I stumbled into the world of amateur radio by accident one day while I was browsing around at the thrift store. Someone had donated a handheld CB radio from RadioShack in its original box. Here was a radio that cost $99 new at the store, and I picked it up for just $20 bucks.
At first, I couldn’t do much with the radio. The short, flexible rubber antenna wasn’t picking up anything, so I tried to improve its reception by climbing a mountain. Sure enough, I was able to hear people much more clearly from a higher vantage point!
Just a few weeks later, I happened upon a Cobra external CB speaker with noise canceling at a different thrift store! For only $5 bucks, I was starting to put together a decent little setup. The only problem is that it wasn’t convenient to have to climb a mountain to listen to the radio chatter.
Some time went by and the CB sat in a box in my room. It wasn’t until I went to a CB and Ham radio swap meet that I found the most important piece: a Wilson 500 base-loaded antenna! I bought it from a vendor for $10 bucks and stuck it on the roof of my car. What a difference that made!
Now I was able to listen to people from all over town, as well as catch some incredible atmospheric skip during certain times of the day. From my car in Phoenix, I have heard people from as far away as Michigan, Tennessee, South Carolina, and even Hawaii!
This low-cost setup allows me to listen in to what’s going on, and it can be completely removed from my car in minutes if I wish.
Now I have a new problem: there’s not much to listen to on the radio besides unintelligible truck drivers, local yokels, and NOAA Weather Radio reports. Maybe I can find a mobile scanner next!
|Item Name||Purchased From||Price|
|RadioShack TRC-241 Handheld CB Radio with Weather Alert||Goodwill||$20|
|Cobra External CB Speaker w/Noise Canceling||Goodwill||$5|
|Wilson 500 Base-Loaded CB Antenna||Swap Meet||$10|
|Antenna Coupler||Swap Meet||$1|