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How to Install a CB Radio
Once you pick your radio, you will need to install it. This process is a little hard to describe, since most installations present unique obstacles and challenges. I will try to cover the basics here for you. The main points to consider are mounting the radio, mounting a microphone clip, connecting the power, and connecting the antenna.
Mounting the radio
Where and how you mount your radio will depend on what type of radio you have and the space available to mount it in.
All in handset
Since the controls and electronics for these radios are contained mostly in the handset, you only need to worry about mounting the remote connector box. This box is mounted with two screws. The best place is up under the dash in an out of the way spot. Remember to leave it accessible enough to connect the antenna cable.
Mobile CB radios
These radios vary in size and weight, so where you mount it will depend on which particular model you get and what vehicle you are mounting it in. If you're in a large open vehicle such as a freight truck or jeep, you will have plenty of room and options. Often the radio can be mounted under the dash or on a hump mount or bracket next to the drive seat. They can also be mounted overhead if the space is available. Just be sure you do not obstruct the driver or passengers' movement where ever you mount it. Smaller vehicles are a little more restricted when it comes to mounting a mobile cb radio. You may have to give up passenger space to get the radio somewhere you can reach it. Usually under the dash between the driver and front passenger is a good, unobtrusive spot. You definitely want to go with a smaller CB. It is also a good idea to just consider an all in the handset radio for a small car.
Handheld CB Radio
You don't really have to mount this type of radio. I only mention them because there are two mobile antennas options for handhelds. The first is available for most cb handheld radios. All the handhelds we carry today have removable BNC antennas. It is possible to remove this antenna and attach a cable running from an external mobile antenna outside the vehicle. This is a great solution for those who want a radio for the car and a handheld. The second is for specific models that come with mobile adapters. These attachments allow the handheld to be connected in a mobile system. This essentially turns the radio into an all in the handset setup.
Mounting the microphone clip
If you have a mobile or all in the handset CB Radio you are going to want to put the mic somewhere when you are not using it. Of course you can just let it sit loose on the seat or floorboard, but most will want to use the mic clip that comes with radio. Most radios come with a clip that mounts with two screws. If you want to avoid putting more holes in your vehicle, you can upgrade to an adhesive or magnetic microphone clip. If you want more holes, and a more sturdy mount, you can upgrade to a heavy duty microphone clip. Microphone clips are typically mounted within reach of the driver. Simply find a location that suites you and mount the clip. There is a button on the back of the cb microphone that will slip in the clip.
Connecting the power
CB radios mounted in vehicles work off of the vehicle's 12 volt electrical system. The only exception to this rule is handheld radios connected to a BNC antenna. There are two wires that come out of the back of the radio for power. Red is hot, black is ground. The red power line can be run directly from the battery or through the vehicles fuse panel. If you run a line directly from the battery, it is a good idea to use an in-line fuse. Most CB radios will pull 2AMP or less, so finding a spot in the fuse panel should not be a problem. Be sure to connect the black line to a good ground. Remember never to turn on the radio and especially DO NOT KEY A CB MICROPHONE WITHOUT THE ANTENNA CONNECTED. It will burn out the final and/or protection diode in the radio.
Connecting the antenna
Connecting the antenna is as easy as screwing the PL259 connector from the antenna cable onto the connector on the back of the radio. Getting the antenna cable to that point is a little more complicated. It is covered on our antenna installation page. Once the antenna is connected you will need to tune it
Some helpful tips
- Do not turn the radio on before the antenna is connected.
- Do not key the radio mic before the antenna is connected.
- You can test to see if the antenna is shorted with an Ohms meter. Just touch on lead to the center wire on the connector and another to the antenna mount. There should not be a circuit
- The best way to test the installation is to connect an SWR meter in the line. The meter will go all the way up if there is a short.