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Unread 02-09-2010, 11:07 AM   #1
Woodchuck
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TEACH ME - CB and Ham Radios

I Know nothing about these. I just bought a Cobra 75 All-in-One Kit from Cooltech and installed it. Worked great for two days then died (CoolTech was great and is sending out a replacement as I type). I was a little disappointed with the range however and thought it would be much further.

Is there such a thing as a radio that does CB and Ham? Do I need a license for a Ham? Yada...Yada...Yada...I really just want to communicate on the highway for traffic and weather/road conditions and talking on the trail. It would however be nice to be able to reach someone if I where in the middle of nowhere and something went wrong.

Please teach me and start BASIC...I know NOTHING about these things!

THANK YOU

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'08 Red Rock Unlimited Rubicon / AEV 2.75" Lift with Remote Reservoir Shocks / AEV Heat Reduction Hood / AEV Front & Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier / AEV Skidplates & Rear Corner Guards / Riddler Diff Covers / Mopar Enhanced Rock Rails / Warn 9.5ti Winch / Mopar Gas Cap Cover / 4.88 Gears / IPF 900xs Drive Beams / Eagle Eye HID Spotlights / Daniel Stern Headlights / 17" AEV Pintler Wheels with 35x12.5r17 BFG Mud-Terrain KM2's / Tuffy Security Drawer / sPod and Benchmark Dual Battery System / Cobra 75 CB / Lockpick with Front and Rear Cameras / Katzkin Heated Seats / Line-X Interior / Hitchsafe Key Vault / and a Trasharoo and a lot more little stuff or just stuff I forgot!!!

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Unread 02-09-2010, 11:12 AM   #2
McKBrew
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You'd probably get more insight if you posted this in the electronics forum, but I'll give you some info.

CB radios are cheap, reliable means of communicating. In most cases the range is very short, but the situations where you use a CB (trail runs), they make the perfect communication tool.

If you want communications in BFE, then you need to look at ham radio (it's a seperate unit from a CB). There is a license for ham radio, but it's not expensive at all. The radios can get spendy, but there are cheaper alternatives. Ham radios have far greater range, and the right set-up would be beneficial in remote areas. (I don't know a whole lot more, but plan on getting into the hobby someday).

Another option for remote travel is a SPOT transmitter. Basically it's a satellite transmitter that you pay a monthly fee for. Depending on what you pay, you can have real time tracking, short e-mail capabilities, and emergency location services.
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Unread 02-09-2010, 11:22 AM   #3
Hilldweller
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Ham is much more of a radio; you'd need a license and some instruction. Not as many users, etc.
CB is ubiquitous but not as good a performer.

For your cb to reach its potential, you need to tune your antenna. Get on the Firestick website for instructions; it takes a $15 meter to tune the SWR low. I've tuned 100's of antennas for friends; somebody near you probably has a meter.
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Unread 02-09-2010, 11:26 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McKBrew View Post
You'd probably get more insight if you posted this in the electronics forum, but I'll give you some info. .
I actually did post in the Tech section as well but thought I would get more views here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by McKBrew View Post
Another option for remote travel is a SPOT transmitter. Basically it's a satellite transmitter that you pay a monthly fee for. Depending on what you pay, you can have real time tracking, short e-mail capabilities, and emergency location services.
This is a great idea and I do plan on getting a SPOT very soon.
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Unread 02-09-2010, 11:33 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilldweller View Post
Ham is much more of a radio; you'd need a license and some instruction. Not as many users, etc.
CB is ubiquitous but not as good a performer.

For your cb to reach its potential, you need to tune your antenna. Get on the Firestick website for instructions; it takes a $15 meter to tune the SWR low. I've tuned 100's of antennas for friends; somebody near you probably has a meter.
I guess my question really is, is a Ham worth it? I mean if I just want to know if traffic on I-40 is clear or why is traffic stopped a guy two states away on his HAM won't do me much good. However, if I am only getting a mile or two of coverage on the CB, I won't get much warning of impending problems.

I did actually tune my Firestick...not perfectly but got it to between 1.5 and 2.0. Was planning on spending more time tuning it but then it died.

What can I realisticly expect for range from a Cobra 75 on the open Highway like I-40 across Texas and Oklahoma then again on 24 in Colorado through the mountains?

Thanks for the imput and please do not asumme I know anything on the subject.
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'08 Red Rock Unlimited Rubicon / AEV 2.75" Lift with Remote Reservoir Shocks / AEV Heat Reduction Hood / AEV Front & Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier / AEV Skidplates & Rear Corner Guards / Riddler Diff Covers / Mopar Enhanced Rock Rails / Warn 9.5ti Winch / Mopar Gas Cap Cover / 4.88 Gears / IPF 900xs Drive Beams / Eagle Eye HID Spotlights / Daniel Stern Headlights / 17" AEV Pintler Wheels with 35x12.5r17 BFG Mud-Terrain KM2's / Tuffy Security Drawer / sPod and Benchmark Dual Battery System / Cobra 75 CB / Lockpick with Front and Rear Cameras / Katzkin Heated Seats / Line-X Interior / Hitchsafe Key Vault / and a Trasharoo and a lot more little stuff or just stuff I forgot!!!

