Article Four: 1980s Midland "Precision Series" CB Radios & Strictly Export Models Included
Midland Precision Series – A Retro Review
Posted by Transmission1 in CB Radio. Probably the most under-estimated series of radios produced in a distinctive colour. Back to the 80′s. This review was produced by Axle Jack in Australia.
Any UK CBer who has been into the hobby for a while will have seen the old Midland precision series sets. The 2001, 3001 and 4001 established themselves as major players on the UK CB scene right from legalisation day in 1981 and became some of the most popular sets available for many years afterwards. They have been superseded by newer, smaller and flashier Midlands and are not so commonly found now. But that’s no disgrace to them as it’s been a long time since Midland stopped making them and they are still serving some faithful owners yet. Anybody know exactly when they stopped being produced ?
The precision series were not new sets. They used a very common Maxon chassis and were similar if not the same as many other sets. Legal UK FM and many AM Colt, Cobra, President, Maxcom, Commtron, Apollo and no doubt countless others used the same chassis and case. The only real differences were in the presentation. The precision series were a little different from any other rigs we had seen in 1981.
We were used to 1970s styling, black case and silver or chrome effect front panels. The 1980s brought black and grey front panels into style and a few of the new UK FM sets were these colours. But the precision series were blue. A sort of greenish duck egg blue that made them look a little special. They also used a microphone that no other CB had, it was the same case that Midland marine and VHF PMR radios used and I think that it was the most comfortable hand mic I have ever used. The 2001 was the basic one with just volume, squelch and channel change controls along with a PA facility (but who used it)? The front mounted mic socket combined with the fact that this was one of the smallest sets available at the time made it easy to mount in the dashboard. There are much smaller sets now. But in 1981 this was a mini-rig.
The channel readout was green instead of the more usual red which suited the blue paintwork and was easier on the eye at night. The analogue signal meter was also green which was unusual. The meter tended to read lower than most other sets on the market which lead to Midlands being famous for their “lazy needle”. In fact the Midlands were probably more accurate as all the other sets read far too high. But you can't fool the public who want to compare figures (just ask them about their 6db gain mobile whip) and some people were wrongly put off on the Midlands because of the poor receive signals. The Midlands were nothing special among the heaps of CBs available, but what they were was basic and reliable.
The speaker volume was loud enough. The squelch worked well, not to quick or to slow. The adjacent channel interference was average. Not fantastic but much better than most FM sets were in the early days. The received audio was pleasant. A little higher in tone than most rigs. I think the bass had been filtered out a little which is better for voice communication in noisy conditions. The TX audio was also a little higher in tone. It was possible to tell a Midland rig among others on channel without being told. Maybe this was due to the sets long parentage in the US compared to a lot of FM CBs which were being made by companies new to the CB market at that time.
The precision series did have one special feature which no other CB had at the time. A built in slide mount. Instead of the usual U shaped bracket and two thumbscrews, the rig had two grooved aluminium slides fixed to the sides and the bracket had T shaped clamps which slid into the grooves and tightened with thumbscrews. This way the set could be untightened by hand and slid out from its bracket in seconds. Without all the fussing about and dropping screws in the carpet, etc. Unfortunately this made the whole rig about two and a half inches wider and a lot of the rigs had the sliding bracket removed and replaced by a more standard one to allow it to be fitted into a narrower space so many of the surviving sets don’t have this very useful but simple accessory any longer. The Midland 2001 was nothing spectacular but it was a damn good all rounder. And to back that up I used one for about 5 years in my car and found it most agreeable.
The 3001 was the same as a 2001 but was a little wider to accommodate a few extra controls. It still had the blue colour scheme and the fancy slide mount, as all the precision series had. But it also had an RF gain control and a few extra switches. The 4001 was a little wider again to fit in a few more controls. This one had a mic gain knob and one more switch. It also had an AWI light next to the TX light. AWI stood for Antenna Warning Indicator. The theory was that if the SWR went up to high this light would come on when you transmitted. The few I had never worked, but maybe I was unlucky. It still has the front mounted mic socket which was unusual for a larger rig at the time. Performance of the 3001 and the 4001 was the same as the 2001 as they shared the same chassis. Any of these sets would compete with modern rigs and would not shame themselves. In fact due to the pleasing tone on receive and transmit I would prefer to use an old Midland over most modern rigs. But if you buy one make sure it has the CB 27/81 roundel on the front panel because the Midland Precision Series were available in many more versions than the three legal UK FM 27/81 rigs. The precision series actually went from 2001 to 7001.
