At the end of what has been a busy, stressful and tiring week, I was chatting to a couple of new friends via EchoLink this morning, namely Bobby (MI3RBM) and Simon (G4USP), from Northern Ireland and Warwick respectively.
Warwick was one of several regular destinations for family ‘days out’ when I was young and living in the West Midlands. Whilst I was chatting I mentioned that I first go on the air when I was bought a CB radio as a present (probably Christmas) at the age of 13.
As is still the case today, I researched the range of models available myself, collating specification sheets from different manufacturers and comparing the features.
I fell in love with the Midland 77-805 “Port-A-Pak” Transportable CB Radio which was basically a mobile radio supplied with a carry case – containing an 8-cell battery pack – a telescopic whip antenna that clipped to it and a handheld speaker-mic. It was an amazing rig and, as with all things when you get older, I really regret selling it.
Having decided which rig I wanted it was time to go and buy it. My father drove us to a little shop I had found the location of whilst doing my research. It was a like a radio “sweet shop” and I always looked forward to having the opportunity to visit whenever I needed another antenna, some new coax or some replacement ni-cad batteries.
The shop was called CB Cabin and at the tender age of 13, with a licence bought and paid for at the Post Office, I brought my new radio home ready to embark on my new found hobby. One that has now lasted for over 20 years (on and off) and has evolved to utilise my skills in other fields, from VoIP and IP audio streaming, to studio design and maintenance.
Today, during our QSO on EchoLink, I opened a tab on my browser and simply typed in ‘C B Cabin Midlands’ and there it was! The very shop that I visited as a child and discovered a hobby that has changed so much over the years. It looks a bit run down these days and has obviously been closed for some years but the mounts are still there for the multiple antennas that I looked out for as we approached. A landmark for operators just like me.
You can’t imagine the feeling I had when I saw the shop there in front of me on my screen. I’ve been through a lot in my life, interests have come and gone, the challenges continue – but this is where it all started for me. It was around the same time that I got interested in broadcasting and that’s something else I’m still doing all these years later – along with tinkering with computers and listening to music.
The next time I visit the West Midlands I will definitely drop by and take a picture before it’s lost. If you live nearby and grab me a photograph to use on a CB page here then please contact me and let me know. Does anyone know who owns the building now?
UPDATE – 11th November 2012 @ 00:30 UTC
I was sure I had one or two of my first ‘shack’ but hadn’t seen them for years. Well, in an envelope I probably haven’t looked inside since I was at school, they were there! I was about 13 or 14 years old when I had my CB.
Pictures of my old family homes in the West Midlands, our first dog, our first PC computer and my first shack complete with Midland 77-805 transportable radio and an Altai PSU. I later added an end-fed “broomstick” antenna to my set-up.
I’m so chuffed to have found these but not all the prints are there – but the negatives are – so I’m going to have to get them all re-processed again.