Hi all. Name is BoB and my radio history goes back to primary school when I pertered the teacher after hearing Morse on our home radio. Of course the school didn't have such a radio, it only had the school VHF radio (FM broadcast band these days). There were very few stations on that band back then, especially up here. After pestering the teacher for a while he asked what it sounded like. So I tried to make the noise and he thought it was Morse. He came in with a recording the next day and asked if this was what I heard. It was, so he decided to explain what it was I was hearing (it was a small class, in fact he taught four classes at the same time) as there was only six at most to a class. Small school in Speyside in Scotland.
Anyway, he played the recording and explained that what we were hearing was a station somewhere transmitting a message in Morse Code, then he pointed out the tone had changed a bit and this was another station replying. What we were listening to was old Ship to Shore (now de-funked since the 90s), you used to see them with tall masts with long wires running between the masts. If you wanted to be a FULL Licenced Radio Amateur back in the 80s or early 90s that is where you would have to go to get FULL Licence and pass your Morse test to get it. This was a requirement back then, it is not now.
Anyway, there was a few in the class was very interested in the Morse so when we did woodwork we made a crude Morse Key and the teacher had Morse up on the blackboard after we hab all made a Morse Key. We learned the basics like SOS and some words, but he didn't really know how to send Morse. One day he announced that if anyone was interested in Morse and how it was sent that he had a surprise in store in next few days just before school finished for the day, those that walked home and didn't get the Taxi could stay on after school if we took home a note and got out parents to sign the note and return it before the end of the week. Some chose to stay at school and get their parents to pick them up later.
The day arrived and we had no clue what was happening, all we were told was it had to do with Morse. Late afternoon a man knocked on the classroom door and the teacher told us to finished up what we were doing and he would be right back.
He appeared with another man carrying a big box, some wire and a little box. They set up the contents of the box on the teachers table and put the little on beside it, connected up some cables to both of them and then passed the longest cable out of the window (which was not easy as the bit that opened was at the top high up) using the window opening pole they managed to get it through the window. Another man outside grabbed it and pulled it through and out into the playground, which went uphill slightly from the school building itself.
Then they plugged in the box and turned it on, it lit up and and after a while crack;ed into life I think there was a valve in there had to heat up. It was turned down and the man went outside to put a pole into the ground and hoist the wire up into the air. Now keep in mind this would have been late 60s. They were outside a while putting guy wires up and pulling up the wire into the air. Of course, we were supposed to be getting on with out school work, but there was little chance of that as this was a lot more interesting and the teacher gave up.
We were told to stay away from the equipment on the desk and "DO NOT touch the wire coming from it". Half an hour later the man came in and started to play with the equipment and when he touched the switch there was a humming sound and you could feel a change in the room, hard to explain at that age, but it appeared to have energy. The man, who well later found out was called Donald twiddled with knobs on the smaller box (which we didn't know was an aerial tuner) but that was not really explained, they were more concerned with safety as there was up to 1000 volts on the connections at the back and up to 800 volts on the key for Morse. It was explained before he started that what he had was a radio, it transmitted Morse and that there was very high voltages, not a lot of current, but enough to hurt if anyone touched a metal pert attached to the radio, or the wire (aerial) coming from the radio. Also the key was at 800 volts give or take a 100 or so volts, so touching any metal part on it could hurt a lot, so "DO NOT TOUCH". Anyway, he went on to explain, only due to our teacher asking for him to demonstrate Morse to us, was the only reason he was here. He hoped we would enjoy what he hoped would be a small demo of Morse and that he hoped some of us would stick at learning Morse and become operators ourselves.
He then went up to the transmitter and again told us to stay well away from the wire going out of the window.
He then started tapping out a message, it appeared to be the same thing over and over again, then he sat back "I hope we might get a reply, you can try to read what the reply say off the blackboard. There appeared to be lines of Morse on the blackboard like we had not seen before. The other man appeared and stood with the pointer (a long cane) and waited. The man sent out the message he had sent already for a second time, then sat back and waited. Then with a loud crackle the radio burst into life. He turned round and said "look at the blackboard". The Morse started again and the man there was moving the cane across the dashes and dots. He sent something back in return and then went to the blackboard.
