I used to be a die hard CB/Freeband guy. Never had even a BIT of interest in HAM radio. But after actually becoming a HAM my interest in that ‘band’ is much diminished. A good modifiable CB radio is upwards of CAN $200 – sometimes less but often more. And it’s still really a CB radio. A good base antenna is often CAN $100-300 – and it really only does a single band. This is sort of a ‘minimum’ setup too (excluding a mobile setup I suppose).
Compare this to HAM equipment. A used HF transceiver can be had for CAN $300-400 dollars. These will cover from 160 to 10 meters generally in all modes – AM/SSB/FM/CW – and are usually 100 watts. With this equipment, if 10/11 meters isn’t working due to conditions, 20, 40 or 80 will probably get some long distance communication. Compare this to 10/11 meters where it’s either all or nothing.
A HAM antenna for these bands consists of a homebrew G5RV (mine is actually a Jr.) that costs about $50 and works ALL those bands quite successfully.
And, using VHF/UHF and repeater networks that have IRLP/EchoLink attatched to them, you can generally make high quality WORLD WIDE contacts regardless of atmospheric conditions – using a $50 walkie talkie! It’s pretty amazing that I can talk over 100km from my mobile (without using a VoIP link) at any time using repeaters with absolutely stunning FM quality. And it’s all legal.
And even though there are some excellent techies involved in CB, those techies would be much better served by HAM radio. The stuff you can do – legally – is absolutely amazing. You can connect your computer to your radio and do all sorts of digital modes. From sending quick text messages (chatting keyboard to keyboard) to sending and receiving hi-res photos around the world and slow/fast scan TV. Working various satellites is another “hi tech” endeavour enjoyed by many HAMs.
So guys (and gals!) consider making the leap to HAM! You will never go back to that single, limited part of the radio spectrum – unless 10/11 is open!