Episode-877- CB Radio as a Practical Prep with Clay Vitis

The Galaxy 979 is my Personal Choice for an Upper End SSB CB Radio

The Galaxy 979 is my Personal Choice for an Upper End SSB CB Radio

Clay Vitis is a long haul truck driver who uses CB both in his daily work and as a fellow prepper.  Clay is also a licensed HAM however he spends most of his time on the CB bands.  He joins us today to discuss the ins and outs of CB radio communications for every day prepping.

Note to all HAMs, today’s show is NOT why CB is better than HAM or vice verse, it is about CB as a technology for preppers.  We have a HAM radio episode planned with Expert Council Member Tim Glance scheduled in the future.

It is my belief that HAM and CB both have their places and HAM is far more specialized, making it practical for the specialist and not quite so practical for the guy that doesn’t turn a radio very often other than for specific events or while traveling.

Join Clay and I Today as we Discuss…

  • Cheap CB Options
    • How much do you need to spend on the equipment
    • What brands or models offer a good value
    • Base station, mobile or handheld
    • The capabilities of lower end equipment
  • Upper end cb options
    • What constitutes a “good” cb
    • Where are the best places to find upper end equipment
    • Why upper end cb’s perhaps are not always the best “value”
    • Upper and lower sideband and their practicality
  • Antennas for CB Radios
    • Antenna options for mobile and base station use
    • The idea of “homebrewing” an antenna
    • Creating stealth antennas
  •   Optional equipment
    • Tuning meters
    • Amplifiers (including legal/ethical issues )
  •   Fun with CB’s
    • A cool game you can play with fellow breakers
    • Learning the technology, community and geography at the same time
    • Realize there is more to CB that the “one nine”
  • Practicality of CB from a survival/prepper standpoint
    • Ready to run “out of the box”
    • Inexpensive
    • Reliable
    • Can be taken to specialized levels but not specialized
    • Lots of users (especially during a disaster)
    • Plug and play installation with portability
    • Great for general travel info

Resources for Today’s Show

  • Members Support Brigade
  • TSP Gear Shop
  • Join Our Forum
  • Sawtooth Tactical – (sponsor of the day)
  • Knife Kits – (sponsor of the day)
  • The World of CB Radio – Book I mentioned on air
  • Confessions of a Real CB Nut – The kindle edition is only a dollar and I found it a fascinating read about CB and its evolution along side armature radio.  It explains a lot about the current issues with over amping and some other things.  It is also a great look back at American before the internet, the 60s, 70s and 80s in particular.  Life for a traveling working man in rural America, entrepreneurship, etc.  Lastly, the kindle edition deffinitely has some real issues that must have happened during conversion of the old book.  For instance it says “don’t” in every instance that should say “doesn’t”, but it doesn’t take away from the book if you just over look it, can’t speak for the text version.

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK and you might hear yourself on the air.

56 Responses to Episode-877- CB Radio as a Practical Prep with Clay Vitis

  1. haven’t listened yet, but look into fractal antennas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal_antenna

    • Backwoods Engineer

      Jake,

      As an antenna designer, I have messed around with these a little bit. No, they’re not the be-all end-all of antennas, but they become especially interesting for using a single antenna for multiple bands, especially if the frequencies are non-integer multiples of each other.

  2. I bought my first knife kit on Monday from the sponsor of the day and can’t wait for it to get here.

  3. kinda excited about this one since i have the arrl study guide infront of myself getting ready for my first ham test this weekend and in my truck i have a galaxy 979… I agree cb’s have a place and hams fill another.

  4. I want to get a CB radio to communicate with my relatives 10-30 miles away. Can that work with Single Side band? I was just looking for radio options when your radio show came on. Synchronicity!

    • Modern Survival

      @Jessica, well yea but with a may be. Depends on the gear and the lay of the land and activity in the area.

      The reality though on your shorter end of 10 with a good SSB rig is almost a definite yes. Likely a tuning meter would help a lot with that. Also both sides must have SSB gear or the question is moot.

      Also if you set up a base station with an elevated antenna specifically with directional ability and they do too you are likely to pull off even the further distance.

      One thing we didn’t say though and should have is CB will not grant you guaranteed connections in any environment. Likely you guys will need to work together on procedures, bands to use and practice the skills a bit to really get the most from them.