He then stood with the cane and the other man went to the transmitter and turned a switch "OK" he said and the man at the blackboard said he would point at what we had received from somewhere else. The man at the transmitter hit the key and we could hear quite loudly Morse, the man at the blackboard pointed at each bit of Morse as the man at the transmitter keyed it. when he had finished he ask us if anyone knew what we had received? "NO, well let's go over it" which we did looking at our note books and working out what letter he was pointing at. It said "Hello children I hope you are enjoying this demonstration of Mores which is being sent to you from (can't remember) as you all have asked to be shown how Morse can work to transmit and receive messages all over the word by Radio Amateurs as a hobby. QSL.
He then said if anyone thinks they can transmit Morse to come up and have a go. Well, a few of us tried, but I don't know if the person at the other end made any sense of it. He couldn't have been far away as the set was on low power, but we did get a reply. We were told it said "All received".
Anyway, it was an hour of my life that left an impression on me and I wanted to get involved, however, it was not till a lot later I got the chance.
Fast forward: I had left school and left the area to get work and as it happened I bought a radio that picked up the local Ham Repeater, so I started listening to it.
Fast forward a couple of years and I heard about this new but illegal craze that was starting called CB. I came home and went into the pub for a pint before I walked up the road to go home. A guy I knew was in there and he was talking about this CB he had bought, he had it with him. i asked him where he got it, but he wouldn't tell me as he had bought from a mate. Fair enough, but I wanted one. He said he would keep an eye open for one, but never came back with one quick enough. Anyway, he gave me a life home that night and he went to a slight hill and called for a copy and got a reply from a mate of his. That was me hooked.
Bought an illegal CB and used it in the car. Then it became legal and I bought one that was being sold off cheap from Woolworth of all places, a York 863, a Cybernet boarded set and I think the best board to be fair. Then I got into a Nato 2000 which was only on UK channels at the time. Got into a lot of FM DX into Romania, Hungry, Czechoslovakia, Some Russian countries, but not Russia itself, America and most of Europe. Now they were using the big sets, I was using the York 863 believe it or not. Best contacts were the unexpected ones, best one was to Helmet, in Hungry, the contact lasted 30 minutes. There were two radio Hams on channel that day and three others, but for some reason I was Helmet's best signal and the Radio Hams wouldn't talk to him, even though there was nothing stopping them. The others just asked if he could hear them and left it all to me. He couldn't send me a QSL card as it was illegal for him to be on the CB let alone the channels he was using. He seamed like a very nice guy. This got me even more into catching the rarer contact on DX and I would scan for weak signals and wait till they came up slightly to get them. One night, or should I say early morning, I was talking to a girl (Who wouldn't leave me alone) when a lift came on and I ended up running a pile up from South coast of England (Maybe some of you were on that night) I had to say I would only talk to one station at a time and I would ignore others and if they tried to get in I would reject contact with them altogether. This worked very well and everyone settled down to quickly trying to get as many in as i could (with interruptions from the girl) when she interrupted I said "If you interrupt me I will not talk to you" every breaker that came on after that would laugh at the comment, but would quickly give me his/her location and handle or call-sign and allow me to get on to the next one I heard. I had to tell them that as soon as I said a call-sign I would only talk to that breaker and only that breaker. I think I got over 100 before conditions changed and the skip vanished. Needless to say the girl was not to amused!
Anyway, by this time I had been involved with Amateur Radio going to the local club. The treasurer was not to good at chasing people up for their membership and life got in the way due to work. So after a few years of going I went back and asked for my membership, I was told that I would have to pay back payments. I did but it cost me a fair bit, than life got in the way again. I was going to sit my exam back then, but just as I was finishing the course things changed and life was in the way again. I was never at home a lot, so it got forgotten about. I continued on CB for a few years then I got a job where I was always working and never had time to get on the air. I then moved house started a family and moved again, not having time to do much of anything but a bit of computing that had sort of replaced Cb as the wife didn't like me on CB. We moved again and I developed cancer and a result is very poor mobility, poor memory and a lot of pain, so life has changed a lot for me. Seven months in hospital with a 6% chance of survival and the doctors said they had had no one survive this process with them so far. It was an experimental process and was very risky on its own and it would be very hard on me, but they reckoned it was my only hope!
