Carolina Pirate's Radios
I used this CB handle from 1975 until 1982.
My Dad's Old AM Tube Radio
My life long interest in radio communications began when I was 11 years old back in November of 1974. I borrowed my Dad's old Zenith Consoltone AM tube radio to listen to distant AM radio stations like WOWO Radio (1190 kHz) in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The radio had been dropped by accident and the case was broken, but it received AM signals very well. It had a big oval shaped air core loop antenna wrapped around the edge of the back of the radio. I found the same model radio shown below on Ebay in December of 2002 and pounced on it.
I can still see that old radio sitting on my shelf and lighting up the darkness of my room back in 1974. WOWO radio was playing "Jazzman" by Carol King, "Laughter In The Rain" by Neil Sedaka, "Angie Baby" by Helen Reddy, and "When Will I See You Again" by The Three Degrees. I could only pick up WOWO radio at night, so I would anxiously await the evening when all those great AM radio signals from far away places would fill the airways. That little radio was my first peak at life beyond my small town in South Carolina.
This is a song play list from WABC's weekly charts for November 1974
1946 Zenith Consoltone
My First AM/FM Radio Panasonic RF-563
I received my first AM/FM radio for Christmas of 1974. FM album rock was in it's heyday and 95.1 WROQ was the best station in the Rock Hill, South Carolina listening area. In early 1975 WROQ was playing "You're No Good" by Linda Ronstadt, "Bungle In The Jungle" by Jethro Tull, "Best of My Love" by The Eagles, "Wishing You Were Here" by Chicago, "Changes" by Loggins and Messina, "From The Beginning" by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, "Levon" and "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John, and "Can't Get It Out Of My Head" by The Electric Light Orchestra.
In the 1980s WROQ was sold. Now they have a different call sign, and they suck.
My First Pair of Walkie Talkies
I received these walkie talkies for my birthday in 1974. My friends and I use to pretend we were spies and sneak around the neighborhood talking on these. My friends interest in their walkie talkies quickly faded, but I was beginning a hobby that I still enjoy 30 years later. My older brother asked to borrow these walkie talkies for a haunted house he was having at church. Unfortunately he lost them. Dad made him buy me a new set.
My Second Pair Of Walkie Talkies
In 1975 I would listen to all the local CB'ers with these Archer Space Patrol walkie talkies. I could hear all 23 channels at the same time, but the transmit was on channel 14. I could see further than these walkie talkies could talk, but at least I could listen to other people with "big radios". CB'ers I specifically remember hearing over these walkie talkies in late 1975 were Brown Sugar, The Devil, Little Sniffles, Carolina Bandit, Red Baron, Colorado Kid, The Colonel, Miss Gussy, Night Witch, Red Barron, and Fender Bender.
With zero knowledge of antenna theory and no one to help me, I began building my own outdoor CB antennas to enhance the range of my walkie talkies. Some of my outdoor antenna creations were down right comical and included aluminum pup tent poles jammed together, an aluminum wire display rack that the local corner store had been displaying Cheetos, peanuts, and powdered doughnuts in, a big wire mesh window screen, and several plumbing pipes jammed and taped together that I stuck out the top of a big cedar tree. Those laughable antennas did appear to receive better than the built in telescopic antenna that came with my walkie talkie, but I had no concept of wavelength or impedance matching at the time.
My First Big Multi-Channel Walkie Talkie - Realistic TRC-27
Words cannot explain how in awe I was of this walkie talkie at age 12. I asked for one of these walkie talkies for Christmas in 1975. I don't think I can remember another Christmas that took so long to come. For the next year the Realistic TRC-27 walkie talkie and I were un-separable.
