CB Radio, What is it? Why Do I Need It? A beginners Guide to Two Way Radios

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and I'm here today to talk to you about

communications and emergencies and

communications in general

as a world would basically rely on

cellphones now everyone has cell phones

most of them are smartphones which is

great but in a time of need that

probably won't be working at all

911 most cell phone signals did not get

through they overloaded the system when

you have an emergency and the cellular

towers couldn't keep up with it think

about that how much has changed in

cellular technology since then sure

we've had upgrades and bandwidth but

we've also had a lot of upgrades in the

amount of usage that goes through cell

signals so now instead of just talking

or texting and we're also using a lot of

data any major metropolitan area or even

some rule bunch Politan areas are going

to be overwhelmed in the event of a

full-scale crisis and I firmly believe

that cell phone reception or usage will

be spotty at best so what other ways can

we communicate with our loved ones or

with our friends well you have CB radio

you have ham radio and and then you have

some more exotic things like smoke

signals today we're going to be focusing

mostly on CB radios ham radios are great

- ham radios require a license with that

license you're issued an ID and you use

that in every communication you make

after going through the licensing

process your ability to buy equipment

that can reach all the way across the

world is is there for you to add your

disposal which is great I mean it's

great I've had ham radios I am ham radio

operator I recently sold 99% of my

equipment I just really didn't find

myself using it much what I do have is a

bunch of moderately - extremely

inexpensive CB radios that I use for my

family and friends eBay is the place to

go no need to buy a brand new CB radio

these days you can get a nice unit like

I have right here which is set up as my

base station you can buy base stations

to plug directly into the outlet at 120

volts this is a mobile that is plugged


our transformer I'll show you up here

and these together were less than 60

bucks the only reason I paid that much

for it is this radio also works on

what's called single sideband mode and

I'll get into that more later on but it

offers some advantages over the regular

40 channel or 23 channel CB setups so

you don't know anything about radio

communications let's get into it right


CB radio was hugely popular in the 70s

and became even more so in the early 80s

before tapering out only to have a major

uptick again in the 90s and all the way

through about 97 98 and then it really

started to die off as cellphones became

more popular and now it's pretty much

for the hardcore fan or someone like you

and me who is just keeping it as a

backup for of communication you don't

need a license to operate it you can

find them very very inexpensively on


a handheld model like like this one here

this is a Radio Shack 40 channel full

power CB radio

maybe 799 new in the box I mean they go

for pennies on the dollar which is great

a mobile unit for your car if we're

looking at just a straightforward

channel model you know 15 bucks maybe 25

bucks if you want a really fancy one and

for a unit for your house if you're

looking at a plug in the base station

you know you're looking at maybe 75

dollars for a good one with side band if

you're looking at a mobile one in the

side band 60 bucks you know and another

10 for a power adapter or you can run it

off a battery which is nice too so

that's what we've got first let me talk

about you know base stations base

stations were huge back in the day you

were somebody if you had a base station

and I'm talking about the second

and again in the early 90s for the

hardcore crowd that was following a base

station is what it sounds like it's it's

something in your house you can have it

in your home or in your garage I'm out

on toolshed here and I've got mine

hooked up out here

it's a 40-channel gets all legal

channels and then it also gets what's

called a single sideband which is where

they force them for watt amount of power

into half of the signal half of the

frequency so you're pumping more energy

into it and it gets up instead of four

watts you're talking 12 months and you

can reach incredibly long distances with

single sideband mode without skip which

I'll get into later skip is when the

signal bounces off the atmosphere and

comes back down at a different angle

think of this basically a regular

line-of-sight signal is a signal that

most people are going to communicate

with and in time of emergency that

signal is limited to if you're talking

about a handheld handheld maybe two to

three miles a mobile which is in your

car to another mobile in another car

five to ten miles and a base station

with a good roof mounted on tenha

you're talking 2025 miles depending on

your terrain I'm going to mount in this

region so depending on that the location

of who I'm trying to contact or who's

trying to contact me those numbers can

change greatly and the numbers change

when you're going from trying to contact

somebody at a base station from a mobile

