Which radio do I need.
Finding the right CB radio from the piles and piles of equipment that is available can be a daunting task. Deciding on what features you need beforehand can sometimes narrow down which radio is right for your needs. Do you just want a bare-bones Uniden Pro505XL or a full featured radio like those offered from Galaxy. So which features do you need to have ?
Options options and more options.
When looking at the list of different options in a radio, you need to understand what each one of them does in order to choose the right options. Knowing how to use your equipment before you need them is the best way to ensure that you will survive. You don’t want to stumble around the radio when trying to send important that may be crucial to someone else’s health and well being. So what are some of the features, and how do you use them ?
The most common controls on a CB radio are usually the Volume control, the channel selector and a squelch. As you go up in price range you will have more features available. Some other options include a delta tune knob, a dimmer switch, Mic gain and even the weather bands so you can keep up to date on your local weather. You can also choose an AM (Amplitude Modulation) only radio or one that includes SSB which will increase the range that you are able to communicate. SSB has a higher learning curve since the incoming signal has to be tuned in with the clarifier control.
Some of the top end radios also include a frequency readout. Unless you plan on modifying and using the radio on illegal frequencies the digital frequency readout is kind of useless.
The bare basics of a CB radio usually include just a volume control a squelch control and a channel selector. Radios like the Uniden Pro505XL are small radios that work just as good as a top end radio without all the other features. They can usually be found in the low price range (under $40) and put out just as good of a signal as a top end model. Remember, no matter what the advertiser may claim legal power output of a CB radio is 4 Watts on AM and 12 Watts on SSB (Single Sideband)
The volume control.
This may be common knowledge for most people, but I am going to cover it anyway just in case you don’t know what that is. The volume control on your radio adjusts the volume of the receiver coming out of the speaker. This can be the built in speaker or an external speaker. In the ham radio world this is known as the AF gain (Audio Frequency). The Volume control does nothing to your signal coming out of the radio, only what comes in (Receive).
Most CB radios do not have an RF gain control other than the high end models. The RF gain (Radio Frequency) in simplified terms ,controls the amount of background noise coming into your radio. When listening to a weak station you can drop the RF gain down a bit to reduce the noise coming in, making the weak signal easier to understand.
The squelch control on your radio will drop the background noise out completely until a signal comes in, depending on how much you turn up the squelch control. The higher the control is set, the stronger an incoming signal must be to break the squelch. This is handy if you do not want to listen to the radio noise. To set the squelch properly depends on the radio manufacturer. You will want to turn the squelch control clockwise until the sound just drops out and then back it off (Counter Clockwise) just a fraction. This will allow you to hear most signals that may be received.
The last word on CB radios.
That should be enough information to at least get you started in the fun world of CB radio. Also one other thing to keep in mind is the antenna system. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on your radio equipment (even a $40 Uniden Pro505XL) if you have an antenna that doesn’t work well. The rule of thumb among radio operators is to spend more on the antenna than you do the radio. You can make a $2 garage sale special talk just as far as a $500+ radio with a good antenna.