Let me start by saying I don’t care for CB radios. We have all heard the crap that is transmitted on some of the channels.
When we started Owyhee Expeditions Outfitters, we looked for a reliable way to keep contact between our vehicles while conducting tours on the high desert of southern Idaho. Because of the dust, we sometimes had vehicles spaced a half-mile apart. Some of our routes were 67 miles from the nearest paved roads.
After investing in business band radios, we quickly found out we were operating so far out in the boonies that they didn’t work. The signal for business band had to go out to a repeater and then back to the vehicles. There were no business band repeaters out that far. In fact the Owyhee County Sheriff’s office has areas of the county they can’t reach with radio, to this day. So, as the next best option, we looked into CB, as the signal just goes from vehicle to vehicle. Line of sight, so to speak.
We tried a few CB’s but were not happy with the distance the 4 watt radios would carry. This was a safety issue for us, and unless we could come up with a better way, we were going to have problems getting reasonable rates on insurance for the business.
About 1992, after some investigation, we deduced the best radios to have were two brands of the old 23 channel CB’s that were no longer available on the new market – the 40 channel units were the only ones available. The older Midland, model 13-857, 23 channel radios were going for $5-$10 at garage sales. These units would allow us to keep contact up to 10 miles under the right conditions. While some of us still use these on our rallyes these days about 10 of us have switched to the Cobra LTD29. These are newer 40 channel radios and seem to be working fine. Of course we need the max distance for safety………..we have found these Cobra LTD29 do well out to 7 miles on line of sight. We run on Ch 7 or 11.
Another improvement was the addition of the Astatic Model 636-L microphone. Bill Galvin, a long time member of our Thing Group down in Elko, Nevada discovered these and told us to try them. This mic is a great improvement for talking on the radios with the top down, going more than 40 mph.
These radios have saved us a lot of missed turns and overshot turnoffs in the many rallyes we have done. When there are 15 Things strolling down the road at 60 mph, it is nice to know we can stay in touch. Besides, it’s just more fun as we roll along throwing friendly banter & observations of the amazing country we travel. I know….. those of you who have been with us on rallyes know our motto is The Loster, the Better!! The only exception to this motto is if YOU are the one who is responsible for getting everyone safely back!
– Mike Humeston
Last updated 2015
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