This is a great site! I sure remember the fun I had with the CBer's in the Detroit area between 1969 and 1972. They were a great group of people at heart. They had handles like "Viking" (a car-hauler for Chrysler), "Ice Cream" (he sounded really big, but he was a little guy. I think it was his mike preamp that did it.), "Gunrunner" (a Browning Eagle guy, through and through. Sort of like today's evangelical
Harley owners), "Birdman" (a chain-smoker), "Firebird (from "Dowwwntowwwn Moorcity 'troit!"), "Scooby Sue (a nice gal in Milford, MI)", "Little Elf" (another nice gal, from Ferndale, MI), "Poncho" (Mike Workman - a wild but hard-working guy), "Triple M (The Michigan Mustang Mobile)", "Flinstone"
(sounded just like Fred), "Beaver" (built the biggest linear amps I've ever seen!), "Beacon" (ran an answering service, I think), and "Beam" (Beacons better-half). I could go on, and on, but I'm sure you get the picture. My local handle was "Ironsides". When the sporadic-E made the band so noisy that some of the local activity died down a bit, I joined the "skip-chasers" as the unit "336". Why 336? I really can't remember. I must have thought it had a nice ring to it.

My interest in CB radio began with a pair of Alaron walkie-talkies that I received as a Christmas gift when I was a kid. This must have been around 1962 or '63. Every couple of years I got a new set from my folks, an aunt
and uncle or the import/export guy that was married to a cousin that I really didn't know. One year, 1966 I believe, he gave me a real walkie-talkie! This thing was big! It was in a leather case that seemd as thick as a saddle. It had two or three channels and a whip antenna that had to be five or six feet long and 5/8" in diameter at the base. Although I
didn't have a pair of them, I could really hear the stations with it.

One day, I heard two very strong stations talking with each other. The older sounding gentleman was named Jim, and his call sign was KDS-5504 "base". After they were through talking, I squeezed the push-to-talk button on the
walkie-talkie and said "KDS-5504. Do you copy?". Then, POW! Like a lightning bolt out of the blue, it happened: "That station calling KDS-5504, come on back." Now what do I do? Did I just break some law? Should even I answer
him? Help!

Well, I ended up having a short conversation with him, at which point he invited me over to see his station. As it turned out, he lived just two blocks away. His radio was a Johnson Messenger. Along with it he had a nice
desk mike and an SWR meter all on a large glass-top executive desk. It looked pretty neat to me at the time! This was my first real taste of radio.

>From that point on, I spent a lot of time reading about radio. Amateur, CB, communications receivers, you name it and I probably read it back then. I bought every communications magazine that I could afford at the time! I even subscribed to QST (I still have the first 4 or 5 issues from that subscription).

Later on, sometime in 1968 (when I was thirteen years old), I was following a path through the woods which ran along a fence line at the back of some houses. As I was walking, I spotted an antenna on the back-side of a house.
It was just 12-15 feet off of the ground, but it was a large multi-element beam antenna. Through the back window of the house I could see many large pieces of radio equipment.

After pondering it for a few weeks, I finally went up to the house early one evening and knocked on the door. A very pregnant lady answered. I said that I had noticed the antenna.... "hold on a second... JIM!" was her reply.
"Jim" was James Buhl, W8SYR. He said hello and invited me in to his station. He was obviously excited that someone from the neighborhood had taken an interest in his hobby. We went into one of the back rooms of the house, and
I was in awe! His station was all Heathkit. In fact, as it turned out, he worked for the Heathkit store on 8 Mile Rd. in Detroit at the time. Does it get any better than this?

Jim was a "general" back then, and he was a 20 meter fanatic. I watched him work stations all over the world. I even got to work some DX and do a little rag-chewing myself. I helped him assemble many pieces of Heathkit 'SB'
equipment. In fact, when it came time to put that 20 meter beam up on a 50 foot tower, I helped.

If it hadn't been for the code requirement, Amateur Radio would have had me by then.

Jim and his XYL still live in my home-town of Madison Heights, MI. My first real radio was a Lafayette Comstat 25A, the one with the 22A and 22B channels. My first antenna was a 5/8 wavelength Colinear CLR II. I ran
some kind of Realistic in the mobile back then, but I can't recall the model number, though. Later on I got my hands on a Regency Imperial. For DX work I used an old Heathkit DX-100B (I know, I was a bad boy!)

By 1973, school, cars, girls and a job got in the way of the radio, so I dropped out of the CB scene.

As we all know, 1975 brought computers to the forefront of the technology scene. Of course, I was right there, too. I purchased and built an Altair 8800 after seeing one on the front cover of Popular Electronics magazine. Computers have played a big part in my life, as well as my career, since
then. The advent of computers pushed me even further away from the radio scene.