All were similar in appearance to each other but each one had a little wider case and had more controls than the last. Each was available in several different versions with different modes and number of channels. All the rigs from 2001 through to the 7001 were available as 40 channel sets for legal use in America. The 2001, 3001 and 4001 were AM only and the 5001, 6001 and 7001 were AM/SSB. There was also a 1001, an 8001 and a 9001 but these didn’t share the same chassis, appearance or features. The 1001 was a slim plastic cased AM 40 channel set similar to a Maxcom 21E (I think). The 8001 was a little like the 7001 in appearance but was internally nothing like it and is not known for being a reliable set. The 9001 is a President Lincoln “act-a-like” which was rebadged with the midland name.
However, back to the genuine precision series. The 5001 was available as a 120 channel AM/FM/SSB rig. The 6001 was 200 channel with 4 blocks of 50. The 40 channel selector having been replaced with a 50 stop one. The first 40 channels of band “C” were the FCC channels with the correct gaps and 23 in the right place (or is it the wrong place)? Incidentally, it used the same frequencies as a Superstar 2000. But the 7001 was the one we all dreamed about. It had AM, FM and SSB, and was the first CB I ever saw with a frequency readout. It had an led 5 digit display, 4 banks of 50 channels which gave it 26 to 28 Mhz coverage and a plus 5Khz switch got all the intermediate channels. It only had a regular clarifier, and not a plus or minus 5KHz RX/TX tuner like a lot of SSB sets. None of the precision series did. But with 5KHz channel spacing, who needed it. I only ever saw one once, which I bought even though it had several faults. I got it working but not properly and when I posted it to someone else the post office lost it. (b*stards!) Below is a list of precision series rigs that I have seen and their modes and frequencies. There may be more so if you have one that I haven’t listed drop me an e-mail.
40 channel FM (UK 27/81)
40 channel AM
80 channel AM
80 channel AM/FM2001T (electronic channel number voice announcments for blind operators)
40 channel FM (UK27/81)
40 channel FM (UK 27/81)
40 channel AM
80 channel AM/FM
40 channel FM (UK 27/81)
40 channel AM
80 channel AM/FM
120 channel AM/FM
40 channel AM/SS
120 channel AM/FM/SSB
40 channel AM/SSB
200 channel AM/FM/SSB
40 channel AM/SSB
400 channel AM/FM/SSB (26 to 28Mhz in 5Khz steps)
Thank you for reading this article,
February 23, 2011
Article Five: Antenna trivia’s & related oddities of no particular importance or necessity, but which I find interesting:
This article pertains to certain mechanical construction and assembly anomalies which I have recently encountered and which pertain to the factory (?) buildup of a specific few Antenna Specialists Model M-119 Super Scanner Base Station Antenna assemblies.
In the last four months I have acquired two old A/S Model M-119 Super Scanners which are markedly different in their section rod configurations than any I have ever seen before.
When I took the first one down locally this past December and after I got it on the ground and was taking it apart I reasoned that it just didn’t look right (JDLR). I thought that it was simply an old scanner system that had had several of its original (+) vertical element section rods (6) maybe damaged or missing and then simply replaced with whatever the owner had found that would retrofit as far as correct diameters and lengths were concerned.
Now later on in April I have purchased and received a shipment of three old but complete Super Scanners from California and one of these three appears to be configured in exactly the same manner as the one I took down here in December. I am beginning to suspect and that they are both early Scanner models which were indeed built this way by A/S, maybe for a couple of specifically different reasons or applications other than those ordinarily encountered in Class D radio.
The two scanner assemblies that I reference are different in these ways. The top three (+) # 2 element section rods and the top three # 3 (+) element section rods are of different lengths, designs and diameters than the two usual, but different length, rod combinations which I am currently aware of and familiar with. But when properly fitted they measure out to the same factory recommended (+) or (-) individual dipole element length of 000”. Also these same three 5/8ths” o.d. # 2 section rods are factory swaged down and compression slotted to accept and secure three 7/16ths ” o.d. # 3 section rods as opposed to the normally found straight shaft 5/8ths section rods which hold the normally encountered 3/8ths o.d screw-pinned type # 3 straight section rods.
