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Low range

Discussion in 'CB Antennas' started by BayAreaBigFoot, Jul 1, 2020.

  1. BayAreaBigFoot

    BayAreaBigFoot New Member

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    Hi guys newbie here, kinda new to cbs and new to the forum, thanks for having me.
    I have a question (may be a dumb one) soni have a cobra 29 lx with the cigarette lighter plug for power and ground and a wilson lil will magnet mount (im planning on upgrading soon)
    But it seems to me i have low range, my old swr meter is not working properly so i have tuned my antenna with the built in swr metee and im ahowing a good swr of around 1.5 on 1 and 40 but i had a buddy range test with me (he is running a decent setup very similar to mine but with fiberglass antenna) and various radio check on my commute it seems my range is only about 1/4-1/2 mile...is this normal for my setup? Is this due to the little antenna? Any help is appreciated


     

  2. Big Kahuna

    Big Kahuna Sr. Member

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    Range should be further than that with that setup. You didn't mention if this was over hills or in the city or in a forest etc. Signals can be effected locally by big hills/mountains etc.

    Possible things to check.

    1. Your cigarette lighter adapter - if it's not providing enough current the radio may not be able to TX properly although usually this would blow the fuse however if the adapter isn't getting a good ground etc that could be an issue. You could try to wire directly to the battery. However all that being said - I've used the cigarette adapter with numerous setups without issue but once or twice have had issues over the years.
    2. The Wilson Lil Wil - it's not a great antenna but it should get out at least 5 miles on flat terrain. Where is it mounted on your vehicle - center of the roof is the best location. Does it have a good metal surface to attach to?
    3. How is your coax routed into the vehicle? Is it pinched anywhere in a door or window, etc. If your coax is being squished that can effect your ability to transmit. You never want to compress your coax or have any sharp bends in it.
    4. Radio - is your coax screwed in securely to the back of the radio? With your radio meter mode set to S/RF - when you key up do the bars go all the way to the right on the meter? Did you do the power output test in the menu and did the radio pass?
    5. Is your Dynamike set to maximum?
    6. If you turn up the talkback to maximum does your audio coming out of the radio get very loud / too loud?
    Your radio from the factory is probably putting out around 3.5 watts and the modulation is probably set pretty low - if your antenna system isn't great and you combine those two factors then you won't be able to talk very far.

    One tool that would be very useful for your to troubleshoot would be an external meter that shows WATTS / SWR. Then you can verify the output of the radio and also have a more accurate reading for your SWR.

    Your radio is a model where it is very easy to turn up the modulation yourself. Ideally you'll want to set it to 100% but without the necessary equipment you should be able to do pretty well with a buddy listening on the other end. With the stock microphone you can probably turn the modulation all the way up inside without sounding distorted. Turning up modulation will drive the radio for more output which will increase transmit distance. If you're interested in taking the covers off and doing this we can provide information.

    These are all things to start with - try also placing your antenna in different places on the vehicle to see if your SWR goes up or down drastically or if it changes your TX distance.

    If your friend or someone you know has a Wilson 5000 or other nicer magnet mount antenna it might be good to just try it and see if with a different antenna you can talk much farther. Or if they have an external watt/SWR meter that would be helpful if they could check your system and radio output.

    Someone else will probably add some things I forgot.
     
  3. Handy Andy

    Handy Andy Do Your Research First, Then Decide...

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    If only for emphasis...
    There is a lot to be said about starting and creating a good system...

    Although a Lil Wil is a good starter antenna - it's really meant for simple setups and for users that only want to occasionally use a CB system for temporary means.

    It's when the CB bug bites - does the desire to get a better system arise from within and then they have several issues - mostly simple ones, to overcome.

    Well, how do you feel about making the setup more dedicated, a step-up instead of a set up?

    You did with some help, get the antenna tuned in and as you look over your system and compare it to your friends', you may see some shortcomings in yours, that have to be changed to meet or improve upon the performance - by doing that you also increase it's versatility and usefulness..

