Thursday, October 12, 2023

FT-891 as an emergency CB?


On my recent drive back from Nova Scotia, we were stopped on I-81 in Virginia for 40 minutes.

A complete stand-still...engines off, people walking around on an interstate now having been converted to a parking lot.

We knew it was more than road construction up ahead and I was wishing for a CB since I knew that truckers traveling in the other direction would be passing the status to their southbound counterparts on Channel 19.

Then I remembered - I do have a CB, of sorts.

I quickly attached the mag-mount and MFJ-1979 to the top of the car and extended the whip to an eyeballed 8-1/2 feet. Back in the car, I attached the FT-891 and tuned it to Channel 19 - 27.185 MHz.

Second harmonic of Ch-19 is 61.7 dB down from fundamental

I learned from copying the truckers that a tractor-trailer had caught on fire and that the driver was able to separate the truck from the trailer and pull away from it.

Two law enforcement vehicles had arrived but not the fire department or tow truck. No southbound traffic was allowed to move, in any lane.

Being able to tune to Ch-19 was very helpful and I was able to learn the status in real-time as the fire was eventually extinguished and traffic was diverted to the left-most lane, simply by listening.

My FT-891 is MARS modified and will transmit on any frequency from 3.5 to 30 MHz.

After returning home, I wondered how clean the transmitter's output is if/when operating on the CB band. This is illegal, of course - except in an emergency.

I'm not claiming that a traffic jam is an emergency and I did not transmit in the case described above, but emergencies can and do occur on the road, especially in winter/mountainous areas.

It's good to know that communications is possible outside of cellular coverage areas if such a situation warrants.

Spectral output of the FT-891, even when operated on the CB band, is quite clean.

Relevent links:

FCC 97.403

FCC 97.405




  1. I keep a memory channel on my IC-7000 set to Ch. 19, and it has proven useful on the road. It turns out that the RF board was replaced by Icom service, and it was an 'unlocked'' board (I found this out accidentally). I also have the FRS/GMRS channels programmed, since this radio also covers VHF/UHF, but I've never transmitted on any of those frequencies, either. Monitoring FRS with a good outside antenna was useful when caravanning with a photography group, whose leader was giving directions from their handheld.

  2. All my rigs are modified for MARS. In an emergency situation I want to have any and all frequencies available to use if it means saving a life. Years ago I cancelled my order for an Elecraft K3 when I learned the MARS modification was not readily available and 27 MHz was disabled in firmware.

  3. Good old CB band. I had the MARS mod done one my FT450 a couple of years ago. Good to have 27 MHz on board.

  4. As a matter of fact. Here in the Netherlands many people use Icoms, Yeasus and Kenwoods on their beloved CB band. It is highly illigal but possible. Nice to read that CB has its own use in traffic jams. 73, Bas

  5. Thanks for the comments - I know I am not alone in seeing the value of radio and have no qualms about using that capability when necessary.

    Two people, via email, have indicated that they will be notifying the FCC of this posting. I don't know whether to laugh or to roll my eyes at the Karen-esque state of modern society. My FT-891 remains modified and at the ready.


  6. Oh tosh. It is not illegal to have a modified radio. It is not illegal to use test equipment to check if the radio output is clean on CB, as long as it is on test equipment and not transmitting. I have a Yaesu 950 and listen in on the "Super Bowl" (Channel 6) all the time. My radio has factory settings, and is locked out of CB, but I really don't care.
    It is silly to worry about a Ham with a modified radio. Do many of them go "freebanding" with modified radios? Of course. Do most of us? Not likely. Too much fun to be had on 20 meters, chasing DX, US counties, POTA and SOTA to piddle with Children's Band.

  7. I have ch19 and 27.285 which seems to be a popular frequency programmed into my ts-480 in memories. I use ch19 for traffic stuff just as you described, and .285 to check on activity in comparison to 15,12, and 10 meters. Amazing how often those the bands are quiet but 11 meters is busy as all get out.

  8. For a person to think notifying the FCC is important in ihis case is nuts.There are hundreds of people who use ham gear on the CB FREQs. They run power outside the common sense of RF POWER. The FCC monitors them without someone telling them all about it. W9AKW

  9. I noticed my fX-4cr and my(tr)uSDX classic both seem to work (into a dummy load of course) on cb.