Most of your friends and even the members of your family will call you old school, but when you spend long hours on the road, away from human civilization, a CB radio is the best and the closest to a companion you can get. Also, that CB radio could be all that you need to show off your conversational skills, and to learn about other people. What these mean is that you have to invest in a CB radio greatly.
But above that, you have to tune the antenna well. This is an important point because tuning the antenna determines if you hear the weather update or you drive straight into a storm. Also, failure to properly tune the CB radio means that you have no one to talk to and the whole radio amounts to a waste of money. So, to get the most out of your CB radio, follow these instructions:
When tuning CB antennas,
I. First, get all the right and the most basic supplies:
- Get a good CB radio – the best CB radio is a 4-Watt radio
- Get a CB radio antenna – this is the most important part of the radio’s set up
- Coaxial cables – you need a coaxial cable to connect the antenna to the radio making this the second most important item in tuning CB antennas
- Get an SWR (Standing Wave Reader) meter – this is an important gadget that will help you measure the CB radio’s output.
- Batteries – most CB radios are CB powered so, when buying the radio, check the type of batteries it comes with. Ensure that the type of batteries is easily available.
II. Connect the SWR reader
You can connect the SWR the same way you do an adaptor. The SWR meter goes between the radio and the antenna. You have to check the SWR meter occasionally when tuning the radio while ensuring that the readings are as low as possible.
Any high meter readings will limit your radio’s performance, and that could damage the radio. Therefore, you should keep the readings below 1.5 across all 40 channels.
III. Setting up the antenna
This is the most important step when tuning your CB radio. The good thing is that it is easy to mount a CB radio antenna on the car.
To maximize the range, mount the antenna at the highest possible point. Since most antennas are magnetic, you shouldn’t have problems mounting it.
Add a quick-release mount to attach the antenna to the car as this makes it easier to attach and to remove the antenna at will.
IV. Altering the antenna
Altering the position of the antenna is what we refer to as tuning the CB radio. As mentioned above, tuning the CB radio is the most important part of using the radio. So, you have to alter it well.
V. Tuning the antenna
- Turn off the radio and disconnect the antenna
- Connect the SWR meter by first disconnecting the coaxial cables from the back of the radio then reconnect the end marked “antenna” or “ANT.”
- Using the jumper lead, connect your antenna to the SWR meter through the connection point marker “transmitter” or “XMIT.” Once this set up is complete, you are ready to take SWR measurements on different channels.
- Set the SWR Switch ready by setting the meter on “FWD.”
- Turn on the radio to channel 1 and key the microphone. Tune the knob on the SWR meter labeled “ADJUST” or “SET” until the needle reaches the end of its range, the setting position.
- With the microphone keyed in, flip the SWR switch to “REF” or “SWR.” Record the readings fast.
- Repeat the process for channel 40.
If your CB radio’s antenna is made of fiberglass, then it has some detachable segments at the top which allow for extensions. This is an important feature which allows for the lengthening of the antenna.
In case channel 1 on the SWR records readings more than that of channel 40, the antenna is too short. The antenna is too long if channel 40 readings are greater than channel 1.
- Note that you should do all these in an open location
- If your radio’s wattage is above 4 watts, then it is illegal
VI. Optimizing your CB radio
When optimizing the CB radio, you should maximize the modulation without distorting the voice. You only optimize after hooking the SWR meter.
VII. Adjusting the squelch range
Squelch is the background noise.
To adjust squelch, use the knob on the CB radio and adjust it to the point where the noise is minimized. The rest of the sound should remain untouched. RF gain serves the same purpose as a squelch range.
VIII. Finally, you should learn CB lingo and codes.
Channel 9 is the FCC-approved channel for emergencies
Also like: Radio Codes
CB radio communication isn’t for the light-hearted thanks to the trolls and often offensive slurs by anonymous CB radio users.