No license (CB) does have appeal, but Ham does not require all that much effort. Freeband channels are not legal to transmit on - using wisdom where/when is important for many things we might choose to do. The modification is not difficult, those with no electronics background might be better using a shop. Like your rifle, the radio should avoid 'gadgets' for instance the echo microphone. That only serves to make it more difficult to understand you on the receive end...
SSB is more expensive than a regular CB but range will be greater. Same story on 2 meter Ham. FM works for a given distance but SSB will reach considerably further. Many people think upper frequencies, don't forget the lower ones!
Posts: 547 | From: KC metro | Registered: Jun 2009
That article is ok as far as it goes but it leaves out a lot and has some misleading info.
Operation on frequencies above or below the citizens band (on the uppers or lowers ) is called freebanding or outbanding . While frequencies just below the CB segment (or between the CB segment and the amateur radio 10-meter band) seem quiet and under-utilized, they are allocated to other radio services (including government agencies) and unauthorized operation on them is illegal. Furthermore, illegal transmitters and amplifiers may not meet good engineering practice for harmonic distortion or splatter , which may disrupt other communications and make the unapproved equipment obvious to regulators. Freebanding is done with modified CB or amateur equipment, foreign CB radios which may offer different channels, or with radios intended for export. Legal operation in one country may be illegal in another; for example, in the UK until June 2014 only 80 FM channels were legal.
All frequencies in the HF spectrum (3–30 MHz) can be refracted by charged ions in the ionosphere. Refracting signals off the ionosphere is called skywave propagation, and the operator is said to be shooting skip . CB operators have communicated across thousands of miles and sometimes around the world. Even low-power 27 MHz signals can sometimes propagate over long distances.
The ability of the ionosphere to bounce signals back to earth is caused by solar radiation, and the amount of ionization possible is related to the 11-year sunspot cycle. In times of high sunspot activity, the band can remain open to much of the world for long periods of time. Usually the band will open shortly after daybreak and continue well into the early evening hours. During low sunspot activity it may be impossible to use skywave at all, except during periods of Sporadic-E propagation (from late spring through mid-summer). Skip contributes to noise on CB frequencies. In the United States, it was illegal to engage in CB communications with any station more than 155 miles from an operator's location. This restriction existed to keep CB as a local (line-of-sight) radio service; however, this rule was widely ignored from the beginning. The FCC recently removed this "restriction".
Origin of Freebanding:
On September 11, 1958 the Class D CB service was created on 27 Megacycles. There were only 23 channels at the time; the first 22 were taken from the former amateur radio service 11-meter band, and channel 23 was shared with radio-controlled devices.
During the 1960s, the service was popular among small businesses (e.g., electricians, plumbers, carpenters), truck drivers and radio hobbyists. By the late 1960s advances in solid-state electronics allowed the weight, size, and cost of the radios to fall, giving the public access to a communications medium previously only available to specialists. CB clubs were formed; a CB slang evolved alongside 10-codes, similar to those used in emergency services. Initially, the FCC intended for CB to be the poor man's business-band radio , and CB regulations were structured similarly to those regulating the business band radio service. Until 1975, only channels 9–15 and 23 could be used for inter-station calls (to other licensees). Channels 1–8 and 16–22 were reserved for intra-station communications (among units with the same license).
Several factors caused CBers to begin operating out of band.
The solar cycle peaked in the late 60's allowing operators to talk hundreds or even thousands of miles. Unfortunately, when the band was open there were often times when it became practically unusable due to the extremely high noise level created by thousands of people all over the world talking at once. Due to the high noise level, many people began using linear amplifiers, running 100-500 watts or more in an attempt to get over the noise and talk farther. This only created even more noise on the band.
Also, with technological improvements driving down the cost of equipment, thousands of new people began using CB radio. With only 23 channels available for use, congestion and interference became a serious problem for everyone.
Back in the early days of the CB hobby, when an avid CB enthusiast looked to break away from the limited capabilities that a stock 23 channel radio offered, one of the most sought after modifications was the expansion of frequency coverage beyond the legal channels. CB operators would often add or swap crystals to gain additional channels, and modify the SSB clarifier to give it a wider range.
When sideband was first introduced in the late 60's, the clarifiers would move both transmit and receive together. This was legal because the tolerance of the transmitters was +/- .005 %. This means the radio had a frequency range of +/- 1.3 KHz from center frequency. The industry used this leeway for the clarifier. They also designed the circuits to be modifiable to increase this range substantially. Back in those days everyone wanted to go down 10 KHz to make use of the RC or A channels. They used 3A, 7A, 11A, 15A, and 19A for sideband to get away from the congestion of channel 16 or what ever happened to be the local sideband channel. When the A channels were busy operators dropped 5 KHz to make use of other unused space between 15A and 16.
