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CB and UHF Communication

UHF Radio
In-Vehicle UHF

 

 


CB (Citizens Band) Radio

CB Radio provides short-range radio communication.  There is currently no license required to operate and the service is for public access and available to everyone.   There are two types HF 26.965 - 27.405 MHz and UHF 476.4125 - 477.4125 MHz.  The MHz (megahertz) refers to the radio frequency on which the equipment operates.

First introduced in 1970, the government initially allocated 18 channels and an annual fee was payable to obtain a license.  In 1982 the band was extended to 40 channels, and in 1994 the government abolished CB license fees.

The Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) announced proposed changes from January 2011 increasing the number of allocated UHF CB channels from 40 to 80.  All the changes are not yet finalised awaiting a second round of comment. Stage two is expected to take effect after January 2016 when all 80 channels will become available for narrow band transmissions.  These changes are expected to provide less congestion.

What some of these changes to the UHF CB channels will mean to you:-

- if you own an old CB UHF radio it will continue to work and you will be able to talk to another person but only if that person is on one of the current 40 channels
- the terms ‘wideband’ will be used to describe older 40 channel and ‘narrowband’ for the newer 80 channel CB radios
- only the new narrowband CB radios will have additional channels up to 80
- channels 61, 62 & 63 will be temporarily unusable
- the sound may be a little distorted using the older 40 channel radios

GME is one company, who make CB radio handsets in Australia, that had anticipated these changes so from December 2010 they commenced building UHF CB radios with the existing 40 channel standard and the new narrowband 80 channel standard.

As of June 2011, GME owners of compatible radios can now operate on the new 80 channel narrow band channels. GME radios that are 80-channel compatible can be easily identified by an ’80 Channel Upgradable’ sticker on the packaging and by the following serial number prefixes. Their website, under ‘News & Events’ 30 May 2011 provides instructions on how to upgrade the UHF CB radio.

When having a conversation always remember CB radio communication is not private.  Also, CB is not like a telephone in that only one person can speak at a time.

For communication in ‘Outback’ Australia it is recommended you buy or hire a satellite telephone or HF transceiver.  See HF Radio article

A UHF (FM) CB radio provides a clearer communication with less interference from such things as power lines or atmospheric noise.   

As of 2011, the Australian Government has allocated an additional 40 UHF CB channels giving a total of 80 channels.  When purchasing a new UHF CB, you should try to get a set that supports all 80 channels.  40 channel CBs will be able to talk to the new sets on the first 40 channels.

CB Radio Transceivers

A two-way UHF CB radio is a radio that can receive and transmit messages and the transmitting power must be no more than 5 watts.  It is common for 4WD clubs and RV travellers to have a CB radio in their vehicle or tow vehicle. 

Two-way radios consist of a transceiver, microphone and an antenna (aerial) and operate on the vehicle’s 12V DC power.  The transceiver is normally located under the dashboard or in a purpose designed roof console.  The features of a UHF CB radio vary from make and model but generally have a LCD backlit face panel to view channel numbers, a volume control and scan button to name a few. A co-axial cable runs from the transceiver to the aerial and a thicker co-axial cable is favoured to prevent feedline loss. 

These days dashboards are very cluttered with electronic equipment for remote travel so GME have come up with the GME TX3540 to address this problem by including the LCD screen and all the buttons on the handset.

Modern transceivers can scan channels and lock in on a channel when a signal is heard.  UHF communication is often termed ‘line of sight’ communication as good communication is available where there are no obstructions such as hills between yourself and say another vehicle with whom you are communicating.  UHF has a range, in good conditions, of about 20-30 kilometers.  When in areas where repeater stations are installed this range can improve the range up to about 300 kms.

Some brand names of CB UHF radios are GME Electrophone, Oricom, Uniden and Icom. GME also produce and sell a UHF Two Way CB Radio Starter Kit.

 

UHF Radio         


 UHF Radio

UHF Aerial

 

Emergency Channels:
The specific emergency channels are -
UHF band - channel 5/35 repeater (476.525/477.275 MHz)
HF Band - channel 9 (27.065 MHz)

Emergency channels are voluntarily monitored by organisations and may assist you in contacting the appropriate emergency services. The channels may not be monitored 24/7 by the volunteers.

Calling Channels To Contact other Travellers
There are specific calling channels in the CB bands:
UHF Band - Channel 11 (476.675MHz)
HF Band - Channel 11 (AM - 27.085 MHz) and Channel 16 (SSB - 27.155 MHz)

Once you have established contact, switch to another agreed channel and continue talking. This then frees the call channel for other users.

