distant ones, are relatively weak. Also if you are using a beam antenna, you can often zero in on the stations you want to QSO with, and knock down the ones that might cause interference.
 
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