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Old 03-31-2013, 02:27 PM   #1
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CB Radio

My wife and I will be participating in out first AS caravan this summer and it's been highly reccomended to us that we have a CB on board. I've never used one and know next to nothing about them. Our TV isn't really set up for a permanent install so I'm thinking portable hand held. Suggestions ? Approx Costs ?
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Old 03-31-2013, 02:49 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums!

CB radio is quite useful for intra-caravan communication. In the interest of reasonable performance, I would recommend a regular under-dash unit powered from the 12 V vehicle electrical system and a minimum of a magnetic mount outside antenna. These don't have to cost much. Maybe $50 for the radio and another $20 for the antenna.

I don't think you will be very happy with the performance of a hand held unit.

Useful range is mainly dependent on level of activity on the channel. On major highways in heavily populated areas the range is only about 2 or 3 miles, which is usually enough to communicate with other units on the caravan. Much better in sparsely populated areas. A few years ago on a Canadian Rockies caravan we found we could talk to units 20 miles away with a good 5 watt radio and a 3 foot fiberglass whip antenna permanently mounted on the roof.
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Old 03-31-2013, 02:50 PM   #3
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Aprilrivet, I would not recommend the hand held unit, they have a very limited range.

$50 at Walmart for a small Cobra radio, another $50 for a magnetic mount antenna from a truck stop. The antenna is the important piece.

Wire on a 12v power plug on the CB, plug it in the power port of the TV, just lay the radio on the seat somewhere, stick the antenna on top and you are good to go. Easy to take in/out when not needed.

Enjoy the caravan.

John
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Old 03-31-2013, 02:58 PM   #4
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Go to local truck stop. They usually sell CBs and antennas. If only for caravan you can get a handheld at Radio Shack. The Radio Shack usually has a removable antenna that you can put a flexible rubber short antenna for portability.

You can get battery operated or plug into cigar lighter outlet.

With a portable you will not have range but basic communication.
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Old 03-31-2013, 04:21 PM   #5
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Would plugging an external antenna into a handheld increase the range?
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Old 03-31-2013, 04:49 PM   #6
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If I remember correctly, a mounted CB can have 3 watts into the final amplifier whereas a handheld is less than a watt, so range is definitely as issue with handhelds. My wife and I have used two handhelds when driving two vehicles cross country. Despite the High Frequency used by CB, the handhelds were basically line of sight.

In the past, I have heard CB signals from a trucker with a large auxiliary amplifier on the West coast bounce a signal into Indiana. I obviously was not interested in the California I-5 highway report being in Indiana.
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Old 03-31-2013, 04:59 PM   #7
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The antenna ought to be a WILSON "Little Wil" magnetic roof mount. Outstanding performance.

The CB itself is not so important. A small Uniden or Cobra is fine.

"Clean" power cures most problems. The 12V dash socket tends to be electrically noisy. I wouldn't use it.

Your vehicle manufacturer likely has a transceiver installation .pdf. It will give info for best performance following specific instrucitons.

I use a CB daily at work. A one-half mile transmit/receive distance is essentially worthless. But a 3-5 mile range is easily done and well worth an afternoon of time.

A CB in the TT and another in the TV offers choices in communication not covered by either walkie-talkies or cell phones. For a couple, or for a group. Think "party line" in the broad sense.


http://www.airforums.com/forums/f452...ogy-61751.html

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Old 03-31-2013, 06:21 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
Would plugging an external antenna into a handheld increase the range?
In general, yes. But much depends the quality of the antenna, coax connections and lack of interference electrically (in that line or the CB electric power). What one can hear (receive) is always a bit different than how far one can speak (transmit). The former is to be favored, IMO . . but harder to achieve.

I just wouldn't bother with the handhelds. Even the little Uniden/Cobra's exhibit very good performance based on clean (no noise) electric and good antenna basics. What they lack in range and sensitivity they make up for in low price and small size.

A quality mike is always a good choice (ASATIC 636 or TELEX/TURNER R56 [my choice]), no matter the size/price of the radio.

