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Remember Citizens Band – Boys and their Toys

remember citizens band

I remember citizens band. CB was a huge amount of fun for many of us when we were kids. 

In the 1960’s my first radio transmitter was a CB walkie talkie. Named after the large handheld radios from World War II, these small devices were a marvel. I could talk to my friends all over the neighborhood. Sort of like how kids lie in bed texting these days. When we played “army” along the streets, my team had a secret weapon – radio communications.

CB has a long and storied history, mainly about truckers in the 1970’s. But actually, Citizens Band was created by the FCC in 1945. Unfortunately, they assigned UHF frequencies in the 460-470 MHz region. Equipment for these frequencies was very hard to make and very expensive. It never caught on.

So, in 1958 the FCC swapped some frequencies around. Hams got a new band at 21 MHz but gave up 27 Mhz to CB radio. This “11 meter ham band” had been underused for a number of reasons. Mainly, because it was shared with paging services, industrial and medical equipment. Diathermy and plasma machines used 27 MHz and caused great interference.

Remember Citizens Band – More Useless Frequencies

CB was supposed to be for local communications. Regulators around the world followed suit. The theory was that despite interference, citizens would find clear channels for local chats.

Remember sunspot cycles? The policy decision to assign 27 MHz to CB took place during a sunspot minimum. A few years later, higher sunspots led to long distance communications on these supposedly local frequencies. Thus, the skip came rolling in and CB was never the same.

Incidentally, CB has been replaced in most countries by GMRS and FRS. General Mobile Radio Service has slightly higher power (2 watts) than Family Radio Service (half a watt.) Both use the same frequencies that were originally assigned for CB radio back in 1945!

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