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Helping CB friend

RFI-EMI-GUY

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The finals can always be replaced with something better. Very easily done. I'm not sure what they are doing to produce the 32W (which I'm sure is peak), but if that's the case, no amp needed, and a couple more S-units on the receive end. If it were me, I would certainly try it for $25.
While perhaps, I might tweak my radio, (using my RF lab gear) but I certainly won't trust some random person at a truck stop.

A better solution:

 

alcahuete

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While perhaps, I might tweak my radio, (using my RF lab gear) but I certainly won't trust some random person at a truck stop.

A better solution:

I don't think anyone suggested that a random guy a truck stop do it. Any of the reputable shops online (from what I have seen) have plenty of test equipment.
 

Ensnared

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Waco, Texas
FM Mode is used in the UK and other European countries. It provides better squelch response and noise rejection. The FCC approved FM last year, finally. If I had to choose between AM radio and AM/FM I would choose the latter. But I prefer SSB to FM if I had to make that choice.
Do you mean that I could go to FM channel 19? If so, this would be a game-changer. During my quest for my friends radio, I started looking at President, but I found a Ranger replicant of the Cobra 29. However, I was very impressed with the President CBs, particularly The Thomas model. I would really like FM.

Here is something funny. I went to the CB shop located near Ross, Texas to get my Cobra 25 fixed. I generally check my equipment needing repair before I drive out of town. It is not that far from Waco, but IH35 is a mess with the new construction. There are frequent wrecks that can tie up traffic for a long time.

I adjusted my Cobra 25 and found out: a) my radio transmitted well; b) the RF gain was fully counterclockwise. When I turned it to the right, it starting singing.

I left my Cobra 29 there. I bought this radio across from the Flying J in Rolla for $35. It was peaked, tuned and set up for talk back. Turning the knobs sounded like the dirty pots in my Marshall JCM 900, model 4501.

I have read all of these wonderful posts. Thanks all.
 

slowmover

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Fort Worth
The FCC limits the amount of total power that a CB final amp can dissipate. In other words, it should burn out long before making 32W average power, unless we are talking SSB PEP, maybe that can be squeezed since 12W PEP is the SSB norm. But I would expect it will be quite distorted.

Personally I would keep the radio stock and buy an RM Italy amplifier and a CB bandpass filter. If the end user is going with a mag mount, they should stick with low power or there will be feedback and other nasties.

Antenna is key. The above going into it. (It’s my favored approach and it works very, very well. I can both hear, and get heard at good distance and am understood and understand with audio clarity

Larry’s CB in McKinney, TX is like Santa’s workshop: something for everyone.

Frankly, cigar lighter power, poor antenna and a radio, IMO, below the reasonable minimum (AM/SSB) can barely give hints as to what 11-Meter can do. It’ll come down to being close to a quality mobile rig while on the highway instead of RX far & near.

Compared to big trucks cars are really easy to get good performance given minimums: clean power, good antenna system and a quality radio.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Messages
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Do you mean that I could go to FM channel 19? If so, this would be a game-changer. During my quest for my friends radio, I started looking at President, but I found a Ranger replicant of the Cobra 29. However, I was very impressed with the President CBs, particularly The Thomas model. I would really like FM.

Here is something funny. I went to the CB shop located near Ross, Texas to get my Cobra 25 fixed. I generally check my equipment needing repair before I drive out of town. It is not that far from Waco, but IH35 is a mess with the new construction. There are frequent wrecks that can tie up traffic for a long time.

I adjusted my Cobra 25 and found out: a) my radio transmitted well; b) the RF gain was fully counterclockwise. When I turned it to the right, it starting singing.

I left my Cobra 29 there. I bought this radio across from the Flying J in Rolla for $35. It was peaked, tuned and set up for talk back. Turning the knobs sounded like the dirty pots in my Marshall JCM 900, model 4501.

I have read all of these wonderful posts. Thanks all.
You could operate FM on channel 19, but the truckers would be annoyed.

