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Can a Citizens Band Network Be Practical?

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posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:03 PM
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I've been into CBs since the 70s era craze and I have a decent pile of gear I kept stored after I moved out here to the wilderness. I kept one in the car for awhile, but here in the sticks, there is little or no locals on the air, so I just stored it all away.

But things are getting pretty crazy in the world lately and so I've been putting together a prepper plan. With that in mind, I finally got the gear out and have a SSB base and an AM mobile unit set up. The base antenna was never even out of the box until now.

Also, I've made a few friends over the years living here that are of the same mind set. My friends will be on the air soon as well.

After about a month of testing and monitoring the band, I began to give thought to a cell based network of CB operators that could communicate during disasters, or a crisis, where normal communications are non-functional.

After a couple of weeks of research, I came up with some guidelines and a name for the project, "The Michigan Citizens Band Radio Network". I'm using the network initials for call signs (MCBRN) and have put up a website on a free hosting site. You can review the material there by Googling "MCBRN" (Google is the only search that has it indexed right now). It's only three webpages, but it can tell you everything I've come up with up to this point.

My questions for ATS members, is a project like this likely to work? What are the pros and cons? Suggestions?

Considering that you don't need a license and a used CB set-up could be had for cheap at garage sales or eBay, a CB network seems like a doable project. Just the fact that very few people bother with the CB anymore seems like a bonus for survival situation communications. True, it is limited and primitive by today's tech standards, but I really think it could be useful in a lot of SHTF scenarios.

I'm open to any ideas or comments and thanks in advance.




posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:16 PM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck


My questions for ATS members, is a project like this likely to work? What are the pros and cons? Suggestions?

Hear ye hear ye, the big switch is off and besides shouting to your neighbor that old dusted off radio network sounds like a mighty fine idea.

I have a Cobra in the garage and when it becomes necessary I will plug it into the car battery (also self contained) and shout out to the world about whats what.

Locally, it will help find sources of food and water (like when is the farmers market and what stores are open today) and where trouble lurks…



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:21 PM
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a reply to: intrptr

Yes, exactly what started me into this idea, a local grapevine find out what's what locally when the other systems are out or overloaded.

ETA: I've found I can monitor about 30 miles of highway trucker talk from the local interstate from my base station. It would be good to know whats happening on the major road ways.
edit on 1-9-2014 by MichiganSwampBuck because: Added comment



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:25 PM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

Yah if power is down then phones are too. So are FM repeaters. I remember the CB days too. Best source of info in its time. For instance, Truckers relayed where "smokey" and other road hazards were.

By gone era just a major disaster away.

Lol, we'll be in charge because we know the lingo…



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:30 PM
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Local talk would be great and what I had in mind initially, however, when conditions are just right, you can hear conversations transmitted from all over the U.S. and Mexico. It's not legal to use the CB for communications over 155 miles, but you can listen without replying. If you are talking locally and someone can hear your skip, important information can be sent without directly talking to the distant station.

A good example was when I was listening to California after the recent EQ, the conditions were great for DX that week.



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:34 PM
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a reply to: intrptr

I am reading you 5 by 5 and thats a Big 10-4. My first radio was a Benton Harbor Lunch Bucket when I was a kid. Lets see if anyone knows how far back that goes. My dad used the same radio to talk skip all over the US in the days when radios were built not bought, and receiving was done with a VFO not a crystal.

I have thought of this as well and almost pulled the trigger several times on a unit for my pickup. The good ole'days when talking on the CB had civility, and something to talk about. You could sit in the evenings make new friends, and the Kardashians never existed.



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:37 PM
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a reply to: intrptr

The truckers are about the only ones you can hear these days, at least around here. In the city were I lived near Detroit, the big base radios were always pissing the drivers off. I was proud to be a late night drunken CB A-hole back then.

Of course, the idiot Cbers in the city will cause a lot of interference, esp if they are wearing a big boot, like a 1,000 watt boot. All talking over you and playing music, etc. a big problem for folks in the city trying to use the CB.



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:41 PM
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a reply to: MarlinGrace


My dad used the same radio to talk skip all over the US in the days when radios were built not bought, and receiving was done with a VFO not a crystal.

Wow thats way back freq.

I'll settle for "whats your 20" as a measure of strength.

Does anyone know if the new digital wave bands used by police conflict with this CB dream after the fall?



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:43 PM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck
got a couple stashed myself! I like the idea of short range,keep it local,no need to tell everyone what I'm up to.



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:43 PM
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Ah, flashback to my Dad sitting in his "man cave" with his base station the size of a microwave talking to his bud that lived two blocks up the street. Vacuum tubes and a 30' antenna bolted to the side of the house.
I'll never forget his call letters, KBT-6944. His handle was "The Ol' ..." something. I can't remember what and that's going to bug me all night. Back then there were only 23 channels, I think it's 40 now?

Anyway, the two biggest drawbacks to CB that I can think of are limited range and the inability to leave a message. Unless you are both at your radios, you can't communicate.

Now I'm having visions of my Dad getting aggravated trying to thread his reel to reel tape recorder.



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:44 PM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck


I was proud to be a late night drunken CB A-hole back then.

That was you? The guy who sits on the ridge line with the more than 5 watts of legal power "walking all over" conversation?

I miss him, too.



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:49 PM
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The way my setup is working right isn't close to optimal. I only had 50 ft of coax so my base antenna is not up very high. Also, the trees and terrain have their effect. Right now I can talk base to mobile for about 6 miles and base to walkie 1 mile. However, I have heard local talk on AM as far as 25 miles away. I have not yet tried sideband, my other SSB unit is down, but I imagine that 25 miles is not out of the question the way it is right now.