These mods were relatively simple and fairly inexpensive and provided a little more elbow room, and with them, some prospects for escaping the general chaos that often pervaded the regular CB channels. But for many people, these simple mods were not enough.
When those other channel mods just didn't do it for you anymore, you were left with few alternatives. Some people, who had deep pockets, opted to run modified Ham gear on the CB band. There were both advantages and disadvantages to going this route. A ham rig will give superior performance on SSB, but most contemporary ham gear at that time, was not designed with AM operation in mind (The Yaesu FT-101 series being a notable exception). They also required re-tuning when large frequency changes were made, which was intimidating for those operators who were not all that technically inclined. So for many people, the second alternative, adding a VFO to an existing CB radio, was a more attractive option. You maintain the ease of operation and familiarity of your favorite CB radio, while allowing a huge increase in frequency coverage.
A VFO, or Variable Frequency Oscillator, is a device which generates a frequency which could then be varied within a specified range. The theory of a VFO was nothing new, at least not from a receiver standpoint. Many older CB radios had built-in tunable or variable receivers, which tuned through the CB channels much like you would tune an AM/FM broadcast radio. The difference here is that variable frequency receive is legal, while variable frequency transmit is not. At least one company (Hy-Gain) offered an accessory VFO which mated to a few of its CB models through a rear panel jack. To meet FCC requirements, the unit only operated on receive. But it was a simple matter to modify it to work on the transmit side as well. There were also a few companies who offered accessory VFO's which could be mated with most CB's (Most notably Siltronix). When adding a VFO to an existing CB radio, the new variable oscillator is usually substituted for the main crystal oscillator in the radio, so you had to order the specific model VFO, which matched the oscillator frequencies of your radio. A technically competent technician would then install the unit such that when the switch was thrown, the channel selector no longer controlled your frequency, that job now becoming the responsibility of the VFO dial. Depending on the range of the VFO and bandwidth capability of your radio, you could now have up to hundreds of Khz of new channels on tap.
Running with a VFO was not all peaches and cream however, and there were some potential problems. Most of the problems were the result of poor installation. But there were some VFO's, which were not of the best quality and consequently suffered from frequency drifting. Frequency drift is not something that you want, especially on SSB. Also, some radios just did not have the necessary bandwidth to transmit and receive well over the entire range of the VFO. Many people became disappointed after purchasing a VFO which promised to give range all the way up to the 10 meter ham band, but finding that their radio stopped transmitting any usable power above 27.500. Correcting this condition was not always easy or possible in some cases. You could gain some additional range by stagger tuning the transmit and receive strips, but usually at the cost of losing maximum sensitivity and transmit power. Other, more serious engineering solutions could also be applied as well. But the end result was usually a radio which was less stable, more prone to generating RFI, and receiving interference. Often the cost to properly correct such design shortcomings would approach the price of a decent ham radio.
When the digital Phase Locked Loop (PLL) radios came on the scene in 1976, a new era in frequency expansion dawned, and the VFO was soon relegated to the back shelf with the old tube radios.
In 1973 the FCC considered a proposal to reduce the congestion on CB by adding a Class E Citizen Band with 80 frequencies on the 220 MHz VHF band. This was strongly opposed by the ham community.
About 1975 numerous CB clubs, manufacturers and advocacy groups began to petition the FCC for more channels to reduce the overcrowding. At the time the FCC seriously considered expanding CB to 99 channels. Channels 1-30 would be used for AM with the standard 10 khz spacing. The new channels 31 - 99 would be spaced 5 khz apart and reserved for sideband. The ARRL and numerous government agencies strongly opposed this proposal and it was later abandoned.
The CB craze began in earnest with the Arab oil embargo of 1974. By this time there were 800,000 licensed Class D operators. The next year over 500,000 applications PER MONTH poured into the FCC office. In January 1977, over 1 million applications were received and by the end of the year over 10 million applications had been processed.
The explosive growth of CB and the unresolved Class E CB issue caused increasing friction between hams and CB'ers. Even a nationally syndicated news columnist charged that the ARRL and 300,000 hams were conspiring to prevent 9 million CB'ers from getting much needed expanded frequency coverage.
In Jan. 1978 an additional 17 channels were finally added for a total of 40 channels, to relieve some of the overcrowding on the original 23 channels.
