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  • A Beginner's Guide to CB Radio

    The Citizens Band Radio Service, or CB, as it is commonly called, is a type of radio communication under the category of Personal Radio Service. As with the other types of PRS, such as FRS, GMRS, MURS, and LPRS (Low Power Radio Service), CB is intended for both consumer and business use. CB is covered under Part 95 of the FCC rules. A CB radio does not require a license to operate.

    CB service operates on 40 shared channels in an AM mode or Single SideBand (SSB) mode. SSB offers less noise and greater range than AM mode and is usually found on higher end CB radios. SSB has two modes, Upper Sideband and Lower Sideband. You can only communicate with other SSB CB radios when in SSB mode.

    There is no minimum age requirement to operate a CB radio. In fact. almost anyone can use CB. According to the FCC rules (95.403) "you are authorized to operate a CB station unless:
    (a) You are a foreign government, a representative of a foreign government, or a federal government agency; OR
    (b) The FCC has issued a cease and desist order to you, and the order is still in effect."

    CB channels and frequencies are not assigned to any specific individual or organization. For the most part, you can operate a CB radio on all 40 channels and frequencies designated by the FCC for CB, but there are some caveats.

    First, you can use CB only on those 40 channels and frequencies. Channel 9 may be used only for emergencies or for travel In addition, however, any channel can be used for emergency communications or traveler assistance. In addition, as these channels are shared, you must always give priority to emergency communications on all channels.

    The maximum power levels for CB operation depends on the type of signal you are transmitting. AM signals are allowed a maximum of four watts. SSB mode is allowed up to 12 watts Peak Envelope Power, or PEP. According to the FCC, you are not allowed to raise the power output of your CB unit, attach any type of power amplifier, or modify the unit internally. Also, according to the FCC, you must use an FCC-certified CB unit in the United States. FCC-certified CB units have an FCC-certified label placed on the radio by the manufacturer.

    CB is intended for short range, local communications only, but there is a way to increase range considerably by bouncing or "skipping" the signal off the ionosphere. This method is called 'shooting skip". Some CB users can skip a signal thousands of miles. The FCC prohibits attempts to communicate with CB stations over 155.3 miles (250km) away; however, signals can skip naturally depending on tropospheric conditions, so it is not unusual to send or receive CB transmissions across the country - or even around the world - unintentionally.

    Because the 40 CB channels are shared with other users, some common etiquette is required. users must never talk with another station for more than 5 minutes continuously and must wait at least one minute before starting another communication. In the early days of CB the FCC did require users to have a license and a call sign. While neither is no longer necessary, it is still common practice to have a "call sign" in the form of a pseudonym, or CB "handle". The FCC allows users to create their own handles.

    CB users also have their own lingo and codes. 10 Codes are the universally accepted standard for CB transmission in AM mode while Q Signals are generally used for Single Side Band and by skip-talkers. For more information, download our FREE list of CB 10 Codes and Q Signals.

    CB radio equipment is also standard. Popular brands include Cobra, Galaxy, and Uniden. Cobra is one of the most recognized and established brands of CB radio equipment in the world. There are two basic styles of CB Radios from these manufacturers: mobile (usually mounted in vehicles) and handheld (as with standard two way radios or walkie-talkies). Mobile units cost between $40 and $200. The Uniden PC68LTW, Galaxy DX 959 SSB, and Cobra 148 GTL SSB are all mobile CB radios offering many premium features for seasoned CB users on the high end. For the beginning CB user, equally mobile Uniden PRO510XL is a good, basic, entry-level radio priced at only 39.99. Handheld CB radios, such as the Cobra HH-Roadtrip and HH 38 WX ST CB Radios, usually cost between $40-$180.

    When purchasing a CB radio, one thing that must not be overlooked is the antenna. While antennas are often included with handheld CB radios, they are not included with mobile units and must be purchased separately. Whether it is an entry-level unit or one on the high-end, performance will depend a lot on the type of antenna purchased and where it will be mounted. Consider your options carefully before purchase.

  • TWRS-14 - Care and Maintenance of Two Way Radios

    In this episode we discuss the proper care and maintenance of two way radios. We also review the Motorola RDU2020 business two way radio.

    Intro :00
    Billboard 1:12

    Topic Discussion 1:27
    We talk about the care and maintenance of two way radios. We'll discuss how to keep your radio in top condition and give you some important tips to avoid damage to your radio equipment. Download our FREE Two Way Radio Care and Maintenance Guide. A durable, laminated version of our Care and Maintenance Guide is also available for purchase.