____oooo
[ l_,[____],
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Unread 02-09-2010, 11:41 AM   #6
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You can get anywhere from a mile to 50 with a cb; atmospherics and topography stew in the pot with sheer luck to influence the signal.

Ham is a different animal. If you have buddies with ham radios you'll use them frequently. If only 2 out of 10 of you on the trail have them, you'll just use them in camp or in emergencies.

On our last camping trip we had 3 ham operators. They didn't light up the radios during the camping part though; they used cb.

Tennmogger (in the big red Mog here) is an avid radiohead. During this trip a few months ago we hoisted an antenna into the trees and he was able to talk to Europe from Tennessee. Pretty neat.
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Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.- Helen Keller
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Unread 02-09-2010, 11:44 AM   #7
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This may be slightly slanted but IMHO, ham is definetly worth it.
Iv got both in my Jeep.
As far as range with the cb, its dependant on the terrain your in and how well tuned the cb and antenna are.
Best would be under ideal conditions, about 5 miles.
For the area your asking about, the cb would probably do OK.
Im sure more will kick in with comments.
Hope this helps somewhat.
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Unread 02-09-2010, 11:46 AM   #8
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You always have the best pics...I really need to start taking more pictures. I always have the camera but rarely use it

Once I get the replacement from CoolTech I will try to get the antenna dialed in a little better and am sure I will be posting on that and asking for your advice and guidance once again.

Hopefully one of these days I can be one of the guys answering the questions instead of asking them.
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'08 Red Rock Unlimited Rubicon / AEV 2.75" Lift with Remote Reservoir Shocks / AEV Heat Reduction Hood / AEV Front & Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier / AEV Skidplates & Rear Corner Guards / Riddler Diff Covers / Mopar Enhanced Rock Rails / Warn 9.5ti Winch / Mopar Gas Cap Cover / 4.88 Gears / IPF 900xs Drive Beams / Eagle Eye HID Spotlights / Daniel Stern Headlights / 17" AEV Pintler Wheels with 35x12.5r17 BFG Mud-Terrain KM2's / Tuffy Security Drawer / sPod and Benchmark Dual Battery System / Cobra 75 CB / Lockpick with Front and Rear Cameras / Katzkin Heated Seats / Line-X Interior / Hitchsafe Key Vault / and a Trasharoo and a lot more little stuff or just stuff I forgot!!!

____oooo
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Unread 02-09-2010, 11:51 AM   #9
saltwaterwop
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Handheld FRS/GMRS is a third option, reaching up to 10 miles ..
More for trail or vehicle to vehicle communications vs general chatter.

Family Radio Service - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Unread 02-09-2010, 12:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodchuck View Post
I Know nothing about these. I just bought a Cobra 75 All-in-One Kit from Cooltech and installed it. Worked great for two days then died (CoolTech was great and is sending out a replacement as I type). I was a little disappointed with the range however and thought it would be much further.

Is there such a thing as a radio that does CB and Ham? Do I need a license for a Ham? Yada...Yada...Yada...I really just want to communicate on the highway for traffic and weather/road conditions and talking on the trail. It would however be nice to be able to reach someone if I where in the middle of nowhere and something went wrong.

Please teach me and start BASIC...I know NOTHING about these things!

THANK YOU
I am a ham operator and have been for over 20yrs. Got my first license when I was 13yrs old. I have to say, cell phones have really put a dent in my ham usage. I maybe flip it on a few times a year. Back when I first started it was daily.

You do have to take a test for the ham license, but if you have any basic knowledge of electronics the test is not a problem (do you understand high school physics?). A bulk of the test is about laws regarding the use of the radios, frequencies open for use, etc. You don't even need to learn Morse Code anymore. Back when I tested you needed 5, 13, & 20 words per minute as you advanced through the licenses.

The ham radios are quite expensive. However, you get what you pay for. Buy a good CB with a good antenna and good coax connecting it and you will have great coverage. Get the system tuned! This can't be stressed enough. I would expect a well tuned, well built CB system to easily talk over 30+ miles. I am not kidding when I say this since it would be hard for a non-ham to understand, but theortically with all items meshing perfectly, a CB pushing out 10 watts would have no problem talking around the world. The CB band, 11m (27Mhz), is well into the realm of the ability for atmospheric bounce. My first ham contact when I was 13 was on the 10m band (28Mhz) using 50 watts, the contact was from Santiago, Chile. Granted I was using side band with a HUGE radiating dipole antenna and 50 watts of power. The CB is limited to 4 - 14 watts depending on use.

My best advice would be to find a radio shop near where you live and get somebody to tune your setup for you. You are probably getting lots of returned power from your antenna/coax/connections. Your radio is spitting out lets say 10watts, but your setup is returning, maybe, 8 watts. Your true net transmitted power is then only 2 watts.

