Captain Swoop Presents...

The 11 Meter Reference Guide
A guide to present-day CB radio for the beginner.

I have been actively using, installing, and repairing transceivers for the 11 meter band, or CB Radio, as it is best known, since getting my first real radio in 1970 (not to mention using CB walkie-talkies since the 60's). I've used several "handles" over the years, although the one that I was best and longest known by is "the Little Green Man" (which was tagged on me by friends for being an astronomy geek in school). While still dabbling in AM (where I now go by "Captain Swoop") now and then, I am most active on SSB, where I go by "Unit Triple 3" or "Hotel Foxtrot 333".

This site was created with those in mind who are either just getting started in CB, or have been involved with it on a basic level but are looking to get more into it as a hobby. I have searched the web for other pages on the CB topic, but they seem to fall into two categories: basically goofy ones (often nothing but links) by people who seem to know very little, or technical ones that assume you have been playing with electronics & radios for quite some time. This page fills the gap between.

I have tried to set things up to give you easy access to information relating to transmitting and receiving equipment, antennas, modifications, frequency use, and whatever else I can get my hands on relating to operating in the 26 - 28 Mhz frequency band. If there is anything missing or could be done in a better way to help with that idea, feel free to email me by clicking on the wench at the page bottom.

Please note that some of the material here may not be authorized by local regulations in your area, and are included here for historical or educational purposes only.

If you are interested in some of the other facets of no-license radio, please check out my other webpages! - 73's


INDEX:


 

U.S. 27 Mhz Citizen's Band Channel Frequencies
CH #FREQUENCY
01 26.965 Mhz
02 26.975 Mhz
03 26.985 Mhz*
04 27.005 Mhz
05 27.015 Mhz
06 27.025 Mhz
07 27.035 Mhz*
08 27.055 Mhz
09 27.065 Mhz
10 27.075 Mhz
CH #FREQUENCY
11 27.085 Mhz*
12 27.105 Mhz
13 27.115 Mhz
14 27.125 Mhz
15 27.135 Mhz*
16 27.155 Mhz
17 27.165 Mhz
18 27.175 Mhz
19 27.185 Mhz*
20 27.205 Mhz
CH #FREQUENCY
21 27.215 Mhz
22 27.225 Mhz
23 27.255 Mhz*
24 27.235 Mhz*
25 27.245 Mhz*
26 27.265 Mhz
27 27.275 Mhz
28 27.285 Mhz
29 27.295 Mhz
30 27.305 Mhz
CH #FREQUENCY
31 27.315 Mhz
32 27.325 Mhz
33 27.335 Mhz
34 27.345 Mhz
35 27.355 Mhz
36 27.365 Mhz
37 27.375 Mhz
38 27.385 Mhz
39 27.395 Mhz
40 27.405 Mhz

SPECIAL USE CHANNELS:

    5 - Trucking in some area of the US

    9 - Emergency Road Assistance and Traveler Assistance

    10 - Trucking or Traveler Assistance in some areas of US

    11 - Traveler Assistance in some areas of US

    14 - Recreational use/ Walkie-talkies

    16 - Sideband (No AM radios!)

    19 - Trucking and Traveler Information most areas of US

    35-40 - Sideband (No AM radios!)

NOTES:
*= indicates missing channels known as "A channels" occur above this spot. For instance, channel 3 (26.985 Mhz) has an "A channel" above it at 26.995 Mhz called "ch. 3A". These frequencies are set aside by the FCC for radio control use (toy RC cars, planes, boats, etc), but are popular spots to find Out-Of-Band operators who go there to escape the interference on the regular channels.

*= Channels 23-25 are out of sequence because there used to be two RC channels in the frequency slots between channels 22 and 23. These slots were allocated to CB channels 24 and 25 when CB radio switched from 23 channels to the 40 channels that it has now.


 

CB Radio 10 Codes and Slang Terms

I get many requests for the complete CB "10" code, which is pretty silly. Over the years I have seen as many versions as there are channels, if not more. And no one would memorize all the codes or carry a copy of the full code with them to use (those without a life are exempt from this statement). Anyone who listens to the CB for any length of time will quickly realize that only 4 or 5 "10-code" numbers are ever used regularly, with a handful more maybe getting occasional use. The quickest way to get truckers, travelers, or base stations to ignore you on the radio is to whip out a bunch of 10 code numbers nobody knows or cares to use - but here is a list of one of the more common versions for those who feel the need to feel like an old timer and sound like an idiot. The COMMONLY USED 10 code numbers are marked in RED for those who wish to know what really gets used on the radio.

- Cap'n Swoop

CB Radio "10" Code
10-1 Receiving poorly.
10-2 Receiving well.
10-3 Stop transmitting.
10-4 OK, message received.
10-5 Relay message.
10-6 Busy, stand by.
10-7 Out of service, leaving air, not working.
10-8 In service, subject to call, working well.
10-9 Repeat message.
10-10 Transmission completed, standing by.
10-11 Talking too fast.
10-12 Visitors present.
10-13 Advise weather/road conditions.
10-16 Make pickup at __________.
10-17 Urgent business.
10-18 Anything for us?
10-19 Nothing for you, return to base.
10-20 Location; My location is __________.
10-21 Call by telephone.
10-22 Report in person to __________.
10-23 Stand by.
10-24 Completed last assignment.
10-25 Can you contact __________?
10-26 Disregard last information.
10-27 I am moving to channel __________.
10-28 Identify your station.
10-29 Time is up for contact.
10-30 Does not conform to FCC rules.
10-32 I will give you a radio check.
10-33 EMERGENCY TRAFFIC AT THIS STATION.
10-34 HELP NEEDED AT THIS STATION (rarely used)
10-35 Confidential information.
10-36 Time; Correct time is __________.
10-37 Wrecker needed at __________.
10-38 Ambulance needed at __________.
10-39 Your message delivered.
10-41 Please tune to channel __________.
10-42 Traffic accident at __________.
10-43 Traffic tieup at __________.
10-44 I have a message for __________.
10-45 All units within range please report.
10-46 Assist motorist.
10-50 Break channel.
10-55 Intoxicated driver (DWI).
10-60 What is next message number?
10-62 Unable to copy, use phone.
10-63 Network directed to __________.
10-64 Network is clear.
10-65 Awaiting your next message.
10-66 Cancel message.
10-67 All units comply.
10-68 Repeat message.
10-69 Message received.
10-70 Fire at __________.
10-71 Proceed with transmission in sequence.
10-73 Speed trap at __________.
10-74 Negative.
10-75 You are causing interference.
10-76 Enroute to
10-77 Negative contact.
10-81 Reserve hotel room for __________.
10-82 Reserve room for __________.
10-84 My telephone number is __________.
10-85 My address is __________.
10-88 Advise phone number of __________.
10-89 Radio repairman needed at __________.
10-90 I have TV interference.
10-91 Talk closer to mike.
10-92 Your transmitter is out of adjustment.
10-93 Check my frequency on this channel.
10-94 Please give me a long count.
10-95 Transmit dead carrier for 5 seconds.
10-97 Check test signal.
10-99 Mission completed, all units secure.
10-100 Restroom stop.
10-200 Police needed at __________.
Bear Police Car; Types:
  • Plain (COLOR) Wrapper= unmarked car
  • Full Blown Bear= State Police/ Highway Patrol
  • County Mountie= County Sheriff
  • Local Yokel/Baby Bear= City Police
  • ICC= Interstate Commerce Commission Police
  • Taking Pictures= unit running radar/laser
  • Fuzzbuster Radar Detector
    Landline Telephone
    Eyeball Meet In Person
    Seat Cover Female
    Beaver Female
    73's Best wishes.
    88's Love and kisses.

    EXAMPLE OF "10-code" USE:

    "Break One-Nine....This's Captain Swoop....anybody got the 10-36?"

      Translation: Captain Swoop is requesting a break into any conversations in progress on channel 19, so someone can tell him what time it is.


     

    SSB "Q" Codes and other Terms

    The "Q" codes used by Single Sideband (SSB) operators on CB are the same ones used by ham operators around the world for both voice and Morse code communications (in part because a lot of SSB operators on CB are also hams, and in part because communications there are handled similarly to ham communications on the shortwave bands). If you ever wondered about the ham hobby but didn't want to invest the money or license study time, CB SSB is the place to test your curiosity. Like the 10-code used on AM-CB, there are lots of codes that are seldom, if ever, used. However, being an internationally accepted list of codes, they have the same meaning everywhere, so you can look up someone's obscure code and it will always mean the same thing - unlike many of the 10 code numbers that have different meanings in different areas of the country. You may also notice that a few of the "Q" codes are popular enough that they are even used on AM CB occasionally, such as QSL, QSO, and QTH. But you'll never hear a veteran "Sidebander" using 10 codes on SSB! For those worried about the size of the codes list, I have marked in RED the most commonly used codes.

