How to Buy the Right CB Radio Antenna

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How to Buy the Right CB Radio Antenna

A CB radio antenna is a fundamental piece of equipment for those who want a well functioning CB radio. Without an adequate antenna, a CB radio cannot transmit or receive signals. The longer the antenna, the longer the range, and the better the transmission and reception. However, the length of the antenna needs to be chosen so that it is appropriate to the environment that CB radio is used in. In general, it is not practical to have a giant antenna on the roof of a car, so the right CB radio antenna for a buyer is one that achieves the right balance between length and performance. To shorten the length of a CB radio antenna, yet retain as much performance as possible, extra wire coils can be loaded onto the main shaft. This effectively increases the range and performance of the antenna, while reducing the height.

When looking for the right CB radio antenna, it is helpful to understand the different types and their features. CB radio antennas can be bought from specialist electronics shops and online at eBay,, which has a range antennas available in a variety of lengths and shaft types.

Types of CB Radio Antenna

There are three major classifications of CB radio antenna:: base, centre, and top loaded. The load refers to the portion of the antenna heavily wrapped in thin, conductive wire. Wire is wrapped around the antenna stem to increase the broadcast and receiving abilities, while reducing the antenna's length. Choosing the right type depends on the construction material, the length, and the mounting position.

Base Loaded CB Radio Antenna

A base loaded CB radio antenna contains a coiled wire protected by a plastic housing at the very base of the antenna, close to the body of the vehicle. Base loaded CB radio antennas usually have a thin metal shaft, providing a certain amount of flexibility. Base loaded antennas tend to be the preferred type when a CB radio antenna requires mounting using a simple method. Base loaded antennas provide the lowest quality transmission and reception performance.

Centre Loaded CB Radio Antenna

Centre loaded CB radio antennas have their coil located inside a plastic shell just under half way up the shaft. They have a thick steel shaft at the base, and the upper portion is made of thin steel. Centre loaded CB radio antennas have moderate flexibility in the shaft, but are not ideal for off road driving, or in any area where there is a good chance of snagging the antenna on branches or low bridges: if the antenna flexes too much it is likely to snap along the thick steel shaft or at the join between the thick and thin sections. Centre loaded CB radio antennas are popular with lorry drivers, as they offer high efficiency for transmitting and receiving. They are also able to withstand large amounts of power, making these antennas a good compromise between efficiency, flexibility, and power handling.

Top Loaded CB Radio Antenna

Top loaded CB radio antennas are usually made from fibreglass, creating a fairly rigid shaft. The wire coil is wrapped around the entire shaft, with a bundle placed at the top. They are the most efficient type for both transmitting and receiving, so are incredibly popular. The fibreglass construction means that they are prone to snapping if they catch and are forced to bend too much. Therefore buyers often need to sacrifice some efficiency in order to have a shorter, more durable antenna.

Summary of Types of CD Radio Antenna

The table below summarises the information that a buyer needs in order to purchase the right CB radio antenna.. It provides the features, advantages, and disadvantages of each antenna type.

Type of CB Radio Antenna

Features

Advantages

Disadvantages

Base loaded

Coil housed at base of shaft

Thin steel shaft

Flexible

Can withstand some bending

Inexpensive

Simple mounting mechanism

Least effective performance

Centre loaded

Thick steel shaft at base

Coil housed mid way up shaft

Upper shaft is thin steel

Some flexibility

Can withstand minor bending

High efficiency

Can tolerate high power surges

May break if bent too much

More expensive than base loaded antennas

Top loaded

Rigid fibreglass shaft

Coil covering whole shaft

Highest performance and efficiency

Can tolerate high power surges

Too rigid

Prone to snapping

Needs to be small for durability

Needs to sacrifice efficiency for usability

Using the table above allows buyers to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each type of CB radio antenna. This help buyers to decide on the right type for their requirements based on performance, construction material, and suitability for different conditions.

