I got started in CB when my parents got me a Royce 1-624 23-channel base station and Starduster for Christmas, 1974 (I was born in 1966). What a gift! I think I stayed up till 2am listening, and finally got the nerve to talk the next day.

ROYCE 1-624

I had the handle "Golden Retriever" for about six days, until I discovered that living on top of one of the highest hills on Long Island had its advantages. So I changed my handle to "The Commander". People seemed to like it. On a clear night, I could talk from Montauk to Brooklyn on 4 watts.

A brother got me a Turner Super Sidekick to go with the radio. It is still my favorite microphone. It was a great combo with the Royce. I received lots of good audio reports.

The Starduster lasted until 1975, when a famous Long Island ice storm took it out. My dad then got me a Super Scanner. I liked that antenna alot. I remember playing with the control box until the knob came loose and I had to re-tighten it. "No, I don't have a linear, it's a Super Scanner" would have made a great advertising line. People didn't always believe me when I told them I didn't have an amp.

A fellow operator, Mark, got me Forest Mims "The Engineer's Mini-Notebook" from Radio Shack in January 1975. Having never met me before, he brought the book to my house. He knew I was young, but didn't realize I was only 9! He was asking "Gary?" as if the wrong person answered the door. I remember thinking how cool it was that his girlfriend was waiting in his car...wow,
both a car AND a girlfriend. Mark was 19. He played in a rock band. I remember wanting to be Mark.

Thanks to that book, and a 150-in-one electronics kit, I began fooling around with my radio. I blew it up several times. But I did have a great sounding radio (with extra channels) when it was done. I remember Mark (an electronics genius) always telling me to "remove the Muff capacitors" if I wanted to open up the audio. I did, but I didn't get his joke until I was much older...

People began to ask around why my radio sounded so good, how could they get theirs done, etc. So I worked on other radios too, this was about 1975-1976. I became real comfortable doing it. I preferred the Cobra's and the Midlands. I remember adding a venier tuning dial to a Clarion base station to stabilize the clarifier, it had a wide range when you opened it up, but lousy resolution. It looked real funky, but worked good.

I even managed to trade some repair work for my first linear, a Palomar 90 tube. It wiped out every TV within a mile. I still have a scar on my right forearm from the first time I worked on that amp. What was that, plate voltage? I remember being thrown back about 5 feet and waking up on the floor.

Most of the skip I picked up was from the South. I remember my furthest contact being Ohio, although I did hear a station in Nova Scotia once. I probably could have made more contacts but I was having too good of a time talking to the locals.

It was about this time that Mark was getting bored. So he hooked up one of his guitar pedals to his radio. It was a Roland "Phasing Flanger". His D-104 went into the pedal, the pedal then connected to the mic input of his Pace base station. He used to call himself "Ramzar" whenever he used it. Later he added an echo pedal to it. He may have been one of the first CB'ers to ever use "noise toys". Back then, it was a hilarious novelty.

One of the most mysterious operators we had was a fellow named Michael, who used the amateur call WA3WDO. Michael would occaisionally come on CB, strictly on AM. The rest of the time, he was on 80 meters AM. As far as we could tell, Michael had two beefs: the FCC and sideband operators. He would
read warning letters the FCC sent him ON THE AIR. The letters usually said things like "failure to identify" and "running too much apparent power".

Back then, there was a huge fight between the established 80 meter AM operators and the sidebanders, always fighting for space. Just like on CB. Michael never started the fights. The sidebanders would break in his QSO, saying things like "why don't you pack it in, you lousy old timer" or "what's the matter, you can't afford a new radio?". Then the fights would begin, AM operators all over the country against the sidebanders. Michael
would simply turn up his power, we think he ran MANY thousands of watts. When things got ugly, Michael would lambast the sidebanders. He would say "This is the B.B.B., the Ball Busting Brigade, and we're here to bust your balls, because you've busted ours, you evil, foul-sounding sidebanders". I admit to siding with Michael. I enjoyed listening to the "old time" AM operators. Their stations sounded good, and their conversations interested me more.

While most operators were busy collecting call signs and making
contacts, these guys would simply talk. Just like on CB, except every night, when 80 meters opened up, you could talk almost anywhere in the country.Michael had the best sounding transmitter we EVER heard. It blew away anything, equalling the best FM broadcast stations.

As it turned out, I was one of the few CB'ers who actually ever met Michael. Knowing Michael loved tubes, I offered him an old Harmon Kardon stereo as a give-away. Amazingly, he gave me directions to his house, only a few miles away! In his basement, he had two walls filled from floor to ceiling with racks of equipment. He used a Shure mic on a floor stand, the kind bandstand announcers use. I later identified his equipment as the stuff you see inside radio and TV station transmitter sites. I never found out where he got the gear. Some of it appeared to be home-made. I do remember seeing my first "RF deck" -- a VERY large transmitting tube, about the size of a gallon container, sitting inside a forced-air, sealed glass enclosure. It lit up the entire room. Thinking of Michael now conjures up images of Tesla and Marconi.

In 1978 my father passed away and our family relocated to California. What a shock! Completely different CB scene there. People were very suspicious of new operators and were very "clicky". The band was on it's way out by then, and I lost interest. I remember turning on the radio from time to time, hoping someone cool would come on, but they never did. I think they gave up the hobby for the same reasons I did -- the times were changing. It was the 80's. I believe that the times changed more than I did.

Now that CB is popular again I am slowly getting back into the hobby. I have a Galaxy 99 in my truck. I am looking for more gear. I enjoy the older equipment more. My holy grail is to find the 40 channel version of my old Royce, I think its called a 1-625, still new in the box! I saw one about ten years ago at a swap meet for only $130. But I didn't have the money.

I got my own amateur call, K2GRB in 1999. I made one close friend, but I still yearn for the "good old days". What will bring it back?

Take care and 73,


"The Commander"