I once bought an ICOM IC-R71A HF receiver from a seller in my town. He told me he could never receive much so I offered a price subject to inspection. I had him bring it over, plugged in my antenna and sure enough, - nothing. He had the RF gain turned way down, squelch way tight and a few other setting were set off in deep space. In about a minute I had it playing like new. It was way more radio than the seller had skills to operate.
 

merlin

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Jul 3, 2003
Messages
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South East Idaho
Back in time, the General MC-11A was made for business 11 meters. It had a final that would do 30 watts without cutting the life of the final. For 'CB' they inserted a resistor to limit input power to 5 watts.
This spawned the modification to 'strap' that resistor. You could get 15 watts from a white face Johnson at the cost of replacing finals often.
Enter solid state: In 40 years working with radios, I only know of 'ONE' radio ever made with a 25 watt final. (SSB)
The Xtal XSSB-10. Had a boost converter you could mod to work on AM. WOW, 18 watts.
For a distant receiver, that meant being able to be heard in the noise rather than near lost.
Fast forward: The FCC mandates radio makers to limit power input to finals to 5 watts.
Good efficiency, that equates to 4 watts (or just under) for the carrier output or 11 watts PEP SSB.
You exceed this by 20%, now you have thermal runaway and a popped final.
Quick install and swap vehicles, a cigarette lighter socket for power and a decent magnet mount antenna will work as well as any hardwired/fixed install.
My magnet mount never shifted or folded at speeds of 90 MPH. That was with a Wilson 1000-M antenna.
(hard to find a better antenna)
Don't waste money on "Tweak-N-Peak" Nobody will know the difference. (unless you have a really sick radio)
Now with FM legal for US CB, you will find it better than AM, SSB will always be better yet.
As a former engineer for Pace CB radio and 50 years amateur, Marine, CB, and commercial radio, I think I can speak with a bit of authority.
Cheers
 

merlin

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Messages
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South East Idaho
The finals can always be replaced with something better. Very easily done. I'm not sure what they are doing to produce the 32W (which I'm sure is peak), but if that's the case, no amp needed, and a couple more S-units on the receive end. If it were me, I would certainly try it for $25.
Re-engineer the radio, yea, you could do that, but starting with a basement CB radio is such a waste.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Dec 22, 2013
Messages
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Mag Mounts...

There are many threads on RR started by newbie folks trying to tune VSWR for mag mount CB antennas, no ground plane Fire Sticks, pick up stake bed mounted Fire Sticks, etc. They are unstable due to poor ground plane return. It is not for the faint of heart. The permanent mount NMO-27 gets recommended because it is stable and repeatable. Sure if you have tuned a half dozen mag mounts and know the process, you can get it to work. But the transmission line returns a lot of the counterpoise current. It is inefficient and noisy and the VSWR dip will wander.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Dec 22, 2013
Messages
5,261
Re-engineer the radio, yea, you could do that, but starting with a basement CB radio is such a waste.
I gotta wonder about "peak and tweak" of brand new radios and manufacturers warranty. Hate to be the one sending a radio back for a new final that has matching coils stretched and resistors jumpered/missing.
 

K5TUE

DC to Daylight
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Dec 2, 2013
Messages
19
Location
Tulia
I have checked up IH27 from Lubbock to Amarillo. I cannot find a CB shop with the exception of Caprock Communications in Hobbs, NM. It sounds like they install CBs for truckers.

{snip}

Does anyone know of a CB shop in the Texas panhandle?
A professionally 'peaked and tuned' Cobra 25 will usually dead key about 6 watts (more or less) and forward swing 20-25 watts or so on modulation. When done properly the mic gain (dynamike) can still be used to adjust it down a bit if the user has a really loud voice or the vehicle is something like an open-top jeep which would cause a lot of background noise.

At any rate, I will PM a number to you for a VERY knowledgeable guy in Lubbock if you are still interested.
 
