Thursday, March 5, 2015

Installing the CB

Knowing that I plan to be in situations where various methods of communication will change with context, I decided to research, purchase and install a CB solution. I grew up around CBs while hunting, trapping and farming with family and so had a head start, but needed to refresh myself on options. Turns out, as usual, there are more options out there than anticipated and I actually had to do some research.

For an antennae, I looked at long and short, fiberglass and steel/aluminum, singles and duals, installation on front, rear or sides of the vehicle, as well as, mounts and wiring choices. With a whip, it will take a beating I hear. With fiberglass, it will have better reception/transmission ability. With longs, more range; shorts, obviously shorter range. Candidly, since all of my CB experience was vicariously through family when I was younger, I eventually decided on something that seemed logical until I can prove or disprove it as logical. I chose the 5ft Firestick with a heavy-duty spring and quick-disconnect to stow when not in use and sourced it from Right Channel Radios.

I read that length gives distance and fiberglass gives better communication quality. I'll know if that's true or not through time, assuming my implementation of the idea is pure and correct and thereby not giving a false positive. I also knew that I'd likely be travelling alone more than with others, so went with a 5ft. However, after some thought, given then quick-disconnect option, I could also get a shorty for when I'm traveling with others when distance isn't as important.

As for the CB, there were options. However, the requirements I had included:

  • being simple as I don't need (or think I need) bells, whistles, turnstyles and roundabouts
  • being reliable with a good reputation through years of experience
  • being stowable (I want it when I want it, and don't when I don't)

I ended up choosing a Cobra 75 WX ST SoundTracker, an SWR meter (for tuning it) and some coax cable with a firestick mount ring for the job. All also sourced from Right Channel Radios.

I installed the antennae on the back spare time mount the first time. It rubbed the paint off the spare-tire holder and started wearing into the antennae insulation. Stupid user trick I suppose. So I moved the antennae to the front bumper. And now my family feels it in the way of their forward field of view. So, after I have more of the kit together and I see how things are coming together, I'll let the new location reveal itself to me along the way (knowing that this will mean I either move the coax or install another line).

The first time I ran the coax through a fresh drill-hole in the back of the truck, up the side of the truck, under the floor/door rails and to the front dashboard. This is really because I didn't yet have an opinion about where I wanted things. The second time, I ran the coax through the engine box through an existing firewall hole on the passenger side, underneath the dash, up the center console and into the main compartment. This then is where the handset is located. Stowed when not in use, accessible when needed.

After tuning it, it seems to work just fine. Other than explicitly following the directions to tune the antennae to the CB to the implementation itself, I don't have enough experience to understand the signal-to-noise ratio coupled with the enjoyment of squelching, listening and talking. Things are logical until they aren't. Academically I've done that which I believe I'm to do. Experientially, it may be an excellent kit choice and implementation, or I may shoot it off the truck like a clay pigeon. Unknown. I now feel and believe that running wire is a pain in the arse and I know that wasn't even a comparatively difficult or complex wiring run.

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