Wednesday, February 26, 2020


Sometimes, it’s tough not to view things through nostalgia-tinted glasses like when I’m reviewing a transceiver. If the CB is a new model it will almost always come up short in comparison to one made in the late 70’s to mid-80’s, especially when comparing adjacent channel rejection, or how easily the front end can be overloaded by strong signals.

Back in the day we had numerous CB magazines and buyer’s guides to help us figure out which radio was better (or worse) than another. In Connecticut everyone was pretty close to each other so adjacent channel rejection numbers, even though they were ones supplied by the manufacturers, were important to compare. Where I lived there were no less than a half dozen base stations within a 10 mile radius, so to a degree, the numbers found in buyer’s guides helped form a decision on what to buy (or not).

In other post’s I’ve mentioned my first single-sideband rig, Midland’s 13-880b. Considering how new sideband rigs were to the 1970 scene it was surprising how inexpensive it was, yet there were a couple factors involved...

The public’s perception of inferior transmitter output (it was rated at 10 watts SSB, versus the 885b with 15w) led many to steer clear of this model. 

Secondly, a poor adjacent channel rejection rating (-50db) meant it wouldn’t be the best rig to have in congested areas. I went into the purchase knowing that a 5 watt difference wouldn’t be a big deal breaker, and yet, even though I considered how easy it would be to have bleed over from other channels shutdown the receiver section, my desire to leap into SSB over-road any idea of waiting until I had enough money for a better radio. I ended up having to switch to AM with my E.F. Johnson Messenger 124 to combat strong signals from locals on other channels.



But I digress…

Flash forward to the mid-1990’s and those late 70’s CB’s were still fairly young (less than 20 years old). Manufacturers had moved out of Japan and it wouldn’t be too long before almost everything was made in China. Displays and features were fantastic compared to those older CB’s, including prices, but whenever I reviewed a new model I couldn’t seem to get past the weak adjacent channel rejection and/or over-loaded front-end. I've found other reviewer’s like CB Radio Magazine did a better job of maintaining a neutral stance regarding old vs. new comparisons, and in recent years I’ve been trying to do the same, but still have to fight the urge to backslide. Build quality is an entirely different beast and it will require a blog post of it’s own.

Suffice to say - I'll try and keep comparisons to radios that are less than 20 years apart 😉, so after a smirk and a wink, let's move on...


Recently I wrote about a QSL card that I ran across on the Web which was from my own "Back-in-the-day" CB history, from the Whopper. I felt very lucky to have spotted it. Flash forward 3 weeks and low and behold I've just spotted another one on EBay.

KBS-0875 is very familiar to me - it was one of the older cards because it was from Hazardville (Hazardville and Thompsonville merged to form Enfield around 1970), as well, their preferred channel to Monitor (ch.8) rang a bell in my head. Granted, my memory could be tainted, but I recall that their father ran a CB radio store out of the garage which gave many locals an opportunity to sample brands other than Lafayette or Radio Shack


Short of driving across the border into Massachusetts, there wasn't any other option unless you chose mail-order, where you possibly had to buy something you'd never seen, except in a CB Magazine. Because this was a sideline, he didn't have a huge selection, but it was better than nothing. 

If memory holds true, and this is the same guy I recall, this is where Mr. Chips bought and received the first SBE Super Console in our area, so it's very cool to have found this card and I'm on the hunt for others (as well as my own).


 Even I forget everything I put on the CB Gazette website long ago, so I found myself chuckling while reading a humorous story about the GE Superbase from 1999. I came across this while repairing broken links on the site so while I'm doing that, here's the story:

Legend has it that Bodacious Barney (a.k.a. - "Buckwheat") got tired of
being blown away by his closeby neighbor, sometimes friend, and always
rival, Jaybird.  Jaybird was of college age, but due to some disability
(laziness), unable to work and homebound 24 x 7. This enabled him to
more-or-less own the airwaves in bufford county!

Jaybird's rig-of-choice was a Johnson "Johnny" 350 with an external crystal
socket and a drawer full of crystals. He'd crank up the audio on his D-104,
and run his meager wattage into a PDL-II sitting ontop of a 60 foot tower,
and sometimes sneak his dad's footwarmer inline for those "special"
occasions.  Needless to say, whenever Jaybird was on-the-air, it annoyed
Barney to no end. Part of this had to do with the fact that both parties
only lived a few hundred yards from each other!

Jaybird always used to get Barney's goat when he switched to his secret
frequency, because the rig Barney was using didn't have any special channels
(also because Barney didn't own a goat). So Jaybird would wait for Barney to
get deep into a conversation then creep "upstairs", have an imaginary
conversation with himself while guzzling some Piels "real draft", and bleed
all over poor Barney.

One day Barney came home with a new rig - the G.E. "Superbase", modified for
extra channels - Upper AND Lower. Each week he'd pick a special frequency
and do unto Jaybird, as had been done to him. Naturally, Jaybird was
perplexed at first, but once he figgured out what his buddy down the road
was doing, he'd go down to the local tv repair shop (our clandestine CB
dealer) buy a new set of channels then jump onto Barneys secret frequency
and let him have it.  Didn't matter to Barney, he just waited til the next
week and picked a new frequency.

We don't know how many trips Jaybird made to the local tv repair shop for
crystals, how many real drafts he slugged down to bury the anguish, or even how much money he spent trying to keep up with Barney, but after a period of time, he just got real quiet, and finally quit CB altogether. 

