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Adapting A Car / Truck CB Radio To Your Bike

To build or not to build? That’s not even the point, you build!

As a 2 year riding amateur, I know I’m not an authority on the issue (although 18,000 miles last year should mean something), but having a CB is a must - in my book. Having helped modify seven of them for motorcycle use, I was prompted to send in the parts list and the details.

The CB unit can be mounted on the bike or in a tank bag – it depends on the room you have and where you want to mount it. Mounting will be CB class 201 (hint: don’t wait for it).

Over the past few weeks, Mark Brauning (OH & KY AAD) and I modified 7 CB’s; along with both of us having built our own . I’ll list the parts we used and how to wire them up. It took us about an average of 2 hours each, and that’s without running around to get all the parts. Then you will have to mount it to the bike. No matter what, it IS worth it!

Of course, you are welcome to modify the set up as you would like. Remember, the below instructions are for a specific set-up. If you change any of the pieces, be sure to verify how you will wire it to make it work. You will be OK in just about everything you do until you add the power to it. Before you connect it to the battery, make sure all wires have been shrink wrapped or taped (with black electrical tape) and that you have the positive and ground wires connected properly. You can blow up a CB in less than a second if these are wrong.

I don’t have the exact part numbers for all items, but here are the items we used:

CB Radio – Midland 77-092
Radio Shack Relay – 12V Double Pull, Double Throw Relay (Radio Shack part #275-249A)

  • Heat shrink tubing (can use electrical tape, but heat shrink is cleaner and won’t unwrap) – can be bought at a hardware store,  auto parts store and even Radio Shack
  • Rubber Grommet – get a bag with multiple sizes (you will only need one but size needed may vary)
  • Micro Momentary Switch – (Radio Shack part #275-1571B)
  • Chatter Box Headset – pick up at your local bike shop
  • 4 Wire Trailer Connector
  • PS2 mouse Cables – 2 will be needed, we used Belkin cables for this project
  • Spare wire – 20 gauge will work well

These are just the items needed to convert the radio for use on the bike. You will also need to purchase an antenna and cable. The items above fit a design that move the speaker and microphone of the CB to your helmet and the transmit switch to your handle bar.

Diagram 1, at the end, is just a rough idea of what comes out of the CB. There will be a diagram for the inside.

The tools you will need are: a phillips head screwdriver, soldering iron & solder, drill & drill bit, wire cutters & strippers and a heat gun (or a lighter). Optional tools: Ohmmeter, test battery/power supply, test leads.

First, you will need to take one of the covers off of the CB. Take off the cover with all the holes in it (this is the speaker side and exposes the internals of the CB). You will need to drill a hole in the back of the case (make sure you blow out all metal shavings from drilling the hole and file any burs off). If you need some working flexibility, you can unsolder the speaker. Out of this hole, you will need to run a PS2 cable and 2 wires for the push-to-talk switch (the push-to-talk wires can come out of the existing power hole, just be careful not to crimp the wires). The size of this hole will vary depending on the thickness of the PS2 cable and the switch wires. Also make the hole big enough for one of the grommets you purchased. Plan where to drill the hole – make sure the cover will still fit and don’t hit any of the components with the drill bit. Drill the hole and insert the grommet.

Through the hole, you will insert an end of the PS2 cable and the PTT switch wires. Before you can insert the PS2 cable, you will need to cut it into 2 pieces. You will keep the female end of the cable and discard the other end (keep it around in case I actually do send in CB class 201). When you cut the PS2 cable, leave enough cable coming out of the CB to reach as far as you will need it to. Again, the end you will use is the female end. Insert the cable into the CB leaving the female connector outside of the CB. Strip the cable inside the CB down about an inch and a half (only strip off the outside plastic coating and any foil shielding). You will strip the sheathing off of 4 of the 6 wires on the PS2 cable. If your cables are the same as was used for the CB’s we built, red & yellow are the leads to the speaker and orange & green are for the microphone. Strip them back about an eight of an inch. You should use an Ohmmeter to verify, but make sure the wires are for the pins as shown in diagram 2. The left side (labeled red & yellow) are for the speakers.

Once the cables are inside the case, you will need to wire it as shown in diagram 3.

Connect the red and yellow wires to the speaker (hint: you may want to insert extra wires to extend the reach. This will make the case a little easier to handle). Connect the orange wire to the "center" post of the relay and to the lowest pin - as displayed – on the handheld microphone connector.

Note: The diagram doesn’t exactly look like the inside of the CB. However, with the speaker cover off, the handheld mic. connector is towards the front. As looking into the case, diagram 3 is exactly as the connector is positioned. The upper left pin – as looking at it from the rear of the CB – does go to the far right relay connector. The lowest pin – the one on the bottom right – goes to what I have labeled as orange.

