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Starting to modify

Discussion in 'CB Radio Modifications' started by QuietStorm, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. QuietStorm

    QuietStorm
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    Hello everyone,

    This is my first post and I am new to the forums.

    I am a new (read as haven't really started yet) hobbyist, I say that because I have used 11 meter radios for years(driver) but haven't modified them before, and I want to start tinkering around on the inside of the radios. Not looking to be the biggest mouth on the road, just want to modify and repair radios as a hobby, and be good at it. I can not afford the best tools, however I can afford "good" ones.



    I have been watching videos on YouTube, mostly HardDrive (FineTuneCB) and Mike (MikesRadioRepair), although they have many videos and it will take a while to sort through. My questions are:

    Where should I go to learn the fundamentals of radio internals, antenna theory, type of modifications that are possible?

    What type of tools should I acquire first, and which brands?

    Where can I easily and repeatedly find cheap used radios to practice on?

    Is there a place I can learn more besides this forum and YouTube?

    Thank you in advance for your constructive answers, my goal is to basically be able to; one, be able to repair radios ; two, set up great antenna systems, whether base or mobile; three, build my own good quality radios and/or greatly modify basic cb radios.

    QuietStorm
     

  2. Robb

    Robb
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    Yup

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    Sounds like you already have the answers . . .
     
  3. QuietStorm

    QuietStorm
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    What?
     
  4. Sarasota Slim

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    On cheap used radio's; try Craigslist. There should be lots of basic radio's to play with. You could post "wanted" ads, too, and possibly obtain a bunch of non-working units.

    I think that Facebook has some sort of marketplace, as well. You could try there. I detest Facebook, and don't use it, myself, so I wouldn't know how their marketplace works; I just know that it exists in some form.
     
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  5. QuietStorm

    QuietStorm
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    Thank you for the lead, I will check it out.
     
  6. Captain Kilowatt

    Captain Kilowatt
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    IMHO you should begin by studying basic electronics and learn electronic fundamentals before jumping into radio-specific repairs. This includes basic troubleshooting techniques, reading schematics, component functions and how a handful of parts acts as a common circuit (buffer amp, audio amp, RF driver circuit etc). This will allow you to work on ANY radio and not just the ones you have had some "experience" with.
     
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  7. nomadradio

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    Lou Franklin's two books, "The Screwdriver Expert's Guide" and "Understanding and Repairing CB Radios" would be a good start.

    All good info, no chest-beating BS.

    http://www.cbcintl.com

    73
     
  8. QuietStorm

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    Thanks, I saw these but wasn't sure if it was the real deal or not.
     
  9. nomadradio

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    Yeah, Lou is the original real deal on this subject.

    73
     
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  10. unit_399

    unit_399
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    EL CAPO

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    My original copy of Lou's "Understanding and repairing CB radios is yellowed and pretty much falling apart. Mainly because I've read it cover-to-cover more times than I can count. Finally broke down and bought a new loose leaf copy. Best book on CBs ever.

    - 399
     
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  11. loosecannon

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    I am right now drilling holes in my copy of "understanding and repairing CB radios" so that i can put it in a three ring binder. it's the only way it's going to survive!

    quietstorm (whooosh!),

    Captain Kilowatt is right. your very first step should be to find an online course in basic electronics, as all these CB books assume that you already know a bit about it.

    There are way too many people in our hobby who don't want to have to learn actual electronics, and just hope for someone to spoon feed them answers when they have problems.

    Once you understand how resistors and capacitors work in series and in parallel, what inductance is, and how to turn a transistor into a switch; you will be ready to start reading those books by Lou.

    Next step is to start acquiring test equipment.
    here is where the hard truth comes in.
    You cannot achieve expensive results with cheap test equipment.

    sure, you can find a cheap RF signal generator for less than 50 bucks, but you're not going to be able to align your S-meter with it.
    you can get wattmeters for 10 dollars all day long, but you are not going to know if they are accurate.

    I will make you two lists. one will be the "budget" list, which is only going to include enough stuff to tweak with your own radios in order to learn, and maybe make some repairs. (again, to your own stuff) second will be what an actual CB tech uses. (it will still be incomplete but thats because we never stop buying test equipment)

    list 1: a digital and an analog voltmeter, a frequency counter, a wattmeter/SWR meter, a dummy load, a signal generator, a tone generator, a soldering iron, an RF probe, and various hand tools including plastic tools for aligning radios.

    list 2: digital and analog voltmeters, oscilloscope, signal generator (a real one), wattmeter (again, a real one), frequency counter (once again, a real one), spectrum analyzer, soldering station including a hot air re-work station for SMT work, transistor tester, power supplies of different voltages, dummy loads, sinad meter, function generator, tube tester, and a vast array of tools and components.

    list one can be had for under 300 dollars if you are persistent and can make some items.

    the second list is upwards of 5000 at the low end, and the top end i have no idea about because i'm not done buying things yet.

    you have a LOT of reading ahead of you, and some of it is going to be very boring.

    remember, a real tech gets just as excited about a new piece of test equipment as a radio hobbyist does when a mod actually works.

    oh yeah, one tip for you. there is a seemingly endless supply of cheap cobra 25's and 29's on shopgoodwill.com that you can start practicing on.
    LC
     
  12. Sarasota Slim

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    There's a lot of good advice, here.

    OP, you may find some valuable resources at the ARRL website. (American Radio Relay League)

    Particularly, in their store, there is a book called "Understanding Basic Electronics":

    http://www.arrl.org/shop/Understanding-Basic-Electronics/

    I own the book. It's filled with information.

    Browse through the rest of the stuff that they sell. They've got some interesting looking kits.
    ********************************

    There are guys who roam the truckstops, armed with a $1 4way screwdriver, a $3 "precision " screwdriver set, and a $20 Astatic watt/swr meter; they get paid $20-$50 per radio to create splatter boxes out of perfectly good radios. Don't be that guy.

    Speaking of tools, you'll want a set of these:

    http://www.coilcraft.com/tools.cfm

    Considering the cost of most other tech tools, those are pretty cheap.
     
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  13. QuietStorm

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    Thank you for the good information, when I was younger I used to be a computer hobbyist (DOS days, atari, commodore) on the hardware side, hopefully it won't be too much of a leap for me to get into radio tech (also I like drones). Unfortunately I'm the kind of person who progresses very quickly and then "tops out" somewhere between amateur and expert, never becoming a "master" in my hobbies. I'll probably only become good enough to accomplish the goals in my OP.

    As far as the signal generator, wattmeter, and frequency counter; do you have an example of brands for the upper and lower quality of the good (real) ones? I could probably afford around $1000 for tools over the next couple months.
     
  14. QuietStorm

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    Thank you for the lead about the other site and the tool link, I'm not looking to make money off of any skill I do acquire. It is purely for my own enjoyment and satisfaction.

    -------------

    Also, for everyone else. It's not that I'm too lazy to research, I find it more efficient and rewarding to add your information and confirmation to what I have already researched and am continuing to research. Your help also helps me sort through information I find quicker as well as directing me to the more important information I need to review at the time.

    Once again, thank you all in advance for continuing to assist me.
     
  15. rabbiporkchop

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