Have you purchased a CB radio and feel as if it isn’t giving you decent audio quality? Well, on this page, we are going to give you a quick guide on how to increase CB radio signal strength. Don’t worry. It is going to be a lot easier than you may think.
Adjustment With an SWR Meter
Unless your CB radio has an SWR meter built into it, you are going to need some extra equipment here. Thankfully, an SWR meter isn’t that expensive.
With an SWR meter, you will need to plug it into the line between the antenna and the transceiver.
- Tune your radio to channel 1.
- Turn the SWR meter on and engage with the microphone (do not speak into it).
- Make a note of the number that appears on the SWR meter.
- Switch to channel 40. Repeat the same process as before.
- The number for both channels should be as close to 0 as possible. Anything under 2, however, should be regarded as a fairly decent signal. You will be able to make some adjustments, but not that many.
- In an ideal world, you will want to have the numbers for channels 1 and 40 to be in line with one another. Well, as close as you can get it (it may not be possible with all antennas). This means that you will need to play about with the length of the antenna, as well as a little bit about the positioning, to try and get them in line.
You will probably want to calibrate your CB radio with an SWR meter every few months or so. The calibration can be a bit of sync on occasion. Calibration ensures that you will always be able to maintain the best signal quality possible.
Make sure that when you are doing your calibration, you do your best to ensure that you are in a wide-open area with minimum interference. This will ensure that you get the most accurate readouts on your SWR meter. This will ensure that calibration is as simple as possible.
Know the Limitations of CB Radios
It is worth knowing what the limitations of a CB radio are. Most people seem to think that the range is pretty extensive. It isn’t. You are operating on the shortwave band. At most, you are going to get a 30-mile range. You may get a little more than that in ‘perfect’ conditions, but the further you get away from the CB radio, the lower the radio signal quality will be.
We have seen other guides online about boosting the output power of your CB radio. Do not do this. Legally, CB radios can operate at a maximum of 4 watts. Anything higher than that, and you will be breaking the law. Even if you don’t get caught, you will find that the higher wattage of the radio will start to impact electrical appliances.
You may also have heard of a process called ‘skip’. This is where you could, technically, give your CB radio an unlimited range. If you ‘skip’ properly, you could potentially talk to people on the other side of the globe using your CB radio. Do not do this. It is illegal. You may not get caught, but it causes problems in other countries. You are clogging up their airwaves.
Better Quality Gear
A lot of the signal quality of your CB radio will be rooted in the quality of the equipment that you purchase. Specifically in your antenna. If you have purchased a poor quality antenna, then the quality of the signal that you get will be absolutely awful.
Thankfully, purchasing a decent antenna won’t set you back much in the way of cash. Just make sure that you buy something that has decent reviews. You can check out our antenna reviews if you want a couple of suggestions on some of the best products to get your hands on.
Yes. We know that there are handheld radios which have their own antennas attached. If you have that handheld CB radio in your vehicle, then you can easily unplug the antenna and attach your own external one. If you are ‘out and about’ there is little that you can do, although you may want to see if there is a better quality antenna that you can replace the current one with.
It is important to remember that any antenna that you purchase should be rated for use with CB radios. If it doesn’t say that it picks up CB radio frequencies, then give it a skip. Some products are just terrible at it.
Placement of the Antenna
The first thing you should do is ensure that the placement of your CB radio antenna is perfect.
There are a lot of places that you can put your antenna on your vehicle. In our experience, we have found that the best position for the antenna is on the roof of your vehicle. There is little interference up here, and the antenna is not going to be blocked from any direction. We know that there are some people who place the antenna on the front of their vehicle, but this never works quite as well.
You may need to experiment a little bit with the exact positioning on your roof. Some locations will probably work a lot better than others. Thankfully, this shouldn’t be too difficult to do if you have an antenna that has a magnet attached. You will be able to adjust once you get the SWR meter involved.
If you have a stationary set-up, then you will want to ensure that your antenna is placed as high as possible. This will give the best possible range.
Anything Else You Can Do?
Be sure you haven’t missed anything in our how to set up a CB radio guide. Other than the fundamentals and what we have detailed on this page, there is very little else that needs to be done. As long as you have decent equipment and you maintain it well, then it shouldn’t be that difficult to ensure that you maintain decent signal quality.