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New to CB and New to the Forum...

jcrmadden

Member
Joined
May 10, 2024
Messages
71
Just wired up my first budget friendly radio (read: cheap). To no real surprise I don't get out very well, and I get a ton of noise. I thought I would Amazon my way out of it by adding the "best CB antenna" to my cart, but come to find out that isn't so straight forward. TO THE GOOGLES!! Three days later, and I've learned a lot... specifically, that I don't know s##t about radio. Now I'm here. Oh, look. A rabbit hole... Hello forums.
 

jcrmadden

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Joined
May 10, 2024
Messages
71
A note of introduction... I'm a forester by trade, so the bulk of my comms is with dozer or skidder operators on logging jobs. There's also the occasional inbound rock hauler to chat with. I'm in the foothills of Appalachia in eastern Kentucky, so fairly rough terrain. I'm running a mobile unit, specifically a Uniden Pro 510xl with a Wilson lil' wil mag mount on the cab of my tacoma. I'm wired into the fuse panel with an add-a-fuse and the coax is just run under the floormats and rear seat, and out the back of the cab vent.
 

jcrmadden

Member
Joined
May 10, 2024
Messages
71
Now, the problem(s)... I get so much engine noise that I have to keep my squelch turned up over half way. Also, I don't know how far I'm transmitting, but my reception is terrible. I passed a load on the highway with two pilot cars that were chatting constantly. I was approximately 1/2 of a mile ahead of them and in plain line of site when their traffic started breaking up. By the time I was 3/4 of a mile ahead I couldn't hear the rear pilot. I know the adage of you get what you pay for, but I don't want to throw money at problems I don't really understand. I know that a better antenna is a must, but again, I want to understand what to get and why.
 

mmckenna

I ♥ Ø
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Jul 27, 2005
Messages
24,264
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I am a lineman for the county.
Now, the problem(s)...

First thing you need to tackle:

Getting clean power to the radio. Do not power off fuse taps, as you are sharing a circuit with who knows what kind of electronic noise makers inside your vehicle. Positive lead for the radio power needs to come directly off the battery to a fuse and then a direct, unspliced run to the radio. Negative lead should run from the radio to a body ground near the radio.
That may help some of your noise issue. For stock radio, look at a suitably sized wire, 14 gauge would probably be fine for a stock radio.

Then tackle your antenna.
Noise can come to the radio through the antenna, so moving your existing one around may or may not show some improvement. Some noise issues may be inherent to the vehicle itself and will be more challenging to solve. Some other noise may be coming from other electronics in the vehicle. Low buck USB chargers can be noisy, make sure you unplug all of those and see if noise level improves. Some cheap LED lighting can make quite a bit of noise also.
The antenna is the most important part of your setup and you need to find one that works for your application. That'll take some work as you likely need to consider tree branch strikes as a challenge to really tall antenna whips.

You should be able to accomplish a couple of miles with some work.
Remember that it is 'two way' radio, and the other guys crappy setup will be part of the challenge.
Also, due to sun spot cycles right now, the noise floor is really high, so some of the crap you are hearing may be caused by that.

Individual changes may not solve all your problems, but adding up a bunch of incremental improvements will help.
 

slowmover

Active Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
2,223
Location
Fort Worth
Now, the problem(s)... I get so much engine noise that I have to keep my squelch turned up over half way. Also, I don't know how far I'm transmitting, but my reception is terrible. I passed a load on the highway with two pilot cars that were chatting constantly. I was approximately 1/2 of a mile ahead of them and in plain line of site when their traffic started breaking up. By the time I was 3/4 of a mile ahead I couldn't hear the rear pilot. I know the adage of you get what you pay for, but I don't want to throw money at problems I don't really understand. I know that a better antenna is a must, but again, I want to understand what to get and why.

That’s a good description via example!

Pilot cars tend to have good to very good radio rigs with an occasional one literally outstanding.

@mmckenna ran you through the basic basics (clean power and a start on controlling “noise”). Going over things such will get you to what’s an average radio rig these days given you believe it is better than at the start. It’s another thing to rise above that average.


This is aimed at your situation. One needs to cover basics of the installation before heading on to gear choice, etc.

The other end is:

Amateur Radio Mobile Install Bible


Vehicle, projected use, and desired end all factor.

Is your vehicle (or similar) represented in the INSTALLATION sub-forum?

