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CB radios?


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Are they worth getting anymore? I was looking at some Cobra-brand models earlier. They're basically $100-150, all are 4W power. As I understand it, 4W is the max power rating. 

Yes, I know everyone & their brother are going to HAM radios but I have neither a need nor desire for one of those. This will be for truck use only. Traffic issues, no cell signal, that sort of thing. 

All I know is the quality of the antenna matters a great deal as well. Aside from that, not much at all.

Thoughts, please?

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There isn't much traffic anymore on cb's and what there is, is usually garbage which is a huge reason so many people are switching to ham radio. Legally a cb can only tranmit 5 watts, which is why most manufactures limit them to 4 watts. A ham radio (in most bands) is limited to 1500 watts. Handhelds are limited to 7 watts due to being used so close to the face and head, the eyes absorb transmitted radiation the fastest. So given your circumstances, I know you don't want ham radio, but it might serve you far better. Ultimatley the decision is yours and you only have to please yourself. Good luck with your choice and God Bless.

Billy

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4 minutes ago, Photoguy67 said:

There isn't much traffic anymore on cb's and what there is, is usually garbage which is a huge reason so many people are switching to ham radio. Legally a cb can only tranmit 5 watts, which is why most manufactures limit them to 4 watts. A ham radio (in most bands) is limited to 1500 watts. Handhelds are limited to 7 watts due to being used so close to the face and head, the eyes absorb transmitted radiation the fastest. So given your circumstances, I know you don't want ham radio, but it might serve you far better.

Ok, good advice. Thanks!

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6 minutes ago, Defender said:

Are truckers not using cb anymore?  What do they use?

No, for the most part CB is dead. Many truckers have gone to HAM and some have gone to GMRS (or run both). 
Even most of the off-road trail riding groups have gone to GMRS or HAM. 

Last time I had a CB hooked up in my truck (a couple years ago) there was almost zero traffic on the air from mid KY down through mid Alabama. I was running 600~800 or so miles a week for work and would often make an entire days drive without hearing anyone when scanning the CB frequencies. 

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7 minutes ago, OldIronFan said:

No, for the most part CB is dead. Many truckers have gone to HAM and some have gone to GMRS (or run both). 
Even most of the off-road trail riding groups have gone to GMRS or HAM. 

Last time I had a CB hooked up in my truck (a couple years ago) there was almost zero traffic on the air from mid KY down through mid Alabama. I was running 600~800 or so miles a week for work and would often make an entire days drive without hearing anyone when scanning the CB frequencies. 

Wow, I didn’t realize they’d died off that much!

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I mean, I’ve got one. Don’t use it much. What little radio traffic there is generally amounts to folks hopping on when there’s a backup and cussing at each other or the same person asking what’s going on a million times. 
 

I really don’t know of any truckers using ham radios in the cab. The reality is that folks are using alerts from Waze and Google maps to figure out traffic snarls.
 

Nobody talks on the CB anymore because we are now on the phone using a Bluetooth headset with friends all over the country instead of the drivers in a 2 mile radius. 

Edited by Chucktshoes
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4 hours ago, OldIronFan said:

No, for the most part CB is dead. Many truckers have gone to HAM and some have gone to GMRS (or run both). 
Even most of the off-road trail riding groups have gone to GMRS or HAM. 

HAM has a gazillion times more watts than CB does. So how does one speak with someone in their area for road info instead of someone 100 miles away? Does one just ask "anyone around mile marker 123 on I-24?" How would that work with HAM & its extended range?

Obviously I know little to nothing about HAM as well. 

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37 minutes ago, bobsguns said:

HAM has a gazillion times more watts than CB does. So how does one speak with someone in their area for road info instead of someone 100 miles away? Does one just ask "anyone around mile marker 123 on I-24?" How would that work with HAM & its extended range?

Obviously I know little to nothing about HAM as well. 

Wattage has has very little to do with distance in line of sight communication until you get to the margins of that line of sight. Frequencies below 2MHz are reflected off the atmosphere. They can follow the Earth's curvature traveling much further than the horizon. CB (26.965-27.405 MHz), VHF 130-174MHz), and UHF (400-520MHz) are well above that and are almost strictly line of sight. 