    • Backwoods Engineer

      Jessica,

      How well you communicate over a 30-mile path on CB will depend on a lot of factors: 1) weather (nearby lightning makes a lot of “noise”), 2) terrain between the 2 stations, 3) how effective the two antennae are, and 4) how “good” a listener you are (and it’s easier on SSB–narrower bandwidth means less noise, which gets tiresome to listen to).

      I would say, though, that most times you should be able to communicate over that distance, at some point during the day. Night may be worse, because the changing upper atmosphere conditions when you turn away from the sun allows other, far away stations to share the channel you’re on.

    • Thanks. How can i find out more about what it depends on? We are in the hills in utah valley. My m-i-l lives higher up the foothills 10 miles north, my b-i-l lives down across the valley 20 miles south right next to the mountain. Another s-i-l lives across the valley 15 miles to the west. It would be really great to be able to communicate with them, and I’m trying to figure out if I can do that with CB. Thanks again.

      • Thank you, that helps.

      • Best way to know is just try it- look on Craigslist or Ebay and get some cheap used CB’s and antennas and give it a shot. If it doesn’t work, you are not out much. If it works but is not very clear, you can get better antennas and make it much clearer.

        You can find older CB’s for $20 or less all the time, and can build a simple dipole antenna like Clay described from some scrap wire and give it a shot.

  5. Backwoods Engineer

    Haven’t listened yet, but as a 31-year ham radio operator, I agree that CB definitely has its place in preparedness. The potential of long-distance communication (especially using SSB), the “come as you are” element of it, and the fact that some people are never going to get their ham license no matter what are some of my reasons. We have all the tools in the toolbox at the Backwoods Retreat: CB, ham radio, MURS, FRS, GMRS, and cellular. Communications is so important, why restrict yourself, especially when CBs are so cheap, and HF ham radios can usually transmit and receive on CB?

  6. .

    @ jACK

    You are right, CB’s & HAM’s are both just tools in the arsenal-
    (like a .22 and a .30-06, both serve a purpose in different situations.)

    Just be careful of your opsec – they are both un-secure lines of communication.
    Even if you know who’s on the other end… you never know who’s eavesdropping.

    I have been wanting to get an updated CB, because I gave away my old “Realistic” from the 70’s or 80’s. It still works, but I’m lookin’ to size it down. (It’s kinda like having an old brick-style cell phone)
    But it’s really more of a dependability/age issue. I wouldn’t want a failure when I need it most.
    So, I’ve just been waiting for this podcast to get some good advice on the more modern equipment.

    Thanks to you and Clay for helping us out with the details.

  7. I am a licensed HAM operator and anytime I put radios in the truck it includes a CB. It most certainly has its place in the prepper communication line up. The tow truck you need or the trucks you meet may not have a HAM radio but will almost certainly have a CB.

  8. Great episode. Being a HAM I usually play with radios but I have not even given thought to a CB. Yes HAM guys do seem to hat e the idea of CB. I dont understand why. Thanks Jack and Clay.

  9. I love the part about your neighbor. I had a problem for a couple years with my neighbor not mowing their lawn. The husband won’t do anything, and his wife can hardly mow the lawn between work and her health. It looked like a dump. I felt like calling many times, but after much thought decided to begin mowing their front lawn when I do mine. It takes me a 5 minutes and a little gas, but their lawn looks significantly better than it ever has before. I’ve never heard a thank you or received a penny for gas, but it is well worth it. Overall it is easier to keep my lawn looking nice because less weeds come over.

  10. Val Anderson

    Was a trucker for a long time – went through a few CBs – what I would like to hear is a show about police scanners… so I can know what’s going on in my town!

    • Val I was going to cover scanners as the first part of my show on radio and ham radio, unless Jack wants to get someone else to cover it.

      Until someone does, this website is the best resource around for getting into scanner listening:

      http://www.radioreference.com/

      I will say this- I love ham radio, I love radio in general, but for SHTF purposes I will say that the ability to listen in on what it going on around you is 75-80% of what you need and the most important aspect of survival communications.

    • @Val Anderson I have a couple police/fire scanner apps on my phone Scanner+ and Em.RadioFree. I like the Scanner+ the best. You can choose from police, fire & EMS from many states & cities.

    • Word of advise about police scanners and putting them in your vehicle.
      In most states it is against the law to have a scanner in your vehicle UNLESS you have an FCC license ie HAM.

      • Not quite that bad-

        In the vast majority of states scanner use in a vehicle is legal.

