Some basic CB help

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Some basic CB help

Post by KentsOkay » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:15 am

Hey gang, I have a 20+ year old Realistic 40 channel CB radio that I am planning on properly mounting into my car (I have a spare DIN slot it can occupy). I just plugged it in today to test it with the somewhere between 2 and 3 foot antenna that screws into the back of it, and I picked up some chatter. I'm sliding it in under my aftermarket head unit, so I obviously can't use the antenna I have. Is the current connection still the same as the connection mine uses (giant coaxial?)? What is a good choice for a cheap antenna? I'm not looking for all the range in the world, just the ability to chatter with other drivers in my "convoy" on road trips and such, so under five miles? I know grounding can be a problem for antennas, I'm mounting this on a '90 Corvette so grounding can be a bit tricky. Also, magnetic mounts would be no good. The OEM powered FM antenna is dead, and since I don't use FM anyway I wouldn't be abject to replacing the FM stick with the CB setup. I can upload a picture of the radio if that helps at all. There is no date on it I just know it is old (considering it was my mom's), made by Realistic, and has Radio Shack on the back of it.

Thanks!
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by TacAir » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:33 am

To replace your old FM antenna, look for a kind of mount called a "cowl mount".

They are common made for a specific model or tear, so you may have to dig a bit to find one. On the plus side, it is low profile, reducing the chance of theft...

Good luck.
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by KentsOkay » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:46 am

TacAir wrote:To replace your old FM antenna, look for a kind of mount called a "cowl mount".

They are common made for a specific model or tear, so you may have to dig a bit to find one. On the plus side, it is low profile, reducing the chance of theft...

Good luck.
Cowl mount ehh? From what I'm seeing online, the coaxial cable used on CB's is pretty much universal. How critical is antenna tuning, can I do it with a DMM? My familiarity with impedance is limited to speaker and subwoofer applications.
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by Tater Raider » Wed Mar 26, 2014 7:10 am

KentsOkay wrote:
TacAir wrote:To replace your old FM antenna, look for a kind of mount called a "cowl mount".

They are common made for a specific model or tear, so you may have to dig a bit to find one. On the plus side, it is low profile, reducing the chance of theft...

Good luck.
Cowl mount ehh? From what I'm seeing online, the coaxial cable used on CB's is pretty much universal. How critical is antenna tuning, can I do it with a DMM? My familiarity with impedance is limited to speaker and subwoofer applications.
You should match impedance and tune the antenna. Not doing so will restrict your transmitted signal and may damage the CB, both due to reflected power.

Absolute cheapest antenna I know of is one of the best performers - 102" stainless steel whip. It is most definitely not low profile and if looks are important then I've gotta state the obvious: it's going to look damned stupid on the 'Vette.

There is a quick disconnect license plate bracket antenna mount made for the C4 and C5. It's a bit pricey and you might be able to find it cheaper than this but... link

A DMM isn't going to work for tuning. What you want is an SWR meter and they are available for under $25. You could also use an antenna analyzer but those start in the $100 neighborhood and go way, way up from there. A nice thing to have if you're putting thousands of dollars into a ham antenna but I can't justify that cost for a CB system.

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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by KentsOkay » Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:40 am

Tater Raider wrote:
KentsOkay wrote:
TacAir wrote:To replace your old FM antenna, look for a kind of mount called a "cowl mount".

They are common made for a specific model or tear, so you may have to dig a bit to find one. On the plus side, it is low profile, reducing the chance of theft...

Good luck.
Cowl mount ehh? From what I'm seeing online, the coaxial cable used on CB's is pretty much universal. How critical is antenna tuning, can I do it with a DMM? My familiarity with impedance is limited to speaker and subwoofer applications.
You should match impedance and tune the antenna. Not doing so will restrict your transmitted signal and may damage the CB, both due to reflected power.

Absolute cheapest antenna I know of is one of the best performers - 102" stainless steel whip. It is most definitely not low profile and if looks are important then I've gotta state the obvious: it's going to look damned stupid on the 'Vette.

