Introduction to CB Radio

What is CB radio?

CB stands for citizens band and is obviously a radio band for citizens.  There are two bands available for UK users. 27/81 and PR27 (80 channels in total).

Some practicalities......

It is a radio system that is for the personal use of radio equipment. It is for local and national communications, and in some cases, internationally. It is not intended for commercial use, some communities use it as local town security where the police monitor a channel for citizen emergency calls.  Some countries restrict communication distance by law!

Who can become a CB radio operator?

Anyone can become a CB radio operator, even the able and disabled, who come from all walks of life. CB radio is also a source for `the cheap man's Amateur' radio.

How much does it cost? (In UK)

Seeing there are two different bands in the UK, it can vary drastically between 50 and upwards. An average station with both bands would cost under 200. The equipment can be set up just about anywhere such as a shack, garage, bedroom, study etc. Car setups cost less as they do not require transformers, and the car battery is more than adequate to drive a CB. The aerials can cost over 70. A decent car installation can cost as little as 100 or maybe around 400 to 500 for the hobbyist.

A little bit of history...

The origins of Citizens' Band Radio date back as far as the late 50's early 60's when it was decided a low power, easy to use, cheap radio system was needed in the USA for business and the local community to use.

It was decided in the early 70's to use 27 Mhz, at this time a part of the amateur band, this band was originally split into 23 channels and controlled by means of a bank of crystals one for each channel which made the radios large, and bulky the channel selection was done by a means of a rotary dial on the front of the radio with each click corresponding to its crystal inside the unit. The power output of the radio was limited to 4 watts ERP (Effective Radiating Power). and the mode of transmission was A.M. (Amplitude Modulation).

This sufficed until the demand grew and it was decided to increase the channel availability to 40, and with the advent of the silicon chip, PLL (Phased Locked Loop) control came into being, this reduced the amount of crystals in the radio to two, and the frequencies needed for the channels were mixed together and the control was now an LED rotary channel selector on the front of the radio the power output was still 4 watts but SSB Single Side band was introduced, this worked by using the same frequencies as before but making each channel available in two different modes by eliminating the need for the carrier signal needed by AM it was possible to make each channel three times larger by using USB, LSB and AM, also with the carrier signal removed more power could be concentrated into the transmission increasing the distance which the operator could talk, introducing DX (Skip Talking) over long distances and making it possible, under the right conditions, to communicate with other countries, although the latter still remains against licensing regulations. The power available on SSB is 12 watts PEP (Peak Envelope Power).

CB Radio In The United Kingdom

CB started to be introduced into the UK in the mid 70's, with the popularity of such films as Convoy, Smokey and the Bandit, Citizens' Band and Breaker-Breaker. And the excellent TV series The Dukes Of Hazard (who can forget the lost sheep) CB became a craze, twigs were popping up everywhere, cars looked like porcupines, all 40 channels were as full as the motorway service stations were "Breakers" used to congregate until the TV shut down and then went home to cause havoc on the airwaves.

But at this stage the imported AM and SSB rigs being brought in from the States were illegal and you risked a hefty fine if caught using one.

CB was legalised by the then Home Secretary "Willie" Whitelaw on the second of November 1981, 40 channels FM (27/81), (a full band higher than the illegal sets ) 4 watts output, and the craze grew.

In the early nineties an extra 40 Channels were introduced (PR27) "Mid Band or Block" depending on where you live giving us the choice of two separate radio's, later to be combined into one affectionately known as "Muppets and Mid".

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