Monday, October 23, 2006
What times? What changing?? Let me explain. The "times" were 1969-1977, and the it was Citizens Band Radio that was changing (Yup, I'm still stuck in Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine). It's pretty much a given that tubes ruled the world for the better part of the sixties [with the exception of several mobile units]. Favorite rigs around that time were the "Big Dogs" like Tram's Titan, and Titan II; Regency's Imperial II; Browning's Mark II; Lafayette's Comstat series, and HB-333, 444's.
And, up until 1969ish, when it came to mode of operation, AM was king-of-the-band. There had been some brief, yet unsuccessful attempts at introducing Single Sideband to the public - one in the very early sixties, a few in the mid-sixties (E.F. Johson 350 or the "Johnny", which notably was also solid-state), as well as DSB (Double Sideband), and General Radiotelephone's SB-72, but for most of that decade it was AM. Even operators with the Browning sideband rigs were perplexed by it, and didn't like the fact they had to "clarify" the other station in, so they used it mostly on AM.
But then solid-state units (which had been primarily mobile) began to appear around 1970, and the push for sideband began in earnest. If I recall correctly, it was like going to bed in an AM world and waking up with alien invaders call SSB....it seemed like almost at once, the major players appeared:
- SBE's Console 1
- Quickly followed by their "Super Console"
- Cobra's 131
- Pace had the "Sidetalk 1000"
- Pearce Simpson's "Simba", "Bengal", "Cheetah"
- Midlands 13-880B, and 885B
- And others, that don't come to mind at this moment
CB Magazines created column's devoted to SSB, and you had to admit, those full page color ads of the new breed of CB had to get your heart pumping a little faster. I jumped onto the SSB band wagon as fast as I could get the money for one. Up until this time, there weren't any real local "Dealers", most of what we bought came from mail order or more likely a neighbors garage. We had a couple of garage dealers in our town. They found a distributor and depending on their cash flow, would either have a rig or two to look at, or at least a bunch of catalogs. The garage dealer I remember best sold Pearce Simpson for the most part (although he would not turn a Midland buyer away) and owned a "Simba" which was a great advertising tool - you got to hear him on the air, and could go over to his house and actually see it [take note though, that while this was a sideband rig, he used it almost exclusively on CH2-AM]. To a teenager, it looked HUGE, and between all the bells and whistles, the shiny chrome and that alien looking desk microphone, it would have been a done deal for me - except it was too expensive.
One day, while talking with some friends, a fellow called "Mister Chips" asked for a break and introduced himself to our group. Apparently he was new to CB and was just getting the feel of things, and asked how his rig sounded. The answer was "Great". Then the question was: "What kind of rig are ya running?". "A Sideband Engineering Super Console" Mister Chips replied. The name sounded familiar so I grabbed my latest copy of S9 and there it was in full page ad. We didn't know what the real difference was between sideband and AM, because we'd never heard a SSB signal. Mister Chips oblidged us by going to SSB and talking.
After the shock wore off, he was deluged with questions and even invited us over to see the rig. My Dad took me over to his house and Mister Chips was an agreeable sort, years older than my Dad, but they connected on a level I couldn't - until it came to his rig, which was sitting on the kitchenette table, looking awesome. "How 'bout a cup of coffee?" he asked. My Dad said sure, and I nodded an affirmative as well. Thus two milestones were marked that day:
- I saw my first SSB rig, and even talked on it, and
- I had my first cup of coffee.
So now I was hot for a sideband rig, but how could I afford it? they were four hundred dollars and up. Then one day a group of us were talking about SSB and one of them mentioned that they had heard of an actual CB Radio shop, just across the border in Springfield, Ma. and after some negotiations, I got my Dad to drive me up there. I knew the street but not the exact address, and while we were driving down the street I saw a TV Repair Shop to our left and taped to the window was a sign that read: "CB RADIOS TOO". That turned out to be the CB Shop, and it was the place where I bought my first SSB rig - a used Midland 13-880B, for under $200. As I found out later, I would pay dearly for lack of adjacent channel rejection in my dealings with my neighbor/nemesis, the "Bald Eagle".
Once I got a sideband rig two or three of my radio buddies followed. We all like the straight forward kinda talk, and using our first names instead of "Handles". We used channels 16-18 for SSB, which was great until more truckers moved to channel 19 and bleedover became an issue. All-in-all, it was still a great 23 channel world, and actual CB "ONLY" Dealers began to pop-up like microwave popcorn. These were the days of "wine and roses", and we were unaware of what was just around the corner...
