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CB Radio & Antenna

Discussion in 'Ham Radio - CB - Trail Communications' started by built4dtough, May 13, 2006.

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  1. built4dtough

    built4dtough New Member

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    Ok. I need some help. (Hopefully someone can explain this to me) I am wanting a CB radio and dont know what kind to get. Ive been told that cobras are pretty good. Any suhggestions on what model radio? (I want to be able to have a PA as well, if that makes any difference) Ok and about the antenna. I want a 2 foot magnetic antenna to go on top of my explorer. What are the good places/brands/models? HELP!
    Thanks so much yall!
    Chrissy
     
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  3. badge49

    badge49 Active Member

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    I'm no expert on CB's, but I can tell you what I've learned... My buddy has the Cobra in his Chevy and loves it. It's got all the cool stuff on it, but it's a little too big for me. I just have a generic Radio Shack CB, and mine comes with PA output. Don't get the magnetic type antenna for your roof if you're going to be doing any trail type wheeling. Mine was constantly getting knocked over by trees and eventually broke off at the mount. I'm planning on upgrading to a fiberglass antenna that I'll mount to the side of my rear bumper. Hope this gives you some ideas, welcome to the board! :navajo:
     
  4. 90ranajo

    90ranajo The Little TJ that could

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    One note about the fiberglass (Firestick) style CB antennas. Make sure that the antenna doesn't rattle and shake or whip around alot at the mount, otherwise it will strip the threads off of the antenna. Just went through that myself and have seen other ones have the threads strip off.
     
  5. jimbo74

    jimbo74 Elite Exploder

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    a 2 foot magent antenna isnt really going to be any good for anything other than the next vehicle in front or behind you
     
  6. mynameisaric

    mynameisaric Well-Known Member

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    a 2 foot stainless whip will get you decent range actually. i used to have a 4foot stainless magnet mount on my roof and that thing had GREAT range. i just didnt like the look. put dual antenas(4 foot fiberglass) on my rear bumper and my range got cut in half almost. on the trail, they kept breaking off. i got tired of replacing 2 antenas, so i went to one and put a spring on the base so it would flex more. now i dont break the antena, i rip the wire out of the base. one way or another my cb gets disabled everytime i go offroad.

    a 2ft stainless i believe will do you just fine. a 4 ft fiberglass on your bumper barely breaks the roof line. mine gets out about a mile. my 4 ft stainless(roof mount) got out 8-10 miles. on a trail 1 mile is usually good, unless your stranded in the desert and need help. there are no open trails by me tho. biggest park is 700 acres i believe.
     
  7. JStrider

    JStrider Active Member

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    its not the radio you have...

    its the cable/antenna and a good tuning that make the difference...

    find a CB that matches what you want... PA output and all... then get a decent antenna... I'm personally a fan of the whip antennas...

    right now I've got a 4 ft magnetic mount... had to zip tie it to my roof rack to keep it from popping off when wheeling... I'm planning on getting a similar length whip and permanently mounting it to the roof above the dome light.
     
  8. mynameisaric

    mynameisaric Well-Known Member

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    i've got to agree that the stainless whips are the way to go. but whatever you get will have MUCH better output if its on the roof.
     
  9. pfeffer1728

    pfeffer1728 Active Member

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    i have an old model radioshack CB that has a PA output...i wired it to the cigarette lighter wire under the console just with taps and it works great. i have a 2' fiberglass antenna which is mounted to my roof rack (not a magnet!) magnets will move and scratch your roof (so ive heard)..so i just say play it safe and go with a solid mount. however, you will get better reception if you mount on top; mounting on the bumper is good b/c you can have a bigger antenna, but the truck will disrupt the signal somewhat. with my 2' mounted on top i can get clear reception and transmission at about 2.5 miles...and thats in city on uneven terrain. i dont yet know highway range. hope this helps, ive been very happy with my simple setup (the PA is AMAZING to yell at bad drivers by the way, just be careful or you'll get in trouble) good luck
     
  10. 90ranajo

    90ranajo The Little TJ that could

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    the fibergass ones work great, as long as you remember that you should have about 2/3 sticking above the roofline and it is tuned properly.
     
  11. '97 V8

    '97 V8 Well-Known Member

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    This was a helpful thread. From reading here, its not the cb radio that will get you the range its the antenna correct?
     
  12. Boomer12

    Boomer12 Active Member

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    From my understanding... Yes, in general it's the antenna that will determine the transmission/reception range of a standard C/B radio. I believe all standard radios only push 5 watts, therefore unless you go with a high dollar unit (Galaxy) which is modified to operate in the citizen band freq. range, you will always limited to a regulated amount of power resulting in the antenna type/size/location being the major deciding factor for range.

    I personally run a $29.99 Radio Shack radio tied to a Wilson 1000. Always works great, and I can generally talk/hear further than anyone I wheel with.
     
  13. merrick53

    merrick53 New Member

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    i have a 120 dolar cb with 2 dual 48" antennas mounted on my back bumper, i getgood reception usually about 2 miles, i also have a backup 25" on my hood, magnet mount, it was okay but didnt get that good of reception. so its up toyou which one you want. my 48" inchers were tedious as they had to be mounted on the bumper and i had to drill holes. the magnet mount just went right on easy. also, calibrating thecb is usefultoo. make sure you swr/rf is at ratio 1:1. you can buy a meter to measure this, or some cb radio have one built in. mine has one buiilt in so im constantly chaging the ratio as i go station to station
     
  14. merrick53

    merrick53 New Member

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    also, ive grown to dislike my dual 48" more and more, they sway about and hit the back of my truck oftern on the highway and the recption is okay, but not great. sometimes ill pick up interference from the car and weird stations. my magnet mount on the roof was better, but i only used that for highway or roads because when offroading, it would fall off contantly, which is why i got the fiberglass ones. if you're looking to go offroading a lot, buy a fiberglass one that you have to drill into the car, if your just driving around town, try a magnetm ount, it has better reception and isnt as tedious as a whip.
     