        In CA, MI, NJ, OK, VT, VA, VW and NE (with some odd exemptions) it is only illegal to have a scanner in your car while committing a crime- seems a good way to address police concerns about illegal use while protecting the majorities freedoms to me.

        MI, SD and RI ban use in a vehicle by convicted Felons/criminals only.

        FL, IN, KY, MN, are the only states that ban use while mobile but do exempt hams (and some other exemptions that vary by state)

        Only NY seems to ban it for everyone, but FCC rulings have preempted the NY law and it is legal to have at least a ham rig that can also receive police frequencies, prior to this they would arrest you for just having a mobile ham rig (no kidding, there is case law where a ham got his car impounded and cited because he had the local police freq on the scan list of his ham rig).

        So in reality, there are only 4 states where having a ham license will let you have a scanner where you couldn’t otherwise, and NY where they are so jacked up it is risky even when you are a ham even though the law and case law is on your side.

  11. Hello all, I was a CB’er before I was a ham and will still be a CB’er if I ever get out of ham radio .
    About building antennas , there are books available that tell how to build and have several different designs . Most bomebrew antennas are designed toward the home/base type operation. There are directional (beam) types and omnidirectional (transmits in all directions , ground plane )types . ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League ) has a few antenna design books out that start with basic designs on up to pretty complex designs .
    Jessica , I think 30 miles is the outside range the FCC envisions for CB base stations . They can do much more than that with the right set up and terrain . Before you invest money in getting set up I would suggest you look around locally for some local CBers and talk to them and see if they typically make contacts from your area into the target areas. I mean the base stations . Mobiles typically won’t be able to legally do it . I used to commute 55 miles to work and typically 25 miles away from the home I really had a hard time communicating back to base .
    I agree with backwoods engineer , I try to have CB, ham radio, MURS, FRS, GMRS, and cellular at home , in camp and in my vehicles .
    A thing to remember about ham radio is it (for most Hams ) is a hobby and can grow to be a large consumer of one’s time just the same as golf , fishing or hunting , scrapbooking , prepping , or computers and so on .

  12. Uncle Charlie

    http://swap.qth.com/fcc/fcc-cbtable2.htm Looks like that Galaxy is not legal for use in the US of A.

    • Modern Survival

      Uncle Charlie, given you used a fake email I should not even let the comment though, but I will, I will also call it 100% complete bullshit. Here is why, quoting from the page you linked to,

      “The FCC’s Office of Engineer and Technology (OET) has evaluated the devices listed below and has concluded that these devices are not only amateur transceivers but can easily be altered for use as Citizens Band (CB) transceivers as well.”

      This statement can’t possibly legitimately come from the FCC, why, even the government isn’t that stupid. See the Galaxy and just about all the other listed radios are CBs, they are not altered to become CBs that is what they are. So here we have a statment that says,

      “these devices are not only amateur transceivers but can easily be altered for use as Citizens Band (CB) transceivers as well.”

      That would be like saying not only is an apple an orange but it can be easily altered to make it into an apple. I don’t know where you got that link but it is either some malicious FUD by a bunch of pissed off HAMs or it is a bad April fools joke.

      The radios listed are sold all over the place, online, offline, on Amazon.com, etc. They are not amateur radios (HAM) they can’t be made into such. They can be and often are modified to push them past 4 watts, this is illegal but seldom enforced. But the radio itself is completely legal and only altering would change that. Lastly the final statement is proof of the ignorance or malice of whomever posted it, it says.

      “Based on this information, other radios may be added to this list, if we receive information that they are extremely easy to modify for 11 meter operation. ”

      Sorry Charlie (that just kind of worked out) but the Galaxy 979 can’t be altered into the 11 meter band, it is an 11 meter radio, 11 meters is CB. This entire thing is backwards. The concern of the FCC is non HAMs modifying radios into the the 10 meter band not hams modifying 10 meter radios into 11 meter CBs.

      • The 979 does have FCC type acceptance. However, it was also designed to be very easily modified to have more power and operate on other frequencies. The folks at QTH.com added it to the list of radios they don’t allow to be sold on their website because, as the link they provided shows, it is designed to be easily modified to work on other (illegal) frequencies, and some of them are in the 10m ham band. The QTH website is kind of hacked together in this regard- they first copied and pasted an FCC letter about illegal radios for the initial list of banned radios, and have added other models to the list not as illegal but as not being allowed to be sold on their website. It does read as if the radio is illegal, but in its stock, unmodified form it is legal- just not allowed to be sold on the QTH.com swap pages because they capable of operation on the 10m ham band after a quick mod (one jumper wire), and designed to be so modified.

