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CB vs Dual-Band Hand held (UV5r) Which is the better prep?

My usual response to this question is that they are both valid choices. Each to his own, so to speak.

But what if we evaluate the choice from the point of view of someone looking for a serious communications solution to put into their preps with the intention of having a fall-back means of telecommunications in event of a long term / permanent grid-down scenario. Like all of us they are also looking to make this prep as inexpensively as possible?

Here are the considerations and the comparative winner between the two:

1.Cost: UV5r wins being around 1/3rd the cost of Cb
2.Normal operating range: CB and UV5r are approximately equal (3 to 20 miles max)
3. Compactness for storage / concealment: UV5r wins
4. Self contained radio station: UV5r wins although handheld CBs are available at higher cost.
5. Portability: UV5r wins although handheld CBs are available at higher cost.
6. Ease of installation: UV5r Wins ( no installation required)
7. Simple to operate: CB is less complex
8. Configutation and learning to operate: CB wins hands down as no configuration is necessary.
Expect to invest considerable time into learning and configuring a UV5r
9. Number of contactable stations* CB and UV5r approximately equal.
10. Frequency bandwidth UV5r Wins (more than 100x greater)
11, Number of channels UV5r wins (125 channels vs 80 on CB)
12. Connects to PMR446 UV5r wins
13. Connects to Ham VHF UV5r Wins
14. Connects to Ham UHF UV5r Wins
15. Connects to Marine VHF channels UV5r Wins
16. Connects to Coastguard Air sea rescue and mountain rescue: UV5r Wins
17. Broadcast FM receiver UV5r wins
18. Split Channel capability UV5r Wins
19. Emergency torch UV5r wins


CB meets/wins 4 out of 19 criteria.

UV5r meets/wins 17 out of 19 of the criteria and is the clear winner


Omissions(?) and considerations:


It appears that I have completely overlooked the issue of Licensing. Its true that CB is entirely license-free, and that to transmit with a UV5r requires an amateur radio license. This was omitted from the test criteria as the evaluation is based on the radios intended use when the grid is permanently down, with the assumption that in such a situation the rule of law would no longer exist. Also, even though its illegal to transmit on a UV5r today, they can still be legally used to monitor radio traffic.

Available contacts

Its impossible to say how many CB radios would be dusted down and put back on air in a permanent grid-down scenario. The truth is that there are not a great number of active CB stations to be heard in the UK these days.

There are huge numbers of PMR446 radios out there. I would assume that a large number of families with active kids will have ar some time or another purchased a couple. But there is even less PMR traffic to be heard than CB. How many of these radios would be powered up again in an attempt to reach out to others?

Marine and emergency service radios I believe would on the whole stay active even without grid power as these guys effectively live with that situation as a day to day reality even now.

There are over 60,000 licenesed Ham stations in the UK. The Ham hobby is very much about self support and the ability to operate independently. A large proportion of Hams will have radios that operate on the Ham VHF and UHF bands.

It is a useful to consider who would be the most useful third party contact to reach in an emergency. The local CBer, who’s likely to be less well prepared than you, and therefore more in need of what you’ve gotten stored away. Or the Local Ham, who may or may not be better prepared than you, but there’s a good chance that this guy will be better able to transmit and receive than you, and that might be something you need access to….. even if only to hear what is going on in the wider world.

Complexity of equipment.

Much has been written about the complexity of UV5r type radios, but we should bear in mind that somepne completely new to radio communications will be perplexed at getting to grips with even a CB set. CB still need s setting up properly, power connected the right way around, antennas bolted down in the right way and in the right place, and of course the age old need to test and adjust the Standing Wave Ratio of that antenna. That’s before understanding how to operate the squelch control and understand what the noise blanker is for. However a CB has a standard pre-defined configuration that does not need operator adjustment
The UV5r type radios do away with all of the set-up work needed for CBs. But a large number of criteria need to be configured on a UV5r in order to take full advantage of its capabilities. The time it takes to learn and adjust the radio’s configuration should be viewed as an investment in understanding how the equipment works and making it somewhat maintainable by the owner. Once configured, its my experience that it’ll stay that way and can be safely left for extended period with it battery disconnected, and when revived will operate correctly.

And what about the Baofeng BF888 walkie talkies?

There has been some discussion about the BF888 radios from Baofeng. These are effectively a high power extended function PMR446 radio. They are very cheap to buy ( under £10.00 each), tougher than most PMRs. Its better than a UV5r in that it is much simpler to operate, having only 16 user programmable channels and no complex display. Its weaker than the UV5r in the following areas….. only 16 channels, only communicates with PMR and Ham UHF bands, and its transmit power being lower reduces its range a little.
As always a well considered and informative article LS, Cheers. FYI could not reply yo the other radio thread as its locked.
Interesting... ill have a look and try to open it again

Works for me NR....

I'm still locked out it says I dont have permission to post on that thread.
God only knows how I managed to do that.

Maybe the all knowing SD could fix it for me?
Yup its prolly one of the in house loons to blame River or Skeane Smile
Or perhaps its some very wise sage keeping me out of the comms threads after I buggered them up 3 years ago ??? Smile
ha ha! If only I knew how :-)
Great post LS .........many thanks !
or it is the fact LS a Mod and NR is not. Mods have the capability of posting anywhere on the forums including locked threads. LS must log in as a Mod by default.
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