Early FCC Regulations:
In the beginning, in the “Good old days”, 27mhz was taken away from the ham bands back in around 1958 and given to us as 11 meters, called Citizens Band (CB), Class D part 95. FCC licenses at that time cost $4.00. Calls started with “2Q”. Later, the FCC changed the calls to start with “K”, had 7 digits, & the price went up to $8.00. Regardless of price, the licenses were good for 5 years. FCC licenses were required if the rig or walkie talkie was over 300 milliwatts. After 1977, the FCC upped the price for a license to $19, $20, and then came down to approx $16. Licenses then were of 8 digits – 4 letters, 4 numbers. After around 1987, there were no more licenses required as the FCC was short handed.
There was a 10 code that we followed most of the time.
Modulation couldn’t go over 100% and the FCC made all manufacturers incorporate over modulation circuits which (in the schematics) were called ALC/AMC's. This made your transmit audio sound like a electronic audio where the louder your spoke, the softer your audio would be. Not only did you sound like you were holding your nose, but there was no punch in your audio. Buying a power mic only made it sound worse. Buying a power mic was a total waste of time & money as you weren't any more powerful than you were before.
As far as mounting your antenna, the FCC said you couldn't exceed a 20' length which included your antenna & mast. What didn’t make sense was that the FCC gave examples in how to mount your antenna & mast on top of a phone pole (any length), a tall building, a tree (any length), etc.
There was a limit as to how far you were allowed to communicate. 150 miles was the limit. The FCC didn't want you to engage in "skip" communications as "skip" usually started at 250 miles and beyond.
Back In The Sixties:
In all honesty, When I, first got on CB back in 1963, it was really nice. The channels were self governed, everyone used their calls, their were no carrier chuckers or music players. There weren’t all that many people on at all. Everyone conducted themselves maturely and didn’t abuse the channel. The noise level was only a 3-5DB. If the noise level was 7-9, it was considered high. The FCC was monitoring and we all knew it. People would talk for their “10 minutes” and then had to get off for the next person. Sometimes you were scolded if you went over the limit. Slowly, this rule relaxed depending on importance of the conversation. Their were certain channels to use for base to base and base to mobile. The “illegal” (base to base) channels were Ch. 1-8, and Ch. 13-22. The “legal” (base to mobile) channels were Ch.9-12 & Ch.23. Some rigs had the channel indicator scale marked off by color for this reason. Communications between base & mobile had priority over base to base.
Crystals And CB Radio:
We had to tolerate any noises or interference on any channel. You could hear the heterodyning in the back ground because crystals were not accurately cut to the oscillator’s capacitance, holder load, & activity in the oscillator in everyone’s radio. Every radio was different. Even if it was the same model. Making a crystal was hard due to the factors. Everyone was off by 1 - 2.5Khz. The FCC’s freq tolerance was .005% or 2.5 KHz. You bought a crystal and hoped you were on freq. People really didn’t have any idea how far off freq they actually were. They bought the crystal and used it. If they knew, and found out the crystal was not within tolerance, it was sent back to the manufacturer for a replacement. Tunable transmit was not allowed by the FCC.
Vintage CB Radios:
Most of the tube rigs didn’t have all 23 channels. You had to be rich for have a Browning Golden Eagle Mark III or a Tram Titan II which had all 23 channels. The radios back then had provisions (crystal sockets) for crystals to which you had to buy. You needed 2 crystals to make 1 channel. In the Lafayette catalog, crystals were $2.25 ea. One for receive, one for transmit. Some rigs had tunable receive, some had no tunable receive and operated strictly by what crystal you plugged into the socket. If you had a rig such as the Lafayette Comstat 19 with tunable receive, you could buy 1 transmit crystal and get away with it. With a tunable receive, you didn’t have to buy a receive crystal. Some rigs, like the Comstat 19 had a tunable receive so you only had to buy a crystal for transmit. Due to this type of set up where you had fixed transmit and tunable receive is where “Cross channel” was born. Not often, but if a certain person thought about what they’re doing, a person could use 2 channels at once. Person A would transmit on channel 10 and receive on channel 15. Person B would transmit on channel 15 and receive on channel 10. No one would hear both conversations except the 2 people using “cross channel”. Any one on channel 10 or 15 would get ½ the conversation only, unless they knew what was going on and had to do a lot of channel hopping to hear both sides. There was a little trick we used to do with some rig’s like the Comstat 25A, 25B, 35. We used to get Ch. 22A by turning the channel selector ever so slightly between Ch.22 & Ch. 23. Later, Shadow 7 was putting in any channel that anyone wanted including the RC’s, below Ch. 1, or above channel 40 when the rigs used synthesized crystals.
SSB & DSB:
Back in the 60’s, the SSB & DSB channel was Ch. 16. Tram used to make a DSB base that later, was outlawed due to the distortion caused by DSB.