        So yes, in stock form it is legal. But it was designed from the get to with the intent that the users would modify it for illegal operation, and is so often used like that that the folks at QTH and some other sites don’t allow its sale.

        • Modern Survival

          @Tim in other words they lied or at least set it up to appear as though the radio is illegal even though it isn’t, which is well a lie.

          Wow just wow! If I ran Galaxy I would sue the total shit out of their asses!

        • Unmodified it is legal for ham (10 Meter use). Modified it is illegal for CB (11 Meter use).

        • Whoops. My last comment is wrong. I jumped the gun on that one since Galaxy radios are 99% illegal for CB. This particular model is FCC certified for CB. If you modify it for ham use it will then be illegal on CB, but stock it is is legal for CB. For $150 it looks like a good deal to suplement your ham radio.

        • Modern Survival

          @ironmanY2k

          You didn’t just jump the gun you bought into the BS about Galaxy period.

          They make CBs, many models and all of them are legal. The CBs are CBs, they are NOT 10 meter radios, period.

          They also make 10 meter radios, those can be modified to the 11 meter band but I can also modify an AR to full auto. That doesn’t make anything about the AR bad or illegal.

          The truth is a lot of HAMs have their panties in a big old wad because of idiots on CBs doing stupid things. So some of them (and you know who you are) are blatantly lying by putting things like the 979 onto lists that supposedly come from the FCC, etc.

          It is idiotic and makes those doing it look quite foolish. Galaxy radios are NOT 99% illegal for CB use, they have a full line of FCC Compliant CBs. They also have some 10 meters in all honesty they have about the same number of models in each niche.

  13. Uncle Charlie

    Thanks for the reply Jack. You may wish to take a quick read of this document from the FCC site. http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/FieldNotices/2003/DOC-246127A1.html or http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/Orders/2006/DA-06-1334A1.html or http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/FieldNotices/2003/DOC-246339A1.html It looks like the FCC has no sense of humor.

    That all said, great show, great guest, and some real spot on info. CB radios are plentiful and would be a really good way to set up a communications network in a disaster/emergency situation. I can’t wait to hear the future episode about the HAM radio.

    • Modern Survival

      @Uncle Charlie NONE of those links have anything to do with the Galaxy 979 or other commonly sold CBs that are actually sold as CBs, I also have little fear of the FCC in this regard anyway. If they want to try to bust a guy for owing a CB, that is a CB, that is sold as a CB, they may want to clean up all the people running 500 watt linear amps, free banding etc.

      Odds are the links you just posted were either selling imports or more likely “peaking and tuning”. I am sorry but the 979 is simply a CB with SSB rated at 4 watts AM and 12 watts SSB.

      If you want to know what the FCC is upset about you can find that here http://www.roadtrucker.com/galaxy/galaxy-10-meter-radios.htm

      This is a clear violation of the spirit of the law, selling a 10 meter that can be converted to the CB band and basically saying, go ahead its okay and here is how to do it.

  14. Pingback: Galaxy 979 legal?

  15. Uncle Charlie

    I do stand corrected Jack. http://www.cbradiomagazine.com/Radio%20Reviews/Galaxy%20DX%20979/Galaxy%20DX%20979%20Review.html

    I think I’d still pass on a Galaxy though. I’ve always been a Cobra 148 GTL kind of guy myself.
    Again, apologies for wasting your time with my nonsense.

    • Modern Survival

      @Uncle Charlie, it wasn’t nonsense bro! If that info is out there someone needs to respond to it. Thanks for pointing it out.

  16. Great episode! Opened my eyes up! I’ve been moving toward the HAM side….working more toward a CB too. Thanks!

  17. wow, I feel like an outlaw! I’ve been using Galaxy 33’s, 44’s, 99’s, currently using a 77 with a Texas Star 350. We also used the Connex and Mirage 10 meter radios when running the chicken trucks coast to coast. Sure sometimes we got between channels or off on the side bands for a little privacy. I didn’t really think the FCC gave a crap anymore with all the foul language and A’holes that play CB DJ by playing music, or all the people around the truckstops advertising and selling their B.S. At least getting off the CB band, we didn’t have to worry about being heckled or some CB rambo trying to start a fight. otherwise, it was just a flip of the switch and walk all over the rude sons a witches…….sorry to all the HAM’ers that this might piss off, but it is what it is……

    • Mike, they do care, and while enforcement is not widely publicized, it does happen.

