The other day I was going through a list of things I needed for trip I have planned for later in the year, My CB radio was on there and I got thinking it might be time for an upgrade. As I started looking, I now see that 80 Channel UHF’s are all the rage, so I decided to do some research on the differences are between a 40 and 80 Channel UHF radio to see if its worth making the switch.
So, What is the difference between a 40 channel and an 80 channel UHF radio?
Firstly, the number of channels available are different, one has 40 channels and the other has 80 channels. The 40 channel uhf radio is a wide band radio, meaning it expects a signal of 25khz. While the 80 channel radio is a narrow band, which expects a 12.5khz signal. Both the 40 channel and 80 channel UHF radio utilizes 476.4250-477.4125MHz radio spectrum for short distance communications.
Wait a minute, you might want to know a little more information about the differences in channels, not to mention how the different bandwidths affect usage, keep reading to learn more.
What are the differences between using a 40 channel and 80 channel UHF?
When using a 80 channel uhf it can be possible to communicate to someone using a 40 channel using the first 40 channels, or vice versa. However, due to the difference in band widths, the person on the 80 channel can come through quiet and be difficult to hear to the person using the 40 channel. While, an 80 channel communicating with a 40 channel, can have issues as the 40 channel can come through distorted or significantly louder, this is due to the difference in band widths. For the best signal between transmissions, it is ideal to have units that are utilizing the same bandwidth, either 40 channel communicating with 40 channel, or 80 channel communicating with 80 channel.
So Which One Is Better?
Although, the debate between which system is better to use, a 80 channel uhf radio has a better chance of less traffic. This means you can communicate to your particular group or who you wish to talk to, without too much interference from others. However, a 40 channel has been around longer, so it can be more common to find a 40 channel unit in older vehicles.
Both the 40 and 80 channel uhf can work anywhere, including places with little to no infrastructure to transmit the signal. However, this means they tend to work in a line of sight way as they have a short reach. Although, this is a positive because you are certain that you are communicating with those in your immediate vicinity.
Terrain can affect how well the signal is transmitted or received as well. Under normal conditions, you can expect a good signal between 5-8 km in distance. Distance can be increased up to 25km if you are situated in a high position, for example a hilltop. However, transmissions will perform quite poorly if the signal is blocked by hilly or heavily forested areas.
What is duplex mode?
UHF radios have a duplex function. This function is used to increase the range of which you can communicate. This is done by using repeater stations, set in ideal locations such as hills. There are 16 input stations and 16 output stations. The fixed position station forwards the signal it receives from the repeater input station (31-38/71-78) to the corresponding output station (1-8/41-48).
Transmissions sent on non-duplex channels are sent in simplex mode, which is directly between two radio sets without the use of a repeater.
What channels Should I use?
Whether you are using the 40 or 80 channel uhf radio, you need to know which channels you can use and what the purpose of each channel is for. The accepted use of the channels are as follows:
- Channels 1-8 and 41-48: Duplex output channels
- Channels 31-38 and 71-78: Duplex input channels
- Channels 5 and 35: Duplex channels strictly used for emergency communications
- Channels 9, 12-17, 19-21, 24-28, 30, 39, 49-60, 64-70, 79 and 80: General chat channels, simplex use
- Channel 10: 4WD clubs or convoys and national parks
- Channel 11: Call channel used to located friends (general meeting point for when communications are beginning or lost, before moving to another channel)
- Channel 18: Caravanners and campers convoy channel
- Channel 40: Australia wide road safety channel (used primarily by truckies and over sized load pilot vehicles)
- Channels 22 and 23 (25kHz): Data communications only
- Channel 29: Road safety channel Pacific Hwy, Pacific Mwy (NSW and OLD)
- Channels 61-63: Reserved for future use
The maximum penalties for the misuse of the emergency channels are:
- General misuse: 2 years imprisonment, otherwise $165,000 (a $220 on-the-spot fine can be issued for minor cases)
- Interference to an emergency call: 5 years imprisonment, otherwise $550,000
What frequencies are the channels?
