This article by LightSpeed is in response to the discussions taking place on the forums. His intention is to define a prepper communications network, not just one for SUK, but for everyone. I will be, with his aid, defining my own communication strategy but will be participating in a prepper wide network if it is viable.
CB has several advantages over Ham equipment. It is very low cost, readiliy available, and runs from widely available 12v power sources. It is completely license free provided government published parameters are adhered to. It is simple to use in that it is channelized and that those channelized frequencies are standardized. Overall the equipment is less complex to operate than ham gear. This reduction in complexity is paid for by a loss in flexibility.
To demonstrate the complexity point, the instruction booklet for my Albrect AE485s (The most complex of the CB style rigs evaluated here) is just 10 pages long. Whereas the handbook for my little Yaesu VX-3r (which looks identical to the Boafeng UV3r and transmits on exactly the same bands) is more than 250 pages long. The Yaesu is almost impossible for me to operate using all of its functionality without constant reference to its manual. For an untrained and inexperienced operator, a modern Ham radio is a hugely difficult machine to operate, operating skill only comes after long periods of practical hands-on training, unless we all become hams we will not be able to enjoy that practice without attracting the attention of the Authorities.
For groundwave communications (that is communications to the horizon from any given point) 27 Mhz CB is approximately as good as any of the Ham frequencies, especially if efficient antennas are used. Difference in performance against Ham frequencies is mostly down to the quality and complexity of the radios and antennas used by Hams, and not the transmission frequency itself.
Well positioned CB stations with efficient antennas can expect average transmission radius of 5 to 20 miles using FM and reliably 10 to 30 miles using SSB. SSB will, in addition, enhance the ability to send and receive signals bounced of the various layers of the atmosphere, giving “single skip” range of 400 to 1000 miles, but the gap between the edge of groundwave capability (say 30 miles) and the nearest skip distance (say 400 miles) will remain un-reachable.
Efficient antennas are really not too complex: one choc block connector and two lengths of 2.25 meter lengths of wire will create a very dipole efficient antenna for both transmission and reception. A single 5.5 meter length of wire can be thrown into a tree, hidden in a plastic gutter etc, with very similar results. There are also some very discreet telescopic Ham antennas that can be use to very good effect at these frequencies.
The UK CB27/81 standard 40 channel set is a UK only product. It is readily available at low cost on the second hand market. Equipment is very simple to operate and fairly robust. Transmission mode is FM which is fairly resistant to background noise interference, but the channel frequencies are not compatible with non-UK CB channel allocations. Good quality branded rigs have proven to have good long term reliability.
The UK CB27/81 standard is a good basic standard for us to us as a purely UK Comms network standard.
It is up to individuals if they wish to invest in more complex equipment. We should plan to build the primary network based on the basic CB27/81 standard so that a maximul number of SUK members can participate.
Additional channels may be more of a barrier than an asset as they will permit and encourage a layer of communications that will be completely hidden from the users of basic CB27/81 sets. However those extra channels will allow maximum opportunity for interoperability with other non SUK network stations.
SSB operations will also be hidden from basic UK27/81 set users, but will provide improvements over the basic network equipment. Capability to operate in SSB mode is desirable, both in anticipation of legalization of SSB in the UK, and also in anticipation of an unregulated environment post SHTF.
Equipment exists that supplements the standard CB 27/81 in various ways
- UK 27/81 Plus an additional 40 channels (=80ch) The last 40 channels are compatible with EU CB equipment. Transmission mode remains FM only.
- UK27/81 Plus Eu multi standard. I’m not sure but I think this provides another 40 channels (=120 Ch) and can be switched to allow compatibility with all EU Standards. Mostly FM, but some have AM capability. Note that non UK channels and AM are illegal to use in UK.
- Hybrid Ham 10 metre / Freeband rigs. Generally multi-standard and can be made to function on or almost on frequency with UK27/81 standard. Capable of most international channel frequencies and also of operating in the Ham allocated bands. Usually support FM, AM, SSB and sometimes CW transmission modes. Only legal to operate in UK by licensed amateurs and then only on compliance with band allocations and license parameters.
What’s available and at what cost?
|Old UK CB27/81 standard FM||Available second hand: cost in region of GBP 20.00 – 60.00|
|UK 80 channel Standard FM (inc CB 27/81)||Available new or used cost GBP 40 – 80.00|
|European multi standard inc UK CB/81.||Available new or used: cost in region of GBP 50.00 – 120.00|
|Eu Multi standard inc CB/81 FM,AM, SSB. CW||Avail new or used: cost in region of GBP 100.00 – 250.00|
|Note 12Watts is the probable standard that will be allowed in UK|
|Old AM CBs1||Available second hand: cost in region of GBP 10.00 – GBP 30.00|
|Old AM /FM/SSB CB2||Available second hand: cost in region of GBP 40.00 – GBP 120.00|
1 Do not have CB 27/81 channels. These are currently illegal to use in UK and will probably remain illegal even if the UK adopts the new EU recommendation for 12w SSB usage.
2 Interoperable only with other AM and SSB rigs, specifically these will not be able to communicate with the UK CB 27/81 standard.