      Here are some examples of FCC letters sent to trucking companies or individuals:

      http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/AmateurActions.old/files/unlic07_06_29_1097.html

      http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/AmateurActions/files/Amore12_04_02_5286.html

      http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/AmateurActions/files/Manse12_04_02_5298.html

      http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/AmateurActions/files/L_Tay12_04_02_5296.html

      http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/AmateurActions/files/Foman12_04_02_5291.html

      http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/AmateurActions/files/Calig12_04_02_5289.html

      I know of several cases where truck drivers lost their jobs when their employers got FCC letters because of what they were doing. Trucking companies don’t like inviting the Feds into their life any more than they have to be.

      So if you are doing it, be aware of the consequences. You may skate by no issues, you may find one day that your amplifier is sending spurious signals out on other freqs (the poorly engineered Texas Star amps are known for this) and that the FCC is hunting for you because you interfering with police or air traffic control frequencies. And if you want to stay under the radar, whatever you do don’t use those “extra” illegal frequencies if they are above 28mhz or below 24.5mhz, because then you are in the ham bands, and the ham guys will make it a sport to track down the folks running on the ham bands illegally- it is much like the CB tag game Clay talked about, but just with the person being hunted not knowing they are being hunted. When the local guys find someone they will tell them they are causing interference and show them the law and even invite them to come become a ham operator, and if the being nice and trying to work it out among friends approach fails and they continue to operate illegally on the ham bands they usually send the info to the FCC. They don’t care if someone does anything else, until either they cause interference that gets blamed on hams or they start trespassing illegally on the ham bands- don’t do that and likely nobody will notice or care.

      In short, if you choose to run illegal freqs or gear, be careful, be aware of the consequences, and at least be smart about it. You know the old saying about inviting “the man” into your life…

      • Modern Survival

        @Tim I agree it really isn’t that they don’t care it is what do they have the resources to enforce. So typically unless a person is causing a problem (specifically off the CB bands by bleeding over) they tend to not hear a thing about it.

        I am going to say something that many people will disagree with (at least publicly) but pushing 20-30 watts on AM or say 30-40 on SSB isn’t going to cause any problems if and this is the big if you don’t over-modulate and if you only use the power when necessary. Yes it is illegal but the odd that anyone is going to have any issues taking this approach are quite long.

        The problem is people just want the biggest and loudest crap they can get their hands on. It causes problems for everyone CBs, people on other bands etc. They get a 1000 watt amp and then they get a power mic and splatter their crap all over to try to out blast the next jackjaw down the road. It is really idiocy to the extreme.

        I would love to see something like a “Society of Responsible Outlaw CBers” to do what the FCC can’t or won’t do. Set a reasonable set of standards for CB that allows for a reasonable use of the technology and a reasonable set of ethics for language and simply make it cool to be reasonable on the CB, being cool is far more likely to create compliance than a law, history shows that.

        Lastly here is a tid bit for everyone that wonders why CB got so foul language wise. It started on the 1-9 the “trucker channel” when CB got stupid popular and people were booming their chit chat all over the truckers first moved from one channel to another, they were trying to WORK and CB was part of that. This is so long back that at the time CB only had 23 channels in the US.

        When moving didn’t work they decided well if we start dropping F bombs and what not all the surburbites with a rig in the family sedan will go somewhere else and clear the air. It worked but the tone changed and likely 99% of the foul mouths out there today are just fitting in, they likely have no idea what anyone reading this knows now.

      • Yeah Tim, I understand where you are coming from. We were not in the position of abusing the system, just trying to get away from the riff raff. Sesame Street has become vulgar, nasty, and hateful. I have had my kids on the truck with me and had to just turn the radio off. Then when you come to a back up, get on the CB and ask whats going on, you get cussed out for not listening to your radio. I’m not too sure about Jack’s assessment of why 19 has gotten so filthy. I think it has a lot to do with the quality of man that has started driving a truck. I have seen a big difference in as little as ten years ago. Back when I was running the west coast (about 15 years ago), we ran miles apart and the linears helped with the distance. I’ve never been one for all the echo and loud radios or “toys”. Seemed like too much B.S. just to talk. I’ve knocked around the idea of HAM at the house, but in a truck, I hardly even turn the cb on anymore. I doubt I’ll ever hear from the MAN, but I sure wish they could clean up the abuse on the CB, especially 19 and some of the base stations that just take over in some cities. I don’t understand how they can get away with being in one stationary location tying up 19 with music, constant babbling, walking all over everybody else, or just being an ass and dropping a dead key when they go to bed. You would think the Feds would do something about that before sporatic chatter on a sideband while traveling. Thanks for the warnings though. I look forward to your interview on HAM in the future….

