CB Radios: Keepin’ it Rugged & Simple )))
JPF: Tell me about those. What should we look for in a CB?
AK: Rugged simplicity. Bigger and fancier radios with lots of knobs and buttons may look great, but they’re difficult to mount in a Jeep, especially in a TJ where the dash is already cramped for space. Besides, features like MIC Gain, Clarifiers, Delta Tune, & Single-side-band only become impediments when you’re trying to negotiate an off-camber situation for your buddies to spot for you.
JPF: Okay, you lost me. Singleside-band? I just want to crack some jokes and be able to call for a little help if needed.
AK: Go right ahead. All I’m saying is “Keep it simple, stupid” but not cheap. The cheaper radios on the market are often not built well enough to stand up to the dust, moisture, & vibration of being in an off-road vehicle. Radio Shack, Cobra, and Uniden all make mid-grade radios that offer rugged construction, compact size, and simple operation.
JPF: So I can hop onto eBay, search for any of these, and be okay?
AK: Sure! Buy a model with a digital tuner and 40 channels. CB channels 25-40 usually a little quieter than 1-19. You don’t want to be the one guy in the group that forces all of your trail mates to listen to Tijuana all day because you couldn’t find a CB built after 1980.
JPF: Do you have any other points that you’d like to share?
AK: Definitely. Mount your radio somewhere in your Jeep that will allow you to operate it while you’re strapped in place by your seat belt. I once had a situation where a guy on our trail run fell back and got stuck where his nose was up in the air and his seat belt retractor locked up, pinning him in the driver’s seat. He sat there for over an hour before we noticed he was missing. The problem was that he had mounted his radio on the passenger side of the Jeep, so he couldn’t reach it. Also:
· Consider an external speaker; off-road driving can be noisy
· Make sure both your radio and antenna have very good ground connections; it will make a noticeable difference.
· Wire your radio directly to your battery; ignition and alternator electrical noise are usually present elsewhere in the vehicle’s wiring.
JPF: What should I look for in a CB radio antenna?
AK: An antenna is to the radio what your speakers are to your stereo. A nice CB coupled with a poor antenna installation and you would be better off with a couple juice cans and some string. Mounting an antenna of a Jeep can be a difficult thing. I’ve seen far too many poor installations. I’d recommend going with one of the commercially available mounting brackets found in one of the Jeep accessory warehouse catalogs. There are several good ones out there such as the behind the tail light or the antenna bracket that doubles as a spare tire bump stop. Unlike most vehicles, a professional looking CB antenna installation will actually add value to a Jeep. Don’t be afraid to drill holes if necessary.