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
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.
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.
Most CB antennas
that are purchased separate from a kit simply screw into the mount.
This is the easiest component of the three to install.
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 cb antenna 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.
the choices available when it comes to mounts, it would be nearly
impossible to cover ever installation here. Just remember that
there is nothing wrong with seeking professional advice! Even
if there is no CB shop in your area, a car audio installer or
mechanic can provide a lot of good input when it comes to installing
an antenna system. If you are confident enough to do it yourself
remember to make sure of your installation location before you
drill holes. Hold the mount in place and open/close the hood or
doors to make sure there is enough clearance. Leave enough room
under the mount for the cable to be attached. Make sure the mounting
surface will be able to hold the antennas weight .
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 semi 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. Firestik recommends
a cable length of 18 ft. It is definitely best to stay in 3 foot
segments. This is so the over all electrical length of the antenna
(which includes the cable) matches the wavelength of the radio.
Any excess cable should not be coiled up. It should be wrapped
in a figure 8 and stowed securely that way.
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.
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.
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.
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.