RADIO SHACK makes decent very low cost SWR meters that ought to be used to set up the radio. "Field strength" is a worthwhile chase.

If done well you'll have better performance than many who overspent on the radio versus the required accessories and calibration (tuning). The radio is less than half the actual cost when speaking of inexpensive rigs.

$200, total, can make for a rig that is a genuine tool and not just a kiddie toy. After all, there may well be a day (etc).

As to other antennas, the old 102" whip (seen on older A/S TT's used as an AM radio antenna) is still the default choice in CB. While a sidemount (as was standard) isn't ideal for transmit (highly directional), it ought to be a good choice when done as original. Ask around. My SS trailers and my fathers used side-mount CB antennas with more than decent performance (but "big" radios, by comparison). I more than once found my way to their campsite from a ways on out (directions) thusly.

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Old 03-31-2013, 07:25 PM   #9
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I have a small CB radio (Uniden) and a magnetic mount antenna. I bought the radio at a swap meet from an autoelectronics shop's tent. They included the antenna with the radio.

I put the radio on the floor under the drivers seat of the truck. I put velcro on the CB bracket (the hook side only) and that keeps it from mooving around. It powers from one of the 12v sockets.
I generally leave the CB on Ch19 unless traveling in a group, and the squelch turned up high. I can reach the controls easily without taking my eyes off the road.

Even with this budget set up I've never had trouble picking up either truckers or people I'm traveling with. We can get the weather and road conditions from truckers, and can keep in touch with travel companions.

In highschool I bough a big Midland PowerMax with all the buttons, switches and knobs. I installed a long and expensive whip antenna on my car and spent hours tuning the radio and antenna. It never worked as well as I wanted and eventually traded the radio for a case of beer which I enjoyed much more.

One thing to look out for. One of my friends had a CB that would change automatically to Ch19 if turned off or after a specified time period, it was really a pain to use on a trip since he had to keep changing back to the chanel our group used and often missed communication because his radio had changed to 19.
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Old 03-31-2013, 07:39 PM   #10
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CB Radio

Greetings Aprilrivet!

I suspect that you will find a CB Radio to be a valuable addition when caravanning or attending large (International or Region) rallys. I have been attending the International Rally since 1995 and have participated in caravans since 1999. For caravanning, I have found the selection of antenna to be quite important . . . if the antenna doesn't rise above the height of the Airstream, the Airstream can block some signals. I have utilized the cigarette lighter adapter for my power connection continuously without serious issue, and my antenna is a magnetic mount with a particularly tall mast on the antenna. When parked, I move the CB to my Airstream and plug it in for use while parked (my '64 has the factory whip antenna while my Argosy must make do with the magnetic antenna that I transfer from the tow vehicle).

Enjoy your caravan!

Kevin
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Old 03-31-2013, 08:06 PM   #11
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The handheld definitely short range. Just an easy cheap way to see if it is for you.

I would go standard just don't mount permanent. I have had magnetic mount but that won't work on TT except on tongue of trailer, etc.

Setting the SWR is key for tuning antenna to your set.

If you have local truck stop, they may have info of a "local shack" who can set you up exactly how you need/want.
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Old 04-01-2013, 08:12 AM   #12
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We don't use CB's anymore. The small FRS units can be be had for under $100 for a set of 2. They have a range of up to 36 miles and have weather channels. They tend to have less static than CB's. Perfect for caravaning or even backing up.
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Old 04-01-2013, 08:24 AM   #13
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I can see where the FRS radio would be a good choice for a couple of vehicles. But on a larger caravan only if everyone has one with the same channel set up.
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Old 07-31-2013, 06:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
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We don't use CB's anymore. The small FRS units can be be had for under $100 for a set of 2. They have a range of up to 36 miles and have weather channels. They tend to have less static than CB's. Perfect for caravaning or even backing up.
We have a pair of FRS radios and are generally satisfied with them for the way we use them. My question is are they technically legal in Canada en route to Alaska?
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