After setting up your CB radio with all of its parts and cables, you would think you are good to go. Unfortunately, your job is not done yet. It is absolutely necessary to fine-tune your Firestik antenna first before you start using the CB radio.
Without tuning or with imperfect tuning, the antenna can lead to getting you 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.
This is why we will tell you the proper steps of tuning a Firestik. It’s not very hard to do. You just need to follow the steps carefully and be open to repeated trials. First, all of your other equipment needs to be installed properly. With that aside, we can start the process. However, before that, you may want to read some cb radio reviews, to get the ideal radio for you.
Steps to Tuning a Firestik
You will need to gather the following additional tools before starting.
- A Jumper Lead.
- An SWR meter.
- Pen and paper to record the readings.
Once you have everything in your possession, you can start the process of fine-tuning your Firestik.
First, you have to find a perfect space to park the vehicle you have mounted your CB radio on. Choose a place where there are no tall buildings and trees within 10 – 15 meters.
Make sure no people are surrounding the vehicle, either. Stay inside the car with all the windows and doors closed to get a precise reading.
Next, connect the meter. Then, disconnect the cable situated on the back. Connect the end part to the meter in the antenna again. This should be marked at ANT or Antenna. Connect the radio with the Jumper Lead and the SWR meter labeled as XMIT or Transmitter.
You can now calculate the reading on different channels. Keep in mind to maintain the same distance from the microphone to the meter for each of the tests.
Turn the switch to FWD.
Turn the radio on and set it to channel 1.
Press the microphone button while still holding it. This is called Keying the microphone.
Use the knob to reach the ADJUST or SET button. The needle should reach the setting positioned in the end.
Keep the microphone in the keying position and take the switch to the SWR or REF button.
Record the reading on the meter. You can let go of the transmit key now.
Do the same thing on channel 40. Repeat the steps from 4 to 9.
We need to have the readings close to each other while tuning the Firestik. A ratio of 1:5:1 or lower is good enough for the broadcast signal. There are two things you need to understand before you adjust the Firestik:
- If the reading on channel 40 is over the reading on channel 1, the antenna needs to be shortened.
- For the opposite scenario, the antenna needs to be lengthened.
What to Do in Such Cases?
Here are things you can do:
If the Antenna Needs to Be Shortened
Make sure to reduce the physical length of the Firestik. Consult the manufacturer’s manual to completely understand the process of shortening the length. After doing so, repeat the steps mentioned above and get readings to see the progress. You might not get it done at once but keep at it.
If the Antenna Needs to Be Lengthened
You will need to increase the length of the Firestik. This is mostly during cases when there is no ground plane. You can add length in the antenna by taking it to the manufacturer.
Dual Antenna Tuning
If you are working with dual antennas, you are better off tuning both at the same time for the same amount. While starting, put the screw either all the way in or out so that the antennas have similar lengths.
Based on what you get from the readings later, you can either shorten or lengthened both the antennas. Of course, the length needs to be the same.
You can remeasure the reading and continue to readjust as you would in the case of a single antenna. Make sure you make incremental changes to the antennas as close as possible to each other.
If your readings for both channels are below 2.0, it means it is safe to use the radio. But you might not get the best transmission signals. If readings are above 3.0, stop using the radio. You need to adjust it before starting to use it again.
Common Issues for Getting Wrong Readings
There are several common issues that might cause wrong readings. Issues include poor grounds, short in coax connectors, incorrectly installed mounted stud, etc.
- Some readings are high because of issues on the ground plane. Attach ground straps to the frame, trunk, and door.
- To put it simply, if anything can be grounded, get it grounded.
- To put it simply, if anything can be grounded, get it grounded. Make sure that the mount is grounded properly. Don’t ground parts to places of the car which are not properly grounded either. Parts of your car with Nylon or plastic bushing separating the chassis is most likely not grounded.
- Chassis paint might cause hindrance sometimes. Use a voltage meter to check the suspicious parts of the ground.
- The coax connectors might get short, and in that case, there will be abnormally high readings. Severe bands or pinches are issues that you can easily find with the eyes. If there is an internal problem, however, then you will need to replace the cable altogether.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. My radio antenna is pre-tuned; do I still have to tune it?
Yes. It might come pre-tuned, but you need to tune your Firestik according to the vehicle you have. The pre-tuning is done within a bench to make sure it stays within the legal frequencies set by the Government.
This is going to change when you mount it on the vehicle based on the surrounding factors. Check your antenna when you are changing places on the vehicle.
2. Does the length of the cable matter?
Yes, especially when it comes to high-performance antennas. The best length is 18 feet for all your CB installs.
3. What should I do with my leftover coax from the radio to the antenna?
First of all, avoid rolling it into a coil if you don’t want to make it into an RF jam. Let it sit under the car seat in a loose manner or in a headline. If that is not an option, you can cover the cable into a yarn type of skein of around 12 to 16 inches. In the corner, fix a wire tie. Then tuck it either under your seat or dash.
4. What are some common errors while installing CB?
The most common ones are: not tuning the antenna to the vehicle, choose mounting locations based on appearance and convenience rather than effectiveness, worn out, low quality, wrong length of the coax cable, etc.
5. What kind of antennas are better?
Top loaded > Center loaded > Base loaded antennas.
Also, as a general rule of thumb, the taller the antenna, the better it will perform.
6. Is it really necessary for the antenna mount to be grounded to the vehicle?
Yes. If you are using a no-ground plane system, then it is okay to use it, but otherwise, it is extremely important. The ungrounded mounts generally cause the reading to be high across all the channels.
Tune a Firestik for the Best Results!
Tuning a Firestik is important to get the best broadcast signals. It is also essential not to damage your radio device. Take the time to tune your antenna through several readings, and you should be good to go. It might indeed feel a little frustrating to get done, but a little patience will get you amazing signals.