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SSB confusion

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topgun1986

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This is a long winded question so please bear with me...

I am finally getting a chance to remodel/rewire my basement radio shack. I have always wanted to add a base station style CB radio and I think now is a great time to do so. My previous experience with CB radio has been just a mobile unit in my truck and talking locally, but I have noticed some CB radios with SSB. I have no experience with SSB. I assume SSB is for extending your range, such as for DXing, which I have no experience with.

Older analog, base station CB radios (with SSB) range from $50-$150 on the internet. I've also came across a new mobile CB radio with SSB (Uniden Bearcat 980) for about $130. Would my money be better spent on an older base station style or a newer, mobile style CB radio? My goal is to reach out further than my zip code on the legal 4 watts, by having a CB with more or better options, regardless if it is old or new.

I currently have a Starduster M400 antenna ran to my shack with 100' of RG8X for whichever route I decide to take.
 

mmckenna

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SSB can run up to 12 watts Peak Envelop Power. Not 4 watts, like AM. It would help you reach out a bit further.

Other thing you could look at is to replace the RG-8X with a higher grade coaxial cable. Better coax gets more signal to and from your antenna, less signal is lost along the way. LMR-400, LMR-600, Heliax, etc. would all be good choices.
 

topgun1986

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I appreciate the info. I never have completely grasped the concept of upper & lower side bands. I suppose my backwards thinking is that if I purchased a CB radio with that option, it would force me to learn.
 

mmckenna

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There is some good stuff on the web that would explain what SSB is and why it works the way it does. Much easier to search for something with drawings/photos that me trying to explain it here.

It'll get you more distance, and there are some hard core DX guys on there.

I almost bought one about 10 years ago, but never did. Sort of got out of the whole CB thing. With your location in the middle of the country, it could be pretty interesting.
 

PrimeNumber

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Topgun, the best picture of what is going on with SSB is over at wikipedia: Single-sideband modulation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Looking at that figure at the top right of the page, it shows power on the vertical axis and frequency on the horizontal axis. The baseband signal (top figure) is what is coming in from the microphone, and how it is spread out over a range of frequencies. The second figure shows how the full AM signal would look, again spread over frequencies. You can see that the original signal is there (shifted up in frequency into the RF range), as is the carrier frequency (the spike in the middle), and there's also a mirror image copy of the signal left of that spike. The whole thing, the two lobes and the spike, just fits into a single CB channel.

Those two lobes on either side of the carrier spike are the upper and lower sidebands. They carry the same information, so they're redundant. To get the message across you really only need to send one. What's more, by cutting back on the bandwidth the receiver has to tune to, half of the background noise is cut out. With modern filtering, even more noise can be cut. SSB reception is generally really quiet compared to AM.

You can also see how somebody could talk on the lower sideband (LSB) and not interfere with somebody else on the upper sideband (USB). It effectively splits one AM channel into two sub-channels. We still use AM a lot, but mostly it's a legal legacy of the time when building circuits was really hard. AM circuits are a lot simpler than SSB, and easier to tune and use.

When you key the mic using AM, just the carrier is there. It can have 4 watts of power. When you start talking into the mic, the entire thing can have up to 16 watts. However, if you eliminate the carrier and just send one sideband, the FCC allows all of the remaining 12 watts to be put into that one sideband.

The bottom line on this is (a) you get an extra knob to tune, because without the carrier there to guide the receiver, the overall pitch of the voice signal coming through may be a little off, and (b) all else being equal, you can usually reach out 2 to 3 times farther.
 

JayMojave

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Hello Top Gun 1986: The SSB explanation isn't a easy one to show or make one understand. As it has a few things going on all at ne time. You need to understand AM Bandwidth, Modulation Envelope, Modulation Side Bands, and some circuitry stuff.

How even the Ham radio guys have said in their publications that SSB has a significant advantage over AM. I agree. But the CB type SSB is usually found on Channel 36, 37, 38, 39, and 40, with CH 38 being the most used SSB Channel, using LSB mode.

Many SSB users run stock radios, but many use Ham Gear as it has a much better receiver and transmitter. Some SSB stations use the freeband, which is just above channel 40, which is 27.405 MHz.
The Freeband starts at 27.410 up to 28.0 MHz the 10 meter ham band, but mostly used is 27.410 to about 27.555. On 27.555 USB mode I hear all kinds of foreign stations out there. Also on the 10 meter band 28.300 to 28.500 USB, but you need a ham lic for that, but interesting to listen to

Jay in the Mojave.
 

PrimeNumber

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One more thing...
Would my money be better spent on an older base station style or a newer, mobile style CB radio?
I'd tend toward a newer mobile unit, mainly because time-induced issues with the electronics won't be a factor, and you can get it for about the same cost as one of the old classic base stations. A new out-of-the-box warrantee is nice too. With an old base you may be getting into maintenance issues. Some of them were beautiful though. One of these days I'll scratch an itch and go spend too much for a Cobra 2000GTL on ebay.

With a mobile you will have to pop for a power supply of some sort however. Many good options out there, including a deep-cycle battery. A battery the quietest power supply and it will run when the power's off, so I am partial to them, however your needs may be different.

Remember, a base doesn't (well, can't legally) put out any more power than a mobile. It's all in the antenna, and the antenna's height. And good coax. 100' of LMR-400 won't be cheap, but it will deliver 20% more power to the antenna.
 
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