I have never encountered any swaged or slotted section rods on any A/S Super Scanners before now. Not even in old damaged and junked out or discarded assemblies.
Also when I disassembled the first of these two antenna assemblies on site I found that the swaged rods were installed in the upper (+) # 2 sections of all three dipoles. I am assuming that since the same identical type, number of and size rods were enclosed in the second antenna assembly which came from California that they too were intended to have been used in the exact same (+) element configuration in each of its dipoles since both antenna assemblies still had the old original A/S type external saddle clamps present and properly installed on the ends of the # 1 straight rods and the swaged ends of the # 2 element section rods to properly secure and position all three of the three (+) section elements.
Again, this configuration makes me suspect that the original thinking and reasoning for building these antennas in this manner just may have been as follows:
One: The A/S M-117 Super Scanner Base Station Antenna systems WERE rated and advertised by the company in 1972 as being capable of handling 100X the legal power allowed on Class D CB transceivers (see attached image of Antenna Specialist Co. Citizens Band Antennas Catalogue # CB-1004B dated 6/72, Page 5).
Since the maximum allowable legal Tx allowed by the Federal Communications Commission, under FCC Rules & Regulations, Part 15, Subchapter D rules for ANY 11 Meter CB radio (which could have been manufactured anywhere but which could subsequently be sold in the U.S.) was 4 watts (no, not 5 watts) this means that A/S just may have been advertising on the cheap, so to speak (maybe incorrectly and/or in direct or indirect violation of FCC rules and regulations) something it was not supposed to be advertising and/or selling for that specifically intended purpose (Class D, 11 Meter usage) in the first place or …
Two: (I believe) that A/S was also very shrewdly “double-dipping” by stating and advertising in this strictly CB antenna catalogue that this antenna assembly would also be a perfect “400 watt fit” for use as a “REAL RADIO!” (sic) 10 Meter ham band radio antenna assembly. Now, reading between the lines, this tells the average CBer (my statement) that he can finally put some “REAL FIRE” in the power feed line on his 27 MHz play toy without burning everything up! If he’s careful, that is.
Three: And since the three vertical dipole antenna assemblies would all have to be slightly shortened for proper tuning to 10 Meter 525.400 center bandwidth specifications (I believe) that they swaged and slotted the # 2 (+) section rods so that the # 3 (+) section rods could be properly set and tuned to precisely that frequency, therefore affording them (A/S) a singular method of advertising the same product for two distinctly different applications, on the cheap, so to speak, to a captive audience and/or clientele of “amateur” radio aficionados.
Of course opinions are like ass-holes and everybody has one (or more) but I postulate that this is a very good argument for making or modifying the antennas in this manner, regardless. And I believe that the above stated reasoning’s support this method again, regardless of whether A/S actually did do this (for whatever reasons) or not, and/or whether I am correct (or not) in my assertions that they did.
Maybe A/S did intentionally build the early on M-119s this way in the beginning and then simply got away from doing so because of the added production expense and/or the fact that they felt it definitely was not necessary or that it was even overkill as far as the serviceability of the product as intended (sic) was concerned.
Obviously, having the ability to re-adjust the overall lengths of the individual antenna section rods is desirable (my opinion) and it can be very advantageous (again, my opinion) as far as any future re-tuning of the Tx &/or Rx back to any properly assigned frequencies might be made necessary because of any antenna (life-span) assembly damage due to excessive wind or ice load damage or whatever. And I believe that an effective argument for having the option for adjustable tuning of the (+) elements even for the 11 Meter band can be made if one considers the way that the section rods were customarily fitted by A/S with drilled holes and set screws with no options for fine tuning whatsoever. Again, the event of having to readjust, repair or replace damaged or partially broken original section rods can very often become necessary. And this could be easily accomplished with the aid of a good quality antenna analyzer such as the MFJ ?
I invite constructive comments on this article. If you have ever had or seen an A/S M-119 Super Scanner base antenna assembly exactly like the two which I describe and illustrate (and which I still currently have) please feel free to strengthen my argument. If you believe that it’s all just a bunch of hooey and that it is therefore irrelevant, unimportant or it simply makes no operative difference whatsoever, feel free to express your dissatisfaction with this article. After all, it was written by me for your information in the first place.
Thank you for reading my article,
Article Six: Pending