How to Use A SSB CB Radio Properly

By Editorial Team

Updated July 21, 2017

What is a SSB CB radio? It is a higher power type of CB that can transmit farther. Here is how to use one.

Listen before your talk. To use a SSB CB radio is easy. First you need to understand the basics and etiquette. SSB and regular CB, which uses AM do not get along. Each one causes interference on the other persons radio. AM CB is the most common mode and is used on channel 19 by truckers). It causes a loud squeal on a CB using SSB. For that reason most SSB CB users stick to channel 16 and channels 34 through 40. Although AM'ers as they are called, still use these channels, there are fewer of them on the upper channels and less squealing noise to contend with.

Know the laws about CB radio. Most SSB CB activity is for long distance transmissions. DX is a hobby that is very common with users of SSB CB radios but is illegal. The FCC has set a distance limit of 155 miles for the CB service. However, you may be able to use a SSB CB radio to call for help where other AM CB radios will not reach out.

Tune to the right channel. To operate on SSB, tune to one of the unofficial SSB CB channels such as 37 and choose either upper or lower sideband from the selector switch. (You must have a SSB CB radio). Next tune the clarifier control until the voice you hear is intelligible. It may sound like Donald Duck at first. To initiate a call on SSB CB radio say "CQ, CQ, this is..." Make up a "handle" to refer to yourself. Many SSB users imitate ham radio operators in that they make up a number or "unit" call sign. You may choose to use a number that is familiar to you, such as your age plus the word "unit", such as "CQ, CQ, from Unit 44". Other operators use a "handle" such as "Lone Ranger" etc. There are no real rules regarding call signs since CB does not require a license.

Learn why SSB CB radios are different from regular CB radios. Single Sideband, or SSB, concentrates more signal into a smaller amount of frequency. For this reason the peak power or "peak envelope power" abbreviated PEP is twelve watts, compared to just 4 for an AM CB radio. This allows you to talk very long distances, but remember the FCC's 155 mile rule. You may hear someone calling "CQ DX" on a high power SSB CB radio but it is against the law in the U.S. SSB CB radios are made by Galaxy, Connex, Cobra and others. For more about SSB CB see the resources section below.