The FCC in an attempt to further reduce the overcrowding on the CB band, proposed a new sideband only CB band from 27.410-27.540MHZ. A test would be required to receive the new SSB license. There would be no 155 mile transmit range limit and the use of VFO's would be allowed. The 11 meter sideband operators came out in droves in favor of this proposal.
Don Stoner proposed adding sideband only frequencies to the CB band and spacing them 5Khz apart. In this proposal, radios that were manufactured to cover this additional band would incorporate a compandor circuit. The compandor is a compressor and expander unit. The transmitted signal is compressed reducing splatter caused from peak over modulation. Then the signal is returned to its original form at the receiver when it's run through the expander.
This made better use of the spectrum leaving room for further expansion in the future.
The ham community threw a fit and the proposal was later abandoned in 1980. Irregardless of FCC regulations or the wishes of amateurs... expansion took place, not legally and not efficiently either.
After the FCC decision to not allow any expansion above channel 40, many of the sidebanders decided that enough was enough. They proceeded to take what they wanted and the FCC be damned. They created their own band plan and system of call signs, and divisions.
Freebanders Rules For The Road
Even though the 'freeband' is unlicensed as well as illegal to use, those who operate there established their own set of "rules" back in the 70's.
*The truckers and other "AMers" use the lower channels while the "serious sidebanders" run the uppers.
*Noise toys, echo mikes, roger beeps and other such junk are strongly discouraged.
*If you operate on the upper frequencies you are expected to maintain a clean signal...NO overmodulated splatter boxes. You are also expected to be dead on frequency.
*You should make every effort to adhere to the generally accepted band plan.
And, you are encouraged to use:
Freebanders use a unique system of call signs. They are usually issued by one of the freeband groups such as Foxtrot Bravo or Tango Mike. A call sign is composed of the division number, followed by the group initials and your individual group number. A call will look like this: 2KP418
Every country is considered a “division and is assigned a number. For example the US is ‘2' and the UK is ‘26'. See the complete list in the appendix for details.
If another station requests a signal report it would be better to provide a more accurate report than ..."Yer loud and proud". Freebanders use the amateur radio operator's RST signal reporting method.
R: Readability - A rating of how well what is being said is understood. The readability of a signal is given on a scale of 1 to 5; 5 being perfectly understandable with no difficulty - reported as Radio 5 . A rating of 1 means that the signal is completely un-readable.
S: Signal Strength - A rating of how strong a received signal is. The S rating is given on a scale of 1 to 9. A rating of Signal 1 indicates an extremely faint signal while a rating of Signal 9 is an extremely strong signal.
T: Tone - This is only used for Morse Code, so does not apply to CB radio.
Being as it is only the R and S parts of the RST code that are applicable to CB radio, you may hear reports being given such as You're Five and Nine which means perfectly understandable with extremely strong signals. A report of 4 and 5 would mean quite easy to understand with fairly good signal strength.
R = READABILITY ( Radio ): R 1 Unreadable R 2 Barely readable, some words occasionally distinguishable R 3 Readable, but with considerable difficulty R 4 Readable with practically no difficulty R 5 Perfectly readable
S = SIGNAL STRENGTH ( Signal ): S 1 Faint signal, barely perceptible S 2 Very weak signal S 3 Weak signal S 4 Fair signal S 5 Fairly good signal S 6 Good signal S 7 Moderately strong signal S 8 Strong signal S 9 Extremely strong signal
Worldwide Call / Monitor Frequencies On 11 meters
Freebanders adopted a generally agreed upon band plan many years ago. The AM mode is normally used on the Low band and Sideband is used on the upper band. LSB is mostly used in America and USB in other countries. You will also find numerous frequencies where FM or digital modes are in use.
WARNING----Frequencies To Avoid are in RED. The reason to stay off these two frequencies would be quite clear if you ever monitor them.
