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How to Operate a CB Radio

Citizens band radios provide safety and company on the road, and can be more reliable than cell phones.


  • Step 1: Tune in Tune in to one of the 40 channels on CB. Channel 19 is the preferred highway channel used by truckers, and channel 9 is the emergency channel. The CB's range is one to 10 miles, depending on weather conditions, time, and location.
  • TIP: It's possible to occasionally pick up conversations hundreds or even thousands of miles away, known as "skip" conversations.
  • Step 2: Listen and talk Make sure the Mic Gain control is on maximum. Listen for a break in the conversation; depress the microphone transmission button, and then say "break" to let people know you're using the channel. Listen for clearance and begin speaking.
  • TIP: The signal meter ranges from one to 30, gauging how well someone is coming through and, perhaps, how close they are.
  • Step 3: Use 10-codes Familiarize yourself with CB jargon, including the many 10-codes, which are abbreviations used by CBers. 10-4 means OK or affirmative, 10-2 means receiving well, and 10-3 means stop transmitting.
  • TIP: Create a "handle" – an on-air pseudonym – of your choice.
  • Step 4: Close transmission Keep your communications brief. Close transmissions by taking your thumb off the microphone button.
  • Step 5: Turn the squelch Turn the squelch knob up to cut off noise from a channel that is not transmitting. The more you turn it up, however, the more stations you will lose, starting with the most distant.
  • Step 6: Use the ANL Turn up the Automatic Noise Limiter, or ANL, in heavily populated areas where there is more airwave activity. This will clarify incoming signals.
  • FACT: Did you know? In 1976, Betty Ford adopted the CB handle "First Mama."

You Will Need

  • A CB radio
  • Familiarity with 10-codes
  • A handle
  • or on-air pseudonym (optional)

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