Answers to Frequently Asked Questions



What are the Pro's/cons of 11 meter vs. Ham radio?

 CB (11 meters) provides good short range communication between house and car, house-house, etc. In smaller towns (for instance: Sealy) we get coverage in and around town making it much more convenient and less expensive than, say, a cellular phone. You could do the same with a Ham radio, but all parties would have to be licensed radio operators. CB radio equipment is less expensive than Ham radio equipment, but as a rule the power output is less, as CB's are limited to 4watts (AM), 12watts (SSB).

On HF there is a term quite frequently heard, called "SKIP". No, it's not some popular guy on channel 34 but a condition of the Ionisphere where instead of letting the signal pass through it into space, the Ionisphere acts as a reflector and bounces the signal anywhere from 150-4000+ miles! When skip conditions occur on 11meters you'll hear wall-to-wall voices on every channel, many with different accents (accounting for the area they live in). The downside of this event is that it is illegal to communicate with other stations beyond 150 miles (although, as you can tell, many disregard this law). Ham radio let's you talk around the world legally, without worrying about "Uncle Charlie" coming by for a visit.

Which one is for you? I can't answer that, as each person has to go there own way. Myself, I've been a CBer for approx. 30 years and a Ham operator as well since '85. I like both, and, both have there places. There have been recent developments with proprosed legislation regarding enforcement of the CB Rules and Regulations. Uncle Charlie (FCC) sez they can't do it, so now the government is trying to get local law enforcement to take care of the problem. I don't see this as being a really BIG problem for most base station operators, but I do see an increase in revenue from tickets generated at the various "Chicken Coops" (a.k.a.- truck stops) around the country. A large percentage of truckers are operating illegally and by adding a "Radio Check" to procedure, I predict fines over equipment seizure.

What are some common words and codes used...

 "Uncle Charlie", The "Candyman" - Used in place of "FCC" (Federal Communications Commission)

"Good Buddy" - Once a slang word from the booming 70's (In person you might say "Hey Bub...", on the radio it was "Hey Good Buddy"). Today, in many area's stands for "Gay". Naturally, you don't want to use this on channel 19!

"10-4", in CB terms could stand for "Okay", "Your right about that", etc.Variations would include: "Big TEN-FOUR", "Forty-D", "Four-Ten".

AM- Amplitude Modulation. What all use on Channel 19. You key your mic and a signal is born! Talk, and the signal remains somewhat constant. The mode of operation is best used from channel 1-30. Above channel 30 while some AM exists, by "Gentleman's agreement" channels 30-40 are generally used for SSB (What's SSB? Read on....)

SSB- (Single-Sideband). Make a picture in your mind of an Oreo cookie (or go get one)...(I'll wait)........ Okay, this cookie is one channel, let's call it channel 23. You have a center frequency and two side frequencies (those are called the Upper and Lower sides). On AM when you transmit, you're burning your 4watt signal across the whole cookie. If you have an AM/SSB rig you can switch to a sideband, generally the "Lower Side" or LSB. Once on sideband a little fine tuning of your clarifier control might be needed to tune in another station, and then you can transmit. When you transmit on sideband, your 4 watt signal is now pretty much concentrated on only one of the cookie wafers! As you can see, your effective signal output is greater, thus a better range of communications. You can now eat your cookie.

Clarifier (aka "Voice Lock")- A fine tuning knob used in SSB communications. When you're off frequency with someone else on Sideband they tend to sound like a cartoon duck and vice-versa. LEGALLY, all clarifiers are rockbound on transmit and only variable on receive. I can only guess that when Uncle Charlie was thinking up this one, he wasn't thinking very far ahead - but let me explain. When two operators are chatting on sideband, this is NO BIG DEAL, because while each fellow may be transmitting slightly off frequency to each other, they can tune the other guy in with their clarifier. However, if you add a third, fourth, fifth or more person(s) imagine the frustration of having to adjust your clarifier to each guy. Thus we have the commonly used yet unlawful, clarifier modification. A simple mod that lets your clarifier track both transmit and receive. While this is illegal, I doubt you'll find too many used radios on the market that haven't had this done. While I can't promote this modification (as it's not legal), I can say that this is one of the most stupid acts of dead-brain syndrome thinking the FCC has ever done, and it should be changed. ('Nuff said...Da Editor).

ANL/NB - This feature is used to cut down on noise generated by a variety of sources including Alternators, Fuel Pumps, Power lines, etc.

