How to Set up and Install a CB Radio? Beginners Guide

How To Set Up And Install A Cb Radio? Beginners Guide

Since you are here, we can already tell that you are fascinated by these cool-looking devices from the times of our grandparents. So you’ve got the best CB radio on the market, but do you know how to set it up?

Well, today is your lucky day again, because we, here, are ready to guide you through the entire set up and installation processes, in this step-by-step guide we have prepared.

But before we begin, it’s important to mention something. The first thing you have to do is to find out if the CB radio is compatible with your vehicle. If not, then it will come to no use to you. But if yes, well, let’s get right down to it then!

We hope you will have no difficulty understanding the instructions. Pay attention, and you’ll have your CB radio going in no time at all.

Installation Process

CB radios are not too hard to install, but many things can go wrong if you are not careful. Maybe that’s why most people prefer to ask for expert or professional help. But nothing’s more fun than being able to take on nerdy things on your own.


So, follow this simple step-by-step instruction guide about how you can install and set up your own handheld CB radio.

When you have all the necessary hardware with you, it is time to follow the steps. Also, be aware of your safety.

Step 1 – Mount the Radio

It might be the most important part of the whole installation process. While mounting, you must keep in mind that the place you are putting the radio on must always be easily reachable and in plain sight. You must be capable of easily reaching the radio even while driving.


Now, it is a terrible idea to mount your CB radio behind objects. For example, if you mount the radio behind the steering wheel, it might not seem like an awful idea at first, but it could be dangerously distracting for you when you are driving.

And it is also not a good idea to mount the radio anywhere that could get in the way of the driver or passenger or somewhere where it could harm the durability of the radio.

Step 2 – Mount the Antenna

The next task is to mount the antenna. While mounting it, you must be careful not to block its tip. If you do that, your radio won’t receive signals properly.

One of the best places to mount your antenna is at the center of the vehicle’s roof. That way, it achieves whole 360-degree coverage. But if you are not keen on drilling on your roof, the next best option for you might be the trunk of your vehicle.

Always make sure that the antenna can receive signals properly, from wherever it is.  

Step 3 – Understand Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) Meter

Before you can complete your antenna installation, you need to perform a CB radio setup. You can initiate the process with SWR. How SWR helps is that it finds the perfect spot to install the antenna. To complete this task, make sure your vehicle is parked in an area with no obstruction.


The SWR meter might be available in both built-in position or might be there separately. If the SWR meter is not built-in, you will need an additional coaxial cable jumper.

Step 4 – Connect the Coaxial Connection

The condition of the coaxial connection might determine the performance of your radio a great deal. Simply put, you are going to have to connect your coax to the antenna by running the CB coax cable all the way from the antenna to the radio. The next task is to connect your CB mic. After this is done, you have to power the radio.

Step 5 – Connect to a Power Source

Powering the radio can be done in a few ways. Most people prefer doing it by connecting the radio to the vehicle’s battery, and some might prefer something else entirely, like using a cigarette cable.

While powering, make sure you connect the red wire first and the black one afterward. The red wire must be connected to the positive side of the battery so that the fuse box connection is always on. Black wire must be connected to the negative side of the battery.

Getting the Radio Tuned

Remember the SWR stuff? They are pretty important to understand the proper tuning of your radio. Whether your CB radio is properly tuned or not would determine the longevity of the radio as well.

To tune your radio, your SWR meter needs to be connected to the CB. Step number 3 has already mentioned how you can do that. After switching the SWR to SWD, you need to turn your radio on to channel number 1.

You have to press and hold the mic button, as the needle adjusts itself between channels 1 and 40. Switch back to SWR to SWR after that, read and record the reading and repeat the same process for the rest of the 39 channels.

If you find that the SWR reading is higher on channel 1 than it is on channel 40, you need to lengthen your antenna. Please note here that if the reading is over 2:1, it can damage the health of the radio.


Finally, when you are thinking of purchasing a CB radio, you must be careful to buy one that meets your needs. Also, don’t feel any pressure to get the best one out there. Just buy the one that is within your budget, as there won’t be a noticeable difference. Best of luck!

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