An extra 50 feet, only $20 at Radio Shack, will get the antenna up in a tree when I get around to it. That will increase my range considerably I hope. A new mobile antenna is in order as well, but that old Spark-O-Matic is still working.



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:59 PM
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originally posted by: VictorVonDoom

Anyway, the two biggest drawbacks to CB that I can think of are limited range and the inability to leave a message. Unless you are both at your radios, you can't communicate.


Not a CB'r but know a little about radio and digital stuff. Assuming a reasonable signal to noise was available, would it not be possible using a laptop, to rig something up with an old modem? Send on one channel and recieve on another? That way you COULD leave messages.



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 05:59 PM
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a reply to: VictorVonDoom

Range is a problem, but a network could relay messages 25 miles at a time.

Leaving a message, I've given that some consideration. I will look into a freeware program that will only record when the audio reaches a certain point, like a squelch.

It is very possible to send a digitized text message by sending and decoding Morse code from your computer. There is freeware for that and I've tried it already, it works great. The problem is, the the F.C.C. doesn't allow tones or encryption, even Morse code unfortunately. But a weak local signal would probably go unheard or ignored by the feds.



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 06:03 PM
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a reply to: VoidHawk

Ham operators have the equipment to do that and it legal for them to do so, not us poor folks with old CBs and no Ham operators license, that would be a big fine.



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 06:05 PM
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Ho be honest, a good all band transceiver would be more beneficial than the old 27mhz am transceiver. Something like the icom 7000 would be a good way to go. The new models have capability to run the HF bands all the way through to 70cm band. Cb frequencies are blocked easily by objects and are very limited in range compared to other gear available.

However, if you and your group of mates are on the same wavelength, local communication network shouldn't be a problem under twenty miles base to base. That is if the gear is only 5 watts.

Truth be told, if the shtf.....no one is going to care what your power range is nor the fact that your off band.

I would find a 2 meter walkie talkie to throw in your kit. There is a Chinese company called Beofeng that makes cheap compact handhelds. There is a guy on the local repeater that is always on his and constantly raving about it.

I do not advocate unlicensed operation of radio gear, but if there was ever a national crisis, phone networks are down, terrorists, invasion.......go for it. No one is going to spank you for it.



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 06:05 PM
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originally posted by: VoidHawk

originally posted by: VictorVonDoom

Anyway, the two biggest drawbacks to CB that I can think of are limited range and the inability to leave a message. Unless you are both at your radios, you can't communicate.


Not a CB'r but know a little about radio and digital stuff. Assuming a reasonable signal to noise was available, would it not be possible using a laptop, to rig something up with an old modem? Send on one channel and recieve on another? That way you COULD leave messages.


Great idea! Track down some acoustic modems, a little Visual Basic programming, and you're in business!



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 06:09 PM
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I did have one awful thought about this whole idea, that is, "What if terrorists are thinking alone the same lines?"

The government would be all over the CB messing with people trying to create a network. Hell, even the term "network" suddenly sounds criminal.

Bad thoughts, be gone!
edit on 1-9-2014 by MichiganSwampBuck because: Typo



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 06:20 PM
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originally posted by: shaneslaughta
Ho be honest, a good all band transceiver would be more beneficial than the old 27mhz am transceiver. Something like the icom 7000 would be a good way to go. The new models have capability to run the HF bands all the way through to 70cm band. Cb frequencies are blocked easily by objects and are very limited in range compared to other gear available.

However, if you and your group of mates are on the same wavelength, local communication network shouldn't be a problem under twenty miles base to base. That is if the gear is only 5 watts.

Truth be told, if the shtf.....no one is going to care what your power range is nor the fact that your off band.

I would find a 2 meter walkie talkie to throw in your kit. There is a Chinese company called Beofeng that makes cheap compact handhelds. There is a guy on the local repeater that is always on his and constantly raving about it.

I do not advocate unlicensed operation of radio gear, but if there was ever a national crisis, phone networks are down, terrorists, invasion.......go for it. No one is going to spank you for it.


I don't think the feds cared much about that 20 years ago when I was still into it, linears and going above and below the legal 40 channels, none of those guys got busted too often that I knew of.

I agree with using SW over CB and Ham operator's clubs would be good to network with. But I think CBs still have their place for anyone's ready use without being an amateur radio operator following strict rules and guidelines, etc.



posted on Sep, 1 2014 @ 06:37 PM
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originally posted by: MichiganSwampBuck
I did have one awful thought about this whole idea, that is, "What if terrorists are thinking alone the same lines?"

The government would be all over the CB messing with people trying to create a network. Hell, even the term "network" suddenly sounds criminal.

Bad thoughts, be gone!


No harm in thinking ahead of the game. Best way to make counter provisions.

Your best bet is transparency and open sourcing, but we can't beat the masters of the secrecy, double agent, mole , and misdirection games. If the object is communication for aide, assistance, locationing, sharing, and distribution of information, you may go untargeted and unmolested, for a while. The moment they think you "may" become a threat or if your information or operation is no longer useful to them, well, I am sure the would find a way to terminate your signals.

I still think it is a great idea for a wide variety of reasons. I am an old fart and I still know how to live comfortably without benefit of electricity, grocery stores and i-pads. I ain't easy, but your body learns to cycle with the earth, and all the hard work makes for a good night's sleep. Waking with the sunrise gives me time to get my joints back in motion. I still have plenty of bounce in my step, it just takes a little longer to get up to speed.



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