Choose & Install a CB Antenna

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Choose & Install a CB Antenna

Post  Cobra on Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:25 am

All for one....
CB radio antennas, mounts, and cables are really three separate components, each with their own set of obstacles. The three are often grouped together in kits or one-piece apparatuses, so we're going to tackle them all at the same time. Really, this is the best way to go about it, since most compatibility issues that come up will be between these components.

Pick a good antenna
The most important component to any CB setup is the antenna. If you're going to save money on anything, this is NOT the part to do so on. You want the best and tallest antenna you can put on your vehicle practically.

The first thing to consider when picking out an antenna is where to install it on the vehicle. Normally the main concern with this is appearance. That is more of a matter of personal opinion. As for performance, what matters is the ground plane. The ground plane is the flat, metal surface needed to reflect your antenna's signal out. Essentially, the antenna transmits the signal downward, it strikes the ground plane, and is reflected out. The bigger your ground plane is, the better. Consequentially, the best place for your antenna is the center of the roof of your vehicle, IF it is metal and there is no sun roof. Some newer vehicles have fiberglass bodies that will not reflect the signal as metal would. The front or back fenders will give you good results as well. You must remember, though, that the signal will be weaker in the direction with no ground plane. For instance, if you mount your antenna on the front drivers side fender, you will have a weaker signal to the front-left of the vehicle.

There are many, many different kinds of CB antenna mounts to choose from. As I said before, the best place for your mount is in the center of the roof, if your vehicle is all metal. Not too many people want to drill a hole in the center of their roof, or anywhere else on their vehicle for that matter. There are several different kinds of mounts made to install antennas without drilling noticeable holes. Magnet mounts are another solution to this problem. Magnet mounts are also a good idea if you are concerned about ease of installation and removal.

Another thing to consider is the cable. You have to be able to run the CB antenna coax from the antenna to the back of the radio. Installing an antenna on the trunk of a car, or mirror of a rig is going to require more cable than the fender of a pickup. You need to consider the path the cable must run to get from the CB antenna to the radio. It may need to pass through the vehicle's firewall, through a window, or through interior linings. A problem that comes up with this is the size of the terminator (or connector) on the cable. This isn't something you would worry about with lug connectors, but PL259 connectors are rather bulky. Firestik makes a type of cable with a mini connector to get around this.

There are a couple issues with compatibility to cover between the antenna and the mount, and the cable and the mount. You will need to make sure the mount you are getting will support the antenna you want to use. Some mounts are only rated for antennas up to a certain length. If you are going for an antenna 4 ft or longer, be sure to get a heavy duty mount. Also, make sure the antenna will be able to screw into the mount. This is just a matter of matching the threads. Most antennas we carry are either 3/8'' x 24 thread or NMO. There are two ways the cable will connect to the mount, plug connectors or lug connectors. Plug connectors are PL259 plugs that just screw on much like the cable TV plug that connects to your TV. Lug connectors are loops on the end of the wire that you have to run a lug through to bolt it on to the mount. These are handy when you don't have much space under the mount. Of course the easiest way to avoid compatibility issues is to get a kit.

CB Antenna Kit
CB antenna kits come in all sorts of combinations. Some are simply components that work together, while others are components that have been permanently connected to form a single product. This is often the case with magnet mount antenna kits. Ease of shopping, compatibility, and price are the main reasons you might choose to go this route. It's easier to pick out a single kit than it is to pick out each component. All the parts in a kit are going to be compatible. Buying a kit is usually cheaper than buying each component separately.

CB Antenna Tuning
Once your antenna is mounted you need to tune it. We have prepared a page describing the steps to do this. Failing to tune the antenna is probably the most frequent mistake made on CB radio installations. Remember, even if an antenna says it is tuned at the factory, adjustments will most likely need to be made for your vehicle. Here are some instructions on how to tune your antenna.

Number of posts : 16
Location : Yuma, AZ
FRN# : 0015687585
Radio Model : Cobra WX75
Registration date : 2007-10-17

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