Signal propagation is dependent on height of the signal source (antenna), wavelength of the signal, atmospheric conditions, and topography interference (natural or man made). 

Many HAM operators trying to do long range do so with ultra low wattage transceivers as a challenge. They can hit the other side of the country or the world with 1 watt if they find the right atmospheric conditions and frequency window. That is called QRP operation and is a very popular subset of the HAM community. 

Now in these internet driven days, as Chucktshoes mentioned, most are relying in GPS based traffic updates through a stand alone GPS unit, their smart phone, or a tablet running a GPS app like Waze. CB is still used but it is nothing like it was 30 to 50 years ago. If there is a significant back up on a major road there will be more CB chatter. 10 or 15 years ago I was still hearing  drivers call out to others when trying to overtake a slower truck or just to call a Swift driver an idiot.

I do know OTR drivers with HAM but they are running UHF/VHF not the lower frequency long distance communication we traditionally think of, i.e. the old guy in the dusty basement with a headset, mic, and a rack full of radio gear. UHF/VHF is the go to in mobile units and handhelds. Most of your emergency communication is done across the UHF and VHF bands. There are some pretty extensive networks of repeaters that allow you to stretch the ~26ish mile line of sight radio horizon limit across several hundred miles. 

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1 hour ago, OldIronFan said:

Signal propagation is dependent on height of the signal source (antenna), wavelength of the signal, atmospheric conditions, and topography interference (natural or man made). 

Yeah, I recall that from my days fooling with radios in the Marines.

So.......... do I just give up on the CB? Get a cheap HAM for the truck? What?

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44 minutes ago, bobsguns said:

So.......... do I just give up on the CB? Get a cheap HAM for the truck? What?

Bear in mind that you must have a license to operate on any of the ham bands. The FCC is proactive about pursuing unlicensed operators, and the fines are substantial. Having said that, getting a license isn't very hard and the code requirement was eliminated years ago. 

I hear very little simplex VHF ham communication around here. The majority of VHF ham communication is through repeaters, and that would require a lot of channel switching if you're driving outside a relatively small area. 

73- de KC7EN

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5 minutes ago, Darrell said:

Bear in mind that you must have a license to operate on any of the ham bands. The FCC is proactive about pursuing unlicensed operators, and the fines are substantial. Having said that, getting a license isn't very hard and the code requirement was eliminated years ago. 

Yeah, I already knew there was going to be licensing involved. Nothing flies through the air without the gubbermint getting their cut. 

I just want to be able to call for help were I stuck somewhere there's no cell signal. There's lots of repeating towers on the local mountain tops, but I don't believe they do cell phone towers there. 

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I had one in my person truck and car back in the 90's. It was the best at finding trooper and police radar  and wrecks up ahead. That is what I mainly used mine for. I had a guy "peak" my power output so it would reach out a bit further. One day my brother and I were coming back in our pick-up trucks from Land Between The Lakes. We were in seperate trucks. We pulled into a steak house sort of like Logans with a live band outside. My brother keyed up on his radio and asked me where I wanted to park. I heard his voice come over the live bands speakers. It cancelled out there music and songs. FUNNY AS HELL. So When we parked , I told him how his radio was coming through the bands speakers. He goes back to his truck and tells me to walk to the front door and listen.  he keys up on his radio and it comes through the bands speakers : He said "attention all customers , free beer at the bar , free beer for the next 15 minutes"  !!!! We died laughing at the reactions to people hearing it and running to the bar. 

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In another life, many years ago, I had fairly extensive experience selling, installing and working on CB radios.  At the time, they were a useful tool for what you're describing.  I've been out of that market for a very long time, but from the posts of many here it sounds as if 2-way communications over the road has gone to pretty much cellular only.  It really doesn't matter which type or band you choose if nobody is actively monitoring anymore.  You're best bet is probably to adopt one of many traffic and notification aps made for cellular devices, and dealing with the periodic signal outages these occasionally have.  If you're concerned about true emergency operations, location services, etc., check out personal locator beacons as these work quite well and can be activated and heard practically world wide ...

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I recently purchased two old Motorola Radius 1255’s from eBay for me and my brother to use in our side by sides while out riding the trails. We’ve yet to install them. Other than that, it’s old, outdated tech that has no real use anymore. As others have mentioned, the apps and your cell phone are your best options. 

