Jump to content
MARIAHPINES

CB RADIO DO WE NEED ONE?

Recommended Posts

WE ARE SIGNED UP FOR 4 RALLIES THIS SUMMER/FALL AND ONE OF THEM IS A ROLLING RALLY TO FARMINGTON, NM.  IT WAS SUGGESTED THAT WE HAVE A CB RADIO SINCE CELL SERVICE IS SPOTTY.  ANY ADVICE ON WHAT KIND TO GET?  ANY ADVICE IS APPRECIATED!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that the most important thing isn't really which radio to get but rather to make sure to match it to a good antenna and to tune the antenna. The goal is to get the SWR (standing wave ratio) as close to 1:1 as possible. This is done by adjusting the length of the antenna, using an SWR meter to take readings. Some radios have a meter built in. If not, an external SWR meter is cheap and worth the money.

We were heading back to the Milwaukee area from upstate Wisconsin on Memorial Day. There is great cell reception and great GPS signal strength. Neither of them were any good at all letting us know when the road ahead was coming to a sudden stop due to traffic or accidents. However, the truckers made sure to announce the problems each time they came up on channel 19 on the CB.

We wouldn't travel without one. It's often said that the airwaves on CB are dead. This is often the case. That is, until there is a problem on the road which gives truckers need to communicate. At one point during the backup, I heard over and over a warning about a slow moving 'old bus' in the right lane. It was us. I think that the actual verbiage was slightly more coarse. It was fun to joke with them about peddling as fast as we could. Nice to see that they still take care to warn each other of upcoming situations.

The radio we use is a Galaxy 959. Our antenna is mounted to a magnetic base which happily sticks to the roof over the driver's seat. Possibly more radio than we need but I like the bells and whistles.

If you do get a hand held, a roof mounted antenna is a necessity. We use the Cobra hand held in the car with a magnetic base antenna. They sell an adapter to allow the hand held to be used with a roof antenna and a 12v outlet.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A CB radio may seem like a good way to stay in touch with others in a rolling rally, but can become rather expensive with an antenna to be installed, and properly tuned so that the SWR (standing wave ratio) is acceptable for communications to work very well. Also they will not do much for communications for emergency purposes, if you are out of cell phone range, not much monitoring of the CB band anymore anyway. A good walkie talkie system, either GMRS (general mobile radio service) or FRS (family radio service) for members of the rally will work pretty well, some of them will work for a mile or so, and are rather inexpensive. You can Google the two services and find several brands that might serve your needs for this purpose. Five was typing while I was, and yes Walmart is a good source for CB's, but will be good to look into the services that I mentioned also.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is not hard to get a Ham licence and support your local club 

there is repeaters all across the USA and Canada

they work where nothing else will 

VA7HYS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, bm02tj said:

It is not hard to get a Ham licence and support your local club 

there is repeaters all across the USA and Canada

they work where nothing else will 

VA7HYS

Really depends on the purpose of getting the radio when deciding ham radio vs CB.

I've got both and usually carry them in the bus when we travel. Yes, the ham radio can be helpful in an emergency - much longer distance communications are possible using a repeater. Ham radio is also a great way to be part of another community.

However, for practical vehicle-to-vehicle communications while on the highway the CB is really much better, IMHO. First, not everyone traveling with you is likely to have a ham radio license. Secondly, for communication with (or just listening to) truckers on the road you'll need a CB. When traffic or road conditions fall apart truck drivers reach for the CB and it is really helpful to be able to tap into those warnings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I forgot how it easy it is these days yo get a HAM license. I had to learn the Morse code for novice then tech for repeater use, then 13 WPM for general, then 20 for advanced, wow, now it's easy.

-.  ….-  .- - -.--  .--.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I keep a low end Cobra running with anything but nearby conversation squelched out. That way truckers can give me a heads up if something doesn't look good. Backup? I join the conversation with no squelch..

A Galaxy?😎?   10 meter band easily modified to chat on 19.  200 watts available on some. Richard/ you rascal you!!

As a trucker, I used an early Cobra 148 GTL SSB (1979) They were really good then. Local shop, if they knew you, could peak a unit like mine using an oscilloscope to 8 watts dead key . Used a base loaded K40  steel  whip with a magnetic mount stuck on the top of my steel cab. Pair that set up with a Road King noise cancelling mike and I got all kinds of compliments. Many said that I sounded like I was talking on a Base Station. 

Heading west on I-64 out of Richmond, I started a conversation with another trucker headed east. We finally figured out that we were at least 25 miles from each other when we started the talk with no static at all. I loved that radio. Still have it in the basement.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always turn ours on when traveling, just in case.....this last trip it was useless, entertaining, but useless. Today's truckers don't use it often, only the older seasoned road veterans will use it. I truly believe this is why so many large pileups occur today, no advanced warning, back up 20 years there would have been all kinds of discussions if a accident was blocking a road up ahead, now all you hear is foreign languages.

For a traveling group I believe it will be a good tool. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most over the road truckers do NOT use the CB anymore unless their is a crash or a slowdown on the road.

SWR is NOT important at 5 watts, which is the legal limit and whom ever installs your radio will do this for you.

Ham is a great idea if EVERYONE has one, but they don't so that is really not so great of and idea.

HERE is my GOOD idea.

These little 25 dollar radios are great, they will stop working in about 6 years, pitch them in the trash and buy another one.

https://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-UV-5R-Dual-Radio-Black/dp/B007H4VT7A/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=baofeng&qid=1582491298&sr=8-3

you can buy 1 license from the FCC for your "entire family" for 50 dollars that is good for 5 years, you will get an official call sign from the FCC.  *****  NO TEST   ****

The band is called GMRS, the frequency is about 472.000MHZ, on this Freq with the 5 watts this radio can put out, you can talk further than you can see with your eyes and thru buildings for about 2 miles.

