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Advice Pages   CB For Caravanners
12v / 24v Autoswitching   |    Advice on Accessories   |    Advice on Buying   |    Advice on Choosing   |    Advice on Installing   |    Base Station CB   |    CB Features and Facilities explained   |    CB For Car Enthusiast Clubs & Groups   |    CB For Farms and Businesses   |    CB For Motorhomes & Campers   |    CB Lingo and slanguage   |    Choosing an EC-990 Echo Chamber   |    Groundplane / Earth connection / Artificial Ground   |    Handheld CB's   |    Handsfree Legislation   |    History of CB   |    How To Use An SWR Meter   |    Interference   |    PMR446 Licence Free   |    UK and EU bands compared   |   

CB Radio can be the ideal communication method for those on caravan trips, days out or motoring holidays...!

The use of CB radio among caravanners is becoming more and more common, mainly due to the declining number of general users (meaning far less idiots to interupt or overhear you), and the many different advantages that CB can bring.

With a vehicle-to-vehicle range of 4-6 miles in average terrain (much more from high points) CB will allow a group of vehicles travelling together to easily keep in touch, whether it be for chit chat between the cars, or co-ordinating stops and finding your way on unfamiliar roads.

With CB radio, what is said by one person is heard by all those in the group who are listening on the same channel... What is said by one person in the group is heard by all the others - excellent for important information ("lets take a break at these next services" etc) and for pasing the time on a long journey with inter-car quizes, banter and conversation!

With CB radio you can often get traffic reports on the major roads and motorways from truck drivers on the mobile "calling channel" (channel 19 on the UK band). Although the language on this channel can be a bit ripe - this is an excellent reason in it's own right for having a CB.

A traffic report for the road 10 miles ahead of you is likely to come from someone on the opposite side of the carriageway who has just driven past the very stretch of road you want to know about! This is quicker and more accurate than relying on local radio or Trafficmaster and even gives you the chance to ask for information on alternative routes and to ask for directions in unfamiliar towns.

CB can be very easy to install, especially if it's a temporary set-up for a holiday or weekend away - maybe a 2 minute job... plug the set into the cigarette lighter and place a magnetic mounting aerial on your roof!

What's involved?

CB radio has always been intended as a simple, short range, two-way band service available to the general public without the need for technical know-how and as such is (in most cases) extremely easy to fit and use.

To get yourself up and running you will need a CB set, an aerial fixed to the vehicle or and a lead to connect the two!

Choosing the right equipment

Hopefully the information on this site and in our paper catalogue will give you a insight into what equipment might be best for you, but please feel free to email or phone us if you would like us to suggest a system for your needs and budget.

As with a lot of things today, you do get what you pay for although in truth there are no "bad" CB's made now - what you do get when you spend more is general build quality and increased life expectancy of the equipment.

Having said this - there are certain CB's that are better than others and this doesn't automatically mean the most expensive! We have our proven favourites that we know will give problem free service (the Midland 48 Excel pictured is a good example of this) but we stock them all!

A budget CB may well transmit as far as a more expensive unit but the sound quality (both transmitted and received) might not be so good. The more expensive sets tend to use better switch-gear and controls, so you would expect them to last a bit longer than a budget set - especially if used intensively.

In truth, the one piece of the jigsaw that makes the most difference to performance is the aerial - and as a general rule-of-thumb, the larger an aerial is, the better it will work.

This isn't to say that you will need a huge flagpole sitting on the top of your car - in fact most of the smaller aerials are capable of the 2-3 miles that you might need for road convoy use, most of the time you will be much closer but there will be times when you get spread out more and 2-3 miles should cover this adequately.

Choosing an Aerial

As ever, if you would prefer it if we recommend a suitable aerial or package for you, just get in touch - we can discuss what you need and can advise on what might suit you best.

All of the aerials here use some kind of coil in them, as they actually need to be 9' long or more to work properly. Obviously none of these are physically 9' long (although we can supply them this big!), so they use a coil to make up the rest of the length needed. An average 4' long aerial would have a 4' thin steel whip and a loading coil with the other 5' coiled up inside.

Looking at our product pages here and our paper catalogue, it might seem like a bewildering choice of aerials, but here we'll go through the pros and cons of our most popular aerials...

The Springer is an aerial which you may have seen bolted to the mirror arms on lorries, they are very popular with HGV drivers as they are very flexible and wont break if hit by trees.

These aerials have an open coil which becomes a big spring so they are extremely flexible and will bound around all over the place, and will lean back at an angle at motorway speeds.

