For those of you that wish to make the glorious change to Amateur Radio, there will be free classes at the SCETV building next to Williams-Brice Stadium at 1041 George Rogers Blvd. The classes will be the evenings of September 18-21 and the exam will be held on Saturday, September 22nd. The classes are free and the exam will be $10.

http://w4cae.com/event/scheart-will-...stance_id=1097

Advantages of Amateur Radio over CB are:

1. Installation is easier. An unloaded 1/4 wave CB antenna is 8.6 feet whereas a VHF is 1.6 feet and UHF is just over 6 inches. There are many VHF/UHF radios available that have remote heads so You can mount the bulky radio out of sight and only have to deal with a much smaller head unit to mount on the dash or windshield.

2. Sound quality is better. CB is AM and VHF is FM. Think of AM radio vs FM radio stations.

3. The classes are not too difficult, but they do teach you a lot so that if you have comm issues you will have a deeper knowledge base to troubleshoot problems.

4. Cost and convenience. If all you really want to do is trail comms for a short distance, you can get a cheap Chinese radio for only $25.

5. Having an Amateur Radio license grants you access to thousands of repeaters which can increase your range from only a few miles to a radius of up to 20-50 miles, depending on terrain and elevation. I was once halfway between Abbeville and McCormick making full-quieting contact with a repeater on Sassafras Mountain. That is just over 70 miles. Granted I had to crank my power up to 50 watts, but I got in there crystal clear.

Here is an interesting idea I once had for a completely stealth (and not thief attracting) install idea for Jeep Wrangler. The fiberglass & composites in the hard tops and the canvas & vinyl in the soft tops are effectively invisible to radio waves. A Jeeper could easily mount a center loaded 1/2 wave dual band antenna that is around 19" tall in the rear cargo area. A 1/2 wave antenna will not have ground-plane issues like a 1/4 wave antenna and your antenna will be completely enclosed preventing trail damage and being less noticeable to "prying eyes."

It's fun, you'll like it. Tripp can back me up here.