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Discussion Starter #1
I've never used a CB. Seems to be a requirement to run with some clubs, and probably something I should get anyway. What advice would you give to a completely CB ignorant person. What to look for, What to avoid, etc? There are always some on craigslist but I have no idea what I'm looking at.

I could google it but I'd like to hear first hand what people have learned over the years.

josh
 

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I use a cheap Walmart special cobra brand. $40 new. I would recommend a decent antenna, as that is the most important part. You could have a bad ass $400 cb reciever, but if you have the cheapest antenna out there, it would't matter. I recommend buying the $40 Cobra, or one comprable price on CL, and buying a good antenna. Don't buy the cheap antenna cable either. I did for my first one, and the connector at one tip broke off, and had to buy another one.
 

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During my CB info quest, folks mentioned having to tune antennas? I have no idea what that means but I agree with the above: a cheap antenna on an expensive CB will be worthless. Once upon a time I drove across the US with a Radio Shack CB but got an antenna from a truck stop. I could pull in people for a long ways off; I had no idea what I was doing, but I know it worked damn well. Now if I could find that damn antenna again... :(

>>Dan
 

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For wheeling you don't need anything special. We are usually close enough it doesn't matter. You want to get the antena tuned though so that it doesn't fuck up the cb regardless of how expensive it is.
 

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I'm going to avoid the typical "search" response (tho there is a ton of info here on this)

I don't agree with the cheap CB, but whatever. The posts above are correct, the antenna is the important part. You'll want an antenna that sits above your roof line at least 1/3 of it's height. Proper grounding of the antenna and radio is probably next most important. Next comes tuning (SWR Tuning).

I have an SWR tuner/meter built into my radio, so that makes it easy. I don't know anybody on the boards now that has a standalone SWR meter, but they aren't that expensive. Radio Shack specials do just fine.

Just make sure when you get the antenna, that it's tunable. There should be either a screw on the tip (like firestick and some wilson antennas) or the tip of the antenna can be adjusted with a set screw (the style where you pull out the last 8" or so, snip it and bolt it back together). I prefer the style with the screw on the tip.

And yeah, I realize how gay that last paragraph sounds.
 

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I don't agree with the cheap CB, but whatever.
I mainly say this because I consider my $40 wal-mart special to be a cheap CB. You can find cheaper out there, but the Cobra has all the channels you need, a decent squelch, and even has a PA output if you want one. Not bad for the price. I did pick up a nicer CB from the junk yard for $10 that I am going to try out. I need to get a new cable and antenna though. My cable I have is for dual antennas, which really doesn't do any good on a truck my size, and one of the ends is messed up. I should have mentioned something about the tuning of the antenna, but I kind-of realized that after the fact.
 

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yeah, there's arguments back and forth about cheap radios. It's not worth re-hashing. Cheap ones will work, but it's pretty damn handy to be able to adjust things like your rf/mic gain (which make a world of difference, but are the first things to go on the lower end models).

At the end of the day, no matter what kind of setup you have, you're only going to be able to talk for 100 yards or less on the trail, so big power, etc isn't going to get you anywhere. And if everybody you run with is running low end equipment, it really doesn't matter how shit-hot your setup is.

And I'm not even saying my setup was all that great, I'm just saying that it takes 2 well tuned systems to have a long distance conversation. If one sucks, it doesn't matter how great the other is.

Now.. where's the HAM freaks at to tell us how much better it is?
 

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Wish I knew more about HAM radio broadcasting. I know there are some nuts out there though!
 

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At the end of the day, no matter what kind of setup you have, you're only going to be able to talk for 100 yards or less on the trail, so big power, etc isn't going to get you anywhere. And if everybody you run with is running low end equipment, it really doesn't matter how shit-hot your setup is.

And I'm not even saying my setup was all that great, I'm just saying that it takes 2 well tuned systems to have a long distance conversation. If one sucks, it doesn't matter how great the other is.
Got stuck on OCG last weekend and it would've helped to be able to talk to everyone that was chillin at the trailhead. Unfortunately, we all didn't have shit-hot setups :/

I would look at the Cobra 75. I like mine and there's tons of people on the trails running them.
 

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I've got an SWR meter as well.

If you have extra antenna cable, how you deal with that is supposed to make a difference as well. From what I read when I was setting mine up, you should coil it loosley or do a loose figure-8 with it; don't just ball it up and tie it off.

I'd recommend pulling a dedicated power feed from your battery to avoid electrical noise you'll find with most existing circuts. If you don't have/want to set up a second fuse panel, you can just use an inline fuse (that's what I did; haven't had any problems with it).
 

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I bought a uniden pro 520xl at the radio service center. Spent a little more cash there for it, but it's a good setup. Not sure what brand antenae I have. Might be a Wilson, but the guy there said it's a "base load" antenae and doesn't need to be tuned.:dunno: Never had any problems with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Wow great response and good suggestions, thanks. Thanks Doug for not flaming me to depths of "do a search" hell. I'll take someone up on the tuning when I get to that point.

I had no idea setting up a radio was so sensitive. I'll definitely start looking at antennas. I'll probably mount to the rear tire carrier when I get it sorted out and I like the idea of a dedicated feed. Would running it from a 2nd panel with 4-6 aux lights cause interference (besides being CB-tarded I'm also very electri-tarded)... I have some lights to hook up and want to run a separate switch for a rear cargo light.
 

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I didn't mean you shouldn't search :D

seriously, there is alot of good discussions in threads from the past.

paste this into your google:
site:www.tacomaterritory.com "Colorado Chapter" CB

(by the way, that's the best/easiest way i've found to search our board. The built in search sucks.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Doug, your cynical nature is growing on me.

Yeah the local search doesn't work. I have been looking at a lot of other stuff since I started this thread- there are only 249,000 relevant results on Google to "cb radio basics"... I'll be well versed in radios one of these days.
 

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I also have a standalone tuner though it's only the very basic Radio Shack one. The lower end Cobras (box or 'all-in-the-mike') are very popular and work well as are the basic Unidens. I've run the Uniden 520XL forever, and it gets the job done. As already mentioned, the antenna set up matters a lot more than the radio, and there are a few different types to watch for and determine what you need - top-load, base-load, NGP (no ground plane), whips, coils, permanent mounts vs magnetics. Cabling is also a key part of that. I always found Firestik's website to be a good source of basic info, though watch for things you might need to take with a grain of salt - it's a manufacturer website after all. I think most of what you'll find if you search the forums will be mounting locations for the radio and antenna and how/where to do the wiring on specific models.
 
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