[TO BE CONTINUED: AT A LATER DATE]
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
- It was "Born" a HAM radio
- It could be modified for CB or Freeband frequencies
- And it has to have had a long run of popularity (and still running)
My pick (Drum roll please....) is the Yaesu FT-101 line. I can't remember how many of these I've owned throughout the years, but I do know that every now and then I get the itch to buy another one, and believe me, there are a bunch on the market! One curious aspect of the 101 series is that the price has more-or-less remained the same for the last 20+ years (usually you'll find them in the $300-$450 range), and of course there is the loyalty factor: FT-101 owners are very loyal to the 101 series. It still amazes me how many 101's still have the "Plastic on the faceplate" - the worn, discolored, "Badge of Courage" of the 101 owner (and I've seen some pretty nasty plastic; especially ones used by smokers).
So why do so many people like the 101? I suppose, many years ago, it was the 11m position on the band switch, or maybe it was the "LOOK". It sure wasn't the weight because the FT-101 is one heavy sucker for a rig with a carrying handle! For me, I think it was the simplicity of being "Analog", but whatever it was, the FT-101 began my affair with Yaesu equipment, and it was by accident (er, I meant to say "Act of God")!
My first HAM rig (a Heathkit HW-5400) was damaged by a nearby lightning strike. Naturally, I took it to the "Fiddler" for repair, and he offered to loan me a 101.
"It's not as modern as your Heathkit", he said, "Maybe 10 years older"
I was still working on getting my code speed up to 13wpm, and didn't want a lapse of time to slow me down, so I agreed and drove up to his shop to pick up the loaner. When I first laid eyes on it, the connection was made! And after the Fiddler showed me how to tune it (it was my first tube HAM rig), I couldn't wait to get it home and try it out. All I can say is that it was the coolest rig I'd ever seen!
Since then, I've owned the 101, B, E, EE, and EX models, many were complete sets with matching accessories. One accessory, considered a must by many is the YC-601 digital display, of which I've owned several. But the "Cool" factor for me was operating without the digital display, which added to the mystique of running an analog rig with an analog display. Gone were any preconceptions of channels, or 5 or 10khz steps - you had a starting point and an ending point, with everything inbetween ready for exploration.
The analog calibration kept you aware of band plan limits - so you knew when you had moved from the CW to the PHONE band, but otherwise, the 101 seemed to bring you back to the days of "Flying Blind", knowing where you were, but not exactly where. Would the next turn of the dial bring a contact? or would you be mesmorized by the hiss coming through the speaker and sit tight? If HF wasn't enough, then you could go buy a 2m or 6m transverter (or BOTH!! They all matched).
If you are really into 101's then I suggest that you checkout a great website (click on photo) that will give you anything you ever wanted to know about FT-101's, and then some! NW2M put a lot of work into his homage to the 101 series, complete with history, spec's, comparisons, and much-much more.....
"There is nothing like the glow of a tube rig, in the shack with the lights out!"
The rig to the right is a Yaesu...can you determine which one it is? My guess is that it would be pretty hard to figure out...(HINT: It's a Yaesu....oh yeah, I already said that)
So, the 101 started my love affair with Yaesu. Inbetween various "Flavors" of the FT-101, I also owned:
But I always came back to the 101, and the 101 was always the same price range. I'm not saying I didn't like other Brands, for instance an Icom IC-751A was a favorite of mine - it had a GREAT noise blanker, as well as the IC-738, and I still have a 703 in a backpack for QRP operations. But if you look back when the 101's first came out, and compare them to a Kenwood or Icom rig from the same period, I don't believe you'll find as many of the others. Maybe Yaesu sold more to 11m op's....-
FROM: THE "MAIL BAG"
DAVE H. wrote in after my last column to remind me that not all operators are DX Hunters, and I'd have to agree with him. After reading my previous post, I could see where I was a little one-sided, and there are two sides to every situation. Like Dave, I prefer the local round table of discussion, but there aren't many local sideband users in my neck of the woods.
So, while everyone isn't selling their rig's, there is some portion that do during low sunspots. I've also found that mid-July through the end of August is a good time to look for a "DEAL" from a desperate HAM-SALE. I think this has to do with the new school year about to begin, and kids asking for a new computer or laptop....or it could just be a coincidence, I just know the best prices are found during that period. In New England, where I grew up with 11meters, things were a bit different: An extra rig or other equipment was sold in the Spring, as outdoor activities would keep you from yakking too much on the radio, but come the end of summer and into Fall, anyone who was short a rig, made sure they had one because winter could be very long.
DAVE M. WRITES:
Since your getting more photos of 11 Meter HT's, here are a few of mine.
These are McDonald Instruments Model 06-32-75 manufactured in September 1978. They are 5 watt 6 channel radios. The receivers work very well and I have made several contacts standing in the back yard. They are 11 3/4 inches tall, weigh about 5 lbs with the 9 AA batteries installed, and proudly display a 46 inch telescoping antenna. Cool . . . . .
Well so much for this column - Woody
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
73s from "TRON" Tony in NYC
Keep on Truckin' !!!
Monday, October 09, 2006
You can't find this type of excellent info anywhere.
The walkie talkie page is really nice.
Thank You again.