    Commercial Break 17:28
    buytwowayradios.com 1:00

    Product Review 18:27
    Today we will review the Motorola RDU2020 business two way radio.

    Questions and Answers 24:01
    Questions from readers of our Two Way Radio Blog and members of the Two Way Radio Forum.

    Wrap up and Close 28:58
    Send in your comments and questions for Danny, Anthony and Rick to show(at)buytwowayradios.com. Feedback on this and other topics will be read by the hosts and included in future episodes of the show. Visit us at www.twowayradioshow.com!

    © 2011 Cricket Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved.


  • TWRS-12 - The Migration to Narrowband

    In this episode we discuss the the FCC's new 2013 narrowbanding requirement and what it means for users of business two way radios.

    Intro :00
    Billboard 1:13

    Topic Discussion 1:29
    We talk about the FCC's 2013 narrowbanding mandate. We will clarify what this means, help you determine if this mandate will impact your business, and if so how to move forward. For more information about the new FCC requirement, read A Summary of the FCC's Proposed Changes to GMRS and Other Services in the Two Way Radio Blog.

    Commercial Break 17:45
    buytwowayradios.com 1:00

    Product Review 18:43
    Today we will review the Olympia P324 business radio.

    Questions and Answers 24:55
    Questions from readers of our Two Way Radio Blog and members of the Two Way Radio Forum.

    Wrap up and Close 28:57
    Send in your comments and questions for Danny, Anthony and Rick to show(at)buytwowayradios.com. Feedback on this and other topics will be read by the hosts and included in future episodes of the show. Visit us at www.twowayradioshow.com!

    © 2011 Cricket Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved.


  • The NEW Midland GXT5000 GMRS Radio is Available Now - and We Have It!

    GXT5000-Pack.jpgEarlier this year we told you about a cool new GMRS radio from Midland that was due out this summer - The Midland GXT5000 Pro Series GMRS Two Way Radio - and gave you a sneak peek at the coming attraction on our blog. Today we are excited to announce that The NEW Midland GXT5000
    has arrived - and Buy Two Way Radios is one of the first retailers to offer this unique GMRS experience!

    The GXT5000 Pro Series Rugged Professional GMRS Two Way Radio is a professional quality radio for FRS/GMRS users, designed to communicate with other standard consumer radios using FRS and GMRS frequencies, but with the added durability of a commercial grade radio.

    According to the FCC report, the Midland GXT5000 has 4 watts of power. Because of the fixed antenna (a requirement for radios supporting the FRS frequencies), it is equal to or surpasses the range of current consumer models.

    The Midland GXT-5000 has plenty of standard features. The new radio supports 22 standard FRS/GMRS channels and 121 privacy codes. It features selectable high/low power modes, dual channel watch, channel scan, silent operation, five selectable call alerts, a time out timer and an out-of-range alert.

    However, for all the bells and whistles, it's not the feature set that makes the GXT5000 unique. It's what Midland built around them.

    This radio is designed for serious GMRS enthusiasts who use their radios in more rugged conditions than the occasional camping trip or day out about the town. If you find yourself in scenarios where your radio be may be exposed to elements such as rain, dust or some physical abuse, the Midland GXT5000 may be the radio for you.

    The GXT5000 has an aluminum cast frame, is waterproof, shock and dust proof to IP67 standards, and meets MIL-STD 810 C, D, E and F specifications. It also includes a long life lithium-ion battery and features an impressive 5 year warranty! But if that isn't durable enough for you, get this. The GXT-5000 is also submersible, an attribute commonly associated with marine radios, but not so common for its standard consumer cousin.

    In addition, Midland took the radio, its rechargeable lithium-ion battery, swivel belt clip, desktop charger, AC wall adapter and owner's manual and bundled it all up nicely in a zippered storage/travel case that was designed specifically for this radio and its included accessories, giving the whole package a neat, sharp, professional look. The case alone is quite impressive.

    The GXT5000 Pro Series Rugged Professional GMRS Two Way Radio is new, is here, and is available now from Buy Two Way Radios!

  • MURS: Unlicensed VHF

    Motorola RDV2020 MURS RadioDo you need a high powered two way radio, but don't want to deal with the hassle of licensing? MURS may be the answer, particularly if you plan to use the radio outdoors where VHF frequencies are most effective.

