CB radios are essential when on the trail. Communication between vehicles is vital for individual safety and the safety of the group. We’ve added this page to provide information on installing, maintaining, and tuning your radio and antenna. CB Radio check list: CB Radio: Start off with a good quality unit. Uniden 510 ($35.00), 520 ($45), PC68 ($69) are good basic units. Uniden CMX 760 Off Road series ($150) are “specially made” (for what that’s worth) for off road use. Cobra 25 ($90), Cobra 29 ($120) All come highly recommended. The Unidens are supposedly better for vibration resistance. Mount your radio with vibration resistance in mind. I use the regular mounting bracket but add adhesive foam strips to keep it from vibrating and from moving around. Antenna: Make sure that at least half of the antenna is above the roof line or cage (or any metal surface) of rig. Make sure antenna is mounted to bare metal and that it makes a good ground with metal to metal contact. If an antenna mount is used, stainless steel is best. Run a ground wire from the mount to the frame if possible. A 48’’ or 60’’ tunable Firestick II or a Wilson 1000 series roof mount but mounted to a stainless steel antenna bracket is recommended and have it mounted on a spring mount also. Make sure that the plastic insulating washer is goes on the antenna side of the mount. Many will recommend using a 120” steel whip but these are unsafe for off road use due to our open rigs and the close proximity to bystanders and spotters. Coax Cable: Your coax cable is a very important part of your unit. It should be of good quality, a LMR 240 is one recommendation, others are to use Marine Grade RG-8x cable coax. There should be no kinks or pinches in the cable. Your coax cable should not be coiled at any point other than right at the antenna base and if so it should be secularly attached. If you have to take up slack under floor mats or anywhere else it is recommended that you zig zag the cable instead of coiling it. There are reports that say to use only 18’ of coax cable but after a lot of research I have learned that you should have just enough to reach from the radio to the antenna base but to try and keep it in 36” intervals so 6’, 9’, 12’ or 18’ preferably. Your power source and ground should be run straight from the battery per manufacturers wire gauge recommendations with necessary fuses installed. Not everyone wants to run straight from the battery and would rather be connected to a switched power wire. If this is your choice then you may need additional noise filters on your power wire. After the unit is installed check operation of unit and tune the antenna using an SWR meter for optimum reception. Read your manual and know all of the functions of your radio. After all is installed to these guidelines, test radio for function and then tune antenna with SWR meter. (Do not turn on radio or key the mic without being hooked to the antenna as it may ruin your radio) Microphone: There are upgraded microphones available and it is personal choice whether you use those or not. Additional Information: A ground plane for a CB radio antenna is the metal surface required below the antenna. In mobile applications, the vehicle body/frame acts as the ground plane (reflective unit). The metal surface enables the signal generated when transmitting to reflect off the surface and travel into the atmosphere. An antenna ground plane is not to be confused with an electrical ground. A typical mobile CB antenna does not transmit horizontally, it radiates in a downward pattern. A metal surface (the larger and flatter, the better) is required underneath the CB antenna to launch the signal out into the atmosphere. Without an adequate ground plane surface the signal will not travel out into the atmosphere which results in limited transmission range. Damage to your CB radio may also occur if you do not have a proper ground plane because this generally causes a high SWR and the signal may back feed into the transceiver, causing internal damage to your radio. It is worth noting that a poor ground plane or radiating surface may not affect radio reception. You may still receive transmissions from other radios with or without a ground plane. Basically, you can receive transmissions on a clothes hanger! It is vital to understand that you must check and set your antenna (tune your antenna) to ensure it is functioning properly. If you have a fiberglass vehicle or boat (or a buggy) you will need a No Ground Plane Antenna. In No Ground Plane systems, the coax shield is used for counterpoise (substitute for the ground connection). No Ground Plane CB Antenna A no ground plane CB Antenna is a CB antenna that doesn't require a ground plane (large metal surface under it) to operate. Ground Plane antennas are specially designed to work on fiberglass vehicles and boats. A No Ground Plane antenna installed on a vehicle or boat constructed of metal will not operate correctly. A no ground plane antenna is designed to use the ground or water to transmit horizontally. A No Ground Plane antenna will not perform as well as a traditional CB antenna of the same length, but in situations where you do not have an adequate ground plane such as on a boat, RV or motorcycle, they do the trick. Make sure to read the instructions thoroughly before installing the antenna. When to use (NGP) "No Ground Plane" Equipment If you try to use standard ground-based CB equipment with a vehicle that needs a "no ground plane" antenna, you'll experience both high SWR levels and extremely poor performance. Vehicles that require NGP equipment: Have a fiberglass shell or coating over much or all of the vehicle Have little or no metallic chassis for the antenna to be grounded to Vehicles that should use NGP products: Motor homes and large fiberglass coaches Camper shells where the antenna is mounted directly to the fiberglass (instead of the vehicle) Boats Motorcycles with little or no ground plane In these circumstances and with these vehicles, NGP equipment should be used. Please note that NGP installations require a special NGP coax and antenna. Using either a ground- based coax cable OR a ground-base antenna will cause problems. While NGP antennas and coax cables can be purchased separately, they're usually sold as part of a complete NGP kit.
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