How to Use a CB Radio

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Updated June 27, 2022

So you want to get into the world of CB radio and get the best CB radio, but maybe you don’t know anything about it. I can help you with that. CB is a great way to communicate with other drivers and share info on where the police have set up speed traps to catch you going over the speed limit, or where traffic is held up and much more. But to do all of this cool stuff, you first have to know how to use a CB radio.

How To Use A CB Radio – What Is It?

The Citizens Band Radio Service, or CB, is used by both citizens and businesses. You don’t a radio license to operate a CB, which uses 40 shared CB channels in an AM band or Single Side Band (SSB) mode. It is considered a mobile radio. Unlike other radio equipment, anyone can use a SSB CB radio. There’s no minimum age requirement according to FCC rules. You can use all 40 channels, but channel 9 can only be used for emergencies when emergency communications are needed. Though any channel can be used for emergency communications. Since everyone has to share these channels, you have to give priority to emergencies.

Common CB Etiquette

Sharing of the channels also means that some common etiquette is required. It is common practice to not talk with another user for more than 5 minutes and to wait at least one minute before more communication. It is also common practice to have a call sign or Citizens Band “handle”.

Popular CB radio brands include Cobram Uniden, Galaxy, and others. CB systems are typically either mobile for vehicles and there are three basic styles of CB Radios from these manufacturers: mobile CB radios, handheld CB radios like walkie talkies and base stations (CB stations). SWR meters are used to tune your unit to get your CB antenna the proper length.

Common CB Codes

Tune into the channel you want to use and listen to the codes that others are calling out. Here are a few citizens radio codes or CB slang to get you started:

10-1 means that reception is not good.
10-4 means that your message was received.
10-7 means out of service.
10-9 repeat the message
10-20 what is your location?

Another bit of CB radio system etiquette is to ask for a radio check to see if anyone wants to talk. This is helpful because not everyone is looking to chat with their CB units. If you hear a conversation, wait for a break and ask for a radio check. When you get a response that seems like they want communication, go ahead.

It Is Easy To Learn How To Use A CB Radio

Your CB radio can also be used to stay in touch with friends if you don’t want to communicate via smartphone. Just choose a station, make sure you know each other’s call sign and start talking when you are apart.

Truck drivers still use CB radios. These people travel thousands of miles and use CBs to talk, get travel info and share where that police car is hidden, waiting for a speeder violating the 55 mph speed limits. Businesses like plumbers and electricians also use it to stay in touch for business. For the rest of us, the CB world is just fun.

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