you haven t heard of tuning your CB antenna, you re not
alone. Most people new to CB radios have never heard of
it, let along could describe what it entails.
tune an antenna is to adjust it so that is works most
efficiently given its surroundings. In terms of a vehicle
installation, tuning a CB antenna means adjusting it to
the correct height so that it will work most efficiently
given your specific vehicle and where you ve chosen to
install it. As antennas uses the ground plane of the vehicle
to transmit a signal, each antenna needs to be adjusted
to match the specific vehicle its been installed on.
tune an antenna, you ll need a SWR meter. SWR stands
for standing wave ratio, which refers to how efficiently
the antenna is transmitting the energy sent from the radio
into the air. The lower the ratio, the more efficient
the antenna, and the better tuned it is. A SWR ratio of
2.0 or lower is acceptable for operations while a ratio
of 3.0 indicates serious problems that need addressing.
Tuning a CB antenna is synonymous with getting the antenna
s SWR ratio as low as possible.
the tuning process isn t too complicated, I m not going
to hash out all the details in this post. For complete
details, please refer to the appropriate articles on CB
antenna tuning in the Right Channel Radios Resource Library.
In it s abbreviated form, the tuning process consists
of using a SWR meter to determine the appropriate length
of the antenna. Depending on the readings provided by
the meter, the antenna will need to be lengthened or shortened.
For CB antennas with tunable tips , this lengthening
and shortening is a fairly simple process. A tunable tip
is simply a small screw in the tip of the antenna. The
antenna can be adjusted, or tuned, by screwing the screw
in or out, making the antenna incrementally longer or
shorter. For antennas without a tunable tip screw, the
antenna can be shortened by cutting of bits off the tip.
For obvious reasons, a tunable tip is a much simpler and
more desirable option.
it important to tune your antenna? This is a questions
we are frequently asked. There are many people who when
we strongly recommend antenna tuning tell us that they
ve used CB antennas before without tuning them and they
worked just fine, thank-you-very-much. While it s possible,
and even common, to use a CB antenna without tuning it,
we don t recommend it for two main reasons:
Radio Death - Use a CB without properly tuning your antenna
and you run the risk of frying your radio. An non-tuned
antenna isn t able to efficiently transform (or transmit)
the power sent to it into radio frequencies. This non-transmitted
power is reflected back down the coax line toward at the
radio. If too much non-transmitted power is reflected
back at the radio, it can cause excess heat and damage
critical radio components. As mentioned before, you want
your SWR levels to be below 2.0 to ensure this isn t
a problem. SWR levels of 3.0+ indicate a serious problem
and a much higher chance for radio damage.
Performance - As all stock CB radios only run at 4 watts
or transmission power, the antenna is usually the largest
determinant of system performance. As such, the degree
to which the antenna is tuned will have a dramatic impact
on a CB system s performance and range. CB antennas that
aren t tuned won t transmit efficiently and will exhibit
extremely poor range. If your friend 200 feet up the road
can t hear you, don t curse your radio! Buy a SWR meter
and properly tune your antenna.
you antenna is, bar none, the most important step you
can take to make sure your CB system is performing at
its best. Hopefully this post shed a little light on this
often confusing issue and made a strong case for why you
should always tune your antenna.