Anticipation and Excitement.         

The quest for bigger and better equipment.


Throughout my many years in the CB hobby, one of the things I can remember, more than anything else, was that feeling I got when I was on the verge of getting something new to add to my station. Whether it was a "new" radio,  a different antenna, or some other accessory, there was an almost Christmas morning-like excitement that you just couldn't shake.  For a small child (and even some not-so-small kids), Christmas only came once a year, and it was then that they (not so) patiently waited to see what new toys would appear thanks to the magic of "Santa".  Since most of my friends and I were not rolling in disposable income during the formative years in our radio hobby, those times when we managed to save up for a new piece of equipment, a horse trading opportunity presented itself, or a gift was forthcoming, also produced that same jittery feeling of antsy excitement.  Since we never remained static or totally satisfied with our equipment for very long before we started looking for upgrades or accessories, these anticipatory feelings came along fairly frequently, sometimes more so than others depending on what it was we were waiting for.  Occasionally, one of us would manage to get our new "toy", but for whatever reason, we couldn't use it just yet and that only made the anticipation all that much harder to deal with.  One such case was when Uncle Albert received his first 23 channel CB radio, but had not yet gotten an antenna to hook it to.  He could hold it in his hands and stare longingly at it.  But without an antenna, it was basically useless.  Or when I got my first radio, and didn't yet have a power supply to use with it.  Such was a double frustration and prolonged anticipation that we all felt at times.  This, along with some knee jerk decisions we make when the alternative of waiting is just not acceptable.

And there is no better example of those anticipation overload knee-jerk reactions, than when I was looking to get my first 23 channel, 4 watt CB radio in 1974.  Most of my friends and I were in the process of upgrading from our walkie-talkies, to full fledged 23 channel radios, and some had already made the jump.  I had just earned enough money to buy a radio, and had selected a Midland 13-867 mobile rig which was available from a mail order "wholesale" distributor catalog (Basco?) for $99, which was cheap for a radio back then.  The order was placed and I started counting down the two weeks that it would take to process and ship the order (where was the Internet, and next day shipping when you needed it?). When you are hopelessly waiting for the arrival of something, the time has a habit of dragging by very slowly.  It seemed like forever, but eventually those 2 weeks had come and then gone by but still no radio.  An inquiry into the status of the order revealed that the radio was backordered, but it was due to be in in another week.  So the day counter was reset again, and I waited (not so) patiently for yet another week. Well, that week came and went as well.  I was beside myself with anticipation, watching every day when the UPS truck would ride on by hoping that this day would be the day he would stop at my house with a package.  Meanwhile, I was still operating with my 1 watt Walkie-Talkie, while some of my other radio friends had already gotten full power radios, and I was getting creamed by their much stronger signal potential.  I was majorly jealous of this, and that only added frustration to my anticipation.  Another call was made to the distributor, and it was learned that the radio was still listed as backordered, only this time they had no expected delivery date.  I couldn't take the wait any longer so I had my mother cancel the order.  Now what to do? I couldn't get a radio with the same features that this one had for that price anywhere else.  It would take me another two or more months to save up enough to jump to another brand of radio listed in a different catalog.  At that rate, I would likely be the last one in our group to finally leave the walkie-talkies behind, and join the big leagues of full powered radios.  I couldn't live with that thought.  Blue Bandit, once again, came to my rescue by finding a new radio which was in my price range.  He managed to find a Pace 223 from a local dealer for $100, which I just had enough money for.  But the bad news was that this radio was a really bare bones set, with only the most minimal essential features, a wired-in microphone, and not even an "S" meter.  But I was so desperate to get a 4 watt radio at this point, that I grabbed it without a second thought.

Another time, where I was held in the irresistible grip of anticipation, occurred in late 1975, when I was itching to move up to a SSB capable radio.  Since new SSB radios were at least $250 back then, I was a long way off (probably a year or more) from saving up enough to purchase something like that.  Considering that a year's time felt like a lifetime back then, it looked as if I'd have a very long wait before ever seeing SSB. Then one day a newcomer popped on the channel by the handle of Daffy Duck.  He soon made himself at home with the local group.  Conversations started and the usual questions came up about what equipment he was running etc.  During the ensuing discourse, he informed us that he was running a Midland 13-893 AM/SSB mobile rig.  He also mentioned that he was a truck driver and had managed to get his radio for a "bargain" price of $50 from another trucker.  He also said that he'd probably be able to get more of them for that price as well.  Well, my interest was immediately piqued, and I informed him that I wanted one.  Suddenly, after resigning myself to the thought that SSB was out of my reach for a long time to come, I could now almost taste a SSB rig, and it was well within my financial means.  Once again, I was waiting with baited breath, eagerly counting down the days. And, once again, I kept getting disappointed when he would respond that he hadn't hooked up with his source.  Eventually, after a few more of these cycles, and with an early bout of soon-to-be-all-too-familiar cynicism, I realized that this deal would probably never happen, and my anticipation turned into a major disappointing bummer.  In retrospect, I suspect that he was either about what he paid for the radio, or it was a "one-time hot radio" bought from an unscrupulous "dealer".  It lends credibility to the saying : "If something looks too good to be true, it probably is".