    Single Sideband (SSB) Terms & "Q" Codes
    CQCalling Any Station
    DXLong Distance (Communications)
    QRB Distance To Station
    QRG Transmitting/Reception Frequency
    QRH Frequency Stability
    QRI Tone Quality (1 to 9).
    QRJ Weak Signal
    QRK Overall Signal Quality (1 to 5).
    QRL Busy
    QRM Interference (Man Made)
    QRN Static Interference.
    QRO Increased(Hi) Power.
    QRP Decreased(Low) Power.
    QRQ Send faster
    QRS Send slower
    QRT Stop sending
    QRU Messages for:
    QRV Are you ready?
    QRW Notify (station) that I am calling
    QRX Stand by
    QRZ Who is calling me?
    QSA Signal Strength? (1 to 9)
    QSB Signal Strength varies
    QSD Signals Garbled
    QSK Break (into conversation)
    QSL Can you confirm communication (send confirmation postcard)
    QSM Should I repeat last message? Repeat last message.
    QSO Communication/Conversation
    QSP Relay A Message
    QSV Send a Test Signal
    QSW Transmit on (frequency) in (mode)
    QSX Monitor (frequency) for my transmission
    QSY Change frequency to:
    QSZ Should I duplicate each word?
    QTC I have messages to send
    QTH My location is:
    QTR The correct time is:
    QRRREMERGENCY TRAFFIC THIS STATION

    EXAMPLE OF "Q" CODE USE:
    "CQ?.....Hello, CQ-DX, CQ-DX. Hotel Foxtrot Triple Three.....Central New Mexico Unit 333 calling CQ DX, and standing by for any QRP station"

      Translation: HF333 in Central New Mexico is sending a general call to communicate with any long-distance (over 100 miles away) station using low power (less than 100 watts).


     

    CB Radio is a very different thing now than it was at the height of it's popularity in the 70's cell phones have pretty much replaced the CB for everyone. But there are some very important or fun uses that a CB can still be valuable for. You do need to be aware of the limitations, as well as what CB Radio is capable of.

     

    First the limitations:

      RANGE: Lots of CB equipment is advertised as having a variety of ranges up to 20 miles. For AM-CB this is a bogus claim, since this is the range for a line-of-sight contact with absolutely zero interference and perfect antenna matching with full sized base-station antennas - a perfect world scenario. The actual range you can usually count on is 5 miles or less from Base to Mobile, or 2 miles from Mobile to Mobile, less if there is a lot of interference. Anything more than this with legal equipment is a fluke. There are some special features you can get that will help improve this situation, however.

      INTERFERENCE: While CB popularity has died out pretty much in the US, it is in full swing in Mexico and many areas of Europe. This affects radio use here because we are near the peak of an 11 year sunspot cycle that allows the atmosphere to bounce CB signals for long distances - meaning signals from Mexico end up here when they'd normally only travel a few miles. The signals are low level and garbled, but they are also coming in from hundreds of radios at the same time, so the result is a whining hash of garbled interference on every channel (some channels worse than others) when you turn on the radio. Usually the interference is only during the daytime, but since this is when you'd get the most use out of your radio, it's vexing at times. Some days you will hear virtually nothing - other days (fortunately not often) the interference will be so strong that you literally cannot hear someone a few blocks away from you.

     

    Ok, now the things going for CB vs. other transceivers:

      NO LICENSE REQUIRED!! Ham radio and the GMRS service, as well as other radio services that give equal or better range require an FCC license (the license free FRS radio band has a very limited range)

      Cost: has dropped drastically for CB's. It's not unusual to spend as much on the antenna as the radio, for a basic setup! For this reason CB is often a cost-effective alternative to other radio equipment.

      Size & Type: along with many technical advances, CB's have miniaturized too, which helps in cramped vehicle cabs of down-sized vehicles. There are dozens of specialized varieties of CB's that fit any use: hidden, waterproof, night illuminated; you name it, someone probably makes it. The old brick-sized walkie-talkies are a thing of the past, too, thanks to integrated circuits - some models are the size of a standard cell phone.

      Features: like everything else electronic, CB has benefited from advances in technology from when it first was a craze. You can get just about any feature you want on a CB radio now for a fraction of what it used to cost - and some goodies that didn't even exist for past CB'ers except as a fond wish.

        In addition to the standard Volume, Squelch, and Channel Selector controls that all CB's should have, some important/popular extra features are:

      • Automatic Noise Limiter(ANL) or Noise Blanker(NB): Extremely useful reception enhancement filters that cut static, engine noise, power line hum, etc.

      • Fine Tune/Delta Tune: Not really needed to tune in to today's radios which are much more frequency stable than older models. But can be very handy for tuning away from interfering signals while still being able to hear the person you are talking with. On models with SSB capability, fine tuning (usually called a "clarifier") is a must, however.

      • Mic Gain: Boosts the voice output of your microphone to make your transmissions slightly louder. A good thing, but too much of a good thing can be bad, so it has to be used but not overdone, or you end up louder, but garbled.

      • RF Gain: a sensitivity control for the receiver. Works well for cutting interference from far away stations while allowing you to still hear close-by ones.

      • PA Switch: Allows you to connect an outside speaker to the CB and use as a Public Address amplifier, or monitor the radio outside the vehicle.

      • Meters (S, S/RF, or S/RF/SWR): gives a visual indication of input or output signals and characteristics. Radios with built in SWR meters usually have the adjustment controls for performing antenna tuning checks, also built into the radio. Some of the better featured radios have modulation meters, frequency counters, or other exotic monitors built in, as well.

      • Antenna/SWR Warning Indicator: connected to a monitor circuit that checks for a tuning problem in your antenna that could damage the radio.

      • Instant Channel 19/9/Emergency/NOAA channel Monitors: let you switch to an information channel quickly without hunting. Channel 19 used nationwide by Truckers for road condition information. Channel 9 is the former CB Emergency channel that is still monitored by a few police agencies in some areas of the country. NOAA channels are 24 hr weather broadcasts nationwide that also send out warnings for storms and tornadoes.

      • Roger Beep/Echo/other effects: these are audio bells & whistles invented as Trucker toys for those who refuse to grow beyond the 10 year old level. Usually just annoying to most operators, the only remotely useful one is the Roger Beep, which does the NASA-type beep at the end of a transmission, useful in high noise areas.
      • Some popular accessory features you might hear of:

      • Preamp/Power Microphone: Basically same feature as the Mic Gain on some radios, but built into the microphone itself.

      • Antenna Preamp: boosts the received signal coming in from the antenna. Works well for weak signals, but keep in mind it will also boost any static or interference, too.

      • Booster/Footwarmer/Linear Amplifier: boosts your transmitted signal - very illegal but popular. Usually surplus Ham radio amplifiers, which increase the output of your radio up to as much as 2000 watts, depending on the model.

      • VFO Tuning/Out-of-band/Funny Channels: The frequencies above and below the CB band are relatively unused, and many CB's can be modified to operate on them - illegally. Very popular for the long distance communication crowd, to get away from the noise on the regular CB channels.

     

    Choosing Your CB Radio System

    When considering what type of CB, antenna, and accessories to buy, the important question is, "what use(s) do you want the CB for?" Here are the more common uses people get them for, and the most desirable setup for that use:

    TYPE OF USE EQUIPMENT DESCRIPTION
    Monitoring Road Conditions/Truckers During Travel: A Full Feature AM CB with good audio qualities and a medium-to-full size quality antenna will work best here. You can get away with a bare-bones CB setup for this, but you'll get a lot more out of it if you set yourself up with some important features.

    First, and foremost, is a good antenna. This doesn't have to be a huge setup, although that does have it's pluses - with antennas, generally the bigger, the better. The most important matter here is that it is at least 36" tall (if base, center, or continuously loaded) and tuned properly. Stay away from mini-magnetic or clip-on antennas if possible as the performance is usually pretty bad even when properly tuned.

