Operators who are new to amateur radio often think of CB radios and 10-meter radios as the same thing: two-way radios for emergency situations, used by hobbyists and businesses as an alternative to phone service. While these two types of radios are similar, they do have some key differences. CB radio is an amateur radio system that does not require a license and can transmit signals up to seven miles. A 10-meter radio or Ham radio can transmit and receive communications over thousands of miles, but the operator must have an FCC (federal communications commission) license. There are other differences between the two radio systems that are important to understand if you’re considering buying your first radio; read on if you’d like to learn more.
|10 Meter Radios
|Yes, 3 levels available
|Typically 1-7 miles, FCC limits to 155.3 miles
|Long distance, possibly global
|Limited to 4 W
|Up to 1,500 W
|No, CB radios must meet FCC guidelines
|Yes, operators may build and modify equipment and antennas
|26.965 – 27.405 MHz
|28 and 29 MHz; worldwide repeaters offer global “DC to daylight” transmission
|Modes of Operation
|AM, FM, SSB, CW, RTTY, PSK31 digital, ATV
|Specialized CB antennas only
|Nearly unlimited antenna options
One of the major differences between CB radio and 10-meter radio is the communication range that’s allowed by the FCC. CB radios (or Citizen Band Radio Services) operate on 40 channels assigned by the FCC to a frequency range between 26.965 MHz and 27.405 MHz. To use a CB radio, simply turn the knob until you find a free channel or a conversation you want to join. CB radios typically have a maximum power output of 4W and can transmit up to 7 miles (although some models can reach further). It is against FCC rules to attempt to transmit more than 155.3 miles on a CB radio.
Depending on the equipment and location, 10-meter radios can transmit hundreds or even thousands of miles. They operate on the 10-meter band which has a frequency range between 28 and 29 MHz. The radio frequencies on the 10-meter radio band include things like morse code, AM/FM, worldwide repeaters, SSB, high-frequency beacons, and DX stations.
Compared to CB radios, 10-meter radios have a high power output, typically around 100 watts; some models offer up to 1,500 watts pep. Because they are designed for long distance communication, the FCC requires 10-meter radio users to have a license and call sign.
Ham radio or 10-meter radio’s power has a practical purpose; it allows users to communicate with each other all over the world, and pass along critical information in emergencies. CB radios are also used for emergency communications at the local level.
CB Radio users are no longer required to have an FCC license. However, CB radio service is regulated and users have strict rules to follow:
- CB service is limited to 40 shared channels on a “take-turns” basis and no channel is assigned to a specific individual or organization
- CB users are limited to 5 minutes of continuous talk with another station and must wait at least one minute between communications on the same channel
- CB equipment used in the United States must be FCC-certified and labeled as such by the manufacturer
- CB users may not raise the power output of a CB unit, attach a power amplifier, or modify the unit internally
Because they are more powerful, 10-meter radios are strictly regulated by the FCC. Amateur radio operators must have a call sign that identifies who they are, and pass a test to get their amateur radio license. There are three levels of licensing, each offering expanded user privileges:
- Technician Class: entry level license that grants transmitting privileges on the VHF and UHF bands used for local communication, and limited Ham bands for global transmissions
- General Class: expands transmitting privileges to long-distance, international communication via signal propagation, and increased voice operation on Ham bands
- Extra Class: provides access to the full range of Ham bands allocated to the Amateur Radio Service
Users must take a new test to obtain the license for each level.
Types Of Antennas
Most radios work best with specifically designed antennas. In general, 10-meter radios and CB radios require different antennas because they operate on different frequencies.
10-meter radios have a shorter antenna length and they receive the full spectrum of VHF, UHF, and SSB sidebands, so you don’t need to tune them.
CB radio antennas are much longer to provide maximum surface area for radio waves. They must be tuned with an SWR meter to work properly. A CB antenna that is not properly tuned provides a poor signal and may damage your CB radio. For more information about CB antenna tuning, be sure to read our How to Tune a CB Antenna guide.
With proper sizing and tuning, a CB antenna can be modified to work with a 10-meter radio. The difference between receiving 26 Mhz for CB radio and 29 Mhz for 10-meter radio is only a few inches of antenna. However, it’s very important to confirm that any antenna is adequate for the power output of your radio.
Common Uses Of Amateur Radio
10-meter radios have a variety of everyday uses. They are referred to as 10-meter ham radios, ham radios, or amateur radios because they are very popular with amateurs. However, 10-meter radios are commonly used in professional settings; mobile radios used during natural disasters, by search and rescue logistics teams, law enforcement, and the military operate in the 10-meter frequency range.
For example, ham radios were invaluable after 9/11, when cell service was at a minimum. Users passed emergency messages, gave updates about missing persons, and helped get supplies to those in need. Since then, the use of 10-meter radios has grown because it allows various agencies to communicate with each other.
Here are some specific uses of a 10-meter ham radio:
- Using FM repeaters to operate locally
- Using HF to operate in a long distance
- Chatting with text over the radio in RTTY, PSK31, and other digital modes
- Using Packet to send data
- Using ATV (Amateur Television) to send video over the radio
- Emergency communications
- Amateur radio contests
- Experimenting with low-power (QRP) functioning
CB or Citizens band radios are two-way radios designed for short-distance, person-to-person voice communication. There are three main types: mobile units in vehicles, base stations in buildings, and handset or walkie-talkie style CB radios. Any situation where cell service is limited but you must communicate with those nearby is perfect for a CB. These are the most popular uses of CB radios:
- Off-road and Hiking: CB radios work in areas without cell service, so many off-road vehicle groups require members to have a CB radio. Easy communication in a group of vehicles traveling together makes them popular with RV travelers, hunters, hikers, motorcyclists, and truck drivers.
- Traffic alerts: Truckers use CB radios for real-time traffic alerts, such as crashes, construction, gridlock, or police activity. CB radio users can notify trucks when it’s safe to pass or merge, helping to prevent confusion during heavy traffic.
- Weather channels: A CB radio keeps you informed about weather alerts, storms, environmental catastrophes, and other threats.
- Boating: Because cell service is virtually non-existent on the open water, boaters depend on CB radios to keep them safe; multi-band radios can access marine channels as well.
- Emergencies: CB radios can contact emergency services even in remote areas, and they can run on battery power for communication after a natural disaster. Emergency channels 9 and 19 are reserved for emergency transmissions only.
10-meter radios offer the most power and features of any amateur radio, so they are more expensive than CB radios. The price of a 10-meter radio ranges from $200.00 up to $900.00 for the most powerful, 400-watt radio.
Because CB radios have fewer features and offer low power transmission, they are less expensive. This is one reason they are popular with hobby radio operators. Prices range from well under $100 to $400 for a unit with extra features.
The most well-known and respected 10-meter brand is Stryker Radios, which offers multiple models of 10-meter radio as well these high-quality CB antennas:
- SR-A-10 Center Loaded CB Antenna
- SR – A10 Magnetic Mount CB Antenna
- Center Loaded Antenna SR-2K
Other popular 10-meter radio brands include Ranger and Galaxy.
Because of their lower cost and wider popularity, there are far more manufacturers of CB radios; among the most popular brands is Cobra.
Buy A 10-meter Amateur Radio From Stryker
If you’re looking for best-in-class 10-meter radios, CB antennas, connectors, and accessories, Stryker Radios has you covered. Our best in class warranty and stellar customer service make us a top choice among both professional and amateur operators who expect the best from their radios.