to the first edition of EvilWrangler’s Communications
column is designed to help you understand the world of
mobile communications, both on road and off.
It is always recommended to go off road with a
group, never alone.
How do you keep in contact with the rest of your
happens if you get separated?
What happens if you get into trouble?
Let me introduce myself.
My name is Scott, and I’ve been an avid CB and
Ham operator for over 14 years.
I currently hold the top class of FCC Amateur
Radio licenses, and have taught Amateur radio classes,
as well as done many presentations on different aspects
of communications, from scanners to CB to Ham to
building antennas to mobile installations.
Although I’m certainly not the MOST qualified
person on the planet, I am friends with Tank, and he
asked me to write a monthly column.
So here’s the first issue!
all have a desire to keep in touch.
Even though sometimes we go off-roading to “Get
away from it all”, there’s still an underlying need
to keep some type of communications equipment with us.
This could be a CB, FRS radio, Ham, Commercial,
or even Cellular.
With technology growing at such a rapid rate, the
number of offerings in today’s market are staggering!
Let’s take a moment to begin sifting through
Cellular versus FRS
Unless you live
in a cave or in a rundown shack in Montana, you’ve
most likely heard of Cellular telephones.
There are several different offerings on the
market today, from Analog to Digital, even Two-way
the majority of the United States has some type of
Interestingly, these areas do not always cover
Often, Cellular companies try to place their
relay towers close to densely populated areas, and major
interstates and freeways – directly where most off-roading
is not. Fortunately,
Cellular phones are not longer a luxury item for the
market competition has kept the costs of cellular down,
to the point where they are beginning to compete with
500 minutes per month and no long distance
charges for $49 makes me think twice about getting a
wire line phone for my new house!
Ahh, the CB radio craze!
Thoughts of BJ and the bear, convoys and the
Dukes of Hazzard bring back fond memories of a time when
CB radios were the craze.
Is CB radio dead?
Back in the 1970s with the FCC allocated a
portion of the Radio Spectrum to low-powered public
communications, they never realized how much it might
CB radios today don’t enjoy the mass market
appeal like they did in the 70s and 80s, mostly because
of the cellular industry.
But don’t believe for a minute that no one is
We all know truckers still use them extensively,
but that’s simply due to their convenience and
Their capacity for short to medium range
communications is still unmatched.
In addition, new technologies available like DSP
(Digital Signal Processing) that remove a lot of the
static and hiss are helping CB make a comeback.
There is also a large hobbyist following that
keeps the industry alive.
Recently, however, a new form of communication has
popped up – Family Radio Service (FRS).
In 1998 the FCC approved the use of small,
handheld UHF FM Walkie-Talkie style radios for use
without the need for a license.
Many models are now on the market with wide
ranging features like hands-free, voice encryption, and
These little devices offer short range, excellent
sound quality, portability and long battery life.
out in the country
are many factors that can influence your decision on
what type of communications equipment to purchase.
Cost, desired range, safety, convenience, and
installation considerations can all be factors.
Over the next few articles, we’ll take an
in-depth look at the options and the pros and cons of
Types of antennas
Getting on the air