Below is a table that specifies the frequencies of each channel, as well as the purpose of that channel.
|Channel 1||476.4250||Duplex – Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 2||476.4500||Duplex – Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 3||476.4750||Duplex – Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 4||476.5000||Duplex – Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 5||476.5250||Duplex – Repeater Output (Emergency use only)||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 6||476.5500||Duplex -Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 7||476.5750||Duplex -Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 8||476.6000||Duplex -Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 9||476.6250||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 10||476.6500||Simplex 4WD Drivers – Convoy, Clubs & National Parks||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 11||476.6750||Simplex Call Channel||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 12||476.7000||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 13||476.7250||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 14||476.7500||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 15||476.7750||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 16||476.8000||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 17||476.8250||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 18||476.8500||Simplex Caravan & Campers Convoy Channel||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 19||476.8750||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 20||476.9000||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 21||476.9250||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 22||476.9500||Data Only (No Voice – No Packet)||25 KHz|
|Channel 23||476.9750||Data Only (No Voice – No Packet)||25 KHz|
|Channel 24||477.0000||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 25||477.0250||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 26||477.0500||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 27||477.0750||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 28||477.1000||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 29||477.1250||Simplex Pacific Hwy (NSW) & Bruce Hwy (QLD) Road Channel||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 30||477.1500||Simplex UHF CB Broadcasts||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 31||477.1750||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 32||477.2000||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 33||477.2250||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 34||477.2500||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 35||477.2750||Repeater Input (Emergency Use Only)||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 36||477.3000||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 37||477.3250||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 38||477.3500||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 39||477.3750||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 40||477.4000||Simplex Highway Channel||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 41||476.4375||Duplex -Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 42||476.4625||Duplex -Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 43||476.4875||Duplex -Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 44||476.5125||Duplex -Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 45||476.5375||Duplex -Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 46||476.5625||Duplex -Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 47||476.5875||Duplex -Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 48||476.6125||Duplex -Repeater Output||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 49||476.6375||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 50||476.6625||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 51||476.6875||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 52||476.7125||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 53||476.7375||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 54||476.7625||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 55||476.7875||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 56||476.8125||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 57||476.8375||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 58||476.8625||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 59||476.8875||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 60||476.9125||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 61||Reserved for Future Expansion|
|Channel 62||Reserved for Future Expansion|
|Channel 63||Reserved for Future Expansion|
|Channel 64||477.0125||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 65||477.0375||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 66||477.0625||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 67||477.0875||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 68||477.1125||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 69||477.1375||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 70||477.1625||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 71||477.1875||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 72||477.2125||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 73||477.2375||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 74||477.2625||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 75||477.2875||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 76||477.3125||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 77||477.3375||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 78||477.3625||Repeater Input||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 79||477.3875||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
|Channel 80||477.4125||Simplex||12.5 KHz|
Most users are well behaved, however, you will encounter those who just want to troll and cause trouble, or new users who are unaware of the etiquette. It is important to remember that all communications on each channel are public. Anyone within range can hear you and join in. When communication has been established, it is accepted that both parties move to another channel to free up that particular channel ie. Emergency channel or the call channel.
What is the pricing difference between handheld and in car UHF radios?
Pricing can vary on the features and quality of the product. Handheld uhf radios are portable and range from as little as $40 to over $400, while in car uhf radios can range from $100 to over $600.
What to features to look for when choosing your UHF?
There are many 40 channel and 80 channel units that are available, each with various features that are available. Here are a couple features you should consider:
- Programmable Scan function: scans up to 40 user programmable channels with both group and open scan functions available
- Over-voltage protection: special over-voltage detection circuitry protects the radio andwarns of excessive voltage conditions by flashing the display
- CTSS ready: built in continuous tone coded squelch system provides quiet channel operation