What UHF CB should I buy?

What UHF CB should I buy?

What CB should I buy? 

You should be looking for a well-known brand radios such as GME, Icom, Motorola, Kenwood & Uniden,

Most UHF CB radios on the market are 80ch – the older units are only 40ch, however both can talk to one another on the 1st 40 channels.

80 Channel UHF CB radios are a versatile communication accessory for use in any vehicle, primarily used in 4WD’s, trucks, campervans and heavy machinery to communicate with other road users.

Some of the more expensive brands are 128 channel these give the ability to have commercial private frequencies programmed into them.

Make sure you do not purchase a 55ch VHF radio these are generally used on boats & the marine market.

What type of radio should I get? 

UHF radios come in two basic forms; handheld and vehicle-mounted.

Vehicle-mounted radios offer the best range through the use of an external antenna, while handheld radios are cheaper and can be taken from vehicle to vehicle

Key factory you should consider when purchasing a UHF radio:-

Brand – Stick with a well-known trusted brand and ask where the radio is made – We should all be supporting Australian made.

Warranty: Quality brands offer up to 5 years and sometimes 6 years warranty

Sound Quality:- No point forking out good money for a radio that is too quite or has poor sound quality. Drop into a shop and compare before purchasing.

Features: Bright LCD or even better OLED Display, Ultrafast scanning of channels, Instant voice playback of last transmission, Bluetooth, GPS tracking, Auto power off, software upgradable, extra programmable frequencies & magnetic mic brackets are just some features you should consider.

Size of radio: Often not given much thought – but a small and compact unit is easier to hide or install into most modern vehicles

Antenna options: The next most important factor of any radio system is the antenna and where it is positioned for maximum performance

Warning: Steer clear of the cheap no-name brands – they may not be legal to be used in Australia.

Where should I install my radio?

With most modern 4wd’s it’s hard to find a spot to mount the traditional UHF CB.. Fear not, LCD mic radios are the solution.

Major brands such as Icom, GME XRS and Uniden all have LCD mic radios available.

This allows you to hide the black box out of sight behind a dash panel and only have the LCD mic with all the controls on it to mount.

Some suppliers offer RJ45 panels to make your installation look like it was meant to be there, magnetic mic brackets are great when using off road.

What kind of Antenna should I use?

Once again stick with a well know brand such as GME and RFI.

When a customer asks me this question I like to ask them a few questions to suggest the best antenna to suit their needs.

Where they intend using the radio? Conditions of the road they are driving on, position of antenna, antenna mounting options.

I also find it useful to look at the customer setup/vehicle – this aids in suggesting the correct antenna of the vehicle.

The gain of the antenna & position will generally determine range.

What is gain?

Gain is measured in dB, DBi and dBq – it refers to an antenna’s ability to improve reception and transmission..

Different antennas have different gain patterns. The higher the gain the more tightly focused the radiation pattern is… See Diagram below.

Low gain antennas such as 2dBi – 4dBq are great for hilly conditions and are generally between 300-600mm high and higher gain such as 8-9dB are ideally suited to flat highway conditions.

Medium Gain Antennas 5 – 6.6dB Good all-round antenna – Generally between 800-1200mm tall

Higher gain such as 8-9dB are ideally suited to flat highway conditions and are generally between 1.5-2.2meters long

Where should I mount my Antenna? 

There are multiple mounting positions you can mount the antenna depending on how your 4wd is setup. 

Bullbar / nudge bar mount, guard mount, roof / platform, rollbar / sports bar and through the roof are all options. 

Many people ask me…. How do I get maximum range from my radio… well the simple answer is height!  The higher you mount the antenna the further range you will achieve. 

Commex stocks many mounting options including bulbar brackets, rollbar brackets, fold down brackets, guard brackets, mirror brackets, gutter brackets, telescopic poles and roof brackets + many more. 

Factors that you may need to consider…. Height restrictions – do you need to park in under cover car parks – best to know the height of your vehicle with the antenna fitted before venturing into these antenna destroyers. 

What are watts?

The output power of a radio is measured in watts – 5 watts is the maximum legal power output for UHF CB handheld & in-vehicle radios sold in Australia.

Most radios have the option to switch to low power to conserve battery power and limit range and generally this limits the radio to 1 watt.

When purchasing a handheld radio – always purchase the most powerful radio that suits you budget.

Which channels should I use? 

  • 1-8 / 41-48 – Repeater / Duplex channels (output)
  • 31-38 / 71-78 – Repeater / Duplex channels (input)
  • 5 and 35 – Emergency channel
  • 9,11-17, 19-21 24-28, 30, 39, 49-60, 64-70, 79 and 80 – General use channels
  • 10 – 4WD Clubs
  • 18 – Caravanners Channel
  • 40 – Generally known as the Truckies channel – Great for getting road reports and general listening
  • 22, 23, 61, 62, 63 – Data only
  • 29 – Road safety channel for Pacific Highway and Pacific Motorway (NSW and QLD)

What is Simplex and Duplex?

Simplex: is Radio to Radio communication and is how 99% of users operate their radios. It is a feature on a radio that can be generally turned on/off on certain channels.

Duplex: Use repeater stations. Repeater stations can greatly increase the radios range. Repeaters are generally located high on top of mountains.

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