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I got my first ham radio license when I was in 10th grade (which was a few class reunions ago to say the least). I spent 8 years in the Navy as an electronics technician and did the last 3 1/2 of them teaching communications repair at a Navy "C" school. I am by no means an RF wizard nor an engineer for that matter, but after building my first 2,000 watt HF linear amplifier from scratch, I felt comfortable enough to drop a hand full of ham and CB radios into my Jeeps over the past 19 years. (we won't count my wife's vehicles) OK....the secret is out, I'm somewhat of a radio junkie.
So it was on April 1st (yeah, I know, April Fool's Day) that I received an e-mail from Andrew Youderian at Right Channel Radios, a CB Radio and Antenna Shop. Somewhere along the way, he had surfed into the CB/Ham Radio section of my site and had a couple of questions for me. Fast forward through a bunch of questions and responses, a couple more weeks worth of e-mail exchanges, and here I am doing a product review on their most recent off-road CB radio kit offering.
One of the reasons I agreed to this installation and product review was to help other off-roaders. I get a fair amount of e-mail during any given week and some of it is CB/ham radio in nature. While I've tried to cover the various aspects of getting a CB into your vehicle via the write-ups on my site, these still leave the reader with the responsibility of acquiring all of the pieces and parts and assembling them into a working system. I won't answer an e-mail by recommending the reader stop by their local WalMart and discuss their communications needs with the well informed electronics associate. That just isn't right when you may be depending on that radio while out on the trail.
Andrew wanted to make a couple of off-road CB radio kits (priced at different levels) available to the Jeep folks (and other off-roaders) and asked me for input based on my radio and wheeling experience. I saw this as a great opportunity to provide my views and comments on the kits in hopes of getting something that really works into your hands and without breaking your budget. In addition to this, the goal was to get you everything needed to have you up and running without your driving around town looking for SWR meters, coax, an antenna, etc.
I told Andrew that I would install the kit and provide an installation
write-up to help the folks who haven't done this before. After all the
parts were installed and the antenna was adjusted, I would then provide comments regarding the kits performance. As a result of all of this,
I get more a few more write-ups on the site that will hopefully draw in more traffic.
Someday, if I decide to offer banner ads on the site, I'll have a broader
content base by which to support them. I also get a chance to spin the
knobs on some new radios (hopefully I'll review more than this one) and see how
they all stack up. Hey, I don't mind a test drive every now and again.
This past Friday, the day before I was scheduled to head out with Donna to run a favorite trail that ends at an old mining town, the kit arrives from Right Channel Radios. Timing is everything and I just didn't have it going for me this time. I opened the shipping box and did a quick check on the contents to make sure everything arrived safely. It had.
The Uniden kit has everything needed to get you up and running. It includes a Uniden 510XL CB radio, your choice from three available antenna mounting solutions, a 3' or 4' Wilson Flex antenna (these are NICE), and a SWR meter with cable to properly adjust your antenna once everything is installed. I've seen so many folks just thread an antenna onto a mount and call it good.....and these are the same folks that you can't hear a hundred yards away on the trail. Glad to see that the Right Channel guys included the SWR meter. Now you don't have an excuse for an improperly tuned antenna (and you don't have to pay a CB shop to tune it for you).
Since the off-road kit is comprised of several components, I've done
write-ups for each part of the kit. This will hopefully make it easier to
find exactly what you need or if you are new to the CB game, just start at the
beginning and work your way through to the end.
FireStik Jeep Hood Antenna Mount Installation
Uniden Pro 510XL CB Radio Installation
Wilson Flex-3 5/8 Wavelength Antenna Installation & Tuning