There are two versions of this aerial, a full size (about 160cm) one and a smaller one (about 80cm) which is slightly more rigid.

They are available in a selection of different colours, are fairly cheap and work pretty well (the larger one performs better and is easier to tune.)

The Dial-A-Match is a discreet aerial where the loading coil is in a small rigid section at the bottom of the aerial which incorporates 2 rings for easy tuning.

There are three sizes available, 2', 3' and 4' and this design has been around for a very long time!

Made in the USA and a good price too.

The Mythos 9000 is a high performance aerial that will transmit further and hear more than almost every other aerial available.

This is because instead of being 9' long (including the coiled up bit) - it is actually 34' long, although with a physical size of around 4' ! This makes it much more efficient.

It is manufactured in Italy by a company called Sirio who are well known for their quality products and this aerial is well made and should give years of service.

It is almost entirely black in colour with a black painted steel whip.

The Sirio Hi-Power 3000 & 4000 are the best vehicle aerials you can get, for sheer performance. There are two versions - the 3000 is approximately 1.8m and the 4000 just over 2m, so they are both large aerials!

They are also different from the aerials above, and indeed most of the aerials available, in that they have a different mounting arrangement.

Most aerials have a 3/8" thread on the bottom, that screws into the mount, whereas the Hi-Power uses a different sized thread, which limits the number of mounting options a little - although there are still magnetic mounts, gutter mounts, bracket mounts and through-a-hole-in-the-roof mounts available, so you are not too limited for options.

How to mount the aerial

There are a number of different way to mount an aerial on your car for use when towing...

Magnetic mounting

Gutter mounting

Roofrack / Roofbars mounting

Hatchback or boot mounting

Through a hole-in-the-roof, or other body panel

Magnetic Mounts

This is an excellent way of mounting either permanently or temporarily but especially if you just want to have the aerial on for a week away or a particular event. All the magnetic mounts we supply come with cable and plug attached - all you have do do is put them on the roof, screw the aerial on and plug it into the set. Bear in mind that magmounts will only work if your roof is steel, so fibreglass roofed/cabbed vehicles and most Land Rovers wont be able to use them.

Magmounts are simply placed on the roof, ideally in the middle although elsewhere on the vehicle will usually be ok as long as there is enough metal for it to stick to, and that the aerial is not obscured by anything.

You are usually ok to bring the cable in through the door jamb or alternatively, an open window or sunroof might be available in summer (we hope!)

Many of the magnetic mounts have a rubber boot or vinyl pad to protect the roof, and as long as you make sure there is no grit or dirt on the roof prior to putting the magmount on you should have no clue that an aerial has ever been there once it's removed again.

The only way you can get damage from using a magmount (and this damage can be very dramatic!) is if you try to use a magmount that is too small for the aerial, or by using an unsuitable aerial. The rigid types of aerial, like the "Firestik" are not suitable for magnetic mounting - they have no give in them, and are too thick - making too much wind resistance.

If you purchase the equipment from us - we will ensure that you have a mount and aerial that are suited to each other, and that they will be safe at non-towing motorway speeds (i.e. 70-80mph), so you will have no problem at all at towing speed.

There are a few magnetic aerial kits available, where you get an aerial, magmount and cable all in one package - these range from "cheap-and-nasty" budget kits through to rather stylish bits of kit!

Click here to see our range of magnetic mounts

Click here to see our range of magnetic antenna kits

Gutter Mounting

Gutter mounts are designed to go over the lip of your gutter, (needs a "conventional" lipped gutter, so is not suitable for some modern vehicles) and have 2 allen keyed bolts that tighten down into the trough of the gutter to hold the mount on. These bolts also make the ground connection - so you will need to scrape the paint away down to shiny metal where the ends of these (thin) bolts tighten down. You can protect this with a spray-on plastic seal spray, or a rust inhibiting paint. (Paint would be the best method, but it's not to everyones taste, although it's only a very small area that will need it and it is in the bottom of your gutter, so not usually visible anyway!)

Click here to see our range of gutter mounts

Roofrack or roof bars

This can be a good way of mounting if you have a utility vehicle with a roofrack - the aerial mount can clamp around an upright or horizontal piece of the rack.

Usually when mounting on a metal roofrack - the size of the rack will be enough to act as the ground, and no "connection" with the rest of the vehicle is necessary.

For mounting on roof bars, you will need to make sure that they have a good contact with the rest of the vehicle - the aerial needs a connection to ground (a large metal object will do the trick - in this case it's your vehicle) to work properly. If not, you could use our "Electronic Ground Plane" to simulate a ground connection for you.

