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Worldwide Influence of the CB Craze of the 1970s

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posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 08:48 AM
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A couple of days ago I decided to monitor the citizens band two-way radio and find out if the "skip" conditions were favorable. For those who don't know about CB skip, here is a quick explanation. Skip is radio waves traveling up and reflecting off the ionosphere and back down to earth at great distances. Skip, during average conditions, enables a CB operator in the U.S. to communicate all over the States as well as Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Skip conditions are primarily caused by sun spot activity and travel with the earth's rotation, appearing where the sun strikes the atmosphere. Skip can also occur at night when storms of cosmic rays from space excite the ionosphere. On rare occasions, early in the morning I can even hear CB transmissions from Spain and France.

Lately CB skip conditions have been pretty good and so I was monitoring CB channel 38 (27.385 MHZ) on the lower sideband. LSB Ch 38 is considered the national contact channel for CB sideband use. Single sideband on CB is transmitting an FM signal, as opposed to the traditional AM signal, and at a higher wattage of 12 watts vs the 4 watts of AM use. Sideband, with it's frequency modulation and higher wattage, works better than the normal AM CB for communicating during skip conditions.

So, for the first time in the last two years since I've been monitoring the CB, I was clearly hearing transmissions from Great Britain. I've known for a while that CB was popular in the UK, but I really didn't know how popular it actually was. After hearing the British CBers, I decided to find out how many countries actually use the CB frequencies. Perhaps I could figure out which channels and times of day would be best for listening to other English speaking countries.

Well, after a little research I've come to the conclusion the CB "craze" of the 1970s has had a world wide impact, with Great Britain finally making our U.S. CBs legal for general license free use just last year. Although the Class D CB Service band in the U.S. started in 1958, it didn't become popular until 1973 after the 55 MPH national speed limit came into effect. This is when truck driver's made CB use popular and country music began making songs about it. By 1976 popular songs like "Teddybear" by Red Sovine, "The White Knight" by Cledus Maggard, "C.B. Savage" by Rod Hart and especially "Convoy" by C.W. McCall and "East Bound and Down" by Jerry Reed, made CBs an American fad.

All the following quotes are from Wikipedia . . .



Convoy" is a 1975 novelty song performed by C. W. McCall (pseudonym of Bill Fries) that became a number-one song on both the country and pop charts in the U.S. Written by McCall and Chip Davis, the song spent six weeks at number one on the country charts and one week at number one on the pop charts. The song went to number one in Canada as well, hitting the top of the RPM Top Singles Chart on January 24, 1976. "Convoy" further peaked at number two in the UK. The song capitalized on the fad for citizens band (CB) radio. The song was the inspiration for the 1978 Sam Peckinpah film Convoy.


Here is a list of popular movies during the 70s and 80s that contributed to the CB craze.

1976 The Gumball Rally
1976 Cannonball
1977 Citizens Band
1977 Breaker! Breaker!
1977 Handle With Care
1977 Smokey and the Bandit
1978 Convoy
1980 Smokey and the Bandit II
1981 The Cannonball Run
1983 Smokey and the Bandit III
1984 Cannonball Run II

1977 saw a peak of CB movie classics and it seems that year was pivotal in many countries when adopting the use of U.S. CBs. Canada was one country that got on the CB band wagon in 1977.



In Canada, the General Radio Service uses the identical frequencies and modes as the United States citizens band, and no special provisions are required for either Canadians or Americans using CB gear while traveling across the border. The General Radio Service was authorized in 1962. Initially, CB channels 1 through 3 remained allocated to amateur radio and channel 23 was used by paging services. American CB licensees were initially required to apply for a temporary license to operate in Canada. In April 1977, the service was expanded to the same 40 channels as the American service.


It seems that Great Britain got hooked on CBs in 1978, apparently due to the CB cult film classic "Convoy". Here's a little history on CB use in the UK.



C.B. Radio was first introduced into the United Kingdom around 1972. Early use was known around the airports in the UK, particularly Stansted in 1973. As citizens band radio has been advertised in the U.S. since before 1962, it is possible that a number of these radios were brought into the U.K. and used illegally. In 1978, C.B. radio in Britain was much popularized by its use in the film Convoy and the usage of illegal C.B. radio peaked in 1980.




The UK channels that were legalized on 2 November 1981 were on two blocks of frequencies: 40 channels on the 27 MHZ band and 20 channels on the 934 MHZ band, both of which used FM (frequency modulation) and both unique to the UK . . . In 1987 40 additional frequencies were added, which were ironically the same as the U.S. allocation - but again using FM. This additional band is often referred to as the CEPT or EU band.