And it wasn't just radios either.  In mid 1975, I went through antenna anticipation.  Earlier in that year, I wanted to improve my signal by getting a better antenna than the 1/2 wave Radio Shack antenna that had been given to me in the previous year.  I perused the radio catalogs looking for the antenna with the best gain figures, for the money that I had.  I settled on the Avanti Astro Plane.  While not a physically large antenna, it was advertised to have 4.46 "db gain", which was almost 1 more db than my current antenna.  Well that had to make a big difference in signal right? Well I thought so back then anyway.  So I got the Astro Plane and put it up, but it turned out to be a big disappointment.  My signal was no stronger than before, and actually may actually have been a little weaker.  So I wanted to get yet another antenna.  Blue Bandit managed to come up with a buyer for my Astro Plane.  So with the money I got for that, plus the money I had recently earned working at a local carnival, I decided to go for the gold and ordered a Hy-Gain Penetrator.  This was the mac daddy of all CB ground planes at the time. A full 23' tall, along with 4, 1/4 wave radials. With a rated 5.1db of gain, I was sure that this antenna would "do it" for me.  So I waited for it to come in.  This should've been a fairly easy to handle wait right?  You might think so, but we're missing a piece here.  You see, I had sold my Astro Plane, so what was I using for an antenna?  My original 1/2 wave had been sold to finance the Astro Plane purchase, so I had nothing.  Yea and with no antenna to use, I was forced to make a dipole out of two radial sections from a scrap antenna and I mounted it at the top of my mast with a 2X4 as a standoff brace. Well, needless to say, this antenna didn't work all that well, and when I started getting stomped on by some of my more vocal antagonists, I started getting impatient.  Where was my new Penetrator?  Well, dealer #1 was out of stock, and Blue Bandit tried several of his other sources, and none of them had one in stock.  Most were willing to order one from their distributors, but they couldn't guarantee me that it would come in in a reasonable amount of time, and once I ordered it, I was locked in and committed to the wait, however long that might be. And back then, weeks seemed like months, and months like years.  I needed that new antenna NOW!  So I looked at the catalogs again, and found an antenna that Blue Bandit could get in stock. I settled on a Hustler Trumpet.  Not quite as big as the Penetrator, it was nonetheless larger than my original 1/2 wave and had an advertised gain of "better than 4db".  The antenna was then delivered to me one night after he had swung by the dealer and picked it up.  Since I was already excited, and despite the fact that it was already dark outside, I wanted to start assembling it right away.  So I pulled out all the parts, and put together the antenna on my living room floor (much to the consternation of my mother), with the exception of installing the ground plane radials.  But in my haste to assemble the antenna, I failed to realize that the nearly 20' long antenna, now had no way to "bend" around my hallway to get out of the house in one piece.  So I ended up having to take it partially apart again so that I could get it out of the house.  Lesson learned: There is a reason why antenna parties are held outdoors.....

There were other cases of similar anticipation, as one deal was made or another purchase bought.  All were done to further along our radio experience. Whether it was a horse trade of a Turner +2 desk mike for a "lollipop" Astatic D-104, or swapping a radio for an amplifier, or some other trade.  How about the excitement  you might have had when you bought another new antenna, and when you got done putting it up, how you frantically rushed in to see how much better (hopefully) your signal would be to the locals? Those were probably the most memorable times that I can recall along the long road of my radio hobby.  It seemed that much time was spent thinking about, not what you had, but what you didn't have (and usually couldn't afford).  But this is what set that next goal, and an objective to achieve.  Because things like these didn't come easily, it made them that much more appreciated when they finally did come.  There is also a recurring theme where my lack of patience led to me having to "settle" for something less than originally hoped for, rather than having to wait longer for what I originally wanted.  This could probably be another corollary of Murphy's Law, as it seemed to happen way too often that something I wanted was somehow not available when I wanted it.  I don't remember too many other people having this "perpetually out of stock" issue, but then again, I might be a little biased......