    Don't worry, this is a normal process.

    IF you like what's happening and want more - it's ok to look to a forum such as this to gain ideas to find others to help direct you to better equipment.

    A Cobra 29 is great start, A little antenna though for a good radio as is the '29 - you kinda hurt your ability to enjoy radio as a traveling companion for trips and even daily commutes.

    Perhaps a better question would be, where to go from here?

    1. Provide the best location for your antenna - on the roof or as high above near the top of the vehicle is best to improve the antennas ability to do it's job of putting signals into and getting them out of the air so your radio can use them.
    • More permanent mounts meet the radios performance needs better than a temporary or mag-mount system can.
    2. More dedicated wring and mounting system for the radio - the more permanent the setup the better, RF signals use Metal to radiate, so it's better to mount the radio more as a permanent accessory than a simple squeezed between the seats powered with a cigarette lighter, can. Wiring it into the accessory harness like the vehicles AM/FM Radio power supply, would help improve reception and lessen all the noise you near.

    Take small, simple, Little steps first. They help keep you focused so you can make the biggest strides and if done right, CB-ing becomes more fun.
    SmallSteps.jpg
     
    Slowmover and BayAreaBigFoot like this.
  4. 2NC995

    2NC995 DAN

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    You aren’t checking distance with the squelch cranked up on both ends, are you?

    How does your buddy sound to you, when he is the same distance?
     
  5. BayAreaBigFoot

    BayAreaBigFoot New Member

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    Slowmover and 357magnum like this.
  6. BayAreaBigFoot

    BayAreaBigFoot New Member

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    Thank you guys so kuch after work today i plan to reroute the wiring and place the antenna on the roof until i can get a better one, i have a new am/fmradio for the truck, when i replace that i will hardwire the cb and slowly try to eliminate some of the issues :) thanks again
     
  7. 2NC995

    2NC995 DAN

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    Always the best way to say thanks to pop in and give an update on how things worked out!! Can’t speak for them, but I bet Andy and Big Kahuna would like to hear back!

    Good luck with your setup!
     
  8. 357magnum

    357magnum Sr. Member

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    Bay , First Welcome to the forum ! Just passing thru the posts fast here's my suggestion , A radio is only as " Good " as the " Antenna " ! No matter what you decide on ... Bond , Bond & Bond again ! I learned that here .:) All The Best ! Stay Healthy & Safe ! 73 & God Bless ! Leo
     
  9. 357magnum

    357magnum Sr. Member

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    I chatted with France the other day while mobile on my Old Cobra 140 Gtl w/ xtra channels using a Styrker Mag Mount & a Little under :whistle: 250w , that day I probably didn't need the Amp . But Dan ( NC995 ) :rolleyes: "Forget about it" ! He can put a lot more " Fire In The Wire " than this Cheap Old Swamp Yankee Can ! ;):ROFLMAO: Don't Lie Dan !
     
  10. Slowmover

    Slowmover Sr. Member

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    My impression is that most guys quickly reach a point of, “enough”.

    But, with Citizens Band, asking a few friends or co-workers — in general — often leads to acceptance of poor performance. Really poor performance. When investigation would have revealed otherwise.

    Plenty of examples of guys here who kept at it.

    Who can hear, and get heard.

    Radio: a system of systems.

    I’ll chat at a truckstop with other drivers seated in their cab as I might be walking past, and stop. I have them turn on AM-19. If it’s busy I ask them to try a distance check. And invite them to walk over to my truck to try the same.

    There’s no comparison. Not for an average driver in an average company vehicle.

    Giving them examples, then, of how Radio has saved me time and made money for me every week I’ve driven. Money paid back. I’m paying myself.

    Bad as are Class 8 tractors to set up, a typical private vehicle with most of the same gear can be genuinely impressive. Stands out.

    .
     
    357magnum and Handy Andy like this.

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