or handheld there's just no exact

science to it but you can have pretty

good luck with a little bit of trying so

what we're going to do here is I'll turn

this sucker on and and you can hear will

pick up some transmissions not locally

because it's probably dead there's

really hardly anyone that uses the CB

radios even in major metropolitan areas

you know truck drivers and I'm nowhere

near a highway I'm out

nowhere but on sideband with skip which

again is where signal bounces up hits

the atmosphere and bounces back down I

could pick up a signal in the morning

from England and I could pick up one

from Mexico at lunchtime I could pick up

one from Arizona you know in the

afternoon and in the evenings I could

pick up one in Canada it all has to do

with atmospheric conditions and that is

important for you to remember that

there's no guarantee you can talk to

somebody three days in a row in Canada

at five o'clock at night and on the

fourth day you'll be here in Mexico I

you know that's just the way it works

line-of-sight is a different situation

so let me go ahead and set the camera up

a little closer and I'll show you some

of the features of a base station model

see me and then we'll move on to some

mobile stuff and we'll see if we can

hear anyone this is a unit in grant

which is the mobile version this is

actually one of the last models they

made a unit in grant LT the LT stands

for the fact that it has backlighting on

all the dials so in your car you can see

the switches and stuff better at night

and it was really kind of nice so

basically my radio stock you'll hear

people talk about getting radios peaks

and tuned there's absolutely nothing

wrong with that and it can definitely

help if somebody knows what they're

doing you get you know maybe seven or

eight Watts out of AM and maybe up to 20

Watts out of sideband mode and in the

real world that doesn't really equal a

whole lot more power output a whole lot

more range but every little bit helps if

you're trying to cut through the static

so you know I'm not knocking and I'm you

know I'm not recommending it's just it's

up to you

so anyway your CB radio includes a

multitude of doodads this particular one

has your volume and your squelch squelch

is basically right now you'll hear any

any sound at all no static coming out of

it it will break through that when a

signal higher than the level of squelch

you've applied comes through so if I

have somebody two miles down the road

that wants to talk to me and I'm not

trying to listen to anybody ten miles

down the road

I'll leave the squelch set at a fairly

high position and then when they

want to get through to me it will pop

through and real sound you won't hear

the static but you will hear the person

talking at the other end

that's basically what squelch does this

one has some of the fancier features

none of the stuff is absolutely

necessary you can get a very basic model

that basically does the exact same thing

this one has RF gain RF gain is radio

frequency you know again in the 70s and

80s there were a whole lot of people

trying to talk on those 40 channels all

the same time and if you were trying to

talk to somebody to the car that was you

know half a mile in front of you you

could use RF gain to drown out the other

signals by adjusting the RF gain knob

you basically are cutting out lesser

signals you're dropping the noise floor

down so the signals that are 10 miles

out disappear into the static as you cut

the RF gain back that's what that does

this particular model has mic gain I

have a power mic for this but this is

just the stock mic hooked up to it right

now you adjust this and basically if

you're talking to somebody and your

voice sounds distorted kind of like if

you speak too closely into a microphone

on the PA system you can use the mic

gain knob to turn that down until you

have an acceptable voice over here is

where it gets different in a single

sideband mode you have your regular AM

switch and then you also have upper


and lower sideband these days for

communicating across the world

most people use channels 35 through 39

on lower sideband you can use any

channel you want and if you're trying to

have a private conversation with people

in your group or family or friends you

want to use maybe another channel other

than those or you can use upper sideband

you can use any of it basically those

those those channels there are the ones

that if you want to try to talk to

somebody was called D Xing or talking

skip yes that's the channels you go to

and to be able to talk with people from

all over the world and most of them are

fairly nice people so I'll turn this

squelch down and we'll see who's talking

earlier today it was tons of noise

recently I have heard much

nope nothing right now and that's the

way skip works the atmospheric condition

changes and you know where your signal

is bouncing down to is probably in the

middle of the ocean somewhere and

there's no P talk in there so there's

nothing to get back to you and also on

as far skip and talking long distance on

sideman a guarantee is that you may be

receiving a signal from Canada and

talking to a gentleman in Alberta and

then all of a sudden you can hear him

