Saturday, March 08, 2008

Pirates of the Topband

The famous WS19 set as used by all good pirates!

Thinking about reel to reel tape recorders brought back some memories of the golden days of pirates. The Topband Pirates of Bolton!

Many an evening and Sunday afternoon they could be heard, signals as rough as a bears arse and as wide as a barn door that completely blocked out the 160m band. Cheeee Coooo, Cheee Cooo from G3Y Cheee Kaay!!! There were usually four or five of these guys, mostly in the Breightmet area.

Back in 1970, one Sunday afternoon, I went to my friend Neil's house in Astley Bridge. Neil had just completed building a topband transmitter and waiting for his licence to come through. He also had a tape recorder, a Marconiphone if I remember right. He had connected this reel to reel beasty to his Topband Transmitter and Receiver. That afternoon was probably the most hilarious afternoon on the radio ever! As the pirates called to each other we recorded their messages and then played them back on Neil's transmitter which totally confused these IQ1 pirates. We led them astray for the best part of two hours before they realised that someone was taking the p**s! The best bit was when one guy jumped in, in a state of panic, and shouted "It wernt me, I were peeling spuds at the time!"

A wonderful time was had!

The Pirates of Topband stayed around for a while until the local GPO guy, Gerry Openshaw decided to pay them a visit. Before this however, we decided to pay a visit to 'Vic' who signed himself G3YCK. We knocked on his door one Sunday afternoon and was invited in to see his equipment. There, in the corner of his front room was this enormous ex government transmitter, no furniture, or carpet...just this analogue monster and a load of kids running amok around the house!

Those were the days!

In the digital world, Hackers, Advertisers, Spammers and the Virus Pirates are the ones to watch....and you can't just knock on their front door!

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