Tuesday, December 31, 2019

BYE-BYE 2019

HELLO 2020!!

It's almost time to tuck 2019 to bed and wake up 2020, so to all the regulars, lurkers, and anyone else who stops by -  

Monday, December 30, 2019



HF operators across the UK (especially 10/11 meters) have been getting some foreign DX thanks to a high pressure weather system which has covered the land. Television viewers who use Freeview television have been receiving French channels which have blotted out England's English language broadcasts, and they're raising a ruckus on social media, so turn on your HF rig and do some talking 😉

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Sunday, December 15, 2019


Having read the first part, I hope you're ready for Part Two.

My Dad and I arrived just as the shop was opening, but even then we weren't the first arrivals. Glancing to the left I could see the Midland inside the display case, while to the right a thick cloud of cigarette smoke hovered around the owner and several of his cronies (It's weird - back then I didn't seem to notice cigarette smoke much, but now, I can't even stand the hint of a cigarette). One thing I did learn about the effects of smoke on a radio was that it was almost like a preservative. A little soapy water and a soft towel was all I needed to get that front panel looking like new again.

The fact that this was a Midland CB was of particular note because neither Rat Shack or Lafayette sold them. You could only buy brands like Midland, SBE, or Pearce-Simpson thru your local garage-shop seller or mail order, and usually a buyer wanted to see/test/hear his potential purchase before plunking down hundred's of dollars. This was one reason why it was such a big deal  when Mr. Chips bought an SBE Super Console. While he was happy to let any interested "local"  come by for a demo he could have easily gotten away with charging a small admission price. But I digress....

Back to the shop in Springfield. 

The owner saw us peering at the Midland and sidled over to the display case. Understandably, he started talking to my Dad, telling him about the benefits of single side-band until my Dad set him straight: He knew next to nothing about CB so he (the owner) should start talking to the one who did (me). Obviously flustered, the owner fumbled around trying to figure out how to talk radio geek  to a lowly teenager, when I quickly let it be known that I had researched the rig and all of it's specifications so he
could cut to the chase and start talking about how much he was willing to knock off his selling price to make a sale. It was at this time that I re-introduced the "bank" to the owner so the adults could formalize a transaction. Shortly thereafter we departed - my Dad in the car and me, floating above it on cloud 9....

Fuzzy already had a side-band rig but it wasn't long after I came home with the Midland before my handful of trusted cronies had upgraded as well. Once my nemesis (the Bald Eagle) realized that I had SSB capabilities he too upgraded from his Browning AM set to a Mark III. Bleedover being what it was I'm pretty sure he could sense me cringe every time I heard that Browning ping.

Looking back, I see that it was just as dead with 23 channels as it is with 40 whenever the Sunspot cycle was low. It was fairly quiet, and just as congested when it wasn't. The biggest downside to having the 13-880b was it's crappy adjacent channel rejection. Having a neighbor as close to me as the Bald Eagle was really made me second guess my purchase, until I added a EF Johnson Messenger 124. It was only an AM rig, but the super adjacent channel rejection
made life tolerable whenever my neighbor was talking to HIS cronies down on channel 2 (as I have come to learn, Midland CB's may have many features at a lower price, but great adjacent channel rejection is not one of them).

One not-so-secret-secret about most 23 channel radios was 2 extra channels you could get (usually) by cutting the "Green" wire on the channel selector. Called 22 "A" and "B" they were actually higher in frequency than channel 23. Whenever you needed some privacy 22 A&B were the channels you went to (although anyone with a CB that had a tune-able receiver could easily listen in)

There were other "A" channels between 1 and 23 as well, with 3A, establishing itself as the official frequency for Browning radio operators to convene using AM (Lord help you if you tried calling DX on SSB). Around the same time the FCC took 1 channel away to created a designated emergency frequency - Channel 9. If I recall correctly Trucker's had been using ch.10 and moved their channel up to 19 to avoid hassles by being so close to channel 10, which in-turn gave us Sidebander's, bleed-over headache's on ch. 16 lsb

So, we gritted our teeth hoping for some help from Uncle Charlie,  and finally began hearing rumors of new channels, moving the CB frequencies to another part of the radio spectrum that wouldn't be as defenseless against skip, and / or a combination of the two began to be circulated. In moving to Texas in '75 I had sold most of my radio stuff to finance the trip, and didn't keep up with Citizen's Band radio like I used to. I didn't fully realize that the purchase of an E.F. Johnson Viking 352 in 1976 was really like me, throwing $300 down the train....

