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Old School Base Stations With Clocks

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Dawn

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Most of the collector market that seems to be fetching big bucks is the old style base stations. I'm not going to rehash all the nostalgia stuff we've been discussing, suffice to say, there's folks around that coven those impressive big boxes that essentially had a mobile inside.

I forget which classic website I was looking at a few days ago, but had mentioned the old, chrome and woodgrain bases were full of air and had clocks in them and was a "fad" at the time.

RCI and Galaxy seem to be doing pretty good with their big boxes and if anyone is paying attention to market prices, those old, classic SSB mobiles aren't selling for that much, but the same radio dressed up in a big box with a clock does.

What's the thing with the clock? I've never know an amateur radio besides a general coverage receiver to every have a clock built in. It was usually an accessory in a station console or in some cases in the separate power supply as an option. That never caught on in amateur equipment. That bell and whistle sold an awful lot of CB's years ago. People always wanted the top of the line base that had the clock. Heck, that digital one that debuted in the Radio Shack TR57/457 literally sold the radio. The very same radio without the clock; TRC-458 never sold as well and look at the price difference for a single chip based clock with no functions that kits of the time were selling for under $20 in the backs of magazines.

None of today's remaining bases include a clock. I think the last was the Cobra 2000, and look at the prices those get.

Does this sound like an option you'd want in a radio today? Do you consider a big box cb radio a faddish item that's a relic from the past?

Was there ever one that you thought was the coolest looking thing you had ever seen and wish you had it?
 

PrimeNumber

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Does this sound like an option you'd want in a radio today? Do you consider a big box cb radio a faddish item that's a relic from the past?
No, not really. Yes, absolutely.

My answer to the clock question is one of those MFJ dual UTC/Local LCD models. $21, done. If it breaks, my radio doesn't have a broken clock screwed down to it; conversely, if the radio breaks, I've still got a clock while the radio's in the shop. M-o-d-u-l-a-r-i-t-y at its finest.

I know people's wants and constraints vary a lot, but apart from the nostalgia factor (which I completely respect and do not discount in any way, but that's a separate topic) I can't see a lot of value in a fully integrated base station. They put out the same RF watts as their mobile counterparts, worked the same way, etc. Their only additional value was an internal power supply, which brings us back to that same modularity issue. Why build a power supply into the cabinet when there are so many good external options? I see these base units as a lot like the old stereo consoles, which lost out to component stereos 40+ years ago.
 

MeddleMan

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I've seen...

...a cabinet CB on Ebay with an murs board installed as an option. Not sure why it was done. I agree with the rest of you. I like side band, I don't know anyone that uses it, I can get them cheap. Features lost their luster, I guess.
 

n9mxq

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Back when I was a REACT base having the clock in my Cobra 2000 helped me know when my shift was over. I did 2 hour shifts in the evenings while I did my homework.

And the Cobra 1000 also had a clock. Have one in my collection now. Do I want my ham radios, or modern CB's to have a clock built in now? Nope.. No real need..
 

Dawn

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I find the comments a bit surprising. On the commerical side, given the option for a control station or desktop base/remote, almost without hesitation, the customer always chooses the clock option since I've been in the business if there is a choice.. The transition to large, LCD screens on marine hf ssb units has in most cases included a clock and more recently, the clock is tied to the networked GPS, in fact, there's probably nothing these days in a vessel that in one way, shape, or form that connects to the NMEA data doesn't display either a clock or use time data.

That said, the transition during the early 80's to digital clocks from synchronous rotary mechanical displays was a rough one. Although they appeared high tech and current, they didn't fare very well with customers. No clock/timebase backup and with the slightest interruption of power required a resetting of the clock. Even though there were usually 3 buttons and it didn't take a rocket scientist to set the clock, most were usually found off time or still in power-on default mode if you went to a service call. Until microprocessor based LCD displays that were backed up came along, LED displays were sort of an albatross. Furthermore, while there were one chip clocks that had multiple functions such as alarms, recurring timers (think wake alarm button for identification), logic outputs to drive a relay for turn on, etc.. Few if any base stations be they CB or commercial used any of those functions giving less utility then the old mechanical copal or timemeter type mechanical displays that had all those alarm clock functions. It really wouldn't be until the 90's that you would see the return of that pre-1980 creature comfort features in clock displays driven by a micro.

Would this in any way make a difference if you were to choose a base? People are a lot more savvy now then in 1980 when most folks couldn't even follow directions or bother to set the clock on their VCR and mechanical alarm clocks continued to thrive until recently.

The component theory doesn't hold water. Most all radios either amateur or CB always had an external DC option/diversion and most luxury amateur bases over the basic units still have a built in supply that's now a switcher. Component stereos always had thier own built in power supply. People never preferred a car stereo in their homes over a 115V powered box even though the end result is the same. Back when I was doing repair, most folks that had a power supply and used a mobile in their homes were doing it b/c the alternative was far too expensive for SSB or for the convenience of "jerk and run". For a trucker or someone who does a lot of communciation from their vehicle, it makes sense. That may be what's defining the CB market and biasing the sales towards mobile units. I have no idea what the average age of CBers are nowadays, but a larger unit with better ergonomics would be much more appealing for a fixed station user.

Just something to think about.

Regarding "jerk and run". There was a study that the EIA did during the early 70's that had most consumer respondents polled claimed they preferred the idea a home console that a car stereo/tape player would just plug into and use at home. The very few companies that attempted to build a home unit such as Automatic Radio quickly discovered it was a disaster and showed that overwhelming consumer preference polled doesn't translate to what they will purchase. The very few attempts by CB manufacturers to create a base platfrom for a mobile radio didn't sell well although those mobiles that incorporated a base supply did. That too is now looked at as a fad and not desired nowadays despite switching supplies would make that a very attractive with little change to the form factor like older transformer based supplies did and couldn't provide enough current to operate the radios including some full sized bases.
 
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