Category Archives: CB Radio

Happy National CB Radio Day aka “10-4 Day”

October 4, 2019

I’ll bet you didn’t know October 4th was a national holiday! It is, thanks to former President of the United States Jimmy Carter. On October 2, 1978, President Carter proclaimed this date to be forever known as “10-4 Day” by issuing the following statement:

“This year marks the 20th anniversary of Citizens Band radio. CB is now a widely used emergency communications system. It helps keep motorists safe on our Nation’s highways by providing faster notification of highway accidents, increased detection of reckless driving, and more information to reduce traffic delays. The CB is also effective in emergencies unrelated to motor vehicles. By allowing for citizens’ participation in public safety, we greatly enhance that safety.

The growth of CB use in recent years is extraordinary. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now issued nearly 14 million licenses. More than 20 million Americans have used a CB radio at one time or another.

While CB is primarily for emergency use, the non-emergency channels bring enjoyment and companionship to millions of Americans, including my own family.

In recognition of the fine service provided by Citizens Band radio, I join with CB organizations across the country in celebrating ’10-4 Day’, October 4, 1978.”

If you’re lucky enough to still own functioning CB radio equipment, get on-the-air today and make some contacts. You never know who you’ll find out there, just waiting to talk to you on 27Mhz. Happy 10-4 Day, fellow Radio Geeks!

Apple Valley Minnesota CB Radio Tapes 1976-83

June 6, 2019

Not only did I spend a lot of time talking on the CB radio as a kid, I also spent a lot of time (and money) tape recording the antics of myself and others who happened to be on the channel.  Whereas most normal people would have erased and/or discarded these cassettes years ago, I kept all of mine.  I have at least 100 hours of CB conversations and probably more.

The “Kids’ Channel” in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul was Channel 14.  This is where we hung out most of the time.  Occasionally, a channel jammer or agitator would force us onto another frequency.  Sometimes, *I* was the channel jammer/agitator in question.  Many times, CB Channel 14 was complete chaos!  But for the most part, it was good clean fun.  It kept us home, instead of being out and getting into real trouble, as many other teenagers did.

From Drew’s Basement CB Archives, here are some real gems.  If you think these tapes are the greatest thing you’ve ever heard, keep checking back.  I’ll be adding more on this page as time allows.  If you think these are crass, crude, and a complete waste of bandwidth, you’re in agreement with at least 95% of the civilized world!

Exhibit #1 – Drew vs Lissa. Lissa was a girl who liked me.  But since I was a big 9th grader and she was only in 7th, I had no time for her.  I also had this bad habit of harassing her on the CB.  Especially when she was trying to talk to her boyfriend Brian, which was the case on this particular day in February, 1979.

I was using a Sears RoadTalker 40 AM/SSB base with a Hy-Gain Super Penetrator 500 at 66 feet above ground.  Since I had a more powerful base station than Lissa did, I had no problem getting in between the young couple.  This made the poor girl very angry, as you will hear. 

Lissa, if you’re listening to this 31 years later, I’m sorry.  Kids do stupid things sometimes!

CB_Drew_Vs_Lissa_February_1979

Exhibit #2 – The Dog Record.  This is a great example of how CB agitators tend to multiply.  Someone had either the record or tape of “Jingle Bells” by the Singing Dogs.  They decided it would be a good idea to play this over the CB radio.  So of course, another CB’er hears this, decides to record it, and then he plays it.  Others do the same in a daisy-chain procession.  Those who aren’t recording are trying to jam the ones who are playing music, as you will hear.  Result?  Pure anarchy!  This was back when the FCC still required CB licenses and attempted to enforce the rules.  Playing music was a big no-no!  I’m surprised none of us ever got caught because of our antics.  I was only 14 years old at the time, so I would have just claimed ignorance. This aired in April, 1980.

By this time, I no longer had my Sears RoadTalker 40 SSB.  The reason was because I attempted one too many “power mods” and the radio went *poof!*  So, I was back on my original radio which I always kept for a standby: a 23 channel Midland 13-882C mobile on a power supply.  The Super Penetrator was lost to a windstorm the previous spring.  (I was doing great, wasn’t I?)  I replaced the Hy-Gain with an Antenna Specialists Starduster M400 at the same height, adding 10 feet of masting to offset the Starduster’s center feed and mounting point. Performance was about the same locally.  The Starduster was definitely a better skip-talking antenna, though!

