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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I installed a CB radio in my '09 SXT for traffic and bear updates when I'm on the road ... an invaluable tool if you do any travelling at all.

Please keep in mind that I had to get this done with a deadline since I was leaving on an eight-day road trip. There are some parts of this install that I will change later, I'm sure. I'll post up the improvements when I do ... if anyone's interested.

To start with, I sent the radio (Cobra 25 NW ST WX) out to get worked on. I got it all dialed in, bumped up the modulation to 100%, et cetera (the usual "peak and tune"). I also had the dead key set down to about 1.5-2 watts so it'll work with the amp I bought (an RM-Italy KL203).

The hardest part was finding an antenna mount. They don't make any that will work with the car "out of the box" near as I could figure.
I ended up getting the Fire Stik trunk lip mount and modding it to fit the Caliber's hood. It needs to sit level, so I added some nuts and washers that I finished off with several layers of sticky felt pads to protect the paint. Looks like this:

Looks crooked in the pic, but that's sitting just right to position the whip vertically.
That wire hanging there is in case there's trouble getting the SWR down low enough ... I didn't need it and clipped it off later.

Here's a side shot:

Notice that I had to add a nut on the back part of the mount as well. There's quite a bit of slope (in two directions) with that Caliber hood. I secured the nut to the mount with some JB Weld epoxy. All protected with felt pads and hidden with a black cover later.

For the coax, I used a 9' cable with the Fire Ring mount attachment. Also from Fire Stick. You can just see the Fire Ring connector on the under side of the mount in the pic shown above. I also ordered two 3' jumpers; one for the amp and one for the SWR meter.

I took all my power straight from the battery using all waterproof heat shrink connectors:

I used a pretty heavy guage wire ... 8 or 10 ... I forget. I put a fuse in-line right by the battery and then ran the wires straight into a loom.

When the intake parts are put back on, I think it looks pretty trick:

You can see the loom coming up from the battery and running across the filter box just to the left of the clips.

You can't see it too well in this pic, but I have the coax routed into the loom right as it starts down toward the fire wall. I also have a PA cable coming out of the loom at the same spot in case I ever decide to hook up an external speaker.


To get through the firewall, I came up through the hole that the A/C drip tube normally exits out of. I ran the loom right through the stock grommet. Naturally, I then needed a hole for the drip tube, so I drilled a 1/2" hole right below the stock hole and routed the tube through there. It was a tight fit, but I sealed it up with some goo anyway just in case.

Here's a shot of the loom coming out of the firewall and the A/C drip tube going through its new hole:


Here's what it looks like from under the car:

This pic is looking up, so the drip tube is on the bottom and the loom is on the top.
You can see, I think, how nice and tight the drip tube fits in that 1/2" hole. The sealant is probably overkill, but that's how I roll.

Here we go with all the "flooring" back in place and the loom routed behind the console. I have it coming out into the glove box through a hole I drilled in there.


I ran the hot lead into a distribution block to send the power to the CB, the amp for the CB, the amplified speaker for the CB, and an always-on powerpoint for my GPS unit. I used another distribution block to collect all the grounds for a nice, neat install. A shot of one of the distribution blocks I used:

These are pretty cool and make for a nice install.

I mounted the CB itself to the side of shifter area. I took off the bottom part of the case and ran a couple of screws into the plastic, then reattached the rest of the radio back onto the bottom part. Nice and secure:


Another view of the set-up from the driver's seat:


Here's a shot of the antenna (a 4' Wilson Flex) and the mount with the black cover on it to hide all the metal bits:



My SWR with this set-up is about 1.1:1 barefoot and 1.4:1 with the amp in-line. According to the Bird meter, I'm only reflecting about 0.5 watts back into the radio at full swing with the amp on! It doesn't get much better than that.

I'm getting great audio reports from this rig (thanks, William!) and excellent range. Well, except for directly to the left since I have basically no ground plane in that direction.