    Next desirable are common-sense radio features. For perspective, imagine listening to an AM radio station with a cheapo hand-held portable that uses a tiny, tin-can sounding speaker. How does that compare to listening to the same station on your stereo at home with good speakers, tone controls, maybe some noise-eliminating circuitry that makes the signal quality better? Same is true for CB. A minimal feature CB with only a volume/squelch/channel selector setup is like using the AM portable. Adding on features like tone controls, noise limiters/blankers, fine tuning, better audio components, etc not only improve the signal quality but help with range since you can pick out difficult signals better, so look for these features when picking out a radio to buy.

    Another popular feature on some radios (usually sold as CB-Weather Radios) is a NOAA weather band receiver which allows you to listen to National Weather Service radio broadcasts with your CB, very handy if you travel frequently, and it complements perfectly listening to Truckers passing road condition information to each other to let you know what's ahead.

    Contact With Home While Mobile: This used to be a popular reason people bought a CB in the 70's - but now that function has been replaced by the cell phone, so few people use a CB for this now. I myself own several mobile, walkie-talkie, and Base Station CB's, yet still prefer to use a cell phone for contact with home. Aside from being more convenient, the phone also doesn't have to put up with 15 foreign stations trying to interfere with my communications. This type of use may pick up again when the sunspot cycle interference dies in 4-5 years, but at the moment is not a factor. As far as equipment setups go, all that is needed is a basic setup for both the home and car, but better features will obviously improve things. Probably the biggest bang for your buck here is not money spent on the radio - but the base station antenna.
    Off Road/Recreation Communications: This is one place that CB still shines. First, you don't need anything fancy for it - bare-bones equipment works great, since it is rare you are separated by much distance. When off-road driving, camping, boating, etc, it is often very inconvenient to constantly stop what you are doing and make contact (in person) with someone to pass on information - it sort of ruins the experience in some situations.

    For instance, on a 4x4 trip, someone can broadcast information about points of interest, tips for getting thru bad spots, etc without having to stop, get out, go to the other vehicles, and so on. And other drivers can ask questions, call for help in a bad spot, etc. the same way. People at camp can call someone fishing downstream for dinner without hunting for them for 30 minutes.

    All you need for this is a basic CB radio and decent antenna. Radios that have PA capability and units that can receive NOAA broadcasts might be some extras to think about, however.

    Emergency Communications: CB used to have a definite niche here when everyone and his brother owned a transceiver, but it has faded quite a bit from its former glory.

    Back in CB's heyday, a volunteer organization called REACT (Radio Emergency Associated Citizens Teams) was formed to monitor CB channel 9, which was federally designated in the 70's as the Highway Emergency Locator Plan (HELP) channel. You could call in any major city on CB ch 9 for road condition information, roadside assistance, 911 emergencies, etc and get instant help. This so successful that a common feature on today's CB's is the "instant channel 9" button or switch that lets you click immediately to that channel.

    Unfortunately, it's now a wasted feature. While there is some spotty coverage on CB channel 9 in a few areas of the country, mostly this help has been replaced by the cell phone. Interference from Mexican stations often renders any emergency radio communications on channel 9 virtually useless, unless you are within blocks of monitor station. REACT has moved almost all operations into the UHF-CB band known as GMRS, and even there coverage is spotty.

    But CB is not completely out of the picture, yet. If there is a local disaster, there are a surprising number of CB radios that suddenly get dusted off for secondary communications during the disaster (such as organizing citizen groups for cleanup, sheltering, etc), so it is still a handy thing to keep around for this reason. The ideal setup hear is mobile equipment, since many civil emergencies are accompanied by a power loss. Base Stations for this use should have the ability to be run by 12V DC as well as house current, and keeping a backup wire dipole around to replace a storm-destroyed antenna isn't a bad idea, either.

    Long "Skip" Distance Communications: CB is meant to be for short range communication (according to FCC regulations, 155 miles is the legal distance limit), so why long distance? Here's the flip side of that interference coin and where special features come in. The same sunspot ionization that reflects or 'skips' CB signals off the upper atmosphere not only creates interference, but allows you to 'skip' your signal as well. If you have the right equipment, you can take advantage of this for some fun (instead of just being interference yourself), but the right equipment is very necessary.

    First in importance is the right antenna. In this case, the higher the gain (the amount that the antenna amplifies your signal), the better, and a directional beam is wortyh it's weight in gold. If it is a mobile antenna on your car or truck, there is little you can do in this department, as high gain antennas are physically too large for your car - they are sold for use on top of your home. You may see ads for mobile antennas that tout wonderful gain figures - the ratings are B.S. The antenna gain figures many manufacturers give are often completely meaningless, in fact. See my Antenna Basics section for more information on this.

    Next in importance is a radio with good audio and noise limiting features. Something to keep in mind is that all CB radio transmitters (the legal manufactured ones, anyway) are virtually the same. They have a maximum AM power output of 4 watts, and a maximum modulation level of 100%. There are some hard-to-find features that boost transmitter performance, but even those help by marginal amounts only. What makes the difference in a $30 radio or a $300 radio is the RECEIVER. Good audio and the ability to filter out static, power line noise, etc can make a world of difference in what you can hear - or not.

    The other feature that is a virtually MUST-HAVE is Single Side Band (SSB) capability. Yes, it is possible to "skip" signals with an AM-Mode-only CB. But it is much more difficult, for technical reasons, and requires huge increases in output power to be at all reliable. With SSB, it is possible to skip cross country using legal power limits, with little problem!

    To summarize, for long distance (DX or skip-shooting to those who do it) communications, you should have a good quality AM/SSB radio you can easily tell a SSB capable radio because they have a LSB/USB/AM mode switch and a fine tune or "clarifier" control, in addition to the other features. For Base Stations, a high gain antenna like a 5/8 wave omni, or a directional beam will give best results. There are a good list of accessories that are prized for this type of communication as well: amplified microphones, signal preamps, exotic noise filters, and linear amplifiers to name a few. But be aware that while DX communication is easily done on SSB, it is illegal. Fortunately, it is also very difficult for the FCC to track, so unless you cause some sort of complaint while doing it, it is unlikely you'll be caught.


     

    CB Radio Basics

    There are dozens of makes and models of CB Radios, but they all have basically the same general form, just differing in the 'bells & whistles' department. A simplified breakdown of what's inside that box you just bought for the car is:

    • A transmitter with a handheld microphone
    • A receiver with a speaker
    • Connections for power, antenna, and any accessories.
    Wipe away all the gee-whiz features on your radio, and this is what they all consist of. Simple, huh?

    Very. So learning to use your radio is quite simple, too. Here are some basic operating tips that will have you operating like a pro in no time, if you think in terms of these basics:

    TRANSMITTING
  • ALWAYS listen for a moment before starting to transmit for the first time on a channel. You may be interfering with a QSO in progress. If the channel is busy, ask for a "break" if you need to use the frequency or join the conversation.

  • Make sure you use channels for their accepted uses. Yes, the only channel with a specific use by regs is Ch. 09. However, years of CB use has set up unofficial territories in the CB band by various groups. For instance, Ch. 19 is the most used channel for truck drivers around the country, but there are others. And Sideband (SSB) operators have several channels they try to warn AM-CBers off of, because the carrier signal from AM transmissions causes interference with the weak signals that SSB is capable of hearing. See the frequency list above for notes on channels that commonly have special uses, and follow those uses, unless you just WANT to be rude.

  • Try to stay away from sounding like you just climbed out of a "Smokey and the Bandit" rerun. There are a few old timers who can make the Good Ol' Boy accent sound good, but you'll find most CB'ers just talk in a normal voice.

  • Don't eat your microphone. Talking too close and/or too loud is the most common boo-boo new CBers make, often with the mistaken impression that being louder translates to talking farther. From a technical standpoint (under controlled conditions) this is true, but what good does it do to have your signal go an extra 1/4 mile, if your voice is so garbled no one can understand what you said? Another important microphone habit is to use careful keying of your microphone. Push in the key, wait a short moment, then talk. And make sure you are done talking, then wait again, before un-keying. New CB'ers are often spotted by the way they cut off the beginning or ending of what they say, by bad keying. Keying is important in another way, too. Many new operators assume CB is like a telephone, where you can talk and be heard at the same time. There are radio services like this, using what is called Duplex operation. CB is not one of them. If you key your microphone to talk while your friend is still flapping his jaws, both of you are going to miss part of the conversation, because you have to take turns on CB.
  • RECEPTION
  • Adjust your volume and squelch properly. Having the squelch control too high is an easy way to miss transmissions. Having it too low is an easy way to get a headache from static or skip interference. Same goes for proper volume settings, though in reverse effect. Ideally, you should set your volume first (squelch all the way off) while listening to chatter on the channel. Then adjust the squelch control up to the point where it just cuts the background noise, but no more.