The TRC-27 walkie talkie came with channel 11, and the other two channels were empty. My friends had walkie talkies on channels 14 and channel 5, so I used the Christmas gift money I received to buy crystals for channels 5 and 14. As it turned out the neighboring town of Fort Mill, South Carolina used channel 14 as their home channel. They were too far away for my walkie talkie to reach, but I could hear them. Fortunately some of the Rock Hill locals would come to channel 14 to talk to the CB'ers in Fort Mill, and my walkie talkie could reach some of the locals. The next coincidence lead me to discover one of my favorite CB groups of all time.Channel 13 was the local "tween-ager" channel in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The selectivity on the TRC-27 walkie talkie receiver was low enough that I could clearly hear the busy activity on channel 13 even though I was actually on channel 14. I did not realize at first that the teen and twenty somethings I was listening to were not on the same channel I was, so my initial attempts to break them failed. After hearing repeated "Break 13" requests I realized what was happening. Eventually I came up with the money to buy the channel 13 crystals from Radio Shack, and I replaced the channel 11 crystals with channel 13.
I remember coming home from school and excitedly turning on my walkie talkie to listen to the older teenage and twenty somethings chat on channel 13. It was like a window in to the older "cool high school kids" that my other 12 year old friends did not have. It also gave me an opportunity to meet people that went to the other local schools. I felt privileged to be apart of that "cool group of tween-agers".
At the same time I was having trouble fitting in with some of the kids in the neighborhood. All they ever wanted to do was play football and basketball. I did not mind playing sports occasionally, but for me playing sports every single day was boring. Also I did not seem to think like them, and they did not think like me. One of the jock types commented at age twelve; "You're not like us. You think about things before you do it. We don't think about it. We just do it". I did not know why I was different at age 12, but I was different whether I liked it or not. Later in life my IQ score landed in the top 2% or higher on every test I took, and it turned out my musically gifted music teacher mother had passed her music abilities on to me as well. I went on to play electric guitar professionally, and I have been hired to program computers for IBM, the United States Department of Defense, and AT&T.
This is a short multi-track recording of me playing keyboards and lead electric guitar. I also wrote the music.
Anyway, back to 1976 and twelve years old. One day in early 1976 the local kids ganged up on me, and I found myself at the center of an unfriendly mob. I really did not do anything to deserve it, but the same dumb jock that had said; "You're not like us..." had set me up. He had been putting down my friend "Chris" while in private with me, and then running back to Chris and claiming I was the one saying those things. Unfortunately Chris believed him. The people on the CB were nicer to me than the jock crowd or the mouthy blonde that hung out with them, so after that day I decided to spend my time with my CB friends instead. I never looked back.
CB'ers I remember hearing and talking to over this walkie talkie include Brown Sugar, One Watt, Jeep Freak, Bald Eagle, The World Famous Eye Baller, Brown Fox, Funky Junky, Wonder Woman, Shining Star, Sunflower, Midnight, Pepsi, Wildflower, Cow Girl, Love Bug, Red Horse, Nut Cracker, Preacher Man, Ms. Frances, and many others.
The First Full Power CB I Ever Talked On
One cold night in March of 1976 my next door neighbor brought home a pickup truck from work, and it had a mobile CB radio in it. When I realized there was a real CB radio next door I rushed outside with excitement and wonder in my eyes. Inside the pickup truck I saw a 23 channel Royce 1-612 glowing warmly under the dash. I asked Mr. Keistler to tune to the local teen channel which was channel 13.
The first voice I heard come over the CB was the sweet and alluring voice of Brown Sugar. I had listened to Brown Sugar for months, but she was too far away for my walkie talkie to reach her. I remember thinking how much clearer and warmer her voice sounded over the Royce 1-612 than it did over my walkie talkie. Perhaps it was that first flood of male hormones that was beginning to saturate my 12 year old body, but I still remember her voice as being one of the sweetest and warmest female voices I ever heard over the CB radio.
Ignoring the cold winter chill I grabbed the microphone and a anxiously said; "Break channel 13". After all those months of listening I was finally able to talk to Brown Sugar for a whopping five minutes before another guy broke in to talk to her. Oh well. I was way too young for a high school girl at age 12, but at least I could listen to her. By the Summer of 1976 Brown Sugar disappeared from the CB airways, but I can still remember the sound of her voice when she said; "KXE 1801- Brown Sugar".
My First Real C.B. Radio - Midland 13-853
When I received this C.B.
for Christmas of 1976 I talked on it so much I lost my
voice for a day or two. My best friend Clarke Thompson
( Red Horse) also lost his voice talking on the C.B he
received the same Christmas. I imagine it was rather
amusing to listen to two kids with no voice trying to
talk to each other on their new Christmas CB radios.