For clubs or those travelling in a 'convoy' of vehicles, a desired 'working' channel should be selected before setting out and all members of the convoy directed to use that channel.

Repeater Channels:
Channels 1-8 and 41-48 are designated repeater output stations and channels 31-38 and 71-78 are designated input channels. These designated repeater channels can be used for single frequency communication provided they are not used in the locality of repeaters.

A repeater that transmits on channel 1 will always receive on channel 31. The CB radio automatically selected the corresponding transmit/receive frequencies.

Channels 5 and 35 are dedicated solely for emergency communications.

Data Transmit Channels:
Data can be transmitted on two UHF channels - Channel 22 (476.950 MHz) and Channel 23 (476.975 MHz). These channels are dedicated for data purposes only and should not be used for voice communication. The ACMA website states that transmission must comply with the restrictions imposed in the CBRS class licence.

Australian UHF CB Radio Channel Information

Channels:

1-8 and 41-48 can be used when sending a signal to a repeater station
5 can be used by anyone only in an emergency situation

9 used for conversations
10 used by many 4WD clubs (also known as the outback channel). To ensure equipment is working try calling a ‘radio check please’.
12 used by 4WD clubs, 'convoy' vehicles
13-17 used for conversations
18 recommended for caravanners (although it is often used by road gangs and farmers)
19 used for conversation
20 used by the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA)
24-30 used for conversations
29 trucks on Bruce Highway (Qld) and Pacific Highway (NSW)
35 emergency use only

39
used for conversations

40 Highway Road channel – mainly used by trucks (the language can be ‘colourful’), but many 4WD'ers and caravanners monitor or use this channel when travelling on the highway.
41-48 new channels that can be used when sending a signal to a repeater stations
49-60 new channels for conversation
61-63 temporarily unusable, reserved for further expansion
64-70 new channels for conversations
71-78 new channels, receiver stations for re-transmitting new channels 41-48
79-80 new channels for conversations

Legal Channels:

5 –  Emergency channel (simplex and duplex)
35 – Reserved for emergency use, not to be used in simplex (repeater input)
11 – Calling channel – use to make contact then change to another channel
22/23 – Telemetry and telecomm and only (voice communication is not permitted)
1/31 – Not to be used in simplex when in range of a Channel 1 repeater
2/32 - Not to be used in simplex when in range of a Channel 2 repeater
3/33 - Not to be used in simplex when in range of a Channel 3 repeater
4/34 - Not to be used in simplex when in range of a Channel 4 repeater
6/36 - Not to be used in simplex when in range of a Channel 6 repeater
7/37 - Not to be used in simplex when in range of a Channel 7 repeater
8/38 - Not to be used in simplex when in range of a Channel 8 repeater

For simplex communications try to use one of these channels:

9-10, 12-21, 24-30, 39-40

It is best to avoid channels 31-38 completely unless you are sure there isn’t any corresponding repeaters in range.

A simple Google search can be done to locate other web sites that have a comprehensive Australian UHF CB Repeater List.  Further information is also available from the Australian Communication and Media Authority (acma.gov.au).  UHF CB Australia (uhfcb.com.au) is also a website with tutorial videos.

CB Radio Aerials

Care should be taken in selecting a CB radio aerial to suit your purpose as the aerial (or antenna) used will influence the transmitting and reception range and the same may be said for its location on the vehicle. The quality of the antenna and the cable can also affect performance. Larger CB aerials provide better range and are superior for long distance communications.

There is also a ‘vibration factor’, which can fatigue the antenna, for vehicles with diesel engines as well as road surfaces that needs to be taken into consideration when selecting an antenna.  The fiberglass whip aerial on a medium or heavy duty spring may best suit 4WD diesel engine vehicles and outback travelling.

The aerial should be mounted as high as possible so one mounted say to the roof of the vehicle would provide the best range in comparison to one mounted on the front bull bar as the reception from the rear (behind the vehicle) can be impeded by the vehicle body itself.  However, due to the size of most aerials they are generally located on the wheel arch or bull bar of a vehicle.  Aerials are then connected to the transceiver by coaxial cable.

To ensure equipment is working try calling a ‘radio check please’.

Bull Bar Aerial Mounting Bracket
Bull Bar Mount - Wrap Around
Angle Mounting - Roof Rack or Side Mounting for Aerial
Angle Mounting - Roof Rack or Side Mounting
Gutter Mount for UHF Radio Aerial
Gutter Mount
Z Bracket - Bonnet Mounting for UHF Radio Aerial
Z Bracket - Designed for Bonnet Mounting

 

 

 

 

 
 

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