Monday, July 12, 2021

"THE SECRET BEHIND PREAMP MICROPHONES" (AN EXCERPT FROM S9 MAGAZINE - 1976)


 

 STOCK MIC OR PRE-AMP (POWER) MIC?

(AND WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE)

 

 

 

After buying a CB radio and antenna system, the first accessory that many of us choose to customize our radios, is an after market microphone. While some operators wait until they're told that their audio quality is lacking, many skip the audio checks and go directly to the webpage featuring microphones.

Going back to my first year of CB radio I was more or less ignorant of these choices and used the microphone that came with the radio. My Comstat 23 had the little tear drop "LRE" hand mic, and my Johnson Messenger 124 came with EFJ's standard hand mic as well as their non-amplified Johnson desk microphone. I liked the desk mic because it was easier to use in the shack, sitting on the desk with the 124 right behind it.

Whenever signal reports came about I always got decent comments about my transmitted audio, and except for gazing at the after market microphones in my Lafayette or Henshaws catalogs, I never felt the need to "accessorize"

If you've ever looked at the old radio advertisements in S9, CB Radio, or CB Horizons it's possible you noticed that most of the stock hand mics looked identical, except for the radio manufacturer's name plate being different - these microphones were usually made by the top 3 microphone manufacturers: Turner, Astatic, or Shure, so it was easy to see why their re-branded hand microphones sounded so good. Eventually this co-existence between CB radio and microphone manufacturers came to an end when the radio companies opted to import less expensive mics from Japan. 

My adventures with microphones and audio quality began after I traded some gear for a Realistic Navaho TRC-23b AM base station.

 

PICTURED: TRC-23C. THIS LOOKED IDENTICAL TO THE 23B

This was a no-frills / starter base station which would live on as the TRC-30 series (same box, but the 3 control knobs are on the left side of the radio vs. right).

It's signal reports were always good, but I was consistently told that my voice sounded like I was in a tin can (i.e. - Tinny). From that point on I began to search for a solution. 

Initially I made a pre-amplified compression circuit to eliminate the tinny sound. The kit, which I got out of Popular Electronics, utilized a FET transistor as the heart of the design, but the amplification kit only made me sound like I was talking in a bigger tin can (I admit to burning up 2 FET's before finally getting wise to how fragile they were to static electricity).

IN THE PROCESS OF BLOWING ANOTHER FET

 

I set this project aside when I picked up an E.F. Johnson Messenger 124. Both hand and desk microphones sounded great, and I was a happy camper once again.

 

THE EFJ MESSENGER 124 WITH EFJ DESK MIC

 

For those of you who have read my written gibberish over the last 28 years you know what radio I picked up next, but for everyone else's knowledge, the lure of Single Sideband (SSB) snagged me, and like a starving fish that swallowed the hook, I purchased my first AM/SSB base station - Midland's 13-880B 

 

MIDLAND 13-880B AM SSB BASE

 

It was used, had the cigarette scent which most used radios of that period came with, and a stock hand microphone. There was only one other in our group of teens who had a Sideband radio so one day in school we arranged a Sked to meet up on channel 16 LSB. Compared to AM, his signal was stronger - and he had plenty of loud, crisp audio. When it was my turn, the signal report back to me wasn't stellar - My signal was slightly better than what he was accustomed to on AM, but my audio was tepid (i.e. - he said my audio "sucked"). After finding out I was only using a stock hand microphone, he advised me to get a Turner "Super Sidekick", because, "It was made for Sideband".

 

TURNER SUPER SIDEKICK ADVERTISEMENT (complete with Ozzy Osbourne lookalike)
 


 

I sold my TRC-23B to a kid far enough away to where he wouldn't be a nuisance and used that money to order a Super Sidekick from the dealer in Boston. One week later when checking my P.O. Box for QSL cards I found a slip of paper indicating I had a package behind the counter. An hour, and several burned fingertips later my new Turner microphone was wired for the Midland...

After successfully lying about having all my homework done, I phoned my friend and asked if he could jump on 16 lower for a few minutes for a quick report. Without thinking twice about it he too lied to his mom as well, and within a few minutes I heard him calling me on SSB.

