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 Complete novice needs advice.

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firebob22
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PostSubject: Complete novice needs advice.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeThu Jan 14, 2021 9:43 am

Hi all, i'm looking to buy my first CB base station & need some help. Any suggestions as to a good set up would be greatly appreciated as there are hundreds out there.
I've looked at the Thunderpole T2000 complete kit which looks ok as it has everything needed to start. I'm not interested in a mobile set up & would like to get everything needed for a base station from one place if possible. As i've said, i haven't done this before & don't want to get a set up & find it's not too clever & has cost a fortune.
Please excuse my total ignorance but if i can't ask you guys, i'm in trouble.
Many thanks.

73 Bob. scratch

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PostSubject: Re: Complete novice needs advice.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeThu Jan 14, 2021 11:25 am

Hi Bob,

I feel for you mate, lockdown makes these sort of questions and decisions much harder than usual.

I'm afraid that just as there are hundreds of options available, you'll also get hundreds of opinions!

The kit you mention is a typical package and would be ideal if you know that you have CBers in your area. If you and a mate lived within a few miles of each other and fancied a CB chat it would be ideal, (but most of us use our mobile phones for such things now). If you want to get further afield with possible contacts then you'll be looking for something much more substantial.....

The typical recommendation you'll get are 'bigger' antenna, (5/8ths seems to rule the CB world), and using SSB or sideband modes. There'll probably also be mention of 'good' coax, linears/burners, etc. etc.
All of which is going to cost you much more than the kit you mention and probably won't bag you as much contact as you first think. (Just ask the guys on here who have all the gear and complain about how dead the CB bands are!)

You might be lucky and live in an area really busy with CB activity or are willing to wait until the 'skip' comes in and join in the DX fun most CBers experience. (Love it myself!)


When I first came back to it all I had been left a bit disappointed. I had SSB/AM/FM, all the frequencies, 100W, (ahem, that might be a typo Wink), and a multitude of experimental antennas to try out. I sat for hours calling out on channels, listened for weeks around the bands and probably would have given it all up if it wasn't for getting a bit of 'skip' DX action.


In the end and thanks to some prompting on here at Charlie Tango, (plus lockdown online exams becoming available), I took my Amateur Radio or 'Ham' ticket. Now the radio world is my oyster with multiple bands, frequencies, modes and much more options available than I've had time to explore. Personally I'm really enjoying it.

Not that I am knocking CB in any way, (before someone jumps in), I enjoyed last summer's CB skip chatting to continentals like I had in the 'old days'......Just that it's worth exploring options.

For example most 'Ham' training courses are free, (The Essex Ham course is excellent), The RSGB exam is less than £30 and you can pick up something like a Baofeng handheld for less than £30 and chat on your local repeaters. A bit more money would buy a homebase VHF/UHF and decent antenna and still cost you less than the CB setup you mention. Worth thinking about......

Plus radio can be one of those types of hobbies that stick with you and expands over time.
Before you know it, (much as I've experienced), you've got a radio 'shack', more radios, a plethora of antennas, bits, bobs and pieces than you thought you'd never have! (Just ask my wife! Wink)


Anyway, food for thought.

As for me....I still enjoy CB as much as I can, just that now I have more choices should the CB bands be dead.


Probably adds more confusion and mixture to the pot you're already experiencing, but trying to help out a fellow radio enthusiast.


All the best,
Victor

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firebob22
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PostSubject: Re: Complete novice needs advice.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeThu Jan 14, 2021 12:30 pm

Hi Victor,many thanks for the reply & as you say, it's a minefield out there! Great advice & i'll keep looking & asking questions. Really do want to try CB before anything else as i've noticed a few cars around with CB in them, & there must be others further afield (live in hopes).
I'll keep on bugging the forum until i take the plunge. Take care & all the best. Bob.

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Alan Pilot
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PostSubject: Re: Complete novice needs advice.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeThu Jan 14, 2021 12:54 pm

+1 on what Victor said.
Have a good look around the forum as many have asked this same thing.
I always recommend a multimode radio (FM/AM/SSB) as it gives you much more scope.
Find reviews on a radio you fancy to make sure it's up to the job and what you want.
I am the same as Victor i was on cb back in the late 70s and left the scene mid 90s only to come back to it at the end of 2018.
Again the same i did the ham exam and now when cb is silent i can find contacts on other bands.
The hobby can be expensive all depends on how you take to it but like i said do the homework before you empty you wallet.
Good luck and do as questions there is a lot of knowledge on this forum.
Regards
          Alan.

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PostSubject: Re: Complete novice needs advice.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeThu Jan 14, 2021 3:27 pm

Hi Bob,

No worries my friend, always worth knowing about options available.

I was determined to 'relive' my past CB days when I came back to it all only to be shocked at what little CB reception I got. I'm probably just unlucky with CBers in my area as I know others get a lot more contact in different areas around the UK.

I hope you get to where you want to be with it all and wish you the very best luck. Keep the questions coming, there are more than enough decent members here willing to offer help. (We do have a nice helpful crowd here on Charlie Tango Smile)


All the best,
Victor

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PostSubject: Re: Complete novice needs advice.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeThu Jan 14, 2021 4:13 pm

Hi Alan & Victor, really appreciate your input & sound advice. It makes all the difference when you don't know where to turn. I'll do my homework & post a few more questions i'm sure, & when i get to buying some gear i'll let you all know how i'm getting on.


