What is Amateur Radio - CB or Citizens Band Radio - PMR 466

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What is Amateur Radio - CB or Citizens Band Radio - PMR 466 ?
Amateur radio is a multi-facetted hobby not simply a method of communication. Unlike PMR466 & CB there is not just one band. The allocation stretches from 0.1357 MHz to 25Ghz in (if I have counted correctly) 28 bands each band can carry hundreds if not thousands of separate amateur radio stations. The radio amateur may transmit speech by AM FM SSB & digital modes; television pictures, data, Morse, radio teletype, use land based repeaters & orbiting satellites. There are sections of the hobby such as direction finding, orienteering & contest work. Through RAYNET (Radio Amateur Emergency Network), radio amateurs often assist the emergency services at the behest of local authority County Emergency Planning Officers. Communication is world wide & even out of this world with some hams contacting the International Space Station & bouncing signals off the moon.
Many radio amateurs construct & design their own equipment which is allowed under the license, as part of the self training aspect of the hobby.
Are yes I hear you say but I have to pass an exam & obtain a call sign to become a radio ham. You certainly do but this has become much easier in recent years. Too young ? too old? The youngest person of whom I am aware, obtained a license at 6 years of age, & the eldest 91. The average amount of time to obtain a license is around 12 hours of tuition at your own pace plus a short exam around 45 minutes. There is no Morse Code test anymore, only a simple appreciation of Morse. On passing this will allow you to apply to OFCOM for your license & call sign; getting you on the air. There are 2 further stages that allow you more power & other privileges. Amateur radio has seen a revival in recent year with many new people joining the hobby.
I have had my license since 1971 when I undertook a 6 month City & Guilds course the a 2 hour exam. The new system is much easier with it's 3 levels of License.
O yes I failed to mention the power output from an amateur station is up to 400 Watts on many bands.

CB radio is a massive step up from PMR 466 / 446. It is still intended as short range personal communications system for speech (telephony) only. Operating at a nominal 27Mhz (11 Metres) it is surprisingly a VHF system utilising narrow band FM modulation. The maximum legal power output from a CB rig is 4 Watts. I am aware that some CBers flout the regulations and use other modes such as SSB, the intent of this comparison is to compare the legal or approved methods for each type of system.
Despite the intended short range of the system & it's 80 channels it is possible to communicate with other countries. During the height of it's popularity in the 1980's I had a CB rig & spent many a happy hour with it. The popularity of CB in recent times seems to have waned with many CBers discovering amateur radio with it's many benefits.

PMR 466
PMR 466 is a simple very short range system. It operates at UHF nominally 466Mhz using narrow band FM modulation with a power output of 0.5Watt. (Half a watt). There are 8 channels with encoding systems to avoid you receiving radio traffic not intended for your ears. Unfortunately the error is made by many of claiming many more channels are available by multiplying the number of coded tones by the 8 channels; once a channel or frequency is in use it is in use & no amount of coding can increase the number of free channels.

PMR 466 is a great system providing you with a license free system which has it's limitations of high usage in many geographic locations. With the exception of the call tones & other bleeps it is is intended to carry speech (telephony) only. I look after 12 of these unit for the local Lions Club used for many of our outdoor events & ideal for the purpose.
PMR 446 also exists, this is broadly the digital version of the above.

For further information Contact The Coventry Amateur Radio Society
The Radio Society of Great Britain

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