May 1967 Electronics World
People old and young
enjoy waxing nostalgic about and learning some of the history of early electronics. Electronics World
was published from May 1959 through December 1971. See all
Electronics World articles.
Citizen Band (CB) radios were all the rage during my high school
years (1973-76). Previously the domain of over-the-road haulers,
by then everybody who was anybody had a 23-channel CB in his/her
car or pickup truck. My 1969 Camaro SS, of course, sported one
- probably the cheapest model available. Those were the days
of C.W. McCall's "Convoy"
and Cledus Maggard's "The
White Knight" lyrics. Everybody knew the words to it.
Smokey and the Bandit fed the craze. After all, there
were no cellphones. Rather than learning
text messaging shortcuts like OMG, *$ (the company didn't
even exist then), B4N, and IMHO, we learned to use clever words
and phrases like "10-4," "bear in the air," and "what's your
20?" It's been a long time since I've seen a CB in any car,
but you can still buy them. Truckers reportedly are still heavy
users of CBs even though they all also have cellphones, both
for safety reasons and to help avoid those Smokeys taking pictures.
For the Record
In a move which could effect sweeping long-range changes
on 27 MHz, the FCC has announced its proposal to require "type
acceptance" of all class-D CB equipment at point of manufacture.
Although the Commission has stated that this action "does
not impose any new or significantly tighter standards other
than a requirement for a modulation limiter," close inspection
reveals that in reality the move may well be the first step
towards a major overhaul of the service, aimed at ridding it
of the hobbyist element.
The type-accepted CB set would not be much different from
those now being used, although a few interesting limitations
will be imposed. For one, the ICAS rating on the final tube
will not be allowed to exceed 10 watts. Further, all crystals
must be supplied by the manufacturer. If r.f. output is more
than 2.4 watts, a "device which automatically prevents modulation
in excess of that specified" must be included in the circuit.
Finally, panel connectors and controls would be restricted to
the following: a.c. plug, mike connector, r.f. output connector,
"on-off-volume" control, sideband selector (if SSB set), p.a.
switch, channel selector, and transmit-receive switch. What
makes these changes significant, however, are not the design
limitations so much as the new restrictions on the set owner.
With a type-accepted CB transceiver, the operator will not
in any way be permitted to "tube" the output for best matching
to the transmission line nor can he substitute crystals. If
channel-switching is desired, he will have to either buy a multi-channel
set or employ the services of a 1st or 2nd Class Commercial
ticket holder. Should component replacement be required, he
can use only those parts (including tubes and crystals) listed
in the instruction manual by the manufacturer.
Far more important, however, are the regulations concerning
even minor circuit changes. Type-accepted CB sets, according
to the FCC, "shall be in no way modified by the user." Obviously,
this will apply to the countless books and magazines presenting
do-it-yourself material for souping up receivers, add-on noise
Dealing a crushing blow to the CB accessory business is another
stipulation that strictly prohibits "external connection or
addition of any accessory not originally included" with the
transceiver. Clearly, this would render illegal all outboard
"S" meters, s.w.r. bridges, modulation boosters, etc.
Behind this move is the feeling in many circles that the
CB industry may be contributing to the increasing number of
rule violations by including such questionable equipment features
as "25-watt construction," "30-channel operation," and occasionally
slip-shod spurious radiation suppression techniques. By regulating
the manufacturing community, the Commission hopes to somewhat
improve the caliber of the signal (if not the operator) to be
found on 27 MHz.
It is interesting to note that just prior to this type-acceptance
disclosure word was out that the FCC was planning to remove
unlicensed 100-milliwatt walkie-talkies from 27 MHz and place
them on a newly created 49.9-50.0 MHz band. According to the
story, millions of dollars worth of transceivers (largely Japanese)
would have to be scrapped in favor of redesigned walkie-talkies
which would meet tight Commission type-acceptance requirements.
The idea, apparently, was to rid the CB band of millions of
these "toys" - many of which are poorly designed from a technical
standpoint - and substitute a new breed of crystal-controlled
transceiver (running no more than 60 mW measured "at the battery")
on 49 MHz.
Shortly after The New York Times stated, in an item "FCC
Weighs Ban on Walkie-Talkies" (Feb. 3, 1967), that it had confirmed
this report, the FCC all but denied it had ever proposed such
a drastic measure. More recently, Commission spokesmen have
stated that the 49-MHz plan is just "one of many concepts under
consideration" by the agency and that no matter what emerges,
"it will take some time yet."
In September of last year Chairman Rosel H. Hyde warned the
CB industry that unless something were done to curb the rising
tide of rule violations on 27 MHz, the FCC might have to consider
"the cessation of issuance of any new Citizens Radio licenses
pending a reexamination of the justification for and proper
operation of the Service."
Whether the type-acceptance proposal and whatever walkie-talkie
solution eventually emerges will materially help upgrade the
27-MHz band, remains to be seen. Although industry cooperation
is now at hand, the question is will individual CB-ers respond?
Many users seem to think in terms of enforcement and this is
one area in which the Commission is hamstrung.
Whether or not Hyde's threat to CB materializes, it is now
apparent that the FCC clearly intends to grasp control of the
mess on 11 meters.