  • RF Gain, Fine Tuning, and Tone Controls can be your friends. If you have a radio with any of these features, they can do wonders for listening when there is a lot of man-made or natural interference. Get to know how they work, and use them whenever needed.
  • If you are working weak signals (common in skip-shooting or DXing) consider using headphones. Even slight background noises around you can disturb you enough that signals easily heard with headphones are unreadable without them.

  • When first starting out and trying to get the hang of talking on your radio, spend a few days just listening. The "Trucker" stereotype CBer from the movies doesn't exist in a lot of places, and you'll sound like an idiot if you try to sound like one. Most areas of the country have their own style - listen to it and learn it if you want to fit in rather than stand out and be ridiculed.
  • CONNECTIONS
  • NEVER operate your radio with the antenna disconnected. This can damage the transmitter circuitry and render your radio useless. There are some radios that have high-tolerance circuitry that will handle having a badly tuned or disconnected antenna, and even some models that have a protection circuit built in that cuts off the transmitter if it detects a bad antenna hookup. But most CB's are not set up for this. Unless you are certain you have a protected model, don't try it.

  • Probably the biggest improvement or degrade to your radio that you can make is your antenna tuning. A poorly tuned antenna acts like a reflective surface does to light - it will reflect your transmitter power back to the radio. This not only cuts your range, but can damage the radio if the reflected amount of power is high enough.

  • Always use a fuse in your power connection. I've "inherited" dozens of radios from friends who ignored this advice and fried a radio because of reversed connections, short circuits, etc. People like this help the finances of radio repairmen by supplying easily fixed and resold radios with blown power input components. But for those who don't have the know-how to fix such a screwup, the radio is just fried, as far as they are concerned - it's often cheaper to buy a new one than pay to fix it, because of the labor cost. But if you'd rather buy a new $50 - $150 radio instead of a 25 cent fuse....
  • There are also different styles of CB radios to choose from, but fortunately these can be broken down into simple groups as well. Each has its special use that it was well designed for:

    MOBILE A radio designed for use in an auto or other vehicle. Usually has a compact size case and handheld microphone, and is powered by 12 volts from the vehicles battery. Mobile radios are designed more for on-the-road convenience than quality of use, except for the high-end models. Even the high cost models often have poor audio quality compared to many base stations. But the features of a quality mobile radio make it ideal for its working environment noise canceling microphone circuitry, back-lit controls, compact size, multiple-use controls, etc. all help a mobile perform in situations where a Base Station would be inconvenient or even useless. These radios utilize a downsized antenna mounted on the vehicle, connected with coaxial cable to the radio.
    BASE STATIONA radio designed for home or fixed location use. Usually has a large, desktop style case, even though the radio circuitry inside is often the exact same circuit board used in the mobile unit. Chief advantages in use quality for a Base Station are a bigger speaker for more receiving clarity, and larger meters and controls for easier operations. Base Stations are powered by house current, but often have a second power input that uses 12 volts from a car battery these radios are often called Base/Mobiles in advertisements. Dual power makes this type of Base Station popular for RV owners and survival types who have battery backup to use the radio if house current disappears. Base Stations typically use a desk top stand-alone microphone, and a high efficiency rooftop antenna connected with coaxial cable to the radio.
    PORTABLEAlso called Handhelds or Walkie-talkies. Electronic miniaturization has come a long way since the 70s. Where CB Portables used to operate with just a few channels and be as big as a brick (and about that heavy) you can get 40 channel handheld CBs now that are only a little bigger than a cell phone, often with full power output. Handheld radios usually have the microphone and antenna built into the radio, but some models have provisions for external hookups of power, microphones, earphones, and antenna jack.

    If you just plan to buy and operate a standard CB for general communications, don't worry about any of the following information!

    However....if you plan to get into the hobbyist aspect of CB, there are some idiosyncrasies about the 3 different transmission modes in use on CB bands that you should be aware of.

    A final, but very important point for those who are looking for more than BASIC CB OPERATION concerns TRANSMISSION MODE (how your voice is sent). The way you operate your radio with each mode is a completely different world from any other mode. Of all the aspects of CB use, this is the place you are most likely to be concerned with the technical details of how things work. So first, let's get a few important definitions out of the way:

    • FREQUENCY: usually expressed as Megahertz (Mhz) for CB. This is the exact spot on the spectrum where your radio is broadcasting. For reference, if you listen to a station on your portable AM radio that is at 1200 on the dial, this is 1200 kHz, or a frequency of 1.2Mhz. If you listen to an FM Radio station at 102.5 on the dial, this is a frequency of 102.5 Mhz. CB channels are located in the 27 Mhz band (see chart above)

    • MODULATION: this is the voice information that travels in your radio signal. The amount of modulation is usually expressed as a percentage amount, and usually refers to the peak percentage, since your voice varies in loudness as you talk, and so does the modulation amount.

    • CARRIER SIGNAL: This is the basic component of your radio signal, or what gets sent out when you transmit, even without any voice information along with it. Your basic power level and frequency determine how strongly and where at on the radio dial your radio is heard by others.

    • TRANSMISSION MODE: The transmission mode determines the method that your modulation "voice information" is sent with the carrier signal.

    • AMPLITUDE: The basic power level of your signal. There are many factors that can vary this amount of power on a CB Radio signal.

    • BANDWIDTH: This is the amount of frequency space your signal uses up to carry its voice information. The wider the bandwidth, the more information (sound quality) the signal can carry. However, the narrower the bandwidth is, the farther the signal can travel without becoming distorted or garbled.

    Here is some basic, simplified information on the technical differences, operation tips, and plus/minus points about each type of transmission mode:

    AM AMPLITUDE MODULATION: This is the "standard" transmission mode for CB. If you buy any US made CB, this mode is the one it was primarily designed to use, and unless it comes with the extra option of using other modes, AM is the only mode it can transmit in. Basically, the transmitter in the radio sends out a carrier signal that is amplified in strength by the amount of modulation present on the signal, to a maximum of 4 watts output. This type of signal has what we will call a "medium" bandwidth, in comparison to the other modes, for a good quality audio signal.

    This mode of transmitting uses the modulation percentage to vary the amplitude (power) of the signal, which means that the "louder" your voice is, the more power your signal has. There are ups and downs to this fact - because your voice has it's ups and downs as you talk. Many CB radios have built in circuits that limit the amount of power you can put into your voice signal, known as clipping circuits (by FCC regulations, 100% modulation is the maximum allowed on CB). If you exceed the limit of your radio's circuitry, your voice becomes distorted because the peak (most loud) portions will be clipped off the signal, so it does no good to make your signal stronger by boosting modulation too much. But technology is a wonderful thing if used properly. You can buy Amplified Microphones (known as Power Mikes to most) that can amplify your overall voice level and with enough control so that you can increase your modulation to the perfect level for the best signal. Some radios also have voice compression circuits which squeeze your modulation envelope so that the MAXIMUM modulation percentage stays below the clipping level, but the AVERAGE level stays much higher, which can boost your average signal level in the process.

    How AM CB stacks up:

      Pluses:
      • Cheap/easy circuit to produce, tune, and use
      • Decent quality audio signal
      • Increasing modulation strength and compression can give good improvement in signal strength.

      Minuses:
      • Easily affected by atmospheric static, spark plug and other engine noises
      • Wider bandwidth means long distance "skip" transmissions are more easily garbled, requiring stronger signals to get through readably, especially in heavy interference or noise.
    FM FREQUENCY MODULATION: This mode of transmitting uses the modulation percentage to vary the transmitted frequency of the signal slightly, which keeps the carrier signal amplitude very stable. Because this increases the bandwidth of the signal greatly, it increases the sound quality potential as well. In addition, since nearly all natural noise (static) is Amplitude Modulated, FM mode is virtually free of any noise - all of which adds up to sounding very nice on a radio - and that's why it's preferred by your local DJ for broadcasting the latest top-40 tunes. But the increased bandwidth exceeds the amount allowed by the FCC for this band, so FM mode is illegal in the US for CB's. The only radios you will find with FM capability are foreign made "import" models which are supposed to be illegal for sale here, but somehow still manage to get in to various distributors. Even if you get your hands on one, however, you'll still find it pretty useless, as anyone you want to talk with has to have an FM-CB radio as well - and they are very few and far between in the US.

    How FM CB stacks up:

      Pluses:
      • Virtually unaffected by atmospheric static, spark plug and other engine noises
      • Excellent quality audio signal
      • Signal strength stable at all modulation levels.

