Bring Back SSB CB

Submitted: Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 04:09
ThreadID: 110966 Views:4560 Replies:14 FollowUps:9
This Thread has been Archived
It is worthwhile noting that if the events which took the truck driver’s life while his truck was bogged near Meekatharra recently had happened 30 years ago, the outcome would have been a completely normal day for outback trucking.
For many years from the late 1970’s most long haul trucks were equipped with Single Side Band (SSB) HF CB radio.
over the years UHF radio has taken over due to clearer transmission between vehicles. However UHF is only for very short range and useless in the situation this driver found himself.
Mobile telephones are fine if there is reception, but this is not the case in majority of outback geography.
If an EPIRB was activated in a remote area, this would usually result in a costly aeroplane or helicopter dispatched when a simple message of problem is all that is required for help to arrive in due course.
Satellite phone is the ideal, but clearly some operators baulk at the cost, regardless of this, cheap radio back-up should always be available.
Single Side Band CB radio was superseded by technology that did not do the same job.
The result is what we have experienced.
Critics of the old technology will say that long-range transmission / reception is patchy and unreliable.
It is true you may not get an immediate result in a remote location, but from many years of personal experience extending well beyond the 11 year solar cycle that dictates radio “skip” from the ionosphere, there would rarely be a day in Australia’s North West where long range ability was not available some time during each day.
We have gone from a situation where almost every truck operating in remote areas carried this cheap life-saver, to none.
Some of the more organised outback operators carry RFDS network HF radios, but again expensive compared to the humble SSB CB.
These radios have simply fallen out of favour as the mobile phone network and internet have grown, but I believe there is still very much a need for casual Australian four wheel drivers, outback tourists, and truck drivers to maintain use of 27 Meg Hz SSB CB radios.
There are still a couple of SSB CB radio manufacturers and at around $250, it would only take a critical mass of a few hundred truck and casual operators Australia-wide to re-establish a small network of users and once again have the airwaves monitored, with listeners ready to offer assistance and pass on critical information.
That’s the way it used to be thirty odd years ago. Circumstances such as being bogged in a remote area were completely normal and dealt with accordingly on the casual Citizen Band SSB radio network.
The conditions haven’t changed, simply the fashion, and it has left a major hole in nation-wide communications for those stranded.
Industry and authorities would be wise to encourage outback drivers to invest in SSB 27 Meg CB radios to re-establish enough users, so these deaths can be easily avoided, as they were in the past.
Uniden and Galaxy still supply the US market with SSB CB Radios.

Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 08:42

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 08:42
You can get into the satphone market going 2nd hand for a few hundred bucks. If truckies or trucking companies are so skinflint they don't feel that's justified the consequences are on their heads.

For negligent employers my state has a law dealing with industrial manslaughter.

But I don't think the mode of communication is the issue; if the problem isn't going to be solved by getting information then you have to plan who you're going to call on in advance.
AnswerID: 545266

Reply By: Member Andys Adventures - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 09:51

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 09:51
Only see one problem with that. You will need a act from parliament to change the law so you can get a licence for 27 Meg.
My licence NAB459 could not be renewed.
Also 30 years ago we did not have Sat phones. Now we do, it would be stupid to think a CB would be a better choice in the outback when you have access to a Sat phone.
And as for cost my CB cost $380 in 1975 made in USA. You can buy a Sat phone from $400.
So I think $400 is not a lot of money to spend to save your own life. Rather than $250 for a hit and miss.



Before it was legal in 1977 you could talk to people 60 to 80km away on AM without interference, and across the state with SSB. Then they made it legal in December 1977 and every child in town had one, reducing the range to about 2 to 3 km. After that it was a nightmare to get skip unless you were in the middle of nowhere.
AnswerID: 545272

Follow Up By: Stu & "Bob" - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 15:25

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 15:25
Why do you want a licence for 27MHz?
To discourage the halfwits that are on UHF?

I could be wrong, but isn't the 27MHz CB still "class approved", so therefore no licence required?
0
FollowupID: 832882

Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 19:41

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 19:41
NO licence required and its crystal clear, Channels are empty!! Great but no one to talk to! Michael
Patrol 4.2TDi 2003

Retired 2016 and now Out and About!

There's time to rest when you're dead,
Get out and do something instead!

Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 832892

Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 20:16

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 20:16
In Fact, mine still sits on the dash of the Patrol!
Patrol 4.2TDi 2003

Retired 2016 and now Out and About!

There's time to rest when you're dead,
Get out and do something instead!

Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 832896

Follow Up By: westralia - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 22:00

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 22:00
No licence required, Andy. The government gave up on that years ago, because it served no purpose, and it was too hard to enforce anyway.
Nothing has changed, except hardly anybody uses 27 MHz anymore.
...And that's the advantage today.
In fact its just like back in the 70's.
All the kids are staring at their mobile phones.
Yep, SSB CB is better than nothing out there.
...Just need someone at the other end!

http://www.acma.gov.au/Citizen/Consumer-info/All-about-spectrum/Marine-and-Amateur-Radio/citizen-band-radio-service-cbrs-fact-sheet
0
FollowupID: 832913

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 22:37

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 22:37
Quote "My licence NAB459 could not be renewed."

You could not renew it because those licences no longer existed. At the time there was a whole restructuring of the licence regime. Every transmitter had to be covered by a licence. The CB (and several other licence classes) were replaced with class licences. The class licence is held by the Spectrum Manager (the head of the Spectrum Management Agency as it was when I worked there) and anyone with an approved CB set is given the authority to transmit with their transceiver providing they are operating under the rules of the class licence. The CB covers both the 27 MHz and UHF CB bands.
PeterD
Retired radio and electronics technician

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 832920

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 22:52

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 22:52
Quote "NO licence required."

That statement is wrong. CB radios are operated by the authority of the CB class licence as explained above. You do not require individual aparatus licences but approved equipment is licensed when operating under the conditions of the class licence.

There are many low power devices like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, radio linked microphones and a myriad of other services that operate under class licences.

You can read about class licensing here.

There is a list of class licences here.
PeterD
Retired radio and electronics technician

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 832923

Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 17:46

Thursday, Feb 05, 2015 at 17:46
OH!! I meant that he didnt need a licence, Michael
Patrol 4.2TDi 2003

Retired 2016 and now Out and About!

There's time to rest when you're dead,
Get out and do something instead!

Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 832979

Reply By: AlbyNSW - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 09:55

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 09:55
"Satellite phone is the ideal, but clearly some operators baulk at the cost, regardless of this, cheap radio back-up should always be available."

It is all a matter of priorities, I see plenty of 4WDers and Truckies getting around well decorated with expensive non essential accessories and yet can't justify the expense of a satphone and PLB.
Have a CB by all means for nostalgic value but there are far better more reliable options available that are very affordable if you value your life.
AnswerID: 545273

Reply By: brushmarx - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 10:24

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 10:24
Any senseless death is a waste and methods to prevent it are essential, however aged technology does not seem like a viable alternative to modern communications.
Many (or most) of these trucks and trailers are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The cost of one lousy tyre would be more than decent life saving communications equipment.
I can't see that waiting around for what could be hours waiting for a message to finally skip over the ionosphere is much good when death is imminent. Any delay could be disastrous.
Sure, use the CB as a backup or for conversations, but I don't think relying on it for life and death situations is a good option.
Cheers
I'll get there someday, or die wanting to.

Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 545274

Follow Up By: Grumblebum and the Dragon - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 11:41

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 11:41
Second hand HF radio's can be bought for $400 - $500 and are generally reliable if well set up, I have a Barrett 930 match to a tuned whip antenna and it is excellent and bought for $450 three years ago.Membership of VKS737 is also cheap.
John
0
FollowupID: 832808

Follow Up By: Stu & "Bob" - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 15:19

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 15:19
I agree with John, and a good second hand Codan or Barrett can be a lot more reliable that a 27MHz rig.
Power output also 100W PEP against 12W for 27MHz, plus selcall availability.
If you must have 27MHz, The Codan or Barrett can have them programmed as well.
0
FollowupID: 832880

Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 11:49

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 11:49
Agree that Sat Phones are probably the best alternative, however fer christs sake $300 on a epirb/plb isn't much.

"If an EPIRB was activated in a remote area, this would usually result in a costly aeroplane or helicopter dispatched when a simple message of problem is all that is required for help to arrive in due course."

Still would be cheaper than hauling out a corpse with the subsequent cost of the coronal enquiry, funeral etc. etc. SAR would still prefer you activated it in that situation before it became critical. Given that this bloke died, I don't think the cost of the rescue would come in to the equation.......
AnswerID: 545282

Reply By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 15:53

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015 at 15:53
HBogged truckere is the article...

bill

Bill B

Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 545290

Reply By: Stu & "Bob" - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 15:54

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 15:54
Most, if not all of the outback Roadtrains from the late '70's until fairly recently were fitted with a Codan or Barrett HF radio, with a multi tap whip on the bullbar. These were used for everything from finding out road conditions, getting help when broken down to finding out what was for dinner at home via the now defunct Telstra Radphone. These radios put out 100W PEP, and you were pretty much guarenteed communications Australia wide. The RFDS still has HF radio bases all over Australia, there are numerous 4WD organisations that have the same, and help is just a selcall or radiotelephone call away.