QTH- Used mostly on SSB (Single-Sideband), generally means "Location" (i.e.- My QTH is Sealy)

QSY-Changing frequency. "The noise is pretty bad here, can you QSY to another frequency?"

QSO- (Q-Sew) "Conversation", i.e.- "Thanks for the QSO"

Alligator- "Thar's an alligator in the right lane- - lookout", actually alligator = tire tread off an eighteen wheeler

Big Truck- 18 wheeler

Hand- Truckdriver. "Thanks for that info Hand"

Brake Check- Driver is reporting a drastic slowdown or complete stop of traffic.

Bear- Cop.

Bear trap- Speed trap

"The band is open" - No, don't head for your local bar. This refers to "skip" conditions, or hot propogation/high solar flux/good ionispheric conditions (i.e- get yer butt on the radio, you can talk to Australia!!).

Break- Used on AM to break into a conversation which is in progress. Some folks use this on SSB, although in most areas it's frowned upon in Sideband circles. Sideband operators can be "clannish" to a certain extent, and in many cases what works in one area of the country to break into a conversation is an affront in another. Other words used are, CQ and QSK (both do not really apply, as you'll soon see). In many cases the best way to do it is wait for a lull in the conversation then say "Station on the side".

CQ- While you'll hear this used to break into a conversation, it's really a general call for a contact on an open frequency. Typically you'll hear someone on the air saying "CQ, CQ this is (and give his SSB numbers) calling CQ and standing by".

"Treetop Tall And Wall-to-Wall"- Expression heard very frequently in the late sixties and throughout the seventies. Normally (and hopefully) only heard on AM during initial conversations. Treetop tall refers to signal strength, wall-to-wall equates to "loud modulation".

Modulation- While modulation has it's own technical meaning, generally, during a QSO they are talking your audio signal (how loud/muddy/clear/low is might be).

Downward Modulation- Key the mic on AM then talk. If the signal travels downward when you talk they call it "Downward" modulation.

FOR MORE CB Terms, check out my "SLANG" section!

Who is Uncle Charlie?

Uncle Charlie is the FCC. While they can still stir up a whirlwind of legal fines, the FCC has slowly withdrawn from 11 meters. (more can be found elsewhere in this webpage with the classic story: "Me and Uncle Charlie" org. published in the CB GAZETTE).



What is the "Free-band"?


 Below channel 1 and above channel 40 exists a range of frequencies that are more-or-less "Open" to pirate radio use. Above channel 40 (27.405) this range extends to just below the 10meter Amateur radio band (28.000), but typically you'll only find english communications within the range of 27.415-27.675 and operating on the "lowe side". Most hispanic transmissions occur on the Upper side. Up here you'll find a variety of fellows including (gasp!) Ham radio op's. Being highly illegal no one uses their usual identifiers - this place is really clandestine. How do you get there? One word - M O D I F I C A T I O N. Remember though, it's bad enough if Uncle Charlie catches you on 11 meters with an infraction. If he gets you on the Freeband you can almost certainly wave goodbye to your equipment....For more Freeband info see our FREEBAND section.

When is the next "Skip" cycle?

Very...VERY soon. Expect the skip to begin it's upswing during the summer of 1998, gradually increasing for several years. Like last year, it was like a big switch was turned "OFF" this summer and skip has died once again. Some folks like it, others don't. I guess it's a mixed blessing (Can't hear those idiots in Phoenix on 27.365).

COAX LENGTH. Does snipping coax, piece-by-piece REALLY help your SWR?? NO, er, uh, well....and YES too. As a rule, cutting coax to a specific length will not help your SWR situation, nor do you have to keep jumper cables at a specific length ( 3 feet say the soothsayers). Unless (you had to know there would be a "unless") you have some flaky problem in your system, like a bad ground in a mobile installation. I've seen SWR vary quite a bit by playing with the coax length however, it was when there was a definite ground problem relating to the antenna (Mag mount, poor grounding) or radio (not really grounded well to the chassis.

What is the "BEST" Antenna?

 1. "You don't get something for nothing"-This means: A cheap antenna will give you cheap results. It also applies to antenna length, or in other words "The longer the antenna, the better off you will be" (don't expect great, or even reasonable results from a glass-mount CB antenna.

2. "Size matters" - In regards to antenna's this is true. But you should learn enough antenna theory to make up your own mind, so I've added a link to an EXCELLENT website devoted to 11 meter antennas!

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Revised: 09-29-99