How To Tune A CB Radio

Jason Loomis
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How To Tune A CB Radio. But First, Why?

If you are interested in the CB, you may have looked online, or even checked your parents’ old CB, and wondered just how in the heck you would go about fine tuning it. It turns out, tuning is an important thing, and knowing how to properly tune a CB radio is of the utmost importance so it doesn’t harm your ears, your call sign, or your sidekick.

As the entire set of frequencies is used for the CB, it’s crucial that you choose your frequency carefully. It’s nobody’s business what frequency you choose. But, when you listen, you don’t want to hear that you’re picking up transmissions on the other side of the country!

So, you need to do a little bit of research to find the best frequency. If you use the internet, you can probably find a frequency chart easy enough, but the process isn’t always easy to figure out.

Tuning Your CB Radio

The CB radio frequency of 27 MHz is divided into two channels … the channel 9-16 range and the channel 17-22 range. Channel 9 is the channel most often heard by CB radio enthusiasts because it is home to the truck drivers and friendly folks who know how to tune a CB radio. Your CB radio can be calibrated so that the upper and lower portions of those ranges become less or more sensitive.

The most sensitive range is between channel 1 and channel 2. This is also the channel for broadcasting, so that range should be less sensitive to avoid interference.

The channel 9-16 range should cover the full range of frequencies. Channel 17-22 is for repeater operation, where your listening range will match your transmitting range.

Since channels 9 and 19 are below 10, you don’t want those to be very sensitive. The other channels can be set to receive all frequencies within the channel’s range. This will allow you to hear people around you as well as out in the distance. Tuning a CB radio is a great way to make sure that you are able to receive a good signals in your specific location.

If you listen to other channels, make sure that the middle frequencies are not over-sensitive. You should also try to get into the habit of referring to the frequencies in terms of their channels, rather than their numbers on the dial.

Connect The SWR Meter

If you are serious about the CB radio hobby, you will need to get your antenna tuned. Unfortunately, there are only two ways to measure antenna SWR. You can either install a Current Transformer (CT) on your coaxial cable or purchase an SWR meter. Although CTs are inexpensive, they are bulky and can cause RF interference if you have an SWR problem. So, these days, you will more likely see an SWR meter.

Now that you have your meter, you need to turn on your radio. Most CB radios have an SWR button just below the Mic. Receive button. Press it. The display will show SWR. If the meter displays the correct readings, you can now move on to tuning the antenna.