Why have we abandoned the CB?

Ultrafudd

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One good CB sea story from back in ancient history. Went on active duty in Sept ‘76 and my girlfriend of 2 years was a little bent that I hadn’t made any firm commitment. So, the week before Christmas, the school I was attending in Newport, RI closed for the holidays. We got to go on leave at 3pm. Unfortunately, we were getting reports that the Tappan Zee bridge was closed due to heavy snow from a blizzard moving north into New England.

Since I was trying to get back to Wisconsin, the only other choice was up to Boston and west on I-90. By the time I got to the NY Thruway, it was snowing a lot. Most of the cars were pulling off, but it was a dry blowing snow and I got up on the CB and tucked in behind a friendly 18 wheeler. He was blowing the snow off the road and I stayed close behind him from From Rochester all the way to South Bend, where I had to pull off and get some quick shuteye.. The road down the west side of Lake Erie’s got to be experienced - any time but not in a blizzard.

This trucker saved my bacon, because I got in just in time for Christmas Eve at her house. As she was sitting on my lap opening presents I whispered a proposal in her ear. He Dad, a WWII infantryman just smiled. He knew.

She’s my first wife, and 45 years later, I wouldn’t trade her!
 

Disco47

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Quick question. How well do the compact units work? Are they good enough for most people?
 

Nerd

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Quick question. How well do the compact units work? Are they good enough for most people?
Compact radios or compact antennas? I use the smallest CB uniden carries and - when the antenna is properly tuned - it's absolutely fine. My first antenna was a 3 foot firestik. It left a lot to be desired. Even after extensive tuning, SWR was only really in acceptable measures channels 10-30. I also couldn't really exceed about, by my best estimates, a mile as the crow flies under ideal conditions. I'm currently in the process of tuning my 106" steel whip to see if I can increase performance.

Much like it's better to have amazing speakers with a cheap amp, having a proper antenna - and having it properly tuned - is infinitely more important than the actual CB it's connected to. A great CB is worthless with a bad antenna.
 

Exadata

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Quick question. How well do the compact units work? Are they good enough for most people?
Based off of something like this???

1634220601621.png


Overall, they do the job and work fairly well and suit weekend warriors very well.

Usually the trade off is speaker size and poor audio quality that goes with the territory of a small speaker vs something bigger and if you're playing a little bit of low volume music on your car stereo, these CB's easily get drown out. Then you end up cranking the volume on the CB and it gets louder but, the distortion and audio quality also gets even worse.

Other than the trade off of sound quality for a smaller unit with smaller speaker, they perform just fine and come with the FCC's 4 watt max TX power and will usually have an audio out connection if you want to use an external speaker or run it through your cars stereo system.

Like Nerd said, the antenna setup is the most critical (and not complicated) part of any CB setup.
 
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croup

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There is a uniden scanner/cb combo that looks good but I rather spend money towards a laser jammer than put money to a CB at this time.

Funny you mentioned this particular uniden cb/scanner. Got one hooked up about a week ago due to this thread peaking my interest. I figured the combo of this unit was right for me to dip my toes in the water to see if it would be of any use for me these days. So far I am enjoying having the new toy to fiddle with. Only time will tell if it becomes a permanent addition in the vehicle.
 

Deacon

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I got up on the CB and tucked in behind a friendly 18 wheeler. He was blowing the snow off the road and I stayed close behind him from From Rochester all the way to South Bend
Holy crap that’s like 500 miles! Did you end up using the CB to find out he was headed at least that far and let him know you were tucking up behind him? That’s an amazing find and a great proposal story :D


Quick question. How well do the compact units work? Are they good enough for most people?
CB is simple enough and established enough that any decent name brand unit should be perfectly fine. They all have strengths and weaknesses, but the only “new” thing in CB in the last 50 years is the very recent approval to add FM mode to the AM and SSB modes. The compact units generally only support AM, but that’s OK because that’s what most people are using. SSB is sort of like “half” of the AM signal and with no carrier, which means the voices sound weird and can be a little harder to understand, but all the limited (legal) power can be devoted to just that smaller section of signal and thus carry farther. We’ll have to see when type accepted CB radios begin to be commercially available with FM and how quickly they’re adopted by users. There will always be those with only AM radios and be perfectly fine with that.

