All About CB’s and CB Jargon


What you should know about CB Radios

What exactly is a CB Radio?

A CB Radio is simply a 2-way voice communication system that lets you broadcast messages to other CB users. It lets you talk from your truck, home, business, car or boat to any other CB operator on the same channel. Technically it is a transceiver. It functions both as a receiver (when receiving messages). Citizen Band Radio was created by the Federal Communications Commission or FCC in 1958. In that year the FCC authorized 23 channels for private citizen use. CB’s popularity soon congested these channels, so the FCC added 17 more channels for a total of 40, effective January 1, 1977.

What types of CB’s are there?

Base CB – Base Stations are units designed primarily for fixed position use in the home or office, on a desk or countertop. They are equipped to operate on 110V – 120VAC house current without special adapters. Though they are no more powerful, base stations have added range capabilities over mobiles and portables because their fixed position allows much greater height.

Mobile CB – Designed for mobile operation in cars, boats, trucks, tractors, planes, etc. Although generally more compact than base unit, they have the same maximum legal transmit power (4 watts). Most mobile CB’s are designed to operate on a 12 volt negative ground power supply. Some are capable of operating on a negative or positive ground system (check your owner’s guide). While most cars, on the road today are negative ground, some older cars, newer trucks and imports use a positive ground. If you are not sure which you have, check with your service station mechanic.

Portable CB – Often referred to as a hand-held walkie-talkie. It is a CB which carries its own antenna and internal power supply (batteries). Depending on its features, a portable can take several configurations with respect to internal external power supplies, antennas and microphones.

AM/SSB – The method most CB’s use to generate a voice signal is called amplitude modulation or AM. The AM signal can be divided into three segments: the carrier, the upper sideband, and the lower sideband. CB radios designed to broadcast on just one sideband at a time, as well as regular AM, are called Single Sideband or SSB. SSB equipment gives you significantly increased power output and range in sideband mode, and provides 80 additional operating channels.

Emergency CB – This newest CB two-way radio can get you help fast when you have trouble on the road. It’s small, hand held unit that plugs directly into a car’s cigarette lighter/port for emergency use, and stores out of sight when not needed.

CB Controls and Operating Features

Depending upon the manufacturer and model purchased, the CB may be equipped with a variety of controls and features which are designed to make the unit more efficient. The following lists the most common of these features along with their purpose or function.

Do I Need a License to Operate a CB?

No. Using a CB requires no special training or instruction and anybody can learn to use it in just a few minutes. To talk, simply pick up the mic, press a button and talk. To listen, simply release the mic button and listen. It’s that easy.

Is Talking on CB Really Difficult?

No, but the CB boom has been responsible for creating a colorful new jargon all its own. Most CB operators develop their own nicknames called “handles”. After about an hour or two of listening you’ll be on the air and talking like a pro.

CB Jargon – The Unofficial Guide to CB Lingo

All the good numbers – Best wishes
Back door – Last vehicle in a group in communications with each other
Back’em down – Slow down to the legal speed limit
Bear – A minion of the law
Bear cave – Police station or barracks
Bear bite – Traffic ticket
Bear in the air – Police patrolling in helicopters
Beat the bushes – The lead vehicle looks for Smokey to relay his “twenty”
Beaver – Female
Bone box – Ambulance
Bounce around – Return trip
Breaker – Someone who wants to interrupt a conversation
Bushel – One bushel equals ½ ton; 20 tons is a 40 bushel load
Camera – Radar unit
Catch ya on the flip flop/side – Talk to you on the return trip
Chase’ em up – The chase car of a 2 car radar set-up
Chicken coop – Roadside truck weighing station, despised by truckers
Clean – No police in the immediate area
Clear – Off the channel; final transmission
Comeback – Return call
C’mon, come on back – Invitation to reply
Copy – Do you understand?
Cotton-picker – Substitute for any expletive (no swearing is allowed on CB)
County-Mounty – Local sheriff or deputy
Definitely – Emphatically
Don’t feed the bears – Try not to pick up any tickets
Double nickel – 55 mile per hour speed limit
Drop the hammer – Accelerate
Down and gone – Stopped transmitting or moving to another channel
Dirty side – Eastern seaboard
Ears on – CB radio turned on
Eatem’ up – Restaurant
18 wheeler – Commonly known as a “semi” or 18 wheeled tractor/trailer
Eyeball – Visual contact
Flip-flop, flipper – Return trip
Foot warmer – Linear amplifier
Four – 10-4, abbreviated; OK?
Four-Ten – Emphatic 10-4
Four wheeler – Passenger car or truck with four wheels
Front door – Lead vehicle in a group in communication with each other
Good buddy – 100% Universal reference to someone else with a CB
Green stamp – Fines or toll road
Hammer down – Cruising above the speed limit
Handle – On the air nicknames used by CB person
Harvey Wall-banger – Reckless driver
Heater – Illegal linear amplifier used to gain extra range (see also linear)
Hole in the wall – Tunnel
How ‘bout it? – Asking for a response
Kenosha Cadillac – Any product of American Motors
Linear – Same as heater
Land line – Telephone
Load of Postholes – Empty truck
Legalizin’ – Keeping within speed limit (opposite of streakin’)
Local Yokel – City or town police officer
Lots of good numbers – Have a good trip
Makin’ the trip – Getting the signal out
Mercy! – Wow
Mix master – Cloverleaf intersection
Modulating – Talking
Negatory, negative – No
On the move – In motion
On the side – Standing by on the channel; listening on the channel
Over the shoulder – Behind you
Pedal on the medal – Flat out; cruising in excess of 55 mph (see Hammer down)
Plain wrapper – Unmarked police car of (fill in) color
Picture taker – Policeman with radar
Pick’em up – Pickup truck
Portable barnyard – Semi hauling livestock
Portable parkin’ lot – New car carrier
Pounds – S-unit-9S-units on the meter is 9 pounds etc.
Radar Alley – Ohio turnpike 3
Rake the leaves – Same as “backdoor”
Reefer – Refrigerated truck
Rest’em up – Rest stop
Rig – CB radio or vehicle
Rockin’ chair – Vehicles between the front and back door
Roller skate – Small car
Runnin’ barefoot – Legal CB operation
Sandbox – Dump truck carrying dirt or stones
Southbounder – Anyone traveling south
Seatcover – Occupants of a vehicle, usually female
Seven thirds or 73’rds – Best regards
Shake the trees – Same as “front door” & “beat the bushes”
Short-short – A short time
Stepped on – Overpowered by a stronger transmission
Smokey bear – State police
Spies in the sky & hounds on the ground – Aircraft working with pursuit cars
Streakin’ – Speadin’
33 – 10-33 (emergency)
Three’s or 3’s – Best regards
3’s and 8’s – Lots of best regards
Tijuana Taxi – Full dressed (marked) police car, 2 wheeler motorcycle
Twenty – 10-20, location; what is your location?
Uncle Charlie – FCC monitoring team
Walked on – Same as “stepped on”
Wall-to-wall – Full scale on the S-meter
Wall-to-wall bears – A lot of police
Watergate city – Washington, D.C.
We gone – Stopped transmitting or leaving the road
Wrapper – Color of police car
X-ray machine – Radar
XYL – Ex young lady, usually a wife