How To Install A Cb Radio In 5 Easy Steps?

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cb radio installed

cb radio installed

The first thing is to find out if the CB radio is compatible with the vehicle, if not then it will be of no use to you. But if it is, then how to use a CB radio?

Installation Process

CB radios are not too difficult to install, but a lot of things can go wrong if you are not careful. Maybe that is the reason most people prefer to ask for professional help. But nothing is more fun than you take on nerd things on your own. If you have all the necessary hardware with you follow the given steps and be aware of your safety.

Step 1 - Mount The Radio

It may be the most important part of the whole installation process.. while mounting, remember that the place you are putting the radio on must be easily reachable and in plain sight. You must be capable of reaching the radio easily even while you are driving.

Now it’s a terrible idea to mount your CB radio behind objects. For example, if you mount the radio behind the steering wheel, it may seem like an awesome idea first but it can be dangerously distracting for you when you are driving.

It is also not a good idea to mount the radio anywhere that may get in the way of the driver or passenger or somewhere where it can harm the durability of the radio.

how to use a cb radio

Step 2 - Mount The Antenna

The next step is to mount the antenna. When you are mounting it, be careful not to block its tip, otherwise, your radio won’t receive signals properly. The best place to mount your antenna is at the center of the roof of the vehicle.

There it achieves 360-degree coverage. But if you are not interested in drilling on the roof, the next option is the trunk of your vehicle. Make sure that the antenna receives proper signals, from wherever it is.

cb radio installation

Step 3 - Gain Knowledge About The Standing Wave Ratio (Swr) Meter.

Before the installation of the antenna is complete you have to perform a CB radio setup. You can start the process with SWR. SWR finds the perfect spot to install the antenna.

To complete the task, park your vehicle in an area with no obstruction. SWR meter may be available in both built-in positions or separately. If it is not built-in, you need an additional coaxial cable jumper.

cb radio wiring

Step 5 - Establish Connection To A Power Source

Powering the radio can be done in a no. of ways. A lot of people do it by connecting the radio to the vehicle’s s battery and some prefer something else like using a cigarette cable. When powering, make sure to connect the red wire first and the black one later.

The red wire should be connected to the positive side of the battery so that the fuse box connection is always on. The black wire is to be connected to the negative side of the battery.

how do cb radios work

Getting The Radio Tuned

Whether the CB radio is properly tuned or not will determine the longevity of the other radio as well. To turn the radio on, the SWR meter needs to be connected to the CB. After switching the SWR to SWD turn your radio on to channel number 1.

Press and hold the mic button as the needle adjusts itself between channels 1 and 40, switch back to SWR to SWR after that, read and record the reading and repeat the same for the rest of 39 channels.

If you see that the SWR reading is higher on Channel 1 than on channel 40, lengthen your antenna. If the reading is over 2:1 it may damage the health of the radio.

When you are thinking of buying a CB radio, be careful to buy one that meets your needs. Do not feel any pressure to get the best. Just buy the one that is within your budget, as there will not be a noticeable difference.

How Do CB Radios Work?

The CB radio is a type of communication that happens over the radio waves. In the US this was set up by the FCC in the 40s. There will be a similar system in the whole world, although they may not always operate in exactly the same way.

CB radio operates on shortwave radio signals strictly. In the 26 MHz – 28 MHz range although, this depends on the country where the CB radio is being operated. It means that communication can be carried out within a very small radius, somewhere between 5 to 25 miles, although it may stretch for a slightly larger distance.

It’s all in the antenna.

Everything regarding the operation of the CB radio is in the antenna. The antenna sends and receives the signal being sent by the CB radio unit. The antenna of CB radio has two jobs –

  • To capture signals in the local area.

  • To send out signals from your transmitter.

In the first case, the antenna captures radio waves. It is up to the receiver to convert these into a sound signal that you can hear. In the second case, the transmitter sends out radio signals that the CB radio sends to it.

It sends these signals out at a certain frequency to ensure that they are sent to the correct radio channel. In every single case, it is the antenna that determines the quality of the signal received and the audio that transmits.

how to hook up a cb radio

How Does The Antenna Work With The CB Radio?

The important thing we need to know is the impedance. This is how resistant the antenna is to the electric current. You want the antenna to allow as much of the electric current in as possible, this allows the antenna to transmit the full electric current as a radio signal which translates to better audio quality for the recipient.

It also means that receiving audio is also better. For the CB radio antenna at work, it must be of the right length to send out the radio signals on the correct frequency.

The CB radios are programmed, so nothing to worry about. For an antenna to work on the full wavelength designated for CB radio follow the installation instructions in the owner’s manual.

How To Increase The Power Of The Radio?

Now that we know all the essentials of a radio, it is time to know how to increase Watts on CB Radio, which means how to increase the power of radio. We have to connect the SWR meter to assess the output of the radio.

Grounding of The Radio

The quality of sound on a radio depends on where and how it is kept. If you want to avoid signal noise, better keep it in an open area away from trees and forests.

how to set up a cb radio

Modulation Adjustment

The modulation can be optimized to the body of the radio. This is an easy way to increase the power of the radio and improve the quality and the volume of the sound. But be careful not to increase it too much as it may distort the radio frequencies.

Squelch Function /Rf Gain Option

Squelch is a function in the radio to clear the background noise. The RF gain option is a similar function available in new models and it is more effective. Your goal is to turn any of these to the point where background noise is minimum, but the sound remains intact.

Quality of The Antenna

Even the best CB radio will not give you a satisfactory quality of sound unless you have a good antenna. So if the sound of the radio is bad, there are chances that your antenna is bad.

In such a case, get a new antenna. Get a solid coax cable to connect with the radio and your sound will improve.

Placing of The Antenna

The problematic placing of the antenna naturally gives you problematic sound quality. The higher the antenna, the better it can receive and transmit the signals. So better to fix it on the roof of your car or house, depending on where you wish to set up your CB radio.

Appropriate Reading of Antenna

It is better if the reading of the antenna on the SWR meter is lower. The ideal reading is 1:5. But it is even better if the reading is lower than this.

Dead Key Wattage

On every radio, there is a dead key wattage pot. You have to search it, speak it, and tune to get dead key wattage.


The last thing to do is to get some amps. An amplifier can boost the dead key wattage of the radio. It adds more power to the sound and greatly improves the loudness and quality of the radio.

Get a linear amplifier as it works efficiently in giving your dead key additional output power. But the dead key must be set below 10 Watts as it may lead to the amplifier getting damaged due to overheating otherwise.

If it still does not improve even after trying out all the things mentioned above, then really there is only one solution. Get a better radio. The issue lies in the quality of the model you are using and it may be time for you to upgrade it.

How Many Miles Can A Cb Radio Transmit?

If you are using a portable CB radio while walking in the shopping mall your range may be as little as hundred yards. If you are using it for communication between two vehicles, it may give you a 1-mile range.

There may be an increase in the range if you change the antenna. You may be having the standard short, inefficient antenna that came along with the unit.

If you use a handheld CB radio inside a car, the metal used in the frame of the car is an impediment to incoming and outgoing signals. Hold the radio close to the car window so that the antenna gets the best possible range.

Sometimes you can replace a longer antenna that provides a little more range, especially when you have height working in your favor. If you move a few inches, you may get a clear signal.

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