HAM Radio in the truck? Is it possible?

Discussion in 'CB Radio Forum' started by jterry1556, Dec 4, 2023.

  1. jterry1556

    jterry1556 Light Load Member

    Oct 6, 2022
    Is it possible to get a HAM radio in a truck or use something to greatly increase the range of a CB radio in a truck?

    I don’t know anything about old school radio communications but I also understand there is something new with HAM or HF over IP so over the internet meaning it could transmit pretty much anywhere very easily if connected to the internet.

    How far can these transmit? How far with 2 4ft antennas mounted on the mirrors? How far could it go if someone was shady and was using illegal equipment?
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  3. JSanborn103

    JSanborn103 Medium Load Member

    Jan 20, 2021
    You have to get a license to operate a HAM radio unless youre just listening
  4. DixonM

    DixonM Light Load Member

    May 22, 2022
    That’s about all I here on my CB are people sitting at home clogging up channel 19 especially mud duck and few others
  5. 201

    201 Road Train Member

    Apr 16, 2014
    high plains colorado
    CQ, CQ, can you hear me Portugal? In a scratchy voice, "yes, I have ham radio too" IDK, the cell phone pretty much eliminated the ham radio, I do remember some trucks had them, with 40 ft. antennas and turbochargers( linear amps) that would bleed over on everyone.
  6. tscottme

    tscottme Road Train Member

    My estimate is MAYBE only 10% of truck drivers even have/use a CB radio. Since smartphones CB has really died. CB radio is limited to 4 or 5 watts of power. In the old days when people used CBs some drivers attached linear amplifiers that might boost their power output to hundreds of watts and they could blast their voice across a state. I shared a truck with drivers that had 200 watt amplifiers. One driver claimed to have a 500 watt amplifier in a previous truck. But how useful is that? Wouldn't it be better to HEAR CB from that kind of distance, not TALK without hearing to people at that distance? There is no PRACTICLE receiving device that provide the ability to listen to CB across dozens or hundreds of miles other than an impractical antenna for a moving vehicle. It's one thing to raise a 200 ft tower in your back yard and another to mount even a 50 ft antenna on a moving vehicle.

    You need to pass an amateur radio license test and give the Feds your address to operate legally on Ham radio frequencies. The Technician class Ham license, IIRC, only allows you to operate on frequencies that DON'T carry very very far. I believe if you want to operate on the frequencies that are better suited for long distance (several states or other side of country) you need to pass the General Ham test. The Technician and the General tests are just answering 30 out of 35 questions. Some people take both tests on the same day. I'm remembering it might cost in the neighborhood of $35 plus the small test fees, if any.

    I realize my brief description above is probably full of specific errors about some detail of amateur radio. It's my experience the people that come to THE TRUCKING forum to ask questions about fields outside of trucking instead of using an internet search engine are not at all interested in knowing the difference between the general idea and the small details that the amateur radio experts, in this case, have heated arguments about or days, weeks, months, years, and decades.
  7. Bud A.

    Bud A. Road Train Member

    May 10, 2015
    Mountain Time
    I have an extra class ham radio license. The reality is that the odds of finding another ham radio operator in a truck near you is almost nil. There are quite a few repeaters on 2 meters, 220 MHz and 440 MHz as you cross the country where you can talk to local hams, but almost none of them are driving a truck.

    As for converting a 10 meter amplifier to 11 meters (the CB band) and blasting away on channel 19, that has been covered above. Most CB radios in trucks have an effective range of a mile or two at most, so who are you going to talk to? I still have a CB in the truck, but 95% of what I hear is unprofessional foulmouthed idiots arguing about dick size. Once in a great while it is sort of useful for traffic slowdowns. I have had exactly one nice ragchew with another driver in nine years.

    Also, the only real potential advantage of having two antennas is to mount them in a phased array, in which case they make the signal somewhat directional. At CB frequencies, they need a ground plane at least one wavelength long (11 meters or 36 feet) and the antennas need to be about 18 feet apart to gain that effect. The real practical effect is to maybe make the pattern more omnidirectional. Maybe. Don't tell anyone that though, or it will cut into the revenue of the CB shops.

    It does matter where you mount your single antenna though.

  8. WesternPlains

    WesternPlains Road Train Member

    Sep 1, 2017
    I have wondered about CB side band?
  9. tscottme

    tscottme Road Train Member

    Yes, but that means talking to people that you arrange to talk with on lower side-band channel 28, for example. Why not just call them? When I started in 1994 some of the LTL company drivers would run on specific side-band CB channels like a company channel. From what I understand the side-bands carry farther distance but they have worse sound and imagine trying to connect to a useful random stranger if your CB radio now has 120 effective channels (40 channels with both and upper and lower side-band for each channel). Having tuned in to ham radio and shortwave, all anyone talks about is their radio. There aren't really any deep discussions about important topics, just some old guys bragging about their radio or dreaming about some radio setup they want. Granted, talking about radio isn't stupid like making racist jokes or arguing about who's mother is a cheaper prostitute, like on CB when people talked on it. I almost always had a CB in the truck, and always would even today. It's virtually silent now in many places. Your mileage may vary.
  10. Bud A.

    Bud A. Road Train Member

    May 10, 2015
    Mountain Time
    The part of amateur radio I enjoy most is making contacts by Morse code. Most exchanges are very brief: call sign, signal report. It has been years since I've done any of that though.

    There are contests built around amassing the most contacts in a given period of time (usually one day or a weekend) if you enjoy that sort of thing. There are lots of other kinds of things that hams focus on, like emergency and event communications, satellite communication, bouncing signals off the moon, etc. It's definitely a hobby filled with nerds of one sort or another.

    Also, amateur radio has generally been very good about avoiding controversial topics because what you discover is that no one agrees with anyone else on any serious topic, and you'll never persuade them to your point of view over the air, so why bother since it just takes the fun out of it and makes everyone mad? Pretty sure that's why there's a separate politics forum here. And I'm struggling to think of any deep discussions of important topics elsewhere on this forum.
  11. drivingmissdaisy

    drivingmissdaisy Road Train Member

    Jun 10, 2019
    As a HAM operator, I can say that we have no HAM equivalent of channel 19. You have to have channel knowledge in your area, and since most are on repeaters, must know the repeater frequency, offset and PL tone. That's not fun if you're driving 600 miles a day.
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