      Minuses:
      • Very little use in USA due to being illegal and lack of available equipment
      • Complex, expensive circuit to produce and tune, although using FM is relatively trouble free with a properly designed radio.
      • Very wide bandwidth means long distance "skip" transmissions are very easily garbled, requiring strong signals to get through readably
    SSB SINGLE SIDEBAND: When standard CB radios broadcast in AM mode, the signal sent out is actually in 3 parts: a carrier signal and two "side bands" that hold the voice information, which helps give the signal a better audio depth. What a Single Sideband (SSB) capable CB radio does is to sacrifice some of the depth (voices sent this way are not full audio range) and compresses your 3 part signal into a single sideband (either the upper (USB) or lower sideband (LSB), depending on which you select). In the process of doing this it removes the carrier and the unused sideband.

    This has several advantages, all in the increased-range department. First, the reception is better, because the signal is much narrower-band, making it easier to fine tune through noise and interference and less susceptible to distortion or garbling over long distances. SSB receiver circuitry is also more sensitive usually by a factor of at least 3 times better. Last, but definitely not least, the compressing of the 3 part signal into one part effectively compresses the 4 watts that were in each part into the single sideband, giving you 12 watts of output!

    What this translates to is that your range is much, much better in SSB mode - 10-20 miles is not unusual, and 40 miles talks between base stations can be done in good conditions. But it gets better! Because the signal is so narrow band, it tends to 'skip' with much less garbling than a standard AM-CB radio signal. This means that in the right sunspot skip conditions, a SSB radio can be used to talk with stations hundreds or even thousands of miles away, the same way Ham operators do. And many people do.

    The only caveat to this form of communication is that the people using it have to have the right equipment - on both ends. If you try to listen to a SSB CB radio with a standard AM-type CB, all the transmissions will sound garbled beyond recognition and Donald-Duck-like. If you use a SSB radio to talk, the party you are communicating with has to use one to listen to you, as well (but be aware that all SSB capable CB's can switch to use standard AM-CB mode as well, so they can be used for both purposes).

    How SSB CB stacks up:

      Pluses:
      • Narrow bandwidth means transmissions easily travel long distances with low power and "skip" with minimal distortion, making them excellent for long distance (DX) communications
      • Extra receiver sensitivity and tripled power output give many times the range of AM or FM mode.
      • Improving modulation quality creates drastic improvements in signal strength, since entire signal is audio driven in this mode (no carrier signal)
      • In general, a more 'professional' sounding crowd operates on SSB, many are either Ham operators or studying to be. SSB people tend to be more hobbyists than casual talkers.

      Minuses:
      • Very little use compared to AM CB due to more expertise required to operate - this is actually a "plus", because this means fewer loud mouthed half-wits are on SSB, since it takes someone with a brain to operate the radio correctly
      • More complex circuitry to produce and tune adds to radio cost
      • Narrow band signal requires careful fine tuning, more fuss than just channel-clicking as on AM or FM CB
      • Poor quality audio signal (voices have "tinny" sound, although this actually is a another "plus" for it gives better readability in noisy circumstances)


     

    CB Antenna Basics

    Confused by all the different CB antennas available for your home or car? Which one is better? Which one suits your needs better. Why do some cost so much compared to others? What the heck is "gain". Why does SWR matter, and what is it? Here is all you need to know to take the mystery out of your antenna:

    This is the most basic antenna you can get for a CB, short of hooking a random length wire to your radio: The Dipole Antenna.

    You'll notice it consists of 2 "elements", a radiator that is attached to the center wire of the coaxial cable from the radio, and a ground element that is hooked to the shield (chassis grounded) part of the coax cable.

    The correct length of these elements makes them resonantly tuned at the desired frequency, which means the antenna is correctly matched to the radio so it is most efficient. If the tuning of the elements is incorrect, some, or even all of the radio signal gets reflected back to the radio, instead of leaving the antenna, which can damage the radio, and reduces the range of the signal.

    Although from a visual perspective this does not much resemble most CB antennas you see, from an electrical standpoint, this is basically what most types of CB antennas are. You'll see how, in a moment.

    Next, we look at a standard "Ground Plane" antenna, the type that is commonly used (in varying forms) for CB Base Stations as a rooftop antenna. If you compare carefully, you'll see it is basically an improved Dipole Antenna. It still consists of 2 parts, since it has a radiator element, and ground elements. By adding more ground elements and putting them horizontal to the ground, the radio signal leaving the radiator element is focused better to extend the range.

    The shape of this signal "focusing" is known as the radiation pattern, and the angle the signal is focused to leave the antenna at is known as the radiation angle.

    The more ground elements you add to this antenna, the more multidirectional the radiation pattern becomes. Usually a minimum of 3 - 4 ground elements will give a fairly circular pattern (as seen from above the antenna).

    Placing them at a 90 degree angle to the radiator will usually give a radiation angle of about 45 degrees - which means the strongest part of the signal is actually going up into space, instead of following the ground. Fortunately, there is enough signal in the pattern at other angles to still be fairly efficient, and the "lobe" of the radiation pattern is a great improvement over the one for the Dipole.

    If you look at the diagram at left, which shows the radiation pattern for a Dipole Antenna, you can see a lot of the signal is radiated uselessly toward the ground, or almost straight up. By using a Ground Plane configuration, more of the signal is sent in a useful direction. Both of these diagrams are as if viewing the radiation pattern from beside the antenna.

    Here we see a "mobile" antenna, the standard setup for use on a vehicle. Again, by comparing, you'll see the basic arrangement is the same as a groundplane antenna: a vertical "radiator" and a horizontal ground plane, which is the metal vehicle body in this case, instead of a wire as in the dipole. Using the vehicle body as part of the antenna has it's advantage in cutting the size of the antenna, but has some drawbacks. If the antenna is not placed in the center of the body, it can cause the radiation pattern to be uneven in shape, which can cut range in some directions while increasing it in others. Also, the antenna ground connection to the body becomes very important, because a bad connection or lack of enough metal body works the same as cutting off half the antenna. This is why non-metal body cars like the Corvette have to have a CB antenna hooked to the car's metal frame in order to work correctly.

    Mobile antennas come in all shapes, sizes, and mounting configurations. Most work with about the same level of efficiency, so that test equipment is needed to tell the performance apart. As you might guess, the extreme ends of the design spectrum also give the most extreme results: the ultra-tiny antennas tend to perform miserably, and the larger antennas tend to perform the best. This is primarily because of the physical properties that a radio wave has at a certain frequency. The lower the frequency, the longer the physical wavelength is. A full wavelength for CB radio frequencies is approximately 36 feet long. Since this is a bit long for an antenna mounted on your car's bumper, manufacturer's scale down by dividing the length. Your CB radio will match with an antenna that is an even fraction of a full wavelength, but the shorter it is, the less efficient it becomes, so manufacturers use 1/4 wavelength (8 feet) as a standard. All mobile CB antennas are electrically this long, even if they are physically much shorter. Shorter antennas "cheat" by using a built in coil to simulate part of the length. It works well as far as the radio matching is concerned, but a lot of signal is wasted in the coil. If the antenna is so small that a large portion or even all of it is in the coil, the performance drops drastically.

    Last, but certainly not least, we have the "Beam" antenna. Again, it is just an improved dipole antenna at heart. The actual portion connected to the radio is noting but a standard dipole, and is referred to as the "driven" element. The improvement comes from adding a "reflector" dipole, which cuts interference in reception from the rear, and helps reflect your transmitted signal forward in a tight "beam". The "director" elements act like a lens and further concentrate the radio beam even narrower - the more "directors", the narrower the signal is beamed, and the more range it has. All of this makes a "beam" antenna very good to use for long-distance communications since it not only extends range but cuts down interference from undesirable directions at the same time. The design requirements and the need for a tower and antenna rotator also make this the most expensive type of antenna, as well. To get an idea of the difference in how a beam antenna performs versus an omni-direction "ground-plane" antenna, think of your radio signal as if it were the light from a bulb. If the bulb sits in the open by itself, the light covers a circular pattern on the ground for a short distance. However, if you put the bulb in a reflective housing like a flashlight, the beam of light travels much farther but must be aimed carefully to shine where you want it to illuminate. These antennas work the same way.
    Base Station "Beam" Antenna


     

