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PorAgent

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Sep 19, 2011
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Hello all. I had a family member recently pass away, and while going through some boxes, came across a CB and antenna, so I thought I'd set it up in my car to see if it worked. The CB is a Radio Shack TRC-504, with a magnetic mount antenna. I travel alot for work, and am always concerned about traffic conditions, speed traps and the like.

I installed it, and it receives very well. However, my problem (I think) is transmitting. I keep calling for radio checks on channel 19 when I'm near truckers, and they either ignore me or can't hear me. I did have some success the other day, however. I saw a state cop with a "customer" on the side of the highway, and decided to tell some truckers down the road about it. I finally got a response, albeit one I wasn't happy with; "WOW, That sounded like crap". I wasn't super happy with that response, so I called back "My radio or what?"....no response.

I'm wondering if I have a bad radio (I know RS is a crappy brand, but hey, it was free, and what I want to use it for, I'm not all that concerned about "reaching out there") I've heard that it's very bad to key up the mike without an antenna, and I'm wondering if that happened, hence it was in an old box. I'm not made of money, and my budget is EXTREMELY limited. I've been doing some research online, and am finding things like SWR meters and tuning antennas, but if I'm not transmitting, whats the point?

Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

rwier

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Hello all. ......I'm wondering if I have a bad radio ......................am finding things like SWR meters and tuning antennas................................?
Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Por,

Just my opinion, but I think that unless one is a radio pro, the radio brand makes little difference. Now the SWR meter and antenna length(tune) is where it's at.

The easiest way (for me) to achieve the correct tune (length) is with an antenna that comes with a threaded collar (tuneable antenna?) that fools the radio about the antennas length (I know that's not technically correct) as you turn the collar. The SWR meter tells you the best spot to stop turning and secure the collar in place. With a cheap (poor?) radio a half turn of the collar may make a difference in receive distance (from you) from 5 miles to 1 mile. Another full turn of the collar might make receiving your tx limited to a few hundred feet. You were lucky you heard anything from the trucker. By the time you questioned him, he was probably way out of your range.

With a tuneable antenna, on the roof (also important), tuned to perfection, I bet that bad radio gets out 5-9 miles. Still could be bad though, but there's no proof yet.

Rob
 

redneckcellphone

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Apr 25, 2009
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417
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southern comifornia
while im a cobra man myself rwier is right and since it was a free radio who cares what brand it is. since it powers get a swr meter and check to see what the swr( standing wave ratio) is.
 

LtDoc

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Dec 4, 2006
Messages
2,145
Location
Oklahoma
One problem a lot of people have is the "all knobs to the max" thingy. Excepy in very rare instances, that's just not needed, and can make the radio sound like 'crap'. Another common misconception is that an antenna comes already tuned for the particular circumstances the user puts it in. No manufacturer can pre-tune an antenna for all circumstances. At least check it!
From there, it's a matter of what was done to that radio before you got it. I won't even guess about that.
Good luck.
- 'Doc
 

PorAgent

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Will the "Techies" at say Radio Shack have one i could borrow for like 5 minutes? I hate to spend 40 bucks one one I'm probably only going to use once...

I don't know of anyone around me who would have one... :(
 

PorAgent

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Sep 19, 2011
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Well all, I've got some good news and some bad news. I was able to talk to someone through my work who has a base station for their work. I drove by the shop, and he said that he could hear me key up, but my words were all garbled, what he was hearing. So I'm thinking that the internals or the mike are smoked. Now for the good news: I was able to borrow an SWR meter from a friend. I did the test on the antenna and found that on CH 1, the SWR was 3.0, on 20 it was 1.5, and on 40 it was 1.2. To me, that means I need to shorten the antenna and retry, right?

I'm thinking that my belief that that TRC-504 is smoked, I want to look for another compact CB, I know the TRC-503 is out there, but I want the RF gain feature on the radio I buy; and what I want it for, 50 bucks is a little out of my budget for now. Maybe I'll look around at the local pawn shops and Craigslist to see if there's anything out there.

Thanks to all those who have looked into my little issue, and a big thanks for all the help.
 

LtDoc

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Messages
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From the SWR readings I think you are right, the antenna could be shortened a little (key word in that is "little'!). Small adjustments are better than larger ones. It also appears from those readings that the antenna is going to be fairly narrow banded. So, tuning on the favorite channel would be nice. SWR just isn't going to make any difference in what the radio/audio sounds like, so I would look at the radio or mic as the reason for that. Making adjustments with that isn't easy at all without the required equipment! If you don't have that required equipment, then be hesitant about taking the 'lid' off of that radio, there really isn't any user adjustable thingys in there. A little knowledge about radios is a very dangerous thing, especially if you want to adjust something. Best advice is just don't do that. Take it to someone who does have the required knowledge and equipment. A typical SWR/watt meter is no help at all in that regard.
As far as what to buy, considering what you have now, a Wal-Mart $29.95 special would be better. Which isn't to say that's what I'd recommend you do.
Good luck.
- 'Doc
 

PorAgent

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Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
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Well all, I'm biting the bullet and buying a Uniden PRO 520XL. Should be here tomorrow. Some of you may be asking why I chose the 520 instead of the 510. My reason being, the RF Gain and ANL options. I'm going to have the radio plugged into the aux power pack in my car, and I can't stand the engine noise this creates.

Thanks to all who helped me understand some of this stuff, and a big thanks for all the suggestions!
 

KJ6VIP

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Oct 6, 2010
Messages
75
Location
Las Vegas, Nevada
I'm wondering if I have a bad radio (I know RS is a crappy brand

Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
First of all, just like the majority of store brand generic products purchased from your local grocer are actually in most cases produced and manufactured by the big name brands.

Radio Shack is no exception. Most Radio Shack branded products such as CB radios are actually manufactured by Uniden Corporation. Radio Shack Scanners are manufactured by Uniden Corporation and or GRE Corporation. Point being made here is that Radio Shack themselves don't manufacture products themselves. They buy them from other major manufacturers and simply stamp their name on it.

But let's get back to your specific question. Like others have stated here, indeed your antenna is a big deal and needs to be calibrated or matched to the operating frequencies of your radio.

Another issue to consider is the age of the radio in question. Certainly the radio could be out of tune. I've owned many mobile CB units back in the day such as the Cobra 148-GTL. Over time from use as well as driving, vibrations can cause the internal pots to get out of alignment, and dust buildup certainly is not good for electronics. A simple cleaning, and an adjustment of the pots can help improve performance.

Check your coax for possible corrosion and or crimping. These issues easily will prevent a proper SWR reading.

Overall however, there are many reasons for the issues one may experience. Without having the unit in hand to troubleshoot, we can only offer suggestions most common to help remedy, or exclude from a list of possible issues.

-Rylak
 

stryker1

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Joined
Oct 8, 2006
Messages
5
...on a side note, if your SWR is higher on channel 1 than it is on channel 40, you should lengthen your antenna, not shorten it.
 

KC9ICE

Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2009
Messages
20
Location
Washington, IL
...on a side note, if your SWR is higher on channel 1 than it is on channel 40, you should lengthen your antenna, not shorten it.
I'm glad I wasn't the only one who caught that, lol! Woulda sucked if the OP cut his antenna only to find his SWR got worse!
 
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