In the future I'll go into my crazy purchase, as well as a segway into the new 40ch. transceivers. But for now - this ends Part two...




Friday, December 13, 2019



It's already THAT time again. The time of the year where we reflect on the last 12 months and categorize stuff into groups that will ultimately find their way onto two lists: "Best" and "Worst" (of 2019). I find some tv commercial's pretty funny, with some of them actually qualified to make it onto my "Best of" list. 

One commercial character in particular, Allstate's "Mayhem", has tickled my funny bone throughout the years so I decided to preface the yearly list with one post, entirely devoted to him.

Portrayed by actor Dean Gerard Winters, "Mayhem" makes light of all sorts of serious claims that may be filed by policy holders each year. Winter's has other acting gigs on his resume like the role playing Ryan O'Reily on HBO's prison drama Oz, Tyler's father on the U.S. version of Life On Mars, and Sarah Connor's love interest in The Sarah Connor Chronicles

His character Mayhem was first introduced to viewers in 2010 and he will be entering his 10th year of mayhem shortly. 

Below, I've embedded several Christmas holiday themed commercials, several from 2019 finally ending with a 10-commercial homage to Mayhem found on YouTube...




'Nuff Said,


Saturday, December 07, 2019


Alright - alright, I know it, you know it, and I know that you know it - I've been coasting on my postings and haven't given them my complete attention, so here's some NEW original content.



Growing up with CB was a blast. For me, it started with a used Lafayette Comstat 23 until a year later when I realized single side-band was where I wanted to be. But before we get to ME, let's put a wide angle lens on this perspective...

When the FCC allotted 23 channels to the Class D Citizens Band radio service they really hadn't counted on how big it would get.

In the early years CB transceivers had a small number of fixed transmit & receive channels, with some (like the Sonar "H" on the left) having one transmit and one receive socket on the front panel allowing the operator the legal right to change out those crystals on-the-fly (so to speak)

Changing the internal crystals (two per channel) was time intensive as well as illegal for the average Joe. As a licensed CB operator, you could not make any changes or adjustments inside of the radio itself - they could only be legally done by a licensed FCC technician. 

Manufacturers quickly got creative with their higher tier transceivers by having 1-12 crystal controlled transmit channels and a variable (VFO) receiver. This was a cost saving measure on the Manufacturer end as crystals weren't exactly cheap, so, by having a receiver that covered from channel 1 to channel 23 (and everything in-between) it saved the radio manufacturer some money as well as the CB radio owner/operator. Now he (or she) only had to fork over their hard earned cash for one crystal per channel!

Somewhere in the mid-60's manufacturer's developed a frequency synthesis for the 23 channel band which cut down the amount of crystals (via mixing one frequency with another) required to allow all 23 channels in one radio, and this is where I came in...

As I've often told the story before, my parents bought me a second hand Lafayette Comstat 23 from a neighbor down the street (the Joker). He had just upgraded to a Tram Titan and needed a little extra room on the kitchen table (I'll stick a link to my "origin" story when I find it).

MIDLAND 13-880 (2nd generation "B" model) 10w SSB CB
In the course of under two years I managed to swap'n sell various rigs to have a little extra money for a BIG rig, but it was my summer of working in the tobacco fields picking leaves that enabled me to purchase a used Midland 13-880b am/ssb base station. CB's in the early 70's and more importantly the ones that had sideband were pretty pricey. The low end of single-sideband capable transceivers (base station) started at about $300. The big brother to the 880b was the 13-885 and they looked identical with two differences: 1. The 885's panel lights were round, while the 880b's were square, and 2. The 885 was rated at 15 watts while the 880b had only 10.


