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Reception Help

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tymiller

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Sep 20, 2011
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2
Ok, so I just bought a Cobra HHROADTRIP. I know, its a cheap handheld radio, but this is my first CB.

I am using the little magnet mount antenna that came with it, but the reception just plain out sucks. DO you think its the radio or antenna that is causing me to have bad reception?

I have been looking at getting another antenna, possibly a wilson little wil, but not sure. I have a 09 chevy tahoe, and do not want something too high and tacky. Also I need it to be magnet mounted, so ic an remove it easily. The cobra radio takes bnc antenna connection. I guess if i needed to, get a pl-259 to bnc adapter?

Thanks,
 

dnlbrrg

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2011
Messages
38
Location
Grand Rapids, MI
Well, your reception depends on a number of things.

First, is the a way to calibrate your antenna? Check your user manual to see if they have instructions on doing this, it is normally very easy. A calibrated radio/antenna makes a big difference. I am fairly new to the CB thing too so it's fresh in my mind how drastically improved reception became once I calibrated the radio.

I don't know to what degree weather conditions affect CB radio, but I do know they do. I see more drastic weather effects on shortwave reception but I have also seen a variance with the CB. After you calibrate your radio keep trying and see what you get day by day.

I'd imagine the magnetic antenna that came with your radio is fairly short and mounted inside your car. If that's the case, can you mount the antenna outside?

That aside, handheld radios generally have a much shorter range than mobile or base units. I know you want to keep it simple and don't want to make your car look like an antenna farm or an electronics shop, I wanted that too. There are a few mobile units out there that are fairly small, are easy to install, easily removable, and get decent reception. There are also many choices of mag mount antennae, check out your local radio shack or try asking truckers (over the radio if you can) about a local CB shop, most locals will know of one.

With my mobile set up I generally get 5-10 miles, occassionally I get about 20 miles with clear reception and all I have is a simple mobile unit and a 30 dollar mag mount antenna from radioshack. I could probably upgrade my antenna, buy a couple of accessories, and get more range consistently, but that's a work in progress.

Hope this helps.
 

tymiller

Newbie
Joined
Sep 20, 2011
Messages
2
Thanks for the advice!

I did not see anything in the manual about calibration. Not sure if you can calibrate a handheld, or this handheld anyways.

Yes, the antenna is probably only 12" long. It is on my roof though.

I guess I was wondering, should I even bother with getting another antenna, or am I screwed, since the radio is a handheld.
 

SmitHans

Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2009
Messages
109
Location
Arizona, USA/Sonora, MEX
Thanks for the advice!

I did not see anything in the manual about calibration. Not sure if you can calibrate a handheld, or this handheld anyways.

Yes, the antenna is probably only 12" long. It is on my roof though.

I guess I was wondering, should I even bother with getting another antenna, or am I screwed, since the radio is a handheld.
You need a better antenna. The one that comes with that radio is not designed for distance/range. It is designed to get your signal out about 6 car lengths.

Get a real CB antenna, either metal or fiberglass ( I prefer the metal ones myself). I don't know what "high and tacky" means in your post, but any decent CB antenna is going to have to be several feet long. Which also means it had better have a good magnet if that is the way you want to go.

I don't know what your expectations are, but 3-5 miles reliable tx/rx range with a stock radio at 4 watts is what you should expect. Anything more is gravy!
 

dnlbrrg

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2011
Messages
38
Location
Grand Rapids, MI
You need a better antenna. The one that comes with that radio is not designed for distance/range. It is designed to get your signal out about 6 car lengths.

Get a real CB antenna, either metal or fiberglass ( I prefer the metal ones myself). I don't know what "high and tacky" means in your post, but any decent CB antenna is going to have to be several feet long. Which also means it had better have a good magnet if that is the way you want to go.

I don't know what your expectations are, but 3-5 miles reliable tx/rx range with a stock radio at 4 watts is what you should expect. Anything more is gravy!
Well, like he said.
Regardless of the look you are looking for, you are going to need a longer antenna, there is no getting around that. The antenna is just as important as the radio. I prefer the metal ones as well, but there is nothing wrong with the fiber glass ones.

3-5 mile range seems a bit on the conservative side, I get at least 5 consistently and often about 20. If you are referring to a hand held, then yes, that's more like it, on the generous side.

To answer your question: A good antenna will make a world of difference even with a hand held. you don't have to spend an arm and a leg on a decent antenna so it's work trying before you decide if you are satisfied with your range or if you would like a mobile unit. Still, a mobile unit will give you more range but you still need the antenna.

My advice: buy the antenna first, get a decent one. Test it out with your hand held and if you are satisfied then you are done. IF you are not then go for a mobile unit and you'll already have the antenna anyway.
 

LtDoc

Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2006
Messages
2,145
Location
Oklahoma
First, I'm not familiar with your radio or antenna. I can say that the antenna is probably the limiting factor as things are now. The hand-held isn't the best thing in the world, but it should do better than what you're seeing.
Shortening antennas means shortening their abilities. The shorter they are the worse their performance, or range. Length isn't all that important for fixed antennas, but for mobile ones the usable lengths are certainly a factor! The most typical length for a mobile antenna is a 1/4 wave length at the frequency of use. For CB, that's about 9 feet. That's not the most convenient sort of length in the world, but it gives you a basis for comparison. So the question is just how long of an antenna can you 'live' with? If you think of it in terms of percentages, then 50% of that 9 feet means about 50% of the performance (that's not really true, but it does get 'close'). That 50%, about 4 feet give or take a little, is about typical for mobile CB antennas.
There are other factors that come into play, but length is probably one of the first that people are aware of, expect to hit things. (The people at MacDonalds will know it's you coming through before they aver see you! :))
- 'Doc
 

dnlbrrg

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2011
Messages
38
Location
Grand Rapids, MI
I've never had a 9' antenna, but your post left me with some temptation.

I'm not concerned with looks, I'm just concerned about clearance issues considering it would be mounted on top of an explorer.
 

KC4RAF

Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2006
Messages
1,594
Location
Davenport,Fl.- home to me and the gators and the s
What others posted, but...

you'll need an SWR meter to match the new antenna to the radio. Radio Shack has the meter, but in my book priced too high. Maybe a friend has one you can borrow.
I have a handheld RS cb that I've had for years, and it only got about 5 miles even with a good antenna, but it served it's purpose well when needed. Good luck with your radio and if you need more info, you'll find it here with all the good folks who do know radios! (excluding myself, because some think I'm a sexual Intellectual know it all! lol)
 

LtDoc

Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2006
Messages
2,145
Location
Oklahoma
While your thinking about it, here are a couple things to keep in mind. Antennas would rather be above metal than beside metal. And they don't like being under metal at all. And to some ridiculous extent, longer is usually better. There are limits and variations with all of that, and sometimes you have to compromise to have anything at all. 'Perfect' systems are just that, more a goal than something to expect. If it works for you, then that's sort of 'perfect' for your situation, right? Don't get too caught up in the 'advertisements', that kind of information is more for selling things than for "taking to the bank", sort of.
Not much help, huh? Oh well, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it... ;)
- 'Doc
 
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