Following most other European countries, Ofcom proposed to adopt European Communication Committee Decision 031 in October 2013. This would permit the use of Single Sideband and AM operation on the CEPT CB radio band, and Ofcom proceeded with legislation to this effect on 27 June 2014.


Here are the popular contact channels used in the UK.

AM - Calling Channel 14 (27.125Mhz)
SSB - Calling Channel 27 (27.275Mhz)
FM - Calling Channel 31 (27.315Mhz)

In addition CB Channel 9 (the emergency calling channel) and Channel 19 (the truckers' channel) have been unofficially recognized for use within the U.K.

Australia was another English speaking country that caught CB fever by 1977 when, according to Wikipedia . . .



CB was legalized with an 18-channel band plan. In 1980, the American 40-channel band plan was adopted. From the outset, the government attempted to regulate CB radio with license fees and callsigns, but some years later abandoned this approach.




New Zealand has also adopted the Australian UHF-CB-System as well. Indonesia has the usual 40 channels at 27 MHZ, plus a unique 60-channel allocation from 142.050 MHz–143.525 MHZ.


So it seems the U.S. got this CB craze started in the mid 70s and it is still having an effect throughout the world to this day.

Concerning skip conditions here in Michigan, communications with London would be best on days with sunspot activity starting at around 6am local time (11am London time) until around noon local time (5pm London time). For Australia and New Zealand, the solar skip conditions would start around 1pm and end around 5pm local time.

As for night time skip conditions, it would depend on what part of the earth was getting hit with cosmic rays and which areas of the ionosphere were active. Another consideration is which layer of the ionosphere was being activated. Activity in the upper reaches of the ionosphere would make for better world wide skip conditions with activity in the lower layers better for more localized skip conditions.
edit on 20-12-2015 by MichiganSwampBuck because: typo




posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 08:56 AM
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The CB craze was like an early internet. It reflects our innate need to communicate.



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 09:25 AM
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Would be nice if more people got into radio, whether its cb or Ham radio. Phones will go down eventually and this will be the only means of comms.


Pcg



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 09:31 AM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

Nice write up.
i'm in the UK.
Was into cb radio in the '80s. It was very popular back then although only fm and, had to be licensed. Now we can have am/fm and don't need licenses. But can only legally transmit at 4 watts.
I got all set up again not too long ago. But, the UK doesn't have many cbers left.
In the car i talk to the occasional person while on the motorway near Manchester or Liverpool or the odd trucker now and then.
At home i only use a loft antenna. I have only managed to talk to 3 people from home,
I listen to it regularly though. In the mornings i can hear all Europe, Ukraine and Russia. From midday i can hear the US and Canada. I thought that as well as skip. The other reason i can pick up such transmissions is due to the lack of UK users leaving the channels clearer for better reception. Its not like skip in the '80s where it might last a day or two. This is every day i can hear them. Although i cannot hear these foreign users at night.
I heard a Moscow user talking to someone in the UK. But, i couldn't hear the UK user. The guy from Moscow said he was using a home made antenna and 100w burner.
Burners are illegal here. But, maybe its the only way to keep up these days.
Also as bottleslingguy said about like the early internet. I think most are using social media now. Where cb radio was the first type of social media.



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 09:41 AM
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Sideband is a AM (amplitude modulation) signal
LSB is the lower side band and USB the upper side band. Just to correct you a little bit.

Now that using side band is legal in the UK as of a couple of years ago, I think that it has gained some popularity of late.

Most CBers in the uk either stopped all together or went into HAM radio. Some do both.



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 10:38 AM
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originally posted by: MichiganSwampBuck

Lately CB skip conditions have been pretty good and so I was monitoring CB channel 38 (27.385 MHZ) on the lower sideband. LSB Ch 38 is considered the national contact channel for CB sideband use. Single sideband on CB is transmitting an FM signal, as opposed to the traditional AM signal, and at a higher wattage of 12 watts vs the 4 watts of AM use. Sideband, with it's frequency modulation and higher wattage, works better than the normal AM CB for communicating during skip conditions.


SSB is most definitely NOT FM. In any way. At all. Not even close.

A lot of people who learned the 'technician' version of modulation see AM modulation as working like this...



Nothing could be further from the truth. You don't get an envelope modulated signal off the antenna at all. What you DO get with AM is a cluster of signals, which can be viewed as three separate transmissions. One is a carrier signal with no information on it at all, which has 67% of the total output power at 100% modulation. With less than 100% modulation, it has MORE of the output power percentage. It does nothing. It's just there using up your output power.