  18. Alan Georges

    Jack, thanks for a great show, and thanks to Clay for being on. CB is “come as you are” — hits the nail right on the head, sums it up perfectly.

    I want to add a couple of things for people who aren’t regulars on the forums. First, there’s a lot of discussion on the Communications board (http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?board=48.0), hop over there sometime. Then there’s a useful write-up on CB’s & preppers at http://citizensradioguide.com/using-cb-radio-communications-for-your-group-or-neighborhood/ that may help fill in a around the edges for some folks.

    Finally I want to add, think a little more about hand-helds. Clay is right, their range stinks and they eat AA batteries, so for your only radio it’s the wrong choice. But the range handheld-to-handheld is no worse than FRS walkie-talkies, and handheld-to-base is the awesome sauce. Some friends around town and I are getting a couple of miles, easy. They’re good for going out from the house, or to hand to a neighbor in need, there’s nothing to set up, and they’re pretty cheap. For example, Amazon has the Midlands I use for $32. (The 9 NiMH batteries I have to add may cost more.) Treat it as a way to keep in touch with home base when out on foot and it’s not bad.

    Anyway, thanks again to both Jack and Clay, lots of good info presented.

  19. i thought we were supposed to get a listener feedback show today? they are the best shows of the week and yet they seem to be so easily put on the back burner

    • Modern Survival

      @Fred, there will be one today but your comment about “easily put on the back burner” makes me wonder if you have even a tiny fricken clue what goes into producing five shows a week.

  20. Pam Henricks

    Our Model A Ford Club still uses CB radios, with great success. We go places where there are NO cell towers, and our cars break down. I have had so much fun using CBs again (used in 70s), that I just got my Ham license too. Have both as mobile platforms. CBs are way easier to get started.
    Prepper Pam

  21. Radiomacgyver

    Thanks for bringing up some good points about CB radio. I especially agree with the low amount of tinkering that’s needed.

    A good antenna can put a signal out there and the characteristics of the signal allow you to get out even if your not in the best of locations.

    Many HAM’s forget they had CB to thank them for getting into the hobby.

    RM

  22. I enjoyed the show and am going to get a CB now because of it. Sure wish the two of you would have talked about actually talking on CB. What codes are there? What is normal CB radio etiquette? 10 codes? Stuff that might not be immediately obvious just getting a CB and turning it on and listening for a little while. Maybe a topic for a follow-up show. Thanks for the motivation!

  23. Nice show, and nice to see someone give some real-life creedence to the Citizen Band Radio! I’m a CB’er (my first was a Johnson 23 ch radio powered by my dads riding mower battery when I was 6y/o) and a recently upgraded General Class Ham. I have both rigs in my rides and use them accordingly.

    a few additional points if I may:

    1. The Uniden 500 series of radios are very compact, powerful (once tuned), and have a common microphone connection (4 Pin Cobra, etc…). The main disadvantage I’ve had with Compact Midland units are the DIN Microphone connections that simply ‘plug’ in and over time will work loose/wear out.

    2. 4 watts on a CB is the LAW, but not the norm (see above comment about tuning). My Galaxy 959 will swing about 48w. Most everyone on the CB today is running some sort of amplification-legal or not.

    3. SSB is the way to go on CB and if you can afford the difference in price it’s well worth it! IMHO Galaxy makes the most user friendly SSB CB radios (esp the ones with at least a 5 digit freq display like 959), followed closely by an old favorite of mine the Cobra 148 GTL-no display. (both are FCC accepted CB Radios).

    4. Your antenna will make or break you! Spend a good deal of time deciding which way you wish to go here. For a home base antenna try the Astron A-99 (or similar, clones abound!) As mentioned in the PodCast the K-40 Mag mount is still bullet proof as is the Wilson 1000: both mag mount antennas for mobile use. Lastly if you can stand the ‘look’, check out the 102″ Steel Whip with about 18.5′ of coax-one of the best combos I’ve ever used!!!

