What else is on the radio? Communication on CB
In the early 80s of the last century, the American film “Convoy” was shown with great success in the cinemas of the USSR. Now it would be perceived as an ordinary “road movie”, but then …
Imagine the dazzling Arizona sun, snow-white sands and haze over the road. Huge trucks are driving along the road. From a distance they look like toys, but this is only from a distance. They are led by fearless “truckers” who have declared war on the insidious sheriff.
The love line is indicated by a dotted line. Fights and chases are drawn with broad strokes. And none of this would have happened if the heroes of the film had no radio communication.
Everyone was constantly in touch: the drivers, and the police, and the innkeepers, and even the assistant to the governor of New Mexico. This was not the case in the Soviet Union…
▍ Forty years later
What forty years ago was perceived as a fantasy, in our realities has long become commonplace. CB (
pronounced “CB”, Citizen Band, civil communications
) has firmly entered our lives. It is enough to go “on the track” and tune in to the “driver’s range”.
The tone is set by “truckers”: almost every one of them has a CB radio tuned to a frequency of 27135 kHz. Historically, everyone on this channel is amplitude modulated (AM).
Frequency modulation (FM, FM) operation is more efficient, but not all commercial radio stations support FM operation.
Driving “on the highway” with a radio station tuned to the “driver’s range” provides a number of advantages. The communication range “on the highway” depends on the terrain and is 5 – 15 km. This is enough to inform nearby drivers of the danger, call for help or report a patrol car that they have encountered. Those who are in the zone of “radio visibility” will hear. If the information is important, it will be passed on.
The rules of conduct on the “driver’s range” are quite loose. Commercial messages on CB are prohibited, but autoinformers of any roadside establishments go on the air regularly. Mate can also slip on the air, but it doesn’t come to insults: you never know what can happen on the track.
“Truckers” are well aware of the traffic situation: they sit higher and look further. They share the situation not only with other harsh professionals, but also with motorists who, although they are guests on the “driver’s range”, are not forbidden to listen to the broadcast.
▍ Auto radio clubs
Having a radio station and not going on the air is sheer torture. Therefore, motorists who have radio stations unite in autoradio clubs (ARC).
Club activity involves communication and spending time together. ARC brings together people who are fond of both cars and radio communications.
When buying new equipment, you can meet 10 thousand rubles if you buy a radio station and an antenna in a communication salon. They can also provide assistance in connecting and configuring. In addition, there is a large market for used equipment and help from club mates.
In the photo below, one of the “workhorses” of the Russian CB is the MegaJet MJ-600Plus radio station:
An ARC participant chooses a unique call sign for himself and, when working on the air, strictly observes simple ethical norms and rules:
- before going on air, make sure that you are not disturbing anyone;
- on the air, be brief, clear, speak to the point;
- report your call sign periodically;
- be correct and polite: anyone can listen to the channel.
Usually each ARC has its own calling frequency, on which club members either make a general call or call someone by his call sign. In order not to occupy the calling frequency, after the connection is established, you can agree to switch to another channel.
The rise of the ARC movement was facilitated by the abolition of permits for the purchase and use of CB radio stations with a power of up to 4 watts in Russia in accordance with the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated 13.10.2011 No. 837.
The ability to buy and use a CB radio station without a license does not mean that the CB connection is outside the legal field.
▍ Legal regulation of CB in Russia
ATTENTION! Before buying a radio station and antenna, you need to make sure that their characteristics comply with current regulations.
The order of using the CB band is defined
decision of the State Committee for Radio Frequencies of May 29, 2006 No. 06-14-03-001 “On the allocation of radio frequency bands in the range of 283.5 kHz – 30.005 MHz for radio-electronic means of civil fixed and mobile services”
decisions of the SCRF dated September 3, 2013 No. 13-20-08
On the territory of the Russian Federation, unlicensed operation of CB radio stations is allowed with an output power of up to 4 watts when operating AM and FM, and up to 12 watts when operating with single-sideband modulation (SSB), in the range from 26960 to 27410 kHz (at the center frequencies of the channels), with the exception of channels with center frequencies 26995, 27045, 27095, 27145 and 27195 kHz.
The gain of the antenna-feeder device (AFD) is limited to 1.73 dBi. This is achieved by shortening the length of the active vibrator of a quarter-wave vertical antenna (about 2.7 m) to values not exceeding 2 m.
▍ You can’t just take and allow CB in the USSR
CB radio communication in the USSR was allowed in 1988. This event remained little noticed until the publication of the devastating article by B.G. Stepanova (UW3AX) in the Radio magazine, No. 1, 1991. The article deserves to be read in its entirety:
Beginning of the article.Continued article.
The article was called “May + If = No”, and it spoke about the usual practice for those times, when each indulgence was accompanied by impossible conditions:
- to buy a radio station for CB, you needed official permission;
- it was almost impossible to buy a radio station;
- independent production of radio stations for CB was not allowed;
- the frequency plan allocated in the USSR for CB did not coincide with the frequency plan adopted in Europe;
- the import and use of foreign-made radio stations was therefore very problematic.
The output power of CB range transmitters allowed in the USSR was only 0.5 watts. On the Internet, we managed to find a photo of the Ural-R radio station, which meets the then requirements:
▍ How it all started in the USA
CB radio as a class originated in the USA. Communication by radio outside the cities for a long time had no alternative. If for ships and planes the presence of a radio station was almost a prerequisite, then for drivers everything was much sadder: help on long deserted routes could not be expected.
After World War II, a movement began in the United States to make radio communications accessible to civilians. Empirically, enthusiasts have come to the conclusion that the most convenient range for CB is the range of 11 meters (27 MHz).
The range of 11 meters is at the upper limit of short waves. For effective operation on this band, a vertical antenna with a vibrator length of about 2.7 m is sufficient, which gives advantages over the use of lower frequency bands.
Radio waves in the 11 meter range can reflect off the ionosphere and can effectively avoid obstacles smaller than 5 meters, which gives advantages over the use of higher frequency bands.
The use of CB in the United States was documented only in 1957. The greatest popularity of CB radio communication was received by motorists. The peak of development came at the end of the 70s, which is very clearly demonstrated in the film “Convoy”.
With the development of affordable mobile telephony, CB began to lose popularity, but the use of CB did not stop.
From the author
Passion for radio and electronics has been uniting enthusiasts for more than a hundred years. Communication on CB is one of such threads that unite people.
Buying a CB radio station is one of the easiest and shortest ways to get on the air. Further – according to the circumstances. Amateur radio is very diverse, you can choose what you like.
I like to just work on the air, you can stop at CB. If you want sports achievements, pass a simple exam for a call sign. You are well oriented in the area, go in for “fox hunting” (radio orientation sports). I like to design, turn on the soldering iron.
And most importantly, find the same enthusiastic people, communicate with them. Happy Radio Amateur Day!
73! de RD9F