Some CB History:
I first got on w/a pair of Fanon Adventurer Walkie Talkie’s on Ch. 9. Just about every rig or Walkie Talkie you bought, had Ch. 9. After the FCC declared that Ch. 9 was to be for emergency’s only, we moved to Ch. 11. At around ’67-68, the truckers channel was Ch.10. Later, the truckers channel became Ch.19. As the years went on, the noise level went higher. In 1976-77, when the movie “Convoy” came out, a huge mess started on CB. Hollywood took short cuts and didn’t pay much attention to the ropes of CB. When you ask for a break, you always waited to get one. When you got one, then you made your shout. In the movie “Convoy” nobody waited. They said “Breaker 19, how bout ya Rubber Duck”? Where’s the break? Where’s the waiting? Because of this, everyone and their uncle who bought a CB after that movie, did they same thing, thinking that this is the way. Many fights started because of this. More and more people got on and did the same thing. More & more fights started also. Being that the FCC was short handed, CB turned out to be a real menagerie. Linears, fights, music players, carrier chuckers, swearing, noise makers, you name it came on. CB became a real mess which caused me to leave. Then everyone left. CB is now dead. People have moved away, lost interest, use other routes to communicate now with the cell phone and mic’s connected to the IM’s.
Great Sounding Radio:
Once in a blue moon, you’d hear a CB radio that sounded really good. It had a good tone quality on transmit. It was a Tekcraft. It came with a heavy silver mic that had the mic clip in the front of the mic. Out of all the catalogs and CB Museum sites, I haven’t seen it yet. I heard one at Happy Jacks apartment when he had a friend come over.
How I Started With Fox Car Electronics:
“Oscar” lived 3 blocks from me and noticed that I had some experience in radio/electronics and spoke to Rich about me. One night when I was working at a Amoco gas station in Lodi P/T, Rich pulled in and spoke to me about radio’s, feeling me out. My F/T job was working in Keystone in Clifton repairing calculators. Rich got interested in them and wanted to buy 2, if I let him try a few for a week. The next week, I came back see if he wanted to buy them. At that time one of them broke. I asked him if he has a scope. He said yes, so I went to the back and used his equipment to fix it. He was impressed. He never saw a calculator before as they were just coming out. He asked if I need a job. I was working there from 1977-78. Rich opened up 2 other stores – Lodi & Pine Brook which later on closed down. Rich moved his business to Rt. 4 – Stereo Plus. It is closed now.
The “Shadow” “Shadow 7” Story:
When I first got on in Little Falls, I was “The Shadow” for my first 5 years. I got the name from my grandfather. He had just learned that I was getting into radio. He lived in the Bronx and was chief of police in Chinatown, NY. He told me a story once that when the police cars first got 2-way radios installed in them, some joker stole one from a police car and set it up at home. At that time, “The Shadow” was a popular early AM broadcast program that a lot of people used to listen to. The thief sounded like the original announcer who did the broadcast and made like he was the original announcer. People used to believe that this was the original announcer until he started changing the script. He started out doing the program correctly as he memorized the last show. Then he would start saying things that would fit into place such with the script & subject such as: “This is the Shadow. Santa Claus is dead.” He went on & on like this with funny stuff until either they caught him or he got rid of the radio. As for a CB handle, I had nothing in mind so I took on “The Shadow”.
I was the Shadow for my first 5 years until another “Shadow” came on in the mobile. He told me that I have to change my handle because he was the original “Shadow” and that he was on longer than me. Back then, no one had the same handle as someone else or there was an argument. At the time I was in the midst of building Complex 7. So as to not make any waves, I change it to “Shadow 7” because of Complex 7. All I had to do was add a “7” to it. I never heard him on again. Maybe I should have stayed The Shadow and tell him that you don’t know me or how long I’ve been on and I’m not changing my handle. It’s his word against mind so who is he?
Once in a blue moon there was a marathon. There was one in Little Falls where Roach, T-Bird, Big D, Dragon, Ringmaster, Little Bit, Mustang from Bloomfield, Mustang (Jerry), Sunfish, Mouse, Palomino, Tommy Falcon, & Benny, stayed up all night and into the next day on the radio. They wanted to see who would stay up the latest. Whoever did, won.
My First Coffee Break:
One good thing that coffee drinkers liked with the tube sets was that it kept their coffee warm. They set the pot down on the rig itself. Sometimes you’d see rings of coffee stains.
My Favorite Places To Go:
Lafayette – Totowa, NJ. – 785-1763
Lafayette – Paramus, NJ. – 261-8800
Lafayette – Rockaway, NJ. – 627-7017
Lafayette – Syosset, L.I. – 516-921-7700
National Electronics – Totowa, NJ. - 525 – 6146
Nidisco electronics – Passaic, NJ. - 778-4962
Great Eastern Mills – W. Paterson, NJ – 256 – 5400
Two Guys – Totowa, NJ – 256-7400.
Totowa Drive-in – Totowa – Union Blvd – 256-1545
Valley Fair – 227-6230
The Electronic Barn – 46 Farrand St. Bloomfield, NJ – Comments: Frank from Clifton, Blue Eagle, & always used to go there for parts. Later, it was owned by another person who wasn’t all that good with his customers. I stopped going there due to his attitude.