In 1980, my interest in radio was rekindled again for a short time by a quirk of fate. Radio Shack had made a MAJOR advertising boo-boo in the largest Detroit newspaper, The Detroit News. There it was; a BIG ad with a
BIG picture: "Realistic Navaho TRC-459 SSB/AM Microprocessor-Controlled CB Radio: $99.95"! Their catalog showed it at, if I remember correctly, $449.99! After seeing the ad in the paper at my office, I was at the Radio
Shack store three blocks away in under five minutes (what took me so long!). Surprisingly, I didn't get much of an argument from them, so I bought it. Total cost: $103.95 with tax!

I was kind of the Tim Allen type back then, and the radio by itself wasn't good enough. So I set out to build a linear amplifier for this rig, and I do mean an amplifier. I wasn't running a base station, so I would have to design it as a mobile amplifier. Specifically, it had to fit within the
confines of a 1979 Ford Thunderbird! This monstrosity used a PAIR of 3CX1000's, with a special alternator (48-55 volts) and a trunk full of batteries, wired in series to provide 48 volts DC for the amps power supply. When finished, it tipped the old wattmeter at 2,500 watts PEP! I must have
been nuts back then!

It worked fine, but it was a scary beast to operate. It could stall a whole group of vehicles at a traffic light when keyed-down. I first noticed this phenomenon in my own vehicle before I choked/by-passed all of the wires
going into the electronic ignition unit. I could light up the fluorescent lights in front of most convenience stores and gas stations quite easily. When it rained, I noticed that a kind of 'corona' effect formed around the back end of the car (the antenna was trunk-mounted). This effect also occurred between the tips of the leaves of certain types of tree's in the area that managed to get too close to the antenna.

Antennas themselves were a problem too. I wanted to try something other than a stainless-steel whip. So I visited a local CB shop in Warren, MI. The proprietor said "Yep, these here Francis fiberglass antennas will take 4,000 watts PEP!". "O.K. then......." I said, "It only has to handle 2,500 watts for my use. Let me take it outside and try it!". He kind of gave me that "Yeah, Right!" look. "Sure, go ahead." he blurted. I took the antenna outside, screwed it into the mount, started the car, keyed-down and shouted,
"Hey Gunrunner, is this thing getting out!". Right about then my automatic SWR alarm went off (the car stalled due to the fact that RF would get into everything when the SWR got above 3:1). So I quickly let go of the mike button. At that point I noticed that the proprietor of the shop was running towards my vehicle. "Hey! What are you doing! All of my radios, phones, speakers and digital clocks just about went nuts in there! I think you even killed my watch! What have you got in that thing!" he shouted. To that I replied "I told you I had a BIG amp! And I JUST found out that these
antennas definitely can't handle 4,000 watts!". After showing him what was in the trunk and under the hood, he didn't even think to charge me for the blown antenna!

I have to wonder just how much RF was hitting the back of my head from the antenna, which I could see on the trunk lid through the back window. At night, with the vehicles lights turned off, I noticed that this thing could actually make the instrument lamps light. At the time, I suspected that RF
was getting in through the rear-defroster some how. If this level of RF exposure is harmful, it hasn't manifested itself yet (at least as far as I know).

Because of its ridiculous specs, complexity, proportions and potential for lethality, this thing turned out to be more of a novelty then anything else. By 1981 it was time for a new vehicle, and I wasn't about to try installing this setup into the next car, which would most certainly be smaller. So, out
to pasture it went. The amp was sold (the buyer converted it to 10/15/20 meter base-station operation) and the TRC-459 went into the closet. This marked the end of my CB "career"!

In 1989 I got my ham ticket - N8KCT. But I really haven't been active all that much. I played around on 2 meters and 70 cm, but, again, jobs, kids, moving all over the country - I just didn't have the time for it. But your site, along with recent career events, has again rekindled an old flame. It
may not be just for the CB band (I just purchased an Icom IC-706MKIIG HF/2M/70cm all-mode transceiver, for the mobile, of course!), but, it's brought me to the realization that, at some point, you just have to slow down enough to do the things that you really enjoy doing! Radio has been a
part of me for as long as I can remember. I even did some time on the air with a local FM station back in the early seventies! "Good morning! This is Matthew Jay, and you're tuned to....". From my first walkie-talkie set, CB,
several pirate broadcast stations on both AM and FM (that's FM-STEREO, ala home-brewed stereo generator, circa 1970), followed by thousands of dollars worth of shortwave and general coverage receivers, then finally, Amateur
Radio, something has become quite obvious to me! I like radio! Always have and always will. I guess a little mental push or convincing shove has managed to put it all into perspective for me. Thanks Woody!

Matt Kroll - N8KCT
San Diego, CA