CB radio installation for many people seems like a daunting task that can only be handled by a professional. This is largely due to the fact that, besides installing the radio onto your vehicle, there’s also tuning to be carried out. Through this short but detailed guide, I’ll take you the steps you should take to set up a CB radio on your vehicle.
How to install CB radio
All CB radios function the same and within the 40 channels between 26.965MHz and 27.405MHz. Despite this, installing your CB radio needs to take into account a number of factors including size and design. Where you mount the portable CB radio should take into account factors such as:
- How accessible the radio is when mounted
- How safe the radio is from heat, dust, moisture and theft
- How easy it is to view the channel you’re using
- Whether the radio obstructs efficient use of your vehicle
Taking these into account, here are some of the best places to mount a CB radio:
Many CB radio owners prefer to mount their units on the dashboard. Here, you’ll get a clear view of the radio and easily access it. It also offers minimal obstruction to the vehicle’s users. The downside of mounting your CB on the dashboard is that it’s directly exposed to the sun’s heat and is prone to theft.
Above rear view mirror
If your vehicle has ample head space, I’d recommend you mount your CB above the rear view mirror. At this point, the CB is easily accessible, isn’t exposed to the sun’s heat and doesn’t cause any obstructions. You should however ensure that the CB is safely secured to prevent it from falling off.
The dashboard’s center console
This location offers the most mounting options. If you have a small CB, its easy to install within one of the compartments built into the dashboards center console. Other great installation points include the side of the center console and under the dashboard.
Once the CB is mounted, you’ll need to install the antenna. I’d recommend mounting it on the vehicle’s roof as this will provide the best signal reception. Once this is installed, you’ll have to connect the antenna to the CB using a coaxial cable. Next, connect the CB to the power source which is most likely the cigarette lighter socket or directly to the car’s battery.
How to tune a CB radio
Like many CB radio owners, I have found that tuning the unit will require patience. The following are the steps to take when tuning a CB:
- Connect the coaxial cable to the SWR meter via the antenna port. Next, connect the SWR meter to the CB using the jumper lead via the transmitter port.
- Switch on the SWR to FWD’ and turn on the radio to channel 1.
- Press the mic button and hold while turning the SWR adjusting knob until the needle moves to the extreme end of the range.
- Switch the SWR to SWR’ while still pressing the microphone button.
- Read and record the SWR reading and repeat the procedure for the remaining 39 channels.
Your goal is to achieve an SWR ratio of between 1.5:1 and 1:1 for all channels. Anything above 1.5:1 will shorten your CB radio’s life. You should note that if the SWR reading on channel 40 is higher than that on channel 1, you will have to shorten the length of the antenna and vice versa.
As you can see, installing and tuning you CB radio isn’t as hard as it seems. If you follow the steps outlined in this guide, you should be able to mount and tune your CB in a few hours.