How to Tune a CB Antenna Without an SWR Meter? (8 Steps)


Written by

Rafeal Hart


Fact-checked by

Norris Howe

how to tune a cb antenna without an swr meter

Today, CB radios come in different specifications and many of them already have pre tuned CB antennas. However, not everyone could afford to have one or was informed that it is needed to attune one.

So, if you want to discover the steps on how to tune a CB antenna without an SWR meter, continue reading to learn everything you need to know. Complete guidelines and materials are detailed here for you to successfully do one.

Preparation Before Tuning CB Antennas

If you have a unit with a built in SWR meter, the whole process will be easier compared to a unit without one. But you don’t have to worry because you only need to prepare the following materials and just follow the detailed steps below to achieve the same outcome.

1. An open space

So the first thing you need to look for is an open space not less than 40 meters wide. Utilize your car to discover the best area where you can safely use your equipment upon tuning and testing the CB radio.

2. Two CB radios


Yes, you read that right! You need two CB radios to do this.

Specifically, you need your device and a friend with a functional CB radio. The logic behind this is that it will be the alternative way for the absence of the meter.

3. A radio antenna


You cannot skip this material especially since you do not have an automatic meter. It should be prepared because this will be utilized in finding and catching the radio frequencies and range of your radio.

4. A microphone


Of course, a microphone is a necessity because it will be used in the process of transmission testing. Also upon adjusting the antenna, you need to use a microphone in testing the antenna adjustment’s quality.

5. A friend

Someone willing to assist you is a necessary step for you to accomplish this task. A radio-lover friend will be handy for you to set a CB radio because he can aid you to check SWR without a meter.

Step-by-Step to Tune Cb Antennas (No SWR Meter Needed)


What to prepare

  • An open space (40 meters in between radios without obstruction)
  • Your car
  • Two CB radios
  • Antenna with a plastic cap
  • Microphones
  • A friend
  • Electric supply
  • Screwdriver

Step 1: Look for a site with an open space

Before doing this, make sure that you have already prepared all the materials in your car. Double-check all of them to avoid further hassle.

Drive around your area and find the best spot where open space is available. Additionally, choose a spot where a distance of 40 meters with no obstructions (trees, buildings, etc.) exists.

These factors between the two radios should be ensured for effective testing..

Step 2: Inspect the antenna


Inspect your antenna thoroughly before you start adjusting your radio. A plastic covering must be placed on the antenna’s tip.

Also, check if your antenna complements the other radio’s feeder. These must match for the process to operate properly; or else, tuning would be interfered with.

Step 3: Set up with another CB radio


As mentioned, have a friend who can assist you with CB radio antenna tuning. Have him or her own radio set and create a distance of at least 40 meters between you two.

Step 4: Choose a Channel

Choose a channel and brief your friend about it so that communication is easy and you don’t need to shout over to him. You may choose the channels which you find convenient.

Also, make sure that you don’t select channel 9 or 19. Such channels may create more hassle because many users dwell on them.

Step 5: Connect the radios to a channel


When your friend is already away from you, turn your radio on then connect to the channel you have chosen.

Step 6: Use the microphones

Using the microphones of each radio, communicate with your friend to test the performance. If your unit does not have one, use an external one and make sure it is compatible.

Step 7: Turn the screw

Now, this is the most important step. Using a screwdriver, do a CB radio antenna tuning by turning its screw.

Know that this is the part where you and your friend play crucial roles. Test the communication performance and adjust the screw as needed to have a better one.

Do it carefully because the radio antenna itself is fastened by the screw. So make sure you do not compromise its sturdiness.

Also, since you are aiming to measure SWR without a meter, have patience in doing trial and error. You may keep on testing and repeating the steps mentioned until you are satisfied.

Step 8: Test your CB radio’s performance


Lastly, test its performance. And if you are confident that all aspects you need have been met, then you are done tuning a CB antenna!

Other Tips to Adjust CB Antennas

1. Focus on the antenna screw

If your friend tells you that the communication is unclear, keep rotating and adjusting the CB antenna screw until an optimal signal is achieved. Doing this also adjusts the antenna’s height so be mindful of the adjustments you make.

You may repeat this and some of the steps until you get your desired quality of transmission.

2. Fiberglass CB antennas

Tune a fiberglass CB antenna by considering its length. If it is too long, cut it short using a grinder or hacksaw to adjust its performance.

However, cut not more than a quarter of an inch and only once. Also, you need an actual SWR meter to safely do this and proceed to the detailed steps above.

Note that if an electrical short happens, immediately disconnect both of them,. When this happens, add a spring on the antenna to aid the problem.

3. Dual CB antenna types

Tune dual CB antennas by making the same number of adjustments to both antennas. It’s preferable to start by fully rotating the tuning screw in or out so that each antenna has the same length.

Since you need to apply the same changes on both antennas, having a unit with an SWR meter would be advantageous. Although trial and error could be effective, it is still advisable to have one to avoid just relying on luck.

4. Invest for an automatic meter

You may want to buy and own one because of its benefits (read below) which is undeniably convenient. This way you can save money and avoid trouble in future usage.

The Importance of CB Radio Tuning Without an SWR Meter

These devices’ problems such as frequency loss, a drifting antenna, or even unit damage are still frequent experiences today. Even though there are many advanced units out there, such problems are somewhere and somehow emerge.

Having this inside your car is an advantage but most of the time, people do not readily have it. Other people even see it as unnecessary (because it is indeed optional).

So, what is its importance? The best thing about doing it even with the absence of a meter is that you can save money and you may do it right away once you already mastered how to accomplish one.

Benefits of a Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) Meter


Quite contrary to this article, the following are the benefits of having one which you might want to know. Read these why it could give you a more consistent radio experience.

1. Monitoring purposes

You can easily monitor the performance anytime because you do not need someone whom you can test your radio with. By doing this you can consistently do a routine for the long term in monitoring your transmitters and receivers which will avoid problems in communications.

2. Instant test results

Compared to manual testing, you can save a lot more time by having instant results. Trial and error would be so much easier because, in this way, you do not have to rely on your luck in testing different locations.

3. External help is minimal

There will be little to no external help you will need once you own this. Together with enough knowledge to peak and tune a CB radio, you can do it all on your own which is very convenient compared to doing it manually.


As a last reminder, we encourage you to do all those steps with precaution and safety. A guide on the same purpose with the use of a meter is also available on this website (check it out).

So, now that you’ve already learned how to tune a CB antenna without an SWR meter, we still hope that you consider having one for a more convenient experience. Do not hold back if you have the budget to have a better radio experience.

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