Off-Road CB Radio Technology
Cobra 29 WX NW BT
In a world of text messaging and Tweets...is there room for Citizens Band (CB) Radio? Some would argue “No,” but I’m here to tell you that in the off-road nation it’s a big 10-4.
Last I checked, organized runs are still done using CB Radio communication and not Instant Messaging (IM). You can blog that I said that.
At one time the CB Radio was as popular as the cell phone is today—mostly in the '70s and '80s. Acknowledging the importance of both platforms, Cobra Electronics has combined both CB and Bluetooth technology into the
Cobra 29 WX NW BT.
We thought the idea was smart. Now you can make phone calls using your Cobra’s Bluetooth and also give your buddy a big 10-4 without stepping on anyone.
THE CB RADIO
When it was time to get a CB Radio for our project FJ40 Land Cruiser we knew we wanted the best, we wanted a Cobra. The Cobra 29 WX NW BT with Bluetooth technology is the first of its class. It ties old with new.
We did look at other radios, but the classic styling of the Cobra and its modern features really made it shine. Some of the most notable features are the Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, Blue L.E.D. display and NOAA Weather Channel reception.
When we got our Cobra 29 WX NW BT we were really impressed with its construction. It has a steel case that feels very sturdy. It also has a nice weight to it that makes it feel premium, unlike other flimsy plastic models we have handled.
The chrome and black face has a very sleek design that truckers love and off-roaders will too. The switches, buttons and dials all feel very smooth when turned and engaged. Overall, the
Cobra 29 WX NW BT feels and looks very solid. Perfect for our off-road rig.
The Cobra Mic has a nice ergonomic design which allows easy access to both the transmit button and the Bluetooth button. The Cobra Mic also features noise-canceling technology that makes your transmissions loud and clear. Let's not forget about the classic Cobra logo, it's prominently displayed on the face of the Mic and the radio—giving the overall package a real boss look.
Some other key features are:
• Emergency Weather Alert
• 40 CB Radio Channels
• SoundTracker System
• Heavy-Duty Dynamic Microphone
• Full 4 Watts AM RF Power Output
• SWR Calibration Meter
• Instant Channel 19 and 9
• Front Panel 6-Pin Microphone Connector
• Switchable Automatic Noise Limiter & Noise Blanker
• Adjustable Dynamike Boost
• Tactile Controls
• 9 Ft Mic Cord
• Dimmer Control
• RF Gain
COBRA CB TEST
The old Mojave Road is a scenic off-road trail that starts at the Colorado River in Nevada and travels across the Mojave Desert in California—for a total of 132 miles. Most of the trail now resides in the Mojave National Preserve. The terrain varies from sandy washes, rocky roads and rolling hills lined with beautiful Yuccas Trees and Creosote bush.
The week we got our Cobra CB Radio we were getting ready for a three-day trip on the old Mojave Road. We decided to take it along on the trip to put it through an off-road test. Since the Cobra will have a permanent home in our project FJ40 Land Cruiser, we rigged up a temporary set-up popular with weekend warriors and off-road race teams. We used a cigarette lighter connection for power and a magnet-mounted antenna.
|Cobra HG A1000 Magnet Mount CB Antenna - rated at 100 watts.|
We sourced a Cobra magnet mounted antenna the night before our trip rated at 100 watts from Fry’s Electronic. It was more than enough to communicate with our expedition group of seven.
We made sure to connect our CB antenna first so we didn’t fry our radio.
Once we had a good antenna connection and had routed our cable through the cab, we plugged our power cord to an Auxiliary 12V plug. We turned the ON/OFF switch on the Cobra and it came alive.
The blue L.E.D. backlit the dials and display with an awesome glow. The CB Channel display also has blue numbers, which makes the whole thing really blue.
We tested the radio reception by tuning into the NOAA weather channel. The local San Diego whether channel was being received loud and clear.
Next was tuning our CB antenna. Since our Cobra 29 WX NW BT comes with a built in SWR Calibration Meter we made sure to check the readings. It might have been the luck of the draw or the fact that we were using a Cobra antenna; it was dialed in just right.
We then matched up our cell phone with the Cobra Bluetooth. It was as easy as pairing our cell phone with a push of a button on the Cobra and enabling the Bluetooth connection on our phone after it received the signal. Easy as pie.
All our gear was in place and we were ready to set off on our off-road adventure. We left San Diego, CA around 2AM and drove close to 400 miles to Needles, CA where we met up with our group.
The CB made our trip much more enjoyable by helping keep communication between vehicles in the group. It also helped create a team bond and connection with all the drivers that really made our 3-day expedition safe and enjoyable.
We loved driving up the Interstate with our Cobra. It added a nice blue glow inside our rig. We did get some chatter from truckers, so that made it fun too.
The Cobra CB did great on our off-road trip. The outside weather was over 90-degrees Fahrenheit, so we kept our windows rolled up and the A/C pumping all day long. One concern was the dust and vibration—as these would be the culprits for off-road failure of the CB Radio. We managed to complete the trip with no problems.
If we were running our CB Radio in an open top vehicle—like a Jeep, Bronco or early Land Cruiser, a protective box like a Tuffy console will ensure a longer life for your CB Radio. It will protect your radio from the elements and will also provide a secure mounting compartment that will be very beneficial on rough roads.
The Bluetooth connectivity on our Cobra CB Radio came in handy when making calls after a full day of having no cell phone signal in the Mojave Desert. The volume and clarity of the Bluetooth was comparable to stand-alone hands-free Bluetooth devices we have used from Motorola. I could keep my hands on the wheel and safely have a conversation via my Cobra CB Radio.
Having a CB Radio in any off-road vehicle is a must. Not only can it save you in an emergency, but it can also make your adventure that much more enjoyable. The added convenience of being able to use your cell phone to communicate hands-free with the same device makes for a less cluttered cockpit. The sturdy Cobra Mic with built in Bluetooth works a lot better on rough roads than a Bluetooth earpiece dangling from your head.
You will also not have to worry about battery life since the Cobra CB runs off your vehicles 12V system. As long as you have battery juice, you’ll be good with both your Bluetooth and CB. In our case, we ran our CB four days on the highway and off-road. We had no problems with the device.
Some of our friends that have seen our Cobra CB Radio really like the looks and are blown away when they find out it has Bluetooth built in.
We’ll bring back long term test results on the new Cobra 29 WX NW BT after we have taken some additional off-road adventures and exposed it to other terrains like the High Sierras and snow. For now we can say that it’s a good buy that performs well and will make your friends wish they had one too.
You can find Cobra CB Radios at most trucker stops like Pilot or any good electronics retailer for around $189.