CB Radio Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What type of antenna do I need?
That is a pretty broad question. It depends upon which type of installation
you are going to be using. A home installation basically has two types of
antennas available to it -- omindirectional and beam. The omnidirectional
antenna sends and receives signals with equal strength in all directions
(360 degrees). A beam on the other hand will concentrate the signal in a
particular direction. This will give you better range in whatever direction
you have the beam pointed. Just remember that with a beam it would be
necessary to constantly "rotate" the beam in the direction of the station
you are trying to contact. For overall ease of operation, the omnidirectional
antenna would work just fine.
Mobile antennas come in a wide variety and several styles, there are
magnetic mounts, gutter lip mounts, trunk lip mounts, mirror mounts and
permanent mounts. All of the mounts have their advantages. The best place
to mount the antenna is in the center of the roof of the vehicle and if that
does not work out, then in the center of the trunk. Try to get the antenna
with the highest "gain" rating. Mounting the antenna in other locations on
the vehicle will tend to make it directional (much like a beam).
How far can I reach on my CB?
Once again this is a pretty open question. All things being the same you can
expect anywhere between 1 and 15 miles between mobile units. There are all
sorts of variables, including terrain, how crowded the channel is, or even
types and numbers of buildings around the transmitting/receiving units. Base
stations can expect about 5 to 10 miles between base and mobile and 10 to 30
miles between base units.
What is Channel 9 all about?
CB channel 9 has been designated by the FCC as an emergency contact channel.
However, this designation is only valid in the United States and other
countries do not have this "official" designation for the channel, so it
would not be uncommon to hear stations conducting non-emergency radio traffic
on this channel when skip is in. There are stations across the country,
including many police and rescue agencies that actively monitor this channel
for those who have a problem ranging from medical emergencies, accidents,
vehicle breakdowns, to being lost.
What is skip?
Normally CB radio transmissions are "line of site", or considered to be
short range. However, there are times when the earth's atmosphere acts as
a mirror and will bounce signals to distant locations. Remember your CB
signal also goes up as well as out and away from your antenna. When the
conditions are just right, it is possible to bounce the radio signal (or
skip) it off the atmosphere and it will land hundreds to thousands of
miles away. Therefore it is not impossible for someone using a CB in
New Jersey to communicate with another person in California. You should
note, that currently this practice is considered to be illegal as per FCC
Can I use my CB in my business?
There are no restrictions on using a CB radio to aid in the operation of
Am I allowed to use a linear amplilfiere?
Absolutely not. CB radios are only permitted to operate at 5 watts (input)
which is about 4 watts out. Using any additional power is illegal and can
many times cause interference to your neighbor's electronics appliances
including such things as TVs, VCRs, Stereos, and even telephones. It will not
make you popular with your neighbors to say the least, and since you are
operating illegally, they could file a complaint against your operations.
Is Channel 19 an official channel like Channel 9?
Channel 19 is an "unofficial" trucker's channel. The FCC has not designated
this as an "official" trucker's channel, however truckers are about all you
will hear on this channel. When traveling this is a good channel to monitor
in order to keep up on traffic jams, accidents and traffic enforcement.
Where can I get accessories?
Your local electronics store (including Radio Shack) is the best location to
find accessories for your scanner. Anything from antennas to external speakers
can be found there. You can also check many of the on line stores on the
What does the squelch do?
The squelch quiets the background radio noise when there is no signal present.
Simply turn the squelch until the noise goes away. The background noise can
get pretty annoying after awhile and the squelch will keep the receiver
quiet unless there is a signal present.
What is sideband?
Sideband, known as single sideband (SSB) is a more effective use of the
existing channels on a CB radio. If you think of the standard AM CB channel
as a flood light, think of sideband as a spotlight. It will travel further
on a narrower beam just like the lights do. The signal does not sound as
clear as an AM signal and that is why when you use this mode you must also
use the clairifier in order to clear up the sound of the transmission. That
being said, you will get a greater distance using SSB as compared to AM.
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