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The Comeback of CB Radio

I am an extra class amateur radio license holder and high speed CW operator. I started in radio as a teenager with the citizens band radio.

Ranger RCI-2995

Ranger RCI-2995

CB Radio

The CB radio first started back in the 1940's on different frequencies than today, It had 23 channels and moved up to 40.

You needed a license in the 70's and before, but that was done away with because it became too hard to enforce. It has a 4 watt output limit that rarely gets followed.

The secret id to not interfere with someone important, you probably will not be bothered.

CB Radio hit the height of its popularity in the 70's. This was mostly because of the gas shortage and truckers. The truckers used them to talk to each other to find where there was gas being sold.

They started using it to stay ahead of the police speed traps. Then warehouses started getting them to guide the truckers into the correct loading dock.

The CB was also made popular thanks to the movies "Convoy" and "Smoky and The Bandit." Truckers used them during those long and lonely rides to have contact with other humans.

When they retired, they set up base units and became CB radio enthusiasts. With the start of beepers and cell phones, many CB'ers left the airwaves.

This left just the truckers, hardcore enthusiasts, and skip shooters. Truckers developed a language all their own with words and phrases that sometimes even rhymed.

This CB Lingo made transmissions shorter and more understandable. It also made talking on the radio fun when you rhymed.

The look of the radio is alluring when the signals are coming in clear and from far away. There is a whole group that only shoots skip and makes it a goal to talk to every state or other countries.

Cb'ers have sayings and their own language on the radio, it is fun because most of it rhymes. You can read more about that at CB Lingo Explained.

Tube Radio

Tube Radio

Tube Radios

These were the first CB radios and used a tube to function and transmit. As with anything, they had their pros and cons.

One being that they took a few minutes to warm up. The tubes also went bad and they were expensive to purchase and replace.

Tube radios were usually clear and loud. They had a unique sound that many can still identify today.

Enthusiasts still use them when they do not mind the channel limitations. They are still am AM favorite.

Crystal Radios

This was the next step in radios which used a crystal for frequencies. Some had a crystal for one channel and others used a crystal to set a series of frequencies.

There were radios that used crystals for the frequencies and tubes for the transmit. These were a blend of both radios until the radios started being built with finals.

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The crystal radios were popular in the late 70's and 80's, being partly responsible for it's explosive growth. There are still many of these being used today.

Cobra 148GTL CB Radio

Cobra 148GTL CB Radio

Electronic Radios

Electronic radios came as a logical next step. They are powered by finals and electronically set the desired frequency.

They require a higher understanding of electronics to work on but they return more flexibility and stability with wider frequency ranges. They are more stable on SSB and have little to no drifting.

Tuning between bands and channels became easier. There was more room in the radio for larger finals or more features.

Almost every electronic radio comes with a frequency counter to aid in quickly finding your channel.

Export Radios

Other countries do not have the frequency or power restrictions that the USA does. They are free to get higher powered radios.

These countries may and do use CB as a primary source of communication. These radios can be purchased anywhere and often get used in the USA.

They are a better looking radio because all the functions are designed from the factory. This means no conversions that require extra eternal switches added.

These radios are often called mid powered because they may run between 20 and 60 watts. They often get set down to lower wattages to run an amplifier.

10 Meter Radios

These are advertised as Ham radios, but can be modified to operate on 11 meter CB radio. They have better internal components and can be used like a ham radio.

They are built to have more control over sound, transmitting bandwidth, and compression.

Ham radios are usually much more expensive and are becoming more popular to Cb'ers. Many will buy a 10 meter rig and use it on CB until they get their ham license.

This gives them a starting point for ham radio. It is not allowed in the USA, but happens on a regular basis.

The 10 meter radios radios often have 50 to 100 watts or more and this makes them interesting to CBers.

CB Radio Is Not Dead

Comeback Of CB Radio

All in all, the CB radio never went away. It lost popularity with some while others talked on it everyday since the 70's.

It is becoming more mainstream again and with more people back on the air, their children learn about radio and will become our future CB'ers.

It still is a valid form of communication if there is a natural disaster. We have the responsibility to teach our children proper radio conduct and how to pass it on to their children.

More Than The Radio

There is much more to the CB than just the radio. You have the antenna, the coax, and the microphone.

Many CB'ers will have their favorite radios while anything of quality should be fine for beginners.

The antenna is the most crucial component as its what puts the signal into the air. The coax is almost as important because you want to get the power to the antenna and not lose it on the way there.

Microphones fall under personal preference mostly. There are many good microphones out there.

Many people like the power mics because they do not have to be put to the mouth. They do pick up a lot of background noise.

For those that choose to go for more power, there are many choices of amplifiers you can add to your system.

I suggest you spend a few years getting to know the CB lifestyle and how it works before trying to add more power.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Vince Alvino

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