What is a CB Radio

In another article we discussed HAM radios and some noteworthy things about them. Now we will be discussing another kind of radio. Have you ever heard of CB radios? Odds are that you have. Even if you’ve never heard of CB radios, you have probably seen one but didn’t know what exactly it is. 


In this post, we will discuss what a CB radio is and how it can prove to be useful in our lives, especially in survival situations. Also, we will go back in time to know a little bit of its history and we will give you a basic step-by-step guide on how to set up your own CB radio.

So What is a CB Radio?

Citizens Band Radio, or CB radio for short, is a land mobile radio system which allows individuals to communicate with other CB radio users. A CB radio can only allow its user to connect to short-range two-way radio voice communications. It is used principally by regular citizens in vehicles, homes, offices or other locations where wireless telephone services might not be very dependable. CB radios are mostly used in rural areas and while traveling on the road. in many countries.


Typically, a CB radio consists of a transceiver and an antenna. It has a band of 40 channels, ranging at a frequency from 26 to 27 MHz. It uses the same frequency for transmission and reception on each channel, which makes the CB radio a two-way radio device. This means that only one person can talk at the same time.

Why Use a CB Radio?

In contrast to HAM radios, CB radios do not require the user to pass a licensure exam in order to operate it. Despite the downside that it only allows short-range or local radio communications, it is still ideal to choose it over other types of 2-way radio devices. Aspiring radio operators or just regular folks of any age will be able to use it. 


A CB radio is a valuable tool for a group of individuals who need to keep in touch from time to time and manage things under control even when they aren’t close with one another. This would be ideal for communicating as a small group during a disaster or a SHTF situation when infrastructure might go down. As a matter of fact, CB radios are often used in the wilderness since cellular phones do not work well in forests and mountains. 


In every day life, with the use of your CB radio in your car, you can avoid traffic jams or road blockages by getting informed by other CB radio users. You can also get updated with the real-time weather reports that police and truckers rely on, and be aware of what’s happening in your surroundings. If by any chance you are on a long trip and your car breaks down outside of cellular service range, you can also use a CB radio to call for some assistance. Still, the most important part of having a CB radio is in in emergency situations. When phone signals are down, communicating with people you trust is key. You will need to communicate with your neighbors or family without going outside, and a CB radio will allow you to do just that.

History of the CB Radio

The CB radio was invented during the 1940s in the United States by Al Gross—the inventor of walkie-talkie as well. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) started radio communications services to the public for personal use and experimentation with the CB radio shortly after its creation. In the following years, CB radios became popular with the public, especially with small businesses and some workers.


By the late 1960s, there were some developments made in solid state device technology that significantly reduced the size and the cost of CB radios. Later on, when the general public gained access to the communication platforms that were only issued to radio specialists, CB radio groups were formed and enthusiasts created their own CB radio language, similar to emergency codes.

Moving on to 1973, the infamous oil crisis occurred. The crisis particularly impacted drivers going long distances due to gasoline shortages. The United States government even issued a speed limit of 55 MPH nationwide! Through the use of CB radios, the drivers were able to communicate with other drivers, informing them of which gas stations had available gas. They also made use of CB radios for notifying drivers where speed traps were set up.


Even the citizens of Great Britain were hooked on the CB radio during its initial craze. However, the British government did not legalize transmitting on the 27 MHz wavelength. Instead, they came up with a proposition to use the CB radio on a different wavelength which was on 860 MHz or “the open channel”.  In the later years, the United Kingdom was able to add more channels that gave UK citizens 80 channels to work with.

How to Set Up a CB Radio

First of all, you need to gather the right equipment, tools, and take proper safety precautions. Set aside some space for your CB radio station whether in your vehicle, home or office so that you can operate it without any issues. 

Here is a list of the common CB radio equipment:

  • CB radio
  • Antenna (grounded or non-grounded)
  • Antenna spring
  • Coax cable (length depends on the distance from the antenna)
  • Tapping clips

Basic Step-by-step Guide:

  1. Mount your CB radio in a comfortable working space. Most importantly, mount it where it won’t be difficult to see which channel you are on. Keep in mind that some mounts use magnets, but most require drilling.


  2. Mount the CB radio antenna onto the spring, and then attach the spring onto the mount. You must be careful to not have the tip blocked by any accessories or anything that comes with the device.


  3. Connect your coax cable to the antenna. You want your coax cable routing to be as clean as possible.


  4. Connect the ground wire to a proper ground according to the instructions.


  5. Connect the coax cable to the back of the CB radio. Avoid having too many bends on the coax cable.


  6. Finally, connect your mic as well as the power supply. Enjoy using your newly-installed CB radio.


This is only a main concept of setting up a CB radio as we have three types which are handheld, base station and mobile radio. The setup for each type may vary to another in terms of the additional equipment needed to operate the CB radio.

Final Thoughts

The CB radio is an incredibly powerful tool for preppers. A CB radio will give you the ability to stay in touch with the people you trust during a SHTF situation. A CB radio is especially useful if you end up bugging in and staying in your house during a disaster. Communication is key when SHTF, so anytime is a good time to get a CB radio and start practicing. It’s a fun hobby and in addition to being a key prepping skill. Whether you use your CB radio for personal use or you’re getting one for prepping, it will come to be a valuable device.