How to set up a base CB station

Written by kurt schanaman
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How to set up a base CB station
A CB radio base station is a permanent installtion of a grounded radio transceiver and an outdoor antenna. (radio image by Allyson Ricketts from

A Citizens Band (CB) radio base station is any location where a CB radio is installed in a more permanent installation, rather than in an automobile or other mobile application. Contrary to a portable installation where a vehicle body chassis is used for an electrical ground, a CB base station must be grounded correctly through use of an actual earth ground for proper operation of the radio and antenna system. With larger antennas and better grounding, CB base stations provide for an enjoyable and efficient means of radio communications.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Electric drill
  • Drill bit, 1-inch diameter, 1-foot long
  • Copper grounding rod, 10 feet in length
  • Grounding wire termination block
  • Spool of copper grounding wire
  • Sledge hammer
  • Screwdriver set
  • Wire cutters

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  1. 1

    Drill a hole through the wall near the location where the CB radio will be installed, through which the antenna cable and the grounding wire will be passed from outside the building and into the room where the radio will be placed. Review a copy of the building plans for the building in which this hole will be drilled to ensure the hole will be drilled where no plumbing or electrical wires exist.

  2. 2

    Place the spool of copper grounding wire outside the building next to the hole that has been drilled through the wall. Unroll a 4-foot length of the copper grounding wire and pass it through the hole, along with the antenna coaxial cable that is connected to the antenna.

  3. 3

    Enter the building to where the cable and the grounding wire were passed through the wall. Screw the antenna connector to the antenna plug on the back of the radio, and connect the grounding wire to the ground terminal (marked as "GND" on most radios). If the radio doesn't have a dedicated grounding terminal, use a screwdriver to loosen a screw on the back of the radio and form a hook on the end of the grounding wire which will loop around the shaft of the loosened screw. Tighten the screw so the grounding wire is "pinched" or sandwiched between the metal panel of the radio and the head of the screw.

  4. 4

    Return outdoors to where the spool of grounding wire is located. Drive the copper grounding rod into the ground about 1 or 2 feet away from the side of the building. Hammer the rod into the ground with a sledge hammer until only 6 inches remains visible above the ground.

  5. 5

    Slide a grounding wire terminal block over the top of the copper grounding rod and tighten the side screw so the terminal block cannot be moved up or down on the rod with moderate pressure. Loosen the screw where the grounding wire enters the ground wire hole on the terminal block mounted to the rod.

  6. 6

    Cut the grounding wire from the spool with a pair of wire cutters and slide the end through the terminal block wire hole, then tighten the set screw that holds the grounding wire in place on the block. There should be no slack in the grounding wire between the grounding rod and where it enters the building through the hole in the wall.

  7. 7

    Plug in and turn on the CB radio and set the radios SWR/PWR (Standing Wave Radio / Power Output) switch to SWR. Quickly press the transmit key on the microphone and look at the SWR meter to see what the SWR reading is for the antenna. If the SWR reads 1.5 or lower, then no adjustment to the antenna is needed. However, if the needle on the meter goes above 1.5, let off the microphone transmit key immediately and adjust the antenna as necessary until the reading is 1.5 or less. You should strive to get the SWR ratio down as close as possible to 1.1 (or sometimes written 1:1, meaning one to one ratio).

Tips and warnings

  • For a more weatherproof installation, fill in all gaps in the hole where the antenna cable and grounding wire pass through the wall. Any good silicon sealer from a department store will prevent air, moisture and bugs from passing through the hole and into the room where the CB is installed.
  • Always disconnect the antenna cable from a CB during thunderstorms when lightning is present. It is best to disconnect the cable anytime when leaving the operating position for more than an hour or two. Lightning hitting a CB antenna can travel through the cable and into the radio, destroying the CB and possibly causing a house fire.
  • Never handle the outdoor antenna or the antenna cable during a lightning storm, as this may lead fatality should lightning strike the antenna while handling.

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