    5. If comms interest you, I’d encourage you to get a CB, but look further towards Ham too! Like any prepper tool box, you may one day need every option avail! Appreciate the show guys, and I look forward to Tim’s show on Ham as well.

    SCW-

  24. @ Jessica, Wade and Tim

    Not having tried it for 11 meter, would and NVIS style antenna help in her situation?

  25. Jamas I was reading up on a NVIS system last week . From what I read nvis doesn’t work well over about 40 meters. Haven’t experimented with it yet . So at the most I can do is regurgitate what I have read.

    • @ Jon
      After reading your comment a few things popped into my head as to why it may not work. I need to dust off the old cobra and see what I can do. I sold my big Icom so I haven’t had a reason to mess around with wires in a while.

      Just to be that guy, we put my VHF/UHF vertical back on the roof and are popping near thirty miles from base to mobile on 2 meter.

      • Tried a nvis set up the other day . Could be that I was in a bit of a canyon but I didn’t get much out of it . I was on 80 meters and had the wire dipole sitting from about 12 to about 17 ft off the ground . Just tried it for one afternoon . Conditions could have just been bad .
        Another ham and I tried 2meter fm mobile to mobile through some of these hills around here a couple years back . He has a 5/8 wave mag mount and I run a co-linear (both sections are 5/8 wave long) . Both of us running between 35 and 50 watts . We got about 17 miles out of them . I think if we’d been running sideband we may have gotten 30 miles (maybe:) )

  26. Hello Jack, great show again.
    I was reading all the comments here and unless I missed it I still do not hear about anyone using Marine Band radios for communication. I live in WI and there are several people that have moved to Marine Band because there are 60 some channels to choose from. I have found no law that says they are for water use only. Have you seen any thing to the contrary and why don’t more people use them? They are as inexpensive as CB and just as easy to setup. They come in many styles and sizes and even power outputs. There are models that put out 50 watts. And as your guest said today you can transmit further with more power if things are set up correctly. I have a 5 watt output in my rig and have been known to talk 25 miles away in the daylight. Now this is not the norm but it is impressive none the less. Just curious about your thoughts.

    Thank you
    Kevin

    • Kevin-

      Use or Marine band radios when not on the water is very illegal, and can subject you to fines of as much as $10,000 if the FCC gets notice.

      One example below:

      http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/FieldNotices/2003/DOC-258044A1.html

      In addition in some landlocked areas some of the Marine frequencies are allocated for other users, including police departments, that you can cause interference to.

      I know Jack said don’t push ham radio, but in your case I have to point of the VHF Marine and VHF ham on the 2 meter band perform 100% the same. Same cost, same ease of setup, same ease of use, same range (or better since you are allowed more power). But without the threat of inviting the man into your life with a hefty fine. So if you like how well the marine radios work, but want that legally, that is your best option.

      • That is great information to know. I am a Ham already and was just looking for a way for the family to communicate with me if land lines and cells go down. I am trying to teach the kids about Ham and get them to get their license but the wife is another story.

        I was trying to look again on the FCC site and saw nothing about the illegal use other than to transmit emergencies illegally. Your site gives me great insight.

        Thank you again
        Kevin

    • I looked at the same thing for family, and went with GMRS. One license covers your whole family, and if you use real commercial/publci safety grade radios (not bubble pack Wal-Mart crap) you can use up to 50 watts from a mobile/base.

      GMRS gets a bad rap because of all the crappy radios out there- but if you use good quality radios and antennas it is a good tool. And right now you can get 25-50w UHF commercial units that are 2 channel dirt cheap on Ebay and reprogram them for GMRS. I set one up in my wifes car for $65 total, antenna and all, and being a simple 2 channel radio it is super easy for anyone to use.

      • Tim, I hadn’t thought of commercial radios for GMRS. Thanks for the info and food for thought. We have used FRS car to car many times during travel but the idea of “real” radios has me thinking of paying for the license.

        I don’t know if 10,000 bucks for the fellow in your marine band link is reasonable but it definitely makes one cringe at using those radios. I would definitely not bother with them.

  27. CB and ham both have their place.

    If a CB is a Ford Ranger then Ham would be an F350.

    If all you need to do is run to Lowes and get a piece of plywood the Ranger will work just fine. If you need to pull a trailer with a bobcat and backhoe the Ranger just isn’t going to do it.