How to Peak and Tune a CB Radio? – 7 Simple Steps


Written by

Rafeal Hart


Fact-checked by

Norris Howe

how to peak and tune a cb radio

Citizens Band (CB) radios are still widely used today because of their capability to be used in two-way communication. Using such a device, you might aid yourself in a traffic jam by finding a different route and alerting you to impending roadblocks.

However, before you experience its benefits, you need to set it up but doing this might be a hassle. It is composed of technical parts and should be manually adjusted.

But worrying is not an option anymore because you are already on the right article. So, continue reading to uncover the detailed ways how to peak and tune a CB radio.

Step-by-Step to Peak and Tune a CB Radio

If you have a CB radio with a built in SWR meter and are already knowledgeable about CB radio peaking, the process for you will be so much easier. Just prepare the material below and follow the steps correctly (you can do it even if you are a newbie).

What to prepare

  • Citizens Band (CB) radio
  • CB radio antenna
  • Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) meter
  • Coaxial Cables
  • Batteries (for radio power)
  • Screwdriver
  • Plastic alignment tools
  • 5 watt dummy load
  • power and modulation meter
  • 5 amp, 13.6 vold DC power supply
  • A friend with working CB radio (optional)

Step 1: Look through the CB radio manual

This step might be optional for those who are already familiar with their CB radio settings. But if you are new to owning and installing one, it is beneficial to read through your radio’s manual because you may find out the details which could improve its performance.

Step 2: Set up the SWR meter


Using coaxial cables, connect the SWR meter to the antenna and CB radio. Then get help from the SWR meter by using the specific values it gives you.

These numbers indicate if these are already tuned and peaked CB radios. The effectiveness of your radio may suffer if the indication reaches incredibly high levels so modify it on the low end.

Also, do not forget to squelch the system to reduce noise. Just know that all this will simply sound better when set carefully and properly.

Step 3: Set up the CB radio antenna

To effectively do this step, find the area in your car which you think is the highest and most secure. You may place and attach the antenna on top of your car.

Just consider its height because the more you elevate your antenna, the better its CB radio tuning will be.

Step 4: Adjust and tune up the antenna


The next thing you need to do is to adjust the antenna according to your usage. You should press and hold the talking button throughout the adjustment.

Between modifications, ensure that the SWR reading is below 2.0 then contrast channel 1 and channel 40 readings.

Your antenna has to be longer if the reading for channel 1 is a little higher than the value for channel 40. Check to see if the readings on channels 1 and 40 are as similar as possible and that the reading is less than 2.0.

Step 5: Modify the modulation

After those, you need to turn your radio’s modulation knob to your desired setting. Do this by rotating it clockwise to adjust frequency on cb radio.

Make sure there is no distorting or false discharge in the sound before checking the modulation level with the SWR meter.

Step 6: Peak the radio


To peak a CB radio, know that it is the most challenging step that you will do. We advise that you seek to complete and program a CB radio with a professional or an expert’s help.

But if you really are eager to modify a CB radio on your own, watch the YouTube link below to learn everything you need to know to effectively peak one. Just prepare a screwdriver, plastic alignment tools, 5-watt dummy load, a power and modulation meter, and a 5-amp, 13.6-volt DC power supply.

Step 7: Test the CB radio

Of course, the last step is to test your CB radio. You may do it with a friend on the same channel.

If it is all fine, then, congratulations! You just peaked and tuned your CB radio.

But as a last reminder for you (after learning those steps above), know that some CB radios are created without an SWR meter. Such radios could be complicated in setting up if you are a new user so please do not follow the guide above and look for a specific one to aid your need (this website has that guide though, check it out).

Other Tips


1. Know your CB radio

Before starting anything, it is advised that you at least get familiar with and even master your CB radio through its manual. Also, only do the procedures above if you have a unit that already has an SWR meter on it.

2. Ask for professional help

If money is not an issue, please ask for professional help. CB radio peak and tune may be accomplished on your own but having it done by experts will save you further hassles and make you avoid repeating on installing a new one in the future.

Also, if you adjust CB radio carelessly, you might end up attaching a broken one so try considering this tip.

3. Examine your radio

After you’ve accomplished the steps above, examine your radio regarding its physical setup and performance. Make sure that you have done all the steps without compromising the sturdiness of your radio.

Also, as mentioned, test its performance with a partner and jump into different channels to test everything and the different frequencies.

4. Be knowledgeable about CB radio lingo and codes

You should know that there is an existing time limit for talking through CB radios. The legal time is only up to five minutes.

So. effectively use the time in your radio conversations, and use lingos and codes. Try to learn all of them to be concise and professional in engaging with other users.

Today, there are a lot of languages and codes you can find and learn online. The following are a few of them.

10-1 I can’t hear you
10-2 I can hear you
10-3 Stop talking!
10-4 Affirmative
10-6 Hold on
10-9 Repeat message
10-33 Emergency traffic at this station
10-99 Mission completed
10-100 Bathroom break



What does it mean to have a CB radio peaked and tuned?

Peaking and tuning a CB radio is actually a necessary process to be done when having or installing a new one. It means that you have to modify a CB radio, even if it is new, for it to function well.

Also, the majority of CB radio manufacturers examine their product’s radio frequency compliance and configuration. The output wattage and modulation need to comply with the law and to the FCC regulations.

So to satisfy those requirements, companies adjust the radios on the low side of tune modulation. This is the reason why you need to have your CB radio peaked and tuned.

How much is the cost to peak and tune a CB radio?

Generally, the experts and manufacturers may charge you at least 35 dollars. You may also encounter people who offer CB radio services who might ask for 10 to 25 dollars as compensation depending on the task they need to do.

But if you are looking for a cheaper way or even a free one, just read the guide above to learn how you can do it on your own.

How to peak and tune a cobra CB radio?

If you have a cobra 29 LTD classic CB radio, you have to adjust your modulation and Radio Frequency (RF) power. You need to find and deal with your radio’s watt meter and RF power.

For more detailed and specific instructions, watch the YouTube video linked below.


As a last piece of reminder, those steps listed in this guide were all applicable to CB radios that already have SWR meters on their own. Also, you might notice that a step requires technical knowledge so try to ask for some expert’s help to avoid any problems.

We hope that we’ve answered all your questions. But if you are still wondering about how to peak and tune a CB radio without an SWR meter, check the other articles on this website to uncover the steps.

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