A Personal Story of CB from 1977 to Today
Article by 9-TM-426 (Unit 426) - BadBoy
How it All Started
It all started around 1977, I was about 13 years old and I went to visit my good neighborhood friend Louie Dinatelli. Louie lived on the 8th floor of a 9 story apartment building which his dad owned. This particular visit changed my summers and winters for a few years to come. I knocked on the door and made my way to Louie's room as usual, however as I approached I heard this constant "SHSHSHSH" sound coming from his room and the occassional voice sounding as if someone was gargling under water.
"Break 10, Break 10"...... what the %&@!.... as I approach, Louie is waiving frantically for me to shutup. There is Louie hovered over this little electronic box which is sitting on his dresser, keying on a hand held microphone with a cable leading to a mobile antenna which is sitting on his bedroom window sill and leaning against the glass.
The conversation went something like this:
Louie - "Break 10...Break 10"
Responder - "Go ahead Break"
Louie - "10-4 thanks for the break.. Can I get a radio check"
Responder - "Yeah for sure.... You're hitting me at a solid 9S units and my 20 is Markham and Lawrence"
Louie - "Roger... much appreciated thanks for the radio check...This is XM-4264657 the ITALIAN STALLION were on the side".
WOW!.... We spent the next few weeks baracaded in Louie's room spanning the dial for days on end. That was it for me....I WAS SOLD! It was time to get my own. I try to explain to my wife, kids and friends that Radio for me is equivalent to "Video Gaming" and "Internet Social/Media" for them today, however I believe this hobby to be challenging, educational and stimulating especially if you're talking about the technical aspects of the hobby, after all it involves electronics (science), conditions(nature/weather), technology etc.... It's like a fun science project if there ever is such a thing.
I Want One.... BadBoy Base
After a few weeks with Louie I was itching to get my own rig. I begged my parents for my new toy, it was my first radio, a Sanyo 23 channel AM only radio with a beautiful wood grain facing and a brilliant red modulation light with no meter bought from Fred's TV, a local electronics shop near home whom my parents knew well. I had no antenna so I decided to hook it up to my T.V. antenna. That lasted about a week and suprisingly I didn't blow the finals. What an idiot....I had no understanding at the time and was barely getting out. Things were about to change because after all it was ALL about the "SIGNAL" and "GETTING OUT".
The next few months was learning about CB Antennas, I think I went through them all and finally spent the next two summers either at RadioShack or on the house roof top fine tuning the best I could. I went from using indoor mobile antennas in my furnace storage room, to man made crawling ground planes using stiff copper wires. I then moved into our outdoor shed which lasted a few months until I finally convinced my parents to allow me to mount a mobile antenna on the eavestrough of the house and drill a 3/4" hole into the window frame so I could setup in the basement. I had the best tan of anyone that summer... I really got to know our chimney and shingles quite well.
Oh...one important note which I neglected to mention...... The "BadBoy Base" Unit 426 was born.... not the greatest of handles at the time as "BADBOY" a popular Canadian furniture store had just closed their doors for good so I took the usual riding for that one but nevertheless a catchy CB handle that has stuck through the years. As for the furniture store, they too reopened their doors for business many years later as well!
What's in Store Next.... The Big Stations
Well... as the story goes.... it's never good enough!.. after what seemed like a few years of futile 23 channel AM and eaves mounted mobile antennas along with being "walked on" by the bigger local stations, it was time for me to make my move and play with the big stations.
It was now all about SSB(single side band), more power, talking distances and leaving the locals behind. It was about how far your rig could talk. It was time to "Shoot Skip" or "DX". It was about being heard down in the southern USA and beyond. It was time to visit RadioShack!
My visit to the local RadioShack store and good friend (Gary - Store Manager) who got to know me on a first name basis over the years, scored me a huge deal and gave me a "managers" discount price on a beautiful TRC-458 Navaho Base Station (40Ch. AM/SSB) which I still have today (see picture to the left), an astatic D104 Lollipop Mic and a 5/8 Wave antenna which soared vertically high in the sky along with 4 - 6ft horizontal ground planes. My DAD (Guiseppe - God Bless his soul - 08/31/1929 - 04/13/2010 a great Father and my best friend) blasted me out as poor Brian (A local CB'er) climbed up our TV tower to secure this monster in place. Fortunately the parents were at work for most of the activity so they only witnessed the final mounting of the antenna and not all the prep work involved. Thank God!