  15. niteshooter

    niteshooter New Member

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    Hi the antenna is going to make the biggest difference since all CB radios can only legally put out 5 watts on AM and 12 watts pep on sideband. That's not to say that the radios themselve's can't be 'adjusted' but that is what they come tuned to from the factory.

    Personally magnetic mount antennas will not have as great a range as a stud drilled into the roof and the antenna attached to it. This boils down to antenna radiation theory where the ground plane created gives you a stronger signal. Most magnet mounts have a pad underneath the magnet so you don't scratch your paint and this restricts the strength of the ground plane. Also the shorter the antenna the more 'loaded' it will be. Eg the coils you see wrapped around the center of the antenna.

    Technically the best antenna will be a 9 foot steel or fiberglass whip mounted dead center in the roof of the truck, unfortunately it's going to look weird but technically that is the best.

    There is also something called the antenna's 'match' which is read out as SWR or standing wave ratio, this is determines how 'mis matched' the antenna system is and therefore the higher the SWR the poorer the signal until of course you actually damage the final transistors in the radio with a reading above 3. This can be tuned down with an antenna matcher but this just masks the problem not fixes it......

    The other thing you will come across are wavelengths, that 9 foot whip is a 1/4 wave antenna meaning it is 1/4 of the 27 mhz wavelength which is the frequency range that CB radios operate within. Some manufacturers add coils to antennas (mainly fiberglass) to make 1/2, 3/4 and full wave antennas. Theoretically a full wave antenna would be the best but that would have to electrically be 36 feet.

    On my Explorer I run a 9 foot fiberglass whip bumper mounted. Technically that isn't the best location but it doesn't look dumb. Some people will cophase two antennas together (like truckers) but the problem with our Explorers are that they aren't wide enough to make proper use of cophasing. There is an optimum distance between the two antennas which the truck mirrors can achieve. Also with cophased antennas the antenna radiation patter is directed to the front and rear more so than say an antenna mounted dead center on the roof which is the ideal spot for signal radiation in all direction.

    A K-40 mounted on the roof is probably the best setup for our trucks or the 9 footer on the bumper.

    Radio Shack used to sell good CB radios, I personally run Unidens in our vehicles.

    Oh and the absolute crappiest antenna I've used is the glass mounted unit, totally worthless.

    [​IMG]

    Hope I didn't loose all of you folks. :rolleyes:

    Kevin
     
  16. mynameisaric

    mynameisaric Well-Known Member

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    that was actually very informative. explains why i have much better reception now that i only have one antena.. cuz of the cophase thing-a-majig,but i need more height.... someday when i can afford a new antena and new spring mount.

    speaking of which, do the spring mounts add to the "electrical length"?
     
  17. niteshooter

    niteshooter New Member

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    I've never noticed a big difference in SWR using a spring and they will save your antenna in the long haul. I've snapped plenty of 48" whips in the past at the base where the threaded stud is because over time they flex and weaken down there and eventually break. Downside of the springs are that the antenna tends to lean further backwards at speed and that's why I didn't put one on my 9 foot whip.

    One other thing I forgot to mention, wrap the connector really well as water will get into it over time and if you have salt on the roads this works itself in as well and corrodes the wiring and plug causing a short.

    [​IMG]

    Nice thing about the old Explorers was they had lots of room for gear....note all the now antique radios!

    Kevin
     
  18. mynameisaric

    mynameisaric Well-Known Member

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    i broke too many 48" whips so thats why i put my spring on. and i tear too many cables on the trail so they never have time to corrode
     
  19. '97 V8

    '97 V8 Well-Known Member

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    whats the average price of a good antenna?
     
  20. Dopler174

    Dopler174 Official Welcome Committe Moderator Emeritus

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    $30-$50 from a local shop around here.
     
  21. Shadow71

    Shadow71 Member

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    I'd agree with everything above. But all radios actually come tuned fromt eh dealer. I have used serveral high-end modded radios and also simple low end radios with a good tune and they will perform differantly with the same anntena. Right now my wifes Ranger Splash has a $30 Radio Shack slim unit, that I stopped by a truck stop and had the modulation clipped and the radio tuned, another $25 or 30. Then using a Wilson lil' wil or Wilson 500 tuned the antenna to the truck and that's it. She get's almost 8 miles on the highway. That's with out any add on's. Now I run a Ranger 2970 with a Wilson 5000. Which goes my from 26000 to 30k. I've been on the road and talked on the side bands to other country's. The internal amp is 100Watts.

    So both the radio, Antenna and StandingWave should be tuned within range for the placement of your vehicles.

    I do like Wilson over other bands, plus I never been in a truck stop that didn't carry them. So parts are easy to get. And Cobra for normal mid-level radios. I also run the 29 with night, WX and you can tune some of the antenna and radio from the controls. But I still got it tuned and gained 1.5 watts.

    But tuning the radio seems to be well worth it and very over looked. I have an older RS hand held and get 4.5 watts out of it after the tune, only 2watts before.

    Hope this helps also. I've been talking on CB's since I was like 10 or 12. wow that over 25 years. I feel old sometimes.

    later :rolleyes: :D :confused:
     

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