How to Use SSB on a CB Radio? Comprehensive Guideline

How To Use Ssb On A Cb Radio? Comprehensive Guideline

CB Radios are used as communication devices where two people can talk to each other via a private channel. People generally use a CB radio when all the other modes of communication are cut off.

Think of an apocalypse. Will you be able to use SNS to call up your loved ones? Chances are small (Or at least that is what the movies have been teaching us).

Since 1948, CB radios have upgraded themselves into better devices with greater range. These days, CB radios should be able to cover at least a 5 miles area. Some even go as high as 10 miles.

The radios come in 2 different modes: AM and SSB, which also stands for Single Side Band. As the title suggests, we will focus on how to use SSB mode on a CB radio. Read on to find out in detail.

Difference Between AM and SSB Mode

For starters, only the expensive CB radios come with the SSB mode. This is due to the covered range of SSB mode, which is much higher compared to the AM. SSB is more powerful since it uses 12 watts to AM’s 4. Another positive to the SSB mode is that it makes far less noise than that of AM.


But SSB’s one limitation is that you can communicate to only other SSB users with it, while AM gives you the option of reaching out to both.

Advantages of Using SSB Mode

  • There is a 50% decrease in the transmitter power level since the carrier is not transmitted in the SSB mode. This is true even when the signal is carrying the same level of information.
  • The transmitter power is further reduced as there is only one sideband being transmitted.
  • Bandwidth is reduced in half as only one sideband is transmitted. This helps in improving the signal to noise ratio by a factor of 2.

How to Use SSB on CB Radio?


CB radios are not difficult to operate. You only need a couple of minutes to set up, and you should be ready to use it. If your CB radio is on SSB mode, then you will have some advantages over the AM mode. Using the CB radio on either SSB or AM mode is the same process.

Here is the step-by-step guide for your better understanding.

Step 1: Connect the Antenna

An antenna is the most essential part of a CB radio. The handheld radios will come with one, but a lot of mobile ones will not, so you need to buy one separately.

This antenna will also decide whether or not the CB radio is ranged in the entry, mid or higher end. There are many different antenna types out there. Make sure you do your research before deciding on this.

Step 2: Tune in to a Channel

CB radios have 40 different channels with their unique frequencies. Channel 9 is for emergencies, for example. You can tune in to your desired channel by using a knob on the radio. Some CB radios also come with a special button for channel 9, so that you can connect directly in case of an emergency.

Step 3: Adjust the Volume

Before you start talking, make sure the mic control is put into the maximum option. This way, you can talk without shouting your lungs out. Clear communication is a necessity when it comes to using a CB radio.


Step 4: Beginner’s Etiquette

You can start by using the transmitter button. Push it, and say ‘Break.’ This is the way CB radio users start to communicate with each other universally. Then wait for a bit as you enter into the conversation.

The transmitter button is very similar to the ones used in walkie-talkies, and that is how you are supposed to use it here as well, essentially.

Step 5: Now Talk

Once you have introduced a connection to the other end, you can start to talk. This is pretty much common sense from here on out. Try to keep your sentences short and to the point, and just enough so that your point is made properly.

Step 6: Keep an Eye on the Signal Meter

The signal meter can give you important information such as the strength of the signal, the distance between the person and you, etc., given they are higher end CB radios.


Step 7: Cut Off Noise

If there is no signal, there is no point in keeping it on. Without any transmission, the background noises can get annoying pretty quickly. Turn up the squelch knob to cut off the noise.

Step 8: Find the Automatic Noise Limiter

This button, also known as the ANL, will help you cut off outgoing and incoming signals when not necessary. It is a useful option to have when the CB radio is not in use, especially in the urban areas where there are more activities.

Step 9: And Repeat

Once you are done with the conversation, you can switch to another channel and repeat it as mentioned above. While switching, turn the squelch knob back to normal so that you have access to more channels.

CB Slang

These are the jargon commonly used to make communication faster and swifter. Also known as ‘Ten codes,’ these are not only helpful to communicate better, but also to establish a form of comradeship. Ten Codes use things like:

10 – 1: Poor Reception

10 – 2: Good Reception

10 – 9: Repeat

10 – 11: Weather or Road Conditions

10 – 19: Return to Base

Other slangs also include:

Miss Piggy: A policewoman

Hundred Mile Coffee: Strong coffee

Flying Donut: Cop helicopter

Fighter Pilot: A driver constantly changing lanes

Bear Trap: Hidden police checkpoint

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Channel Nine used for an emergency in all countries?

No, only in the US.

What is a Squelch?

It is a knob that is used to quiet down the background noises when there is no signal. You can continue to turn this knob to cut off the noise completely.

What is Shooting Skip?

A Shooting Skip is a condition where the earth’s factors bounce the signals back and forth to a far location. If you reach the right condition, your signals could reach someone sitting thousands of miles away and vice versa.

Get a CB Radio on SSB Mode for Emergencies!

CB radios are still available widely in the market, and you can get a new model within 50 to 200 dollars. Sometimes you can even get them cheaper from yard sales. Accessories are also available online.

It is a good communication device to have if you are on the road a lot. When everything else fails, an emergency device like this can come in handy.     

So, get yourself the best ssb cb radio out there.

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