Last edited:

Ensnared

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Messages
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Back in time, the General MC-11A was made for business 11 meters. It had a final that would do 30 watts without cutting the life of the final. For 'CB' they inserted a resistor to limit input power to 5 watts.
This spawned the modification to 'strap' that resistor. You could get 15 watts from a white face Johnson at the cost of replacing finals often.
Enter solid state: In 40 years working with radios, I only know of 'ONE' radio ever made with a 25 watt final. (SSB)
The Xtal XSSB-10. Had a boost converter you could mod to work on AM. WOW, 18 watts.
For a distant receiver, that meant being able to be heard in the noise rather than near lost.
Fast forward: The FCC mandates radio makers to limit power input to finals to 5 watts.
Good efficiency, that equates to 4 watts (or just under) for the carrier output or 11 watts PEP SSB.
You exceed this by 20%, now you have thermal runaway and a popped final.
Quick install and swap vehicles, a cigarette lighter socket for power and a decent magnet mount antenna will work as well as any hardwired/fixed install.
My magnet mount never shifted or folded at speeds of 90 MPH. That was with a Wilson 1000-M antenna.
(hard to find a better antenna)
Don't waste money on "Tweak-N-Peak" Nobody will know the difference. (unless you have a really sick radio)
Now with FM legal for US CB, you will find it better than AM, SSB will always be better yet.
As a former engineer for Pace CB radio and 50 years amateur, Marine, CB, and commercial radio, I think I can speak with a bit of authority.
Cheers
Agreed, my Cobra 25 XLT Classic, Ranger Mike and Tram 3500, great mix.
 

Ensnared

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Messages
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Mag Mounts...

There are many threads on RR started by newbie folks trying to tune VSWR for mag mount CB antennas, no ground plane Fire Sticks, pick up stake bed mounted Fire Sticks, etc. They are unstable due to poor ground plane return. It is not for the faint of heart. The permanent mount NMO-27 gets recommended because it is stable and repeatable. Sure if you have tuned a half dozen mag mounts and know the process, you can get it to work. But the transmission line returns a lot of the counterpoise current. It is inefficient and noisy and the VSWR dip will wander.
I used to use Antenna Specialist CB antennas. It was a trunk-lip mount. I also preferred Signal Kickers. That was a very long time ago. So, if I were to use a trunk lip, would this give me a better ground/setup? I would not mind getting rid of the Magnetic mount if this helped.

I ran into a grounding issue with my Passport Max II. When I would key the mike, the radar detector would go off. When it did, it shot a "L" for laser on the Escort Live GPS map. However, when I attached a braided ground wire from the mounting screws to the seat bolts, it stopped. A technician recommended this. He said was not grounded well.
 

Ensnared

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Messages
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Waco, Texas
You could operate FM on channel 19, but the truckers would be annoyed.

I once bought an ICOM IC-R71A HF receiver from a seller in my town. He told me he could never receive much so I offered a price subject to inspection. I had him bring it over, plugged in my antenna and sure enough, - nothing. He had the RF gain turned way down, squelch way tight and a few other setting were set off in deep space. In about a minute I had it playing like new. It was way more radio than the seller had skills to operate.
At present, the CB FM application would not work until folks got on board with it. In time, it might take off. I think it is a great idea. However, I would take it a step further. I would love to have FM Digital provided it took off.
 

Ensnared

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Waco, Texas
My friend decided who he wants a Dash Cam and CB installed, by River Oaks Stereo in Houston, Texas. I have been knowing the owner for quite some time. In fact, I used to get my StarNet or Starcom scanner frequencies from them back in the day. This became TxWarn.

This shop does some high-end work.

The installers want him to bring a radio with him. I need to find the best and smallest radio I can. I am strongly considering the President line, no upper/lower sideband. I want mike gain, RF gain. I hope that the auto squelch feature can be switched to manual. I don't know how well this works. Which major truck stops sell Presidents? We are leaving Tuesday morning. I don't know if an external speaker is needed. He is going to mount the radio on the right side of the gear shift.
 

