It’s 2023 and CB radio is not dead!
CB isn’t amateur radio, obviously, but I feel that it deserves a mention. Whether we’re talking about the pirate ships in the North Sea, 6.6 megs Echo Charlie, clandestine radio stations from certain countries, CB radio… As far as I’m concerned, it’s all radio. Long gone are the so-called bucket mouths and the music. Now, you can enjoy sensible conversations and even make new friends on the mostly-quiet legal FM channels. As we approach the sunspot maximum, predicted in 2025, propagation is really beginning to open up the 11 metre band. More about the sunspot maximum here. So, it might be worth dragging your old CB radio out and firing it up. The UK now has 80 channels so there’s plenty of room for everyone.
The 11 Metre Citizens’ band:
The 11 metre band now appears, unofficially, to cover anything from 25 to 28MHz. Warning: It is illegal to use frequencies and modes not specified for use in your country by licensing authorities. Here is a very useful document from Ofcom concerning CB spectrum use, information and operation in the UK. Although SSB, FM, AM and various digital modes are used world wide on frequencies between 25 and 28MHz, I strongly suggest you stick to the legal channels in your country.
26.285MHz and 27.555MHz:
These are SSB calling frequencies which, by the way, are illegal to use in the U.K. The most popular world wide calling frequency is 27.555MHz. However, 26.285MHz is preferred by some as it’s so much quieter.
The Superbowl on 27.025MHz AM:
The Superbowl is a gathering of friendly competitors trying to come out on top by running massive power. It’s fascinating, and annoying, to listen to!
The 11 Metre broadcast band:
There is a short wave broadcast band covering 25.670 to 26.100MHz. Unfortunately, there is very little broadcast activity on this band, if any. I’ve listened to the band many times and heard nothing but, it is still officially a world wide broadcast band.
11 metre nets?
I monitor 27.815MHz which is channel 19 on band D known as the ‘mids’. I’m not aware of any nets in my area. Are there any in West Sussex? If you know of a net, please let me know.
The President Ronald:
I have a President Ronald 10/12 metre FM AM radio which, when opened up, as mine has been, covers 24.700 to 30.100 MHz. That’s all CB channels plus the 10 and 12 meter amateur bands. On FM, the RF output is a healthy 35 Watts (*note1).
Just found this is the loft. It’s a Cybernet Beta 2000 strapped to a Ham International LA60 linear amplifier. I’ve tested it, on a dummy load, obviously, and it works! I’ve had a listen around the channels and the receiver is lively enough.
The Anytone AT5555 transceiver:
This is a lovely rig covering the 10 and 12 metre amateur bands. The frequency coverage is approximately 24.890 to 29.700MHz. Transmit power: AM : 12 Watts, FM 30 Watts, SSB 30 Watts PEP. Modes: AM/FM/LSB/USB. Frequency steps: 100Hz/1kHz/10kHz/100kHz/1MHz.
CRT-SS9900 Superstar 9900 radio:
This is a fantastic little transceiver. All modes, AM FM SSB, covering the 10 and 12 metre amateur bands as well as all 11 metre frequencies in between. I’m thinking about putting this one in my car.
What are mids, lows and highs:
There’s some confusion over which bands are legal in the UK. 1981 saw the introduction of 40 CB channels. The radios were FM only with a maximum of 4 Watts and were labeled CB27/81. The daft thing was that our 40 channels were from 27.60125 to 27.99125MHz which is completely different from any other country in the world. These radios are still in use today. Later, we were allocated an extra 40 channels. These are in line with European CB channels and are known as CEPT, 26.9650 to 27.4050MHz. I believe it was 2011, or was it 2014, when Ofcom allowed SSB and AM modes to be used in the UK. FM and AM max power is 4 Watts, SSB is 12 Watts. I believe that the original 40 U.K. channels are still FM only. It can be confusing!
The real confusion sets in because many CB radios have six 40 channel bands. Band A, B, C, D, E and F. The original UK 40 FM channels are not part of the six bands. The only bands we are allowed to use, totalling 80 channels, are the UK and the EU, known as the mids. Radios such as the Anytone AT555 shown above are not allowed to be used in the UK. Neither is amateur radio gear! However, anarchy seems to rule world wide as thousands of operators use whatever gear they like on whatever frequency they like running whatever power they like.
|Band A||Band B||Band C||Band D||Band E||Band F||UK|
|Name||Super Super Low||Super Low||Low||Mids||High||Super High||Crazy!|
CB Bands list:
11 metre frequencies from 25MHz to 28MHz have been listed in six 40 channel bands – A to F. Thanks to Ed for this bands and frequencies list here.
SSB FM AM modes:
It is now permissible to use SSB and AM on UK CB frequencies. This Information from Ofcom explains everything.
Country call sign prefixes:
Each country has its own CB call sign prefix. For example, the prefix for England is 26. Thanks to Ed for this call sign prefix list here.
I use a Sigma Venom 5/8 wave vertical. Considering the base is only 6 feet above the ground, it works extremely well on the 10, 11 and 12 metre bands. See photo below.
A video about the 11 metre band:
Calling frequencies and channels:
This is something I’ve put together that you might find helpful. Don’t rely on its accuracy! I’ll be adding to the list as I discover more.
|EU||27.265||AM – FM – USB||26||D|
|USA||27.385||AM – LSB||38||D|
|The ‘mids’||27.815||FM AM SSB||19||D||Calling|
|USA super bowl||27.025||FM AM SSB||6||D|
American CB channels and frequencies:
You might be interested in receiving American CB stations when the band opens up. It’s great fun listening to the American CBers. I’ve found that, if they are using SSB, it’s usually lower sideband. Stations today, 21st Feb 2023, have been very strong from the Gulf of Mexico, and many east and west coast states. Have a tune around and see what you can hear. You may have noticed that the USA CB frequencies are the same as the EU CB frequencies. This makes it difficult to work European stations here in the UK when the band is open to the USA.
|6||27.025||AM/SSB||Considered the “Super Bowl” channel.|
|10||27.075||AM/SSB||Truckers on regional roads|
|13||27.115||AM/SSB||Marine & RV|
|17||27.165||AM/SSB||Truckers traveling north or south|
|19||27.185||AM/SSB||Truckers traveling east or west|
|38||27.385||AM/SSB||LSB calling channel|
EU and UK CB channels and frequencies:
We now have 80 channels in the U.K., which include the EU channels. For your reference…
|Channel||EU + UK||UK|
Old UHF 934MKz CB channels and frequencies:
Channel FX MHz
*note1: The maximum power permitted on CB frequencies is 4 Watts. This restriction does not apply to the amateur bands.
Warning: It is illegal to use frequencies and modes not specified for use in your country by licensing authorities. Here is a very useful document from Ofcom concerning CB spectrum use, information and operation in the UK.