Citizens Band radios were in its heyday in the 70’s & 80’s and brought its own subculture. It was the primary means of communication for truckers and citizens alike. People were using “handles” instead of call signs and using it was license free. Popular movies of the time used CB radios as part of their storyline and even flowed over into songs. The popularity died down and then came other new ways of communicating like the cell phone and internet.
The Citizens Band radio frequency is on the 11 meter band and considered HF because it falls between 3 and 30 MHz. To be more specific, the CB radio is 27 MHz. Although it is HF, the CB radio frequencies are channelized to 40 specific frequencies and given a channel number, 1 through 40. Its not as open as the amateur radio frequency band plan but nevertheless, still a form of communications.
Being that we are dealing with just a radio frequency, we can still make our homebrew antennas, use ham radio type setups and talk like any other radio. There are readily available antennas in the form of dipoles, yagis, verticals and “tacti-cool” military style folding types for your portable CB radios. As a form of communications, it works and requires no FCC ham radio test. It is a low cost way of jumping into SHTF communications since there are several new and used available on the market at great prices. I suggest that if you find one with SSB capabilities, get it. I won’t go into single side bands in this article but it just adds to the capabilities of your radio. There’s no shame in owning and using a CB radio like it was in the 1990’s anymore. It is a reliable form of communications and a great way of getting your feet wet before deciding if amateur radio is for you. If you are already have your amateur radio license, you know this is a good backup at a low cost, especially now.
After taking the Brushbeater RTO Classes a few years ago, I know I can do a lot more with a CB radio than I have ever expected, especially in a SHTF, WROL or emergency situation. There was a good bit of unorthodox techniques you won’t find in a book taught and demonstrated in class. If you were in a SHTF environment and some group targeted your location to take your radio, it would hurt less by seeing a $30 vintage CB radio missing than an HF radio costing $1,000 or more. It would make a good prop to confiscate if it came down to the government confiscating radios, which had been the case during World War II. The United States confiscated shortwave radios if you were of German, Italian and Japanese descent.
Syracuse-Herald Journal—6 January 1942
Enemy Alien Radio Ruling Is Moderated. Sets can be retained if Shortwave Elements are Removed.
With 18 enemy aliens having turned in radios, guns and cameras, the police today had a ruling in letter form from U. S. Attorney Ralph L. Emmons, which seems to moderate the yielding of radios by enemies aliens.
Many of them have asked if they could merely remove the shortwave elements in their radios. Chief of Police William E. Rapp asked Mr. Emmons, who in his letter said in effect this could be done, but it must be done by radio men, who must file with the police affidavits as to where and when they removed the shortwave element. Also, they must bring in this element to the police with the affidavits. If the shortwave set is complete in itself it must be surrendered. Three guns have been delivered by alien enemies, with five radios and 14 cameras.
NOTE: As with any regulated piece of equipment, obey your local, state and federal laws & regulations when operating your gear unless it is an emergency in a matter of life and death.