The Garage - CB Radio
Installing a CB radio and an Antenna!

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Last Updated: 12/3/2013
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CB Radio

Cobra Electronics Corp.
6500 West Cortland Street
Chicago, IL 60707
Phone: (773) 889-8870
Business Hours: Monday - Friday
8.:00 AM - 5:30 PM (CST)
Email: productinfo@cobra.com
Click here to visit their website.

Amazon.com, Inc.
1516 2nd Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101
Phone: (800) 201-7575
Click here to visit their website.

Firestik Antenna Company
2614 E Adams St
Phoenix, AZ 85034-1495
Phone: (602) 273-7151
Hours : Monday - Friday
8:00 AM To 4:30 PM
Email: info@firestik.com
Click here to visit their website.

Various Others:
AutoValue, an the local ACE Hardware store.

Disclaimer
The fabrication, modifications and designs you see on this web site are completed by myself. If you duplicate these modifications you do so at your own risk. I do not endorse or make any claims to their safety, performance, On-road or off-road worthiness. Any "Product Reviews" are my sole and personal opinion. These reviews are on items purchased from or provided by reputable aftermarket suppliers. All registered trademarks belong to their respective owners.

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Breaker 1-9..Breaker 1-9.. got me a new CB, c'mon back!

I do travel the interstates and the back roads frequently and therefore wanted to add a quality CB radio to my vehicle for added safety for some time now. Many people believe CB radios are old fashioned and that a cell phone will work anywhere when you need to call for help. Nothing can be farther from the truth. There are thousands of square miles of the United States and Canada where cell phones do not work, even on interstate highways, but especially here in the Michigan UP.

If I should get stuck on the side of the road I could call for help with a CB radio. Truckers monitor channel 19 on the CB when they are driving. By having a CB radio in the vehicle I can ask the eighteen wheeler coming my way how the road conditions are up ahead. When roads are icy or there is a wreck up ahead on the interstate I can find out exactly what is happening by listening in or switching to the build-in weather channels. Many state troopers still monitor channel 19 and will reply to calls for help.

I wanted a CB which offers besides the standard 40 CB channels also the ability on tuning into the NOAA weather station. After much research, I have chosen the Cobra 75 WX ST CB Radio to be the ideal CB radio for my needs. This CB has 7 NOAA Weather Channels + 3 international ones!


It has a remote mount mobile all-in-one handset and that's exactly the feature I like the most because this CB radio carries all its brainpower in its handset and it fits all comfortably in the palm of my hand. Engineering and design at it's best!

Specifications:
Manufacturer Cobra
Model Cobra 75 WX ST
Weather Channels 7 NOAA and 3 International
CB Channels 40
Color Black
Application / Usage Citizen Band Radio

Features: Complete access to all 40 Citizen Band Radio channels. 10 National Weather Channels (7 NOAA and 3 International) provide full coverage to keep the operator informed of weather conditions anywhere. | SoundTracker® The first patented technology that dramatically improves the transmission and reception of CB radio signals. The result is a cleaner, clearer sounding CB with more "powerful" transmissions and less static or noise on reception. | The Remote Mount System which consists of a remote installation box which installs out of sight under the dash and the quick disconnect allows removal of the hand piece for security or use in other vehicles. | Dual Watch and Full Channel Scan allows simultaneous monitoring of any two preselected channels. The Full Channel Scan allows the operator to scan all 40 channels. | Instant access to information Channel 19 with a single switch of a button. | All the information needed are provided by a full-featured LCD display panel. Selectable for normal CB channel readout or five digit frequency display.
The CB comes with the Cobra's SoundTracker technology which I always wanted to try out.

To my knowledge, this only works with another Cobra radio which also has that SoundTracker feature.

No problem here, as my base station at home is a Cobra with SoundTracker technology too :-)

In addition to all the above it also has Dual Watch to monitor two channels at the same time, a greenish backlit LCD screen which goes along nicely with my Durango dash instruments, and many more cool features.

Antenna:
Every CB radio needs an antenna to get the signal in and out. I wanted an antenna which doesn't look like the remote controlled truck look. You know the one... the truck/car with the single long whip antenna sticking straight up. Makes it look like if you had the right frequency you could get out your Futaba radio and park the truck.
I came across a website which showed the Firestik DS14-FG antenna installed on a vehicle and I fell in love with it's design and small footprint. This antenna has exactly the sleek look I was looking for to put on the roof of my Durango! The Firestik DS14-FG 'No ground plane" (NGP) CB antenna kit was specifically designed to solve the lack of ground plane problems found on many vehicles. Ground plane problems typically show up in the form of high standing wave ratio (SWR) and poor performance.

The isolated ground plane that is built into this kit will also eliminate problems on metal base vehicles that lack the sufficient ground plane for proper operation.

This could be due to the size of available ground plane, or because the operator chooses to mount the antenna in a location that is unable too properly take advantage of available ground plane.
The DS14-FG kit has an adjustable base so someone can mount it on the roof, trunk, top of fender or on side of a vehicle with up to 70 degrees of tilt from vertical. The installed height above roof line is a mere 13.5" (343mm).


