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CB Antenna

How to Tune a CB Antenna without an SWR Meter (5-Step Guide)

Updated On May 14, 2022

The citizen band radio (or the CB radio) is a mobile radio system. It allows for bidirectional voice communication among individuals using 2-way radios and works well over short distances. The two radios operate on 40 channels at approximately 27 MHz. These radios have CB antennae. The CB antennae perform 2 roles.

At first, they capture the radio frequency signals. The receiver system then converts these radio signals to electrical signals.

The second role of the CB antennae is to take these electrical signals from the transmitter, and then convert them to radio frequency signals.

To get a clear-cut signal, you need to properly tune your CB antenna.

To tune your CB antenna without an SWR meter, first establish a connection between the 2 radios. Make sure your radios are one channel. Proceed to hook the microphone to the CB radio that you want to tune. Start speaking into the microphone.  Check the clarity of the transmission. A jumbled-up transmission means the radio is out of tune. Now adjust the antenna manually until you obtain a good signal. The best trick here is to let another person concentrate on the signal output while you focus on the transmission.

Don’t have an SWR (Standing Wave Radio) meter? No problem, follow this guide closely. It will help you to tune your CB antenna without a meter.  The CB antenna still needed to be tuned even before the SWR meters came about. So, as a CB antenna owner, you need to know a couple of ways of getting your CB radio tuned.

You should however take note that the latest CB antennae have a built-in meter (SWR). Don’t panic, you can still tune them without an SWR meter. I will show you how.

Things you Need for Tuning a CB Antenna without an SWR Meter

Testing a CB antenna without an SWR meter requires a couple of tools. Below is a rundown of the items you will require to tune your CB antenna without an SWR meter:

  • Two CB radios – of which one needs tuning
  • A short coaxial cable
  • An open space – about 40 ft from one end to another
  • One microphone – is needed for the transmission testing
  • A volunteer to help you out

CB Antenna Tuning Procedure

After assembling all the requirements for CB radio tuning, follow the below-mentioned steps to tune your CB antenna:

STEP 1: Find an Open Location

land location

An open area of about 40 feet is great for this procedure.

Start by preparing your open location. Make your testing environment free of unnecessary objects and obstacles. Ideally, you need an open space, with no people and buildings. But small objects and rocks won’t interfere much with your testing activity. Buildings and trees interfere with the tuning or can completely sabotage or hinder the testing. (1)

STEP 2: Prepare the Antenna for the Tuning Process

CB antenna preparation

Ensure that your CB antenna is in good shape and that is functioning before you begin the testing. A complete antenna should have a plastic cap at the top end.

The plastic cap on the top of a CB antenna influences the tuning process. If it is not available then the tuning won’t be worthwhile. You can either buy a new plastic cap or get a new antenna for testing.

STEP 3: Get Ready for your Second Radio

As stated, a second radio is a must in this experiment.  Get it ready. You will use it for comparison, which will add a layer of accuracy. (2)

In most cases, you will have to purchase a second CB radio because it is hard to just get it. However, if you can’t afford a second radio you may alternatively make your phone useful. It is hard to tune your phone to the same channel as the CB radio but it can happen. For this purpose, it’s always best to fetch a second radio for the best results. 

I recommend having a volunteer see you through the second radio setup and management. So, you or your tuning partner should set the second radio to the same channel as the test radio that you want to tune. Now, move the second radio at a distance from the CB radio. The distance between the two radios offsets the possibility of a distorted transmission. You may be thinking the process is not working whereas the problem arises from the distance. So, be cautious in this step.

STEP 4: Set up an Association Between the Two Radios

After successfully stationing your second radio at a considerable distance from each other, establish a connection between the two. This is necessary for the CB antenna’s transmission power testing. Do this until the two radios are on the same channel. This will be justified by the static from the second radio. This sound means the radios are connected. Carry on to the next step!

STEP 5: Use a Microphone

using microphone

After establishing a connection between the two radios, proceed to test for the CB antenna tuning. Hook a microphone up to the radio you’re tuning. After microphone installation, speak into the microphone.

Check the transmission signal. If your CB radio is on the tune, the second radio will pick up a clear-cut signal. Your partner should be able to hear it and update you accordingly. But if the signals are distorted or jumbled up, your CB radio is not tuned.

To obtain clarified or clear signals, adjust the antenna. Gently move your antenna until you obtain an excellent signal. Again, your partner should focus on the sound being transmitted to the second radio from the CB radio. As you focus on the transmission from your CB radio end. 

Adjusting the Antenna

adjusting the CB antenna
Video | CB World

Since antenna adjustment is one of the key steps of CB antenna tuning, we are going to dig deeper into it below.

Different CB antennae have varying adjustment mechanisms. There are three main types of antennas currently available. Below are various adjusting mechanisms:

  1. Pulling the antenna – You can vary the length of your antenna by pulling them.
  2. Turning the antenna – Some antennas have rings that you can turn while adjusting the CB antenna.
  3. Advanced antenna adjustment – Other antennas will require complex adjustments to get tuned. You may be prompted to use a steel whip or operate the wires inside your CB antenna.

NOTE: All antenna packages come with user manuals. Reading these manuals will help you adjust even the most complicated antennas. So, make sure you visit and surf your antenna manual and the antenna testing will be an easy task.  

Wrapping Up

You can effortlessly tune your CB antenna. For this, you don’t even need an SWR meter. You just the necessary items to perform the process. Go through our guide to get it right. Mastering the CB tuning technique is very important. It’s just because radios are still widely used even in the 21st century. I hope this guide makes your CB antenna tuning easy. We would love to know from you. Happy tuning!

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

(1) environment –
(2) experiment –

Video Reference

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About the author 

John Temple