The Big Boys Club
Well.... I was now part of the Big Boys Club and proud of it, I would often sign on when I ventured on the AM side (Ch.10 /11) with....."BadBoy Base.. Scarborough's weakest base station we're standing by" knowing very well that I was booming well above and beyond most other local stations. I'd come a long way from 13yrs. of age and my first 23 channel Sanyo and indoor antenna. I was proud!
Now that most of us were well equiped our AM group would move from AM to the higher SSB frequencies (Channels 35 - 40) after making initial contact on the AM side. We would spend all nighters QSO'ing the evening away and watching the sunrise and birds chirping. We successfully DX'd all over the USA and parts of Canada, shared numbers and QSL Cards.
I want to make one IMPORTANT POINT CLEAR.... as "GEEKY" as I may sound, we weren't the typical stereotype CB'ers you may be thinking of. Our QSO group of young members (16-20+ yr olds) were cool, intelligent, popular, level headed, good looking kids with a life after CB'ing. We were ahtletes, worked hard, had nice looking girl friends, great cars and knew how to have a good time. It wasn't all about Radio and more importantly we weren't troublemakers....We were just young kids with a passionate love for Radio!
Time to Move On
We were quickly reaching the mid 80's and it just seemed like the time had come to move on, priorities in life were shifting, I had found my first full time job in the computer industry, I was playing in a musical band and time was of essence not to mention Radio seemed to have faded out like DX fading after a good nights run. By 1987 I was married and had moved from my parents house, however the TRC-458 and accessories were carefully boxed and stored like childhood keep sakes for perhaps one more run later on in life..... but would it really ever happen?
Fastforward 30+ Years to 2012
Wow! 2012... Married for almost 25 years, 2 young adult kids and living northeast of Toronto... Time has certainly passed us quickly. One spring day in the midst of cleaning out old boxes in the basement I come across a box labelled "VMD CB EQUIPMENT" and all of a sudden I'm in a timewarp and it hits me...it's all coming back. I completely forget about the cleanup and carefully open up the box just to take a peek. It was like TOY STORY all over again when Andy opens up his packed box of toys years later only to find his best pal Woody reunited.
I can't believe the shape it's in so I plug it in and connect a mobile antenna which was in the box but seriously what would I find?...... Nothing really on Ch.10/11 AM with the exception of noise like an old vacuum cleaner. Suprisingly I did find those Kilowatt stations booming in from the south USA on Channel 6 like bad rappers barely understandable. Well could this be the moment?..... would I dare give it another go?... would this equipment suffice the new era? Oh..Oh.... here we go again!
Time for New Gear
After spending about 4 weeks in early May 2012 with the TRC-458 and throwing up a new Solarcon A99 antenna, I came to realize that there was very little activity on AM, however SSB was still kicking around and DX happening on a regular basis along with a few strong local station regulars on Ch.38 lower SSB. After befriending a few locals they told me that I picked a good time to get back into Radio because conditions were going to be great in 2012 due to the impact of all the solar flare activity and enviornmental conditions. Well that's all I needed to hear, I decided it was time to retire the the vintage TRC-458 and move on if I wanted to play in the new era. I quickly researched and found out about these "EXPORT" radios loaded with all the bells and whistles. It made no sense to modify my existing radio so after doing considerable research I had my mind set on a GALAXY DX98VHP. This would have been a dream radio back in the day but at $650 brand new....quite the price to pay in order to play!
One afternoon I happened to be searching the "Kijiji" advertisements and tripped accross a GALAXY DX98VHP. A wonderful gentleman (Dietmar) in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario was kind enough to accept my offer and ship me the radio albeit his ad specifically indicated he WOULD NOT SHIP. After several emails and calls to him he was kind enough to accept my offer and furthermore agreed to knock off $100 and ship me the radio. It was obvious he saw how serious and passionate I was for the radio. $300 plus $50 for shipping and 1 week later later the Radio was mine! What a deal!
What can I say! The GALAXY DX98VHP is a fabulous radio. Within a span of one week of operation I have been able to make DX contact to over 20 USA States spanning from Maine to California, Illinois to Texas and various Canadian provinces from PEI to Manitoba. All stations coming back commenting on my strong signal strength and crisp modulation. Obviously a good choice of radio for my liking. It's been a wonderful ride, I'm so excited to have taken yet another plunge back into Radio and thankfull that I dared to open up that old box. I would do it all over again! The kids and wife still look at me a little strangely trying to understand why the passion? They tell me why don't I just Facebook, Skype or Internet Phone? Geez! That would be too easy....
It's all about the challenge! REALLY.... THAT'S WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT!
73's and Happy DX'ing
9-TM-426 (Unit 426) - BadBoy - We're Off the Key