My next best advice would be to make sure you are using the best quality connectors and antenna you can afford. The antenna is much more than just a little piece of metal sticking up in the air. This is really where the magic happens. As a rule of thumb, the longer the effective length of the whip antenna is, the better it will perform upto 1/4 wave length. It also helps to have the whip antenna mounted to a flat metal surface like a car roof. This electrically "mirrors" the antenna above the flat surface thus increasing its gain. Obviously this won't work for our vehicles and normally it gets mounted at the back of the vehicle with no dB gain.

All I am trying to say is that you probably have the components to make a pretty good system, they just need to be assembled correctly and adjusted by someone who knows what to look for.

Good Luck!
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Unread 02-09-2010, 12:21 PM   #11
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Thanks Sgalway...I think I have some pretty good components. The Cobra 75 should be a decent radio. The Firstik a good antenna and I sanded down to the bare metal on the inside of the Jeep to get a good solid ground surface and I think the coax that came with it is pretty good. I need to spend sometime trying to tune it in alittle better or find a good shop to do it for me. I even hooked it straight to the battery instead of the cigarette lighter. I know there are better parts out there but I don't think anything I got is junk (except for the CB itself dying) so now it sounds like I just need to tweek it a bit.

I like the idea of communicating around the globe on a ham but the reality is I will probably not use it much (too many hobbies and too little time). That being said I want to be able to communicate effectively and I have survived for years without any kind of radio but I had not been adventuring out like now either and I just want to be prepared!
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'08 Red Rock Unlimited Rubicon / AEV 2.75" Lift with Remote Reservoir Shocks / AEV Heat Reduction Hood / AEV Front & Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier / AEV Skidplates & Rear Corner Guards / Riddler Diff Covers / Mopar Enhanced Rock Rails / Warn 9.5ti Winch / Mopar Gas Cap Cover / 4.88 Gears / IPF 900xs Drive Beams / Eagle Eye HID Spotlights / Daniel Stern Headlights / 17" AEV Pintler Wheels with 35x12.5r17 BFG Mud-Terrain KM2's / Tuffy Security Drawer / sPod and Benchmark Dual Battery System / Cobra 75 CB / Lockpick with Front and Rear Cameras / Katzkin Heated Seats / Line-X Interior / Hitchsafe Key Vault / and a Trasharoo and a lot more little stuff or just stuff I forgot!!!

____oooo
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l---L -[OlllllllO-
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Unread 02-09-2010, 12:53 PM   #12
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Truth to sing, the Cooltech mount puts the antenna in pretty-much the worst place for a cb antenna on the Jeep. The tub is stealing some of the signal there.
I have the same mount and chose it just for aesthetics. A mount up by the 3rd eye would work much better.
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Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.- Helen Keller
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Unread 02-09-2010, 12:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilldweller View Post
Truth to sing, the Cooltech mount puts the antenna in pretty-much the worst place for a cb antenna on the Jeep. The tub is stealing some of the signal there.
I have the same mount and chose it just for aesthetics. A mount up by the 3rd eye would work much better.
Would the GateMount from CoolTech be better then?
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'08 Red Rock Unlimited Rubicon / AEV 2.75" Lift with Remote Reservoir Shocks / AEV Heat Reduction Hood / AEV Front & Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier / AEV Skidplates & Rear Corner Guards / Riddler Diff Covers / Mopar Enhanced Rock Rails / Warn 9.5ti Winch / Mopar Gas Cap Cover / 4.88 Gears / IPF 900xs Drive Beams / Eagle Eye HID Spotlights / Daniel Stern Headlights / 17" AEV Pintler Wheels with 35x12.5r17 BFG Mud-Terrain KM2's / Tuffy Security Drawer / sPod and Benchmark Dual Battery System / Cobra 75 CB / Lockpick with Front and Rear Cameras / Katzkin Heated Seats / Line-X Interior / Hitchsafe Key Vault / and a Trasharoo and a lot more little stuff or just stuff I forgot!!!

____oooo
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Unread 02-09-2010, 01:07 PM   #14
Hilldweller
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodchuck View Post
Would the GateMount from CoolTech be better then?
I don't know that one.
If the antenna is next to glass or canvas and sticking up higher, then yes. If the antenna is in a corner alongside the tub, you're getting robbed a little.

For most intents and purposes, it doesn't matter too much. It's just cb and you'll mostly use it rig-to-rig on trails. If it did matter that much to you, you would have bought a "big" radio, tweaked the modulation, mounted dual masts on either side of a lightbar up front, and would have a seatburner...
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Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.- Helen Keller
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Unread 02-09-2010, 01:14 PM   #15
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Here is a link to the GateMount

Cool Tech LLC. JK Gatemount CB Antenna Bracket

What I like about this one is it seems to be less prone to getting torn off and won't flap back and forth an hit the side of the Jeep. I had to pull over this weekend just because I could not stand the thumping. It did it several times but it was really windy and most of the time it stopped after just a few seconds.
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____oooo
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l---L -[OlllllllO-
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