Learning how to set up a CB radio is actually quite simple. We have barely encountered a CB radio manual that doesn’t walk you through at least the basics. Now, obviously, each CB radio is unique. It may have its own set-up process. We do encourage you to read through the included manual to find out how your specific radio works. On this page, we want to guide you more through the general steps of getting a CB radio up and running. Just a quick guide to introducing you to the things that you need to do to make things work.
For the purposes of this page, we will assume that you have already selected and purchased the CB radio that you want. This means that you will have sized it up for the location that you will be placing it (normally within a vehicle) and that it offers the features that you want.
Mounting Your CB Radio
Before you can start using your CB radio properly, you are going to need to mount it in your vehicle. Obviously, you will need to have it in a place that t can be easily reached. If you are placing it in a vehicle, then you will need to ensure that it will not block any airbags should they be deployed. If you do, then it could cause serious injury or death.
You will want to ensure that your CB radio is not located too close to the window. If it is, it will get wet. It will also be directly exposed to the sunlight which could shorten its lifespan. The perfect mounting location in your vehicle will be dependent on the vehicle and your needs. You may need to experiment to get it right.
Most CB radios will come complete with a mounting kit. Follow the instructions on the kit. It shouldn’t take too long to get the radio in position. If you have purchased a separate PA speaker for your CB radio, then this will need to be mounted into place too.
Installing the Antenna
While many CB radios will have an in-built antenna, it is not recommended that you use it. The range is going to be minimal, and the sound quality will be poor. Instead, it is recommended that you purchase a separate antenna. This will be mounted outside of the vehicle. It is important that you spend a decent while picking up an antenna that has quality magnets built into it. When you have something strapped to the outside of the vehicle, the last thing you want is for it to be flying off at high speeds.
You can probably place the antenna anywhere you want on the outside of your vehicle. Most people will attach it to the roof of the vehicle. This will keep it ‘out of the way while at the same time providing a quality signal. Perhaps the best way to determine the correct location for your antenna is to connect it up to an SWR meter. While you can just put on your antenna and hope for the best, using an SWR meter is the only way that you will be able to get the perfect location for your antenna.
You will need to run the cable from the antenna to your radio. How you do this will be dependent on the CB radio you are using, the antenna you are using, and the location that you have placed the antenna. If you have placed the antenna on the roof, then you may need to run a cable through the window. Don’t worry. The cable should be fairly small.
Remember; you may need to adjust the location of the antenna regularly. This is why it is important you opt for a magnet mounted antenna.
Providing Power to Your Radio
Obviously, your CB radio is not going to be powered by your hopes and dreams. It is going to need to have electrical power. We are a little bit hesitant to go into too much depth on how to set up a CB radio by connecting it to the electrics of your vehicle. This is because there are things that can go wrong. Every CB radio is different too. It isn’t hard, but we do recommend that you read through the manual of your CB radio and vehicle to ensure that you are placing the cables in the right place.
Generally speaking, the red cable from your CB radio will be connected to the positive terminal of a battery. There may also be a power point in your vehicle you can connect it to. The black cable will either go to the negative terminal or it will be grounded on the chassis of the vehicle. Either tends to be fine. There are some CB radios which can connect to the cigarette lighter in your vehicle, but these can drain battery power fast. They also tend not to be high powered, but there are ways to increase CB radio signal strength.
Connect to a Channel
Once everything is connected up, you can connect to a CB radio channel to see if it all works. We recommend connecting to channel 19. This is where you will be able to find the vast majority of radio chatter. Although, this is going to be dependent on your location. You may need to flick through the channels to find activity. Ask people if they can hear you. They will either answer:
- 10-1: This means your sound signal is poor
- 10-4: They can hear you crystal clear
Obviously, they may also tell you directly what the issue is or ask for your location. It is probably wise to get ‘up to date’ on the lingo, though. You are going to be encountering it a lot when you are using your CB radio!
Yes. This is a pretty brief guide to setting up a CB radio however there really isn’t that much to the process. Once you have it mounted into place, everything is going to be dead simple. Just make sure you use it wisely. Also, make sure that you read up on CB etiquette. That is probably going to be the hardest thing about owning a CB radio.