I wouldn’t put a lot of money into a currently offered high-end CB radio anyway due to those changes, but the compact ones tend to be affordable, and you won’t be throwing money away, so go for it.

The main thing is, as has been iterated here repeatedly, your antenna mounting and tuning and the coax and connectors quality and install are paramount above all else. You can’t legally overcome a poor setup with raw power. CB frequencies are only about 27MHz, which means their wavelength is approximately 11 meters (~36 feet), which is massive. As such, to be able to transmit effectively you can’t really use a small antenna, and that’s one of the reasons CB has fallen out of favor over the years. For it to perform well, it also needs a decent ground plane (a section of metal the RF can bounce off of like a mirror so that it acts like the antenna is longer than it actually is). There are “no ground plane” antennas out there, but many are snake oil dummy loads, so buyer beware.

Being such a large wavelength, it’s literally impossible to give it an actual 1/4 wavelength ground plane radius as would be ideal, so it’s all a compromise. People run fender mounts or even bumper mounts and such, but that’s an even bigger compromise, even if they claim it works fine and totally know what they’re talking about. It’s holding their system back no matter what, but each person can decide how much is “enough” performance for them. The ideal would be something like smack in the middle of a full size van roof, or an SUV with no sunroof (or at least not a panoramic sunroof).

The shortest legit antenna I know of is a base coil loaded Larsen NMO27. It requires an NMO base and comes long, with about a 50” whip, and you trim little pieces off the bottom of the whip until it’s tuned nicely for your particular setup. In the simplest terms it means a low VSWR across the band. The loaded coil means it’s not very broad banded, but it doesn’t need to be for CB. I forget what I ended up with, but it’s around 44” or 45” , I think, somewhere in there, but I added the Larsen spring (as you should) which lessens the length of the whip a little, and the actual proper length is different for every install.

The results are about as good as I could hope for, and it does work well.

1634225438723.png


It’s the tall one in the back.
1634225477543.jpeg


1634225533509.jpeg


having a proper antenna - and having it properly tuned - is infinitely more important than the actual CB it's connected to. A great CB is worthless with a bad antenna.
100%. I’m currently running a modified import 10M Stryker at 10W/4W selectable with both AM and FM. It works pretty well, but it would be worthless without a good antenna setup.
 
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ALS

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I've had one in every car I've owned since 1977. In high school there were guys that literally had an trunk lip antenna but no radio in their car.

Well I learned something about CB in this thread with channel 17 and 19. That answers the question why it is so quiet on channel 19 running north to south between Pa. and south Fl.

One benefit of CB's not being as popular may be less idiots to contend with while out on the road.

As far as costs go check out Facebook Market place and Craigslist for deals.
Here was one by me for $125.
Cobra 29 with Wilson Antenna

For the Amuteur Radio guys if you're one of the cheap people and want a free antenna the guy is giving one away on FB Marketplace, he's up by Edinboro Pa. Ham Radio HEX Beam antenna and rotor 20, 17, 15, 10, 6 mtrs.). Your job is remove it from his roof and haul it away.
 
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Nerd

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Based off of something like this???

View attachment 190966

Overall, they do the job and work fairly well and suit weekend warriors very well.

Usually the trade off is speaker size and poor audio quality that goes with the territory of a small speaker vs something bigger and if you're playing a little bit of low volume music on your car stereo, these CB's easily get drown out. Then you end up cranking the volume on the CB and it gets louder but, the distortion and audio quality also gets even worse.

Other than the trade off of sound quality for a smaller unit with smaller speaker, they perform just fine and come with the FCC's 4 watt max TX power and will usually have an audio out connection if you want to use an external speaker or run it through your cars stereo system.

Like Nerd said, the antenna setup is the most critical (and not complicated) part of any CB setup.
That's exactly what I have - and you're spot on. Audio quality isn't the best, but usually I turn off my stereo or mute it if I actually want to do something on the CB. I like to either be totally into my music or totally into the CB. In a quiet car, it's definitely sufficient for my needs.
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Funny you mentioned this particular uniden cb/scanner. Got one hooked up about a week ago due to this thread peaking my interest. I figured the combo of this unit was right for me to dip my toes in the water to see if it would be of any use for me these days. So far I am enjoying having the new toy to fiddle with. Only time will tell if it becomes a permanent addition in the vehicle.
I haven't done any real research into this yet but I am curious about the combo function as well. Does it have two separate antenna leads? I have been looking at mobile scanners because it just seems easier if I want to move from one vehicle to another, but hard mount is obviously prettier and usually allows more capability because of dedicated power and bigger antennas.
 