Additional Note: The Radio Shack relay has 8 pins on it. There are 2 on the left side which is the power portion that throws the relay. There are then 2 horizontal rows of three pins that you can use for the switching mechanism. Use one of the rows – as shown in the diagram. The other row is not required for this CB brand; however, it may be required for other brands. When deciding which row to use, use the row that will be positioned the lowest inside the CB; the CB lid may contact a couple of the pins and using the lower row will eliminate any problems this may cause.

Finish wiring up the CB as shown above. At this point, do not attach the micro switch, it is just there for the benefit of the wiring diagram. However, do take the 2 wires for the switch outside of the radio. One wire that isn’t shown in the diagram is the shield wire. There is usually a wire in the PS2 cable that has no coating on it – it is a bare wire. Solder this wire to the ground inside of the case – you may get some squealing if this is not done. Also, solder back up the speaker if you removed if before the drilling phase.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Before soldering any of the wires, cut some shrink tube and place it on the wire. Solder it, then shrink the tubing (with heat gun or VERY carefully with a lighter). The shrink tube insulates the wires from shorting out.

Once all of the soldering is done, you will want to glue the relay to the inside of the case. We have used hot glue for this, but you may use another kind of glue. You want something that will hold it tight, but also something that isn’t quite permanent in case you have to get the relay back out – hot glue worked well for this. When you glue in the relay, make sure you find a place that isn’t going to be in the way of the speaker screws or other portions of the case. The CB is ready to be closed up at this point. If the editor was able to include the picture, we included a shot of what the CB looks like inside once it is done.

Before closing the CB, you may want to test it. Follow the CB instructions for installation and temporarily connect the CB up to a battery or a 12-volt source. You will also need another CB around – a friend’s or pick a channel where you can hear some people talking. Perform your test. If all is well, continue on. If there are problems, verify all of your connections.

Now, you have to solder 4 wires outside of the case – the power wires and the push to talk switch wires. This is what the 4 wire trailer connector is for. To make sure you don’t do the "brain dead" thing like I did on my first CB, make sure you attach the connector with the 3 exposed male ends to the CB. If you don’t, you will have positive wires exposed to the bike and will need to invest a small fortune in fuses because of all the replacements you will need from blowing them up.

To this connector, you will first want to wire up the power. You will need to cut the power leads that are connected to the CB. Your cuts and solder joints should also include the fuse holder that came with the CB. See diagram 4 for how the plug should be wired. On the only female connector on the plug, make sure that goes to the ground – or the black wire – on the CB. For the first male plug on the connector, connect that to the positive, or red, wire of the CB. Make sure the fuse holder is connected in between. The other two pins are connected to the push to talk connections inside of the CB.

The CB is now ready to be connected! However, from what I have seen, this will be the easy part for most COGger’s.

You will need to determine a mounting place for the CB. You will want to make sure that all of the controls are accessible; you will want easy access to the volume and squelch controls. I have added the Rifle windscreen to my Connie and my CB fits perfectly between the dash (mounted on it) and the Rifle.

Once you have placed the CB, you will need to run the antennae cable, power cable and the PTT switch. You will use the other half of the four-pin connector to connect the power and PTT switch.

There are a couple of ways to set-up the Push-To-Talk switch. The way we have found to work well is to install a Radio Shack Micro switch into the switch housing on the left side. Other options include finding a switch that you can velcro around the left grip – Chatterbox has one, but it is pricey.

The Chatterbox Headset should be installed into your helmet. You will use the second PS2 cable to connect your helmet to the CB. One thing you WILL want to do: use black tape at the PS2 connections. This will keep them from vibrating loose – and trust me, you will hate trying to put a connection back together while running 55 down a twisty.

I also heard about another installation. The following came from one of the beneficiaries of our work. This is an account of the rest of the pieces and set up:

Here's the scoop on one of the CB's we set up after building them. Here's the parts list (most of this was bought at a truck stop):

  1. Truck Spects-536 or Road Pro Ring Tunable 3-ft CB Antennae ($20.00).
  2. Road Pro 12 foot single phase Terminator hermetically sealed water resistant coax cable #RP112CCTM ($6.99).
  3. 90 degree coax elbow ($3.00).
  4. 3/8 Stanley screw and snap fastener kit ($1.98).
  5. Case Logic DM1 CD player bag ($15.00).
Take a small piece of plywood the size of the front of your tank bag and connect 4 fasteners through it, and then attach the other half to the case logic bag. Cut the carrying strap using a hot knife process and attach the button snaps to that and the other half of those to the tank bag near the top, on the side. The 12 foot length of coax is recommended for motorcycles and worked out well for length. The 90-degree elbow coming out of the back of the radio will keep the coax connectors from banging your tank. The ring tunable antennae is easy to adjust with a S.W.R. meter. This makes for a very nice, clean installation in the addition of some wire wrap or flex loom will clean it up even more. This setup was tested from bike to bike with 2 of the radios built, one using a different antennae and parked, and attained a distance of 5 miles inside the city. I feel that's pretty respectable by any estimate for a barefoot CB on a moving motorcycle.

Article By: Jim Burgess

August 2001 

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