How to Set up a CB Radio in a Car?

How to Set up a CB Radio in a Car?

A CB radio is a very handy tool for two-way communication over short distances. While many people set up their radio in their house, it is much more convenient to set it up in your car.

This will allow you to communicate with many different people in many different areas, and it might even come in very handy in any emergency.

So, if you want to cash in on this advantage and set up your CB radio in your car, you have come to the right place because we will show you how you can set up your CB radio in your car.

Required Materials To Set up a CB Radio in a Car

Before we move on to the procedure, you must ensure you have all the necessary materials for setting up the radio.

The materials you will need are:

The Methods of Setting up the CB Radio 

It doesn’t matter if you have the best CB radio for a car if you don’t know how to install it. So, let’s move on to the guide now. Pay attention to the steps and choose their specifications according to your preferences.

Step 1: Mount the Radio

Now that we know all the necessary hardware required for the setup, it is time to move on to the actual setup.

First, you must find a good place to mount the radio. Realistically, there are multiple places where you can mount your radio, and it all depends on your convenience.

But we would recommend placing the radio somewhere where it is easy to reach. So, your best option would be to place it on the dashboard.

Step 2: Set It Up Properly

Now that you have decided where you want to place the radio, it is time to learn how to do it. We are going to show you two different methods of mounting your radio. You need to decide which one applies to you, depending on your vehicle and its dashboard.

The Double Din Set up 

This is the most common CB radio setup. Here, you can connect your single-din CB radio and your car radio in a double-din set up.

For this, it is better to keep a separate double din installation kit, but you can also work with any normal installation kit. Follow the directions given below.

CB-Radio-in-a-Car

First of all, test fit the adapter plates in the dashboard and determine how much of it needs to be trimmed. Then, trim the adapter plate depending on the shape and size of your dashboard. After that, mount your radio in the dashboard. And that is how you mount the radio in a double din setup.

An Alternative All-in-One Setup

This type of setup is quite uncommon but handy nonetheless. This is uncommon because it doesn’t work on every radio. In fact, it only works on one particular type: the all-in-one mini CB radio.

All you need for this setup is the radio, an antenna, and some cables to connect the two. This is perfect for vehicles with a more modern dashboard where the double din mount either doesn’t work or is very difficult to set up.

So, if by any chance you haven’t purchased a radio yet, while you are reading the article, you might want to reconsider your options and get an all-in-one type of radio instead. It will save you a ton of hassle and time.

Step 3: Mount the Antenna

Now that you know how to mount the radio, you can move on to the next step, setting up the antenna. This part can be considered even more crucial than the previous one because the overall quality of the sound you receive depends on your antenna and how it has been set up.

We will show you three different ways in which you can set up your antenna and tell you the pros and cons of each.

1. The Bumper Mount Way

These types of mounts are more common in mid-size trucks. For mounts like these, it is better to use a 9-foot steel antenna in the bumper of your vehicle.

Pros

  • Even though the 9-foot steel antenna looks very ugly, it works the best as it is a quarter-wave antenna. So, the sound quality will be best if you use this antenna. 
  • In any different setup, a 9-inch steel antenna can’t be used directly, and a loading coil is needed. This deteriorates the sound quality of your radio.
  • It also allows a direct connection through the metal of your bumper.

Cons

  • In this setup, the antenna is situated very low. For this reason, the radiation may be lopsided and uneven.
  • To set up this antenna, you have to make a hole in your bumper. So if you are someone who likes to protect the integrity of your car design, then this might not be for you.
  • Not very convenient for most vehicles.

2. The Trunk Mount Way

These types of mounts are more common in sedans. This requires a 32-36 inch antenna, which is mounted with the help of a magnet on the trunk of your car.

Pros

  • This type of setup is more convenient than a bumper mount.
  • This uses a magnet mount, so you do not have to drill any holes in your vehicle.

Cons

  • Like the bumper setup, it is also placed very low, and thus, it results in lopsided and uneven radiation.
  • It also doesn’t use a 9-inch long antenna, and so this type of set up has the weakest radiating power.

3. The Center Mount Way

This type of mount is the most common setup and can be used in almost all vehicles. Like the trunk mount, a 32-36-inch antenna is used, which is mounted with the help of a magnet on the center of the roof of your vehicle.

Pros

  • This type of setup is also very convenient.
  • Being a magnet mount, this doesn’t require you to drill any holes in your vehicle.
  • As the antenna is placed higher than the previous two types of setup, this gives much more even radiation.

Cons

  • The antenna is very small and is not as powerful as the 9-inch long antenna.
  • Using longer antennas in this setup is extremely inconvenient and can damage the roof of your vehicle by colliding with outside objects frequently.

Step 4: Bring It All Together

a-CB-Radio-in-a-Car

Lastly, you have to connect your radio and the antenna with the help of a coax cable, and then you are good to go.

FAQs

Why must fine-tune a Firestik antenna before using the CB radio?

Without tuning or with imperfect tuning, the antenna can lead to worse results than weak broadcast signals, even if you have the best CB radio antenna. It can even destroy the new CB radio you just got.

What tools are needed to start the process of fine-tuning a Firestik?

You will need a Jumper Lead, an SWR meter, and a pen and paper to record the readings.

What should be done if the reading on channel 40 is over the reading on channel 1?

If the reading on channel 40 is over the reading on channel 1, the antenna needs to be shortened.

What common issues might cause wrong readings while tuning a Firestik?

Common issues include poor grounds, short coax connectors, incorrectly installed mounted studs, etc. Some readings are high because of issues on the ground plane.

Is it necessary for the antenna mount to be grounded to the vehicle?

Yes, it is extremely important unless you use a no-ground plane system. The ungrounded mounts generally cause the reading to be high across all the channels.

Conclusion

And that is all how you can set up a CB radio in your vehicle. Choose any of the setup systems mentioned above by considering your ideal requirements and reap the full advantage of having a CB radio set up in your vehicle.