Jaybird later went on to become a VP at GE and finally stopped production of the Superbase while limiting GE's CB lineup to cheap handhelds.

The Superbase became a legend around Buford county and I guess while there is some truth to every story, this yarn seems pretty darn BIG....

I've been taking a break from having too many video clips per Blog post per month so I'm adding a few now to end the month of February -




'Nuff Said,



Friday, February 07, 2020





"It's not fair to paint the whole herd with stripes if there's just a few donkeys in the bunch..."

    While much of this Blog dwells on 11m, I also cover Ham radio, and enjoy both. If the ratio of my usage (11m - 75% Ham - 25%) is indicative of my interests I sometimes wonder if the perceptions of CB by those with an Amateur radio license are partially to blame. Most 11m op's don't care if you're a CB'er and a Ham, but flip that around and you'll find a huge Hamular backlash towards you with much of that coming from past connotations vs. actual experience. To be fair, there is some small truth to every misconception, but it's not fair to paint the whole herd with stripes if there's just a few donkeys in the bunch.....and now... it's on to the story...

Depending on where you are in North America, the UK, or elsewhere you'll probably hear one of two things:

1. "CB is DEAD and long gone"
2. "CB is still very active"

Both statements are true and it all depends on where you live. For instance, in the greater Houston area the whole band appears silent but because the area is so spread out it isn't that easy to hear stations chatting among themselves if you're 30-40 miles away. On the other hand it could be a scenario where an area once populated with CBer's is void of transmissions. You may be SOL until band conditions allow for some skip talking, which is perfectly legal to do now.

Some locations are still pretty active with more than one mode of communication in use, for example, Rochester New York. Various AM traffic other than 19 can also be found on channels 22-28 while SSB communications can be heard daily on 27.305 lsb, 385 lsb, or above 40, and it's nice to know that these areas do exist. All it takes is persistent listening and sometimes a SDR website to get you there (one huge benefit of being able to view a chunk of hf is being able to see activity).

But merely listening to your radio is not the the best way to go about it, and this applies to ham radio as well. If you're not out there calling CQ you may never
know how many other stations are on frequency because they could be sandbagging too (if you were paying attention a few posts back you would have watched Fred-In-The-Shed's excellent YouTube video which struck similar notes).
The time of day can make a big difference to what you will or won't hear across the band. In one area of the UK  I had staked out it seemed to me that it waspretty dead (Southwest). I almost relegated that link to the Recycle Bin when by chance, I accidently clicked on that shortcut instead of another and heard a great QSO going on (early morning US time). Now that I know about the activity I can usually find something to listen to in the UK whether it be morning, afternoon, or even after midnight, including local traffic on 10 meters (28.490 USB)...!! [while typing this article I've been listening to G0FWX and M0YRX on 28.490 via an SDR website].

Try Telling Someone That You Talk On the 10 Billion Nanonmeter Band

Gary, G0FWX uses both 10 and 40 meters and I believe that I heard him tell Kevin that he had worked 37 countries on 10 meters alone. While listening to Gary and Kevin (M0YRX) I was able to ask questions via email and get real time answers from Gary (unfortunately Kevin's email address was not available via QRZ). Ten meters in North America often gets tagged by older Ham's as CB's "other cousin", which is quite unfair. It's nice to know that 10 meters is doing so well across the pond. I've heard of a nearby 10 meter net in this area and have sat on that frequency trying to get in on the fun but everyone seems to be farther than my set-O-ears can hear.

While I'm not ruling 10 meters out completely I think I'll have a much better chance (when the Sun is quite freckled) to make Gary's acquaintance on 40 meters.

On 11 meters,.Gary said that all was good until "One day I got a knock on the door", so at that time (in his teens) he decided to get his Foundation license (Ham radio license). Very often he gets QRM at home so he goes mobile to be able to hear and make QSO's.

[ed: No one ever wants a "knock on the door" - wherever you're located, and as I've written before, in the late 60's - early 70's everyone had the fear of "Uncle Charlie" (FCC) drummed into them. While a landline from a buddy, warning you of impending doom helped, it wasn't always necessary to determine if the FCC was in your town monitoring the CB channels. We had 9-10 channels that were always buzzing with activity and if I were to turn ON my EFJ 124 and hear virtual silence mixed with a few folks using call signs only it was a sure thing that our Uncle was in town, 'Nuff said]

Another way to scare up contacts is via Facebook the many radio related pages that can be found there, as well as websites like Worldwide Dx or Charlie Tango. On the Worldwide Dx site they have many forums both Ham and CB related and it's not uncommon for someone to get on a post to declare that their area is currently active allowing others to turn their rigs on and start calling CQ and that sure beats trying to put a "want-to-talk-to" radio ad on Craigslist.

A brief history of CB in the UK can be read on Thunderpole, so take a look.

This is one rumor that dies, only to be reborn again and again. For any newbie or former radio operator getting back into the hobby a quick spin around the dial could indicate a barren soulless span of frequencies only used by truckers on channels 19 and 11/14 (Hispanic channels). 

But when there is a slight band opening other frequencies come alive:

Channel 6/11 - The "Super Bowl" channel

Channels 20/22/28 - AM stations

Channels 36-40 - SSB

27.385 in particular fills up with hundreds if not thousands of voices calling CQ, then moving their QSO to adjacent frequencies. So right now, most of us are sleeping and waiting for the return of some hefty Sunspots, with the knowledge that CB is far from dead.



Quartzfest 2020 - Hams of You Tube Panel



PS- There are some new audio clips (top right side of Blog)