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Sould I even bother...CB Antenna

Ray_G

Explorer
I see where you are coming from, though I find it completely foreign to the way that I go about most things-or to put it in my daughter's words when a middle school friend remarked on her organization and planning penchant she replied "In my family we don't go to the grocery store without a plan". Call it a facet of relying on my gear in combat or what have you-that doesn't make the grab and go philosophy wrong mind you, just an observation on my part that when I set out to build a vehicle communications is an inherent component of it and thus there is ample time to do things like get a HAM license and such.

Certainly CB is adequate for many, if not most, people's needs for most applications they find themselves in. That said I'd still contend for an 'overlanding' platform folks should strive to have CB be a secondary or tertiary means of comm. With the prices of suitable HAM radios as low as they are there really is no reason not to greatly expand communication range, clarity, performance, and flexibility but for the investment of time to study which seems to hold folks back unfortunately.
r-
RAy
 

MOguy

Explorer
I see where you are coming from, though I find it completely foreign to the way that I go about most things-or to put it in my daughter's words when a middle school friend remarked on her organization and planning penchant she replied "In my family we don't go to the grocery store without a plan". Call it a facet of relying on my gear in combat or what have you-that doesn't make the grab and go philosophy wrong mind you, just an observation on my part that when I set out to build a vehicle communications is an inherent component of it and thus there is ample time to do things like get a HAM license and such.

Certainly CB is adequate for many, if not most, people's needs for most applications they find themselves in. That said I'd still contend for an 'overlanding' platform folks should strive to have CB be a secondary or tertiary means of comm. With the prices of suitable HAM radios as low as they are there really is no reason not to greatly expand communication range, clarity, performance, and flexibility but for the investment of time to study which seems to hold folks back unfortunately.
r-
RAy
With that in mind a CB is not adequate. But if you are running in a park, or running with other that do have adequate communications a CB is just fine to get you to the other vehicle in your group. If you need to reach out any further than that a CB is not a good option. I would think a satellite phone would be something to think about if you did have the need to really reach out.
 

Ray_G

Explorer
With that in mind a CB is not adequate. But if you are running in a park, or running with other that do have adequate communications a CB is just fine to get you to the other vehicle in your group. If you need to reach out any further than that a CB is not a good option. I would think a satellite phone would be something to think about if you did have the need to really reach out.
Sat phones def have application depending on location, or a SPOT. In my D1 I currently have vehicle mounted HAM, vehicle mounted CB, handheld HAMs, and handheld FRS. If she was going somewhere more remote than the US (or even in some parts) I'd prob grab a SPOT too.

I'll wholesale acknowledge my approach is often overkill-but it's now second nature.

R-
Ray
 

Airmapper

High-Tech Redneck
Ham will perform where a CB will suffice, but a CB will not perform on par with what Ham is capable of. Ham is not difficult, but because it requires an attempt to learn before just jumping in, then it is out of reach for some people.

If more people would use Ham, I woulden't need to install equipment I don't really want. It's like packing a bucket with a hole in it, and a new bucket, and I only need one bucket. The one with a hole will hold water a while, so it will meet my needs marginally, but if I have a new bucket, why would I pack the one with a hole in it....

But the reason people dont use Ham is it requires them to learn something new. It's not about cost, you can have a decent Ham setup for less than a CB setup if you want. It's just some people simply refuse to learn like it's some form of torture. I like to learn, getting Ham was a breeze. That is why it's so foreign to me why anyone would scoff at it when you get so much capability for so little effort.
 

Robert Bills

Explorer
My take on CB:

1. CB has been used by offroaders since the 1960's and is still the common denominator of trail communications. Observing/complaining/debating that there are better platforms won't change that anytime soon.

2. CB does not require a license; everyone in the group/convoy can use it without studying, passing a test or registering with the FCC.

3. CB is inexpensive.

4. CB is required as mandatory equipment on many if not most organized trail runs (CA4WDC events and goneMOAB are two examples).

For these reasons, it is my opinion that every offroad rig should be equipped with CB at minimum and the answer to the question "should I bother with CB" is an emphatic "yes."

I have CB, FRS/GMRS and Ham capability in my offroad rig. I also carry a handheld CB as a spare in case someone in the group doesn't have a radio or a vehicle mounted CB breaks. I have a Ham 2m/70cm HT for when I am away from my rig and a pair of FRS radios to keep track of the kids in camp. (I also carry a SWR meter, spare coax and connectors, and an extra 3' Firestik in case I or someone else in the group has an issue with their CB setup.) I have yet to experience the need for a Sat phone, but if these things ever become affordable I will probably find room for one as well.

