Choosing the Right UHF Radio


Just as vital for anyone who spends a lot of time on a worksite as they are for residents of the outback, a good UHF CB radio can prove an invaluable means of communication between drivers, workers and farmers across massive distances. By broadcasting on UHF or VHF wavelengths on citizen bands (CB for short), UHF radios provide a fixed area for communication that's closed off to normal radio stations, free of interference from emergency broadcast services and commercial radio stations.

What Types of UHF Radio Are There?

What Types of UHF Radio Are There?

Once a fairly straightforward bit of kit, UHF radios have come leaps and bounds in the last few decades. Now available with a whole host of different technologies that specialise in making signal transmission and processing as effective as ever, many UHF radios now boast the capacity to transmit across incredible distances with a level of clarity and versatility that was once thought to be completely impossible.

FIXED MOUNT RADIOS

Fixed mount UHF radios are the most common form of radio, generally seen mounted on (or within) the dashboard of commercial vehicles and rural off-roaders. When combined with an antenna that's generally mounted somewhere on the exterior of the vehicle, these radios boast the most power, technology and reliability that it's possible to get in CB communication.

HAND HELD RADIOS

Hand held UHF radios are like walkie-talkies on steroids. They pack as much transmitting and signal power into a package that is entirely powered and run from the palm of your hand, with the antenna, speaker and microphone operating out of a battery-powered package

MARINE RADIOS

Marine Radios are very similar to standard UHF radios, only they're engineered to be must more resistant to the ingress of water, fog and salt spray to cope with life on the water

Many marine radios also operate on VHF wavelengths instead of UHF, which is a much more common means of transmission between marine craft.

What Features Should I Look Out for in a UHF Radio?

As we said before, a massive range of technology has been incorporated into UHF radios to ensure that transmissions are kept as private, clear and powerful as possible. It's worth looking out for these features whenever you're shopping for a new radio setup.

SQUELCH CONTROL

To put it as simply as possible, controlling squelch refers to opening and closing the amount of background noise that your radio takes in on a particular wavelength. By opening the squelch, you're allowing the radio to pick up weaker signals, with the trade-off of increased background noise (hence the name squelch)

CTSS, DCSS & Selcall

Another way of controlling squelch, Continuous Tone-coded Squelch Systems and (CTSS) and Digital Coded Squelch (DCS) essentially add what is known as "tone" squelch to a broadcasting channel between two radios. This has the dual benefit of reducing the noises generally made by radio interference, and ensuring that your radio's audio systems are only activated when receiving transmissions with that particular code, thereby increasing privacy.

SIGNAL PROCESSING & MANAGEMENT

Once a purely analog device, many UHF radio transmissions are made digitally to increase their clarity and efficiency. Many radios now boast the ability to convert these analogue transmissions into a digital format, making them clearer and more secure for the listener. Signal management devices are also being put into many radios, which reduces the amount of interference that's commonly experienced as a result of activity on adjacent CB channels to the user.

DUPLEX

Duplex means that your radio will broadcast on two separate channels within the same "channel" of communication, one for broadcasting and one for receiving. This makes both signals much clearer and less governed by interference, particularly when compared to those broadcasting on Simplex.

What Can I Use to Supplement My UHF Radio?

A huge range of accessories exist to make your UHF radio not only more powerful, but clearer and more efficient to use on a day-to-day basis. By altering things like your antenna, microphone, speakers and power supply, you're also setting yourself to be able to communicate much more effectively across different terrain, from the flat expanses of the outback, to the highway, to mountainous areas and everything in between.

ANTENNAS

The antenna is possibly the most important single component for broadcasting and recieving signals effectively and powerfully. A good antenna will make your own broadcasts much more powerful, while reducing interference and vibration noise as you listen to any communications coming towards you.

When buying an antenna, ensure you're getting one with the right gain for the terrain you're most likely to be broadcasting in. High gain antennas transmit a signal in a flat, horizontal, narrow plane, that covers flatter areas much more effectively. Low gain antennas act in contrast, broadcasting their signal in a spherical shape above and around, making them much more suited for uneven terrain.

POWER SUPPLY EQUIPMENT

Far removed from the standard replacement cables, a wide range of power supply equipment is also available to ensure that both your vehicle's electrics and your comms equipment is adequately protected against surges and dips in power.

These power supplies are absolutely vital when broadcasting from a fixed location, ensuring that your UHF radio is getting exactly the voltage and power needed to transmit as efffectively as possible.

MICROPHONES AND SPEAKERS

While most UHF radios will have some form of speaker/microphone combination, both of these parts are able to be upgraded for much more effective communication. A wide range of extension speakers are available, that can be mounted and connected to make your incoming transmissions much louder and clearer. 

As well as this, many controller microphones are also available, which place all the buttons and adjustable variables of your particular UHF radio into the palm of your hand. This makes it much easier to control the volume and channel of your radio on the move, and many upgraded microphones also have improved speaker systems to filter out background noise.