    FCC RULES AND REGULATIONS PART 95 - CITIZENS BAND RADIO SERVICE

    CB is a pretty care-free band, as far as rules go. This is mostly a legacy of the 70's CB boom which overwhelmed the FCC with sheer numbers of new operators who committed literally thousands of major and minor violations daily, often thru sheer ignorance. A lot of these were of the nitpick variety rules in place when CB required a license: making regular station identifications, logging your contacts, antenna heights for base stations, etc. But the violations outnumbered the investigators who could control them (by several magnitudes) to the point that the FCC deregulated CB licenses and only attempted to prosecute the very worst violations of the rules. What this translates to is some very basic "No-No's" to stay away from, and you'll stay out of trouble. These are:

    1. Do not modify you radio internally (although if done well, it is very hard to detect with most mods)
    2. Do not transmit with more than the legal power limitations (but mild power increases are, again, difficult to detect)
    3. Do not transmit outside of the allowed 40 channels (this is an easy one for them to peg you with, if you try it)
    4. Do not cause interference to licensed operations (this is the one that gets most people in hot water, usually by doing one of the first 3 no-no's, and then having a complaint lodged for causing interference in the process.)
    Pretty much anything else is fair game, since the FCC doesn't have the time & money to bother with it, against regulations or not. But.... if you happen to get busted for a complaint, you can bet they will find EVERY violation of your station once they are forced to investigate, and put the screws to you accordingly. So for those paranoid types who want to know every detail of what is/is not allowed, here are the FCC regulations pertaining to CB Radio:

    95.401 (CB RULE 1) WHAT IS THE CITIZENS BAND RADIO SERVICE?

      The CB Radio Service is a private, two-way, short distance voice communications service for personal or business activities. The CB Radio Service may also be used for voice paging.

    95.402 (CB RULE 2) HOW DO I USE THESE RULES?

    • a) You must comply with these rules (see CB Rule 21 for the penalties for violations) when you operate a station in the CB Service from:
      • 1) Within or over the territorial limits of places where radio services are regulated by the FCC (see CB Rule 5);
      • 2) Aboard any aircraft or vessel registered in the United States, OR
      • 3) Aboard any unregistered aircraft or vessel owned or operated by a United States citizen.
    • b) Your CB station must comply with the technical rules found in Subpart E of Part 95.
    • c) Where the rules use the word "you," "you" means a person operating a CB station.
    • d) Where the rules use the word "person," the rules are concerned with an individual, a corporation, a partnership, an association, a joint stock company, a trust, a state, territorial, or local government unit, or other legal entity.
    • e) Where the rules use the term "FCC," that means the Federal Communications Commission.
    • f) Where the rules use the term "CB station," that means a radio station transmitting in the Citizens Band Radio Service.

    95.403 (CB RULE 3) AM I ELIGIBLE TO OPERATE A CB STATION?

    You are authorized to operate a CB station unless:

    • a) You are a foreign government, a representative of a foreign government, or a federal government agency; OR
    • b) The FCC has issued a cease and desist order to you, and the order is still in effect.

    95.404 (CB RULE 4) DO I NEED A LICENSE?

    You do not need an individual license to operate a CB station. You are authorized by this rule to operate a CB station in accordance with the rules in this Subpart.

    95.405 (CB RULE 5) WHERE MAY I OPERATE MY CB STATION?

    You are authorized to operate your CB station from:

    • a) Within or over any area of the world where radio services are regulated by the FCC. Those areas are within the territorial limits of:
      • 1) The fifty United States.
      • 2) The District of Columbia.

      Caribbean Insular Areas:
      • 1) The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
      • 2) Navassa Island.
      • 3) Unites States Virgin Islands.

      Pacific Insular Areas:
      • 1) American Samoa (seven islands).
      • 2) Baker Island.
      • 3) Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.
      • 4) Guam Island.
      • 5) Howland Island.
      • 6) Jarvis Island.
      • 7) Johnston Islands (islets East, Johnston, North, and Sand).
      • 8) Kingman Reef.
      • 9) Midway Island (islets Eastern and Sand).
      • 10) Palmyra Island (more than 50 islets).
      • 11) Wake Island (islets Peale, Wake, and Wilkes).
    • b) Any other area of the world, except within the territorial limits of areas where radio services are regulated by --
      • 1) An agency of the United States other than the FCC. (You are subject to its rules.)
      • 2) Any foreign government. (You are subject to its rules.)
      • 3) An aircraft or ship, with the permission of the captain, within or over any area of the world where radio services are regulated by the FCC or upon or over international waters. You must operate your CB station according to any applicable treaty to which the United States is a party.

    95.406 (CB RULE 6) ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL RESTRICTIONS ON THE LOCATION OF MY CB STATION?

    • a) If your CB station is located on premises controlled by the Department of Defense, you may be required to comply with additional regulations imposed by the commanding officer of the installation.
    • b) If your CB station will be located on land of environmental or historical importance (such as a location significant in American history, architecture, or culture), you may be required to provide information and to comply with Subparts 1.1305 through 1.1319 of the FCC's Rules.

    95.407 (CB RULE 7) ON WHAT CHANNELS MAY I OPERATE?

    • a) Your CB station may transmit only on the following channels (frequencies): [see list above]
    • b) Channel 9 may be used only for emergencies or for traveler assistance.
    • c) You must, at all times and on all channels, give priority to emergency communications messages concerning the immediate safety of life or the immediate protection of property.
    • d) You may use any channel for emergency communications or for traveler assistance.
    • e) You must share each channel with other users.
    • f) The FCC will not assign any channel for the private or exclusive use of any particular CB station or group of stations.
    • g) The FCC will not assign any channel for the exclusive use of CB stations transmitting single-sideband or AM.

    95.408 (CB RULE 8) HOW HIGH MAY I PUT MY ANTENNA?

    • a) "Antenna" means the radiating system (for transmitting, receiving, or both) and the structure holding it up (tower, pole, or mast). It also means everything else attached to the radiating system and the structure.
    • b) If your antenna is mounted on a handheld portable unit, none of the following limitations apply.
    • c) If your antenna is installed at a fixed location, it (whether transmitting, receiving, or both) must comply with either one of the following:
      • 1) The highest point must be no more than 20 feet (6.1 meters) higher than the highest point of the building or tree on which it is mounted;
        OR
      • 2) The highest point must be no more than 60 feet (18.3 meters) above the ground.
    • d) If your CB station is located near an airport, and if your antenna structure is more than 20 feet (6.1 meters) high, you may have to obey additional restrictions. The highest point of your antenna must not exceed one meter above the airport elevation for every hundred meters of distance from the nearest point of the nearest runway. Differences in ground elevation between your antenna and the airport runway may complicate this formula. If your CB station is near an airport, you may contact the nearest FCC Field Office for a worksheet to help you figure the maximum allowable height for your antenna. Consult Part 17 of the FCC's Rules for more information.

    WARNING: Installation and removal of CB station antennas near power lines is dangerous. For your safety, follow the installation directions included with your antenna

    95.409 (CB RULE 9) WHAT EQUIPMENT MAY I USE AT MY CB STATION?

    • a) You must use an FCC type-accepted transmitter at your CB station. You can identify an FCC type-accepted transmitter by the type-acceptance label placed on it by the manufacturer. You may examine a list of type-accepted equipment at any FCC Field Office or at FCC Headquarters. Use of a transmitter which is not type-accepted voids your authority to operate the station.
    • b) You must not make, or have made, any internal modification to a type-accepted CB transmitter (see CB Rule 25). Any internal modification to a type-accepted transmitter voids your authority to operate the station.

    95.410 (CB RULE 10) HOW MUCH POWER MAY I USE?

    • a) Your CB station transmitter power output must not exceed the following values under any conditions:

        AM (Amplitude Modulation) - 4 watts (carrier power).
        SSB (Single-sideband) - 12 watts (peak envelope power).

    • b) If you need more information about the power rule, see the technical rules in Subpart E of Part 95.
    • c) Use of a transmitter which has carrier or peak envelope power in excess of that authorized voids your authority to operate the station.

    95.411 (CB RULE 11) MAY I USE POWER AMPLIFIERS?

    • a) You must not attach the following items (power amplifiers) to your type-accepted CB transmitter in any way:
      • 1) External radio frequency (RF) power amplifiers (sometimes called linear amplifiers or linears);
        OR
      • 2) Any other devices which, when used with a radio transmitter as a signal source, are capable of amplifying the signal.
    • b) There are no exceptions to this rule, and use of a power amplifier voids your authority to operate the CB station.
    • c) The FCC will presume you have used a linear or other external RF power amplifier if --
      • 1) It is in your possession or on your premises;
        AND
      • 2) There is other evidence that you have operated your CB station with more power than allowed by CB Rule 10.
    • d) Paragraph (c) of this section does not apply if you hold a license in another radio service which allows you to operate an external RF power amplifier.

