With so many vintage sets still available to buy (got to love eBay) we could safely spend the rest of our lives on the CB bands without going any where near a brand new model CB but are the old sets better than the new shiny ones?.
Almost everything inside our consumer electronics these days is produce in astonishing quantity in huge Chinese factories then shipped elsewhere to be assembled. This means that many CB radios will have some of the same components which does give a more uniform performance with certain aspects of transmission and audio qualities but do we really want that level of sameness when choosing a new radio.
When CB radios started to be legalized even the legacy sets that were made to feed the enormous buyer market at that time were mass produced but recent concerns about the quality of components coming out of China have made some people prefer the older CB radios.
For me its all about the feel of a radio first with the way it looks coming in close behind, a little scratch here and there or some of the lettering missing on the front panel gives the radio a sense of history along with a good used CB feel. Unfortunately I believe that buying a used CB outside of a trusted dealer has become more of a specialist pursuit due to the amount of nightmare modifications that could have been inflicted on the inside of a CB in its 20 year life.
Thankfully most of the new mobile CB radios still have the look and styling of the great radios from the glory days of CB, big bright channel displays and shiny bright chrome look switches and knobs are always a welcome sight for me on a newly released model.
Imagine a world where CB radios all had the same dull styling of the Amstrad 901 (scary thought eh!).
The only exception that pleases me with a more modern look is the way that handheld CB,s have evolved into the feature packed models on sale today, the Harvard 410T was an amazing handheld CB radio but it was the same size as a loaf of bread and I am getting way too old to carry a few kilos of spare batteries around.
Modding and Maintenance
Technology moves so fast and our constant need for smaller mobile devices has seen the use of surface mount components in every piece of electronic equipment produced today. I’m no stranger to working with surface mount technology after a long career in electronics but would much rather work on the insides of a radio with a high proportion of conventional components because it a lot easy to deal with and you can easily see if any botch modifications have been attempted.
The internet is a massive resource of data for older model CB radio with information on performance modifications and basic changes that fix those little niggles that were not ironed out during the design process.
Even the good vintage sets floating around the second hand market can usually be bought at a big discount compared to going for a new model and if you look hard enough there are some real bargains to be found. Its amazing to still see sets like the original Cobra 148DX stuck in the corner of second hand shops or at local boot sales so many years after they were produced.
My radio collection has never stopped growing and I will never be short of a set or two but I just really like old radios and given enough time and money (and space) I hope to leave one hell of a CB radio collection to my children, just what they will do with it would be interesting to see!