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Jason Davidson - CB Radio Specialist

Jason Davidson

Over 18 years of hands-on experience with CB radios and installations.

Antenna and CB Radio Installation
Average install time 1 hour
Common tools used Pliers, adjustable wrenches, pocket knife, cutters, 7/16 open end wrenches or 7/16 sockets.
Optional Tools SWR Meter, Soldering Iron, Continuity Tester, Bolt Cutters.

CB Radio Installation - How to Install a CB Radio

Years ago, installing a CB radio in your vehicle was a highly technical and convoluted process. Radio devices were invented more than a hundred years ago.
But today?

It’s easier than ever to install it for yourself. Whether you drive a
pickup, a Jeep or a Semi, It’s worth taking it on as a project..

If your initial reply to all of this is summed up by ‘Nope’
You can also get yourself to Walcott and we’ll get it installed for you!

CB Types

There are three main types of CB radios -

We’ll be focusing on Mobile Radios for your vehicle in this guide today, but most principles apply to all.


Mobile Radios are all pretty much the same in that they’re all limited to 4 Watts of
power so we’re already in for an easy start, the only difference is in the features.

 We have them all listed in the next part of this guide

NOAA 

Short for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration broadcasts nation-wide through many local stations.
These broadcasts include Current weather and forecasts, hazard, alerts and general information 24/7


PA

Allowing you to connect your CB Radio to external speakers. It can be used for your high-volume loving self, or to be used as communication with the drivers in your surroundings. Either way, it’s loud.

Gain

Controls the sensitivity of the receiver, useful for filtering out weaker signals creating noise. Making stronger signals clearer

Squelch 

eliminates static noises you hear between actual broadcasts. It’s like a rug you can sweep all that noise under.

ANL 

ANL stands for Automatic Noise Limiter, it blocks unwanted noise from interfering signals or any other source that is not a proper CB transmitter, further improving the audio quality of incoming transmissions

Auto 9/19

fast access to the popular 9 and 19 channels

9 is the emergency channel, while 19 is the trucker channel

It’s also worth noting that in some areas 19 is for truckers on north- and southbound routes while 17 is for those on east- and westbound routes.

Backlit Controls

You can control everything just fine, but wouldn't it also be great if you could see all those knobs and controls at night? Well that's a feature, a pretty comfortable one at that.

Didn’t choose your CB radio yet?

In this guide we’re not going to elaborate too much on the choices.
Consider the following if you haven’t decided yet


Size

One size definitely does not fit all. It all depends on the amount of space you have in your vehicle.

From a motorcycle to a truck and everything in between, figure out how much space you have for it.

Features

Consult the list see what you need, if you’re a trucker you’re probably going to opt for all of them


Still undecided? Give us a call or just walk-in and we’ll find the best one for your needs

Enough chit-chat, time to pull out the toolkit!

As the old saying goes, measure twice, install once

Let’s go through it step-by-step.


Let’s find a home for your precious CB radio

If you can’t control it, it ain’t close enough!


Before you set everything up, it’s important to decide where to mount the CB radio.

Putting it near your rearview mirror is a bad idea, behind you or beneath your seat is even worse.

Better, now we need to have clear sight of it


It’s nice to be able to see which channel you’re on right?

Sure would be nice to understand the current controls and knobs at a glance

To make a long story short, keep it in a clearly visible place, considering shadows, various non-radio car parts such as the gear stick, driving wheel etc

Have quick access to your mic as well. Not only you need to reach it, you need to pull the mic to your face to speak properly. Getting your mic cord entangled can pose a serious hazard when driving.

Now keep it safe!

The immediate suspects in any case of CB radio premature death are moisture, grime, dirt, prolonged exposure to the sun or rain.
It’s your new baby and you should make sure it’s safe and protected.
If you have a slot/dock for it in your dashboard, great!

If not you should probably consider placing it mid-height on/in your dash in pickups or Jeeps, or next in larger vehicles you might find it easier to mount it near the ceiling.

Think about the center of your dash, and high enough that the full soda cup next to it won’t be able to spill and kill.

CB Radio Magazine has an article with good examples for mounting and placing your CB Radio

Power it up

Here you have a few options, depending on your electric knowledge and willingness to try, we’ll go from the simplest to the more advanced solutions -

  • Cigarette port adapters
  • Wire to fuse box
  • Wire to battery

Cigarette port adapters

Power your radio through the Cigarette outlet with a cheap adapter that connects to any 3-pin standard CB radio power cable.

If you CB radio doesn’t have a 3-pin power cord, consider getting an adapter that supports bare wire connections or move on to the next solution

Fusebox

The Fusebox of a vehicle is basically a power outlet hub.
See if you can wire it to the fusebox. If you don’t have space in your fusebox for it. You can get a fuse tapper, which essentially is an electric outlet splitter, only for your vehicle.

Disconnect one of your components, connect your fuse tapper, reconnect whatever you just disconnected and add the CB radio power connector to the newly added slot.