The other two transmissions are an upper sideband, which contains 1/6 of the output power, and is the vector sum of the modulation and the carrier. If you are transmitting a sine wave of 400 Hz, and the carrier is at 27.000MHz, the upper sideband will contain a sine wave at 27,000,400 Hz.

The lower sideband is a mirror of the upper one - it's the vector difference. So for a 400Hz modulation of 27MHz, the lower sideband will be a sine wave at 26,999,600 Hz.

An "envelope detector" just multiplies the three signals back together. But all the information is in the sidebands, and they're copies of each other. So there's no real need for either the carrier or both sidebands, all you need is one sideband. So, through the magic of engineering, a SSB rig tosses the stuff you don't need, and places all the output power into the remaining sideband. This effectively gives you about three times the power efficiency, and is where that "12 Watts vs 4" thing comes in. That's not true in a literal way - the "plate power" of the transmitter is the same for AM or SSB, but your power efficiency is almost 3X since you're tossing the useless carrier and the mirror copy of the other sideband. So the part of the signal you're radiating with info on it (your voice) has about 3x the power than what you would do with AM modulation.

That's not FM at all. It's a sort of AM wherein you're chucking the bits you don't need and putting all the power into the bits you want. It makes your transmitter and receiver a lot more complex - you have to remove the bits you don't need on the transmitter end and you have to reconstitute the carrier at the receiver end in order to demodulate it. It also makes automatic gain controls a bit more dicey.

In the olden days, when we did it with tubes and crystal filters, the designs were very clever and artistic. These days I'd do it with a DSP.



As for night time skip conditions, it would depend on what part of the earth was getting hit with cosmic rays and which areas of the ionosphere were active. Another consideration is which layer of the ionosphere was being activated. Activity in the upper reaches of the ionosphere would make for better world wide skip conditions with activity in the lower layers better for more localized skip conditions.


Part of the reason HAARP was built. Making your own "skip" when and where you wanted it, and spoiling the other guy's.



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 10:43 AM
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originally posted by: pcgamer11
Would be nice if more people got into radio, whether its cb or Ham radio. Phones will go down eventually and this will be the only means of comms.


Pcg


Not if the reason the phones go down involves ionospheric disturbance. If that happens, CB will be line of sight, like any VHF transmission.

Your post-CME or post-HAND radio world is going to be very odd. You'll be able to (at times) do skip with UHF. But for the most part, you won't have a comm path that lasts more than a few seconds that depends on the ionosphere, because it's going to be heaving and bucking and rippling for months if not years later.

That's why GWEN. It didn't depend on skywave at all. And that's why.



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 10:43 AM
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originally posted by: FawnyKate
Sideband is a AM (amplitude modulation) signal
LSB is the lower side band and USB the upper side band. Just to correct you a little bit.

Now that using side band is legal in the UK as of a couple of years ago, I think that it has gained some popularity of late.

Most CBers in the uk either stopped all together or went into HAM radio. Some do both.


You must have missed this paragraph in my original post.



Lately CB skip conditions have been pretty good and so I was monitoring CB channel 38 (27.385 MHZ) on the lower sideband. LSB Ch 38 is considered the national contact channel for CB sideband use. Single sideband on CB is transmitting an FM signal, as opposed to the traditional AM signal, and at a higher wattage of 12 watts vs the 4 watts of AM use. Sideband, with it's frequency modulation and higher wattage, works better than the normal AM CB for communicating during skip conditions.


It didn't cover sideband completely, but the reference was there. Not too many people are familiar with the difference between the two modes of CB, but it made since to mention it as sideband is better for "shooting skip". There is more to it of course, but it seemed too technical to get into that for this discussion. Thanks for the knowledgeable reply though.

It is clear that the popularity of CBs has diminished a great deal in the States as well, but compared to the Hams, I think it is still more popular in it's use. It really depends a great deal on where you are. I do find it interesting that the UK as finally made the U.S. CBs legal for use over there just last year.

With all the available modes of communications these days, I find it amazing that CBs are still as popular as they are around the globe. I wish that "free banders" and pirate radio was more popular though. It's that kind of public flaunting of the laws that have opened up many frequencies for unlicensed use and the loosing up of requirements for the use of Ham frequencies.



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 10:53 AM
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You better be careful when talking about "skip"




Rule 13 Illegal Communications
[9] to communicate with, or ATTEMPT to communicate with, any CB station more than 155.3 miles (250 kilometers) away;


A rule that many people are probably not aware of!


www.cbradiomemories.com...



