Wednesday, August 31, 2005

People are so with "New Technology", and I don't know how many times I've heard that CB is Soooooooo "Retro", everything is Cell phones and Internet Chat, but I was watching some more coverage of the Katrina disaster and at some point, the CNN anchor mentioned that rescue boats and helicopters were finding it was so hard, not knowing where the people were, or how to find them because Cell phones, House phones, etc. would not work, and I thought to myself "Geeez, if they had CB walkie-talkies, they'd be easy to hear on channel 9", but the thought came and went.
It was only later, when I was talking about various issues about Katrina with a buddy of mine (Yo Armando) and HE brought up the same issue and solution, that I realized that it wasn't just my CB obsessed mind (Armando isn't into CB or Ham Radio) and when the new technologies crumble, it's the older technology that can really save the day.....I know, nobody wants to buy a CB or CB walkie-talkie these days, but you know - it really could have helped.
'Nuff Said


Pictures taken by Don, in Mississippi where they were fortunately far enough from the coast to avoid true disaster! Thanks Don, for sharing those pix -


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

My gosh, I'm sure you've been glued to the TV or Radio just like I have about this disaster known as "Katrina". As more pictures and video comes in, it's quite evident that it will be a long time before things will return to normal (if they ever can) along the Gulf coast states of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi! I know the news seems to be slanted towards New Orleans (just like the Pre-Hurricane landing warnings were), but many people died and many more have yet to rescued with ongoing saga. Here in Houston, we have many center opened up and I wonder, now that they will have to move everyone from the New Orleans "Superdome", why someone here in Houston or on a larger scale from Austin, request that our former "Dome", the Astrodome, be opened up for people who can no longer afford hotel rooms, or for those being moved from the Superdome. The Astrodome would have A/C, fresh water and working plumbing in the Restrooms. Our prayers go out to our neighboring states to our East!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

"Radio Shack vs. Lafayette Radio Pt2"
And there is the physical comparisons: 1). The stores - Radio Shacks were found in my area in the new shopping "Malls", while LRE stores were usually in their own building, typically in a slightly older part of town, usually a main street for downtown business. Unlike the sterile RS cookie-cutter look, many Lafayette Radio stores took on their personalities, and if they resembled anything it was perhaps a very large ham radio store. There was nothing like walking down the aisle of dusty old Ham gear, or even the junk aisle, and discovering some gem you were looking for. Several years before LRE went out of business I moved to Houston Texas and found one of their stores in a strip shopping center off Westheimer. While I was happy to find a Lafayette store in Texas I was dismayed at how much they were trying to adopt the Radio Shack "footprint".
2). The radios themselves. My TRC-23b was also known as the "Tin Can", because that's what my transmit audio sounded like - high pitched, hollow, as if I were talking through a tin can. I tried a variety of microphones and nothing seemed to work. The Navaho Pro I mentioned did not have this problem and I knew several people in town that sounded great...but at the time, I made a $70 decision to save some $$$. (The tin can audio seemed to be fixed in the TRC-30's, which on the outside looked just like the 23b's).
RS (or as we called it back then "Rat Shack") radios and their owners took a lot of guff from their buddies but if you look at the rigs they put out after 1976-77 (the 40ch units) and popped the top, you'd find a Uniden chassis in many of them. Strange as it seems, when the regulations changed allowing for 40ch. rigs, Lafayette lost their way (for the most part) in cosmetic style, producing a variety of bland, dull gray plastic radios, while Radio Shack put out probably what I'd consider to be their best looking and working rigs ever - TRC-429,449, 450, 451, 458, 457, etc.

Realistic TRC-457

So as far as CB's went, Lafayette began to get really clobbered by the Radio Shack line.....needless to say, I never could get used to their DIN microphone plug, and always seemed to need a third hand for soldering that connector in place!


"Radio Shack vs. Lafayette Radio Electronics"
Back in the "Olden" days, if you didn't have someone selling CB's out of his garage, basement, or kitchen, you had 2 choices: Radio Shack or Lafayette. In the 60's is was "Allied/Radio Shack", and in the early 70's is was mostly just "Radio Shack". Two of my first radios were a Lafayette Comstat 23, and the other one was the Realistic "Navaho" Trc-23b (both were base stations). These gave me something physical to judge the product by, but they were not my first impressions. First impressions in those days were catalogs.
Comparing the Radio Shack catalog with an LRE catalog was easy - LRE won hands down! The "Tandy" Radio Shack company sold only Radio Shack products and most of their communications stuff either had the "Realistic" or "Archer" tag on them. Their radios weren't too much to look at (casepoint - TRC-23b) although they did have a few lookers like the TRC-24 mobile (no one matched brushed chrome and fake wood grain like Realistic) and the Realistic "Navaho Pro" Base station. Unfortunetely they (RS) were getting bad press from those who bought some of their rigs and usually they were the last place an experienced person would go to buy one. I'll relate my TRC-23b experience in another section.
LRE had their own products to be sure (in fact, many more than Radio Shack), but sold 3rd party rigs and accessories as well. Their lineup was a blend of good looking rigs (i.e. - 525, 625 mobiles, the HB444, 111, 222, Comstat 25a/25b, etc.) that worked well and sounded good too! But to be sure, the LRE catalog was a juicy book of almost 500pg's, compared to the Tandy Catalog which usually ran 1/2 or less, and whether you were looking for an electric guitar, a new stereo, some replacement tubes, or a new CB radio, LRE had what you wanted, and drooled over, in that catalog.
Radio Shack liked to make the buying decision as simple as possible "Good-Better-Best", whereas LRE usually gave you not only a decent picture, but also plenty of specifications so you could decide based on Pricing, features, Specs, and your budget what exactly your "Good-Better-Best" really was. I usually had 2 things on my bed stand next to my bed during my "Growning up with CB" years, and they were the latest S9 magazine and the latest Lafayette Radio Electronics catalog!
(For a taste of the old LRE, their ad's and catalogs, be sure and visit the LRE section of my website)
To be cont'd

