- It's almost time for a slew of hamfests and swapmeets
- We've just got to have some sporatic-E propagation
I've missed the Belton Hamfest at least 3 years in a row now, and I'm only 50-50 on going this year. There are a couple closer to home later on, but not nearly as big. As Hamfests go, I guess my Number 1 Dream Trek would be to make just one of the Dayton Ohio events (maybe two of them - 1 for buying and the other for video taping). A lot of good stuff ends up there and it would be nice to tell a story about it rather than hearing or reading a story in QST.
"YE 'OL MAILBAG DEPT..."
During this cleaning process, I found e-mail I missed (wedged inbetween either spam or ebay messages) along with some nifty photo's sent in by several readers! I made some graphical changes to the "Mailbag" photo as you can see, and I'm sure there's more than one of you who wishes they got a big 'ol mailbag full of stuff like that - but enough digression...onto the mail....
"FROM THE U.K."
I'm writing this e-mail whilst being tucked-up in bed with a terrible cold (my wife says it's "man-flu"), but I just had to put pen to paper (or whatever the equivalent term is for e-mail) to thank you for putting up and updating a wonderful site that has taken me back 27 years in an instant.
In 1979 I was just 9 years old when I first encountered CB... My neighbour (excuse my 'non-US' spelling) intrigued me by the fact that she took her car radio aerial off when she got home and put it on again next day before heading off. I was also curious as to why she always threw a coat over the gear stick (we're talking manual shift here) and its housing.
A couple of months later my parents bought me a hand-held receiver which covered 27 Meg, Airband and a few other bits. Of course, within a week or so I heard my neighbour's voice "wall to wall and treetop tall", in fact she almost blew the front end out of the receiver. So I went and confronted her with it!
I then got to see her equipment (I later realised that, had I been about 6 years older I might have gotten to see more of her equipment, but that's another story). The rig was a Fanon Fanfare - I still remember it because it had the channel change and display in the microphone (and, in consequence, a very think mic cable). It was a 40 Ch AM radio (does this ring any bells with you?). At about this time she changed her antenna for a Valor Dial-a-Match (2 foot version) on a quick-release mount, as CB was still illegal in the UK and the Post Office (or Buzbys) were keen to prosectute Cbers to 'make an example' of them. However, living in a fairly small rural community (about 2,000 inhabitants) the 'non-suss' antics were probably more geared to adding to the thrill factor than to actually evade the law, who could find much easier pickings in a city!!
During 1980 rumours abounded that the Government were going to legalise CB - which they did in 1981: sadly it was an FM based system using different channels from those used in the US. However, as it was now 'legal' my parents bought me a rig - a Realistic 40 ch FM mobile which was set up as a base station using a half-wave dipole. I had good fun using it, but it lacked the 'adrenaline rush' of the AM rigs illegality. What didn't help was that most of the Cbers in the village remained on AM having bought Ham International Multimode II rigs and the like. Although mum and dad were less-than-keen, I used to go and play SSB at one or two their houses. Hoping that it would satisfy my urges, mum and dad bought me a secondhand Yaesu FRG7. Sadly their hopes were not fulfilled as I then discovered Amateur Radio and remember hearing my first VK5 station. I just knew that I had to become a 'Ham' - the only problem was that I was only just 13 years old and the minimum age for holding a licence in the UK is 14. Still, I began studying hard (and it was hard as I was learning stuff that we had not even begun to think about at school). I took the test in Nov 1983, passed Paper 1, but failed Paper 2. I re-sat Paper 2 just after my 14th birthday and passed it! Mum and dad had promised to buy me some gear (I think they were confident that I would not pass) so they got me a Yaesu FT480R 2 metre set and I used this with a 4 element quad - I soon exchanged this for a 9 element beam with a lower wind loading factor. However, I was still haunted by that VK station I'd heard, so, in 1986 I decided to learn Morse and take my test so that I could get a Class A licence and start playing with HF. I found Morse came very easily and I sat and passed my test just six weeks after starting to learn it. This upset several of the others who had been trying for a couple of years...but I had age on my side. Once again my folks indulged my interest and bought me a secondhand Yaesu FT 102. I had a wonderful time talking to people from distant lands, but due to a lack of antenna I never managed to contact a VK station. Mum and dad were very aware of the sensitivities of our neighbours and would not go for a tower with a 3-element tri-band beam. So I had to make do with wire!
