The granting of sideband on Europe’s CB frequencies (well at least some of them) was great news to CB’ers who wanted to use the mode and stay on the right side of the law.
Anything that gives us more toys to play with can only be a good move and along with a few new SSB mobiles to hit the UK market, came the chance to legally use a handheld CB radio that had full SSB capability built in as standard.
It does seem a surprise to me that there aren’t more of these new sideband handhelds up for grabs, but maybe the interest or potential sales don’t warrant other firms jumping on board?
By far the most readily available has to be the Albrecht AE2990 with both online and real world retailers stocking the model.
Albrecht AE2990 Cept Modified Handheld SSB CB Radio
The radios general makeup should be familiar to anybody how’s used a modern CB handheld.
The important functions have been bundled around the PTT button to give the user as much ease as possible when using the set one handed (this may take a little practice until you remember exactly what all the buttons do), Volume/Clarifier (BFO if you like) are up top and the usual power supply architecture based around 9 AA batteries.
Squelch, mic gain and RF gain are selected by a malfunction button on the front panel. Not having the squelch on a rotary switch on the top panel does take a little getting used to but I think Albrecht made the right decision to put the Clarifier there instead.
As with any synthesized CB radio you have scan functions that make finding transmissions easier and much quicker (once you master the squelch).
Available modes are AM/FM/SSB with a maximum power output of 4 watt across all the board.
As a new CB ages there’s always little functionally issues that many users face but thankfully most do get sorted out over time, either with modifications or upgrades/newer versions from the radios producer.
One common thread you’ll see whenever someone talks about the AE2990 is the need to power down the radio when changing between one of the many bands available. This wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t also reset the whole radio and any changes to squelch etc have to be redone.
This can get annoying while quickly listening around for some signals and I do wonder why Albrecht configured the radio this way?, when this change of bands could have been done without the need to switch off the set.
And the Price of Truly Portable SSB?
Any CB model with new features is going to be a little pricey at the start, especially if there’s not much in the way of competition.
This could be the case with the Albrecht AE2990 with prices (at the time of writing) hovering around the 200 pound mark (about the same price as a full featured mobile CB rig).
When you compare this to the way Baofeng have slashed the price of getting onto the VHF/UHF ham bands with their range of budget radios, it starts to come into perspective. We can only hope that time or some more (viable) SSB handhelds, force the overall price down.
Making the Most of SSB Portable Use – Standard Rules Apply
Short set top antennas are designed to make the rig easier to handle and even though modern helical can be efficient, there’s no getting away from the performance boost a longer antenna gives on a handheld.
The stock antenna supplied on the AE990 is a step above the more ‘stubby’ types that sets like the Midland 75-822 host, but if your planning a high ground session don’t forget to consider a lightweight mobile antenna as a much better alternative.
Overall the Albrecht AE2990 has bought portable SSB to those places that you could only ever take a FM handy even if this is at a price that seems slightly on the high side.