How to Tune a CB Radio?

How to Peak and Tune a CB Radio? Let’s Find Out

A CB radio (citizen band radio) is that type of radio which transmits signal that are coming from other CB radios. Using the mechanism of Amplitude Modulation (AM) it sends and receives various type of signals.

Radio has been the way of mass communication since 1900. But the growth of radio frequency has not stopped in that time. It grew rapidly and got popular rapidly in that period of time. The smartphones we use today also uses radio frequency. Either you are speaking on the phone, or you are using wireless internet, it has been possible because of radio frequency.

In the late 60’s the CB radio has been industrially manufactured. But in 1970, in the crisis of oil in the USA, the popularity of CB radio exceeded every limit. It's still most popular than all other short length communication system.

It became famous at the time of 1970s. But even now some hobbyists use this CB radio. It is mostly used in trucks nowadays. It is also hooked up in some cars also. However, you can make a CB radio of your own if you want to. And here I have put the step by step instructions so that you can build a very powerful CB radio to use.

What Is a CB Radio? - In Brief

When we hear the voice in the FM radio, we can't speak back to the speaker, right? But a CB radio (also known as Citizens band radio) is that type of radio that can both transmit and receive signal.

Usually, there is a shared channel for all the connected devices. Only one can transmit a signal at a time. Other users have to wait for the line to be available.

Why Do You Need to Tune a CB Radio?

When you are going to buy CB radio's the first and the foremost task is to install the radio properly. Many of the cars and the trucks come with pre-installed CB radio.

But when you are trying to set up a powerful radio at home, office or for other personal needs, you may have to install a basic antenna and an SWR meter. Without properly tuning, you can't use the radio for fulfilling your purpose.

Step by Step Guide to Tune a CB Radio (With the SWR meter)

Read the Owner Manual

Different models of CB radios come with different requirement and specifications. All the things you need to know about installing and optimizing the radio is already there. It's always smart to know what the company says about the product.

Link the SWR Meter

An SWR meter is the heart of a radio linkage. It can control the output of every frequency and peak. So, the 2nd step is to link the SWR meter with the antenna using a coaxial cable.

Maximize the Modulator

A modulator is needed to maximize the voice in the frequency. It helps to receive the electromagnetic wave signal and then again gives us output as a regular voice.

But when you maximize it, keep an eye on the point if the voice is being distorted. Don’t overdo the maximization.

Adjust Squelch Range (if necessary)

Many of the SWR meters comes with a squelch controller where others do not. Now, it may come to your mind what the squelch range does.

The basic function of a squelch range is ‘Noise Cancellation’. The noise is minimized automatically and only your voice is maximized when you adjust it properly.

Peaking is Necessary

Peaking the radio is the most extreme part. Only peak all by yourself when you have enough experience in this area. If not, always take the radio to the specialists for peaking.

Test the Radio with Other Radios

Now, your radio is almost ready for use. Take another CB radio and put them on the same channel. Experiment with different channels to get the best experience.

Learn all the Codes

That’s it. You are finally done. You have successfully tuned the CB radio perfectly. Now learn the codes for the best uses.

Such as Channel 9 is official channel for emergencies. There are others. You can also customize some of them so that you can use properly.

How to Tune a CB Radio (without A SWR Meter)

When you have no SWR meter with you, you have to follow a different approach for tuning the CB radio:

Use the Same Channel for Both Radios

When you are tuning the antenna without the SWR, you have to use the same channel for both the radios. So, find a suitable channel and connect the radios.

Start Talking in the ‘Tuning Microphone”

Now start talking in the microphone of the radio you wish to tune. Speak in a clear and loud voice to start calibration. Keep your voice as steady as possible for the best tuning experience.

Adjust the Tuning Screw

Now the main part comes. You have to manually adjust the screw of the antenna until you get the best possible signal. The communication through the radio should be flawless. So, when you get the best possible communication with each other, you are done!

So, this is how you will have to tune a CB radio without an SWR meter. But it is always recommended to buy an SWR meter. They come at a cheap price.


CB radios are actually no longer in fashion, but if you want you can buy one from the electronics hardware stores. You may also find it in the truck shops too. CB radio is the priority of your shopping in this case, but you should pick up some other stuffs as well.

  • Radio: you need to buy the radio itself. It is usually 4 watt and sometimes a microphone will also come with free.
  • Antenna: Antenna is the most important thing in this radio setup. Fiberglass antenna is the most preferable because it is easily tunable.
  • A SWR Meter: It the part through which you can correctly measure the output given by the radio. It is very important because checking if you are getting the desired output or not is important.
  • Coaxial Cables: A coaxial cable is also needed to connect the antenna to the radio. You will require another cable only if you wish to hook it you the SWR Meter.
  • Batteries: Batteries are required for the power supply.

Now, you may be confused how you will hook up your SWR Meter. Don’t worry. I have come up with those instructions too.

You should hook the SWR reader like an adaptor between the radio and the antenna itself. You should check if the reading is as low as possible. Generally, the reading of 2.0:1 is quite a good reading and it is acceptable.

Now, you should know how to set up the antenna. Antenna is typically very easy to mount on a car. You will maximum the possibility of range capture if you just set it in the highest place. This makes the antenna able to receive the strongest signal very easily.

Now that you have placed it in the highest place possible. Your next job is to connect it with the radio. Do it through the coaxial cables. You can also attach the quick release system and that would allow you to easily move or stick it in the place easily.

Now you have to alter the antenna as best as possible. Because tuning the radio means altering the antenna. Sometimes, it is required to adjust the antenna to make it able to get the best possible signal.

Test the Radio:

Check the SWR radio so that all the channels are getting the equal share of signal. Then you can assure that the frequencies are perfect by doing a test run in the channels.

Optimizing the CB Radio: 

Follow the owner’s manual so that you know every adjustment is done as it should be. Now I am going to give you some quick suggestions to make the peak of your radio. Before that, you need to make sure that you know all the basics.

If the radio is manufactured recently, then you should not require to peak it. Newer models don’t have the problem of drift and adjustment issues. Find an open area. If you can possibly take the device to an open are to do the check then it is the best. If you properly test and tune then you will have the least amount of signal noises.

Link SWR Meter

To check precisely connect you SWR Meter and you can do it through the coaxial cables.

Now you need to check the modulation. It can be done using the body of the CB Radio. Tweaking and Modulation is very preferable way of checking the output power.

Adjust the Quelch Range: 

It is the background noise cancelling function. You can do it using a nobon the body of the CB. Adjust is to the point where the noise is in the minimum level but the voice is still untouched.

Go to a store for doing the task of peaking. Check the internet reviews of the store before you give them your radio. Because all the store are not expert in handling the CB type of radio.

Then you have to test you radio using another CB radio. You can set the same channel and then check how your transmission is working.

This was pretty much how you should tune and peak your CB radio. And it is very much important that you take special care of the radio. Because it is reported that the type of CB radio often requires extra cautions while handling it.


So, here are all the things you need to know when you are trying to tune a CB radio. By following the steps properly, you will be able to install the CB radio properly. Also, you will get the best experience at the time of using. For the newest type of CB radios, such as wireless (used in the military) these processes can be applied.

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