CB Radios: A Gadget for the Outdoors
CB stands for Citizens Band radio, which is a certain range of frequencies that may be used by anyone with the means. There are all kinds of different brands, styles and prices of these unique mobile CB radios, and each model may have certain features another may not.
All will have a volume knob, a channel changing knob, RF (radio frequency) and squelch settings, a microphone and an antenna. The high-end ones may feature lit dials for night driving, side-band capabilities, signal strength meters and lots of chrome. All will also have a 4 watt output, since that’s the maximum the FCC will allow everyday people to possess. Linear signal amplifiers are available, but illegal in most areas.
Why Purchase a CB Radio
A CB radio can not only come in handy, but can save a life. The emergency channel is always 9, and many truckers, off-road enthusiasts and law enforcement monitor this channel quite a bit. Of course, you can call for help on any CB channel in the event of an emergency, but it’s widely accepted that 9 is set aside for just that purpose.
Channel 19 is primarily what the truckers use, and is very useful for highway information such as road conditions, accidents, the location of police trying to nab a speeder, etc. When on a road trip, CB channel 19 can be a real gem to monitor, not only to keep informed but also to keep entertained – bored truck drivers tend to get pretty funny at times!
If you own an off-road trail machine of any sort, a CB is a must! Not only can you keep in contact with the group you are part of, you can also call for help or hear help being called for, something which is paramount in this sport. Hikers and day packers sometimes carry handheld CB radios, and while they won’t have the range of an automotive CB, they can be very effective if someone finds themselves in a pickle.
How Much Does a CB Radio Cost?
I have heard some use the excuse that CB radios are expensive, and they just don’t have the cash to spend on one, but plan to very soon. This isn’t always so. The radio itself can be had for $40.00 brand new, and the antenna is usually another $20.00 or so. This won’t be the best CB setup in five counties, but it will surely get the job done! I also recommend scouring garage sales and local swap meets for a CB radio, they can be found all over the place, most times for less than the price of seeing a movie. A more expensive unit could cost $300.00 or more, but if you are the occasional CB user, there is no reason to drop this kind of coin on one. Use good judgment when purchasing, and try to get the best quality you can for your buck.
CB Radio Installation
Most of these CB units are a breeze to install, even if you have zero automotive or wiring knowledge. Some even come with cigarette lighter plug adapters, making installation and removal a cakewalk. The antenna can get tricky, especially if you want to permanently mount it because there will most likely be drilling and cable routing, but it’s nothing too complicated. There are also magnetic based antennas available for the occasional CB user, which can easily be removed in foul weather or when not in use. Simply route the CB cable through a slightly cracked window and screw it into the back of the CB!
Of course, as with adding anything of value to your vehicle, a CB radio may present itself as a theft risk. For this reason many people get a lower end CB that is strictly colored black, and mount it as low as possible (like under the dash) to make them as out of sight and invisible as they can. Most used CB units won’t fetch very much cash, anyhow, so they aren’t exactly a hot commodity in the theft world, but there is always a chance.
Two Recommended CB Radios
Galaxy DX-959 SSB/CB Radio
- Channel or Station Display with LED
- Built-in Emergency Alert
- Radio Check Feature
- Weather Channel and Alert Scan
- 5 watts AM/15 watts SS
Design-wise, this model sports the standard black color that a lot of CB radios have. We love how every knob and switch is tactile, making it a great choice for truckers and drivers who want easy operation. It’s still compact enough and the casing itself is sturdy, a feature that shows it’s built to last.
There have been numerous positive reviews about the Galaxy DS-959 radio, including the talkback of the product. It also has Galaxy’s famous punchy sound quality, and it sounds higher than AM frequencies.
If you add a power mic, you will be heard throughout the house!
The 5-digit frequency counter, while useful for those that want to expand their radio’s abilities and range (the counter reads extra frequencies after the expansion), doesn’t perform well with the SSB, where a counter would be useful in tuning.
- BEEP Voice Prompt
- Built-in Flexible Menu Function
- AM, USB, PA, FM Mode
- Large Display
- ECHO Function
- 30 Watts SSB/FM | 10 Watts of power RMS
Amazon consumers have left positive comments for the AnyTone AT-555N because of its feature range. They stated that the software and menu function of this product is easy to use and flexible. And it has a beep voice prompt and SWR meter protection. Plus, you can send some sellers an email if you need expanding frequency documents.
However, some complained that they had issues with channel transmission and channel scanning. This resulted in reduced faculty to spot important channels. Still, the CB radio performs as advertised, and has enough factors to keep the average communications aficionados satisfied.
Even though it has a coiled cord, make sure you check its legality, as this receiver is used for the United States only.
Just about anyone could benefit from the addition of a CB radio, whether you purchase a hard mounted or choose a good Handheld cb radioinstead. Do some searching online, ask friends, see what is available in your area! That’s a big 10-4, good buddy – over and out.