Many, many thanks. Bob.

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Alan Pilot
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PostSubject: Re: Complete novice needs advice.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeThu Jan 14, 2021 4:40 pm

Your welcome Bob it's what we are all here for.

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PostSubject: Taking the plunge.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeMon Jan 18, 2021 11:44 am

Hi all, after much seeking online & with the advice from Victor & Alan (thanks again), i've decided to opt for a President Mckinley. Now, the question i need ask is, what is the "expanded" version that Knights are advertising? Is this conversion legal & are there any benefits/drawbacks in doing this? Also as to antennas, can a decent compatible one be had for sensible money? I know that they can make all the difference to the signals but as i'm just starting would like to keep the cost down. Any help (again!) would be truly appreciated.
73 Bob.
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PostSubject: Re: Complete novice needs advice.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeMon Jan 18, 2021 12:58 pm

Hi Bob,

Nice choice the Mckinley as many members here can attest to.

The 'legal' option will give you limited frequencies, (UK and EU), whereas the expanded version will give you all the frequencies the radio can do. I'd opt for the latter, (although it can be expanded at a later date should you wish), otherwise you'll miss out on the International frequencies where all the CB fun happens! Smile
(27.555Mhz for example and the 'freebanding' frequencies between the UK and EU channels let alone the lower frequencies.) The 'legalities' of your choice is very much your own though Wink


I'm sure members here who have the radio can go into more details for you, just ask.


Antennas too can be the proverbial minefield, I always say that any antenna is better than no antenna but there are caveats.

I'd personally avoid such things as the 'Excalibur' or 'Boomerangs'. Unless you have local contacts they are very much a compromise antenna and won't usually get you far. Most will attest to a typical 5/8ths wave antenna which will give you greater range both on local contacts as well as DX, although many do well with a 1/2 wave antenna also.

Small whips and 1/4 wave mag mounts etc. can give very decent performance when mounted to a car. Basically because you can drive your car somewhere high up to operate from. Much harder to raise your house for a homebase setup or sticking the antenna on the longest pole you have! Very Happy
So not the best for home use.

You do 'pays your money and takes your choice' with antennas, the more expensive units will tend to give you better performance and be built much better to survive the harshness mother nature can throw at them.


Just remember, the antenna setup is probably the most important part of any station.
You could have the best radio in the world and get nowhere with cheap antennas, coax, connectors etc.
Spend as much as you can! 


Again, adds to the 'confusion' mix but hopefully points you in a better direction than being left disappointed with a 'cheap' antenna.

You could always of course build an antenna......many Hams do and quite often CB'ers do too. A lot more thinking required on that part though both in construction and mounting Wink


Hope that helps, others will hopefully provide additional information.
(Always worth scanning through the forums past postings to see information around these subjects as well.)


All the best,
Victor

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PostSubject: Re: Complete novice needs advice.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeMon Jan 18, 2021 2:05 pm

Once again Victor, you've made things a lot clearer for me. I'll look into a 5/8 antenna & as i live in a bungalow, can clear the roof apex without too much height. I'll let you know how i get on. As to the legalities of expansion, i think i can live with the consequences! Laughing  
Many thanks again.
Bob.

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Alan Pilot
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PostSubject: Re: Complete novice needs advice.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeMon Jan 18, 2021 2:33 pm

All i can say is any advice Victor gives is good advice.
Good choice on the radio have it expanded they all are.
Gainmaster is a good aerial but will need guying if high and you get a lot of strong winds.

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PostSubject: Re: Complete novice needs advice.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeMon Jan 18, 2021 4:55 pm

No worries Bob. 

I've only given the same advice that I expect any experienced radio operator would. I'm sure you'll do very well and have some good radio times ahead, (roll on the summer for some more 'skip' and DX!)

Of course, as a responsibly licensed Amateur Radio operator I would only give you 'legal' advice Wink


Let us know how you get on and if you fancy you can always post up pictures of your final setup here on the forum. We're all radio perverts, ahem enthusiasts, and love nothing more than hearing about others radio adventures! Smile

Let the good times roll.


All the best,
Victor

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PostSubject: Re: Complete novice needs advice.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeTue Jan 19, 2021 9:22 am

Once again, thanks for all the help. I certainly will post a few pics when i get set up.
All the best, Bob.

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PostSubject: Re: Complete novice needs advice.   Complete novice needs advice. Icon_minitimeThu Jan 21, 2021 2:35 pm

Just want to throw my 2 cents in i would also concur and recommend spending a little more and getting a rig that can do muppets ( CB ) and also Sideband, depending on your area CB could be quiet / dead, having sideband gives you a better chance for further contacts and i think there are a lot more nets on side band nowadays you can get involved with also.


I started off with an old second hand Amstrad which i still have but saved up for a CRT6900 and does everything i need, i havent changed antenna since day one which is still on the side of my house which is basically a 5/8 silver rod, and has done the job great for me.

you don't need to spend a fortune, especially until you know you are interested in keeping it on as a hobby.

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