Mounting this way, you will have to run the cable along part of the rack, so remember to use cable ties or similar to prevent the cable coming loose or snagging on anything - and you will need to run it inside the passenger compartment somehow, through the door opening or similar.

The mounts that will go onto your roofrack are called "mirror mounts" as they are originally designed for fitting to the mirror arms on HGV vehicles.

Click here to see our range of roofrack mounts

Hatchback or Boot lip mounting

These mounts are designed to go onto either the top of a hatchback tailgate, or the top or side of a boot - a good alternative to gutter mounting on some cars.

The principle of getting a good ground with boot and hatch mounts is similar to with a guttermount except that the screws holding the mount on are inside the underneath of the boot lip, so are not usually seen at all.

These mounts are adjustable for angle in most directions allowing you to fit them on sloping surfaces and still get your aerial standing upright. They are supplied with a protective rubber pad to prevent any damage to the paintwork.

Click here to see our range of hatchback and boot mounts

A Hole in the roof or other body panel

This method is not always as drastic as it sounds - you probably already have a hole somewhere for a radio aerial, and this is a good solution for those wanting a permanent mount.

We can supply a splitter box that enables you to use a CB aerial for both the CB and your car radio, and although you need a fairly large aerial for this to work well - it means you still only have one hole in the roof, but both radio and CB will work. Unfortunately you cannot transmit on the CB while listening to radio - but you can listen on both simultaneously.

These sort of mounts can also be put onto a bracket or plate, so can be used in a variety of different ways to mount an aerial almost anywhere.

The most popular ones are called dome mounts, and there are versions to cater for the different mounting connections of all the aerials we sell.

Click here to see our range of dome mounts

There are other types too, called stud mounts which can also be used for surface, bracket or plate fixing.

Click here to see our range of stud mounts

Connecting the power

All of our CB sets come complete with a power cable, usually 4'-6' long, and they all need a connection to the 12v power in your car.

You have two options for powering the cb...

You can run the supplied cable to a connection on the fusebox or straight to the battery, or patch into the power feed to the car stereo.

You can put a cigar lighter plug on the lead (or we can fit one for you) and simply plug it into the cigar lighter plug.

Click here to see our range of cigar lighter plugs and accessories

Fitting the CB set itself

Where to put a CB is different for every vehicle, and can depend on how much other stuff you've got on or around the dash, and on things like how long your legs are (fit under the dash on the drivers side or not)!

You will need to make sure that it is well secured - just in case of an accident. You would NOT want a heavy, sharp-edged metal box flying around the passenger compartment with you if youn were involved in an accident.

All of ours sets come with a mounting bracket which will help you find somewhere to put it, and the following are a few examples...

Under the seat
On the transmission tunnel
Slung under the dashboard
Remove the factory-fit cassette holder found in some cars and mount a small CB there
Mounted on the door
Inside the glovebox
Hung from the roof or roof console
Inset into the centre console (if you have room!)

With safety issues in mind - it may be possible to jam the set between seat and transmission tunnel, padded out with a jumper or similar, or to cover one side of the CB with heavy duty Velcro strips and stick this to the carpet somewhere around the cabin.

We have more detailed installation advice on this site - it is primarily written for those wanting to install CB in a 4x4 vehicle, but much of the information is just as relevant for all other vehicles. Click here to read our detailed installation advice

If you have an questions, or would like a bit of extra advice regards choosing or fitting - you can always call us - 01306-881137... we are happy to help.

What about an aerial on the Caravan itself?

Having a CB setup inside your caravan can be good too...

If you are in a group that places a high emphasis on social interaction and friendship then why loose the ability to all chat together from within your vehicles, just because you're no longer sitting in your car?

You could have a seperate CB within the 'van or simply remove the car unit and bring it inside.

The main thing to get right is the aerial... If you remember earlier i spoke about an aerial needing a connection to earth, or ground - well, getting a ground on a GRP or similar non-conductive contruction caravan could be difficult.

Luckily, there is a natural solution to this - marine CB aerials.

Marine aerials are ideal for mounting onto the body of a caravan because...

They are usually white, and look good on a caravan
They are designed to be used on boats, which are also often not metal, so most of the marine aerials have a built-in Electronic Ground, meaning you don't have to worry about a metal-to-metal connection for the mount.
They are often supplied with a foldover mount so could be mounted on the roof and kept folded over when not in use, and just brought upright when needed.

Another option would be to use any of our standard vehicle aerials with an Electronic Ground Plane on a small bracket.

Click here to see our range of marine CB aerials

If you have any questions regarding any aspect of CB radio - please get in touch with us


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