The CB radio, also called a Citizen’s Band radio, is a concept that began in the United States in 1945, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set aside a radio band for use by unlicensed operators for private and business communication. Originally set at 460–470 MHz, it was later moved to the 27 MHz range; 40 channels are available, but there is a limit of 4 watts of transmission power. The CB radio spread to other countries, and the range, the number of channels, and the power limitations, are often different. In spite of these differences, however, the concept of a base station CB radio — also called a home CB radio — is widespread, being found, for example, in Australia, Canada, and the UK, so the considerations when purchasing one is similar.
The home CB radio base station is distinguished from two other models of CB radio: the mobile CB radio, made for a vehicle, and the handheld or portable CB radio, made for walking and hiking, both of which are designed to used in ever-changing locations. The home CB radio, by contrast, is set up in one place and stays there. It is also distinguished by the type of antenna it uses, typically the largest possible aerial mounted in the highest available — and legal — location, often on the roof of the building it is housed in or on a tower. Because of the power restriction on CB radios, and the height and size advantage in its antenna, a home CB radio will typically have a superior range to a mobile or portable CB radio, so considering the antenna and its location are an important aspect of purchasing a CB base station.
The features available for a home CB radio are another important consideration, and one thing to think about is the power sources that can be used. If the radio will be operated in the dark, illumination — often referred to as “nightwatch” or “backlighting” is important. Check for an added emergency and weather broadcast, if this is important to you, as well as other frequency ranges. For example, in the United States, since the “All Hazards” broadcast put out by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Weather Radio (also called NWR) is in a different frequency range than CB radios, it has to be built in to the radio and is not available in all models, and some may also have Am or other frequency ranges. Additional features to consider include instant access to popular channels, various noise controls, PA (public address) functions, Roger beep, automatic SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) and high SWR indicator, and microphone type can controls.