GL1800Riders Forums banner

1 - 20 of 57 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
273 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Have you ever gotten extremely frustrated with the inability of your CB radio to transmit clearly? Tired of people not responding to your transmissions? I have found that people will either tell me that I sound like I'm in a box, or they can't hear me at all because very often people don't respond, even riders in the same group.

You can do a couple of things to make sure your CB radio is geting the most out the factory design. If you are a little more ambitious, you can modify the antenna system to make it work better than factory. After all, it should not be too much to expect a $1000 system to perform at least as well as a $40 radio from Radio Shack.

First of all, tune the antenna using an SWR meter. Your antenna does not come tuned for SWR from the factory and any CB radio's performance is highly dependent on efficient SWR. Assuming your radio is otherwise healthy, SWR is THE most critical factor of CB radio performance. A 4-watt radio can be heard for hundreds of miles under the right conditions, but can't be heard at all if the antenna is not tuned properly. In fact, if SWR is too high it can cause permanent damage to your radio (I am hoping like heck that this isn't my problem!!). You will have to take the seat off and install an SWR meter inline in the antenna coax between the radio and the antenna. Tuning your antenna consists of trimming the length to minimize SWR. That's where the SWR meter comes into play.

Secondly, since the Wing uses a grounded antenna system, make sure you have a good ground connection. The antenna is grounded through the bracket in your trunk.

Wind-noise can be a problem on a motorcycle that other vehicles don’t have. Headset microphones are typically not the same quality as a handheld either. Covering the mic with some foam should help minimize wind noise. Also, keep the mic close enough to your mouth to allow speaking normally, you should be able to get by with the average headset microphone.

Finally, the grounded antenna system on the Wing's CB radio is not the right design for a motorcycle in the first place. This is something that Honda's engineers need to re-design. CB radios on motorcycles do not perform well with grounded antenna systems. Why not? Because antennas in a grounded system radiate their signal using the "ground plane" and there is insufficient ground plane on a motorcycle to reflect the antenna signal well enough to achieve good, consistent transmissions. Combine that with the fact that the GL1800 frame is aluminum, and you really have a big problem for radio transmission. Aluminum does not work well for radio transmission! This is why military backpack radios use an ungrounded antenna system, there isn't enough ground plane on the frame of a back-pack to work with a grounded antenna. The same situation exists on a motorcycle, and especially with an aluminum-frame motorcycle.

I am in the process of converting my Wing to a "No Ground Plane" or NGP antenna system. This requires a different kind of antenna. I have found the hardware to mount my new antenna to the factory mast. It will require insulating the existing mounting bracket from ground. It will also require installing a new coax. In a NGP system, the coax length is critical. Without going into the physics of radio frequency (RF) technology, suffice it to say that the coax length needs to be in multiples of 9 feet as it works with the radio's wavelength. A 9-foot coax length is too short to work over the entire bandwidth of a 40-channel CB radio, so 18 feet is the shortest length that will work properly. The NGP antenna is a specialized antenna, but commonly available. The coax itself becomes a substitute for the ground plane that is lacking in the motorcycle itself. Unlike the factory antenna, you can get an antenna with a tunable tip, whereas on the factory antenna you have to physically shorten the length, which is unforgiving if you make a mistake.

I just ordered a NGP antenna system from Firestick Antennas. I will replace the fold-over antenna mount with a quick disconnect. I will post some pictures of the mod and a performance report as soon as I am finished with the project.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,623 Posts
Good Luck !!!

Clean the connection between the antenna ground point and the frame ! Make sure the little screws between the shaft and the whip are good and tight !! If the SWR is less than 2:1 you will be fine.

Go to Google and put in (SWR and Loss) lots of information about it. Remember it takes a power reduction of 3db or half the power to notice a reduction in signal. If I were transmitting to you with 4 watts of power and turned it to 2 watts of power, you would barely notice the difference.

The so called NGP (no ground plane antenna) is using the outside of the coax shield as a return path for the RF currents. It works fine if you can put the antenna up high enough so the coax is straight in line with the antenna.. a Vertical dipole configuration, if you coil up, twist and turn the coax to fit it in an area, you will lose a lot of signal and present a interesting load.

And yes, I have been around antennas all my life. I owned AEF Mfg Co Inc and built 147 different types of antennas. I owned TJantenna Co and built a line of motorized antennas, (remotely tuned) and have patents in the antenna field.

When I use CB on the bike, I use a 8 foot linear loaded antenna. It does very well. When traveling with guys who have factory CB and antenna, I am the big gun of the group LOL But then again, I pull a trailer which adds to the ground plan, mount the antenna on the tongue of the trailer. Works fine !! I could use a quarter wave whip in place and it would be a little bit better.