    The Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) is a two-way radio service consisting of five frequencies in the VHF spectrum. Established by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the fall of 2000, MURS is a radio service allowing for "licensed by use" operation, meaning that a FFC issued license is not necessary to operate a MURS transmitter. The FCC formally defines MURS as "a private, two-way, short distance voice or data communications service for personal or business activities of the general public".

    There are some limitations to MURS: radio power is limited to 2 watts, MURS stations may not be connected to the public telephone network, radio repeaters are not permitted, and the highest point of any MURS antenna must not be more than 60 feet above the ground or 20 feet above the highest point of the structure on which it is mounted.

    Since MURS exists within the VHF spectrum, it has the potential to become very popular among the traveling community and outdoor enthusiasts. VHF characteristics are ideal for short-distance ground communication, with a range generally somewhat farther than line-of-sight. Although there are limitations on transmitter power output and antenna height, there are no restrictions on the use of external antennas. The range for vehicle-to-vehicle communications with MURS can be much greater than that for the Family Radio Service (FRS). Outdoor activities are benefited by the increased range over the FRS, allowing for base camps to utilize antennas to stay in contact with campers and emergency personnel.

    MURS operation is authorized anywhere a CB station is authorized.

    • Within or over any area of the world where radio service are regulated by the FCC
    • Any other area of the world, except within the territorial limits of areas where radio services are regulated by either an agency of the United States other than the FCC or any foreign government (Subject to either parties rules)
    • Aboard any vessel of the United States, with the permission of the captain, while the vessel is traveling either domestically or in international waters

    MURS operation is not authorized aboard aircraft in flight.

    MURS stations may transmit voice or data signal as permitted in FCC regulation Section 95.631.

    Determined quickly whether a radio is legal to use on MURS:

    • If the radio is Part 95 certified and operates on MURS frequencies
    • If the radio was Part 95 certified prior to November 12, 2002 and transmits no more than 2 watts, and has no external control to increase power above 2 watts and only operates wideband on the 154 MHz frequencies (all parts must be true)
    • If the Radio was Part 90 certified prior to November 12, 2002 and transmits no more than 2 watts and has no external control to increate power above 2 watts and does not narrowband on the 151 MHz and 154 MHz frequencies or narrowband on 151 MHz and wideband on 154 MHz frequencies (all parts must be true)

    The following are the frequencies authorized for use by the MURS:

    Frequency Authorized Bandwidth
    151.820 MHz 11.25 kHz
    151.880 MHz 11.25 kHz
    151.940 MHz 11.25 kHz
    154.570 MHz (also part of business band) 20.00 kHz
    154.600 MHz (also part of business band) 20.00 kHz

    Click here for a list of radios that we currently offer supporting the MURS frequencies.

    Related Resources
    Looking for a MURS Compatible Radio?
    MURS Capable Two Way Radios
    Motorola Releases Two New MURS Radios
    Introducing the Wouxun KG-805 Professional GMRS and MURS Radios
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-11 - All About MURS
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-145 - New GMRS and MURS Radios

  • Getting The Most Range From Your Radio

    Hiking through the mountainsOne question that we are frequently asked is "how can I get more range out of my two way radio?" In the case of consumer (FRS / GMRS) radios the amount of range you can expect is usually not even close to what the manufacturers advertise. There are, however, several things that you can do to be sure you are getting the most range possible from your radio.

    If your radio supports GMRS channels, be sure that you are using one. Most consumer radios support 22 channels, some FRS and some GMRS. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not allow transmission on an exclusive FRS channel at more than half a watt of power. This means that if you are on an FRS-only channel, your radio will only transmit using "low power" mode. The FRS-only channels are 8 through 14. Channels 15 through 22 are exclusively for GMRS, and channels 1 through 7 are shared by both FRS and GMRS.

    Most consumer radios support two or more power modes. To get the most range, be sure that you are using high power mode. Lower power modes will not use all of your radio's possible output power and will reduce range.

    Be sure to fully charge your battery. The transmission power of two way radios tends to weaken if the battery is low. Always be sure your batteries are fully charged before using your radios, especially if you will need maximum range.

    Finally, if you still find yourself pushing the range limits of your radio you can try the "monitor channel" feature. Enabling this feature will cause the radio to open the channel, allowing you to hear static and transmissions too weak to be received by the radio in normal mode.

    Related Resources
    GMRS Radio Range Chart
    30 Miles? The Truth About Range
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-05 - Radios in Range
    The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-45 - The Truth About GMRS Radio Range
    Radio 101 - The truth about FRS / GMRS two way radio range
    How To Optimize Range for Motorola Talkabout Two Way Radios

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