Who Uses CB Radio and Why?
This radio has been used by truckers for many years, but also it is liked by offloaders, motorcyclists, motorcyclists, and hobbyists. Using them will ensure that, as a group of individuals, you remain organized and in contact when doing events such as the ones enjoyed by wheelers. Due to the fact that cell phones tend not to work out well in the mountains, CBs can come in handy. You can still use CB radio to be able to identify speed traps.
When you use your CB, you could be in a position to find a different route from the one you are used to in case of traffic jam, get real-time weather reports, warning about blockages on the road ahead, and severe weather warnings, and in case of a mechanical breakdown, get assistance. When you are on a long lonely trip, the CB can be of great use, keeping your company, helping you stay alert and awake, and make the journey seem shorter.
Once you decide that you want to install a CB radio in your vehicle, selecting one that will meet your specific needs, one that is within your budget, one that will meet your communication needs, and that is suitable for your vehicle could be the first steps to take. This, in the process, will affect the way you are going to install it, set it up and hook it to your device.
Choosing A CB radio
All CB radios tend to be the same no matter your budget as they all come with a constant of 4 watts of power. Based on their intended use, you will be able to come across three general types of radios: mobile radios for installation on the vehicle, base stations for a fixed location, and handheld CB radio.
Irrespective of the type or model of radio you will settle for, the manufacturers will distinguish them by additional features which the radios will have which might include the following:
- NOAA: In full, it stands for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It provides weather reporting which is up to date and it is possible for the radio to receive local NOAA stations.
- Backlit display: Just like what you see on your remote control, when there is a backlit light, it will help you to see at night what you are pressing and thus a convenient feature to have on your CB radio.
- RF gain: It will be in a position to allow you to adjust the reception of your radiosensitivity. It acts as a filter which eliminates radio noise which is in the background that comes from signals which are weaker and to allow clarity from the signals which are stronger. It is useful especially with radio traffic which is heavy in urban areas.
- Automatic 9/19: It is a feature which also helps to provide instant access to 19 as a trucker channel and 9 for the emergency channel.
- Squelch: Squelch also helps in ensuring that the reception is clear and you will find it included on almost all the CB radios. You will have to use the squelch to be able to eliminate the background noise which is static in between transmissions while at the same time, ensuring that the strong signals have a chance to go through.
- Public address (PA): Radios with this facility can be used as transmitters for public address system with the radio a mounted public address horn, and a mic.
- ANL: It denotes Automatic Noise Limiter and it helps in ensuring that unwanted weaker signals are eliminated, such as static, AM, and engine noise.
Looking at the above, you will have to choose what you want your CB radio to have and the next step will be, which size will be the best for your device?
Size Of CB Radio
You will have to consider where you want to install your CB radio and get a radio size which will be able to fit there well. There are some vehicles which have cab space which is limited and thus, if that is your case, you will need to get a CB radio which is compact.
But if your device has enough installation space like the RVs, then you can choose from the larger CB radios which have several features including NOAA channel reception and a speaker which is mounted at the front.
Apart from the size, there are other factors which you need to consider when you are selecting the best place where you will install your CB radio. Finding the best location will make the installation great.
Where To Mount The CB Radio
You will have to mount your radio where you will easily reach the buttons while you drive. Mounting it on or in the dashboard might be the best thing to do. you have the option of mounting it under the seat of the car but you should be ready to struggle when reaching for it. It might be hard to see which channel you are selecting and also other functions.
Never mount your ready behind other objects such as the steering wheel, as it will block your view or it could be in your way as you drive or in the passenger’s way or the seats when they are moved or even the gear shift.
Ensure that, where you are mounting the radio, it will not be able to damage an airbag. There are those who prefer mounting it above the rear view mirror this means that the mic cord will have to hang down and distract you as you drive. It is also possible for the mic to spring free and hit you.
Mount your radio somewhere it will not be rained on, kicked, get grimy, or bumped, or have things spilled on it. You will have to protect it from the sun’s rays by ensuring that it is mounted away from the sun or by covering it with a UV protective cover for it.
Another thing you will need to consider when looking for a place to mount, it needs not to disfigure your car with unsightly holes from screws. Consider the color of the radio, use brackets that are black in color to have a cool style, and match the radio with the lighting scheme of that of your dash colors.
Installing a CB Radio with Mounting Hardware
After purchasing your choice of a CB radio, and you know where you want to install it, you will need to install it. You can save money of installation by, instead of taking it to professional technicians to fix it, you just take simple tools, time and some patience to do it on your own.
If the radio is small, you can do the installation on the dashboard or in the box with a U bracket. If the radio is larger, you can install it using brackets. After you have installed it, you will need to add the antenna on it.
Selecting The Antenna
There are a variety of antennas in the market which you can select from. If you are looking for a low profile antenna, there are several which you can choose from. There are antennas which are similar to the antenna of the vehicle, which is meant for the pickup trucks, motorcycles, and cars.