To the uninformed, that 5 watts made a big difference with buyers, when in reality, you or your friends would never notice it. One of my CB friends, "Fuzzy" called me up via the good 'ol Landline to say that while he was doing a sweep of stores who sold used gear in Springfield (MA) he ran across a used 880b for well under $200. He used the phone to tell me because he figured that anyone listening on the radio would hear it too, and it was possible the radio 

would be bought up before I could get there. Fuzzy offered to drive me up there but I hadn't finished my tobacco picking duties so my cash supply wasn't quite there yet. I decided to contact the bank (my Dad) who always seemed happy to fund my expenditures with my "marker" for the debt, and this was no different except I knew that he'd want to see it first. That Saturday we went up to Springfield and found the TV repair shop where Fuzzy had seen it.

In my area there were no dedicated CB stores to be found exept for RadioShack or Lafayette. Many CB users became mini dealers, selling equipment out of their garage or basement while TV repair shops began to  clear a corner of the shop to buy & sell radios and related radio equipment. Usually these shops didn't bother to change the store name or yellow pages advertisements. They simply hung a sign in the window that said "CB Radios Buy-Sell-Repair", and this shop was no exception.

This is the part of the story where I end Part One at my Segway from AMer to SSB operator.. (Part Two will follow soon)



Thursday, December 05, 2019


I went over to the Due Sender's house over the weekend for our yearly collaboration on the annual Christmas photo. We decided to share the photo online this go-a-round, and it took the equipment (plus boxes) from 3 of us (me, Due, and Reg) to create out minor masterpiece. It certainly got our (and the XYL's) attention about hoarding so many empty boxes.....

After gazing at our collaboration, let your eyes drift to the upper right column to discover the new audio files just now posted for your listening pleasure 😁



Tuesday, December 03, 2019


It's that time of the year when I don my Santa hat for a month of cheerful blogging. You never know what I'll be writing about because I don't have a clear idea until my finger's touch the keyboard, but let's get started....

I took a brief respite from the Blog to enjoy family, friends, and food - which was very relaxing, but not so much that I wanted to stay away from yakking on the radio or writing on this Blog any longer. Looking back, I would have done much better by doing the latter as opposed to the many online purchases I made. We (Robin and I) went out and saw a couple movies: Ford vs. Ferrari, and Knives Out, as well as staying in to view The Irishman, directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring  De Niro, Pacino, Pesci, and several other well known actors (Netflix).  

None of these were under 2 hours, with The Irishman the longest, clocking in at 3.5 hours.

We enjoyed all 3 movies and because they're all different genre's it's hard to compare one against the other. Nonetheless, I liked Ford vs. Ferrari best. Defining the experience is a struggle but I'll give it go by saying that:

"I haven't enjoyed a car racing movie as much since viewing my all-time favorite, "Grand Prix" with James Garner"
Scorsese does well in the gangster Genre, and the digital de-aging effects are really something to see. These effects seemed a little noticeable for the first 20 minutes or so, after that it all seemed natural.

November was an interesting month as we saw Uniden's 980SSB being discounted to the attractive selling price of $97.99 with free shipping (AMAZON). I was really tempted to buy another one, partially as a backup rig, but mostly just because. But I didn't.

Last week, with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and then Cyber Monday you could have had the opportunity to purchase a President Lincoln II+ for only $225, with free shipping (AMAZON). I really had to exercise my will power not to buy one for the same reasons mentioned with the 980. Fortunately for me (but not you if you didn't get one) that lower price is no longer, and it is back to it's normal $248 price tag. Lightning could strike twice though so I'd keep an eye out all month just in case it's lowered again.

I swapped a few emails with a friend of mine reminiscing about days past, the era of 23 channel radios, and our first experiences with linear amplifiers. Using some of the email content as notes I've started several articles for publication here on the blog, but it remains to be seen which, if any of them, will actually see the light of day (or backlight of the computer screen)🤞

My segway from November to December is now complete. Hope to hear ya on the airwaves -