How to Install a CB Antenna
This is a very general guide on how to install a CB antenna. There are many factors that will affect your specific installation. They can't all be covered in one article. The basic steps for every installation are the same, however, and we will outline them here.
Choose a location
This should be done before you ever purchase an antenna. The equipment you need is dictated by where you intend to install the antenna. A magnet mount, base loaded antenna is going to do you no good if you decide you want to install the antenna on your bumper. Here are some tips for location:
- The best place for your antenna is the center of your roof, where you will have the greatest ground plane coverage
- When you install a CB antenna on the fender, bumper, or anywhere else around the edge of your vehicle, you will have a weaker signal going away from the vehicle. For instance, if you install it on the front, driver's side fender you will have a weaker signal out to the front left of the vehicle.
- You need to have the coil for a CB antenna above the roof line of the vehicle.
- You want your antenna to be as tall as possible without smacking over passes or other obstacles.
Install your mount
This process can be anywhere from very simple to very complicated. A magnetic mount just sets on the roof. A door jamb mount requires measuring and drilling and adjustments to get the antenna vertical. Follow the instructions for installing your mount as closely as possible (if it came with any).
Also, make sure that you have all of the proper components to attach your antenna mount to the coax. For example, some mounts come with a stud that will require the ring terminal connector on your coax while others will require a PL259 connector on your coax. Another option might be the FireRing. See an example of each here!
Firestik offers some great pictures showing proper FireRing installation with regards to the antenna stud and mount.
Shoot us an email if you are unclear about anything.
Run the cable
If you have ever installed stereo speakers for your vehicle, you will be familiar with this step. You want to get the cable from your CB antenna to the CB radio with as little of it showing as possible. There are tons of tips and tricks for running cable through a vehicle online. My advice is to look for information on running speaker wire. Car stereo installers are wizards when it comes to this stuff. Here are some tips from our experience:
- Get a cable with a removable PL259 if possible. Running the coax without that big connector on it is much easier
- Figure out a path that will leave you with a little slack as possible.
- Avoid alternators or other things that will create noise in the line
- Don't shorten the coax.
Tune the Antenna
Tune the antenna. Always tune your CB Antenna. Every time you move it. Every time you add a spring or quick disconnect. Every time you modify your vehicle with a large metal component. You can find a link to an article on CB antenna tuning here.
You will need an SWR meter to do this. It is essential in getting the best performance out of your setup. Some radios have the meter on the radio. Many do not. If you need an SWR Meter, you can find it here!
Bonus: Installing a CB Antenna on a Honda Civic
One of our brilliant customers found a unique way to mount a 2 ft Firestik on his Honda Civic. The customer had originally purchased an MK748R trunk lip mount, but didn't like the look of it. Rather than sticking with the mount, he drilled a hole in the trunk and mounted the CB antenna with a Firestik K4 stud directly to the lid. The result looks pretty good.
From looking at the pictures above, and talking to the customer, it looks like he found a place to drill a 3/4" hole where he could access the underside of the trunk lid. To get at it with a wrench, he ended up cutting the metal back a bit. A Firestik coax with a Fire Ring connector was used to connect the antenna to the radio.
"The hardest part was finding a good spot to drill the hole in the trunk. I had to cut some metal with dikes and peel it back. I used two wrenches to tighten the mount down. It looks like any GPS antenna, just taller." - Customer