It really is hard to believe that in this day and age, a time where you can get a wrist watch that's 1000x more powerful than the computers used to land men on the moon, that most good CB radios are still made as big as bricks and typically, weigh as much too. This is something that's always bothered me and because of it, I have bought and tested a myriad of CB radios over the years and all with the hopes of finding something a bit more compact, yet still worked just as well and sounded just as good as a larger traditional unit. Unfortunately, I hadn't really found anything that I liked or at least, at a reasonable cost and so for a while now, I had just resorted to running an old school Cobra 29. With that said, I had been hearing more and more about a relatively new CB radio made by a company called AnyTone and finally decided to give it a try.
At only 4.1" wide, 4.3" deep, 1" thick and weighing just shy of 15 ounces, the AnyTone Smart CB radio is without question the smallest hard mounted CB radio I have run to date. Sold as a 10 meter radio, they do require a bit of surgery to convert them into an 11 meter radio (standard U.S. 40 channel CB) but it is minor and this short write-up will show you just how easy it is to do.
What you will need
• AnyTone Smart CB Radio
• T-7 Torx Bit
• Fine Soldering Iron
As you can see, the AnyTone Smart CB Radio is small enough to fit int he palm of my hand.
Additional controls are located on top of the mic.
If so desired, a jack for an external speaker is available.
Here's a shot to show just how small the AnyTone Smart CB Radio is compared to an old school Cobra 29 LX.
1. To being the modification of your AnyTone Smart CB Radio, you will need a T-7 Torx driver to remove the 4 screws securing the top half of the unit in place. A tiny driver this small is typically found as a part of a more complete electronics driver set which can be found at Walmart or hardware store.
2. With the screws removed, carefully pry open the top half of the AnyTone Smart CB Radio making sure not to tear out the speaker wires from the circuit board.
3. It's super tiny so you will have to look carefully for it but as you can see in this photo, you will need to located the OP1 and OP2 jumper points. As you can see, OP2 is soldered together and this makes this unit a 10 meter radio. To convert this to a standard U.S. 40 channel CB radio, OP2 will need to be separated.
4. Ideally, using something like a solder vac would help to make this job a lot easier but I was able to use a rosin coated wire as a kind of a sponge to soak up the solder.
5. Using an electronics soldering iron with a fine point, heat up the rosin coated wire and the solder connection on OP2 and remove it.
6. Clean up any excess rosin and solder and make sure the OP2 connection has been separated.
7. Reinstall the top half of the case and you should now have a standard U.S. 40 channel CB radio.
Being as small as it is, the AnyTone Smart CB Radio can literally be installed just about anywhere in your Jeep. Being that I have an EVO Sport Cage installed in Rubicat, I decided to just install it on the CB mount they provide on the center cross bar. Here you can see just how tiny it is when mounted in a location made for a full size CB radio.
Below is a link to a write-up that should help you get a CB wired up and installed on your Jeep JK Wrangler.
Cobra 29 CB Radio Installation Write-Up
So, how well does the AnyTone Smart CB Radio work you might ask? What I can tell you is this - so far, I am happy that it has both a squelch and RF gain controls but I do prefer knobs over buttons. The 'up' and 'down' buttons on the mic do make it easier to make adjustments but I don't see it being very easy to do while driving or at least, based on the way I have my unit mounted up. That being said, I am really impressed at how loud and clear the tiny speaker sounds and because of it, I may not install an external speaker. Of course, I haven't had a chance to use this radio under enough different circumstances to know for sure and so the jury is still out on that.
All in all, I'm pretty happy with the AnyTone Smart CB Radio size and quality but I'll be sure to post up a more thorough review after I've had a chance to really test it out.
It's been about 2 months since I first installed our new AnyTone CB Radio and now that I've had a chance to really test it out, I thought I would provide some feedback to those who might be interested.
First off, I am still really happy with how small this CB radio is. It's super compact size and relative light weight makes it easy to install just about anywhere and in any rig. While something like a Cobra 75 also has a small footprint, the larger speaker on the AnyTone provides a higher quality and louder sound. I also like the fact that unlike the Cobra 75, it does have an RF gain and that helps to make adjustments to what you hear as well.
With that said, here are a few things that I've found to be an issue for me. While the speaker is bigger and does sound better than a Cobra 75, it's still nowhere as good as an old school Cobra 29. This really isn't a problem if you're running full doors and a hard top but with half doors and soft uppers, it can be difficult to impossible to hear what's being said at highway speeds, especially if it's windy. Fortunately, the AnyTone does have a port for an external speaker and that will address this problem.
Another issue I have with the AnyTone is that you can't dial out renegade static. Essentially, if a weak signal drifts in, it presents itself as loud intermittent blasts of noise which is something that's common on race radios and what I hate most about them. Sure, you can increase the squelch to mitigate the problem but doing so can leave you out of radio contact with the people you need to talk to. Old school analog CB's with a good RF gain will allow you to adjust the amount of static you hear like a rheostat and so that you can have it always coming in like a soft white noise. If you know how to use it well, it can even allow you to hear people a lot farther away. While the AnyTone CB does have an RF gain, it's difficult to use and that leads me to the next issue I have with it.
In order to make adjustments to the squelch or RF gain on the AnyTone CB radio, you have to press a button on the unit itself and then press one of two buttons located on the top of the hand set that is normally used to change channels up and down. While it does work, you have a limited amount of time to make this adjustment before the CB automatically returns back to the "channel" setting. Maybe it's because of where I have my AnyTone mounted (on the center bar of my EVO Sport Cage) and how I have my handset hanging from a GearKeeper but I have found this process to be somewhat of a challenge while driving. After selecting squelch or RF gain, I have found that on a couple of occasions, I ran out of time to make my up or down adjustment and inadvertently changed the channel I was on instead. Not a super big deal and not a problem when parked but I do feel it needs to be noted.
As far as range goes, Cindy and I tested it using a 2' Firestik that was able to get tuned to about 1.8 on an SWR. Not the best antenna to do long range testing but we were running the exact same antenna on our other Jeep only connected to a Cobra 29. From our test, we found that the AnyTone broadcast a very clear signal but not as far as we would prefer - maybe about a mile. Again, a longer antenna may have helped here especially if we could get the SWR lower. Receiving was good as well when I had reception and this goes back to the squelch issue. When I had the squelch up high enough, reception was great but as is the case of a race radio, at the cost of having to deal with a lot more renegade static. I know this doesn't bother a lot of people but it does annoy me.
Overall, I'd have to say that I'm still happy with the AnyTone CB Radio and would still recommend it over a Cobra 75 especially for its size and cost but I'd be lying if I said that performed as well as a good ol' classic Cobra 29 LTD. I might be even go so far as to say that I would run it over a Cobra 29 LX but again, mainly for its size and cost.
Anyway, I hope this follow-up review was helpful to you. Please let me know if you have any questions.