Doesn’t this make you want to go out, find, and strangle the guy who keeps playing that %$#@!! DOG RECORD??!!

CB_Dog_Record_April_1979

Exhibit #3 – FROGGY!  This guy was the original CB Rambo in the south Twin Cities metropolitan area.  He would show up on Channel 14 suddenly and unpredictably.  As soon as he did, the frequency would immediately descend into chaos.  Using a healthy dose of profanities (the worst of which have been edited out of these clips), he was the Don Rickles of the CB radio: an equal opportunity insulter and antagonist. 

The most famous Froggyisms were “take a dive!”, “ya little puny turd!”, “stoolface!”, and “ya dumb little bastard!”  At one time, more than 60 CB’ers were out attempting to triangulate and locate this rebel without a cause.  Over a 2 year period, there were countless attempts to find him and learn his identity.  No one ever did.  42 years later, I still have no idea who Froggy was.  It was the ultimate unsolved mystery of CB Channel 14 in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Though Froggy’s identity was never learned, it was a pretty good guess he was either an electronics engineer or technician of some sort.  His signal was always strong and his audio was extremely clean.  He claimed to run 1,000 watts in his car.  Doesn’t sound like much by today’s standards, but this was a HUGE amount of power in 1977.  This would explain why nobody could find him despite having an S9+ meter reading on his signal.  Very likely, Froggy was transmitting from a remote location and the hunters weren’t even close.  His technical expertise would explain why the audio was so clean at such a high wattage.  Also, it was assumed he altered his voice electronically to create the “frog in the throat” effect.  There were times when he would transmit for an hour or two.  If he tried to do the “Froggy voice” manually, his throat would be sore after several minutes.  The voice was always consistent.  Finally, the guy knows his equipment, as you will hear in these recordings.  I’ve always guessed that Froggy was either an engineer for one of the local radio/TV stations or a commercial radio technician.  Messing around on the CB with big power was what he did in his spare time.  Of course, the world will never know for sure.

The following 3 audio clips were recorded on Friday, November 25, 1977 from my residence in Apple Valley, MN.  At that time, my base station consisted of a 40 channel AM Midland 77-882 mobile radio, Micronta 2.5 amp power supply, and a HyGain Super Penetrator 500 omnidirectional base antenna which reached 66 feet above ground level.  Mounted on 20′ of masting atop our 2 story house, that Penetrator was my pride and joy. WARNING: Some of Froggy’s language is not suitable for kids!

Froggy vs Goldilocks, MN Gopher, El Lobo, and Cave Bear: CB_Froggy_November_25_1977_Part_1

Froggy vs Minnesota Gopher: CB_Froggy_November_25_1977_Part_2

Froggy vs KW Kid: CB_Froggy_November_25_1977_Part_3 

Exhibit #4: More CB “tough talk” with Scorpion vs Rob. This is your typical CB argument: two teenage guys fighting over a girl. The first one makes threats, the second says “come on over and do it!” I didn’t know these guys personally. They were from Bloomington (about 10 miles north of me) and hung out on Channel 11. I just happened to be scanning the channels, caught the argument, and turned on my recorder. By this time, I had become sophisticated enough to patch the CB audio directly into my stereo system and use TDK tape instead of the cheap “bag” cassettes. There’s nothing better than a CB argument in high fidelity! This aired during the summer of 1983:

CB_Tough_Talk_Summer_1983

Exhibit #5 – KADF-6895 Rhinestone Cowboy and KAUX-9819 Gumball – Here I am, playing to the tape recorder. My CB buddy Gumball is recording on this day, so I can hear what I sound like over the air. “Everybody be quiet for 5 seconds, I wish to enjoy my power. Starting now!” From August, 1977:

CB_Rhinestone_Cowboy_Gumball_August_1977

Exhibit #6 – Mark vs _______’s Lawn! – This guy didn’t have a handle, he just went by “Mark.” He lived near Burnsville Parkway (then Burnsville Crosstown) and I-35W. Drove a gold 1972 Buick Skylark 350. On this day, however, he was piloting his dad’s 1976 Buick Electra 455. Mark decides to test the horsepower and torque of his father’s car by doing a LAWN DEED, broadcast live on CB Channel 14! For those not familiar with these nasty pranks, a lawn deed is when you purposely drive your car over someone’s lawn, spinning the tires in order to cause maximum damage to the grass. I won’t divulge the lucky recipient of this lawn deed. Has the statute of limitations expired yet? From the spring of 1981:

CB_Mark_Lawn_Deed_1981

Exhibit #7 – KABZ-1645 Scooter Rabbit vs Unidentified Enemy – In September, 1976, Scooter Rabbit had one of the stronger base stations in Apple Valley. He lived on the hill, near the old water tower. Scooter was 17 at the time, so he usually operated on Channel 14. Occasionally, however, he would go down to Channel 4 which was “the adults’ channel.” Several Lakeville CB’ers in their 30s and 40s frequented Channel 4. Whenever Scooter Rabbit showed up there, an argument immediately ensued.