Where To Mount The Antenna
If it is on a car, then the best place to place it is in the middle of the roof unless you have a sunroof or fiberglass. If that is the case, your roof will serve as the ground plane for the antenna to provide great signals in all directions. Other locations which you can place the antenna though not good include the fender, the trunk, or the mirror mounts of truck or RVs.
At times you might require to make holes in order to do the installation into the trunk, roof, or fender, which will require weatherproofing and rustproofing. You can use magnetic mounts to do a less invasive installation. But you will need to ensure that, the magnet is strong enough to be able to secure the antenna even when you are driving at highway speeds.
Some antennas including continuous loaded and center antenna don’t come with cable or mounting hardware. There are others which come with kits which are complete that include: the antenna, hardware, and cable. If your antenna doesn’t come with the mounting kit, then you will need to get weather coated metal or stainless steel antenna mounts. There are various mounts to choose from and you will have to get the best one for yourself.
Dual Antenna installation
These antennas are preferred due to the fact that they co-phase, they increase the strength of transmission to the front and back because of the radiation change pattern which forms two overlapping figure eight.
This is an advantage due to the fact that, when you use a CB radio, you want to talk to people behind or in front of you instead of quick passing traffic which is oncoming. They offer some help in regard to signal by dividing the SWR in half, which cuts down on the noise of transmission.
When you are doing the installation of two antennas, ensure that it is about six feet apart. To avoid RF that is reflected, you have to ensure that they are not less than a ¼ wavelength apart. Ensure that both antennas have sufficient grounding, ground plane, hardware for mounting which is sturdy and coax cable which is of good quality.
How the antenna is going to perform will depend on the quality of the coax cable. When you consider the way you are going to hook up the CB radio, make sure that the coaxial cable you are using is coated to protect it from the weather. It can also be from metal or stainless steel.
If the cable is to be connected permanently to the antenna, you might require to snip it off and then reattach it later on. But if you do that, you will void your warranty as a cable which is modified or cut cannot be accepted back and thus, I don’t recommend it.
When you are wiring your CB radio, you will require to run the coaxial cable from the antenna connection to the CB radio and also provide a power source to run the radio. Your vehicle will determine how you are going to do that. You could be required to run it from the lid of the trunk through the seat at the back, then under the doorframe, to the dash and firewall or window pillar
To provide power to your radio, you have some few options. You can directly connect it to the battery of your vehicle or use the cigarette plug. You have to ensure that you have a fuse in the line of power before the firewall of the vehicle and ensure that, when your vehicle isn’t running, ensure that you turn off the CB radio.
Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) Meter
For you to complete your antenna installation, you will need to do a set up on your radio with the first step being to use an SWR meter. Whether it in a separate unit or inbuilt the SWR meter will help you to determine where you are going to mount your antenna. In case you have a separate SWR meter, or other device between your antenna and radio, you can use the coaxial cable jumper.
You need to bring the ration of the SWR to as close as you can to the ratio of 1:1 as possible. You can do this by moving the antenna around until you are able to locate a spot which is best to install it on your vehicle. You can move your car to a spot which doesn’t have an obstruction.
Depending on the instruction, calibrate your meter and test the SWR by pressing the channel 1 key and proceeding to channel 40 key. If for some reason your channel 1 is higher than channel 40, then you will have to lengthen your antenna higher. In case it is lower, then you will have to shorten your antenna and then retest. You should remember that a reading which is over 2:1 can damage the health of your CB.
1. Do you need an antenna for CB radio?
Yes. It is impossible to operate a CB radio minus an external antenna. Without an antenna, you will be able to communicate with a few vehicles and then the radio will become useless as a countermeasure. If you want to use it in a wider areas, it must have a quality antenna.
2. Do CB radios have built in speakers?
Yes. All CB radios have a speaker which is inbuilt to enable you to hear the signals which are incoming. Where you get the speaker on the CB radio will vary from one model to the next. If you want your CB radio to have a powerful speaker, then most of them support external speakers which you could use to boost the internal one.
3. Will a CB antenna work for a scanner?
A CB antenna will be able to give you good results of reception on lower frequencies between 30mhz to 50 mhz due to the fact that, it is tuned to operate at 27mhz. And your scanner, not requiring to be tuned to an antenna to operate, will be able to use it up to that point.
4. Can you wire a CB radio to cigarette lighter?
The hook up to a cigarette lighter is through the negative and positive which corresponds to the black and red wire. When you connect the black wire to the port which is negative to the connector, it will serve as your ground. This means that, the circuit of your cigarette lighter might not have enough amperage to be able to power your CB radio. In case your CB radio requires more power than what the accessory port of your cigarette lighter can offer, then the fuse of your vehicle might just blow.
5. What is the maximum wattage for a CB radio?
The maximum wattage for a CB radio power level in the United States of America is 4 watts for the AM and 12 watts for the SSB. But you will find some drivers using external linear amplifiers illegally.
6. Can you talk on a CB radio while driving?
Under the legislation, using a handheld CB radio while you drive is not illegal. There is no road rule that poses a ban on CB radio or the two way radio microphone use while you are driving.
Source: How To Install A CB radio properly
You may like this: Best CB Radio for Truckers (Handheld and Fixed-mount)