How to Pick Up a Citizens Band Radio With a Scanner

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Communicating over radio waves is either a hobby or a job for many people, and the citizens band, or CB, frequencies cater to both. The Federal Communications Commission doesn't require any special license to use the citizens band, so anyone with a CB radio has free access to these frequencies, making the citizens band a captivating melting pot of communication. Listening in to all the CB activity in your community with your radio scanner isn't a complicated process -- it's simply a matter of tuning in to the right frequencies.

  • Find and read a listing of the 40 available CB frequencies, or channels (see Resources). Most of the frequencies are labeled as "common use." The FCC has designated Channel 9 (27.06500 MHz) an official channel used to communicate emergencies, and Channel 19 (27.18500 MHz) is commonly used by truckers. Select the appropriate frequency for your needs.

  • Enter the frequency into the scanner using the scanner's keypad. Depending on the scanner model, you might have to switch from "Scan" mode to "Program" mode, or press an "Enter" key after typing the frequency into your scanner. Follow the instructions for your particular scanner model.

  • Change frequencies until you pick up the one you want to listen to. Switch to different frequencies by entering them manually in the manner described in Step 2. If your scanner has the capability, you can also store each CB frequency in your scanner's memory, then switch from frequency to frequency by pressing the "up" or "down" button, much like on a TV remote control.

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