CB radio antenna switches take away all the hassle, fiddling and constant plug changing when operating multiple CB antennas or radios. By using a switch different types of antennas can be connected to multiple radios quickly and safely.
Types of Antenna Switches
Switches for use with radio antenna systems are sorted by the amount of outputs they have, from the basic 2 output models to more complicated types that will allow you to connect numerous radios and antennas together.
If you think that more antennas may be on the way then you can always go straight for a switch with more outputs than you need at the moment and build a bit of redundancy into the system. Having a switch with a few outputs that are not being used isn’t going to alter the performance of your transmitter and it saves having the old one gathering dust if you need to upgrade.
Because the switches don’t have general frequency restrictions they can be used to connect anything from ham radio and CB radio equipment to receive only radios like scanners and shortwave gear. As the connecters on most commercially available switches use the PL-259 socket you will have to buy (or make) some converter leads to use with other radio equipment.
Always check the information supplied with any switch so your clear on the frequency range and power handling capabilities before use.
Caring for the Antenna Switch
Unless otherwise stated any switch should be treated as for indoor use only where it wont be subjected to moisture or extremes of hot and cold temperatures. Fixing the switch down onto something solid will not only help to keep the SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) of your antenna system stable but will also prevent damage to the coax as it goes into the connecters from constant movement.
With low power transmitters like the 4 Watt produced by a standard CB radio nearly any switch will work but if you require more power output please double check the specifications for whatever antenna switch you intend to buy remembering that 100 Watt at 27 MHz running through the switch isn’t going to behave the same as 100 Watt at 144 MHz.
The weakest mechanical point of any switch is always going to be the switch component itself which will not only have a finite amount of operations but will suffer problems if a change of position is made when under load. Always make sure you are not transmitting when switching antennas to prolonged the life of the switch and prevent possible damage to your CB radio or whatever transmitter is hooked up to the antenna switch.
Using a 2 way switch isn’t going to cause many problems when it comes to remembering what antenna or CB is connected to which output but when using something like a 4 way it can get a little complicated. With multiple connections its good practice to label each output/input with a descriptive name so you can tell at a glance exactly what is going on with your radio system.
There are some switches that have fallen into the marketing trap of adding unnecessary bells and whistles either to increase the sale price or try and make the product more exciting than it is. A basic well made antenna switch will give you years of service providing you understand how much RF power it can handle and keep it dry.