    95.412 (CB RULE 12) WHAT COMMUNICATIONS MAY BE TRANSMITTED?

    • a) You may use your CB station to transmit two-way plain-language communications. Two-way plain language communications are communications without codes or coded messages. Operating signals such as "Ten Codes" [see above] are not considered codes or coded messages. You may transmit two-way plain-language communications only to other CB stations, to units of your own CB station, or to authorized government stations on CB frequencies about --
      • 1) Your personal or business activities or those of members of your immediate family living in your household;
      • 2) Emergencies (see CB Rule 18);
      • 3) Traveler assistance (see CB Rule 18);
      • 4) Civil Defense activities in connection with official tests or drills conducted by, or actual emergencies announced by, the civil defense agency with authority over the area in which your station is located.
    • b) You may use your CB station to transmit a tone signal only when the signal is used to make contact or continue communications. (Examples of circuits using these signals are tone-operated squelch and selective calling circuits.) If the signal is an audible tone, it must last no longer than 15 seconds at one time. If the signal is a sub-audible tone, it may be transmitted continuously only as long as you are talking.
    • c) You may use your CB station to transmit one-way communications (messages which are not intended to establish communications between two or more particular CB stations) only for emergency communications, traveler assistance, brief tests (radio checks), or voice paging.

    95.413 (CB RULE 13) WHAT COMMUNICATIONS ARE PROHIBITED?

    • a) You must not use a CB station --
      • 1) In connection with any activity which is against federal, state, or local law;
      • 2) To transmit obscene, indecent, or profane language, words, or meaning;
      • 3) To interfere intentionally with the communications of another CB station;
      • 4) To transmit one-way communications, except for emergencies, traveler assistance, brief tests (radio checks), or voice paging.
      • 5) To solicit or advertise the sale of any goods or services;
      • 6) To transmit music, whistling, sound effects, or any material to amuse or entertain;
      • 7) To transmit any sound effect solely to attract attention;
      • 8) To transmit the word "MAYDAY" or any other international distress signal, except when your station is located in a ship, craft, or other vehicle which is threatened by grave and imminent danger and you are requesting immediate assistance;
      • 9) To communicate with, or attempt to communicate with, any CB station more than 155.3 miles (250 kilometers) away;
      • 10) To advertise a political candidate or political campaign (you may use your CB radio for the business or organizational aspects of the campaign, if you follow all other applicable rules);
      • 11) To communicate with stations in other countries, except General Radio Service stations in Canada;
      • 12) To transmit a false or deceptive communication.
    • b) You must not use a CB station to transmit communications for live or delayed rebroadcast on a radio or television broadcast station. You may use your CB station to help you gather news items and to prepare programs.

    95.414 (CB RULE 14) MAY I BE PAID TO USE MY CB STATION?

    • a) You may not accept direct or indirect payment for transmitting with a CB station.
    • b) You may use a CB station to help you provide a service, and be paid for that service, as long as you are paid only for the service and not the actual use of the CB station.

    95.415 (CB RULE 15) WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR COMMUNICATIONS I MAKE?

    You are responsible for all communications which are made by you from a CB station.

    95.416 (CB RULE 16) DO I HAVE TO LIMIT THE LENGTH OF MY COMMUNICATIONS?

    • a) You must limit your CB communications to the minimum practical time.
    • b) If you are communicating with another CB station, or stations, you, and the stations communicating with you, must limit each of your conversations to no more than 5 continuous minutes.
    • c) At the end of your conversation, you, and the stations communicating with you, must not transmit again for at least 1 minute.

    95.417 (CB RULE 17) DO I IDENTIFY MY CB COMMUNICATIONS?

    • a) You need not identify your CB communications.
    • b) You are encouraged to identify your CB communications by any of the following means:
      • 1) Previously assigned CB call sign;
      • 2) "K" prefix followed by operator initials and residence zip code;
      • 3) Name;
      • 4) Organizational description including name and any applicable operator unit number.
    • c) You are encouraged to use your "handle" only in conjunction with the methods of identification listed in paragraph (b) of this section.

    95.418 (CB RULE 18) HOW DO I USE MY CB STATION IN AN EMERGENCY OR TO ASSIST A TRAVELER?

    • a) You must, at all times and on all channels, give priority to emergency communications.
    • b) When you are directly participating in emergency communications, you do not have to obey the rule about the length of transmissions (CB Rule 16). You must obey all other rules.
    • c) You may use your CB station for communications necessary to assist a traveler to reach a destination or to receive necessary services. When you are using a CB station to assist a traveler, you do not have to obey the rule about the length of transmissions (CB Rule 16). You must obey all other rules.

    95.419 (CB RULE 19) MAY I OPERATE MY CB STATION TRANSMITTER BY REMOTE CONTROL?

    • a) You may not operate a CB station transmitter by radio remote control.
    • b) You may operate a CB transmitter by wireline remote control if you obtain specific approval in writing from the FCC. To obtain FCC approval, you must show why you need to operate your station by wireline remote control. Send your request and justification to FCC, Gettysburg, PA 17325. If you receive FCC approval, you must keep the approval as part of your station records. (See CB Rule 27.)
    • c) Remote control means operating the CB transmitter from any place other than the location of the CB transmitter. Direct mechanical control or direct electrical control by wire from some point on the same premises, craft, or vehicle is not considered remote control.

    95.420 (CB RULE 20) MAY I CONNECT MY CB TRANSMITTER TO A TELEPHONE?

    • a) You may connect your CB transmitter to a telephone if you comply with all of the following:
      • 1) You or someone else must be present at your CB station and must --
        • I) Manually make the connection (the connection must not be made by remote control);
        • II) Supervise the operation of the transmitter during the connection;
        • III) Listen to each communication during the connection; AND
        • IV) Stop all communications if there are operations in violation with these rules.
      • 2) Each communication during the connection must comply with all of these rules.
      • 3) You must obey any restriction that the telephone company places on the connection of a CB station transmitter to a telephone.
    • b) The CB transmitter you connect to a telephone must not be shared with any other CB station.
    • c) If you connect your CB transmitter to a telephone, you must use a phone patch device which has been registered with the FCC.

    95.421 (CB RULE 21) WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING THESE RULES?

    • a) If the FCC finds that you have willfully or repeatedly violated the Communications Act or the FCC Rules, you may have to pay as much as $2,000 for each violation, up to a total of $5,000. (See Section 503(b) of the Communications Act.)
    • b) If the FCC finds that you have violated any section of the Communications Act or the FCC Rules, you may be ordered to stop whatever action caused the violation. (See Section 312(b) of the Communications Act.)
    • c) If a federal court finds that you have willfully and knowingly violated any FCC Rule, you may be fined up to $500 for each day you committed the violation. (See Section 502 of the Communications Act.)
    • d) If a federal court finds that you have willfully and knowingly violated any provision of the Communications Act, you may be fined up to $10,000 or you may be imprisoned for 1 year, or both. (See Section 501 of the Communications Act.)

    95.422 (CB RULE 22) HOW DO I ANSWER CORRESPONDENCE FROM THE FCC?

    • a) If it appears to the FCC that you have violated the Communications Act or these Rules, the FCC may send you a discrepancy notice.
    • b) Within the time period stated in the notice, you must answer with:
      • 1) A complete written statement about the apparent discrepancy;
      • 2) A complete written statement about any action you have taken to correct the apparent violation and to prevent it from happening again;
        AND
      • 3) The name of the person operating at the time of the apparent violation.
    • c) If the FCC sends you a letter asking you questions about your CB radio station or its operation, you must answer each of the questions with a complete written statement within the time period stated in the letter.
    • d) You must not shorten your letter by references to other communications or notices.
    • e) You must send your answer to the FCC office which sent you the notice.
    • f) You must keep a copy of your answer in your station records. (See CB Rule 27.)

    95.423 (CB RULE 23) WHAT MUST I DO IF THE FCC TELLS ME MY CB STATION IS CAUSING INTERFERENCE?

    • a) If the FCC tells you that your CB station is causing interference for technical reasons, you must follow all instructions in the official FCC notice. (This notice may require you to have technical adjustments made to your equipment.)
    • b) You must comply with any restricted hours of operation which may be included in the official notice.

    95.424 (CB RULE 24) HOW DO I HAVE MY CB STATION TRANSMITTER SERVICED?