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croup

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Yes it needs two separate antennas....It comes with a cheap looking wire antenna for scanner that just attaches to your windshield....Have to admit it works pretty good....Getting crystal clear reception from it....I have other scanner antennas but for now going to stick with what it came with....Also comes with GPS so as you travel it automatically starts scanning frequencies in the area your in....I do miss the scanner not showing the exact dept you are hearing....Its just listed as Fire, Police, EMS, and DOT...
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Thoughts on this CB mod...

CB Mod
 
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Deacon

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I have been looking at mobile scanners because it just seems easier if I want to move from one vehicle to another
You mean handheld, right? Mobile scanners like the SDS200 or 536HP are great but better suited for mounting in a vehicle (thus mobile) or in a building, etc, not wearable like a handheld. Pluses and minuses either way.


Thoughts on this CB mod...

CB Mod
If you’ve got one and are interested in trying it, go for it! Other than adding a scan function to old CBs, is there anything there you’d actually use? Most of the stuff like the VFO and clarifier would mostly be used in the shack if you were trying to work SSB.
 

mbsl500

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You mean handheld, right? Mobile scanners like the SDS200 or 536HP are great but better suited for mounting in a vehicle (thus mobile) or in a building, etc, not wearable like a handheld. Pluses and minuses either way.



If you’ve got one and are interested in trying it, go for it! Other than adding a scan function to old CBs, is there anything there you’d actually use? Most of the stuff like the VFO and clarifier would mostly be used in the shack if you were trying to work SSB.
When I repaired CB's back in the days of CB's and *funnies*, I would throw in a Miller choke, a crystal, a cap and wire it to the clarifier to convert it to a slider.

If you could f*** up TV's for a few blocks... you were an official member of the TVI club.
And, if you were able to do that during a Superbowl...you were an instant CB hero in the TVI club.
Yep, a Browning Golden Eagle, D104, 500W linear, Avanti Moonraker and transmitting below 26.965 was the hot ticket back then. :)
 
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ALS

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When I repaired CB's back in the days of CB's and *funnies*, I would throw in a Miller choke, a crystal, a cap and wire it to the clarifier to convert it to a slider.

If you could f*** up TV's for a few blocks... you were an official member of the TVI club.
And, if you were able to do that during a Superbowl...you were an instant CB hero in the TVI club.
Yep, a Browning Golden Eagle, D104, 500W linear, Avanti Moonraker and transmitting below 26.965 was the hot ticket back then. :)
Two of my friends in HS had their Amateur radio licenses and both had handheld radios. The Chaos those two could do by walking by a video game machine and keying the radio. I don't know how it worked but the signal from one of their radios would reset or end the video game. In a quarter back in 1978 is equal to $1.13 in today's money.
 

mbsl500

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Two of my friends in HS had their Amateur radio licenses and both had handheld radios. The Chaos those two could do by walking by a video game machine and keying the radio. I don't know how it worked but the signal from one of their radios would reset or end the video game. In a quarter back in 1978 is equal to $1.13 in today's money.
Back in the 70's VW had an issue with their new electronic ignition sytem and would shut down when hit with too much RF. We found that at about 20 feet with 100 watts at 120% modulation would splatter enough to put a VW in instant go/stop/go/stop go/ stop mode when you would key/unkey the mic.
We used to sit in the parking lot at the VW dealer after leaving the CB shop and then have way too much fun messing with customers test driving new cars.
 