26 MHZ Frequencies Low Band
26.030 USB: VLF Group, Canada 26.260 LSB: NF Group ( Nordstrand Friendship , Oslo ) 26.270 USB: North Atlantic Net no longer in use at this time, but will be active again in the future when time & conditions permit 26.285 USB: General Call Frequency 26.330 USB: Christchurch New Zealand Call Frequency 26.355 LSB: New Zealand and small islands ie. 224, 130 divisions. 26.400 USB: Cape Breton Island ( the guys around Big Pond & Sydney) 26.425 USB: FF Group ( Polish Call Frequency ) 26.430 USB: Canadian Outlaws Group 26.440 USB: Central Africa 26.485 USB: PW Group ( Pendle Witches ... UK , Canada , USA etc) 26.505 USB: ( Hungarian Call Frequency, they answer to a certain whistle . 26.515 MHz LSB – Tango Mike Group Net Frequency 2 26.535 FM French 26.565 FM German DX 26.567 USB HO Group ( Norway) 26.575 FM German DX 26.620 MHz. Civil Air Patrol frequency for search and rescue. Do not transmit. 26.635 USB: VN Group ( Holland) 26.720 LSB: ( New Zealand ) 26.780 LSB: ( International Calling Frequency for packet radio 1200 baud ) 26.790 USB: Kuwait 26.795 USB: Tanzania 26.800 MHz..... Military and Border Patrol Interoperability Channel Do not transmit. 26.810 LSB Italian Packet Group 1200 Baud 26.820 LSB Italian Packet Group 1200 Baud 26.830 LSB Italian Packet Group 1200 Baud 26.840 LSB Italian Packet Group 1200 Baud 26.850 LSB Italian Packet Group 1200 Baud 26.860 LSB Italian Packet Group 1200 Baud 26.875 AM VA Sandbaggers Group 26.915 US Skipshooters 26.920 USB: Morocco 26.938 USB: French Polynesia 26.945 MHz..... FAA -STAY CLEAR Do not transmit.
27.410 27.415 27.420 27.425 LSB Prepper Call Channel 27.430 27.435 LSB Oscar Bravo Group US 27.440 LSB US 27.445 27.450 27.455 USB Mostly French speaking stations 27.460 27.465 27.470 27.475 USB : Norfolk Island 27.480 27.485 LSB WWDX 27.490 27.495 USB Philippines, Marshall Islands, Guam, and Micronesia 27.500 Digimodes Cw, Psk31, Rtty etc 27.505 27.510 LSB: ( West Indies ) 27.515 27.520 27.527 QRP Europe Experimental 27.530 27.535 USB – Tango Mike Group Net Frequency 1 Every Sunday 18.30-21.30 UTC 27.540 27.545 27.550 27.555 USB General Call Frequency 27.560 27.565 27.570 27.575 FCC US GOV. Do not transmit. 27.580 USB Knight Patrol ( USA & West Indies ) 27.585 FCC / US GOV. Do not transmit. 27.590 27.595 27.600 27.605 27.610 27.615 27.620 27.625 US GOV. Do not transmit. 27.630 27.635 FM Call 27.640 USB IRC Group 27.645 FM N. America to Asia 27.650 USB Bulgaria 27.675 FM N. America Call 27.680 LSB Dot Com Group 27.700 to 27.735 Wideband digi-modes - example SSTV, DRM 27.735 - 27.750 Narrow band digi-modes example BPSK, WSJT modes, Throb, Domino 27.700 SSTV (also .705 and .710 as qsy freq) 27.710 USB Romeo Charlie Call 27.715 USB AG Group ( France ) 27.720 MHz..... NASA and Air Force in Florida. 27.725 27.730 USB Greenland / IR Group Aust. 27.733 DRM Europe 27.740 27.745 27.750 US GOV. Do not transmit. 27.756 JT65 27.760 27.765 USB CT Members (USA, Brazil & Canada) 27.770 27.775 27.780 27.785 27.790 27.796.5 DRM Europe 27.800 LSB/USB Europe 27.805 USB WAC Group ( Holland) 27.810 27.815 USB WF Group ( Ireland) 27.820 27.825 27.830 27.835 27.840 27.845 27.850 27.855 USB CF Group ( France) 27.860 27.865 USB RN Group (Norway) 27.870 MHz.....NASA and Air Force in Florida. 27.875 MARS Do not transmit. 27.880 USB Alaska 27.885 27.890 27.895 27.900 US GOV Do not transmit. 27.905 27.910 27.915 USB: KA Members ( Kuwait /Turkey/ Middle East) 27.920 USB WW Members (Canada)/ Central America 27.965 MARS USB Ukraine Do not transmit. 27.970 27.977 USB Mongolia /China 27.980 MARS Do not transmit. 27.985 MARS USB Soviet Republic Do not transmit. 27.990 MARS Do not transmit. 27.995 MARS USB Eastern Europe Do not transmit.
28.000 - 29.700 RADIO AMATEUR Do not transmit.
Survivalist Band Plan
26.985 AM Channel 3 AMMRON Call 27.365 USB Channel 36 AMMRON 27.385LSB Channel 38 North America Call 27.390 USB Survivalist Alternate 27.425 USB Survivalist Primary
-------------------- "The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861 Posts: 14806 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001