Without a doubt tuning your cb antenna is the most critical part of properly installing your cb radio gear. A CB radio has just 4 watts of power, so ensuring peak performance requires a properly tuned antenna. If your antenna is not tuned appropriately it will lead to poor performance including interference, dropped signals, and even damage to your radio.
What Does Tuning a CB Actually Mean?
Basically, tuning your CB radio antenna means making proper adjustments to the so it is the correct height to receive the best signal possible.
This level depends on a number of factors of which includes your particular vehible, the ground plane, and where it is mounted on your vehicle.
To accurately make adjustments you must first utilize a SWR meter to know how much to adjust your antenna.
When using a SWR meter, your goal is to get the lowest possible reading to register on the SWR meter. This is achieved through raising or lowering the height of your CB antenna. Adjustments should be made in small increments while watching the meter reading.
The height of your antenna must match the frequency of your radio which will provide the best possible cb radio performance.
What is an SWR Meter?
SWR is the abbreviation for Standing Wave Ratio.
An SWR meter is a critical tool for measuring your CB radios transmitting power and signal strength.
Proper antenna installation is an absolutely critical step to achieving optimal radio performance.
Whether you are installing a new CB radio, Marine radio, or a Ham Radio antenna setup requires your attention. A poorly placed and tuned antenna will severely diminish your radio performance. This means poor signal, more interference, and lowered range. An improperly installed antenna can also damage your radio. Not worth it!
Your SWR meter must be used with a short coax cable. The cable runs from your radio to your antenna. An SWR meter will not only tell you if you need to adjust your antenna height, it will also reveal if you have an issue with your ground, and if your antenna location can be improved.
Do not use your radio until you test your setup with an SWR meter!
Reading Your SWR Meter
So here is what you need to know when performing a test on your antenna with an SWR meter. Remember, you are looking for a low reading on the meter. An SWR meter reading ratio of 1.0 means that all the power from your radio is going to the antenna.
This is a good thing.
If you are getting a reading of 3.0 that indicates that only one third of your radio’s power is going to your antenna.
When the power is not going to the antenna it is being sent back to the radio, leading to damage and potential radio breakdown.
Only use your radio when the SWR meter reading is below 2.0
Now, SWR readings are channel dependent. So if you know your will only be using one channel and the SWR reading is good for that channel there is no need to adjust for unused channels.
How to Adjust Antenna Length
This largely depends on the cb radio antenna model that you have. If your antenna has an easy adjustment feature simply follow the manufacturer instructions to make needed height adjustments.
If your antenna does not have this feature, you will have to actually trim the wires inside the antenna. This is imperative to make small, .25″, adjustments between SWR meter readings.
If length must be added, increase the length of your coax cable or add to the antenna length with a spring. This takes a little patience and fine tuning but must be done to ensure proper performance and to avoid damaging your radio.
For more radio guides and tips read these articles
- Best Handheld CB Radio
- Best Long Range Walkie Talkie
- Best Ham Radio Transceiver
- Best Shortwave Radio
- How to Get a Ham Radio License
- Best Emergency Radio
- Best Portable Radio
- Top Rated BaoFeng Radio
Fred is the Ready Zeal owner and editor. He has been passionately pursuing all things emergency preparation since working alongside his grandfather as a boy growing up in the Midwest. When not working on the family homestead he can be found brewing coffee and reading a good book or backpacking in the wilderness. Contact Fred at [email protected]