CBs - Some Thoughts - Please add to it !

Discussion in 'Interior' started by Scrambler82, Oct 12, 2012.

  1. Scrambler82

    Scrambler82 Old Guy User

    My thoughts on a good CB install.

    1) The Antenna - Buy the best Antenna, Coax, and Antenna Mounting System you can afford.
    I have been preaching this for years, the power in a CB Radio System is in the Antenna System (Antenna/Coax/Mount).

    2) The Radio - After spending most of your money on the Antenna System but a good quality name-brand CB, Uniden comes to mind.
    Don’t over buy the radio, unless you are trying to impress someone. Any knobs above a On/Off/Volume, an RF Gain and a Mic Gain is for show (unless you decided to buy a side band), maybe a switch for an automatic noise limiter (ANL).
    The volume knob is obvious, the RF Gain is to control the incoming signal, just in case someone is too close it is good to turn it own or closed some, and the Mic Gain is nice to up the output of your talk power and the ANL Sw limits noise not eliminates its.

    3) Grounding - Make sure to ground the antenna mount to the frame, always.
    Run a ⅝ or ¾ inch braided strap from the Mount, not the antenna, to the frame, getting to bare metal where you connect and use the following in this order. a) The bolt, b) External Tooth Star Lock Washer, c) Ring Lug, Another Ext-Tooth Star Lock Washer and use some anti-corroding paste on the overall package.
    Another thing to remember about grounds is the body is not the best route to the frame and a door or tailgate or other swing gate is worse; remember “The Path of Least Resistance” is the best.
    One more ground to thing about id the CB Chassis, along with the power/ground wire a ground to a good grounding point will sometimes help with noise.

    4) The Power Wires - There is a red (positive) and a black (negative) wires, both need to be fused and should be run to the battery. This helps eliminate system noise and feeds the CB with a good clean power. If for some reason you leave the CB on overnight, not a problem, a CB in receive mode only draws approximately .250 mA or ¼ amp and will not kiil your battery. Some people have hooked up CBs from internal power and it can be done as a test to see if there is excessive noise, if not you might leave it that way but IMHO, I would run the power wires, red and blk, to the battery and if you have extra coax, use some of it as the power cable, red center, blk outside shield.

    5) Always get the antenna Tuned to the system for lowest SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) after everything is installed. Remember power wires, building, and thing with a lot of metal in it will effect the SWR so get in the open before checking it.
    If you decide Dual Antennas are the RIGHT thing for you, make sure to tune each antenna using a 50 ohm piece of coax, once both antennas are at low SWR, then add the Coaxial Cable, which is made from 75 ohm coax, so the rig will think it has a balanced 50 ohm load, another story.

    The overall process is simple, install the CB and Antenna where you would like them to be; sometimes where you want to mount isn’t the best location because of noise, coax, mounting options. Chose what you would like first.
    Run the
    Next run the Coax, run only the amount you need to get from the back of the CB to the Antenna Mount, leaving extra ONLY for service loops at the CB and the antenna and no sharp corners.
    If you have a Magnet Mount Antenna/Mounting System, do not cut that coax and do not coil up the extra, spread it out under your seat. A magnet mount/coax is usually setup as a tuned system, although Tuning for low SWR is still needed.

    The Coax Connectors are alway a thing of question too, when you buy coax, some of the time you can get it with connectors, problem here it two fold. One is most of the time you can only buy standard lengths, if the price is right then no problem, and two you get what the supplier sells no matter what the quality. If you can buy a harness with one connector on it and ask for Amphenol Connectors, by far the best quality connector on the market.

    Mounting the Antenna - The easiest is a magnet mount, the only real problem is the movement of the antenna and the paint damage that may occur. If you chose this grounding is not an issue, usually, and you will need to run the coax inside of the vehicle. To me the easiest and best matched for 50 ohm coax is the Ring Lug attachment. Ring Lugs make it easier to run the coax through the vehicle with a smaller hole to get it outside, Ring Lugs are easier to attach both initially and if something happens out on the trail and believe it or not the ring lug setup is a closer match to the 50 ohm of the coax so it will help some in setting low SWR.
    You can buy Ring Lug Stud Mount, you can buy Ring Lug Thru-Roog Mounts, you can buy and use just about any mounting system with Ring Lugs (at least check it out and see what you think).
    Oh ya one more thing about Mounting, the type with the PL259 (std Connector) they allow water and dirt in the threads no matter how tight and the corrode on the threads which in turn doesn’t help the grounding that is very important to the Antenna to operate properly.

    Let's see, that covers buying a good high quality antenna, either Wilson or FireStik will net you a good Antenna, there are others but beware of what you really need.
    Next is the mount, this varies depending on where you want to mount the antenna and how you want to attach the coax, buy good quality S/S where you can and chrome plated Bras Stud Mounts.
    Buy good coax, the easiest to find and a very good coax is the RG-8X by Belden. This coax is overkill for CBs but it is easy to flex, easy to work with and adapts to mobile use or buy some RG-58U Coax from Belden, this is thinner and will work as well with a CB. Just to mention another manufacturer, Time Micro Wave, IMHO, the best coax on the market but the best comes with a price and yes they have an equivalent to both the RG-8X and the RG58U.
    Buying a CB as stated in the beginning is simple, buy simple, three knobs - On/Off/Vol, RF Gain and Mic Gain are all that is needed in an AM CB or buy the CB that has all of what you want, all the bells and whistles. In most cases the higher priced units will not perform any better. There are some CBs out there in the higher priced range, that put out 4 watts, legal limit, when purchased and have more internal circuitry to allow for upping the power but is it needed, alway evaluate what you need, what you will be doing with it.

    Also, watch out for the Electro-Techs who suggests to you to get a "tuned rig” or a “tuneup" so you can get out better, getting out better depends on hearing someone, if they can get back to you, sometimes when the output power is opened up the receive is also opened up, in other word you will be pulling in more noise too and hearing anyone in the distance will be a chore so think twice before getting a tuned up rig, IMHO, it is just a way to get more money out of you.
    Adding power will throw off your SWR so keep that in mind too.

    OK so I rattle on, you can add to this writing, correct me or post a PM to me so I can change it.

    Remember one thing, all radio communications is based in Theory, so every install will be a little different.
    CBs work on AM Frequency (Amplitude Modulation) which just happens to be what most electrical motors and power lines transmit so you will encounter noise.
    There are noise filter if you need, there are SWR Tuners to use if your SWR is too high but I have never found antenna that wouldn’t tune to below 1.5 to 1 SWR.
    A pre-tuned antenna from the factory is a figment of imagination, always check the SWR before starting a good conversation.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2012
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  3. Demon

    Demon I take no prisoners!

    lol give me like a day to read this and i will respond
  4. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger -Skylark65-

    great writeup man, reminded me how bad i need to try to work some of the bugs out of my cheap CB setup. i never had the antenna tuned for low SWR, and i get quite a bit of white noise, i also have problems with receving a clear message unless the other person is fairly close. usually i only hear static and tons of very faint people talking in the backround.

    could having the antenna tuned help solve some of that?
  5. OP

    Scrambler82 Old Guy User

    Some of it maybe...
    After the antenna tune, you will need to address the noise.
    First you will need to determine where the noise is coming from.
    Maybe a coax power wire and then a line filter for the power wires located at the CB.

    Every setup is the same and is different so get the antenna tuned first.
  6. OP

    Scrambler82 Old Guy User

    OK, it has been 3 months, comments please ! LOL…

    What ever you got, anyone ?

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