1. Choose a clear location to adjust the SWR
Antennas are very sensitive to objects close to them. Go to an open area to
tune your antenna, such as a parking lot. This can be done at home, providing
you are not close to the house. Do not try to tune inside a building, under
trees, near or under power lines, nor with someone standing next to the antenna.
This distorts the signal and causes a reflection back into the antenna giving
false readings. Also, close all doors, the hood and trunk lid.
2. Setting the SWR
If the whip is fully lowered into mast and the SWR
is still high, remove the whip from mast. Using a hacksaw, grinder, or bolt
cutters, cut 1/4 from the bottom part of the whip. Re-insert the whip
into the mast and test again for SWR. Repeat the above procedure until the SWR
is below 1.5 of all channels.
If the lowest SWR reading occurs on channel 40, the antenna whip is to short and must be raised. Loosen the mast set screws and raise the whip 1/4, re-tighten set screws and test SWR again. Repeat the above procedure until the SWR is below 1.5 of all channels.
3. The whip is raised to the top, but the SWR is still lower on CH 40
This generally occurs on vehicles with very
small ground plains, such as the compact cars, cars with hatch-backs, etc. It
indicates the need for a longer whip than the standard one supplied. Wilson
Antenna has a longer whip (66) available for these situations.
4. The SWR on a trunk lid mount is 3.0:1 on all channels
When a reading of 3.0:1 is present on all channels, this indicates a lack of ground for the antenna. For example, some of the vehicles today use a fiberglass trunk lid or insulate their trunk lid from the actual chassis or frame, ground of the body. This is done by inserting plastic washers on the trunk hinges, and/or sandwiching a layer of styrofoam type material between the two piece trunk lid. To eliminate this situation, a jumper wire must be installed from the actual bottom lip of the trunk lid to metal on the body of the auto. To accomplish this, loosen one of the hinge bolts on the trunk-lid side and install a braided strap. Re-tighten the bolt. Loosen the bolt on the other side of the hinge (trunk-body side). Install the other end of the braided strap to this bolt and re-tighten. Be sure to leave a long enough loop to prevent pulling apart when the trunk lid is fully open. As added ground insurance, you may wish to add a jumper from the set screw on the trunk lip mount to the hinge bolt on the trunk-lid.
5. My needle pegs the side
When the SWR meter needle slams the side on all channels this is generally an indication that you have a short in the system. This will probably be from the coax or mount. Disconnect the coax from the radio and the mount. Using an ohm meter or continuity tester, check the mount first (it may have been installed improperly). There should be no signal between the center pin of the coax connector and the ground side of the mount. If there is, you may have forgotten to install the nylon washer or put it in the wrong position. If the mount checks good, proceed to the coax. If you have replaced the connectors on the end, there may be a short from the multi-strands of the shied. Again, using an ohm meter or continuity tester, touch one lead of meter or tester to the center pin of the PL-259 connector on one end of the coax. Touch the other lead to the shield (or outer connector ring) of the same connector. If this shows a shorted condition (or reads continuity), the coax has a short and must be repaired or replaced. NOTE: The coax may have an unseen break in it. To test for breaks, use the following method: touch one lead of meter or tester to the center pin of the PL-259 connectors on one end of the coax. Touch the other lead of meter or tester to the center pin of the PL-259 connector on the other end of the coax. If this shows a shorted condition (or reads continuity), the center portion of the coax is in proper working order, no reading will indicate a break. Now repeat the process for the shield side of the coax, using the outer ring of the connectors.
6. If the SWR is good until power is applied
The antenna is not the problem. In this case, it is the amplifier. You have already established that the antenna is properly tuned and in good working order with low SWR, except when power is applied. Assume a ham operator is on 10 meters using a solid state amplifier. With the radio only, the SWR is 1.1:1 when the amplifier is turned on, the SWR jumps to 2.0:1. The amplifier is not only transmitting at 28 MHz, but is also transmitting on a second frequency of 56MHz. This is known as a second harmonic (2X the fundamental frequency of 28 MHz). Thus the SWR meter is reading both the reflected signal of the normal frequency and the rejected second harmonic signal. The antenna will not accept energy transmitted at 56 MHz, and returns it all back to the radio, which shows up on the meter as high SWR because the meter cannot tell the difference between 28 MHz and 56 MHz. In fact, as much as 30% of the power is at 56 MHz. The primary cause is an amplifier that is not adequately filtered. Adding a Low-pass filter at the amplifier output is the easiest solution. For best results, connect the low pass filter directly to the amplifier using a barrel connector and a right angle connector or very short coax cable. (See illustration below)
7. How low can the SWR be brought down to?
Ideally it is nice to get the SWR to 1.1:1,
but practically a 1.5:1 works just as well. Some installations will not even
allow you to achieve a 1.1:1 SWR because of the grounding of the vehicle, the
amount of metal available as a ground plane, and other circumstances. However,
the loss with a 1.5:1 (using 18' of coax) is actually less than 1/2 of 1% of
your output power, which on a normal 4 watt radio means a loss of .025 watts of
power. This means that instead of transmitting 4 watts, you are actually
transmitting 3.88 watts. This is not even noticeable at a receiving station.
Therefore, spending the extra time to get below 1.5:1 is purely a matter of
choice, especially if you have a high performance antenna.
But, what happens if your SWR is 2.0:1 instead of 1.5:1 or less? Most CB radios today have protection circuits that starts to shut down (by lowering the output power) when the SWR reaches above 3.0:1. This reduces the output power of the final transistor amplifiers. So generally, anything between 1.5:1 and 2.0:1 is acceptable and useable for good, solid, reliable communications. Readings of 3.0:1 or higher indicates a problem may exist in the system, and we do not recommend continued use or permanent damage can occur. Check for complete grounding of the system (see #3 above ).
do I get different SWR readings when I move my SWR meter to a different part of
This generally happens only under two conditions.
If the antenna is not matched to the coax (at the antenna feed point), there will be RF voltage on the outer conductor of the coax and can disrupt the accuracy of the readings. A matched SWR should show the same reading any where the meter is installed along the coax.
When two SWR meters are used in one coax line, and the SWR does not read the same on both meters (assuming that the antenna is matched correctly), one or both of the meters are not balanced to 50 ohms. Due to poor design or a component failure, one or both may be actually be matched to 60 or 40 ohms.