Product Review: CB-AM/FM Antenna Splitter (Firestik AR-1A Match-Maker)

Discussion in 'Electronic Toys' started by AppleTech, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. AppleTech

    AppleTech

    Messages:
    737
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    I purchased this device because I wanted to use my CB antenna as my AM/FM antenna so I didn't have to have 2 antennas on my truck. I installed it on Saturday and I've been trying it out for the past 2 days.

    Info:
    walcottcb.com
    AR-1A

    Basically what this unit does is split your CB antenna signal into a dual-cable that hooks into the CB and stereo head unit for AM/FM signals.

    CB Antenna -> Match-Maker AR-1A -> CB Radio/Stereo head unit

    Installation:
    Installing the unit was simple enough, and the instructions were very easy to understand. You disconnect the antenna coax from the radio and plug it into the Match-Maker, then you plug the coax cable from the Match-Maker into the CB radio and plug the standard antenna cable into the back of the AM/FM stereo head unit.

    I should note a few things about tuning:

    - Your SWR should be properly set for your antenna/radio setup BEFORE you even start hooking the Match-Maker up. For more info on tuning your CB radio/antenna, see Firestik's tech help section: Setting the SWR of Your Antenna┬ę - Firestik┬« Antenna Company

    - Once you hook up the system, put an SWR meter in between the Match-Maker and the CB radio. Using the built-in tuning screw, you must tune the Match-Maker so that the SWR is below 2.0 on CB channels 1, 19, and 40. Make sure you remove the screwdriver from the Match-Maker when measuring SWR or it can throw off the reading. Make adjustments in no more than a half-turn at a time, as it is very sensitive.

    These steps are very important because when I first hooked it up the SWR was in the red on all channels because the Match-Maker hadn't been tuned to match my setup.

    Performance:
    I don't use AM, so I haven't tested that, but FM seems to be very clear but the range seems to be decreased. I can't catch as many stations as I could before, but what stations do come in are much clearer. However, there is occasional static "blips" but they are not very noticeable. The one reason I think that I might not be able to catch as many stations is because I only have a 3' Firestik and it is mounted fairly low, so it does not stick up above the roof of my truck. Therefore, if you have a whip or taller antenna, you will probably get much better reception.

    The CB TX/RX range does not seem to be affected and I hear no interference from using both devices (CB and radio) at once.

    Overall:
    I am satisfied with this unit but if you listen to the radio very often and you listen to a wide variety of stations, make sure you install this unit within your first 30 days of return policy to you can make sure it works for you. Otherwise, it is a great solution for someone like me, who only listens to the radio occasionally and didn't want to have 2 antennas on my truck :D
  2. EricG

    EricG SILVER Star

    Messages:
    1,788
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Thanks for the writeup ... my power antenna needs replacing, and I've been thinking about just putting a CB antenna there and getting one of these.
  3. esh

    esh

    Messages:
    1,971
    Location:
    Oregon
    I have this mod and love it.
  4. EricG

    EricG SILVER Star

    Messages:
    1,788
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Where did you get this unit? Reccomended vendors?
  5. esh

    esh

    Messages:
    1,971
    Location:
    Oregon
    They're only about $20, really anywhere that sells Firestick should work.
  6. AppleTech

    AppleTech

    Messages:
    737
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    I got it from walcottcb.com - very reputable and I haven't had any problems with them.
  7. AppleTech

    AppleTech

    Messages:
    737
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    If you don't mind my asking... what type/size of antenna do you have? Upon further use I'm noticing that my FM band is really pretty week (I'm only running a 3' Firestik). Do you have any tips on tuning it?
  8. EricG

    EricG SILVER Star

    Messages:
    1,788
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Anything further on this? How bad is your FM with a 3' firestik ... I know that's hard to quantify.
  9. AppleTech

    AppleTech

    Messages:
    737
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    It only really becomes an issue when you are getting out of range of the station - it has less reach than the stock antenna.

    -Phil
  10. EricG

    EricG SILVER Star

    Messages:
    1,788
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, CO
    I'm guessing it has better reach then the 1/4" broken off stub I've been putting up with on my honda for 6 months, so I should be ok :hillbilly:
  11. forestdan7

    forestdan7

    Messages:
    540
    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    I was going to post a thread about this, but then I ran across this one.

    Just installed this splitter, and my FM is coming in better (I had a 1' rubber whip on the fender beforehand), and the CB SWR numbers have dropped considerably after tuning.