just fine and he can no longer hear you

that's the way it works

I mean sometimes the skip is different

so you're getting a signal great from

Alberta Canada and your signal is ending

up in western Washington and and that's

just that they hear you great but they

can't talk to you and you hear somebody

else great but they can't hear you

so skip is just like it sounds it's

unreliable but it's pretty cool by the

way also on this one you have a

calibration knob on there and basically

you don't need to use that very often

the calibration knob on these things is

is when you first set your CB antenna up

whether it's mobile or bass you want to

make sure that it's set right if it's

out of calibration you can cause the

transmitter portion of your radio to

overheat and eventually fail if you were

talking long-term in an emergency you

can talk short bursts you know three

seconds and then let rest for a minute

you'll be fine talking on the radio but

if you're going to have a setup like

this where it's permanently mounted go

ahead and calibrate your hand tenon and

your radio and get that signal ratio

down as low as it can go and you'll be

heard better and and you don't have to

worry about overheating your finals so

that's pretty much it for the base

station there's also some other switches

on this this one has dynamics control I

don't even know what really that does I

don't use it it has a lights dim and

bright if this were mounted in a car and

you drive at night you probably want on

dim so didn't blind you it's high and

low that's a tone switch a lot of radios

don't have these switches but I'll go

liquid another neat function of this

radio and some of the some of the CDs

you still see out there this one has a

CB mode which is regular also has a PA

mode on PA mode there's an extra plug in

the back if you had two plugged in on

the back you could hook it up to a

bullhorn and have it mounted either

wherever you want in the car or at a

function and you could use the

microphone basically as a multiple horn

so that's kind of neat

and then you've got noise blanker

basically it's different strategies

inside the CB to cut down on background

noise I don't use those anymore or I'll

know if people do again there's not a

lot of traffic on CB radios anymore so

you're not getting a lot of background

crap you're just getting a lot of static

but it's low low noise static so I just

leave it be and that's pretty much it as

far as powering the unit let me go ahead

and move the camera and I'll show you

what powers this again very inexpensive

set up okay so this is this is what

powers the mobile unit again you can buy

a base station that has one of these

converters built-in but if you want to

use an expensive mobile CB radio in your

house this is probably the way to go the

plug it into the wall and it turns 120

volts into this one regulates at about

13.8 which is fine anything above 12

you're looking good this particular one

is a three amp clean unless you're

running an amplifier which you know is

really not needed these days

that's plenty of power you can get one

cheaper than this I think it's 1.75 amps

I used it for a while again I didn't

have any problems but these are very

inexpensive you're looking at maybe new

I don't know twenty dollars and

certainly on eBay use you can get them

for you know ten to fifteen this one's

kind of neat it has the wire plug in

which I'm using for my radio but it also

has a 12-volt outlet just cigarette

lighter outlet which I'll plug into to

show you how the

we'll handheld unit I have works so

that's that's cool that's really neat

that's all you need that some wire

antenna and I'll show you the antenna

outside here in a bit and you're good to

go you can talk to the world all right

so let me plug in the handheld we'll

talk about how the handhelds are this is

a handheld unit telescopic antenna it

goes up I mean it goes up to I think six

or seven feet which is good as far as

range goes you know if you're talking in

the woods a couple hundred feet apart

you can operate it like this again they

say not to operate it long-term because

you can overheat the finals you're

changing the signal ratio when you have

an antenna halfway up but for short term

you know future saying hey man there's a

bear right behind you no big deal so

this little booger cost $7.99 including

free shipping and it was new in the box

when I bought it and it works just fine

the antenna goes up like I said to six

feet you can also buy a rubber ducky

antenna that clamps out of that it is a

40-channel it doesn't have a gauge that

shows you it has dial up on top and

there's neat little light here that push

a button and it lights up in the dark to

tell you what channel you're on which i

think is pretty nifty things to look for

if you're going to give a handheld

because you can use this as a base

station and you can use this in your car

as well if you buy the right model this

one has all the things you would need to

do that and I'm gonna zoom up here and

show you

you got a couple of plugins here you've

got a power plug-in which is what I was

just operating on the converter there

because it's got a external charging

port which if you buy a charger for it

and some rechargeable batteries you can

