Tech Articles: Get a CB Radio For Your Z, For Safety and Fun

by Ben Pila Jr.

This month I felt a little talk about CB radios would be good. CB (Citizens Band,) radios have been around for a long time. They are very handy to have in your Z, especially when we do our caravanning as a club. With a dozen or so Zs on the road, it's nice to know that the group is slowing all of a sudden to make a turn or our friend in the black and white is near. Having the ability to communicate with the other driver's in the caravan makes it fun.

Most CBs are self contained and include a corded microphone and a speaker built in. The antennas mount separately with a coaxial type cable connecting the receiver to the antenna. The hand held CBs have their own built in antenna but some have a fitting for an external antenna. The hand held CBs work fine but their range isn't quite as far as a regular CB. The Price of CBs range from $24.00 to more than $150.00+ depending on what features and the quality of the unit. Try to stay away from the low cost/quality Taiwan/China made units. I've personally been using a Uniden PRO510XL for years and it works well.

Antennas are usually sold separately and come in many styles depending on your particular needs. There's the magnetic mount that sticks to the roof. I currently use a magnetic mount which does fall off about 105 mph but I don't recommend driving near that speed on the street. There is the cellular style that mounts to a glass surface and has another pad on the opposite side that picks up the signal inductively so no hole in the glass is needed. Many members use this and it seems to work fine. The other antenna style is one that attaches to either a fitting drilled into the body (not in my Z,) or a fitting attached to a bracket that usually mounts at the rear bumper or drip rail. The antenna usually used in a solid mount set up for a rear bumper is a four foot fiberglass antenna. The "Fire Stick" is a thick fiberglass antenna that is covered with a rubber covering and is a rigid design. A rigid antenna is better for our Zs as we many times take corners fast. You don't want a whip antenna as it may swing around and damage your paint. Whip antennas are more often used on off road vehicles. The antenna cable usually runs inside the car under or on top of the carpet.

Wiring the CB depends on which style you chose. The hand held units usually just plug into the cigarette lighter. The regular CBs mount under the dash or on the center console and also plug into the cigarette lighter. I prefer to hard wire the power to a keyed wire under the dash. I've also installed a quick disconnect electrical connector so I can more my CB between cars. The regular CBs have a male connector on the back for the antenna cable to screw onto. Most of the CBs have small 2" speakers in them so sometimes when they are mounted in the dash, the speaker doesn't sound so clear. Many CBs have an external speaker jack so adding an external speaker aimed towards you can help with the sound clarity.

In conclusion, make it a point to get a CB radio in your Z and be ready to have more fun on club runs. If you still aren't sure what you want, just check out what other member's have for CBs in their Zs.

A few sources of CB stuff:

Walmart sells the Uniden PRO510XL for around $40.00 and I bought my Sparkomatic brand magnetic mount antenna there for around $20.

Radio Shack has a selection of CBs and accessories.

The Mudd Shack (specializes in CBs)
6712 El Cajon Blvd. Suite D
San Diego CA 92115
(619)464-6855