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I bough a few of these for SHTF days for family coms. I have hand helds also. The Chinese put a HP mode in these like exports used to have. I think that will peak at 12w. You Tube has some operational mud on these tiny sets. No big money, no big deal.

Mini CB Radio CB-40M 25.615-30.105MHz 10M Amateur 8W AM/FM Citizen Band CB Radio 619317585126 | eBay

Edited by xtriggerman
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For power outages, SHTF-ishness, fun times stuck on the road, and the like, we were thinking of CB, more of an emergency communication plan. Probably base at our new house and HT for the car. Several prepper "experts" claim CB is still relevant, but I'm becoming more skeptical, you know? What's everyone's opinion of CB for emergency comms?

We do have GMRS HTs and could go that route for a base station in the new house too... <sarcasm on> those "experts" recommend having CB + GMRS + Ham... and with those helpful links to certain "best" models <sarcasm off>.

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9 hours ago, No_0ne said:

If you're concerned about true emergency operations, location services, etc., check out personal locator beacons as these work quite well and can be activated and heard practically world wide ...

My thought is on a radio I can have someone call a cousin to come get me, Then *I* can make arrangements to get my truck/motorcycle home myself. Or I can help someone else that might be having issues as well. 

Here in the mountains of SE TN, it is a mish mash of having a cell signal one minute & move ten feet and losing it. There's multiple relay towers on the mountain tops, but they don't do cell signals (I think). 

I'm going to try to check in with the local county rescue squad, see if they have "a guy" who knows radios. Maybe he can fill in my (huge) gaps of not knowing anything or offer suggestions? Those guys deal with the ravines, hollows, etc where signals are hard to get.

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8 minutes ago, Aloha8 said:

For power outages, SHTF-ishness, fun times stuck on the road, and the like, we were thinking of CB, more of an emergency communication plan. Probably base at our new house and HT for the car. Several prepper "experts" claim CB is still relevant, but I'm becoming more skeptical, you know? What's everyone's opinion of CB for emergency comms?

With CB limited to only 5 watts by FCC law, you're almost limited to a line-of-sight comms, it would seem? All the units I priced were rated at 4 watts, so it seems to be the industry norm. 

I also note the other post about how little the CB bands are monitored and used these days. Might be the equivalent to a cassette tape in a digital world? 

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My HMO is any port in a storm. When I go to the mountains or just anywhere outside civilization, I take -a- radio. Regardless of whether used or not, I can't help but wonder what would happen if I didn't take anything. Someone may not hear you, but there is at least a chance someone will.
Quite a lot of areas I roam have no cell signals. As cheap as radios are today, even the knock offs, it pays. I have a Pelican case for trips. In it, set of GRMS WTs, VHF/UHF WTs, scanner, patch cables, antennas, spare batteries and chargers, CB, etc. I have my radio licenses in order as well as bear repellant and bells.
I think you stand a better chance. It would suck if you had nothing and got stranded. 

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2 hours ago, bobsguns said:

how little the CB bands are monitored and used these days

Likely there are only a few folks out there monitoring, at least from what I'm reading in this thread. In our new house I'll have to investigate the who and what of emergency comms local to that area... so no CB purchase just yet.

If we were stuck on a highway, like in the big snow and ice events (admittedly a rare possibility), we'd want some nearby information. We couldn't get that with a cell phone most likely but with few folks on the road with CBs a CB in the car likely wouldn't be helpful either. Maybe GMRS would be a better choice there, no sure.

On the other hand(s):

1 hour ago, BHunted said:

My HMO is any port in a storm

Isn't a bad point of view. In fact, for backwoods travel I'm considering a sat communicator (but don't want to hijack this thread on that topic 🙂 ).

Bottom line for me, so far, no decision on CB... and not urgent anyway.

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7 hours ago, BHunted said:

I think you stand a better chance. It would suck if you had nothing and got stranded. 

Some of the places I travel through has no one living near it for miles upon miles. Extremely remote, thus no cell signal. 

While I always carry, there may be a time when I'm too injured to hike out 5-6 miles until I reach something or someone. This is what I'm trying to prepare for, not to chit chat on a radio to someone living in another state. Unless she's female, of course.....................    😝  

Edited by bobsguns
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