Who remembers the "chook sessions" on 2020?

The 27MHz CB's are a different kettle of fish. Max legal power is 12W PEP, the 27MHz CB frequencies are extremly dependant on "skip" conditions, (i.e. which way the skip is running) and who are you going to call? I used it a fair bit in the early '80's DXing, but rarely got to talk to the same person on more than one occasion.

Second-hand Codan or Barrett HF radios are similar in price to the top line 27MHz CB radios, but in my book are a lot more useful. There are the odd exceptions, I bought a Barrett 950 with a 910 autotune antenna at a Govt. auction last year for $180.
If you simply must have 27MHz CB channels, your local radio shop can simply program them into your Codan or Barrett for a small fee.

AnswerID: 545349

Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 16:47

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 16:47
Still have and still use - once 27mhz was the pits and UHF god - now its the opposite, with so few using it that we get more reliable comms on it in city even !

Works even better in High country.

I use a PC122 which was a cheap second source of comms but my Barrett 950 also has it.

Sad about the incident.
Robin Miller

Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 545354

Reply By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 20:12

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 20:12
We travelled through that exact area not long ago.
There was a bit of chatter on UHF - station stuff mainly, but including the occasional comment about us "passing through", although we didn't actually see anyone :-)
In this instance, my understanding is that he did not stay with the truck; yet they knew he was out there delivering the tank to a known destination, he had plenty of water in the truck but chose instead to walk on a hot day.
A station plane would have found the truck in less than an hour after being alerted.
And a sat phone or SPOT linked back to work would have fixed it.
Very sad for all concerned
Andrew
AnswerID: 545369

Reply By: vk1dx - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:09

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:09
Before anyone goes and spends money on a 27 MHz radio they are basically useless at night because of the banter "from the northern asian areas". Well that's how it used to be so I didn't bother putting one in the 4WD. I stuck to the UHF and purchased a satellite phone.
AnswerID: 545374

Reply By: pop2jocem - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:44

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:44
Another tragic and needless loss of life. When I eventually shuffle off this mortal coil I do hope thirst isn't the cause. I am told it is a most unpleasant death.

When I was sent to various mine sites in the Pilbara (or anywhere else for that matter) 3 or 4 decades ago all I needed was a toolbox, a pair of work shorts, a pair of work boots and whatever shirt I felt appropriate.
Nowadays a day or 2 of OH&S training and adherence to a strict dress code is require before even getting through the gate.
I wonder what, if any, training was in place for this poor unfortunate before he left the depot. Doesn't need to involve anything too complex. If that was in place, did he panic and ignore the basic rules of staying with your vehicle and having someone notified of your arrival. It appears he did have enough water on board to survive many days even in mid 40 degree heat. Going by the report, his truck was bogged not broken down. That being the case, he could have stayed in the air conditioned cab. I am assuming that like most reasonably modern trucks, the cab did have air con.

Certainly have an effective method of communication, but to me this does not replace a simple survival plan in case things go pear shaped.
AnswerID: 545382

Reply By: Sat Phone Sales - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:56

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2015 at 21:56
Clearly we have a vested interest in promoting satellite communications. However without using this discussion to promote our services, I have to say I would be loathe to rely on HF communications for emergency purposes / traffic.

Particularly in the unlicensed sector. There are just too many performance variables. Interference - natural and man made. The availability, or not, of an ionised upper ionosphere to carry the signal more than 20 - 30km. Time of day, and who is actually listening anyway?

For emergency and safety I'd stick with rock solid satellite communication or 406MHz aircraft / satellite communication.

Personally I have worked in Antarctica and even with the challenges of satellite connectivity in polar regions this option is chosen over HF communications every day!

Whilst I personally enjoy and use HF communications on a daily basis as an enthusiastic HAM operator, I would never suggest it as an emergency conduit of any reliability.

I do however, agree, that 27MHz is UHF CB on steroids and a lot of fun. Why not make it even more fun and do an amateur radio license course that takes no more than a weekend and allows you to operate equipment communicating world wide?

It's a blast to sit at a Billabong and talk to the South Pole, or even the International Space Station!!

Check it out - the amateur radio - "F call" license.
AnswerID: 545383

Reply By: Australian P - Saturday, Feb 07, 2015 at 20:01

Saturday, Feb 07, 2015 at 20:01
Thanks to everyone for the feedback.