K5TUE

DC to Daylight
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Messages
19
Location
Tulia
One of the best quality small CB's is the Uniden pro520xl. They are very basic but they DO have an RF gain.

In my experience, 'auto squelch' on CB radios is a joke....they just dont work very well.
 

arudlang

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Dec 6, 2021
Messages
90
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North Central MN
Although no hands-on experience with the pro520xl, I would expect it to be a pretty decent fully manual unit. Still what you could call a "compact" class radio in my opinion. However, if you can find one or wait for amazon to ship one, the pro520 clone by Luiton (the LT-298) could be a better choice for some people: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086YRZKJP/

The Luiton clone retains manual gain but adds optional automatic squelch (can still use manual squelch if preferred) and uses a 6 pin mic which has channel changer buttons right on the mic itself. Whether or not that is of any interest depends on how well they understand their needs, where this radio will ultimately be mounted, and how they will be using it on long trips. Unfortunately the LT-298 lacks ANL so that's a bit of a drawback, if the ANL on the pro520 is any good (again, no hands on experience with either). Just figured I would point out that option since the pro520 came up.

Another "compact" option that I have seen but not yet played with in-person is the Midland 1001LWX. It sounds good on paper, has ANL and weather, RF gain. Might be worth looking at. Having weather is nice, you can get sick of driving for hours and hearing nothing on CB since CB world is so dead in some places, at least with weather channels you can hear *something* out of the radio you paid money for and took the time to install :LOL:

But since you said:
I need to find the best and smallest radio I can.
I don't know if you really mean that, but there are some options in the sub-compact class where the speaker volume starts to fall off because of tiny speaker in a tiny chassis but there are REALLY small radios such as

President Bill FCC [Channel change on mic, scan, weather, Manual Squelch & Auto Squelch, ANL+NB+Hi-Cut (can attest that this works in an electrically noisy car), no RF gain]

Radioddity CB-27 [No weather, no ANL/NB, has manual and ADJUSTABLE automatic squelch (via menu no knob), RF gain adjustable (via menu no knob), channel changer on mic, has scanning]

Cobra 19 MINI is another sub-compact unit that has RF gain adjustment via menu, but no ANL/NB, etc.

If you have room for something Pro505XL or Luiton LT-298 sized those will almost certainly have better speakers and be able to put more controls on the unit rather than slightly buried in menus. Again, depends on how well they understand how they will be using it. For me having the channel changer on the mic itself is huge because of where my radio ended up being mounted. ASQ is kinda nice and always optional, all radios have manual squelch that is a given. ANL/NB and even the Hi-Cut are pretty nice if your car emits gobs of EMI like mine does. I suspect a lot of incoming static can be reduced on something like an LT-298 if you use a noise filter on the power line and use the gain accordingly, but I haven't gotten my hands on one to try.

Everybody has slightly different needs and wants, 2-3 decent radios out there for almost any budget and application. Personally I hope to eventually collect them all so I have more to say about the options. Right now I'm just laying out all the things I've looked at but hardly used, except for the P. Bill in my car and my 980SSB that I use as a base station. If you have room the 980SSB is awesome...
 

arudlang

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Messages
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North Central MN
I could be wrong, but most CB radios have no RF gain control unless they are SSB.
I've already listed several in this thread, but to prove the point, a list of radios (just the ones I know of) that have RF gain control and are not SSB:
- Luiton LT-298
- Uniden PRO520XL
- Uniden 880
- Uniden PC68LTX
- Uniden PC78LTX
- Cobra 25LTD
- Cobra 29LTD
- RoadKing RKCBCLASSIC (Cobra 29clone)
- Cobra 19 MINI
- Radioddity CB-27
- Midland 5001Z
- Midland 1001LWX
- President Johnny III (*actually another compact-sized possible option the OP should look at)

and no doubt there are others I don't know of, but all the above are ones you can just go online and buy brand new as of today.
 
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