Not knowing where to set the volume control I only turned it clockwise slightly and asked him how I sounded - "Clear but low audio", he replied. Moving the knob mid-way I asked him again "How do I sound now". My memory isn't perfect, but his reply was akin to: "WOW - Your signal's almost twice what I see from you on AM and your audio is really banging". This was a watershed moment for me because I now realized how important audio became when talking on Sideband. 

It wasn't because the Super Sidekick was advertised as a Sideband microphone, it was due to the amplifier circuit in the microphone. I would later get into mics with speech compression, but that's another story. Scrolling up to the top of this post I realized how much I digressed from the original title, so not wanting to be accused of the 'ol "Bait-N-Switch", here is the original article from S9 CB Magazine:


[CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE]

 



 


 


 


 For further information on those great Turner microphones, refer to my blog post from last year - "The Turner Microphone Story"

 

I'll try to squeeze another post in this month (July) to make up for a silent June. Always remember to check the audio streams I post (Top Right of Blog) because I refresh them with new clips even if I'm not writing anything :)

 


 


 

 

73

Woody

 


 

 

 


 

 

 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

TANGO CHARLIE NET NITE - JULY 10 2021

 










There were a whole Bunch-O-TC-Contacts made last night (Saturday) in the UK, Germany, Ireland, and elsewhere. If you have time to kill, or just want something to listen to while you're doing your monthly bills (or a radio re-cap) I just put  5+ hours online (upper right selection).

73

Sunday, May 09, 2021

TANGO CHARLIE NET (NEW AUDIO), The CB Subculture (1974 NEWS), ICOM IC-705


 

 IT'S GETTING HOT DOWN HERE IN TEXAS

 

 

 

It seems like yesterday when we were faced with ice, sleet, and the loss of electricity, yet here it is: May 09 2021, Mother's Day, and even with this Sunday forecast to be mostly cloudy, the temperature is expected to be around 88° (and humid). A scant 23 days from now it will be the start of the 2021 Hurricane season as well.

This months update has some new (and old) listening and reading enjoyment for most of you. In the listening dept. I've added several new QSO's to listen to (upper right corner):

  • UK Freeband Net of May 2nd
  • Tango-Charlie Net from yesterday (May 8th)
  • And older hams discussing dating in the modern world

 

SHACK NEWS DEPT.

Several rigs sacrificed their lives to enable me to purchase a new QRP transceiver, ICOM's new IC-705. Since it's arrival, and after playing around with only a few of it's many features, I think I feel good enough about the 705 to slim the shack down even further.

Beyond financing, the biggest obstruction I had to overcome to buy this ICOM was it's ergonomics - It looked like a large detachable head that was missing it's body, and to me it looked almost unnatural. I've owned several FT-817's over the years and while tiny, it looked like a complete radio that was ready to be tossed in a backpack or just slung over the shoulder using a strap. Once I got past the appearance hurdle it was "Game On". I don't want to tell you too much about my experience with this marvelous portable QRP rig at the moment, as I would prefer it all to be in one blog post as a review, so 'nuff said about the 705 for now...


OLD NEWS DEPT.

As you noticed last month, I posted an old newspaper article about CB radio which seemed to be popular with many of you, so I'm going to do this periodically, perhaps once a month. This months piece comes from 1974, and is entitled "THE CB SUBCULTURE". 

 

the cb sub-culture pg17the cb sub-culture pg17 Sun, Sep 1, 1974 – 196 · Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Florida) · Newspapers.com

 


THIS MONTHS RETRO CARTOONS:

 

HAM

 

 


CB

 


 

MAGAZINE COVER OF THE MONTH

(This months cover comes from the February 1973 of 73 magazine)
 

 


THIS MONTHS YOUTUBE CLIP 

 

 

So until next month -

 

73,

Woody

 


 



 

 


Tuesday, March 02, 2021

25th ANNIVERSARY POST: "THE BROWNING STORY" PT.2 (MAR 2021)


 

 

 TAKE A TRIP WITH ME  BACK TO: 1996

 

 

 

 

Continuing on with this 25 year nostalgia trip is "The Browning Story" Part 2, written for the Gazette by Bob Milam -

 

 


 

 



 


 

 

 


 

 

 



 

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE

 

 


 


 

 This issue had the usual columns ( CB, Ham, etc.) along with an article in the "Collecting CB" column by Charles Zafonte, regarding tube neutralization, and a short review of the Uniden Grant XL. It wasn't the biggest/baddest magazine around, but I tried to pack as much as I could afford (cost of printing), and you should be able to view/download it HERE.

