Friday, February 07, 2020





"It's not fair to paint the whole herd with stripes if there's just a few donkeys in the bunch..."

    While much of this Blog dwells on 11m, I also cover Ham radio, and enjoy both. If the ratio of my usage (11m - 75% Ham - 25%) is indicative of my interests I sometimes wonder if the perceptions of CB by those with an Amateur radio license are partially to blame. Most 11m op's don't care if you're a CB'er and a Ham, but flip that around and you'll find a huge Hamular backlash towards you with much of that coming from past connotations vs. actual experience. To be fair, there is some small truth to every misconception, but it's not fair to paint the whole herd with stripes if there's just a few donkeys in the bunch.....and now... it's on to the story...

Depending on where you are in North America, the UK, or elsewhere you'll probably hear one of two things:

1. "CB is DEAD and long gone"
2. "CB is still very active"

Both statements are true and it all depends on where you live. For instance, in the greater Houston area the whole band appears silent but because the area is so spread out it isn't that easy to hear stations chatting among themselves if you're 30-40 miles away. On the other hand it could be a scenario where an area once populated with CBer's is void of transmissions. You may be SOL until band conditions allow for some skip talking, which is perfectly legal to do now.

Some locations are still pretty active with more than one mode of communication in use, for example, Rochester New York. Various AM traffic other than 19 can also be found on channels 22-28 while SSB communications can be heard daily on 27.305 lsb, 385 lsb, or above 40, and it's nice to know that these areas do exist. All it takes is persistent listening and sometimes a SDR website to get you there (one huge benefit of being able to view a chunk of hf is being able to see activity).

But merely listening to your radio is not the the best way to go about it, and this applies to ham radio as well. If you're not out there calling CQ you may never
know how many other stations are on frequency because they could be sandbagging too (if you were paying attention a few posts back you would have watched Fred-In-The-Shed's excellent YouTube video which struck similar notes).
The time of day can make a big difference to what you will or won't hear across the band. In one area of the UK  I had staked out it seemed to me that it waspretty dead (Southwest). I almost relegated that link to the Recycle Bin when by chance, I accidently clicked on that shortcut instead of another and heard a great QSO going on (early morning US time). Now that I know about the activity I can usually find something to listen to in the UK whether it be morning, afternoon, or even after midnight, including local traffic on 10 meters (28.490 USB)...!! [while typing this article I've been listening to G0FWX and M0YRX on 28.490 via an SDR website].

Try Telling Someone That You Talk On the 10 Billion Nanonmeter Band

Gary, G0FWX uses both 10 and 40 meters and I believe that I heard him tell Kevin that he had worked 37 countries on 10 meters alone. While listening to Gary and Kevin (M0YRX) I was able to ask questions via email and get real time answers from Gary (unfortunately Kevin's email address was not available via QRZ). Ten meters in North America often gets tagged by older Ham's as CB's "other cousin", which is quite unfair. It's nice to know that 10 meters is doing so well across the pond. I've heard of a nearby 10 meter net in this area and have sat on that frequency trying to get in on the fun but everyone seems to be farther than my set-O-ears can hear.

While I'm not ruling 10 meters out completely I think I'll have a much better chance (when the Sun is quite freckled) to make Gary's acquaintance on 40 meters.

On 11 meters,.Gary said that all was good until "One day I got a knock on the door", so at that time (in his teens) he decided to get his Foundation license (Ham radio license). Very often he gets QRM at home so he goes mobile to be able to hear and make QSO's.

[ed: No one ever wants a "knock on the door" - wherever you're located, and as I've written before, in the late 60's - early 70's everyone had the fear of "Uncle Charlie" (FCC) drummed into them. While a landline from a buddy, warning you of impending doom helped, it wasn't always necessary to determine if the FCC was in your town monitoring the CB channels. We had 9-10 channels that were always buzzing with activity and if I were to turn ON my EFJ 124 and hear virtual silence mixed with a few folks using call signs only it was a sure thing that our Uncle was in town, 'Nuff said]

Another way to scare up contacts is via Facebook the many radio related pages that can be found there, as well as websites like Worldwide Dx or Charlie Tango. On the Worldwide Dx site they have many forums both Ham and CB related and it's not uncommon for someone to get on a post to declare that their area is currently active allowing others to turn their rigs on and start calling CQ and that sure beats trying to put a "want-to-talk-to" radio ad on Craigslist.

A brief history of CB in the UK can be read on Thunderpole, so take a look.

This is one rumor that dies, only to be reborn again and again. For any newbie or former radio operator getting back into the hobby a quick spin around the dial could indicate a barren soulless span of frequencies only used by truckers on channels 19 and 11/14 (Hispanic channels). 

But when there is a slight band opening other frequencies come alive:

Channel 6/11 - The "Super Bowl" channel

Channels 20/22/28 - AM stations

Channels 36-40 - SSB

27.385 in particular fills up with hundreds if not thousands of voices calling CQ, then moving their QSO to adjacent frequencies. So right now, most of us are sleeping and waiting for the return of some hefty Sunspots, with the knowledge that CB is far from dead.



Quartzfest 2020 - Hams of You Tube Panel



PS- There are some new audio clips (top right side of Blog)

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