For those who are just starting out or looking for an affordable second rig, budget CB radios can be a good option instead of going for a full feature set that’s never going to be used to its full potential.
With the overall price of CB radios dropping all the time there are a number of smaller CB’s coming to us fitted with a lot more features now than in days gone by. Apart from the obvious price savings these rigs don’t have the “big box” dimensions of other radios making then a good choice if your limited on space.
Coming with everything you need to get on the air the radios listed below are made by some of the manufactures who have been in the radio game for a very long time. One thing you’ll noticed these CB’s have in common is the simplistic controls and large displays, making them a great choice for using in a mobile setup.
Uniden PRO505XL 40 Channel Mobile CB Radio
Sporting a nice clean front panel with a huge “chunky” display that gives a clear signal strength and channel readout this radio from Uniden has a great solid look to it.
Giving the full 4 Watt legal output across 40 channels the PRO505XL is a basic no nonsense compact CB radio.
Front panel controls consist of Volume, Squelch, Instant channel 9 button, Public address system/CB switch and 2 Simple up/down channel change buttons.
The signal meter doubles up as a Rf power output readout which does seem a little redundant on a CB with no variable output but a nice touch all the same.
Midland 1001LWX 40 Channel Mobile CB Radio
Midland have been producing CB radios for what seems like forever and always seem to do well with their smaller mobile CB’s (of which there’s been many).
A bit more in the way of features with this set compared to uniden rig above but Midland have still managed to produce a simple layout for the front panel.
By using a dual function RF gain/Volume control they have managed to fit all the buttons and a full 40 channel rotary knob neatly below the long bright display.
Breaking away from the CB side of the radio it does come with what seems to be quickly becoming a standard feature on CB’s these days, the local WX channel function with a scanning function that determines your local weather frequencies then updates you on any alerts.
Good in All Roles?
Modern electronics makes these CB radios sensitive be default and are perfect for a mobile or small homebase setup and its only the lack of additional controls and refinements that make them more of challenge to use for long distance working.
Its interesting to note that these budget CB’s were the same specs rig that set the CB radio craze alight during its early years. The one difference today is we have the advantage of a much better understanding of electronics with all the design, reception and long life that brings.
Another added benefit of CB’s with less bells and whistles is it will never make them unusable. The core of CB technology has pretty much been static since its birth and no matter how much you try to “enhance” the radio sets it all comes down to certain transmission modes on certain frequencies.
That’s the reason vintage sets are still traded at such a pace in the used market.
Sizing Up the CB Radio for Mobile Use
Budget doesn’t necessary mean that these types of radio will slot neatly into your dashboard and checking the dimensions before installing (or even buying), should save you a fair amount of frustration trying to get the job done.
For CB’s that are more designed to fit where a car stereo usually goes take a look at our post on compact CB radios.