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MoNWF - Musings of a radio amateur

What do a Lancia Beta, an Electronica Special, a class 9F locomotive, and an On Digital Box all have in common?

Blog Time:

Well, Monday again, it doesn’t half come round quick!!

Right, question: What do a Lancia Beta, an Electronica Special, a class 9F locomotive, and an On Digital Box all have in common?

Answer: Non were usable to anywhere near their designed life. But, for different reasons:

The class 9F was due to a decision by the powers that be that suddenly steam traction was old fashioned so perfectly serviceable and relatively new steam engines were just scrapped, what a waste of money and energy that it took to build them, not to mention the energy taken to build a new one.

The On digital box was (arguably) the result of the general public wanting something for nothing that was being charged for. The abundance of (allegedly) freely available pirate cards and an old fashioned (by the time it was released) encryption system doomed the idea of subscription terrestrial TV in the UK. Income dropped from subscriptions as people bought pirate cards and suddenly there wasn’t enough money to make the service pay. The public got what they wanted as despite a couple of attempts to start a subscription service, for the main UK Digital Terrestrial TV is free. New compression rates to squeeze more channels in the space quickly rendered the boxes as unusable for the new Freeview service, long before their life expentancy was reached.

The Lancia Beta. An attractive family saloon with four doors, a hatchback, and sparkling performance from a well respected Italian car manufacturer as a time when people wanted ‘’hot hatches’’. What could possibly go wrong? I don’t think anyone really knows on this one. The cars were perfect for their time and should have wiped the floor with the competition, but unfortunately in the UK they started to (allegedly) rust and almost none remain now in the UK as most were bought back by Lancia and certainly never reached their design life even by 1970s standards.

So that leaves the Electronica Special.

Now, many people by now will have asked as to what this blog so far has to do with radio? Many wont even know what and Electronica Special is, and many will have forgotten.

The Electronica special was a very VERY good performing CB antenna available from about 1981 in the UK onwards. It was a basic 5/8 wave with longish radials but as we all know, some stuff just works better than others and these were probably the best performing 5/8 wave available to CBers at the time. So, why do we not see them now? There are many remnants (and sometime complete) relics of that time still fastened badly to gutters or more likely on strong T and K’s so that the people of the 1980s in the UK can get the ‘’fix’’ now enjoyed by the almost universal abundance of mobile phones. It was the iPod of it’s day, THE one to have. SO, I ask again, why do you not see them? Well the majority (if not all) never lasted for their designed life expectancy. Why?

This brings us right up to date and brings us to my point; the point of today’s blog. The reason you don’t see Electronica Specials is all down to the UK weather. Not the rain, that never bothered them, not the sun, no…..the WIND. As soon as the shipping forecast mentioned that long running character from Coronation Street, you know the one, married to Brian who went to Canada, and many other dodgy husbands since, she has a mother who was a much liked Witch in the 1970s on kids TV?? Gayle (Gail??); yes as soon as the word Gail was mentioned well Electronica Specials all over the country (or at least near the coast) just bent over from the plastic bit at the bottom where the coil was and that was that. They pretty much all snapped even before a storm was given a name; but they weren’t named then, it was just windy.

So, the point of this week’s blog; probably the talking point of many a chinwag, net, conversation, whatever you want to call it on the radio, the most common question asked of Radio Amateurs and CBers at the moment: Is your antenna still up?

Now, these days I am astounded. The majority of Radio Amateurs in the UK have a co-linear up and these are not expensive in the main, the most expensive models being around £120, and many being £50-80 depending on size. They all have a little pole at the bottom and a screw (or two in some cases) that hold the antenna in place, compared to the probably quarter of a month’s salary to buy an Electronica back in the day, so we don’t pay much for them, and the wind at the moment seems to just carry on… I don’t remember the last day that we had no wind, and what a wind, 70, 80, 90mph gusts!! I can hear my antenna creaking now. But guess what, most of them are still up? Most WILL probably reach their expected design life.

The point of this blog is simple, the winds are worse, but antennae are cheaper and stronger, so not everything used to be better, sometimes things ARE better made now.

Anyway, hoping your antenna stays up (mine will probably snap now!!) and pick up that mic; an antenna works better with RF being shoved in to it through that bit of wire you shoved in the bottom of it. That wire seems to be dearer now ‘for the good stuff’ but that is for another time.

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