    • a) You may adjust an antenna to your CB transmitter and you may make radio checks. (A radio check means a short one-way transmission in order to test the equipment.)
    • b) Each internal repair and each internal adjustment to your FCC type-accepted CB transmitter (see CB Rule 9) must be made by or under the direct supervision of a person licensed by the FCC as a General Radiotelephone operator.
    • c) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, each internal repair and each internal adjustment of a CB transmitter in which signals are transmitted must be made using a non-radiating ("dummy") antenna.
    • d) Brief test signals (not longer than one minute during any five-minute period) using a radiating antenna may be transmitted in order to:
      • 1) Adjust an antenna to a transmitter;
      • 2) Detect or measure radiation of energy other than the intended signal;
      • 3) Tune a receiver to your CB transmitter.

    95.425 (CB RULE 25) MAY I MAKE ANY CHANGES TO MY CB STATION TRANSMITTER?

    • a) You must not make, or have anyone make, any internal modification to your CB station transmitter.
    • b) Internal modification does not include:
      • 1) Repair or servicing of your CB station transmitter (see CB Rule24);
        OR
      • 2) Changing plug-in modules which were type-accepted as part of your CB station transmitter.
    • c) You must not operate a CB transmitter which has been modified by anyone in any way, including modification to operate on unauthorized frequencies or with illegal power (see CB Rules 9 and 11).

    95.426 (CB RULE 26) DO I HAVE TO MAKE MY CB STATION AVAILABLE FOR INSPECTION?

    • a) If an authorized FCC representative requests to inspect your CB station, you must make your CB station and records available for inspection.
    • b) A CB station includes all of the equipment you use.

    95.427 (CB RULE 27) WHAT ARE MY STATION RECORDS?

    Your station records include all of the following documents, as applicable:

    • a) A copy of each response to an FCC violation notice or an FCC letter.(See CB Rule 22.)
    • b) Each written permission received from the FCC. (See CB Rule 19.)

    95.428 (CB RULE 28) HOW DO I CONTACT THE FCC?

    • a) Write to your nearest FCC Field Office if you:
      • 1) Want to report an interference complaint;
        OR
      • 2) Want to know if the FCC has type-accepted a transmitter for CB.

     

    BREAKING THE RULES

    PLEASE NOTE THIS DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT CONDONE, ENCOURAGE, OR OTHERWISE PROVIDE ANY HELP with violating FCC Radio regulations. The following information is for reference to be used by those who wish to avoid or correct the mistakes common among some "problem" operators, or in the case of modification data, for conversion of radio equipment for use by licensed operators in other bands. I will not answer emails with questions regarding any of this information, or requests for similar data (in other words, if it ain't here, I ain't got it).

    As with anything in life, pushing the envelope is risky if you are an expert, dangerous if you have some knowledge to work with, and just plain stupid (and often fatal) if you don't know what you are doing, or are careless about how you do it. Radio is no different, especially CB. You can often commit rule violations (most of which fall under CB Rule #13, above) on CB and get away with it - but the more stupid you are about it, the quicker you'll be busted for it. But also be aware that even using your head, there is still a risk involved with breaking the rules, no matter how careful you are; i.e., "shit happens". For those who insist on pushing the limits, or want to see what bone-headed things their CB buddy next door is doing, here are some of the more common "cheats" that people use on CB Radio, along with the smart way to do things and the dumb way to get caught doing each:

     

    THE "CHEAT"STUPID WAY SMART WAY
    DX or "Skip" Communication

    (Talking with stations over 160 miles away)

    This one is hard to screw up, but some manage. Aside from having the bad luck of living next door to an FCC monitor station, about the only other way to fall foul in this one is to broadcast personal information that identifies you, while you are doing it. Never give out your exact address (many operators narrow it down to a county or nearby major city) or full name. If you wish to exchange QSL cards to confirm the contact, use an email to exchange mailing information, or get a post office box that lets you give out an anonymous PO Box number to the person on the other end.
    Excessive Power Output Using bad, poorly adjusted equipment (either in the CB or an external amplifier) is a sure way to get busted for causing interference. Or using ridiculous power levels, especially at a fixed Base Station. If you are going to insist on using a "tweaked" CB and or a linear amplifier, make sure you are using tuned equipment. If you don't know how to do this or know someone who does, then don't use high power - unless you enjoy paying fines and losing equipment. CB radio has frequency harmonics in bands that are very quickly noticed when interfered with - Television being the most notable. Equipment out of tune will interfere with all kinds of radio/TV systems. High power levels can easily place stray audio signals on any audio equipment in the neighborhood: stereos, VCRs, and other home electronics to name a few. The quickest way to having the FCC down your throat is to hook up your Brand X Afterburner linear amplifier and blitz your neighbor's Sunday afternoon Football game.
    Excessive Antenna Height Make sure you plant a monster antenna "farm" high in the air so that it destroys your neighbor's pristine view of the sunset, or overhangs his yard. Again, this is a no-brainer, and one you have to play by ear. A lot of us LIKE having that antenna farm, and that's fine as long as your station is legal. BUT.... if you are over the line, whether it's the antenna height rule or some other infraction, drawing attention by irritating your neighbors is something to avoid. If they are fine with your DX Skyscraper Antenna scraping the clouds, then fine. But if they aren't happy with it, and you wish to run a little power or do other illegal things, you had best avoid putting an 80 ft tall signpost on your house that says "come get me!"
    Internal Radio Modifications Have your CB tweaked up by that guy you met at the flea market, then hop on the radio and enjoy the extra power, and crank the microphone modulation up. Maybe even play with the "funny channels" he added in for you! When your radio was built, it went thru a procedure called an "alignment". To simplify what this does, it basically ensures that all the parts of the radio are in tune with each other. It is often possible by using a tuning screwdriver or soldering iron in the right spot to change various settings in your radio: power levels, modulation limiting, frequency ranges. But doing this without re-performing an alignment afterward can cause all sorts of problems. It's similar to being in the shower with the hot and cold water set just right at a certain water pressure. Turn UP the pressure on the Hot Water, and you have to match it with the Cold Water, or get scalded. An improperly aligned radio is often out of tune and causes interference to other CBs and even other radio services. Make sure a "tweaked" radio is done by someone who knows how to do it right, and then test it for stray signals as much as possible. If neighbors mention any odd TV or radio issues, DO NOT IGNORE THEM, FIX THEM.
    Out Of Band Operation Make sure you pick the perfect frequency to spend hours jawing with a buddy away from the noisy legal channels; you know, somewhere in the middle of a popular Ham band, or on the remote pickup frequency for a local radio or Tv station! Most of the CB'ers who get busted with this one were clueless (or were too lazy to check) that legitimate users often have reserved frequencies just a little outside the CB band. This is one area you are playing with fire, especially in today's RF spectrum battles. Aside from Ham bands nearby, there are frequencies in use by remote broadcast pickups, commercial licensees, and even the military. If you keep careful track of these (they change occasionally) and know exactly what you are doing, you can probably take advantage of this, but otherwise, you're asking for it.
    Sound Effects (bells, beeps, whistles, echoes) After spending a minute or two trying to get someone to talk to you, spend the next 30 minutes using these sound effects to make sure everyone notices you enough to NEVER talk to you. Smartest thing to do with sound effects is to never use them. A possible exception is using what is known as a "roger beep" that gives the NASA style beep when you complete a transmission (unkey the microphone), which is useful is high-noise environments. Other than that, you only succeed in letting everyone know you have a 10 year old's personality.
    Advertising (Political or Commercial) Tie up an already busy channel letting everyone know about your garage sale. No brains involved to do this. Not only illegal, but boring. A no-brainer.
    Rebroadcasting Let everyone listen to you favorite CD or FM station via your microphone, regardless of how lousy the song or garbled the modulation is. technically, ANY rebroadcasting is wrong (except emergency traffic), but there are circumstances where it might be very useful to rebroadcast communications from another system (such as GMRS, etc) for informational purposes. Common sense should prevail here.
    Criminal Activities, Obscene Language, Transmitting A False "MayDay", Deliberate Interference (keying radio or playing music to block others from using a channel, or to mess with TV or radio reception) Any of these acts are a sure ticket to jail or a fine if you are caught, since they attract angry attention from not only CBers, but the public in general. Don't be stupid, and don't do them, at all. There is no "smart" way to do something this screwed up.

    So, all of that said, what is the most important thing you can do to stay out of hot water? The answer is very simple: DON'T PISS PEOPLE OFF. Be courteous and use good judgement in your operations, and most likely the FCC will never know who you are, regardless of what you do.

    Remember: A Pirate's Treasure is his 'Booty'!
    - Cap'n Swoop
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