May 1967 Electronics World
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
Electronics World, published May 1959
- December 1971. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
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
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
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 limiters, etc.
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
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.
Posted July 17, 2019