CB_Scooter_Rabbit_September_1976

Exhibit #8 – KLW-6032 Half Breed & Her Friends – Half Breed lived in Prior Lake. Because of the distance between us, I couldn’t hear her very well. But I liked her, so I always tried to pick her out of the noise and engage her in conversation. Also heard here are fellow Prior Lake CB’ers Mud Puppy and Little Bugger. Along with KAIS-2978 Cockroach from Apple Valley and KZA-0039 Goldilocks in Lakeville. A typical day on the CB in December, 1977:

CB_Half_Breed_December_1_1977

Exhibit #9 – KAUX-9819 Gumball, KWE-9270 Cannonball, KAJB-5272 Space Trucker, and KGU-3859 Minnesota Gopher. August, 1977.

CB_Gumball_Cannonball_SpaceTrucker_MN_Gopher_August_1977

Exhibit #10 – KAUX-9819 Gumball, KABI-2511 Disco Kid, KWE-9270 Cannonball, KWE-9270 Little Fry, KAJB-5272 Space Trucker, and KADF-6895 Rhinestone Cowboy. August, 1977.

CB_Gumball_Disco_Kid_Cannonball_Little_Fry_Rhinestone_Cowboy_August_1977

Exhibit #11 – Dave’s Phone Prank – Another guy with no handle was “Dave” from West Bloomington. Here, he’s attempting a crank phone call on live CB radio. But he has a bit of a problem getting everything to work properly between the telephone and his base station microphone. This aired in the summer of 1982:

CB_Dave_Kraft_Phone_Prank_1982

Exhibit #12 – KKH-5848 Cotton Picker, KAUX-9819 Crispy Critter, and Sugar Cookie. August, 1977.

CB_Crispy_Critter_Cotton_Picker_Sugar_Cookie_August_1977

Exhibit #13 – KABY-3339 KW Kid, KADF-6895 Rhinestone Cowboy, and Minnesota Sweetheart. KW Kid loved to play his guitar over the CB radio. Since he wasn’t able to afford a locking desk microphone, he custom-designed a wine bottle by cutting off the top. This allowed him to place the CB hand mic in the bottle and keep it keyed while he played. It actually worked very well, as you will hear in this clip from June, 1978:

CB_KW_Rhinestone_Cowboy_Sweetheart_June_28_1978

Exhibit #14 – A second clip from June 28, 1978. Here, we are joined by KLW-4092 Winchester and an unidentified young kid who keeps dropping perverted comments into the conversation!

CB_KW_MN_Sweetheart_Winchester_June_28_1978

Exhibit #15 – KZA-0039 Goldilocks and KAHO-1877 Grey Fox vs FESTER! – Froggy (see above) had a “cousin!” At first, we thought it was the same ‘ol agitator. Then, we listened carefully and realized the voice was slightly different. We called him ‘Fester.’ An imitator, but a good one. This aired in January, 1978:

CB_Goldie_vs_Fester_January_18_1978

Exhibit #16 – Black Max Plays His Jaw Harp – Black Max aka “Bob in Bloomington” was a pretty proficient jaw harp player. He played it often on CB Channel 14, along with his electronic organ. In this clip from the summer of 1982, he performs “You are a Randy”, a cyborg-like slam against one of his CB enemies.

CB_Bob_U_R_A_Randy_1982

Exhibit #17 – KABA-6010 Kid Flash and KADF-6895 Rhinestone Cowboy meet “Jesus” – This is my earliest and first CB tape. I recorded it in September, 1976, just a few weeks after getting my first CB radio. As my friend Kid Flash signs off, an unidentified guy who calls himself “Jesus” appears. I was 12 and as you can hear, this was recorded before my voice changed!