Go straight to the source

Wire your CB Radio directly to your vehicle’s battery.
The hot wire should be connected to the battery’s hot terminal,
The ground wire should go to either the battery’s ground terminal for best results, or to any metallic component, usually the chassis, which is properly grounded

Powering your CB Radio through the battery’s hot and ground terminals provides the best results in terms of reception and interference.

Time to up the antenna

So your CB radio is cosy and resting in his new mount wherever you decided to put it. Hopefully following our recommendations.

Don’t activate it yet, we still have work to do. We need to set up an Antenna

Antennas, How do they work?

Generally speaking, Antenna is probably the most important component in your entire CB radio system. Choosing the right antenna and mounting it successfully will make or break your ability to communicate clearly, and that’s what it’s all about

You can divide antennas into two main categories -

  • Grounded antennas
  • Non grounded antennas

We can also look at it from the material perspective -

  • Fiberglass Antenna
  • Whip Antenna
  • Base Station Antenna

Whip and fiberglass antennas differ in weight and flexibility

Generally speaking fiberglass antennas can be longer, but are less flexible and heavier than whip antennas.

Let’s start with grounded vs non-grounded


Ground plane antenna


Antennas send and receive radio waves

When an antenna is mounted on the roof of your vehicle, assuming it is metallic and properly grounded, your entire roof becomes the antenna.

Wherever you stick the antenna becomes the center from which the radio waves propagate to all sides.

What does it all mean in practical terms?

 It means that if your antenna is off center, it affects your ability to send and receive transmissions from the direction the antenna is in.
The larger plane the antenna has in a direction, the better reception and transmission.

So ideally, you would want to place it in the center of your roof.

What’s the downside?


You may need to remove paint, rustproof and weatherproof your newly drilled chassis

Yes, you will need to drill screws to the center of your roof to properly electrically ground your antenna to it

You want your antenna to be as high as possible without risking colliding with treas, low overpasses etc.

If you decide to place in other parts of the car, you will want to make sure you can drill and properly electrically ground it to a metallic plane

Either way, it is recommended that the antenna will reach with at least ⅔ above the roof of your car

No ground plane antenna (NGP)


If your vehicle isn’t metallic enough, or there’s a pesky sunroof, or even just an RV. You might want to opt for a no ground plane antenna

These antennas are potentially weaker than grounded ones, but do not require to be mounted on a grounded plane as the grounding is built into the antenna and Coax. it’s important to note that the coax cable and antenna aren’t interchangeable with ground plane ones

Antenna length


Longer is better, until it’s get unruly and entangled in things it shouldn’t

As a general rule - the ideal is to have the antenna’s length a quarter of the wavelength, which for CB radio is 8.5 feet.

To be able to drive without smacking that antenna into any overpass and tree in the country, antenna makers use coils in the antenna to increase it’s effective length without actually making it longer.

Coils can be in the base of the antenna, the middle or at the top

The position of the coil is referred to as base loaded, center loaded and top loaded

What’s important is that the coil be placed above the roofline

Additional placements to consider

On large trucks. it’s not unusual to see the antenna placed in the driver side, mounted on the rearview mirror mount, above the doorframe or on the driver side of the hood

For jeeps, driver side of the hood, mounted on tail lights or even on the spare wheel carrier

Some specific use cases call for dual antennas. Working with dual antennas can be beneficial but requires a massive width between them, so we’re leaving dual antennas for more advanced guides.

Mounts, we’ve got them all

Some mounts use magnets, most require drilling.

Smaller antennas can be held by magnetic mounts, but make sure it’s rated for that weight since the smallest mistake leaves your antenna orphaned on the highway. We’ve got mounts for trucks, for Jeep Wrangler, Rubicon and pretty much any other vehicle from any year. Check it out

Important - don’t drill or settle on a position for  your antenna permanently until we check SWR. It’s going to be explained below

Antenna installed, what now chief?

Alright listen up. It’s time to connect the cable

Coax, like any other wiring we want it as clean as possible, try to pass it as aesthetically as you can.
Make sure not to pass it next to other electric lines or devices in the car, as it can cause interference. Remember - The COAX cable is also effectively part of the antenna

Coax cables should be 18 feet long. Most antennas are calibrated to that length.

Depending on the distance from the antenna, you will probably have some leftover cable, store it neatly in a figure 8 stack. DO NOT roll it into a circle, as it will effectively act as an antenna in itself.

Check beforehand that the connector fits your antenna, if not you’ll need a different cable / adapter

Standing wave ratio - SWR

Time for the big test without delving into the physicsof it too much, the Standing wave ratio determines how good your reception and transmission be.

The closer to 1:1 the better. 2:1 and above poses a risk and can damage your cb radio if you operate it with that ratio.

Move your car to an open spot with no walls or other obstructions. Follow the instructions on the integrated/seperate SWR meter.

You might need to move around the antenna, shorten or lengthen it in ⅛ increments until you reach the best ratio you can.

This is the most important part, and should determine the final position and configuration of your antenna and coax.

That’s it, enjoy your newly installed CB radio. You’re definitely going to have a good time with it.

Need any more assistance or information?

Visit us at Walcott Radio or Contact us by phone or through the website

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