Project Parts & Cost:
Part Description
Price / Purchased at
Cobra 75 WX ST Remote Mount CB Radio
Remote Mount CB Radio with SoundTracker System and 10 NOAA Weather Channels
$95.00 w/FREE s&h
@ Amazon.com
FireStik DS14-FG Designer Roof Mount NGP CB Antenna Kit
The 'No ground plane" (NGP) FireStik CB antenna kit was specifically designed to solve the lack of ground plane (counterpoise) problems found on vehicles constructed of plastic, fiberglass, wood or aluminum.
Approx. $60.00
@ Amazon.com
I also used material from my parts bin but didn't add it to the cost.
The entire cost for this project at this point comes out to approx. $155.00
Installation
The basic procedure of this project is to install the antenna and CB radio, then connecting the antenna to the CB radio and connect that to ignition power.

I started the project by figuring out the spot for my antenna. I didn't want a center position on the roof and it is also not necessary for a 'No ground plane" antenna. After deciding on where the antenna will go, I partially removed the headliner inside the truck, drilled a hole through the roof with a step drill bit, and installed the antenna with the use of a generous amount of black silicone.
The NGP antenna cable can not be cut or shortened in any way and coiling a CB antenna cable is bad practice, thus good routing takes a bit of planing. I ran the antenna coax cable down the left a-pillar to my custom center console. Installing the antenna which was all-in-all an easy job but a bit time consuming.

Next was the CB radio which I modified by removing the original Cobra coiled cable and replacing it with a lighter and thinner version which I had in my parts box. It originated from an car adapter for a Midland 75-822 Handheld CB Radio which I never found use for. I simply opened the case of the Cobra CB and de-soldered the cable from it. Then I soldered the Midland cable into it.

I didn't need the capability of a external speaker or to move the Cobra to a different vehicle. I was fine with it, having it permanently installed in the Durango thus I gutted the Cobra remote box and used the parts to make an in-line PCB to have the correct power input and the connection for the antenna plug. After everything was wired up, I drove out to an wide open area to tune my CB radio. Mainly adjusting my antenna by increasing or decreasing the length so that the radio's output power is turned into radio signals as efficiently as possible.

The Cobra remote box offers the capability of easily moving the CB from one into another vehicle and plugging in an external speaker if needed.

I plugged the Cobra CB radio into my SWR meter and connect that to the antenna.
The goal of antenna tuning is to achieve as low an SWR reading as possible. While low SWR readings result in the best performance, high SWR readings have more worrying implications than poor transmission range. In fact, operating a radio at SWR levels above 3.0 can cause damage to the radio because all that excess output power is reflected back at the radio as heat, which can result in permanent damage to the unit.

It was time to make a mount for the Cobra CB in the Durango. I decided to mount the CB in the right dash pocket identical to the right pocket which contains the AWD/4WD transfer case switch. As long as I have my Durango, I had never a use for this mini compartment but finally I do.

I cut a plate from 1/4" grey PVC to the same measurements as the switch on the opposite side.
I then machined the edges for a perfect recessed fit and drilled a hole in the center. I then created two threaded holes below to allow the install of the mic holder for the CB. I used Dupli-Color truck bed coating to paint the panel and let it sit overnight to dry. The next morning I went on and drilled in the center of the dash pocket a hole. Actually I drilled twice as the first one wasn't were it needed to be. Drill twice measure once :-)
After the hole was were I wanted it, I pulled the dash far enough out to reach behind the pocket and mounted the panel in it's place using a long center bolt , a large 1 1/4" washer, and a nut. I then installed the mic holder with stainless steel hex bolts utilizing the threaded holes.

It turned out to be a perfect spot and was easy to reach and remove from the holder without loosing eye contact with the road. The same is true for returning the "mic" back onto the holder.

Please note: Although the antenna install was done years ago, the CB radio re-install was a part of the Custom Console project

I'll be taking readings using both Channel 1 and Channel 40, with the goal of reaching the same SWR level - below 2.0 - on both. Everything worked flawless after tuning the antenna. After returning from my antenna tune outing I tested the receive and transmit with a friend and could reach out for about five miles, this is enough for my needs.

Verdict:
My project has been completed am very happy with the Cobra CB radio and it's performance. and I can certainly pick up lot's of trucker conversations when travelling. "Smokey in a plain brown wrapper" coming from my CB speaker maid have saved me a ticket here and there.
For those non CB'lers it's a cop in an unmarked police car.


A CB radio gives me the capability of communicating emergency needs when a disaster hits.It also comes very handy when you need to tow someone, when winching, or when off-roading with friends.
Cellphones don't work everywhere!

Anyway, I knew that this would be an affordable and fun project.
Now I am going to "Pull the Plug". (To sign off and turn off the radio)
... and enjoy a hot cup of coffee on the couch!

This project was completed on 01-28-2013


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