When I was about 20 years old I discovered a thrill even greater than the old days of AM...girls and, in common with many others, the radio sat unused in my room. My licence lapsed and, apart from the occasional bit of listening (and the even more occasional bit of illegal use when I heard an old friend on 80 metres) the set was never turned on. My mum died at the end of 1997 and as my father was disabled and housebound I knew that I'd be spending a lot of time at home and needed something to occupy my time. I'd just got a PC and discovered the internet, but something stirred and I decided to get back on air. I re-activated my licence and chopped in the FT102 for a secondhand (but only just) Kenwood TS 950S (I struggled with the idea of not having a Yaesu set). Still being worried about the neighbours I used a wire 'sloper' with traps to give operation on 10 thru 40 metres.
Still my VK eluded me and in 1999 I managed to persuade dad (and, more importantly the local planning authority) to let me have a tower and a tri-band beam. I bought the tower but before I could get the beam dad died and with him the need for me to spend most evenings in the house. I guess partly as a reaction to his death, and partly because I was still only 29 years old I never put the tower up and spent the next 3 or 4 years having 'fun' and planty of it. In April 2004 I got married. In August 2005 we moved house to an old barn conversion with a garden that's triangular 6 ft wide at its narrowest but 160 feet long. The TS 950S currently sits in its box under the stairs, with the FT 480R next to it. The tower is in the outbuilding and my licence has expired.
However, after nearly 3 years or marriage we've settled into our various hobbies: my wife is getting into jam making and the like and I'm watching too much TV. I still haven't spoken to a VK station and your site has made me realise that the 'bug' has not left me. I think I shall have to get my licence re-activated again and get back on-air.
So there you have it...
Please feel free to edit and stick this up on the site if you would like.
Jeremy (ex G0 DCJ)
Ps Was I dreaming about the Fanon Fanfare with a channel change on the mic???
Great letter Jeremy, and no, I don't believe you were dreaming about that Fanfare (Since receiving your email I've been looking at various catalog's from that era and it's bound to popup on one page or the other). When I get around to updating the actual website, I'll be happy to put your letter in our "How I Got Started in Radio" section - I think that beside this Blog, it's one of my more popular pages!
"FROM AN OLD FRIEND"
Really enjoy your blog Brian. I check it out every week. You must be getting around better because the blog changes regularly these days. Thanks for keeping it going.,
Always good to hear from ya Mr. Mentor, and you're now a character for some of my stories!
"FROM A FELLOW E.F.J. FAN...."
Hey from a fellow Texan,
You've got an awesome site! I've read almost everything on it and there's lots of good info there. This is actually where I found out about the Johnson 352 Viking and I knew I had to get one. I already have a 123A set up as a base at home, and a 123B in the truck. I just got a Messenger II tube rig that works like new, and I finally got the Viking 352 off ebay a couple weeks ago. It was sold AS-IS, untested and it went for $10.50, and shipping was $10. It came in the mail and was dirty and dusty but it looked like new when I cleaned it up. I hooked it up to a 12V Motorola base power supply and turned the switch and it lit right up, and worked great on AM and both side-bands. Not bad for about $20! I attatched a picture of the Messenger II and the 352 just for the heck of it. I just wanted to give you a holler and if you're ever around South Texas give me a shout on ch. 22.
Have a good one,
Hi Robert! Thanks for the email and photos - If I get down your way, I'll be sure to "Give ya a shout"!
"A PROBLEM IN CORPUS..."
I have read all your pages and enjoyed the information, stories, and photos very much. Brings back a lot of memories if the 60's and my Lafayette HE-15B radio I owned back in my high school days.
Reason I am writing is that here in Corpus Christi we have a fellow that has appointed himself master controller of channel 19.
He calls himself THE CB'er FROM HELL.
He likes to disrupt QSO's and argue on the air.
He will rant for long periods just to keep others from talking.
He will interfere with what little truck traffic we have here and sometimes can be very vulger. (in all fairness ... so can the truckers) Lately he has found a new way to annoy people with the radio.
He has a reverb echo unit and will blast the channel with high power and wierd echo noise nonstop for as much as five or six minutes at a time.
This will go on until he drives everyone off the channel.
He is a HAM and that is how he gets the high power equipment I guess.
What can be done about it?
A Guy From Corpus Christi.
Sounds like you have a BIG problem down your way. Fortunetely this fellow is a HAM, and if there's anything the FCC hates worse than high power CBer's, it's a HAM operator using his equipment on 11m AND making a Butt out of himself. I'd record his rants and mark down the time and day, then turn the bum over to the FCC.