If one is a member of a closed or controlled group such as an offroad club or friends traveling together, or if one is an organizer/trial leader setting the rules for minimum equipment, then it might make sense to set the bar higher than the "common denominator" of CB radio and require everyone to be a Ham in order to take advantage of the superior technology and improved communications, but that is not always possible. Internet-based affinity groups with "open to all comers" trail runs are an example. Interacting with the general population out in the world at large is another. Best to be prepared on multiple radio platforms.
 
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Airmapper

High-Tech Redneck
and the answer to the question "should I bother with CB" is an emphatic "yes."
Thanks Bills, but the question I originally posed was not if I needed a CB or not, but if I should bother with my mounting location. Perhaps it was unclear.

I don't disagree with any point you made. I still don't have to like that CB is the least common denominator, and I'm under no disillusion I will change it. This is merely a discussion, and if it bothers you, well, get over it.
 

Robert Bills

Explorer
Thanks Bills, but the question I originally posed was not if I needed a CB or not, but if I should bother with my mounting location. Perhaps it was unclear.

I don't disagree with any point you made. I still don't have to like that CB is the least common denominator, and I'm under no disillusion I will change it. This is merely a discussion, and if it bothers you, well, get over it.
I already answered your original question regarding antenna location. See post #2.

I was responding to the rhetorical question, "should one bother with CB," as that is the direction the discussion in this thread seems to have taken.

"If it bothers you, well, get over it." :)
 

Xterraxplorer

New member
Oh the pains that CB antennas are on the X's. I kicked around a lot of mounting locations and almost decided not to bother with it. One option was to attach a bracket to the side rail with an exhaust clamp and have it extend beyond the RTT. This would get your antenna up the highest, though I found that location annoying going through the woods (scrape twang, scrape twang). The second option was to mount it in between the taillight and the body. Then the last location was the side of the hood/front bumper. I opted for the front bumper myself, and am running a 4' firestick with a 6" spring. Are my SWR's pegged, for the moment. It just needs to be tuned a little. I tried the 102" in the front, but that was flopping around way too much. On CB radios, I'm not really a huge fan of the base load antennas. I've met several people who complain about the firestick's snapping. I've had mine for roughly 8 years and always run it with a spring. The other factor that made me decide on the front bumper was the ability to run the coax without drilling any holes, fishing through any seals, or having an insanely long coax. I took it through the woods today and barely even hit a branch. On the highway, range is about average for a CB where I can hear truckers talking for a few miles. 102's go a long way for making up for bad SWR's, but turn into a vehicle mounted bullwhip very quickly.
 

Robert Bills

Explorer
I have been thinking more about Airmapper's antenna mount dilemma. If he is preparing for the event I think he is, there probably isn't enough time for this option, but it seems to me what he needs is a location high enough to maximize performance without interfering with his roof top tent. Of all the options, a K400 mount attached to the rear hatch appeals to me the most but after looking at the photos I see that the antenna would hit the crossbars for the roof top tent when the hatch is raised and the antenna is parallel with the roof top.

Airmapper's rig:


Here's what I would do if I were in his situation (for next trip if no time now):

Diamond K400-3/8C:


I would prefer a high mount similar to this:


But the antenna may clear the roof rack crossbars if mounted lower like this:



This one appears that it might clear Airmapper's rooftop tent with the hatch raised:


One way to eliminate the issue of the antenna hitting the crossbar with the hatch raised would be to use a quick disconnect. I am partial to BreedloveMounts.com quick disconnects:



See this post: http://www.thenewx.org/forum/2157354-post11.html

Hope this generates some ideas.
 
My handheld gets about the same range as my built in with a fire stick well above the roof line. It's more than sufficient to reach anyone in your convoy on your trail.
 

4x4junkie

Explorer
My main gripe is I just don't have any enthusiasm about having a CB. I have HAM radio, so to me the CB is a nuisance because it has horrible audio quality and deplorable range. The antennas are finicky and hard to accommodate properly. You can stick a 2M antenna about anywhere and it will work decently. I have one on my fender and in a favorable location can be heard over 100 miles away clearly. I have a 50 watt mobile, and a handful of handhelds, so if I'm with other HAMs, comms will be no problem. It's just that most people won't do HAM, so you have to use the lowest common denominator to keep everyone in touch which is CB.
.
This is exactly why I keep stressing it over & over & over to get a CB antenna that is at least 60" tall. Not only do they work better than shorter antennas, they are much less finicky to install.
I've said it numerous times in other threads, the range between two mobile CB stations should be a reliable 5-10 miles, and can be more than 50 miles under good conditions (one of you being elevated, for example). Yes, a ham unit is capable of exceeding this (particularly if using duplex thru a repeater), but unless you're frequently trying to keep in contact with people outside of your group, the 5-10 mile range of a CB should normally be quite more than adequate.