I discovered that if I balanced the channel selector between the blank space and channel 22 I could transmit and receive on channel 22a. Although none of my CB friend's radios had this channel back in 1976, I used it to talk skip. With less signals competing with me my 4 watt radio had a better chance of making a contact. When the 40 channel CB's came out in 1977 channel 22a was renamed channel 24.
As 1976 23 channel mobile radios go, this is not a bad little radio. The sensitivity is good, the noise floor is low, the ANL works well, and the selectivity is slightly above average. The AGC on very strong signals could be a little more aggressive. With a TUG-8 D-104 the transmit audio is very pleasant. It is probably just the nostalgia of this being my first full power 23 channel CB radio, but it is still my favorite 23 channel CB mobile.
Unfortunately I lost this radio after taking it to a local screwdriver monkey to have the new 40 channels put in it. He killed it, and then he claimed he lost it. I never saw it again. He did give me a Regency CR-230 23 channel mobile as a replacement, but the Regency CR-230 was not as good a receiver as the Midland 13-853. I missed the little radio.
Many years later I found the Midland 13-853 pictured below on Ebay, and I pounced on it. Seeing one again after all those years was like a moment of magic. I just sat there staring at it and listening to the radio traffic. Too bad I can't go back to 1978 and warn my younger self about the impending doom the local screwdriver monkey was about to unleash on my Midland 13-853. He would have never gotten his hands on it.
My First Amp - D&A Hornet
I worked all summer in 1978 cutting lawns for $5 each to save up enough money to purchase my first amp. It was a D&A Hornet, and I bought it used for $75.00. Unfortunately it only worked for about two days before it quit. A local repair shop tried to rip me off with a $75.00 repair bill. They told me the transformer was blown. For about a year the D&A Hornet sat in my closet until a tech savvy friend (Red Apple) figured out it was just a 98 cent RF plate choke that needed replacing.
I repaid my debt to Red Apple several years later when some loser sold Alexander The Great a D&A Raider that was broken. Alexander The Great was understandably upset when the amp did not start working after the required "30 minute warm up time" as the former owner had stated. I remembered how Red Apple had helped me, so I fixed Alexander's amp for free. When the former owner heard Alexander talking on the "fixed" amp he tried to buy it back. Alexander refused to sell. He he he...
I played with a few other radios from 1978 until I left CB in 1981, but I did not really care for any of them. They were a Regency CR-230 23 channel mobile (1978 through summer of 1979), a Midland 79-892 40 channel sideband mobile (Fall of 1979 through August of 1980), and a Royce 609 40 channel mobile. The Regency CR-230 received too much co-channeling, the Midland 79-892* had a heat problem that would cause the PLL oscillator to regularly drop out, and the Royce 609 had a very noisy receive.
*I acquired a cheap non-working Midland 79-892 off of Ebay a few years ago. I repaired it, and realigned it back to factory specs. I have a new appreciation for this radio now. It is unfortunate the one I purchased in 1979 had the PLL heat problem, because it is actually a fairly nice radio. The PLL circuit is also very capable (PLL02a) although I did not understand PLL (Phase Locked Loop) back in 1979. I use this radio in my mobile now.
My bedroom and CB setup in 1980
This photo of my messy bedroom and CB
setup was taken in 1980. I was either 16 or 17 when
this photo was taken. The picture is a little
fuzzy, but the following CB setup can be seen.
I actually had to stare at this photo for awhile to figure out when it was taken as there was no date written on it. The following items told me the approximate time frame of the photo;
* The old girlfriend had second thoughts about me after she saw me on a date with a new girlfriend about a year and a half later. The new girlfriend was more likely to be faithful, so I did not take the old girlfriend back.
In late 1983 I returned to the CB after a two year absence. In 1975 I had chosen the handle Carolina Pirate because the mascot for my junior high school was a pirate. At age 20 the handle did not seem to fit anymore, so I changed my handle to the name of my favorite rock band at the time - Night Ranger.
This web page continues under the title "Night Ranger's CB and Ham Radios".