JMHO 8)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,936 Posts
Thanks for the discussion guys. I've gained lots of new good information about antennas. Not sure what I'll do with it, but it feels good to be smarter.

Helmetdance, I'll look forward to your report after installation and try-out.

So far I've found mine works pretty well just making optimum use of what's there. As has been said the ground connections are critical. As are the connections into the base of the antenna. I clean and rounghed my connections before assembly. Mine works as well as anybody's.

I figure if I get mine working too well, even though they can hear me farther away, I won't be able to hear them and the one sided conversation is not to effective.

Have a nice day.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,144 Posts
Listen to Tom...he knows his $hit!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,990 Posts
Just some additional input, not to make an opinion on Helmetdance's problem, just my own observations.

The OEM radio and it's antenna, assuming they are all working properly and installed properly, transmit and receive just as well if not better than the GL1500. I base this on all the riding I do with Goldwing owners as well as the work I have done on many of their CBs.

The biggest problem folks have with the CB on this bike is not the CB or the installation, but with the microphone. The headsets designed for this bike, except for a couple of them, are poorly matched to the intercom system and do no allow for anywhere near 100% modulation.

It will never perform as well as something like a Cobra installed in a car or truck partially due to the smaller ground plane, but it is still capable of getting out well enough and better than most handlhelds.

By the way; $1000.00? If I remember correctly, mine only cost about $475 and around $100 for the antenna.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,685 Posts
Tom,
Have you ever looked at the transmitted signal on a service monitor? I don't have a CB on my bike so I've never had the chance to look at it on the 8920. I'll bet the modulation density is way down and the overall modulation percentage is low. A good microphone and a speech processor would work wonders. For those interested in perfect SWR..... I have a 50 ohm load you are welcome to try. T guarantee the SWR will be perfect. Let me know how far it transmits.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
826 Posts
KA7W said:
When traveling with guys who have factory CB and antenna, I am the big gun of the group LOL )
Yeah, that $19.99 box will blow your ear drums out if you are within 100 yards of him. Can't understand a word he is saying, but it is loud. Especially through that 50 cent handheld mic. And when the radio gets wet hanging off the left fairing it puts out this high pitched squeal that even gives an old deaf guy a headache. But hey, you've got less than $25 invested as opposed to my $650. LOL

Hey Tom, did you tell everyone how to patch a tube tire with a plug kit??? :D :D :D :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
86 Posts
I changed my dual factory antennas to a single combined antenna (with a dummy on the other side) and it significantly improved the CB performance. I go the antenna, signal splitter, fold over adapters from Sierra.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,623 Posts
Terpen,,

That is called fundamental overload when you get distortion when close in. You get that when all the signal is getting out. :lol:

The rest of the distortion was because of a loose antenna connection (My fault) And now that it has been through many rain storms, it has stopped squealing when wet LOL ... Works fine now.. :lol:

Now, patching a tube tire is a different horse. Forgot you can't do it it by just plugging it. Some of us are not very smart !! :lol:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
273 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
WingAirSpeed said:
Just slap a lenear (linear? how ever you spell it) in the trunk :roll:
A linear amplifier is OK as long as everything is else is working OK too. if your radio isn't working properly, the linear amp is going to amplify the noise in your signal as well. What you want is a strong clean signal that comes across clear to other radios, a linear amp by itself will not do that unless your radio is properly tuned. If the radio is tuned, the amp is a nice thing to have, but not necessary to sound good. Just keep in mind, a linear amplifier is illegal for regular CB radios.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
273 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Here's an update on my antenna project. Instead of spending roughly $60 to update to a no-ground-plane antenna, I spent about $30 on a better quality antenna to mate with my existing grounded system. I thought this would be a wise first step, especially considering the alternator noise that can be imposed when there is no ground.

I purchased a special quick disconnect for the antenna that has metric threads to mate with the factory antenna mast and also accepts the standard threads on the antenna itself.

I bought a 4-foot top loaded and tunable antenna. The manufacturer is Firestik and the model is Firefly FL.

I obtained the lowest SWR when I completely removed the tuning screw. I have an SWR of 1.5 on Channel 19, which is considered very good to excellent. SWR can make a difference, but as long as the number is less than 3.0 it is probably acceptable. Anything over 3.0 and the radio rapidly starts losing power. An SWR of 1.0 is an ideal number but not achievable in real life. At 1.0 a radio would lose 0% of its transmission power, at 1.1 about 0.2%, at 1.2 about 0.8%, at 1.5 it loses about 4%, at 2.0 about 11%, at 2.5 about 18%, at 3.0 a radio will lose 25% of its transmission power. I measured the SWR on my radio with the old antenna and it was over 3.0. Sometimes nobody could hear me at all, most times people could hear me but barely. Now the radio sounds like a real radio and gets out there for several miles.

