CB radios fall under the category of two-way radios. That means they receive and transmit. Two-way radios have two separate circuits ... one for receiving and one for transmitting. It is possible, and extremely likely, that an abused or defective CB radio will retain the capability to receive communications even when its ability to send communications is compromised. We hear all the time … "I can hear other people but they can not hear me." This, as often as not, is a clear indication that the transmitter portion of the CB is no longer functioning. But before jumping to conclusions, read the rest of this article.
So many people think that CB is a simple plug-n-play device. This is miles from reality. From a technical point of view, CB is every bit as sensitive to installation flaws and errors as any police, fire or military two-way radio. They basically function the same ... just on different frequencies. Those who install an antenna system and fail to check for opens, shorts and standing wave ratio (SWR) are those most likely to experience RUD (rapid unscheduled destruction) with their radio.
If you are experiencing one-way communications on a two-way radio, you may have a damaged transmitter, In most cases, if you connect an SWR meter between the radio and antenna and find that when you key the microphone that the SWR meter needle (in calibrate mode) fails to swing all the way to the calibrate line on the meter dial, there is a high likelihood that the transmitter circuit is not working. But, before coming to that conclusion, check to make sure that the 12-volt power to the radio is fully complete. A bad 12-volt supply may deliver enough amperage to light up the dials but when it comes time to activate the transmitter, there may not be enough current to drive the transmitter to its maximun output. Check all the connections and never use thin wire (speaker wire) to provide 12-volt power to the radio.
Also keep in mind that this is two-way communication and that the chain is only as strong as the weakest link. If nobody is hearing you than it might be your radio, however, if it is just one person not hearing you it might be the condition of his or her radio and antenna that is the actual problem. Users tend to place all the blame on their equipment and that is often not the reality of the situation. For the most part, beyond the chrome and extra knobs, radio performance is pretty much the same from a $50 radio to a $300 radio. Out of the box they all have a maximum legal output of 4-watts of RF power [not to be confused with some misleading advertisements that mention 5-watts of audio output]. An inexpensive radio connected to a properly installed performance antenna system will blow away an expensive radio connected to a mediocre or inferior antenna system. Always has … always will.
Updated Dec. 18, 2012