False Performance Claims In the CB Radio Industry
Back in the 70s, performance ratings were exaggerated a little. Advertisements of 5-Watt CB radios were common. It was true they were legal 5-Watt radios. However, that was input power not output power. The radios back then were less efficient than radios of today. Some units only had 2-Watt output. Then came the sideband radios, double sideband and single sideband.
There were only a few double sideband models made. Double sideband was allowed 8-Watts output and the advertising seemed to be accurate on those units. Of course, Tram and Regency made them and were very reputable companies. On the other hand, the single sideband radios were advertised as 25 Watt radios, and once again, this was the input power rating.
The legal output limits have remained the same to date, 4-Watts AM and 12 Watts single sideband. Moving to present time for a moment, Uniden printed the box for the PC 510xl with 7-Watt output and they may still have it on the box. I don’t pay attention to the hype anymore. By the way, they were referring to the audio amplifier driving the speaker as being 7-Watts output. Moreover, that’s a stretch, the chip is probably capable of delivering 2-Watts at 10% distortion.
Linear amplifiers were rated differently back in the seventies. They were rated with their AM or RMS output. Take one of these oldies with a peak reading wattmeter and you’ll find that they put out an additional 50% output.
For example, Pride Electronics made a model 100 but PEP output was 150 to 160 Watts. Later the PEP output was used as a standard of rating the amplifiers. Moreover, today some kickers called 225 Watt units are only capable of 175 Watts PEP. Slowly reality has eroded in the field of CB radio.
How about the HR-2510 final transistor swap, an article in a popular Amateur radio magazine claimed the writer changed the pre-driver and final to get 90 Watts PEP output from is President HR-2510. Not possible, he latter admitted the power readings were inaccurate due to the method of measurement or out of calibration test equipment.
It sold a ton of Motorola transistors and it made many techs money either making modifications or fixing failed attempts. I have done some in the past only because the customer said they would go elsewhere if I wouldn’t do the changeover. One thing I was against was replacing a 30 MHz part with a 50MHz part.
The first harmonic in CB equipment is 54 MHz. Why put a device that is more capable of amplifying something you’re doing your best to filter out? Many of these President radios used for base operation, became TVI transmitters causing problems in the neighborhood. Many calls came in about the problem, even from operators I warned against the project.
Most of them didn’t want to hear the truth; they wanted a magic answer or wanted my blessing on some foolish idea they were told or overheard on the air as if it would make it work if I said it would. All this trouble and expense for an average increase of 15 Watts PEP or less than a 50% increase in output power. This increase amounts to approximately 1.5 dB or 1/2 of an “S” unit.
Customers come into the store all the time with radios that have been what they call “Turbo Tuned”. Cobra 29s that are putting out 45 Watts, and they saw it on the techs meter. Then there’s the dual final radio with 70-Watt output. When told the radio isn’t capable of that power output without an additional amplifier they either, look at me as if I’m incompetent, or they boldly say “I watched the tech do the job and test it out”.
Not one of them ever considered that the meter the tech was using was out of calibration, either intentionally or unintentionally. Truck stop techs seemed to be doing this for years, but now, I see this carried over onto the Internet. Claims that the factory selects parts that would reduce the performance of 10 Meter radios are ridiculous.
There is no legal limit on the power output of amateur radio equipment. It is the operators responsibility to operate the radio in accordance with the license limitation and they are charged with the responsibility of not using more power than is required to make a contact. The maximum power that an amateur radio operator can transmit is 1,500 Watts. They can use a 10,000-Watt amplifier as long as they don’t put out more than 1,500 watts.
To say that 10 Meter radios have selected parts to keep them down to some imaginary power output level is just not true. Yes these radios have adjustments to limit carrier power, sideband power, AM modulation, and FM deviation, but these are there to keep the radios from over modulation and proper drive levels.
These adjustments do increase the modulation and power output, and properly set, they will show a marked increase in both without too much distortion. But, believe me, if Galaxy, RCI or any other company could get more out of these radios by selecting a couple of different capacitor values, they would.
They’re all looking for an edge over the competition. CB radios on the other hand have to meet FCC type acceptance, and components are selected to meet this criteria. On the other hand, you won’t find a modulator transformer in a Cobra 25, 29, Uniden 66, or 76 that could possibly modulate a radio to 45 Watts for very long, if at all.
I don’ know what drives customers to believe these falsehoods, maybe it’s bragging rights. For over thirty years, I’ve resisted falling into this pit of dishonesty like many other radio dealers. This group of dealers all feel that the only way for a radio operator to make the most of their purchase is to understand what’s real and not real. Fooling customers into believing something that isn’t true only discourages them from the radio hobby.
For a quick buck, the customer agonizes with poor products or poor service and just gives up, and everyone looses even the guy that made that quick buck. Repeat business is essential for growth. Remember, if the prices and claims look too good to be true, you’re first instinct is probably right. Get other opinions, knowledgeable ones.