A model to follow is best plan. Someone else’s success, if found. Ck subforums on vehicle-specific sites, too.

Expect that each stage needs a plan, and that each of those stages has details to uncover alongside some theory (if that’s desirable).

Depending on level of performance desired, expect that tools, supply, and experience may factor.

If you plan to outfit other vehicles and a base station, your first go-through is valuable whatever the frustration encountered. Depends on goals. CB ain’t plug & play though at entry level it’s fairly close.

The level of expertise you’ll find here is about as good as to be found. And better than most.

Hearing those pilot cars 2-miles off isn’t much of a feat, replying at that distance is where your efforts bear fruit.

A 1-2/mile radius of conversation (call that City vs Rural) is a reasonable goal. More easily achieved forty years ago. Better equipment today just needs more attention to installation to get there than in 1984.

.
 
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jcrmadden

Member
Joined
May 10, 2024
Messages
71
Thanks mmckenna!

I'm tied into the "accessory" fuse. So, basically every other electronic devise in my truck. I'll get that hard wired to the battery today.

The antenna issue is especially challenging. Logging trails and forest roads are inhospitable places for antennas. My mag mount was pealed off by a low limb within a couple days (where I subsequently ran over it). It's also a company truck, and drilling holes is highly discouraged. I've been reading all morning about ground plane and losses and I've gathered that the top of the cab is the best location. It is also a death sentence for a fiberglass antenna.
 

slowmover

Active Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
2,223
Location
Fort Worth
A note of introduction... I'm a forester by trade, so the bulk of my comms is with dozer or skidder operators on logging jobs. There's also the occasional inbound rock hauler to chat with. I'm in the foothills of Appalachia in eastern Kentucky, so fairly rough terrain. I'm running a mobile unit, specifically a Uniden Pro 510xl with a Wilson lil' wil mag mount on the cab of my tacoma. I'm wired into the fuse panel with an add-a-fuse and the coax is just run under the floormats and rear seat, and out the back of the cab vent.

Lil Wil isn’t worth beans as you’ve learned. Need 5’ or longer.

Plenty of good Tacoma installs on those vehicle forums.

Need BATT power per mmckenna.

Radio lacks NRC. (From about $100 to $300). AM only to AM/FM/SSB and or 10/12-Meter. Id want SCAN in eastern Kaintuck as lots of users on AM plus Sideband.

External speaker will help (eBay for used KES-5).

RF Bonds (per k0bg).

Roof or bed mount can be done. Roof center best, but clearance an issue.

Longer antenna on bed interior wall (see @prcguy) a foot back from cab and an inch or so down if truck use allows, IIRC. A 9’ 1/4-wave on a Breedlove mount might clear 13’ with ability to take strikes with spring mounted thusly. (Big trucks need 13’-5”).

Based on a suggestion by k0bg, this is how I mounted a KES-5 in my pickup. Can listen to NOAA 40-yards away with door open and diesel idling away.

IMG_2378.jpeg
 
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jcrmadden

Member
Joined
May 10, 2024
Messages
71
Thanks Slowmover!

I've read a ton of your posts in the last couple days. I've literally spent all morning reading over at k0bg too. I'll dig into the sub-forum next. I know that coming into a new forum for a new skill has a learning curve of it's own and I thank you all for both your advice and your patience.
 

slowmover

Active Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
2,223
Location
Fort Worth
Post in thread 'SWR drastically lower when mount wet'
SWR drastically lower when mount wet

That post and its authors further advice if forthcoming is start point, IMO.

Antenna (design + mount + install) matters more than all else.

With antenna above & noted speaker as substitutes in following:

Post in thread 'anyone able to get a CB antenna to work on a Jeep TJ it's like the old CJ's??'
anyone able to get a CB antenna to work on a Jeep TJ it's like the old CJ's??

There’ll be an over-emphasis in some circles on the need for mo powah. That’s 1989. 2024, it’s clarity.

Radio referenced is more than adequate if antenna “best” (equidistant radius of TX & RX).

You used word “budget”, so antenna is #1, and get around to the rest as funds allow.

Power system is first task to accomplish, and all posts by @mmckenna are pertinent.

@merlin, another. (Plus others).

Mine, on big truck 12V (see KLF-2).

I got my start in High Perf while in oilfield. Plenty of risk. Logging is the most dangerous occupation in North America by 2X over the next worst.

