Tag Archives: Citizens’ Band Radio Frequencies

Take the field and abandon the radio noise!

The most common complaint I hear from new SWLing Post readers is that they can’t hear stations from home on their receivers and transceivers. Nine times out of ten, it’s because their home environment is inundated with man-made electrical noises often referred to as QRM or RFI (radio frequency interference).

RFI can be debilitating. It doesn’t matter if you have a $20 portable radio or a $10,000 benchmark transceiver, noise will undermine both.

What can you do about it?

Since we like to play radio at home, we must find ways to mitigate it. A popular option is employing a good magnetic loop receive antenna (check out this article). Some readers find noise-cancelling DSP products (like those of bhi) helpful when paired with an appropriate antenna.

But the easiest way to deal with noise is to leave it behind.

Take your radio to a spot where man-made noises aren’t an issue.

Field radio

If you’ve been reading the SWLing Post for long, you’ll know how big of a fan I am of taking radios to the field–both transceivers and receivers. Not only do I love the great outdoors, but it’s the most effective way to leave RFI in the dust.

Sunday was a case in point (hence this post).

Let’s be clear: I blame Hazel…

Last week, I did a Parks on the Air (POTA) activation of Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Wildlife Area in Tennessee. It’s a beautiful area with a fantastic hiking trail (the Overmountain Victory Trail) in a relatively remote/rural area.

About 5 minutes before Hazel’s cow patty fun.

My family had a great time at the site–we enjoyed a picnic and I played radio–but Hazel (our trusty canine companion) decided to roll in a cow patty during our hike. Hazel thought it smelled wonderful. Her family? Much less so. And all five of us were staring at a two hour car ride together.

Fortunately, my wife had a bottle of bio-degradable soap we use while camping, so I washed Hazel in Hampton Creek. (Turns out, Hazel didn’t mind that nearly as much as getting washed at home in the tub.)

In all of the commotion I forgot to take my EFT Trail-Friendly antenna out of the tree. Doh!

The EFT Trail-Friendly antenna is incredibly compact and quite easy to deploy.

The EFT is my favorite field antenna for POTA activations. It works so well and is resonant on 40, 20 and 10 meters. With an ATU, I can also tune any bands in between. I’ve deployed this antenna at least 130 times in the field and it was still holding up.

I was bummed. Hampton Creek is nearly a four hour round-trip from my home. Was it worth the trip to rescue my antenna?

Fast-forward to Sunday: my amazing wife actually suggested we go back to Hampton Creek Cove on Sunday and also check out nearby Roan Mountain State Park. Would my antenna still be in the tree? Hopefully.

Whew! Still hanging out!

Fortunately, my antenna was still hanging there in the tree as I left it the week before. I was a little concerned the BNC end of the antenna may have gotten wet, but it was okay.

Mercy, mercy, so little noise…

I turned on my Elecraft KX2 and plugged in the antenna. Oddly, there was very little increase in the noise level after plugging in the antenna. That worried me–perhaps the antenna got wet after all? I visually inspected the antenna, then pressed the “tune” button on the KX2 and got a 1.4:1 SWR reading. Then I tuned around the 40 meter band and heard numerous loud stations.

What was so surprising was how quiet the band was that day (this time of year the 40M band is plagued with static crashes from thunderstorms).

Also, there were no man-made electrical noises to be heard.  This allowed my receiver to actually do its job. It was such a pleasure to operate Sunday–no listening fatigue at all. Later on, we set up at Roan Mountain State Park and did an activation there as well. Again, without any semblance of RFI.

When I’m in the field with conditions like this, I always tune around and listen to HF broadcast stations for a bit as well. It’s amazing how well weak signals pop out when the noise floor is so incredibly low.

It takes ten or so minutes to set up my POTA station in the field, but if you have a portable shortwave radio, it takes no time at all. None. Just extend the telescoping antenna and turn on the radio.

Or in the case of the Panny RF-2200 use its steerable ferrite bar antenna!

If you’re battling radio interference at home, I would encourage you to survey your local area and find a noise-free spot to play radio. It could be a park, or it could be a parking lot. It could even be a corner of your property. Simply take a portable radio outside and roam around until you find a peaceful spot with low-noise conditions. It’s the most cost-effective way to fight RFI!

Post readers: Do you have a favorite field radio spot? Do you have a favorite field radio? Please comment!

Also, check out these articles:

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Listening to Citizens’ Band (CB) radio on your shortwave receiver

React International coordinates emergency response via CB radio.

Did you know that you may be able to listen to CB radio on your shortwave receiver?

If you have a digital receiver that covers from 26.9-27.5 MHz, you can listen to CB frequencies in a matter of minutes. Below, I’ve posted a chart of all 40 CB “channels” and their associated frequencies.

Why listen to CB radio?

  • Find out what road conditions are like from local drivers by monitoring talk between truck drivers
  • Monitor Channel 9 (the emergency channel) and contact local authorities if you hear a distress call
  • During an emergency you could glean valuable information from the CB frequencies
  • Entertainment value: hey, it’s CB–you never know what you may hear.
In fact, note that CB listening isn’t for those who are easily offended by adult language. In the past, CB radioers were licensed by the FCC and tended to be (in my humble opinion) more courteous. Today, it’s a free-for-all, but  you will still hear many regulars that are respectful and follow the “gentleman’s rules” of amateur radio.  Simply tune to the frequency below and listen. Like broadcasters and some ham radio operators, CB is primarily an AM mode activity. Make sure your radio is set for AM (not SSB) listening.
Here is a list of all 40 CB channels and their associated frequencies:
1 26.965   21 27.215
2 26.975   22 27.225
3 26.985   23 27.255
4 27.005   24 27.235
5 27.015   25 27.245
6 27.025   26 27.265
7 27.035   27 27.275
8 27.055   28 27.285
9 27.065   29 27.295
10 27.075   30 27.305
11 27.085   31 27.315
12 27.105   32 27.325
13 27.115   33 27.335
14 27.125   34 27.345
15 27.135   35 27.355
16 27.155   36 27.365
17 27.165   37 27.375
18 27.175   38 27.385
19 27.185   39 27.395
20 27.205   40 27.405
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