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Lucky225

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Back in the 70's VW had an issue with their new electronic ignition sytem and would shut down when hit with too much RF. We found that at about 20 feet with 100 watts at 120% modulation would splatter enough to put a VW in instant go/stop/go/stop go/ stop mode when you would key/unkey the mic.
We used to sit in the parking lot at the VW dealer after leaving the CB shop and then have way too much fun messing with customers test driving new cars.
Back when I first got CB I heard operators bragging about a nearby car wash if you keyed up next to it would cause the counter circuit to mess up and it would show coins had been deposited and you could get a free car wash lol
 

sctdg

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In the 70s had Tram Diamond 60 modified to the edge of the 10 meter band. Frequencies above channel 40 were quiet as a church mouse. Conversations going to and from work was with a group thru out NJ Pa and Ny. We all pushed a little power . Morning ride when skip was in I would talk to a station out of Belgum .My base station was a Yaseu Ft-101 with the 11 meter band . My then wife would leave it on during my travel hours and no matter where I was we were always connected. Worked well for last minute stuff.Still have Tram. Sold Yaseu when I got Divorced to buy some stereo equipment , sorry I did it was a tube set and had the sweetest audio not that harsh vocal when they switched to transistors . Now have Ranger but have not put it in my new vehicle .
 

havok

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Ill chime in here after finally getting my HAM license recently. Amateur radio is by large better than CB. I say everyone should skip over CB, FRS, GMRS. And just go straight to 2meter band. But thats just my 2cents.
 

croup

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Really been enjoying my recent install of the Uniden 885....Had my first avoidance of traffic jam a few days back from the cb portion of this unit....Had a 18 wheeler overturn near my exit and the truckers were chiming in with alternate routes etc....One even talked to the highway patrol and was letting all know approximate time frame for opening one lane back up....Lot of construction going on around here and there is always someone chiming in which lane is closed off....

The scanner portion of this radio has been the part that pushed it over the top for me.....Was really skeptical about that part because my locals are encrypted but the sheriffs dept, highway patrol, and several other local agencies are not especially around where I work and drive the most....The traffic from them plus EMS, Fire, and DOT keeps me informed and entertained while driving throughout the day....Coming home from fishing Saturday morning, heard chatter from Sheriffs Dept that there had been a crash very near my house and dude fled through the woods directly behind our neighborhood....Needless to say, someone put the hammer down to get home as quickly as possible due to my family being home at the time.......Pulling into neighbor hood with sidearm in tow, saw my next door neighbor, (retired fireman) in the street with his handheld scanner.....Informed me that the dude had ran through our backyards.....Was finally apprehended about ten doors down about 5 minutes after arriving.....

Now I know this will be a permanent fixture in this vehicle, I just ordered an upgrade to the included scanner antenna that came with it, even though reception is crystal clear with the cheap wire one that was included....
 

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Had my first avoidance of traffic jam a few days back from the cb portion of this unit.
Were you running anything on your phone like Waze, Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc? Did they show it, too, or was it right as it happened?

Was really skeptical about that part because my locals are encrypted but the sheriffs dept, highway patrol, and several other local agencies are not especially around where I work and drive the most...
I can tell you that living in a big city really tanked the usefulness of a scanner for me. There’s just too much going on at all times, so much of it entirely unrelated to traffic events and enforcement. That’s one aspect of living in the country I do miss, the relative infrequency of radio traffic and how often it was actually useful with someone responding to loose livestock, a wreck somewhere, maybe even a crime here and there (meth is a helluva drug).

I do still drive occasionally through the country. Especially since my wife’s family has an old homestead out in the hill country. It would be really nice if Uniden would build in GPS to their scanners rather than have a mess of cables and antennas and separate power sources. It’s so frustrating that I’m considering actually paying the money to someone like @jonwienke can embed the GPS into the unit itself like Uniden should’ve done all along. But his website says he can’t get the GPS chips right now, and I believe @SquirrelMaster abandoned his project and isn’t available to work his magic which is a bummer.

 

croup

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Yes was using JBV1 and was alerted several miles before JBV1 (Vaze) alerted to it.....

Luckily I do not live in a big city....and totally agree about having to use/purchase external gps on the Unidens....
 

mikeoxlong

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It would be really nice if Uniden would build in GPS to their scanners rather than have a mess of cables and antennas and separate power sources.

I’ve added GPS to my mobile scanners without a mess of cables or separate power sources. Probably much cheaper than if Uniden did it.

Just grab a GPS module (if you can find one) and wire it in yourself using internal power from your scanner. Mine are secured to the top of the case with double sided tape.

My SDS100 uses Uniden’s GPS which contains a splitter which combines the power and data lines so I have no extra cables going to the scanner.

Jon’s solution worked but he also hacked a big hole on your case. @SquirrelMaster’s solution was much not elegant.
 

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