The only hope was the process that so far thy had no one survive, so i had an even less chance of getting through it. So they started the process and I was supposed to stay in for seven months at least, however, after the first treatment I told the doctor I was going home and would be back in a week to start the next treatment. He was not having it, so I told him that is what was going to happen, so in the end he arranged for nurses every day to take bloods, the wife had to give me injections and was trained up on how to give me them. Bit it almost killed me as I twice got Neutropenic Sepsis (Blood poisoning) and I just got into hospital and the strain of it all I had a heart attack, then I had it again and was rushed back, but this time I had to stay as I was due for my next treatment. At this point I could tell they didn't expect me to survive, but every time I had a spell at home I came back slightly better and almost ready for the next one!
After getting through this I was not very well for ages, I still don't feel good some days, but I am here. I was given a laptop that sounds as if it is on its way out. But so far it is still going.
Fast Forward to Covid 19. A nice week of sunshine and I was able to sort through some boxes of stuff that had been thrown into the shed. I opened one and out came my old CB Your 861, a bit of digging later out came the 863, then a Stalker F9DX, than a Nato 2000 in need of repair, than a Nato FM Both sets were only working on UKFM but both in need of repair. A Ham Jumbo, a Rotel 230, a Amstrad 901 (Japan model) a Harrier Home Base, a Fidelity 3000 Home Base and a brand new Fidelity Breakerphone that I was going to fit a mic with all the controls on to instead of the stupid phone set that came with it, but never got round to it, the reason for this was you just couldn't leave a set in your car in the city, it would get stolen. So all these repair projects are still to be done. However, I am disabled these days and getting anything done like this is a major effort. I also had my 13.8 volt power supply to fix, but alas I think it is now beyond repair, it was a 10 amp supply, an electrolytic capacitor blew up just before life for me changed and I had to move house, so it got put in a box and stored in a loft, then was stored in a leaky shed for ages. I had to go to hospital with cancer, so in the shed it stayed with leaks dripping in every time it rained. So everything I had in the shed has corrosion on it, most of the CBs don't work, my test equipment (it was left in the rain when moving house, they were told it had to go inside, but it was left in the rain) got ruined and corroded very fast. It came so close to me loosing my cool the day I found it all outside in the rain!
Anyway, I have found all these old CBs, so I looked for an aerial, one Silver Rod had vanished, the Thunderpole that used to be on the roof has gone, so has all the threaded rod and angle iron for fixing it, a lot of aerials have just vanished! A lot of stuff has vanished, even the big frequency counter I had has gone, the signal generator I had has rusted to the point I wouldn't turn it on! So all my test equipment has gone. I used to repair CBs and set them up to work at their best legally at a full 4 watts and perfect deviation. I can't do it now though. I spent a lot of time repairing things Screwdriver experts did to radios, they have no idea what they were doing and often did more damage then good.
If you want to see legal CBs being set up look at Richard Shireby, G0OJF Radio Repair Shop
"UK CB radio servicing" on YouTube or "MikesRadioRepair" for the American sets and export models of CB. Do a search on YouTube.
Anyway, after a long absence from CB I have found a working set and I am trying to get round permission to put up an aerial which I did have but they do not allow them these day and my permission has long gone.
Just lately I have had a loan of a SSB CB and have managed to get to Costa Rica talking to a man running a plantation/farm who was talking to his farm charge hand, they could both hear me. It start off when I heard someone that I thought was Spanish talking on SSB just at the bottom of the box, so I waited and they slowly came up, only other thing I could hear was to Italian and one or two French stations. When I got through they were not convinced I was in Scotland but when my signal fluctuated they took my word for it. I have never got into there before. I have also heard Japanese (but they are not on 27MHz) but I don't know where they were buy it sounded like they were talking to someone in New Zealand, however, I couldn't get them, I also heard Brazil, got through but then I lost the skip :-(( So the only other stations I could work lately is East Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, America, but didn't get through, Iceland, but he ignored me or couldn't hear me. But he was very quiet and low signal. First time I have heard Iceland, so I thought the Faroe Islands might come through but no. Northern Ireland I have heard as well, but I am not on that much these days like I used to be.
Wait until I get a good aerial up!
What have I missed out, loads!