Boy, was I a big spender! #TBT

First Order

I got a kick recently looking back at the first part I ever ordered new for Smokey. It took me a whole seven months to buy a new part, at a whopping $2.98. Yup, I was working at a newspaper, in other words, always broke!

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The good news is that the first of two birthday shipments came today. The bad news is the second was delayed, and likely won’t be here before Monday.

That means no weekend installs and, potentially, another week before I really get the ball rolling.

Any guesses what’s in the box?

The good thing about growing a year older is that events like birthdays so often mean new Jeep parts!

Stay tuned for fun updates, coming as soon as the big brown truck arrives …

Jeep. Because ‘Merica!

Here’s a story from USA that’s definitely not ‘fake news.’

Update: Making (radio) waves

I recently shared I’d decided to make addressing my CB’s unacceptable SWR measurements, which have been well north of five for years, a summer Jeep project.

My first suspect was my two-foot antenna, which cleared my roofline by an inch, at most. I’d already used a multimeter to verify continuity between grounds and rule out opens or shorts in the coaxial cable So, my first step was to procure a longer antenna for testing.

img_0103-1My plan had been to pick up a three-foot top-loaded fiberglass antenna with a quick-tune adjustable tip. Perusing the local retailers, though, offered few options. I found a few original Firestiks in that length, but it was the Firestik II that has an adjustable tip. And, yielding to aesthetics for a moment, I hate that company’s red tip covers, which don’t go with Smokey’s black-and-silver color scheme. What I did find was a four-foot Wilson Silver Load that, aside from its length, had the features I wanted.

Mounting the new antenna, I performed a quick-and-dirty SWR test in my driveway. (It’s always preferable to be well clear of any buildings or power lines for this testing. My final tests were conducted out of town in wide-open spaces.) Immediately, it was evident the antenna was a huge portion of my issue, as even next to my house, the readings fell within the acceptable range under two. (The near-impossible goal is to have readings at both ends of the frequency spectrum at an identical 1:1. Anything under 2:1, or just “2,” is acceptable, and readings above three can damage your radio.)

With that issue effectively addressed, I discovered that my spring, which had tested fine by itself, actually raised my SWRs. Erring on the side of caution, I picked up replacements for my spring and antenna-mount stud, both of which I’d originally picked up in college.

After a bit of adjusting, I have my readings now sitting as follows:

  • Channel 1 – 1.1
  • Channel 7 – 1.2 (This is the channel our local Jeep group runs, hence its inclusion.)
  • Channel 19 – 1.35
  • Channel 40 – 1.5

While there’s still a small bit of room for improvement, I’m going to leave these settings for now, as I’ll eventually add a quick disconnect for the new antenna, which will necessitate its own round of adjustment. I’ve also temporarily mounted the external speaker that’s sat in my garage for years. It’s a big improvement over the built-in two-watt Cobra speaker.

Finally, I learned in this process that my intent to replace my radio itself — the mic cable sheath has been cracking and flaking off the four-year-old Cobra for months — should probably come sooner rather than later. Paying closer attention to my radio and SWR meter than I had in the past revealed my radio intermittently puts out two, rather than the full four, watts of power.

Watch for an update on that soon.