CB and weather radios


Capt. Mike

Moderator
Cobra CB/Weather radio

I've had a CB in my Westies since day one on the '73. I'm not a big chatterbox on the CB, but they do come in handy now & then. My '79 even had the original VW CB that wired direct into the vehicle speakers and was completely hidden except for the controls-in-mic. Loved it (finally let it go to a restorer) but I went to a unit with built-in weather bands on the '90. I'm a believer -- I use those weather bands far more than I thought.

My '90 Westy has a Cobra Model 18 RV and I love it -- going strong after 10 years. Naturally, I bought the then current version for my tow truck when I got it in '96. It died this spring. The power supply had burned out although it was only 4 years old. It wasn't worth fixing. So I again ordered the current version of the same radio, now an 18 WX ST.

:( My last! Cobra has really cheapened things up. I should have guessed it with the short life of the truck radio, but the replacement doesn't even have a 2nd power source so EVERY time you stop the truck, it converts back to Channel 9. Wanna guess how many times you're still on channel 9 half-hour down the road?

What really ticks me off is I've written Cobra twice about the problem and they haven't shown the courtesy of a response. So kiss my grits, Cobra! I've bought my last!
 

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Capt. Mike

Moderator
:eek: The power of the press, or in this case a few thousand Westy owners!

I used the "Email This Page to Someone" feature (link is just above the first post of each thread on the left) to send this site & post to Cobra. NOW they'll talk to me. I'll keep you posted.
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
:) Finally, I have a working CB in the truck! Thanks to the power of the site & Westy owners' purchasing power.

After I emailed the post to Cobra I got an email response. They didn't know how they had lost the first 2 contacts. But, "In answer to your question, the model CB you purchased does not retain the last channel used if power is removed. [I knew that!] It will, however retain the last channel if you connect it to a constant 12V source. Just remember to turn off the CB when leaving the vehicle."

Since this was NO improvement over remembering to change from Channel 9 to 19 every time I started the truck, I told them it was still a lousy design and my recommendation stood.

Well, the next day a Brian Burke, Technical Support Supervisor, CALLED. Yes, that's a design cut-back; no, they can't change it to default back to 'last channel'. But he did say they still had a number of the previous model in stock that had been refurbished, with new warranty. They'd be glad to swap me out.

I took them up on that offer. I UPS'ed mine to them and recieved the replacement promptly. It went in without too much trouble -- I had to splice the 2nd power lead back in to my original harness -- and it seems to be working fine.

So thanks to Brian Burke, I'm back on the road on the right channel. It is just a shame it took 3 messages & the Westy post to get them awake. Power to the Buses!
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same topic.

l.martyn Junior Member posted August 19, 2003 02:13 AM

I plan to install a CB radio and an antenna on my 1991 Westy. Where to place and how to wire the radio? How to attach the antenna? These would seem to be common questions, but I have scoured the site and can't find any information. Any advise will be apreciated.
Posts: 1 | From: Brampton, Ont | Registered: March 14, 2003

judlandis Member posted August 21, 2003 01:15 AM

L. martyn: Go to Capt. Mike's tech pictures, linked from this site's home page. One of them shows where he mounted his CB. Don't know about the antenna, but worth a look at all of the pics.

[Mod. note: Same pic site shows pictures of front of bus with CB antenna -- the one on the right opposite the factory radio antenna.]
 

Bajatacoma

New member
Mount the antenae as high on the bus as you can an use as short a wire to do it as you can. You also need to have it tuned. This is easy enough to do if you have the meter or more than likely you can find a truck stop to do it. We have a CB guy at the local flea market that tunes them cheap.

If you really want to have more power, you can turn the amplifier up; it is illegal (5 watts is the legal limit on CBs) and I'm certainly not recommending it. Stay below 15 watts (around 10 seems to work best) or you will toast other people's CBs when you key up- and then you'll have nobody to talk to.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The mount I used was the unit that came with the CB. I changed the wing-nut style original screws with a more theft-resistant socket head screw. Being an import, the wing-nut screws where metric anyway.

My antenna is pictured on that site as well. Look for one of the camping layout pics that includes the front of the Vanagon. It's the unit very similar to the factory radio antenna on the right side of the cowl. On my '79, I used a gutter clamp unit. Don't bother with dual antennas -- they mostly just distort the transmission plane for an egg-shaped pattern instead of round. I've heard the 'trough the glass glue-ons' aren't as good but darn, my cell phone antenna sure works good. What's the difference? And technology has come a long way.

Exotic, big-rig size antennas aren't really necessary. The little ones do fine for receiving and the amount of noise and gibberish is such you're going to have the squelch cranked way up anyway -- higher than the antenna limits. You might not be able to transmit as far, but that's a good incentive to keep off except for the real critical "accident ahead" stuff anyway. The garbage and yakking have ruined CB so bad that it's lost effectiveness, even amongst truckers. I routinely notice many big rigs no longer even bother with routine warnings like where the cops are.

PS: Don't use power mics, echo, reverb or those whistle 'attention call' toys. They are obnoxious, do nothing to the message and are a quick way to insure you DON'T get responded to or get CB's turned off around you. My attitude is that if you whistle at me like a dog, I sure as hell aren't going to answer. (Or maybe give you bad info.) They are toys for the immature gadget freaks.
 

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Capt. Mike

Moderator
VW Brand CB

How many of you knew that VW had their own brand CB for the Type II's? Yep, Part No. MTR501 8930C. I was cleaning out some things in the shop and ran across the one from my '79 Type II. I had planned on moving it to the '90 Syncro, but then found the speaker wiring wasn't compatible -- at least not direct plug-in like it was on the Type II.

The were actually pretty darn nifty. They were made by Motorola, but had the VW logo on the mic and VW info on the transmitter label. The transmitter was mounted on the front behind the kick panels and completely out of sight. The mic pluged into a recepticle that mounted under the dash. It had a hanger on the mic so you could hang it on a dash knob or heater lever. The factory speakers were used with direct plug-ins to the CB adapter. The CB then cut the radio speakers out and switched over whenever there was an incoming transmission. All controls were on the mic. About the only thing not included was the antenna. I used a clamp-on to my West Coast style mirros. Performance was fine -- close to my modern Cobra's. I even found my original CB license -- CB's had to have FCC licenses back then.

So if somebody asks you about a VW CB, now you know. I was going to chuck it with some other old stuff, then thought it would be neat for somebody with a show bus or OE restoration. I guess that was the '70's version of factory cell-phones, huh?
 
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