    I'd recommend this, especially since it's so cheap. I'm running a 4' Firestik-type antenna on the front bumper, and nothing on the fender. I like the look with only one antenna.

    I also tuned the AM, and it's working fine, too. I don't use AM that much, though.

  12. NLXTACY

    NLXTACY Mud Life Sentence

    Messages:
    10,526
    Location:
    West Hills, CA
    I am about to order the 3' Firestik but I noticed some options, for the complete CB newb, which of the firestiks do you recommend AND how to mount them on an externally stock truck? I have seen some cool mounts that fit between the hood and the fender but no idea what was used. Back bumper is ok too if I knew what other 80 owners used.
  13. AppleTech

    AppleTech

    Messages:
    737
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Here is WalcottCB's page with a list of hood-channel mounts:
    WalcottCB.com: Hood/Fender/Door Groove -

    The Firestik II with the tunable tip is fantastic. I love my 3' one - has plenty of reach and fits in my garage (it's mounted on my front bumper:[​IMG]

    Make sure whatever you order that you get a spring and a good Coax cable - this is imperative for a good setup. I just buy the Firestik kit as it comes with great directions... This kit may actually work for you - includes the hood groove mount and coax - just add a spring to your order as well and you should be all set to go. I don't know if this hood mount would fit our trucks but I've seen a similar one used.

    Firestik MK174 - Hood Groove Mini Kit

    Also, DO NOT USE YOUR RADIO UNTIL YOU HAVE TUNED IT! You can damage the radio! PM me if you wanna work out a time that you can stop by my place and we can tune your antenna (EDIT - I know this sounds gross... but I should have clarified and said your "CB" antenna lol) - I've got an SWR meter and we can get it all set up for you. Set it and forget it! :)

    -Phil
  14. NLXTACY

    NLXTACY Mud Life Sentence

    Messages:
    10,526
    Location:
    West Hills, CA
    Phil you rock!

    As soon as I get this ordered and in my hot little hands I'll let you know.

    Joey
  15. GLTHFJ60

    GLTHFJ60 Rum Runnin' SILVER Star

    Messages:
    13,811
    Location:
    Durham, NC
    Bringing this up to the top because I used this thread to do my CB install.

    So I set up my CB today and tuned it, got it to a SWR of 1.9 on all channels ( have some more tweaking to do ). Either way, I wanted to hook up my Matchmaker, which I know needs to be tuned as well, but when I hooked it up, my SWR meter was pegged in the red zone, indicating a short in the system. I unhooked it and tested the antenna + cb alone again, and it still read 1.9 on all channels.

    I'm thinking that the AR-1A must be faulty because I only read a short in the system when it's hooked up. Does that sound right? Should I go order a new AR-1A?
  16. AppleTech

    AppleTech

    Messages:
    737
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    To be honest with you I pulled the Matchmaker out of my system a couple months ago. I was getting reports from others that my voice quality was bad and it sounded like I was over-modulating (I don't have GAIN on my radio and my SWRs were really high). I pulled the MatchMaker after being unable to properly tune it with it installed and I'm just running with my stock antenna now :(

    -Phil
  17. GLTHFJ60

    GLTHFJ60 Rum Runnin' SILVER Star

    Messages:
    13,811
    Location:
    Durham, NC
    Well that's not the answer I wanted.

    kevinmrowland has been running one for a couple of years now with no problems and great reception, so I have faith in the unit. I want to try it either way because I really don't want to run 2 antennas. I wanted to know if you guys thought if my particular unit was broken.
  18. JLH911

    JLH911

    Messages:
    2,355
    Location:
    So. Cal

    I'm having a problem with this splitter. I know a lot of people don't listen to AM radio, but I do and you'd think you'd get decent reception with a 3' firestik antenna. I followed the instructions and I'm getting really bad reception.

    I did check to make sure there is no short with the antenna per the Firstik instructions and diagram.

    I did clean all the ground connections so I know it's not that. Using the same ground connections that I used with my o.e. antenna and I never had issues with it.

    Any thoughts?
  19. Did you ever sort this out Johnny? I'm having the same issue trying to set up my new system and I really want to run the splitter. I found the center pin on the CB side of my Firestik Matchmaker splitter has no continuity. I'm going to try calling Walcot and see if they'll test another one before replacing it for me.
  20. Thanks Dan. Adjusting still yields me no continuity through the center pin though. That's like a broken coax cable and is why my SWR meter red-lines up near 8 with the splitter, but is around 1.6 without.

    Butt

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