My experience is that you’ll greatly value the better tools, and your on-air experience is the real key to reduction of risk in pursuit of efficiency. Have to order the info in my brain that others instantly grasp its nature.

NRC is the game-changer, TX & RX.

.
 
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slowmover

Active Member
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Messages
2,223
Location
Fort Worth
Correct link

Here’s a story. A model to examine (all contributor posts, not just this thread). Gear is outdated, but antenna tuning learning curve present. IIRC, he’s on road as a first responder.

Overwhelm is a factor in this. Take time, each step offers satisfaction in getting things right.

— And your opening post an instant classic.
Cracks me up each time I read it!

Another instant classic is this re-capitulation in one post of 1989, the lost era of societal accord, by @KM6CQ

I guess channel 19 is dead??? what are the truck drivers doing now?

Your pursuit will bring this to light if you choose high performance. Sort the wheat from the chaff as men get together to identify and solve problems. Other men will be relying on you in dark moments.

.
 
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Joined
May 6, 2024
Messages
13
Hey there, I'm new here too! I won't offer you any sage advice (I don't have any to give lol), but I will say the forum regulars here know what they are about.

Welcome fellow radio noob. May your learning be swift and painless :D
 

jcrmadden

Member
Joined
May 10, 2024
Messages
71
Your pursuit will bring this to light if you choose high performance. Sort the wheat from the chaff as men get together to identify and solve problems. Other men will be relying on you in dark moments.

Getting it right is why I'm here. I've noticed that there is a broad spectrum of advice even on narrow topics.

Couple more questions... What does NRC and IIRC stand for?
 

jcrmadden

Member
Joined
May 10, 2024
Messages
71
With the truck off and squelch turned all the way down the only noise I had was a periodic tick that sounded like a puff of air. When I first started the truck I got a fair amount of noise, but even that tapered off pretty quick. Barely touched the squelch and even that disappeared. Would have loved to made a clean radio check but "Superspreader" from Wisconsin and some cat with a little less umph where yacking non stop. I'm going to pick up a firestik today and some bonding strap if I can find it. I don't know of a radio shop anywhere around anymore.
 

K6GBW

Member
Joined
May 29, 2016
Messages
510
Location
Montebello, CA
With clean power and a proper antenna, the only thing you can really do next is to get a better radio. The 510 is a budget radio that doesn't include much filtering. The newer radios that Noise Reduction (NR) built into them that significantly cleans up the audio. Just know that CB is a bizarre band to work with. It is technically at the very upper end of the HF spectrum, so sometimes it acts like HF and produces a lot of skip. Other times it will act more like VHF and propigate locally. For local propigation, which is what you want, then 27 MHz isn't very good. From what I'm understanding you don't have a lot of choice, because you need it for the industry that you're in. But manage expectations, it will never act like VHF or UHF with nice clean audio and very predictable ranges. The CB was made for 3-7 mile ranges and if you put it together right, that's about what you can expect.
 

slowmover

Active Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
2,223
Location
Fort Worth
With clean power and a proper antenna, the only thing you can really do next is to get a better radio. The 510 is a budget radio that doesn't include much filtering. The newer radios that Noise Reduction (NR) built into them that significantly cleans up the audio. Just know that CB is a bizarre band to work with. It is technically at the very upper end of the HF spectrum, so sometimes it acts like HF and produces a lot of skip. Other times it will act more like VHF and propigate locally. For local propigation, which is what you want, then 27 MHz isn't very good. From what I'm understanding you don't have a lot of choice, because you need it for the industry that you're in. But manage expectations, it will never act like VHF or UHF with nice clean audio and very predictable ranges. The CB was made for 3-7 mile ranges and if you put it together right, that's about what you can expect.

Well said.

NRC + CMC Choke + DRX-901 = damn near VHF audio a surprising amount of time given tall, sensitive antenna + install. Voices have noise stripped away and this reveals heretofore hidden vocal characteristics.

— Put a rig like that together and spend a few afternoon hours on the Cajon Pass with truck drivers trying to escape California on IH-15. Near that scale house or at Banning over on IH-10 will get you plenty of air-time with a good cross-section of CB rigs.

Skip is the wild card, bad some days and less so on others. It’ll last another year or so. While that’ll be a relief, it’s actually a great sparring opponent viewed correctly.

.
 
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