During a caravan they would be perfect,

As far as I'm concerned, my entire family is everyone I know, so 1 license should cover you

I purchase 10 at a time, when one breaks or starts cutting out, I toss it in the trash and grab another one. FOOL PROOF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MDIGUY said:

SWR is NOT important at 5 watts

I beg to differ, standing wave ratio is important at any wattage, at 5 watts without a good SWR 1.1 to 1.5, the radio is almost useless and will burn the finals out prematurely as well. Also The FRS (family radio service) is pretty good for caravans, and extremely good for two or more vehicles following closely, cheap and no license required.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GMRS requires a license and is a $70 fee good for 10 years. GMRS power can be up to 50 watts but typically is .5 to 5 watts.

FRS has a power is restriction of 2 watts unless they have changed that. The frequency, of both, is just outside the amateur radio band.

The UV-5R is an amateur radio capable of 136-174 Mhz and  420-450 Mhz legally.  Operating it at anything other than the FRS/GMRS frequency and power limits can get one in trouble.

With all that said the UV-5R needs to be programmed and uses a special cable and computer software. it is said that it is a stinker to program.

I disagree with many of the principles of SWR and have operated radios continuously with an SWR of 2:1 and in some case 3:1.  Efficiency is diminished extensively but no damage to the radio. The finals being burned out go back to the vacuum tube days, but even then the vacuum tubes were very robust. Just remember that it is called "Antenna Theory," and as such theoretical applications have been tried with very good results.

A higher SWR also affects reception, believe it or not.

KE5QG

p.s., you can buy a 5 pack of UV-5R's on amazon for $124.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Today’s truckers do not use CB’s! If you hear any on it, it’s the remaining professional drivers that haven’t retired yet. I’m in that business, I can tell you from experience I see one in every 400 tractors. I spec’d out a group of tractors a few years ago with factory installed Cobra’s. 15 units and 30 drivers, when I asked what they thought of the tractors I was asked what those chrome radios were that don’t work :wacko:. When they asked if they had to pay XM for those to work I knew the world was changing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, jleamont said:

Today’s truckers do not use CB’s! If you hear any on it, it’s the remaining professional drivers that haven’t retired yet. I’m in that business, I can tell you from experience I see one in every 400 tractors. I spec’d out a group of tractors a few years ago with factory installed Cobra’s. 15 units and 30 drivers, when I asked what they thought of the tractors I was asked what those chrome radios were that don’t work :wacko:. When they asked if they had to pay XM for those to work I knew the world was changing.

You're right of course, but there is nothing available legally to beat the instant response and real-time notification of a road blockage ahead to everyone listening on the CB radio, due to the open availability. The young drivers seem to all wear a headset and use their cell-phone to communicate with friends. They are very easy to recognize when one lane is closed, they are the ones looking for someone to let them change lanes at the last moment.

Those handheld radios linked above are not legal in the U.S.A. or CA. The range of frequencies can get into the military restricted bands for one example.

I have a simple $50 CB that suffices for me, + earbuds so DW can listen to her radio.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, RayIN said:

You're right of course, but there is nothing available legally to beat the instant response and real-time notification of a road blockage ahead to everyone listening on the CB radio, due to the open availability. The young drivers seem to all wear a headset and use their cell-phone to communicate with friends. They are very easy to recognize when one lane is closed, they are the ones looking for someone to let them change lanes at the last moment.

Those handheld radios linked above are not legal in the U.S.A. or CA. The range of frequencies can get into the military restricted bands for one example.

I have a simple $50 CB that suffices for me, + earbuds so DW can listen to her radio.

Agree. My coach has a CB. It's always on while traveling, and it's usually dead silent 98% of the time. However, whenever there is a slowdown or traffic incident ahead it suddenly perks up as drivers try to figure out what's happening. I've been spared from more than one panic stop by knowing that the road ahead was stopped or severely congested before I could see the problem myself.

I also think that the use of CBs on the highway is somewhat regional in nature, with more activity in some areas than others.

Back to the OP's question though, there are multiple options for communicating with other drivers driving together. I'd suggest that the CB will provide additional benefits in the long run over a hand-held walkie-talkie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

once more, at 5 watts, SWR is irrelevant.

If you were running a amplifier, which most do, and you transmitting over 100 watts, then SWR becomes a factor, but not as much as you think.

You WILL do more damage to your radio by letting the CB shop " Peek and Tweek " your radio for you with the promise of being able to talk all over the world.

Wayne is correct, the fee is now $70 bucks not $50 and is good for 10 years not 5, Thanks Wayne. GMRS is the ONLY way to go, you can even build a repeater for them without getting a license or approval from the FCC.

Thanks FCC for not regulating the heck out of this band.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have spent 23 years in military communications and 44 years as an advanced class radio amateur operator.  Trust me when I say that antenna theory is just that, theory.

Don't get me wrong. There are many proven antennas out that that work extremely well, but there are also some untried antennas that would work well and some that will not. My theory, if it works, use it. One watt and a wet string for an antenna can transmit around the world if the conditions are right.

Now, with that said, there are still truckers that use CB. I used to carry a hand held CB antenna. Not much it could do but one time when I broke down, not in an RV, I pulled out the CB and started making calls. A trucker answered me and was able to relay information and get me help.  I would say that the same thing would work for FRS or GMRS. If you need it, pull it out and use it.  Also they would be very good in a convoy of friends

Buy the radio you are authorized to operate and stay away from those that need a license, other than GMRS, to stay out of possible Federal trouble. Your chances of being caught are slim, but possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...