Uniden Bearcat 980 SSB CB radio Review
After my post today about Signals Intelligence I received a few emails about what I thought was the best CB radio prepper’s could buy for a “buy once, cry once” scenario. Its my opinion the Uniden Bearcat 980 SSB CB radio is the best CB radio on the market today.
There are a number of opinions about CB radio and the more common experiences people have. I understand the issues with the “Bubba’s”. I hear them from Atlanta to LA from my station and they are mostly a bunch of vulgar illiterate fools running their mouths with illegal amplifiers.
And I have a hard time listening to them for any length of time because they really have no information I need for my local area. To a point that is my fault as well because I invest money in antennas over gear in the radio room.
CB can be a pain and I understand, but the whole reason to have one is a part of your communications layer. You need to be able to receive all of the commonly used frequencies in case of emergency. You don’t need to respond to anyone, but you need to have your ears open for any information available to you.
So, enough of why you need a CB
The advantage to this radio over all the rest on the market today comes from the stability the 980SSB has.
Simply put, the biggest problem most CB radios have is drifting off frequency. This causes the distorted voices and fluttering in and out of receivable limits.
In my experience with this radio, and with more than 1 year of use this doesn’t happen with the Uniden 980. Drifting off the frequency is something which I feel is unacceptable and I wont pay money for something that doesn’t work well, and I definitely wont recommend junk to anyone.
Online reviews say the same about this radio. They simply stay on the frequency you put them and don’t drift or float off . I hate when gear does what it wants too all on its own
The second advantage
This radio is capable of side band use over the entire 40 channels CB radio allows. Effectively this gives you 120 channels to use and monitor. At legal limit it also allows 12 watts of power with the side band and 12 watts is plenty with a good antenna.
Antennas make the difference between an operator and a Bubba.
The scan feature is pretty much standard. If you want to scan side band freqs you must first start in SSB mode, and you can only scan in the mode you are in. If you scan in USB, than the radio will scan all 40 channels ONLY on the Upper Side Band. The same with LSB or Lower Side Band.
Simplex is the same as well, so to scan all possible channels you need to switch mode manually between scans.
The SWR Meter and signal strength meter.
SWR is the trick to making a low powered radio perform at its best and the 980 has a built in meter which works very well. You want to tune your antenna to give the lowest possible SWR in the band over the entire spectrum. Its sounds harder than it is, suffice your antenna will come with instructions and mine required no tuning at all with an average SWR of 1.6 to 1.
Signal strength is used by most just to tell someone else they are coming in fine. But , if the smart operator builds themselves a beam antenna they can turn the antenna to the strongest signal and have a redneck direction finder. That can be useful to determine where the signal is coming from as well as listening to what intel you can get from the conversation.
A really good point I make is, most people cant shut up on the radio so listen to what you can learn through casual conversation, and adjust the amount of chatter your group transmits as needed.
The Uniden 980 SSB in use
I like this radio. I bought it for my radio room and also rigged a spare power cable in my truck so I can swap it out to use mobile if I need too. I have a mag mount antenna which works as well as I expected, but for real use a roof mounted full length antenna for the radio room was what I did. It allows the use of the 980 to its full potential.
SSB radios used to be a dime a dozen, but very few are on the market today vs the 1970”s when CB was in its hey day. SSB should be the only CB radios preppers should be buying, as they will allow monitoring across the full width of the CB radio frequency spectrum.
This radio is the one I bought after the hours of research I was able to do. It stays on the freq I put it on, I leave it running during monitoring in the shack, sometimes for hours. It has a good color adjustable face which is back lit for night use and all its functions are easy to find and use.
5.0 out of 5 stars
By Matt Price
This CB was installed in my 2012 JK Unlimited in a Tuffy single-compartment overhead console! This is a sleek unit, with tons of “new age” technology, such as LCD displays with useful calibration tools built right in for SWR calibration and Antenna tuning!! It has a built in PA option, which of course is always fun to have 🙂 The unit seems to be more powerful than some Cobra competition out there with out pulsing around 5W instead of the industry standard 4W. Couple this with a FireStik antenna, and you’re ready to trail ride with ease while keeping in communication with the group! Highly recommended!!
5.0 out of 5 stars
Radio is unbelievable!!!!
By Hoosier in the South
I had bought this radio at a Radio Shack store in town when we went to visit my dad in Indiana last Christmas. I had only bought it because my old Radio Shack cb I have had for about 8 1/2 years had died on me on the way there. I Bought the 520Xl and hooked it up to my SWR meter with my 3 ft Firestik antenna with magnet mount I had on the back, and right off, i never had to make an adjustment at all, because I had a SWR reading between 1:0 and 1:5. I used this radio on the way back, and was able to reach people up to 5 miles away, which was great! unfortunatly on the way back, I had to take my antenna off because everytime a semi passed us on the road, it would blow my antenna off the truck. When I got home, I took my CB to a cb shop near by and had it peaked and tuned, so now it gets 14 watts out instead of 7, and I can talk over 15-20 miles on a clear day. I did however switch antennas to a K40 3 ft antenna with adjustable sleeve that I had for years, and it works about the same. Get the radio, get you a good quality antenna like Firestik, K40, Wilson, or another good name brand. If you know somebody who can do it, get it peaked and tune, or take it to a cb shop and have them do it, and you will get somebody surely everytime you talk. Well worth the money, sorry about rambling on, but I felt if I shared experiences, it would help
One more thing is that I know 4 truck drivers that have this CB in their trucks over a big Cobra, and they love the size and availability of the radio.
Get the Uniden 520xl, get a quality antenna, get a peak and tune if availble, and get talking!! You won’t regret it.
I hope to talk to some of you soon. If you are ever on I-24 between Exit 110-121, give me a call and see if my radio is on. My handle is Hoosier in the South.