Off Road Guide to CB Installations

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The Citizen Band radios have been an efficient communication campaign since its extensive adaptation in the 1970s. Today, most organized trail rides require individuals to have their own CB radio because they help all parties to stay aware of trail conditions, hazards, and delays.

Off Road Guide to CB Installation

A CB radio is wonderful for off road communications. Through this device, you can stay in touch with your colleagues, be a part of all the happenings and contests, keep an eye on the weather changes etc.

CB radios are not like the traditional radios that we have been using till date.

Choosing your CB Equipment

When selecting a CB radio to your vehicle, it is important to recognize that all radios transmit the same amount of power. The FCC limits CB transmission power to 4 watts, so deciding on a CB radio ( is less regarding the power and a lot more about how precisely the radio fits your car or truck and your communication needs.

 Picking a CB Radio

Because off-road vehicles lend to have small cabs, a compact CB radio is often a good fit. The most recommendable compact CB radio is the Stryker SR-89MC and the Uniden 510 PRO XL. The Uniden 510 is a durable radio that offers reliable performance at an affordable price. The Stryker SR-89 is a super compact. The base can be mounted in an out of the way location and the remote microphone controls the entire radio. It is excellent radio for RVs, Jeeps, UTVs or any vehicle with limited space. While both of these radios are a good fit for compact vehicles, they don't have all the features found in a larger CB. If you have ample cab space and are looking for a full-size CB with all the bells and whistles, the Stryker 89MC is a great choice.

10 Meter Radio SR-89MC


Components of a CB System

The main components required for the setup are CB radio, CB antenna, coax cable, antenna mount and CB antenna stud. These parts can be obtained easily at any of the CB shops. A good SWR meter is also required for tuning the CB antenna properly. When you are choosing a CB radio, make the choice according to the space inside your vehicle and the intended CB usage. When you are making a choice of the CB antenna and where to place it, first ensure that the distance of the antenna from the roof is at least one foot. Prefer the longer antennas. To have longer range for better communication, your antenna should be sufficiently away from the roof.

Tuning and Testing Your CB System for Off-road drivers

When you have successfully completed the installation of your CB system, it is time to test and tune the CB antenna. Testing is a huge determinant of overall performance of a CB system. Grab the best SWR meter for this purpose. CB radios with in-built SWR meters are also a great choice, but generally, experts prefer the other way around. A basic SWR meter and coax jumper cable can be obtained at reasonable prices.

Connect the SWR meter between the CB radio and the CB antenna through a jumper cable. For calibration of the SWR meter, bring the switch to the FWD function, key in them and bring the needle to the “set” position by moving the calibrating knob. Once the calibration is done, get your microphone keyed to the CB radio and bring the switch to REF. You will start seeing the system’s SWR on the screen. Start the testing on channels 1 and 40, ensuring that you achieve the lowest readings of SWR. For bringing the reading to a lower value, move the tunable tip of the antenna for adjusting it. SWR readings between 1 and 2 should be your targets; readings obtained between 2 and 2.9 are indicative of some flaw in the installation process. If the reading is 3 or exceeds it, the problem with your CB setup is a serious one and calls for the inspection of all the CB components for any hidden defects or damages.

Troubleshooting High SWR

If you are unfortunate to achieve the SWR of 3 or above, you need to recheck your CB installation. Reevaluate all the major steps of the process and check for any gaps in the required and the actual outputs. Consider asking the following questions to yourself:

Off road

Are the CB radio and the cb antenna stud properly connected through the coax cable?

Is the coax cable in its best condition?

How has the extra coax cable been kept? (Preferable is keeping this cable in a loosely coiled form)

Have you placed the nylon washer correctly on the CB antenna stud?

If everything is good to go according to the above-mentioned questions, start figuring out the issues that might be caused by the grounding of your equipment.

Grounding Issues 

Poor grounding is the major reason behind the poor performance of your CB system. The chassis of a vehicle is usually used as the ground plane where the CB antenna is installed and grounded for better transmission and reception of the CB signals, so proper grounding of the CB equipment is very crucial. You should look for a multimeter that can help you locate the best spot for placing CB antenna mount and easy grounding. Multimeters will help you check the resistance of all the surfaces to the current flow through them. If you are about to employ a multimeter finally, keep the meter set at the ohm function, then bring it in contact with the antenna mount at one end while with the vehicle’s body at the other end. As this setting is completed, if you see “0” on the SWR meter, your grounding location is a good one with no resistance. Any other figure will correspond to a certain value of resistance that the surface will offer to the current flow. Keep repeating the process until you are successful in finding the best mounting location.

Off road, drivers please Identifying Defective or Damaged CB Parts

If, however, you are facing the same problems on the off road even after a thorough examination of your installed CB equipment, there is surely some defect in one of the components of the system. Again employ the multimeter for checking the continuity in the coax cable and CB antenna. Just touch the multimeter probes to the opposites ends found on CB antenna, to the center pins of the CB coax found on opposite sides, and to the outer cover of the CB coax. This meter will instantly show a reading if any of the components is offering resistance to the current flow due to any defects. You can test the coax cable and the other wires used in the same manner. If an open circuit is depicted on the meter, then coax is a defected one.

Common Installation Issues Specific to Off Road Vehicles

Because of the cheap quality bumpers, taillight covers, body armor and other accessories available in the markets, the number of grounding problems with these vehicles has been increased. The biggest reason behind this is the off road accessories over which a powder coating has been placed. If you are using these accessories for antenna mount, first wipe off the powder coating from the point where the CB antenna stud has to come in contact with the metal for grounding, and also scrape it off from the point where the mount has to be mounted onto the vehicle. Then connect the multimeter to check if the resistance between the antenna mount and chassis is zero or not.

Putting a CB antenna over a tailgate of any off-road vehicle is another reason behind the grounding issues. In this case, the antenna mount is well-grounded to the tailgate, but it is not necessary that the grounding is good between the tailgate and the rest of the vehicle. It leads to obtaining higher SWR readings. To solve this problem, off road drivers please connect a grounding strap simultaneously to the tailgate and the body of the vehicle, or alternatively, you can do the same with a grounding wire directly connected to the CB antenna stud.

If you stick to this guide verbatim, the majority of your installation issues would be solved satisfactorily. A properly installed CB radio system is a blessing for the off-road trips indeed!

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