Factors to Consider When Buying a CB Radio Antenna

When buying a CB radio antenna, buyers need to consider a number of different factors. The antenna needs to be of the correct size and type, with the correct mounting mechanism to function correctly.

Height of CB Radio Antenna

It is widely accepted that the longer the CB radio antenna, the better the transmission and reception range. However, it may be impractical to have a very long aerial attached to an ordinary car, so buyers need to find a compromise between height and performance. Ideally, the antenna should be slightly higher than the roof of the car to be a moderately effective transmitter and receiver.

Mounting of CB Radio Antenna

A standard single CB radio antenna is suited to most passenger and recreational vehicles. The most common types of mount for these antennas are magnetic, and boot or bonnet lip mounts. These are simple mounting mechanisms, with the boot or bonnet lip mounts providing the most secure fitting type on either the boot or bonnet of the vehicle. For large vehicles, such as lorries or very large passenger vehicles, dual antennas can be mounted to each wing mirror. Dual antennas offer the best reception for large vehicles, but are big, long, and bulky, so not suited to ordinary cars.

Usability of CB Radio Antenna

A CB radio antenna must be an effective transmitter and receiver to deliver at least an adequate performance. It must also be of the correct type and length. Not every antenna type is suited to every vehicle or use. Fibreglass antennas, for example, are more prone to snapping and breaking than many other types, so are not well suited to those who travel through overhanging brush or low hanging trees.

Also, if the antenna is tall and buyers regularly travel beneath low bridges there is a significant risk that the fibreglass shaft can snap. This is because they lack flexibility. In these situations, a steel antenna is more reliable as it has a large amount of flexibility and is more likely to spring back rather than snap. Springs and quick release mounts can be added to some antennas to reduce the likelihood of snapping, bending, and damage.

Grounding of CB Radio Antenna

A CB radio antenna has to be grounded properly to work well and provide a good performance. To ground a CB radio antenna properly, buyers need to connect the antenna to the chassis of the car, not just the body work. This can be accomplished with a grounding wire, which can normally be found at the base of the antenna.

To get the best performance, buyers should ground their antenna using the shortest route possible. CB radio antennas that are not grounded can irrevocably damage the electronics of the CB radio. Not grounding the antenna properly can also cause high standing wave ratio (SWR), dramatically reducing the efficiency and performance of the antenna. Grounding the CB radio antenna improves performance, significantly reduces feedback and static, and prevents damage to the radio.

How to Buy the Right CB Radio Antenna on eBay

There are many CB radio antennas available on eBay. Buyers can search from the eBay home page by typing the keywords "CB radio antenna&" into the search box. Buyers can choose to browse through all of the antennas available or use the filters that eBay offers to narrow down their search results. These filters allow the buyer to choose the condition of the CB radio antenna, either new or used, or the price range.

When choosing a CB radio antenna buyers should look at the item description and photograph carefully. Check that the antenna is the right type for the CB radio. If the buyer as any questions they should contact the seller for further information. Buyers should also look at the feedback of the seller before purchasing a CB radio antenna. Feedback is left for the seller once transactions have been completed. Sellers who have a high percentage of positive feedback offer a good and fast service to their buyers.

Conclusion

CB radio antennas are available with a thin or thick steel shaft, or a fibreglass shaft. Each shaft type has advantages and disadvantages, and buyers need to decide which type is best suited to their requirements. For example, a fibreglass antenna offers excellent performance, but is not well suited for use in areas where overhead objects, such as bridges or foliage may snag it, as the fibreglass is rigid and may snap. Additional springs and quick release mounts can be fitted to most CB radio antennas to increase their flexibility. A CB radio antenna must be grounded to offer good performance, meaning it has to be connected to the chassis of the car, rather than just the body work. This is accomplished with the use of a grounding wire running from the base of the antenna to the chassis. Buyers can find the right CB radio antenna from sellers on eBay.

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