I do believe professional travellers in remote areas should equip themselves with satellite phones for emergencies, however for casual travellers this is not practical, (the purchase price of a second hand sat-phone is not the issue) and even with a sat-phone, I would still have HF backup.

I think some responders missed the point; That being 30 years ago SSB was ubiquitous in the remote transport industry, now with mobile phones and UHF it’s has almost fallen to nothing, yet nothing has taken its place to do the same job on the same scale that we previously had.
What must be said is the situations highlighted were not emergencies in the first instance.
Being bogged is an inconvenience. Being stuck is a major inconvenience. Being stuck with no help available in a remote area is an emergency. That is when you use your emergency beacon.
If help is called for and arrives, there is no emergency. Likewise if you just require parts to arrive to get you under way again.
So to avoid an emergency, simply requires a call for assistance, and this what frequently happened thirty years ago.
No drama, and it was a common occurrence.
There was no mobile phone, no sat-phone. A good operator might have HF, but everyone else had SSB CB. Most of the time an unknown third party in a far flung corner of the country was the go-between messenger.
Not ideal, but it worked, and that is my message.

Some options available today are: Sat-phone, Networked HF radio, and SPOT.
All very good and admittedly superior to SSB CB with their immediacy, but not the everyday appliance that SSB was with its user numbers and simplicity.
The reality for casual remote travellers is that they will not have one of the more sophisticated communications. We know that already.

A look at structured HF networks will show that it is simply a small replication of the experience that was lost with SSB CB decades ago, albeit with upgraded capabilities and power.
The VKS737 network for example was founded in the early nineties. No doubt at that time the CB frequencies were still crowded and communications were strained and difficult.
An annual VKS737 licence is $130 per year. (Some HF networks are less) About what you would pay for a second-hand SSB CB unit.

Now 27Mhz is almost uninhabited, as some people have stated, it is now a way better experience than UHF.
And that is what makes my point relevant today.
The kids are on Facebook and Play-stations, the highway users are on UHF, and nearly everybody else is on their mobile phone, or internet comms.
27 MHz is NOT what it used to be in the eighties or nineties.
It’s still there, and now under-utilised.
The glory days of 27MHz open airwaves have returned, and now users are so few in number that a critical mass has been lost to maintain the safety component. Hence the encouragement for new users.
Even a detractor states before it was crowded, “you could talk to people 60 to 80km away on AM without interference, and across the state with SSB.”

SSB CB will not always give you immediate response. It will not always give you other sensible users like VKS737, VKE237, or RFDS and the like, you will only get verbal communications, but it is bolt-in and forget with absolutely no ongoing costs or personal licences, and no user protocol structure.
Yes, it is bottom of the range of long distance comms, but low-powered SSB CB operators in the past often avoided disasters and emergencies by successfully getting their message out.
That’s the point that everybody forgets. ...Inconvenience did not escalate to an emergency.

Personally, after sat-phone, I would go for HF, but let’s get realistic CB was and is for the masses and many times it was a life-saver.

It is true that in the north, Indonesian transmissions are heard, but I would like to think that is because there is no longer the Australian content that once dominated.

Going bush without as much as a carrier-pigeon is asking for trouble, as we sadly continue to see.
AnswerID: 545564

Reply By: Sat Phone Sales - Saturday, Feb 07, 2015 at 21:52

Saturday, Feb 07, 2015 at 21:52
Problem with 27Mhz is that it is just too unreliable for anything other than chit chat.

Communications expectations can be from world wide, to not much better than UHF CB.

In it's hey day (late 70's) we were at the peak of a superb solar cycle. You'd talk to somebody in Hawaii on 5 watts as if he was next door. Yet a fellow 10km away would hear neither of you!

When the solar cycle is at a null - (coming up) the opportunity to talk with far flung stations is near zero. The cycle we are coming out of now has been great (but only a fraction of what we had in the seventies).

Being able to choose the band / frequency you operate on can circumvent some of these limitations. That's what HAM operators do. It's easy to get the license but it will set you back about $70 a year, however it's a lot of fun. You can operate on frequencies nearly as low as the AM stations and nearly as high as daylight! Use repeaters, satellites, relay stations, digital modes - the list goes on.

If you enjoy 27MHz try 10m amateur (28Mhz) - propagation is about the same but there are probably more people listening out for "DX".

As far as safety goes - PLB and Satphone are the winning combination. You can buy both for less than what most people spend on a "convenience" phone. Just a matter of priorities I guess...
AnswerID: 545566

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (13)