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How to Use a CB Radio? – 5 Easy Steps for Beginners

Writen by Edwin Jones

Fact checked by Andrew Wright

how to use a CB-radio

CB radios are the most popular among drivers. By communicating with others on the road, a driver can quickly and easily find alternate routes, get traffic updates and road blockages. There is also real-time information about the weather.

With CB radios, users can seek help, contact responders, and get medical attention. Hence, having and knowing how to use a CB radio is beneficial. If you are traveling solo or heading into an unfamiliar place, you will be glad to have a CB radio as your companion.

What Is a CB Radio

A CB radio, also known as citizens’ band radio, is a fairly common means of short-distance communication in many countries. We talk on CB radio for both personal and business purposes.

In the U.S, no license, age, or national requirements are necessary to own and use a CB radio. So, within Americans alone, it is quite popular, even in today’s digitally advanced world. However, many people do not know how to work a CB radio and expect it to be complicated.

Fret not; you can learn all the essentials in this CB radio for beginners guide here. We will take you through what you need to prepare and what you need to do. So, make sure you read until the end!

Things to Prepare Before Using a CB Radio


  • A CB radio It is available at local stores, general supplies shops, or online retailers. A casual radio for communicating with friends is roughly $50. Do not spend more than this unless you need an entire CB radio setup for work.
  • Aside from the radio itself, you need mounting hardware to set it up. The typical place for mounting is in your car, below the driver’s seat.
  • Most modern CB radios will come with mounting hardware, which you must modify to fit your specific vehicle model. However, sometimes, you will have to get mounting hardware separately. While you will not have to shell out a lot of cash, time and effort for installation are required.
  • You must have an antenna. Larger antennas will offer you a wider range of services. However, they will be more difficult and time-consuming to install.
  • Certain antennas will require you to drill holes, so be sure to check the manual closely to purchase a fitting one. The easiest antennas to install are those that are magnetic, although they can be a bit pricey. For most antennas, we recommend mounting on a roof.
  • A cigarette cable/ a battery
  • A coaxial cable jumper (if the standing wave radiometer (SWR) is not built in)

5 Essential Steps to Use a CB Radio


Given its value, learning to use a CB radio properly is incredibly crucial. After all, you would want to make the most of your CB radio. Aside from casual communication and fun chatting with friends, you can rely on the CB radio to request help during emergencies.

There are five steps that you need to take to use the CB radio. We will dive into each of them now in detail. Are you ready? Let’s go!

Step 1: Install the CB Radio

To install the radio, you should first mount the radio in a safe but easily accessible location. Then, mount the antenna. During this, make sure you are not blocking the antenna’s tip. Otherwise, the radio will not receive signals properly. If you mount the radio in your car to use a CB radio on the road, you should mount the antenna on the same vehicle’s roof.

Here are two videos that you can watch for more details on how to mount the radio and the antenna for a CB radio:

  • CB Radio Install: Installing the Antenna

You can use a standing wave radiometer to help find the perfect spot for your antenna. If the meter is not built-in, seek a coaxial cable jumper and run it from the antenna to the radio. Connect the microphone and power the radio. Do this with a cigarette cable or a battery.

Tip: When powering, be sure to connect the red wire before the black one. The red should link to the battery’s positive side, while the black should link to the negative side.

Step 2: Tune the CB Radio

Now that you have the radio installed, you need to tune it properly. This is very important to ensure the longevity of the CB radio.

Start by checking that the standing wave ratio meter (SWR) is connected to the radio. Then, turn to channel number one to switch to SWD.

Next, hold the microphone button down and let the needle adjust between the channels, from one to forty. After that, switch back to SWR.

You should read, record, and repeat everything for the remaining forty channels. If the reading exceeds 2:1, the health of your radio is in danger. Make sure you fix the length of the antenna accordingly.

Step 3: Browse the Channels

To effectively operate a CB radio, you must have a good idea of all the available channels. In this step, take the time to explore and browse through them.

There are forty stations in total that users can tune into. In particular, channel 9 is dedicated to emergencies.

While doing this, you may pick up several CB codes,

  • 10-1 means the reception is poor
  • 10-4 indicates that the message has been received
  • 10-7 implies the channel is out of service
  • 10-9 asks you to repeat the message
  • 10-20 inquires your location

Even though it is not a must to know all the CB codes by heart, being aware of a handful of them is helpful. Sometimes, the radio will come with a manual that features these codes. So, it is not a bad idea to flip through the manual.

Step 4: Ask for a Radio Check

Switch to a channel and make sure that there is a break to ask for a radio check. You can say something like, “This is (Name/Callsign) requesting a radio check.” When someone responds, you can interpret it and communicate. This ensures that your radio is “up-and-running” well.

You may not always get a response right away. So, be patient. Do not be afraid to request another radio check. For your peace of mind, consider doing a few of these radio checks.

Step 5: Talk on the CB Radio

Now, you are all set to work the CB radio and communicate with your friends. You can pick out a station together and, while apart, send a radio check out to initiate a conversation.

It can be something like, “This is Mark at the RV, over,” to begin your talk on the CB radio. When your friend responds, you can chat freely. However, make sure you do not use a crowded station for your own small talk.


With that, you have completed this detailed guide on how to use a CB radio. While this is not like other CB radio for dummies articles on the Internet, it features all the essential information in easy steps for any rookies to follow.

Hopefully, it has been helpful for you to operate a CB radio easily. Let us know about your experience with the CB radio! We are always very excited to hear from our readers! Feel free to reach out to us if you have any follow-up queries as well.

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