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Elements of a Successful Installation

Posted by Pat Haggerty updated

The best equipment in the world won’t perform well without a quality installation! That’s why we’ve compiled this list of critical installation tips to ensure you’re able to get everything working at peak potential. We recommend reading through this entire article before beginning your installation to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Tune Your Antenna

As you’re likely aware by now, tuning your antenna is a MUST if you want your CB installation to work correctly. As a Right Channel Radios customer, you have access to step-by-step video and written guides on how to do this -- make sure to use them!

Ground Your Antenna Mount

If you’re using a standard CB antenna (i.e., anything except a no-ground-plane ( NGP) kit), you’ll need to make sure your antenna mount is solidly grounded to the vehicle’s chassis. A bad ground will result in an un-tunable antenna and sky-high SWR levels.

To ensure a good ground, check that your mount has a direct metal-on-metal connection to your vehicle’s frame. Depending on the location of your mount, paint or powder coating can interfere with this connection. If this occurs, you’ll need to scrape a bit of the paint or powder coating off. You can also run a short grounding strap from the mount to a grounded part of the vehicle, but try to keep the strap as short as possible. If you’re able to properly tune your antenna, you almost certainly have a good ground, as it’s impossible to tune a non-grounded antenna.

Ensure Ample Antenna Height

For best antenna performance, try to get two-thirds of the antenna above the roof line of the vehicle. This will ensure you’re able to transmit and receive efficiently. At a minimum, you should always have the tip of the antenna above the roof line or you will likely encounter significant performance issues. Visit our How to Choose the Best CB Antenna article for more information.

Route and Drill After Tuning

If you’ll be drilling holes in your vehicle to install coax or bringing it into the cab via a difficult route, we recommend testing the SWR of the antenna before permanently installing the cable. With all the variables involved in an installation, there are occasionally spots on a vehicle where an antenna can’t be successfully tuned. If you run the coax through an open door to initially test SWR, you won’t have to worry about un-installing your carefully fed cable if the antenna isn't tunable in that location. Read more about How to Power Your CB Antenna.

Don’t Pinch the Coax

Because the coax carries the signal from your radio to your antenna, this cable is critically important to your system’s performance. As such, make sure your coax isn't overly crimped or impacted at any point. If you’ll be bringing the cable into the vehicle along a door frame, make sure there's extra space and/or a plush rubber gasket to cushion the cable from the door.

Store the Extra Coax Properly

If you end up with a lot of extra coax, you need to store it properly. Wrap it in a long and narrow shape, as you would an extension cord. We recommend using two zip ties at each end to keep the coax in place. Be careful NOT to wind the excess coax in a circular coil shape as this can cause RF (radio frequency) issues that will interfere with your signal.


Pat Haggerty

About the Author

As the owner and operator of Right Channel Radios, Pat Haggerty has been helping customers find the best radio solutions since 2008. He is highly knowledgeable in all mobile radio options and setups, including CB radios, GMRS radios, and HAM radios. His wide library of how-to and help articles is frequently referred to as one of the best resources for CB radio installations and technical support online. When he's not assisting radio enthusiasts online or on the phone, you can find Pat enjoying all that Montana's trails have to offer on his skis, mountain bike or Land Cruiser.

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