The Lost Art Of Component Scavenging

With the easy and cheap availability of parts by Internet mail order, it’s easy to forget that acquiring electronic components was once a more tedious process, and it was common to use salvaged parts because they were what you had. Scouring a panel from a dumpster-find TV for the right resistor may now be a thing of the past, but it’s not entirely dead. [Ryan Flowers] was lucky enough to score a box of old CB radios at a garage sale, and takes us through a teardown in search of parts he can use to make a QRP amateur radio rig. Delving into aged electronics is right up our street!

An IF amplifier was high-tech back in '75.
An IF amplifier was high-tech back in ’75.

A possibility for a 27 MHz CB rig is to convert it to the neighbouring 10 m amateur band, but since these were all AM rigs, a mode that sees very little amateur use, it was better to part them out. It’s an interesting study in the evolution of radio design, as an entirely analogue design of mostly discrete components is revealed.

Careful inspection of the photographs reveals a Fairchild uA703 5-transistor IF amplifier chip in a metal can, but that’s about as high-tech as it gets. Unexpectedly there is a huge bank of crystals rather than the frequency synthesiser that would have been standard only a few years later.

He comes away with the chassis, switches and pots, and the RF inductors and crystals from the PCB. Those miniature Toko inductors used to be a common sight, but are now something of a rarity. If you fancy a wallow in semiconductors from this era we’ve previously taken a look at the vintage Fairchild catalogue, in which the uA703 is on page 398.

Retrotechtacular: 934 MHz CB Radio

The radio spectrum is carefully regulated and divided up by Governments worldwide. Some of it is shared across jurisdictions under the terms of international treaties, while other allocations exist only in individual countries. Often these can contain some surprising oddities, and one of these is our subject today. Did you know that the UK’s first legal CB radio channels included a set in the UHF range, at 934 MHz? Don’t worry, neither did most Brits. Behind it lies a tale of bureaucracy, and of a bungled attempt to create an industry around a barely usable product.

Hey, 2019, Got Your Ears On?

Did this car make you want a CB radio? Stuurm [CC BY-SA 3.0]
Did this car make you want a CB radio? Stuurm [CC BY-SA 3.0]
Mention CB radio in 2019 it’s likely that the image conjured in the mind of the listener will be one from a previous decade. Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed in Smokey and the Bandit perhaps, or C. W. McCall’s Convoy. It may not be very cool in the age of WhatsApp, but in the 1970s a CB rig was the last word in fashionable auto accessories and a serious object of desire into which otherwise sane adults yearned to speak the slang of the long-haul trucker.

If you weren’t American though, CB could be a risky business. Much of the rest of the world didn’t have a legal CB allocation, and correspondingly didn’t have access to legal CB rigs. The bombardment of CB references in exported American culture created a huge demand for CB though, and for British would-be CBers that was satisfied by illegally imported American equipment. A vibrant community erupted around UK illegal 27 MHz AM CB in the late 1970s, and Government anger was met with campaigning for a legal allocation. Brits eventually got a legal 27 MHz allocation in November 1981, but the years leading up to that produced a few surprises.

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Fine Business, Good Buddy: Amateur Radio For Truckers

Summer is the season for family road trips here in the US, and my family took to the open road in a big way this year. We pulled off a cross-country relocation, from Connecticut to Idaho. Five days on the road means a lot of pit stops, and we got to see a lot of truck stops and consequently, a lot of long-haul truckers. I got to thinking about their unique lifestyle and tried to imagine myself doing that job. I wondered what I’d do hour after long hour, alone in the cab of my truck. I figured that I’d probably just end up listening to a lot of audio books, but then I realized that there’s a perfect hobby for the road — ham radio. So I decided to see how ham radio is used by truckers, and mull over how a truck driver version of me might practice The World’s Best Hobby.

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Packing A Jeep Wrangler Full Of Hacks

Picking just one image to show off all of the hacks done on this Jeep Wrangler is a tough order. We decided to go with this custom ceiling console as it features the most work done in a confined area.

Give the video walk-around a bit of time before you decide it’s not for you. [Eddie Zarick] spends the first moments touting his “Oakley” branding of the vehicle in decals, emblems, embroidered seats, zipper pulls, and more. But after that you’ll get a look at the pressurized water system we previously saw. Pull open the back gate and there’s a nice cargo cover he built that includes a cubby hole which stores the soft sides when he wants to take the top off. There are several other interesting touches, like the police radar spoofer that he uses to scare the crap out of speeders. Ha!

The ceiling console we mentioned earlier was completely custom-built. It includes a CB, scanner, HAM, and seven-inch Android tablet. There is also a set of push buttons which control the various bells and whistles; well, spotlights and inverter actually. Just add a commode and he’s ready to live out of his car.

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