In a world where tacking a few extra watts on to your CB is easy (and cheap) enough with a readily available range of new and vintage linear amplifiers, are we all too used to getting what we want from 27 MHz?
Maybe sometimes, but long distance communication on 27 mhz is no walk in the park even when conditions are good. The band can change so quickly, making those very special openings few and far between. Adding obscene amounts of power can overcome many of the obstacles but its mostly blind luck where your RF ends up.
Take away any extra power along with a good slice of the legal power allowed and jumping on these openings becomes even more difficult. There aren’t many rigs that can’t be reduced to low power which is usually 500 mw.
This may seem like the sort of power output that doesn’t gel much with trying to get a good signal out, but if you look at the ham radio world and their version of QRP, its a huge amount of power where you consider some operators will work with 100 mw (or less)!.
Is there a place for low power QRP operation on CB or does the way we use it make this harder to achieve than it would be on the HF amateur bands?. I suppose it depends if your on the social or technical side of CB radio.
Tech Heads VS the Social Crowd
Social users just want to talk to their intended contact with as little fuss as possible and cutting through that ‘fuss’ can sometimes mean adding that extra RF power.
Technical users are happy to struggle and a decent range contact on the minimum of power is something to boast about. Along with the need to push CB equipment comes a lot more investment and interest in CB antennas.
You’ll often hear CB’s switch down to low power during a rig check as a way of validating their setup. These times often show that a well thought out antenna system and a great location can totally wipe out the need for any additional power.
Difficultly has its own Rewards
So lately I’ve been leaving the rig at half a watt and putting out calls on the FM and SSB portions of 27 MHz with mix results. Its true to say that this isn’t the best time of year and a whole bunch of solar flares have churned the HF bands up even further. This adds to the difficultly of the process and (for me) makes the time spent listening to static even more worthwhile.
The one thing that makes me smile is the reaction of the regular people I speak to. Its doesn’t take long before their asking what the hell is wrong with my setup as they try to work out where most of my signal has gone. Thankfully this is wearing off now as most realize what I’m up to.
Its made me think a lot more about how my main CB antenna is performing and even though I’m tweaking things on a weekly basis, its made a massive difference to my coverage when the rig is turned back to the full 4 watts.