Another part of the problem is all the garbage CB equipment out there one has to sift through to get something decent (the finicky 2' & 3' antennas, Cobra 75 radio units, and all sorts of other poor quality/low-performance junk that often comes up before anything decent in a search). It makes it impossible for the lay-person to know what is actually good without doing what may seem like an endless bunch of research first.

Perhaps something we need is a "CB Radio FAQ" or a "CB Recommendations For Beginners Please!" sticky post since it seems we have three separate ones for 2M ham, but nothing more than a generalized one that touches on anything about CB... :confused:
 

MOguy

Explorer
I have been thinking more about Airmapper's antenna mount dilemma. If he is preparing for the event I think he is, there probably isn't enough time for this option, but it seems to me what he needs is a location high enough to maximize performance without interfering with his roof top tent. Of all the options, a K400 mount attached to the rear hatch appeals to me the most but after looking at the photos I see that the antenna would hit the crossbars for the roof top tent when the hatch is raised and the antenna is parallel with the roof top.

Airmapper's rig:


Here's what I would do if I were in his situation (for next trip if no time now):

Diamond K400-3/8C:


I would prefer a high mount similar to this:


But the antenna may clear the roof rack crossbars if mounted lower like this:



This one appears that it might clear Airmapper's rooftop tent with the hatch raised:


One way to eliminate the issue of the antenna hitting the crossbar with the hatch raised would be to use a quick disconnect. I am partial to BreedloveMounts.com quick disconnects:



See this post: http://www.thenewx.org/forum/2157354-post11.html

Hope this generates some ideas.

Whatever you ground your antenna to becomes the other half of your antenna. When you mount it on a hood, trunk, hatch, bumper, fender, door or whatever you are not getting the best ground for your antenna. For best performance you mount or ground to the body, to bare metal, and the antenna as high as possible on the body. When you ground to things that attach to the body there is allot of paint and or powder coat between the antenna and the body making you antenna not perform as well as it could. But it could perform well enough, It is all about compromise.

Most fiberglass antennas are top loaded, most metal ones are bottom loaded. If you run a metal whip antenna having the antenna lower on the body will negatively impact performance more so than mounting a fiberglass antenna lower, as long as enough tip is above the roof line. Even then higher is still better for performance but may be in the way of obstacles, compromises.
 
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Robert Bills

Explorer
Whatever you ground your antenna to becomes the other half of your antenna. When you mount it on a hood, truck, hatch bumper door or what ever you are not getting the best ground for your antenna. For best performance you mount or ground to the body, to bare metal, and the antenna as high as possible on the body. When you ground to things that attach to the body there is allot of paint and or powder coat between the antenna and the body making you antenna not perform as well as it could. But it could perform well enough, It is all about compromise.
Easily done: Scrape away some paint from under the K400 mounting screws (down to the zinc anti-corrosion coating, unnecessary to bare metal) and add ground straps from the hatch to the body and body to frame. I use 1/2" flat braided tinned copper strap, $0.89/ft. from Amateur Electronic Supply, with crimped and soldered ring terminals:


http://www.aesham.com/product/antenna_accessories/antenna_accessories_lightning/cable-x-perts-2332/

Here is the ground strap from my antenna mount to the body:



My CB and Ham antenna mounts to allow the use of my roof rack and locate the antennas as high as possible (won't work for Airmapper due to his rooftop tent):




All
mobile antenna systems involve some compromise.
 
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MOguy

Explorer
Easily done: Scrape away some paint from under the K400 mounting screws (down to the zinc anti-corrosion coating, unnecessary to bare metal) and add ground straps from the hatch to the body and body to frame. I use 1/2" flat braided tinned copper strap, $0.89/ft. from Amateur Electronic Supply, with crimped and soldered ring terminals:


http://www.aesham.com/product/antenna_accessories/antenna_accessories_lightning/cable-x-perts-2332/

Here is the ground strap from my antenna mount to the body:



My CB and Ham antenna mounts to allow the use of my roof rack and locate the antennas as high as possible (won't work for Airmapper due to his rooftop tent):




All
mobile antenna systems involve some compromise.
Yep, my antenna his mounted on corner guards but grounded to the body. Easy to do. This is one of those simple things that can make things work better.
 
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