The first time I tried out my new antenna I was standing still in a very large-area wide-open parking lot with the engine off. I conversed with a trucker who was about 5 miles away as the crow flies. Then two other truckers who were about 3 miles away. They said I sounded very strong.

Then I tried the radio with the bike moving. I tried it both with the foam cover on the microphone and without. Without the cover I was told "you're getting out but you sound muffled". With the foam cover I was told "you sound real good". A microphone is a very important part of the system, and wind noise will really have an impact on how you sound to other radios. Use the foam cover and keep the mic close to your mouth.

I think I'll leave the radio as it is now. The performance of my radio now compared to what it has been since I bought the bike in March of '04 is like night and day. The radio has never ever got out like this before. I couldn't be happier with the improvement. It's really working great, and just by installing a much better quality antenna. I will post some pics of the installation soon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,685 Posts
Good job! Considering the "Low Bid" quality of Honda's other electronic accessories.... it makes sense that the antenna might not be top shelf.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Helmetdance,

Did the special adapter have a name & part number or did you just try adapters until you got one that fit?

Does the antenna still fold over like the stock?

Thanks -Chuck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
273 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
h1800cc said:
Helmetdance,

Did the special adapter have a name & part number or did you just try adapters until you got one that fit?

Does the antenna still fold over like the stock?

Thanks -Chuck
Chuck,

Firestik is the only manufacturer I found that makes hardware to mate with the Goldwing factory antenna mast (8mm metric thread). Firestik manufactures a stainless steel quick disconnect adapter, Model K-1A8M, for the Goldwing that allows the use any antenna with the industry standard 3/8"-24 thread. I think the price was $15.99. They don't even advertise this part in their parts list, but I read about it in one of their articles on the Goldwing. They DO make it and I did buy one from them. I could not find it anywhere in a store or on the internet, so I ordered it directly from Firestik by calling their number (602-273-7151).

It is not a "fold-down" type connector, rather it is a disconnect. You push it down and twist 1/4 turn to remove the antenna. I hardly ever used my fold-down except when I put the cover on the bike. For those rare occasions when I use the bike cover, I can either lay the antenna on the seat (at work) or carry it inside (at a hotel).

If you really want a fold-down, check with Sierra. I think they make one but I didn't pursue that route. I'm not sure if it is available as an individual part or if you have to buy their antenna kit to get it.

I will post some pics in a few days.

Mark
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
273 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Here are some pictures of the installation:

CB antenna mast with factory antenna removed


Quick disconnect that mates to factory antenna mast


Quick disconnect mounted on the mast


Antenna mounted on Bike, Shot 1


Antenna mounted on Bike, Shot 2


Antenna mounted on Bike, Shot 3
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,242 Posts
I was wondering something here. I have had problems with my cb for too long. I am getting a SWR meter and going to check the setting there. I was wondeirng, how does one know if the antenna has gone bad? I have thought about replacing it, but does not want to throw money out the window..... I have thought about getting that one from firestick, but I do not want to have 2 different antennas on the bike. I know that is minor, but it is just me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
273 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
SC Steve said:
I was wondering something here. I have had problems with my cb for too long. I am getting a SWR meter and going to check the setting there. I was wondeirng, how does one know if the antenna has gone bad? I have thought about replacing it, but does not want to throw money out the window..... I have thought about getting that one from firestick, but I do not want to have 2 different antennas on the bike. I know that is minor, but it is just me.
Chances are that your antenna is not "bad", it's just not a high-quality antenna. Before you change your antenna, make sure the system has a good ground. Check the ground connnection, it's in your trunk at the screw that goes through the bracket toward the center of the trunk. Check that you get continuity from the mast housing below the black ring (not the antenna shaft) to the screw. Then check from the screw to various points on the frame. If you don't have a solid ground, first clean that connection and get a solid ground before doing anything else. Then check the SWR on your factory antenna. If you're at 3.0 or higher, you need to tune it to get the SWR down.

The antenna I put on is a much better quality antenna than the factory antenna. It is top-loaded as opposed to the center loaded factory antenna, and it's taller. It's only going to cost you about $30 for the antenna and $16 for the disconnect. Your performance will improve a lot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44 Posts
Improving poor CB transmission

Helmetdance, where did you obtain your quick disconnect? I had the same thing approx 25 years ago that I used when I was driving an intercity bus. But with the passing of time, several moves and advancing in years, I can not find mine. I still have the antenna but can not find the mount that I used. That disconnect sure works slick.
 
1 - 20 of 57 Posts
Top