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Stations from Fort Meyer Florida are fading in and out, and of course, the topic most on their minds is Hurricane Katrina which made landfall earlier this evening on the East coast of Florida and is expected to exit on the West coast, somewhere near Fort Meyer. If you've never been there, it's a wonderful place to visit....especially the Thomas Edison "Winter Home". Hopefully the storm will not do much damage to this fantastic living museum of plants and tree's from around the world (not to mention his many inventions, and "lab").

I'm still reading the S9 magazines I received in the mail, and the one I read today was really interesting - It had an article which discussed 11meters part in fighting Rommel during WWII. I know, you're scratching your heads on that one, and so was I, until I finished the story.

To make a short story even shorter: Some SWL in Rhode Island were picking up German transmissions durning WWII. They weren't picked up in Conn, Mass, Maine, VT, etc. - only in Rhode Island. They were determined to Rommel in Africa. A huge listening station was set up in Rhode Island for the sole purpose of receiving the radio signals and then forwarding their information to the Allied forces on the other side of the world! 11 meters truly has one crazy history.

I'm not sure whether the DX today is Hurrican related or not - but CH38 is filled with Southeast stations, like "Poverty Flats" in North Carolina.

Random Notes:

My website e-mail is not working at the moment. Should have everything squared away by the 30th.

'Nuff Said


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Well last night was a pleasant surprise! I'd almost given up on and DX when suddenly the speaker came alive around 9p.m. with mid-west skip that lasted over 2 hours.

While I was "copying-the-mail", I was reading some S9 magazines I'd recently purchased and in one of them (I believe 1968) a columnist wrote asking for reader help in tracking down a solid-state Stoner rig, made in Dallas, Texas!! Interesting, and so I ask you, the fearless, faithful readers of 'Nuff Said, to see if anyone remembers a rig from this era (almost 10 years before the Pro40) - Drop me an email if you do!

Whose Beam antenna is this??

"Tahiti Allen"

I'm sure most of you have heard him at one time or the other!

So much for today's thoughts -


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Skip conditions are funny - when you want them to be there, they aren't. And when you're not going to be there, they are. At least that's the way they work for me. Sometimes you can fool it, for example - yesterday: I thought to myself "I'm going to work late tonight", but I didn't and guess what? Yep, the band was really rocking!

This morning, I'm waiting for my car to get back so I can drive into work, and while I'm waiting, I'm listening to a fellow on the West coast who always fades just as he's telling folks what his numbers are....otherwise it's fairly quiet. I'm almost tempted to turn the volume up to hear him better, but I know that if I do, I'll get blasted outta my chair by some hispanic truckers as they splatter by one channel above or below me.

The picture above is from an Ebay auction, where the fellow took a variety of items and made one VERY unusual Grant. You can view his description of the modification on the ebay auction here

'Nuff said for this posting,

Saturday, August 13, 2005

As many of my 'Nuff Said readers know, I'm a Ham operator as well as a CBer.

CB came first, and while I enjoy aspects of Amateur Radio, CB is where the heart is... Ham Radio is like the 5th grade: Structured, policed, do this now, followed by do that then. As long as you do what the FCC tells you to do, you'll get a gold star on your chart, and be spared the horrific trauma of detention, or even worse, expulsion.

CB is like High School: There are rules, but as long as you don't break them all the time, you're okay. It's freedom of speech, it's aggravating, fun, and chaotic (sometimes all at once)'s a finger on the pulse of the nation.

The band was open this morning - through noon, mostly Midwest and Colorado stations, and then it died...Until about 8:30p.m., when it suddenly came alive again, with many voices calling into the night. One particular station, 1 Alpha 5 3 (Dave), in Rockford Illinois is the loudest, while the others are like ghosts in the darkness. Most of the operators tonight are ragchewers, more interested in talking for awhile, rather than just adding another notch to their dx belt and moving on. I like that.

My most favorite time to copy the mail is when the sun is going down, and twilight takes it's place. Some signals seem to ride the ionosphere like a Greek God on his chariot soaring across the sky. You can hear a definite whooshing noise when this happens, almost as if the radio signal is chasing the setting sun, or riding the last of the charges particles.
Very often, things get kinda crazy around this time as the conditions change - One minute I'm listening to an East Coast station playing 70's rock music, the next moment I'm hearing a political discussion 2,000 miles away...this is where you can feel the pulse, listen to different parts of the country and compare opinions, and - taste in music! It's this time when I lay back, close my eyes, listen....and enjoy!
Hah! An Ohio station has just made contact with another station he hasn't talked to in awhile. He's pretty lively at this time of night "I'm 79 years old and a virgin" he can almost see the twinkle in his eyes.
11:20pm and the skip is slowly dying. I can hear voices in the background, so faint that only a word or two can be understood, but it's nice to know that there's always someone talking somewhere on 11meters. Tomorrow will be another day, and with luck, Mr. Skip will be reborn. As for me? I think I'll leave the rig on until those voices fade into the night...