There is a quick disconnect license plate bracket antenna mount made for the C4 and C5. It's a bit pricey and you might be able to find it cheaper than this but... link

A DMM isn't going to work for tuning. What you want is an SWR meter and they are available for under $25. You could also use an antenna analyzer but those start in the $100 neighborhood and go way, way up from there. A nice thing to have if you're putting thousands of dollars into a ham antenna but I can't justify that cost for a CB system.
The 102" would be a 1/4 wavelength? Would I be able to use something like this, and tune it, or am I wasting my money?
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by NT2C » Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:53 am

KentsOkay wrote: The 102" would be a 1/4 wavelength? Would I be able to use something like this, and tune it, or am I wasting my money?
That's a mag mount. Not a viable choice for use on a 'vette.
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by KentsOkay » Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:32 pm

Yeah I see it's a mag mount, but for $15 I'm pretty sure I can convince it to work. I'm starting with a free radio here, cut me some slack :crazy:

My amp is hooked up with a 4 gauge battery ground, is this a viable option to ground the antenna, or would I be introducing interference in my audio/radio?
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by NT2C » Wed Mar 26, 2014 4:47 pm

KentsOkay wrote:Yeah I see it's a mag mount, but for $15 I'm pretty sure I can convince it to work. I'm starting with a free radio here, cut me some slack :crazy:

My amp is hooked up with a 4 gauge battery ground, is this a viable option to ground the antenna, or would I be introducing interference in my audio/radio?
Ummm, no, you won't "convince" it to work because you're missing half the antenna system using that, namely the metal ground plane the car body would normally supply.

As for cutting you some slack, sure, we can do that, but the laws of physics aren't going to, so which would you rather have, us bullshitting you and telling you to go ahead and try it, or factual and truthful advice based on science and real world experience? Personally, I'd hate to see you waste your money and blow up the rig, but it's your choice.
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by BigDaddyTX » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:00 pm

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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by KentsOkay » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:04 pm

Just did some reading, and I understand why it won't work, I thought it was simply a mounting issue. If I understand correctly, most marine antennas are NGP, so I should be looking at a marine antenna? Because I'd prefer not to spend $150 on an antenna at this time. $50-60 for a gadget sounds good to me.
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by KentsOkay » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:21 pm

And I did some more reading, looks like NGP stuff is only for NGP radios. Got dayum they are making this hard!
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by NT2C » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:25 pm

KentsOkay wrote:Just did some reading, and I understand why it won't work, I thought it was simply a mounting issue. If I understand correctly, most marine antennas are NGP, so I should be looking at a marine antenna? Because I'd prefer not to spend $150 on an antenna at this time. $50-60 for a gadget sounds good to me.
Okay, that was the step you needed to take (reading up on the science behind it) and which I was going to suggest and provide some links for in my next post. Yes, a marine "no ground plane" antenna would be a great choice, but don't limit yourself to just that word "marine". It tends to jack prices by a couple hundred percent. (Example, the "marine" starter for my boat motor was about $450, while the identical starter for a motorcycle was $90) Look for antennas specifically for fiberglass vehicles, such as your 'vette, motor homes and campers, and yes, boats. That will broaden your choices.

One piece of real world advice I'll give you though. The single biggest factor in how far your signal will reach, and how well you'll be able to receive is the antenna, and things drop off pretty quick when you skimp. That doesn't mean you need to break the bank and spend hundreds on an antenna, but it does mean that a $15 mag mount is going to work just marginally better than a damp string flung over the trunk.
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by NT2C » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:26 pm

KentsOkay wrote:And I did some more reading, looks like NGP stuff is only for NGP radios. Got dayum they are making this hard!
Say what? Link please...
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by KentsOkay » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:38 pm

KJ4VOV wrote:
KentsOkay wrote:And I did some more reading, looks like NGP stuff is only for NGP radios. Got dayum they are making this hard!
Say what? Link please...
It was on the internet, it must be true!
http://www.cbtricks.com/members/toban/ground.htm

Engine block is aluminum, but my frame is still steel, I can always ground there.
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by NT2C » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:38 pm

KentsOkay wrote:
KJ4VOV wrote:
KentsOkay wrote:And I did some more reading, looks like NGP stuff is only for NGP radios. Got dayum they are making this hard!
Say what? Link please...
It was on the internet, it must be true!
http://www.cbtricks.com/members/toban/ground.htm

Engine block is aluminum, but my frame is still steel, I can always ground there.
Okay, I'm not seeing where they talk about an NGP specific radio, and that's what threw me. An NGP antenna system can be used with any CB and I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out what an NGP radio would be. Also, you're confusing an electrical ground with an RF ground, and they are not the same thing.
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by angelofwar » Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:13 pm

I know a little bit about CB's/Radio and how all that stuff works...I'm thinking a "firestick" might be the way to go here...

