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  1. Default CB radios for the ill-informed...

    Hello everyone and thanks in advance for your help.

    I just turned 16 and recently bought a truck. My dad got me a CB for christmas and we're really not sure how helpful it is going to be. I don't want to listen to potty-mouths while I'm driving, and after reading this forum I am very optimistic about the experience. My dad was telling me about how my grandfather used to call for a base and then ask if they would phone someone for him. After telling me the stories we realized that cell phones had kind of overtaken the CB. I'm still going to use it and try to get my friends to buy one.

    Anyway, I got a Cobra 19 DX IV. The first thing I was wanting to know is if any one has any experience with this model. I think it should be alright for what I'm going to do, which pretty much just "copy the mail". I was kind of wondering what all of the knobs and adjustments on the other radios do. Do I need those? Do I want those?

    The main thing I need help with is getting an antenna. I already have a CB and as long as it works I'll be using that. I haven't really found out too much info on antennas tho. How tall will mine need to be? A huge tower really doesn't sound very attractive to me, and if I do say so myself, my truck is very nice looking.

    I hope this isn't too much information in one post. But I think I covered all the bases here.

    Thanks for any help on the subject(s),
    Kris...PS What about a handle? I was thinking maybe something along the lines of....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Tune the Antenna!

    Quote Originally Posted by Young Driving View Post
    I was kind of wondering what all of the knobs and adjustments on the other radios do. Do I need those? Do I want those?
    You don't really "need" any of those knobs -- but here is a great article by Chuck Kopelson that explains what those knobs do. We have other web resources about CB radios here.
    The main thing I need help with is getting an antenna.
    The most important thing about any antenna is getting it "tuned" to your transceiver. Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Go to your local CB shop, or truck stop, and have someone tune your transceiver (CB radio) to your antenna with a meter. I like the mid-range ($$) Wilson antennas. A good CB shop can tune your CB and antenna to your vehicle in about 30 minutes, and the cost should be around $35.00. (There are some changes I need to make this in article -- one of these days -- but this is provides a quick overview).
    PS: What about a handle? I was thinking maybe something along the lines of....
    Anything that is easy to understand on a radio works fine. My handle for years was "Silver Squid" -- these days I often answer to RoadTrip America...

    Have fun with your new CB!

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-27-2007 at 02:34 PM.

  3. #3
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default Motorists on the Airwaves!

    Hi Kris!

    I have a CB installed on my car, it's a small mini-mobile (basically, just a mic with all the components installed). I really enjoy it. If you don't want to hear potty-mouths, stay off 19 (at least in the Phoenix, Arizona area if you pass through). Some afternoons are good ol' trucker traffic and they have some nifty discussions, but other times we get a resident squatter that gets on there. I really like hearing that more motorists are getting back on the airwaves!

    I have mine installed with a straight-out-of-the-box magnet mount antenna, it has never been tuned specifically to my radio but it does decently enough. I'll invest in better equipment when I get a new car, but until then this works.

    And, like Mark said, handles aren't required, but I answer to either my GMRS Call Sign WQCL394 or "Cascadia".

    -Brad

  4. #4

    Default CB fun

    Kris-
    My son wanted a CB for Christmas a short while back, and we had some "teachable moments" running the power supply wires and antenna cable. I think two of the principal reasons he wanted it were 1) the 8' whip antenna looked cool on his vintage Chevy Suburban, and 2) the PA (public address) loudspeaker option. With the PA speaker mounted behind the grille, he could offer comments to anybody within earshot. Comments he's lucky never got him a knuckle sandwich, I suppose.

    Everything above is correct about the antenna tuning. You can even "trial and error" the tuning by adjusting the antenna's length by approximately 1/8" at a time. The last one I bought was a fiberglass shorty (approx 24") with a magnetic base. I found that 80 mph into a headwind was more than the base was capable of holding.

    To me, the primary uses of a CB are just listening in and passing the time on long trips and to become aware of traffic tie-ups, partucilarly involving accidents, up ahead. It's commonplace to hear chatter about a wreck ahead, get on the radio to the traffic going the other way (traffic which has just transited the wreck site), and find out to what milepost your lanes are backed up to. Then, a consult with your maps, GPS, or both, can route you around backups which might otherwise take hours to get through. My son and I avoided a 7 mile backup on I-40 during a cross country trip in October by doing this. It'd have taken us two hours, minimum, to get through it on the highway vs 15 minutes on the alternate route.

    Alas, some pottymouth is pretty standard on Channel 19, it seems. Sometimes it's unbearable, but more often not.

    Foy

  5. Default Thanks!

    Thanks for all the info. I am also probably going to buy a PA/horn for my truck too, so I can inform others of my opinions.

    As far as antennas go I am not sure if I want an 8' whip on top of my truck. What is the difference between the small 8''-24'' fiberglass and the 36''-72'' whip. Better reception/transmitting? I found a Wilson Little Will for about $25 and I found some fiberglass antennas for around $20 also. Is there any advantage to height/material? Or is just whatever looks good to you.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Spend $$ on an antenna

    Quote Originally Posted by Young Driving View Post
    What is the difference between the small 8''-24'' fiberglass and the 36''-72'' whip.
    Reality: The taller an antenna sticks above the ground plain (roof of truck or whatever mounted upon) the better performance. All antennas are built to get the best possible reception in as small a package as possible. Looks have almost (almost) no impact on the decision making -- For those CB applications where consistent, accurate communication is a priority, (like hauling over-sized loads) you will see 20-foot whips on the chase and lead vehicles -- UGLY -- but effective. Here is a good overview about how to choose antenna sizes-- these are based upon firestik antennas -- I have had mixed results -- but if it were me, I would forget the PA and get a good, high-performance antenna.

    Mark

  7. #7

    Default Roger that

    Mark is, of course, exactly right about antennae. CB is a "line of sight" phenomenon (excepting for atmospheric "skip") so antenna height above ground is the fundamental element of performance.

    The place to dedicate funds in the CB world is an antenna and the tuning of same.

    The 8' whips, while cool looking, are a royal pain in the neck. Drive-throughs become far too exciting when you've fogotten about the whip, as do parking decks. They'll usually end up badly and mortally kinked at the top end by catching low overhanging branches, too. Not too practical for urban/suburban use.

    Foy

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