keep this thing going indefinitely this

is the one that's important external

antenna I can take this and plug it into

the thing there that and have it working

through an 18-foot on tenha and this

thing will sound and work just as good

as any 60 dollar model it just doesn't

have sideband but that's okay for

regular communications you're talking

two three miles on this antenna and

probably up to ten miles on the big

antenna on the roof this is the way to

go this does not have as many buttons

and doodads it has just what you need

it's got a volume control button

and that self-explanatory and your

squelch which we talked about on the

other radio basically you can hear

static through this thing with the

squelch turned off if you've got a

relatively close signal you want to

listen to turn your squelch up until the

stack disappears and you'll be hearing

only the person that comes through on it

the other feature this has that I can't

imagine why it would need is it

transmitting power on the top there it

has the option of a high and low power

output I would recommend leaving on high

but I mean it's yeah especially that's

it you've got got your radio it got

plugged back in so we can we can do a

test to see how it sounds you can hear

it coming through hello hello hello

alright that's working fine pick up your

molar hello hello oh boy as far as

installations go the number one thing is

going to get you the best results with a

CD radio is the bigger the antenna the

better drink there's no way around that

you can get a stealth on 10 you can get

a short on time you can get one of 18

inch antennas back a set in it but the

best thing you're going to get is if

you've got a base station get yourself a

big ol whip that's 18 footer that's what

I've got down to the back of this

building and it works great for the cars

it's an ugly eyesore works fine on the

truck looks definitely on a place on a

car I've got a nine-foot whip steel whip

and still getting a Radio Shack for like

24 bucks brand-new that and some wire

and you're hooked up and ready to go so

that's about it that's it hope you

enjoyed the video and go outside take a

quick look at the car loan and is it

alright so for my truck this is the

setup of God

it's just drilled into the steel bumper

there and got a nice spring coil pick

that coil cost me about five dollars

that's just so when you take off and

slam on your brakes it allows that whip

to run around without putting too much

tension on it but it's a nine foot steel

whip it's probably kind of hard to see

it in the sunlight here but I don't

think I bought it new but they're

probably a little hard to come by

nowadays and it works great

as far as inside the car this is my

little setup here any car that has a

double din - you know that's where the

factory radio took up both spots this

fits in there perfectly it's kind of a

cool mod that way you don't have to have

the radio sitting someplace weird but

you put your regular radio up top then

down here I've got a Cobra

CB and it's neat this one's got some

features on this is one of the later

models again I picked it up on eBay I

don't think I paid with 12 or 13 dollars

for it but it's got some functions that

are really helpful in the car be honest

with you it has weathered mode so it

goes through if you conclude on that

lets go it goes scans through the

weather stations out there and it picks

up the nearest one to you and you can

hear the weather at anytime you want to

it also has a scan mode which is really

neat I wish the base stations would have

that that scan mode basically set your

squelch up you know till there's not

hearing any static and then you go

through the scan and it just scans

through all 40 channels until it finds

one that has somebody talking on it

and then you can choose to join that

conversation or listen in again this is

the dual watch switch and that allows

you to monitor two stations so you can

set your squelch up and maybe pick

channel 35 and channel 9 or something

like that or channel 19 and it scans

between the two listening for traffic

there's so little talk going on on these

CB s nowadays I just put it on scan mode

and sometimes I'll make it thirty miles

and never hear people and then you'll

scare the crap out of yourself when

somebody finally does speak anyway

that's it I'm going to show you the base

station and we'll move on from there

I'll talk to you a little bit about why

you would need a CB radio that's my base

station antenna

it's a Antron a ninety nine which I did

buy new back in the 90s I think I paid

about 50 bucks for it I don't know if

they're still available new but I'm sure

there's plenty of them out there you

know driving around the country and if

you see one sticking out top of

somebody's house as Mel Hartmann

dropping a note in their mailbox there's

this bottom part here that is not part

of the antenna that's actually a TV

antenna that I've got her out in a

garage but that antenna there that's 18

feet long once you get it mounted on

there properly you are golden man so

that's what I've done there

make sure you ground the hell out of

that thing or you will be installing a

very nice lightning rod so that's it the

higher the better