 

 


 

 


73

Woody





 

 

 

 

 


 

Friday, January 22, 2021

25th ANNIVERSARY POST: "THE BROWNING STORY" PT.1 (FEB 2021)


TAKE A TRIP WITH ME  BACK TO: 1996






1996 was a good year for the CB Gazette. At the time there wasn’t a lot a CB manufacturer history-related-information on the Internet other than a few questions and answers on a small cluster of websites, focused on Citizens Band radio. Glenn Hendrix was just getting started with his Browning website and specific locations like Yahoo “groups” either didn’t exist, or were just beginning. This left many knowledgeable folk, like Bob Milam, Todd Evans, and Charles Zafonte, Dave Hall (and others) with plenty to say but no place to say it other than through their own person-to-person radio QSO’s, phone calls, an occasional mention in the CB column of Popular Communications, or - the CB Gazette

It was around this time I began to publish more CB radio manufacturer origin stories, written by some of the more knowledgeable CB radio history buffs around at that time. One such historian, Bob Milam, had started out as my West coast finder/picker for all things old involving CB radio. If it was for sale or trade and worth a hoot, I could count on Bob to bring me and the seller together (while, as most radio liaisons did in those days, he collected a small percentage of the sale from the seller). As the Gazette grew, from 2 8.5 x 11 pieces of paper stapled together Bob (and others) ended up being semi-regular guest contributors. He and I spent a lot of time (and $$$ to the phone company) on countless landline QSO’s that all revolved around 2-way radio, both CB and Ham, but as real life often does, the twists and turns of life's changes eventually slowed the number of these calls each year until finally ceasing after the turn of the Century. It was shock to my system when I received an e-mail from Bob’s wife letting me know of his passing. I would like to tell you that I circled that date on a calendar – but I didn’t, so now I can only place the email somewhere in the 2013-2016 time frame. 

It's never a "given" but many of us, somewhat selfishly, expect their friends and acquaintances to live just as long as we do, but when circumstances flip that given on our collective heads - it can hurt.

One of the most popular sections of my former publication were articles that dealt with Citizen Band Radio's history, and about the fabled manufacturers, along with the radios they built - something newbies could only hear about during those late evening/middle-of-the-night QSOs where fellow radio operators would huddle by their speakers while listening to a friend tell a story about some long gone company, that perhaps they had been told years earlier by another friend. 

I like a good story as much as anyone, so the Gazette featured articles that served as origin stories for some of the legendary manufacturers of CB’s Golden Age: like Browning Laboratories, General Radiotelephone, and Tram (to name a few). Of all the long gone manufacturers, Bob had two favorites: The General Radiotelephone  company and Browning Laboratories, so it's fitting that this is one of first articles I re-post, a celebration the 25th anniversary of his first article(s) his story about Browning. 

So it's with great pleasure that i once again present, Bob Milam’s “The Browning Story” (part one)...














 
 
 
 
 






 
 

 



OTHER CLASSIC ADVERTISING (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

 















































 

 

 

 

SHACK PLUS SHOTS:


 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 



LINKS:

 

CB GAZETTE BROWNING PAGE:HERE

Glenn Hendrix's BROWNING LABORATORIES, INC. : HERE

THE OLD TUBE RADIO BROWNING ARCHIVES: HERE

GRUMPY'S OLDE TIME RADIO FORUM BROWNING PAGE: HERE

BROWNING LABORATORIES FACEBOOK PAGE: HERE

FANS OF BROWNING, TRAM, AND SONAR FB GROUP: HERE 

FOSTERS.COM ARTICLE BROWNING'S MOVE TO NH: HERE

RADIO MUSEUM.ORG BROWNING PAGE: HERE

CB TRICKS BROWNING PAGE: HERE

GOOGLE BOOKS - TRIBUTE TO BROWNING: HERE


SO ends the beginning of my "Retro-Year". Of course, part two of Bob's story will follow next month (March), and if anyone would like their Browning shack photo's in this Browning "special" please send them to me via email (along with any pertinent details/information)


73

WOODY