If you didn't mount it vertically to the vehicle, couldn't you theoretically mount it INSIDE the vehicle horizontally (say the trunk), as long as it was grounded??? What about a coaxial antenna??? These are used mostly for base stations, but you get better reception, since your covering more of the wave. I have an 18' (iirc) coaxial antenna for my man cave CB...have installed it yet, just trying to find the right place.
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by NT2C » Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:51 pm

angelofwar wrote:I know a little bit about CB's/Radio and how all that stuff works...I'm thinking a "firestick" might be the way to go here...

If you didn't mount it vertically to the vehicle, couldn't you theoretically mount it INSIDE the vehicle horizontally (say the trunk), as long as it was grounded??? What about a coaxial antenna??? These are used mostly for base stations, but you get better reception, since your covering more of the wave. I have an 18' (iirc) coaxial antenna for my man cave CB...have installed it yet, just trying to find the right place.
Switching to horizontal polarization is going to result in an approximate 30 dB signal strength loss, mounting it inside the vehicle is going to further degrade the signal and do bad things to the SWR, and lack of a counterpoise is just going to be the final nail in the coffin. If the radio somehow manages to handle all that reflected energy without blowing the PA (really, really doubtful) I'd be surprised if his signal makes it beyond the bumpers.
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by Tater Raider » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:38 am

Kent, here's an article on trying a DIY 3-way (AM, FM, and CB) antenna, which I think is kinda what you are really wanting. (link) If you go this route you'll end up with one antenna so that keeps it a low-profile mod. It's not going to look quite right because you want to mod a CB antenna and the CB performance will suffer but it's about the best compromise between having one and keeping the 'Vette looking like a 'Vette while still getting some performance.

Another route you could go is a glass mount antenna. (link) I think something like this will do the job but performance is going to suffer because short antennas work by fooling the system into thinking it's really a longer antenna and that one is a very short antenna.

You can also go with a retractable antenna if you did a base coil, but that is a bit of engineering that is beyond my capabilities at this time and performance is going to flat-out suck compared to the other two options.

If you don't give a tinker's damn about what the whole thing looks like and just want to be able to talk a ways then I stand by the 102" stainless steel whip - you just cannot beat a naturally resonant antenna for transmit performance; however, even I think that would look stupid enough to avoid putting one on my 'Vette (it's 8½' tall compared to the 'Vette's 4' tall for cryin' out loud).

The CB antenna has to be vertically mounted for all the reasons VOV said. If you mounted it horizontally you might as well just use a wire coat hanger for all the performance you're going to get out of it.

So you've got options.

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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by MaconCJ7 » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:45 am

Firestik offers an NGP antenna, and I think that would be your best option. Any truck stop will have SWR meters for sale. You can grab one for <$20. Tuning is necessary, but it's also a simple process.
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by KentsOkay » Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:53 pm

Allrighty, think Im going to go with a NGP Firestick designed for a motorcycle, and do something "fab"ulous to mount it in place of my dead AM FM motorized antenna:

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I've got a coupe, not a convertible, but placement is the same. How long do I want? My eye for beauty says 2ft, but that would barely clear the top of my roof. So 3ft? http://www.amazon.com/Firestik-LG3M2-W- ... B000X3D79K

I like the idea of using it for AM/FM. I haven't listened to the radio in ages but I'd rather have it than not.
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by NT2C » Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:59 pm

KentsOkay wrote:Allrighty, think Im going to go with a NGP Firestick designed for a motorcycle, and do something "fab"ulous to mount it in place of my dead AM FM motorized antenna:

Image

I've got a coupe, not a convertible, but placement is the same. How long do I want? My eye for beauty says 2ft, but that would barely clear the top of my roof. So 3ft? http://www.amazon.com/Firestik-LG3M2-W- ... B000X3D79K

I like the idea of using it for AM/FM. I haven't listened to the radio in ages but I'd rather have it than not.
When it comes to antennas, bigger is almost always better.
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Re: Some basic CB help

Post by Tater Raider » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:57 am

KJ4VOV wrote:When it comes to antennas, bigger is almost always better.
This.

I'd go with the 3' and put a tunable splitter in the system to go ahead and hook the AM/FM radio up anyways because in a disaster you'll want news access.

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