If you are wanting to learn how to hook up a CB radio, we suggest that you spend your time reading through the manual that came with your gear. On this page, we are going to give you an overview of the set-up. However, you do need to be aware that there are a lot of nuances when it comes to CB radios. Your particular model may require a few additional steps.
This is not a buyers guide. As a result, we are going to assume that you already have all of your kit in hand.
Mounting Your Radio and Antenna
The whole process will begin with mounting your radio. We are going to assume that you are mounting it in your vehicle. If you are, then make sure that it is positioned in such a way that you can reach it, but not so close that it is going to get in the way of you driving. Your CB radio should come with mounting clips.
Follow the instructions included with your antenna for mounting that. Ideally, you will want to place it on the roof of your vehicle. This is where it will be able to achieve the best possible signal.
Connecting the Radio to the Antenna
Now, you will need to run the cable from the antenna through to the radio. This will normally be a coaxial cable but, as we said, it is all going to be dependent on the radio and antenna you have purchased. You will need to read the manual for more information.
We can’t stress this enough; do not have a cable that is too long. It needs to be a straight shot from the antenna to the CB radio. You can have a couple of inches spare, but do not be like some people who will have feet and feet of cable hanging around in their vehicle. Not only is it irritating to deal with, but the longer the cable is, the more effort it is to get the signal pumped through it. This means long cables mean poor audio quality.
Powering Your Radio
Again, this is something that is going to be very specific to your radio. We are not going to go into any depth on how to power your radio here. It will come with its own guide to doing that. If we gave you any incorrect information here, then your radio or power supply could end up breaking. That wouldn’t be good for you or us! However, your radio power connections will be like this:
The red cable will be connected up to a 12V supply. This will normally be direct to your vehicle’s battery.The black cable will simply be placed on the body of your car (one of the metal parts). The black cable will act as the ground.
This really is your ‘base’ set-up for your CB radio. It shouldn’t take more than an hour or two to get everything set-up like this. Go ahead. Turn your radio on. Have a play about with it. We doubt it will be long before you get a bit of radio chatter coming through.
You aren’t done with the process yet. You still have a little bit of fine-tuning to get everything working perfectly. However, if you want to leave the set-up like this for a day or two, then that is perfectly fine with us. You have worked hard for this!
Adding a PA Speaker
The first thing you are going to want to do is adding a PA speaker into the mix. Even if you have purchased a top-quality CB radio, we doubt that the sound output is probably not going to be that great. Thankfully, PA speakers are small and easy to connect up.
You will need to mount it into your vehicle. Fairly close to the CB radio. There will be a cable that runs straight from the back of the PA speaker. Take this, and plug it into the back of the CB radio. It is likely the port will be named ‘audio out’ or words to that effect. If you can’t work out where to put it, then make sure that you consult the manual for your CB radio.
Tuning the Antenna
Now comes the not-so-fun part. Tuning your antenna. This is how we are going to squeeze every last drop of audio quality out of our CB radio set-up. For this, you will need to buy an SWR meter. Your CB radio may have one built into it, but purchasing a separate unit is going to be better. We are only going to run you through the basic steps for tuning your antenna here.
Start by connecting the SWR meter to your system. It will need to be on the same line that goes to the antenna. Ideally, have it placed close to the antenna as this will allow you to make adjustments a bit easier.
Now, change to Channel 1 on the radio and engage the microphone. Make a note of the reading that the SWR meter gives you. Do the same on Channel 40.
You will want to look at the value on the SWR meter that you recorded. Ideally, you will want the number to be as close to 0 as possible on both of them. Although, this isn’t really going to be feasible unless you have an amazing antenna and perfect signal. Instead, you will want to be aiming for a number less than 2 on both of them. This should be achievable, and you may already have that right off the bat.
If the number is greater than 2, then you may need to adjust the position or length of your antenna. The first should be fairly easy to do. However, you will need to consult your manual to find out how to adjust the length of your antenna.
Wondering if anyone still uses a CB radio anymore? Folks definitely do, so you won’t be alone. It will all be worth while. This is a process that you will likely be repeating in the future but for now, you can remove the SWR meter from your set-up if you wish. You may want to check every few weeks to see if something has changed. It doesn’t take long to do.