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 10:54 AM
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a reply to: Bedlam

There you go, Bedlam got to the technical aspects of side band AM. I supposed it was FM, apparently that was a wrong assumption, my bad. Thanks for that correction for those of us that are so technically minded.

Not that such technicalities are that important to the OP except in reference to the frequency I happened to be monitoring when I picked up Great Britain.

Line of sight is another technical aspect as is the particulars of ionospheric conditions that allow for skip. There is a whole lot of details involved in two-way radio communications, that is for sure.

Here is a link to a great Army manual on the subject.

FM 24-18 Ch 2 Radio Principles



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 10:57 AM
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a reply to: charolais

Yes, I'm familiar with the "rules", but seriously, the F.C.C. isn't really doing much about that. It should be mentioned that I only listen to skip and that communications with other countries on the CB is also illegal.

ETA: I suppose that if you were to merely announce your presence and location in a transmission during skip conditions, that would fall under legal use. Unless you have an actual conversation, it should be legal to simply say you can hear other stations from distances farther than legally allowed. Not sure, but it seems to be a gray area somewhat.



edit on 20-12-2015 by MichiganSwampBuck because: typo

edit on 20-12-2015 by MichiganSwampBuck because: added an extra comment



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 10:59 AM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck




Worldwide Influence of the CB Craze of the 1970s


You just took me back to my childhood.

Talking on a CB used to be an art form where you knew who you were talking to just by what they said, not to mention it also kept a lonely trucker awake on those long hauls cross country.

Boy the good old days. I do remember if you were lucky you could be on the east coast of the US and talk with someone in England...which as a young boy in the 70's was amazing.



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 11:00 AM
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a reply to: bottleslingguy




The CB craze was like an early internet. It reflects our innate need to communicate.


More like an early cell phone.



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 11:01 AM
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originally posted by: charolais
You better be careful when talking about "skip"


A rule that many people are probably not aware of!


I bet MSB is using a lot more than 4W of output power too.

The only gripes I have about CBers diddling their equipment are, in general, that they are often not nearly as technically literate as HAM operators, since there isn't any tech requirement. And the equipment is as cheap as it can be made. So the mods they do often end up with overmodulation or generation of spurious out of band emissions. We call it 'splatter'. And the upshot is that it radiates outside of the CB bands. And the CB band is one of those that propagates a long way, so the sins of the truck driver running a crappy 2KW linear strapped to a crappy exciter is that the whole world gets to enjoy the crappy product, in other bands adjacent to (or far from, worst case) the CB band.

I was definitely onboard with eliminating the CB band and moving them all to a line-of-sight VHF band where they could radiate their asses off without gaining one extra foot of range or propagating past the horizon. Alas.



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 11:05 AM
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a reply to: Bedlam

You'd lose that bet Bedlam. I don't wear a boot or even talk skip, like a voyeur, I just like to listen. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

edit on 20-12-2015 by MichiganSwampBuck because: typo



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 11:08 AM
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that's a big 10-4 good buddy.....yougot the T-bone down in cowtown reelin the white lines till I catch a smokey.... holler in' when I spot a county Mountie....and I'm lookin over your shoulder....T-bone on the side.....



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 11:19 AM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

Good memories those CB days. Was so fanatic that I made a monster 3/4 wave antenna. Done skip a couple of time between Canada and US.



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 01:35 PM
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My old man used to be CB'er . Realalistic w/side band with 1500 watt linear amp and 40 foot beams .He was able to talk to people all over the north American continent. Used to get post cards form all over. From Sac as far away as British Columbia. The neighbors used hate it when he fired up the amp because he would broadcast on every speaker with an 1/8 of a mile. * 8 Track on chanel 21.. Still use my handle to day MajorAce
edit on 20-12-2015 by MajorAce because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 01:38 PM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

Ohh, I have a few CBs myself. This explains how at times I too get other countries. I can hear them but they do not hear me? Ifigure when shtf I can possibly communicate with others. I love the olden days of CBs while driving across country with my family.



posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 01:42 PM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

You didn't mention the secret 'A' channels did you? Thanks radio control modellers for those,it was sure nice to get away from the rabble on the 'normal' channels.

Oh and of course the extra 40 'high' channels,and the 40 'low' channels.And unless I'm very much mistaken,'superhigh' channels and 'superlow' channels as well.

I think it was the President Adams CB that had highs and lows as standard wasn't it?
edit on 20-12-2015 by Imagewerx because: (no reason given)




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