CB radios are not just for four-wheel-drive enthusiasts, but are useful for family communication, from base to mobile, mobile to mobile, or mobile to pedestrian communication. They are free to use, and you do not need a license as they are covered under a special class license. They do not rely on telephone towers, and will work even when the phone network is out, depending on topography, antenna height and power.

UHF CB radios are line of sight so their range is very dependent upon topographic conditions. In the CBD, amongst high rise buildings, you may only be able to communicate a few kilometers. Out on the open country road, you may get up to 20 kilometers using standard simplex mode. If you install a base station and you live in the hills, your range may be much further, even up to 75 kilometers without a repeater.

If you use the duplex feature and there is a repeater in range, you can expect up to 100 kilometers, even when topography would otherwise block your signal. 5 watts is the legal power limit. The key to good CB communications is a good antenna which is properly tuned to the UHF frequency range, and placed as high as practical.

All new CBs on the market today have 80 channels (77 useable) and support duplex mode for extending their range via a repeater.

There are so many models of UHF CB radio on the market today, it is hard for the uninitiated to know what to buy. I have been using CB radios for many years and keep an eye on the market for new products. The most recent product to catch my attention was the UH9080 from Uniden. This is not just your run of the mill CB radio. This quality product runs rings around most other models on the market for features and quality.

The UH9080 has several excellent features which really stand out from other models, and make it an excellent choice for mobile or base station communication. Here are jus ten of them:

  1. Replay: There is no need to ask your comrade to repeat themselves when you didn’t hear them. Simply hit the replay button to repeat the last transmission as many times as you need. This feature is incredibly useful if you need to repeat an unclear transmission or a transmission which was drowned out by noise in your vehicle. This is also a safety feature since it saves your comrade having to take their hand off the  wheel to pick up the microphone again.
  2. Masterscan: This unique feature (to Uniden) allows all radios in a group to hop to a clear channel when your usual group channel is in use. On the road, it is difficult to constantly change channels, and coordinate others in your group to do the same, when your usual channel becomes congested. By default, a group of about ten channels are used for this feature, along with privacy code 1. I found while reviewing this feature that the scanning delay can cause the beginning of a transmission to be missed when the number of channels exceeds about 4, so it is better to restrict the number of channels used for Masterscan to about 3 or 4. Also, if you are going to use this feature, you should change the default privacy code used by your group of radios to avoid using the same code as everyone else who doesn’t bother to change the code.
  3. Built-in Radio Scanner: A radio scanner is a receiver which scans a range of frequencies and stops when it receives a signal. Scanners have traditionally been used to listen to emergency services or other services such as public transport, amateur radio, etc. This CB has a built-in scanner which can receive analog frequencies from 400 to 520 MHz. This allows you to listen to emergency services in states where such services are still analog and are not yet encrypted. In states where emergency services are encrypted or use a digital radio format, such as in South Australia, this feature is less useful.
  4. Remote head: All features of the radio are controlled from a few well thought out controls on the microphone. Many cars today don’t have space in the dash to install yet another device. This feature allows you to install the extremely compact body of the radio in an out-of-the-way location, and just run the extension microphone cable to the microphone bracket where you can reach it.
  5. Scramble: This feature allows you to communicate with others with compatible equipment while being unintelligible to everyone else on the road. There are two Scramble settings available to choose from.
  6. Selcall: If you have multiple people in a group, besides talking to the entire group, you can assign individual users an id and selectively call an individual, without the whole group being disturbed.
  7. Two Priority Channels: Most radios allow you to monitor a priority channel as well as the channel you are currently using. This model is unique in that it allows you to monitor two other priority channels along with your current channel. So, you could monitor the emergency channel (5), the road channel (40) and your group channel. This is extremely useful.
  8. CTCSS and DCS: CTCSS (Continuous Tone Coded Squelch) and DCS (Digital Coded Squelch) is a system where a special code is transmitted along with your voice. Radios can be set to only receive signals (open the squelch) when that code is present in the signal. This allows you to communicate with one other person, or a group of users, without hearing other users of the channel. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who misuse the CB airwaves so this feature is particularly useful when you don’t want your children to hear bad language, or, if you only want to hear the people in your group. (This feature is used in conjunction with Masterscan above to avoid collisions on the channel.)
  9. Built-in Equalizer: The sound quality of this unit, both through its built-in speaker, and the speaker in the microphone, are excellent. If you would like to tweak it however, you can adjust the equalization of the sound to boost the bass, midrange, or high frequencies for easier comprehension.
  10. Dual Voltage: This model has dual voltage support. You can either connect it to your 12-volt car battery, or a 24-volt truck battery, without blowing it up.

As you can see, this model has a lot of useful features. We give this high-quality product from Uniden 5 out of 5 stars for performance, ease of use, sound quality, durability, flexibility, security and useful features.