CB_Kid_Flash_Rhinestone_Jesus_September_1976

Classic CB Base Station Antennas

June 6, 2019

The best CB base antennas were manufactured in the 1970s and early 80s. Reason? They were made out of metal. In the early 1980s (1984, I believe), the Consumer Products Safety Commission began requiring that omnidirectional antennas meet certain standards. This was due to the large number of people who had been electrocuted while installing base antennas. Most of the “good” antennas were discontinued since they could not meet the new standards. The new antennas were of fiberglass construction. As everyone knows, aluminum is a much better radiator of RF energy vs a wire encased in fiberglass.

Interestingly enough, the new rules only applied to “omnidirectional CB radio antennas.” It did not apply to directional beams. A simple 9 foot quarterwave ground plane was now banned because it was “dangerous.” Yet, manufacture and sale of a Wilson Super Laser 500 beam with 8 vertical + 8 horizontal elements was still permitted by the federal government.

The new law also did not apply to antennas which were not specifically designed and designated as CB antennas. A few years later, “10 meter amateur radio verticals” and “25-30Mhz commercial band” antennas began appearing. Strangely enough, many of them bore a remarkable resemblance to the old CB antennas of the 1970s. Sometimes, a duck isn’t legally a duck, even if it quacks like a duck.

Here are some of the vintage base antennas we used “back in the day.” I will add more as time permits. If you have photos you’d like to share, I’d love to post them and give you credit!

The famous Hy-Gain Super Penetrator! Also known as Super CLR or Penetrator 500, it was the best omnidirectional CB base antenna ever made! That’s just my opinion, of course, but it’s based on personal experience.

I used practically every omni on the market at one time or another and found that NOTHING could outtalk my Penetrator. Extremely solid construction using aircraft grade aluminum tubing and clamps. The last genuine Hy-Gain Super Penetrator came off the assembly line in 1980. Yet, you still see these antennas on roofs and towers in complete, undamaged condition.

If you couldn’t afford a Super Penetrator, this was considered the next best thing by many: the Hy-Gain CLR 2. Known more commonly as the “Hy-Gain 5/8 wave”, “5/8 wave ground plane”, or simply “5/8 wave.” It was a very popular antenna which provided good gain, solid construction, and was relatively easy to install. There were several “knockoff” versions of this antenna, sold by Radio Shack (Archer), Royce, and others. As always, you get what you pay for. Hy-Gain antennas were made of aircraft grade aluminum and used quality clamps to attach the sections. The Radio Shack version used a cheaper grade of aluminum with sheet metal screws connecting the radiator and radial sections.

The quality difference between these two antennas became readily apparent in the first major wind or ice storm. The Hy-Gain CLR 2 didn’t bend, break, or shake apart. The Radio Shack 5/8 wave would almost always either bend in the middle or the screws would strip out, causing one or more of the radiator sections to slide down. When this happened, your SWR would go through the roof, rendering the antenna worthless until repairs could be made. In Minnesota, this usually meant waiting until spring when the snow melted off the roof. I know, since I owned both versions. Even so, the Radio Shack 5/8 wave was a big seller. The reason was it’s price: $34.95 in 1976. Frequently on sale for $24.95. By comparison, the Hy-Gain CLR 2 sold for $45-50. Again, you get what you pay for.

 

This was the “dream antenna” for all of us kids who were running vertical ground planes! Avanti’s Moonraker. Somtimes called the “Moonraker 4” since a 6 element version was also available. Truth be told, we dreamed about the Moonraker 6 or the grandaddy of ’em all, the Wilson Super Laser 500 (8 vertical + 8 horizontal elements.) But even at 13, I was realistic in my dreaming. I knew those two required a tower which my parents would never allow. The Moonraker 4 was small enough to be mounted on a telescoping push up mast (which my parents might allow.) Never happened, though. The closest I got was a basic 3 element vertical beam, turned by a TV antenna rotor.

The Moonraker 4 provided excellent directional lobes and nulls. Before the rampant inflation of the late 1970s kicked in, it could be had for about $125. Add a rotor and you’re still around $200. Hard to beat the cost-to-performance ratio on this antenna.

  
Technically, this is an Antenna Specialists M400. But we all knew it as the “Starduster.” There was a never-ending debate as to what type of antenna this actually was. Some considered it to be a 1/2 wave dipole, center fed, with the single vertical being 1/4 wave and the bottom elements comprising the other 1/4 wave. Others said it was just a 1/4 wave ground plane with the radials angled down rather than extending at a 90 degree angle from the base. In any case, it was a strong performer. The manufacturer claimed “5dB gain” which was certainly an inflated figure. Nevertheless, the antenna got out very well. I owned two of these at different times. They outperformed every other omnidirectional antenna I had except for one: the Hy-Gain Super Penetrator 500.