Huh. I thought I had some pix of the amplified speaker and the amp. I guess I don't. Well, anyway, the speaker is from Radio Shack and gives nice, clean sound and will go way louder than you would ever want! The amp is the RM-Italy KL203 I mentioned above. It's swinging to about 110-120 watts, which is about all I dare push through the antenna that I'm running.
If I get around to it (and anybody cares), I'll take some pix of the rest of my install and post 'em up. I used the bottom glove box for the wiring and amp, and the space under the passenger seat holds the speaker. It all needs to be neatened up a little anyway ... I also need a microphone mount and a more elegant run for the GPS power cord. I tell ya', it's never enough, you know?

That's about it!
If you're thinking of doing a CB install (and I can't imagine taking long drives without one), this set-up will work well.



-Slo
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
You can't get traffic and bear updates with a cell phone, my friend.
No way, no how.
CBs and cell phones are completely different devices used for completely different purposes. They aren't even remotely interchangeable.
Feel free to call the numbers painted on the sides of trucks and ask them how things are going if you want, but I don't think you'll have much luck.
If you've never travelled with a CB ... well, you just don't know.

There are no holes in the hood, BTW. No damage of any kind.
Look more closely at the thread and pictures.


-Slo
 

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Actually, depending on which system you are on, even a few miles from Philadelphia, or places "off the beaten path" there is minimal or even no cell phone service(I've found a few dead spots once you get out there a ways). So a CB radio could come in handy at times.
 

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Yes whatever it takes to make you comfortable and give
you a scure feeling while on the road.I have wifi,cellfone
and world linked uhf/vhf radio in my Cali even though I
am not on the road as much anymore.
Just wonder why you didn't try rear hatch mount for
antenna?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Nice set-up, bigtsr!
I'll look at that actually ... my mount is thicker than that one (CB antennas are pretty big), so I'm not sure it would fit in the gap. I'm gonna' find out, though!
Have you had any problems with the coax from repeated bending as you open and close the hatch?
 

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No I haven't had any coax failure in the 3-1/2 yrs it's been installed.
The coax comes out of the hatch at the bottom and runs UP the right
side rain path then is fastened to the inside top of hatch back down
to antenna.
Yes I noticed the bigstick antenna,I have a 10 meter (almost the same band)
antenna that fits the same mount (Motorola NMO) and works great.
Slimmer and lighter cb (11 meter) antennas are availiable.

I forgot that it's law here in Ontario now so the Cali is also Bluetooth
equipped for cellphone and gps systems.
 

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Do you happen to have a picture of the distribution block with all the leads connected? I've got a similar setup I'm going to attempt one weekend with a new scanner unit and I want to be able to run speaker power and other leads off the block.

Thanks
 

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Reps for a nice write up, I can see how you did it.
 

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Im thinking about putting one in my car but unsure where to put the antenna
Choices:
1. For the most omnidirectionnal electromagnetic signature, a magnetic mount type of antenna in the center roof location. ( like dropping a small rock in the center of a small children pool : the wave in Reception-Transmission in microvolts will go more 360°)

2. RX-TX directionnal towards the front will be to mount the antenna at the rear somewhere. ( like dropping a small rock at the end of the pool; the waves will have a tendecy to follow the mass of the metal. )


- Shield of the coax is linked to the mass of metal of the vehicle.
- Center fed of the coax is your antenna.

Frequency is oscillating between both. :)

One can use some software to see the electromagnetic signatures more precisely but the pool analogy is great with students in classrooms ;)


Enjoy! :smileup:
 

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If you go for the full ¼ wavelenght fiberglass covered antennna ~8 feet 3 inchs, it comes with a ball mount and because of it's lenght, you have to put it in the rear bumber with a braket to reach some metal on the chassis. This one will have no loss in RX-TX and will have some directivity ( Strengh in that direction ) towards the front.

If you go for a magnetic mount, these have loading coils in the base ( inductance ) and the antenna has a little bit of loss ( the magnetic capture surface is smaller so less magnetic energy goes changing to electricity in microvolts in your coax ). But the advantage is that you can put it in the center of the roof for a true omnidirectionnal signature. A couple of good reputable models are the Wilson and K-40. They are smaller in size but perform well.

Of course you can also mount the magnetic antennas in the rear to get a small front pattern like the full ¼ wavelenght.

Here's the two radiation patterns ( top views ) from my teaching notes:

Omnidirectionnal - center:


Rear - a bit more directionnal to the front ( righ corner ) if put in rear center, it's toward front center ... etc. :


 
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