How to Use a CB Radio System

By Editorial Team

Updated December 09, 2019

Once you understand the basics, it's easy to use a CB radio system. The CB radio is a short range, two-way communication device that is used between two CB operators. The CB radio can reach up to 4 or 5 miles, depending on the weather and type of terrain in the area. Here are a few tips to help you use a CB radio system.

Power up the CB radio, making sure the power supply is plugged in. Many CB radio operators in vehicles can simply plug in the power connection to the cigarette lighter. Once the power supply is connected, turn the radio unit on.

Listen to the "traffic" that's currently on the CB radio and adjust the "squelch" button as needed. The "squelch" button helps minimize the interference from other channels and atmosphere. Turn the button to the left until all you hear is a humming sound. Slowly turn the button back towards the right until the frequency comes in clear.

Wait until those who are speaking are finished using the channel. It is considered bad manners to interrupt someone else. If you are in an emergency situation, however, don't worry about manners. Other CB radio operators will help you and the police monitor CB channels. If the other operators are just chatting, you can interrupt and ask for a "break."

Depress the "speak" button and speak normally into the microphone; don't hold the microphone too close to your mouth or your voice will be muffled. Make sure any music is turned off, as background noise can hamper communication. Just say "break" and wait for a reply from the operators you're interrupting.

You'll know you've been given the break when you hear "go ahead break." Use the "handle" (nickname) of the person you want to speak with to protect his privacy. You would say "Is Fuddy Duddy there? Come in Fuddy Duddy" no more than 3 times. When "Fuddy Duddy" replies to your "break," thank those you interrupted and go to a different channel. If "Fuddy Duddy" doesn't reply, thank those you interrupted and try again later.

Get familiar with CB jargon and guidelines before using the CB radio on a channel that is high in traffic. If you are driving cross-country and the communication is between two vehicles traveling together, agree on an unused channel for communications.