Things have moved on since the days of handheld CB,s like the Harvard 410T, now we have smaller, intelligent and more reliable sets to play with. With an eye firmly on value for money we took a look at 3 of the best handheld CB radio sets available right now and give them a How to CB rating.
Starting with a model from Midland that has stood the test of time, we have seen this handheld CB sell for under $50 at some online stores.
Midland 75-785 40-Channel CB Radio
A fairly basic model this set from midland is a good value CB radio if your not looking for anything too fancy but want a CB handheld that is going to get the job done.
The low price has stripped away some of the more advanced features of more expensive models, an old style 2 digit channel display instead of a LCD giving frequency and signal strength information. Powered by 9 AA batteries instead of a one purpose built rechargeable does give you the ability to swap out the batteries anywhere but will get expensive if using off the shelf disposable batteries so a good idea to stock up on a few sets of rechargeable AA,s as this will save you so much money in the long term.
For easy charging the Midland 75-785 comes with the option to charge the batteries while they are still in the CB (almost a standard option for handheld CB,s these days) saving you the cost of having to buy a separate charger. For mobile use this handheld can be powered from the cigarette lighter socket in your vehicle with the right lead included in the package.
The other feature that is missing from this set that is included in some of the more pricy models is access the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather channels and the 24/7 warning information they provide.
Giving the full 4 watt output and fitted with the usual high/low power setting the Midland 75-785 is a good choice if your looking for a basic functional handy or maybe just a emergency backup to your main station.
The helical antenna that comes as standard with the set does seem a little long and could easily be replaced with something shorter without compromising performance.
A durable handheld CB radio for a good price.
How to CB rating: 7 out of 10
Midland 75-822 40 Channel CB-Way Radio
Going up to the middle price range offers a lot more features on a handheld CB radio and although the model from midland is compact it has some good features while still giving a full 4 Watt output.
All the operating information is viewed on the digital display with signal strength meter, channel number, battery strength indicator and status of the memory functions. A good feature is the ability to store 5 of your most used channels in memory for recall allowing you to swap quickly between calling and working channels.
One of the many advantages this type of digital handheld CB radio has over other the analog models is being able to quickly scan through all 40 channels at the touch of a button and automatically halting on those channels with activity, you can filter out the weaker signals by increasing the squelch setting so that the scan only stops on nearby transmissions.
For weather and hazard information the 75-822 has a NOAA Weather Radio function giving you access to 10 channels. Also included is a dual watch feature that lets you keep track of channel 9 and any other channel at the same time.
Some thought has gone into this radios design making it easy to access the most important buttons when holding the set in one hand. All in all a good feature rich handheld made nice and compact because the power source is only 6 AA,s cutting down on the case size and overall weight.
How to CB rating : 8 out of 10
Cobra HH 38 WX ST 40-Channel CB Radio
Changing to over to the Cobra brand we have the HH38WXST handheld CB radio which has the same features as the Midland 75-822 but will usually cost just a few dollars more.
Once again digital technology gives us the full 40 channel scan function, dual watch and full operating information on the display along with a function Cobra have called SoundTracker which improves the quality of signals in and out of this handheld.
Styling is good with thought put into being able to access all main functions when using the set single handed and the standard 10 NOAA weather warning channels are built in as standard.
Another feature packed radio from a great legacy CB manufacturer and well worth investigating.
How to CB rating: 7 out of 10
So there you have it, 3 handheld CB,s ranging from the basic to the full featured with a price range that means one of these products should be affordable even if your shopping on a budget.
The Joys of 27 MHz and a Touch of Altitude
Even though some serious long distance communication can be achieved at 27 MHz depending on the time of year and where we are in the sunspot cycle there is nothing like taking a CB handy and hitting the high ground during the summer (or the winter if the cold doesn’t bother you).
Getting yourself on top of a good sized hill or mountain with some good views can really give great results even with these sets legal 4 watt power output.
Experiencing how operating at a good altitude can improve the line of sight transmission range at 27 MHz is something we would recommend to every CB user, and if you’ve enough strength to drag a bigger antenna along from the trip then all the better.