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Jason Davidson - CB Radio Specialist

Jason Davidson

Over 18 years of hands-on experience with CB radios and installations.

Full Name Mode Switch
What it does Changes the mode, or way the radio will transmit and receive signals
Where to set it For CB operation; usually AM mode.

What are radio modes for?

You can think of your radio's mode as the method by which your voice (information) is sent to someone on the other end. There are many ways to manipulate radio frequencies to send information, selecting the right one depends on who you are talking to. You always want to match your mode with the person on the other end, with AM being the most common for CB radios. To help you understand a bit of what's happening, in AM mode, your voice is being "carried" on top of the RF carrier. Think of the RF carrier as the car, and the modulation the people in it. Other modes, like single sideband (USB/LSB) are more efficient in specific instances, but will require more technical know-how from the radio operator. The most common mode for anyone travelling down the highway (like truckers) will be AM mode.

Why you normally use AM mode most of the time

AM stands for Amplitude Modulation. This means when you talk, you are changing the amplitude, or amount, of your RF carrier wave. AM is preferred because it is easier to use, since you do not need to adjust controls like your clarifier during normal operation.

How to determine which mode to use.

AM (Amplitude Modulation) Normal mode for CB radios in the US. Works well for voice transmissions, not as well for high fidelity transmissions like music due to a high signal to noise ratio. Consider your AM/FM stereo radio. Music stations are typically found on FM, where talk radio is commonly found on AM.
USB/LSB aka SSB (Upper/Lower Single Sideband) Single sideband is an efficient mode for radio transmissions, it's especially common in HF frequencies including 10 meters and CB. If you're operating a base station in a frequency range less than 50 MHz, there's a decent chance you'll be operating with single sideband as mode. The reason this mode isn't always used is that it requires extra time to "tune in" by using a clarifier control by each radio operator. With the extra time it takes to clarify the person you're talking to, you can't just pick up the mic and start talking right away.

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