What is the best CB Radio, Antenna that I should buy

I have been driving a tractor trailer for about 10+ years. I am a member to many CB Radio Forums, also a lot of Truck Driver Forums.

I see and get this question all the time, so I thought I would try and answer it here.

You made it through truck driving school, now you need a CB Radio? OK, first off we need to do some research on CB Radios. DO you want a 10 meter radio? Or do you want a standard 11 meter CB Radio? Well it is going to have to be the latter of the two. Because unless you are a Ham Radio operator licensed through the FCC, then it is illegal to own a 10 meter radio.

CB Radio operators are only allowed to talk on the 11 meter band.

There are 40 channels in the 11 meter band, no CB Channels go below channel 1- 26.965 or above channel 40- 27.405. Anywhere in between you are allowed to operate as long as your CB Radio has not been “worked on”, we will get into this later. There are several different kinds of CB Radio’s to choose from that are legal in the US.

1. Cobra 25 LTD, 29 LTD, 148 GTL, 19 DX, 25 NW, 25 WXNW, 29 NW, 29 WXNW
2. Texas Ranger 696, 121,966
3. Uniden PRO 538 with weather, 510 XL, PC 68 XL, PC 68 LTW, PC 78 XL, PC 78 LTW, PC 78 Elite
4. Galaxy 949 and the Galaxy 959

These listed here are the basic legal radios allowed to be used in the USA today without having to have a Amateur radio license. They are allowed to be used as long as no modifications have been made to them such as a “Peak and Tune” where the power has been turned up on the radio. From the factory these radio’s are preset at 4 watts of power, which is legal. Tuned properly they will go up to about 35 watts, but again this is not allowed by the FCC.

But most truckers go to the nearest “CB shop” and pay $50.00 to $100.00 to have a “Connex Board” and a “peak and tune” done to their radios. The “Connex Board” is a echo feature added to the inside of the radio, so as to distort (echo) the voice it also adds a talk back feature so the operator can hear themselves through an external speaker.

Most drivers I know usually buy a decent radio ($150.00) then they buy a cheap antenna to go with it. Well this won’t work, your antenna is 95% of your CB outfit. I recommend any Wilson antenna, especially a Wilson 2000 or Wilson 5000. These range in price from $50.00 to $100.00 and that is usually installed. Yes, have it installed by a tech so that they can set your SWR for your antenna. SWR- Standing Wave Ratio this is what makes your radio talk. If you have a SWR of above a 3 or more it will burn your radio up. The tech will use a SWR meter connected to your coax and antenna to check it’s SWR reading. If it is to high they will cut some of the antenna whip off 1/8″ increments, until a satisfactory SWR is reached. If you do not want to spend a lot on an antenna at least buy one that is tunable.

The coax is another big part of the radios performance. Which would be caught by a good tech when they were installing your “new” antenna. But if you are already using the radio and you notice it drops in performance, it will either usually be the SWR or the coax. Truck stops sell pre-determined lengths of coax, usually you will need a 18′ piece to replace what is bad runs about $25.00, I recommend the gray or clear coax. If you are just replacing the coax you can do this yourself, unless you want the SWR checked.

Well, I surely hope this answers some question’s that have risen from “new” drivers out here today! Good luck with your radio and have fun with it!

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I'm just a EX-truck driver, trying to pass along a little information. I been in the Trucking Industry as a driver for over 15 years. I have driven both as an owner operator and as a company driver. I have also been a driver instructor for an accredited truck driving school in KY. I am no longer a truck driver, but I consider myself to be a watchdog for the trucking industry. In fact this site is the #1 site for getting the real news about trucking. We don't hold back here, you will hear the full story. Twitter | Contact Me |Truck Drivers News Facebook

4 thoughts on “What is the best CB Radio, Antenna that I should buy

  1. I’ve cut quite a few antenna’s in half to see what they were made of and the 20 dollar FRANCIS had the thickest metal core and I’ve trusted these antenna’s for 30 years driving coast to coast on radio’s like President Jackson & General Lee….and liniers 100+ watts….
    I would also run a heavy ground wire from the antenna mirror bracket to the frame to improve the ground……….
    I have alway’s avoided the antenna’s with the wire wrapped around the fiberglass rod and coated with plastic……..High wind’s and a few tree branch’s, the coating crack’s and now the wire is exposed to nature’s ellements………..
    Good luck on whatever you buy, and I would start with a 4′ 20 dollar FRANCIS….
    CB–HOTSHOT, drove for CreteCarrier, JEVIC TRANSPORTATION , Schnieder Transport
    (when Schnieder was Union/local 75) GreenBay, Wi….. GOOD LUCK, AL

  2. It’s the design, not the name brand that matters. you have basically two different types of mobile antennas, 1 base loaded 2 center loaded. Most will handle 200 watts. OK all that said. The vast majority of truck drivers run 3 to 10 watts dead key and 25 to 50 watts of swing, which is plenty. A center loaded antenna works better on a truck. It also works better to get the antenna out away from the truck. One antenna works better than two. and set your own SWRS OR INSIST THAT THE “PRO” SET THEM FLAT, THIS CAN BE DONE, I SET EVERY ANTENNA I BUY. It takes a few minutes and I will admit anything under 1.5 to 1 is about the same performance-wise but if I’m going to pay to get something done it’d better be done exact! I am like most drivers , I have a dead key of 5 or 6 watts and 30 to 35 swing depending on the meter. I have used a 20 dollar hustler H27 since about 1976, Ive tried em all,k- 40, Wilson, solercon, workman, to name a few- and just spent more money,and got nothing more for my money. I transmit anywhere from 15 miles in the day peek time to 60 miles in the evening. And yep sometimes you ant gona get across the street, no matter what you do.

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