CB antennas are clearly of the highest importance for perfect performance of any CB Radio System. Keeping in view their importance, manufacturers have put forward many different types of CB antennas that serve different purposes. Let’s see what the major types of antennas are.
Types of CB Antenna by coil
CB antennas are of different types based on the position where the coil has been placed or the load position. For the most optimal antenna performance, their whip should be as long as 102” but for making this length manageable, manufacturers accommodate the 102” long wire into a limited antenna length in the form of a coil. Generally, following types of CB antennas are available in the market on the basis of coil position:
- Base-Loaded Antennas,
- Center-Loaded Antennas,
- Top-Loaded Antennas.
Center Loaded Antennas
As the name indicates, coil is placed in the center of these antennas. In fact, it is somewhere near the base. The antenna design consists of a stainless steel shaft over which the coil is placed packed into a plastic case and above it is the steel whip. This type of design is considered suitable for trucking antennas.
These antennas have their own advantages and disadvantages. They have a positive edge because they have higher efficiency as compared to the base-loaded antennas. They sometimes present watt capacity rating higher than that of fiberglass antennas. But despite of all these facts, they are not as efficient as the top-loaded fiberglass CB antennas.
These CB antennas are of fiberglass and are highly coveted because of their versatility. The placement of coil inside these antennas and the coil design are different in these antennas as compared to the other types. The exterior shaft of the antenna has a thin wire wrapped around it completely and is further housed in protective case. They are highly economical and efficient among all the antenna types. These top loaded antennas can perform well even if they are not mounted at a very high point on the vehicle. However, their wattage handling capacity is not very desirable. Well this might be a con you can overlook if you have a normal CB radio but in case you have a modified CB radio or a HAM radio, then these fiberglass antennas won’t do any good. These antennas are suitable for installation on cars, trucks, tractor trailers and RVs.
Base Load CB Antennas
Coil has the placement exactly at the bottom of the antenna in this case. This category is a relief because it also offers all-in-one antenna units. They can be installed and set up in relatively lesser time as compared to other antenna choices. Base-loaded antennas feature a thick coil at their bottom and can handle higher wattage easily. The biggest disadvantage of these antennas is that they are lowest on the scale of efficiency among all the antenna types. You need to be very selective while choosing the mounting location for base-loaded mounts because they work at their best when they are at the top.
Type of Base Load CB Antennas
If we consider the base-loaded CB antennas individually, they are further of following types:
- Trunk Lip CB Antenna
- Roof Top CB Antenna
- Magnetic Mount Antenna
1. Trunk Lip CB Antenna
These antennas can be mounted with ease at the edge of the trunk of any vehicle. The bracket of these antennas can be easily adjusted with the help of screws provided and requires no drilling. Although this type of antenna mount can easily fit any given vehicle, but for precise measurements, consult the user manual that might accompany the antenna kit.
2. Roof Top CB Antenna
These antenna mounts are specifically designed to be mounted on the roof of the vehicle. Their whip can be as long as 62.5″. They are capable of handling 5000 watts in AM and 20,000 watts in SSB mode easily. Majority of these antennas are capable of covering a Frequency Range of 26MHz – 30MHz.
3. Magnetic Mount Antenna
Magnet mount antennas are the vogue nowadays because of their ease of installation. Their base is made of magnet that makes them stick to the vehicle firmly. They also offer all-in-one solution as in one antenna unit, you will be able to have a coax cable, magnetic mount and a whip ready to be assembled. The coil in these antennas is placed at the antenna bottom and is also housed in the magnetic base that might sometimes be of plastic.
There are different ranges covered by these antennas at different antenna lengths. These ranges can vary if the installation conditions and antenna orientation are changed. For general observation, the magnetic antennas are likely to transmit and receive across following ranges against each length of antenna:
- 3′ Magnet Antennas can transmit and receive up to 3 to 4 Miles.
- 5′ Magnet Antennas can transmit and receive up to 5 to 7 Miles.
Magnetic mounts are superb for the vehicles with metal roof as their purpose is well-served in this case. Major installation considerations for these antennas are that they should preferably be at the center of location you choose for mounting them, antenna whip should be sufficiently long and antenna installation should be at the highest point. The biggest advantage is that it can be installed with no effort at all! You can just stick the mount to the mounting location and rest assured. There is no hassle of ruining your vehicle’s chassis by drilling holes into it.
Magnetic mount antennas are efficient performers in the real world but they sometimes cause clearance issues if the mounting location chosen is not high enough. They feature an antenna whip that also passes through the magnetic / plastic base of the antenna. This whip is so thin that it can be affected with minor jerks. It can intensely affect antenna’s performance.
It is so delicate that even adding flexibility to it won’t work. If you are about to park the car in the garage and the whip is lowered down, it can break anytime. Therefore, the magnetic mount antennas are not suitable for off-road vehicles or for the journeys that are full of ups and downs.
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