Learn Radio Terminology

Learn Radio Terminology

Amps? Rig? Feedlines? What are all these words? If you’re pursuing a survivalists comm plan then you will need to learn radio terminology so that you will understand what everyone else is talking about.

  • Amplifier – is as its name states a device used to make your signal go further on transmit. Note that the amplifier (or “amp”) does not help on receive. To increase one’s receive capabilities you would add a “pre-amp” to your antenna.
  • Antenna – is a term for the device used to send and receive radio signals. An antenna can be anything from a simple wire antenna up to a high-end structure.
  • Boom – the horizontal portion of a beam antenna which is held up by the mast.
  • CB – everyone knows that CB stands for Citizen’s Band. CB radios are good for survivalists as they are cheap and readily accessible Their main drawback is a lack of coverage brought on by such low power levels.
  • Coax – a special kind of cabling using a center conductor surrounded by a shield of braided wire. Coax is used to prevent interference to the transmit or receive signal.
  • DX’er is a person who pursues contacts with foreign countries. Shortwave listening is also considered DXing even though the SWL is not transmitting a signal.
  • Feedline is the wire that feeds the signal to the antenna from the radio (or to the radio in the case of shortwave radios). The most widely known name for feedlines is simply “coax” (pronounced ko-axe)
  • FRS stands for Family Radio Service and is attractive to survivalists because it is a license-free service.
  • GMRS stands for General Mobile Radio Service is a licensed service for an individual and their family members. The fees for GMRS are in the neighborhood of $85 US.
  • Ham Radio is the more popular name for ‘amateur radio. Ham radio require a license as well as some comprehensive testing to acquire the license.
  • LID – a derogatory term for an amateur radio operator who doesn’t follow the ‘rules of the road’ so to speak.
  • Mast – a mast is nothing more than a support for an antenna. It can be most any size and sometimes uses telescoping sections. The use of telescoping sections designates these as push-up masts’.
  • Rig – a rig is another name for a radio to ham radio operators. Some other names are transceiver, radio, or even squawk box.
  • SWL is short for shortwave listener and is a requirement in some countries before you are able to obtain an amateur radio license. There are a great many hams who are still SWL even though they are allowed to use a transmitter
  • SWR – this term is fairly familiar to survivalists with even a basic knowledge of radios (Ham, or CB). SWR describes the ‘standing wave ratio’ of your antenna system. SWR is a form of measurement of the ‘health’ of your antenna system. Improper SWR readings indicate the antenna itself is improperly adjusted. Excessively high SWR indicates a serious problem likely to be in the coax/feedline and will damage the rig if it is used in this configuration.
  • Transceiver is a cross of words which means you are using a radio that is both a “transmitter” as well as a “receiver”. In the mid-70’s and earlier it was not unusual to see hams and military personnel using a separate transmitter and a receiver.

Learn Radio Terminology

Is this the death of CB radio?

Is this the death of CB radio?

Citizens Band Radio is a service that you either love or hate but everyone can agree that CB radio has a purpose and a place in a survivalist’s communications plans. But we may be seeing an al out attack upon CB radio and our rights as Americans by the socialist government of Barack Hussein Obama. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has the CB radio service in its sights and one would wonder just how long the services has to live.

Below is an article you will be interested in concerning CB radio:

The death of CB Radio?

The FCC is proposing a massive rewrite of its Part 95 rules. These are the regulations that govern such public available two way radio as the General Mobile Radio Service, the Family Radio Service, and 11 meter C-B to mention only a few.

WT Docket No. 10-119 was released on June 7th 2010 and is a catch all of proposed rules changes that would affect the General Mobile Radio Service the most. This, by ending its current licensing requirements and replacing these with what the FCC calls License by Rule. That’s an FCC term that kind of means doing to GMRS what it essentially did on 11 meter CB a few decades ago. It would additionally mean relaxing GMRS eligibility requirements and at the same time implementing mandatory 12 point 5 kilohertz channel spacing to the service. It also would also allow the transmission of Global Positioning System location information and user-generated text messages on certain GMRS channels.

As to the Family Radio Service, the FCC proposes to prohibit the authorization of radios that combine FRS with other safety-related services. In other words, an FRS radio would have to be a Family Radio Service only transceiver and it would become illegal to manufacture an FRS radio that could work with or in any service other than channels where FRS is allocated to operate. This would mean an end to a whole slew of transceivers that have multiple service capability especially those that cover both FRS and GMRS or some with FRS, GMRS and Marine channel capability.

Regarding 11 Meter CB, the FCC says it plans to evaluate various requirements regarding the Citizens Band Radio Service in order to determine whether they all are still needed. Of significance the FCC will be looking into CB’ers who work skip during band openings. It notes that amplifiers for CB stations are already illegal, but WT Docket No. 10-119 asks if the regulatory agency should consider prohibiting directional antennas for C-B operations in order to promote the services intended use for short range only communications. It also wants to know if it should consider power reductions for the CB Service and whether or not to permit the use of “hands-free” microphones.

FCC WT Docket No. 10-119 is 96 pages long including various appendices. It also carries a rather short commentary cutoff date of 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Reply Comments will be due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register. You can download and read it yourself at https://www.fcc.gov (FCC)

death of cb radio

Can I Use A CB Radio?

Can I Use A CB Radio?

Citizen’s Band or CB is a radio that most people are familiar with and likely already have one if they do much camping and hiking. The CB radio is easy to purchase, you don’t need a license to operate it and antennas are fairly small and easy find. So with all of these goods points you just know there are some bad points so here they go. Remember, sometimes it’s best to go analogue in a digital world.

Most CB radios are AM (amplitude modulated) making them more susceptible to atmospheric noise. AM radios such as CBs are also easy to jam (block) thereby rendering them pretty much useless. Note that there are CB radios that also have SSB (single side band) modulation and these radios are generally more expensive than simple AM CBs.

CB radios have a low power output running in the 4 to 15 watt range. This is fine for mobile operation where vehicles are within a few miles of each other. Using a CB with a base station antenna helps it considerably but there are still times when the low output power will be detrimental.

The range which CB radios can cover are pretty well at the mercy of the environment. Amateur (or ham) radios have the capability to allow the operator to switch to other open bands while a CB is rockbound to 11 meter band. A full-featured amateur transceivers will have various bands available which will allow the operator to switch to any of the other bands should the one their are currently using become unusable because of the RF conditions of the atmosphere. For an example, you’ve bee working DX all over Europe on the 20 meter band for most of the day and the band begins to exhibit QSB (fading of the signal strength). You simply change bands over to one that is more conducive to night time communications such as the 40 through 160 meter bands which exhibit characteristics making them more attractive for long and short distance communications during the night time and early morning hours.

All that being said should one refrain from the use of a CB for survivalist situations? Absolutely not! You might even consider adding a CB radio to your current communications gear if you don’t already have one. When the going gets rough you just can’t have too many radios, so it could be a wise choice to add a CB radio on board. One thing about ham radios, especially those featured on these pages is that they have general coverage receivers in them. This feature allows you to listen to the CB band (27mhz) from one end to the other. As for transmitting on 11 meters, you will just have to test the radio first. Be forewarned though that it is against FCC regulations to transmit on CB bands with more than 5 watts 😉 so be careful there.

CB radio