One big advantage of the Starduster is that it did not use a tuning or loading coil. This meant you could run substantially more than the legal 4 watts if you so desired.  I personally knew a guy who ran about 1,300 watts into a Starduster for several years with no problems. By comparison, the coil in a standard 5/8 wave ground plane would “cook” if you attempted to push more than about 200 watts into it. The other advantage was that it was practically invisible to the wind, due to it’s thin-walled construction and the fact that it only extended 9 feet above the mast that it was mounted on. In a 60MPH gust, the Starduster would barely move. It did have one weak point in it’s construction, however: the plastic “spreader” element which positioned the lower elements next to the supporting mast. These cracked very easily, especially after being exposed to sunlight for a few years. Then, the elements would flap in the wind until the threads stripped out and they fell away from the center hub. Aside from this minor drawback, the ‘Duster was a great antenna. Price in the late 1970s was $39.95-49.95, depending on the retailer.

The Antenna Specialists Super Scanner was a very unique base station antenna. Was it an omnidirectional or was it a beam? Answer: it was both! You could use it as an omni and achieve 5.75db gain. Flip it to “beam” mode and it would deliver 8.75db gain in the desired direction. A control box at the base unit was used to select the desired pattern. Since no rotor was required, you could switch patterns instantly without having to wait for the antenna to rotate and change direction. Technically, the Super Scanner was classified as an electronically-phased antenna. Retail price in 1974 was $99.99. By 1977, Jimmy Carter-era inflation had pushed the price of a ‘Scanner to $139.99.

Other classic antennas included the Mighty Magnum and Super Magnum. Both of these were also made by Antenna Specialists. In addition to the legendary Moonrakers, Avanti manufactured the Astro Plane, Astro Beam, PDL 2, Sigma 5/8, and the strange-looking but incredibly potent Sigma 4. Radio Shack’s offerings consisted of 1/4 wave, 1/2 wave, and 5/8 wave Archer ground planes. In 1978, the .64 wave was added to their lineup. The Shack also sold a small 3 element beam which could be configured for either vertical or horizontal polarization. Cushcraft’s famous line of “Ringo” antennas featured models for CB as well as several ham radio bands. There was the “Golden Hawk”, a knockoff of the Starduster. Shakespeare gave us the Big Stick which is still around today. And didn’t Turner/Telex make an omnidirectional base antenna during the late 1970s? This was before Telex bought Hy-Gain and began manufacturing the redesigned (cheapened) Super Penetrator 500s.

If YOU have photos of classic CB radios and/or antennas from “back in the day”, send ’em to me! I’ll post them here for the world to see!

List of CB Radio “Ten Codes” from the 1970s

May 28, 2019

My friend Kathy found this and sent it to me on Facebook. If you just so happened to live in the western Minneapolis suburbs and were active on CB radio during the late 1970s and early 80s, you probably heard her. Kathy’s handle was “Tonka Teddy Bear.” She had a base station and could usually be found on Channel 8.

These were the infamous “Ten Codes” or “10 Codes” that CBers used to communicate among themselves. Interestingly enough, two of the most used codes by our local CB group do not appear here. One was “10-7” which meant “out of service” or “signing off.” The other was “10-100”, a very useful synonym for “I gotta go to the bathroom!”

40 years ago, these lists were everywhere. You could find them at any truck stop or CB store. Today, most have been destroyed. Kathy saved hers, and we’re glad she did!

Cobra 29 23 Channel AM Mobile CB Radio

June 6, 2019

Back in the pre-40 channel days, Dynascan’s Cobra 29 was quite possibly the best AM mobile CB radio you could buy. This radio was extremely well made. Audio was very strong, courtesy of Cobra’s exclusive DynaMike.

The Cobra 29 was a very nice looking radio with plenty of knobs, bells & whistles. Power/volume, DynaMike, squelch, RF gain, delta tune, automatic noise limiter, noise blanker, and CB/PA controls were provided on the Cobra 29’s front panel. Lights for transmit and modulation were also included. On the rear panel, the standard connections for 12 volt DC power, SO239 antenna connector, external speaker, and PA speaker. A 5 pin microphone connector is mounted on the left side of the radio. The Cobra 29 was a strong performer and a great seller in it’s day.