A Little History On The Clear Channel Corporation
Sam Lewis of RF Limited/Clear Channel Corporation
contributed some background info on the radio players in the 10 Meter
radio market they associated or partnered with going back to 1969. The
story is interesting and lends insight to how the 10 Meter radios evolved.
Many AR 3300 and AR 3500 owners probably have no idea how deeply dedicated
these people are to the radio business. They have strived to produce the
best possible product while keeping it in reach of the average radio
operator. Other companies broke the price barrier, but none ever matched
the performance or operation simplicity of the Clear Channel Corp. Ranger
Many people are still confused and think the AR 3300 and
AR 3500 were made by RCI (Range Communications Incorporated). This is not
true; Clear Channel Corporation developed the Ranger AR 3300 and Ranger AR
3500 and were produced for them by Nissei in Tokyo Japan. On the other
hand Ranger Communications Corporation has there own factories in Malaysia
and China, The RCI brand is brought in through their American subsidiary.
RCI and CCC are two very different companies with different philosophies.
RCI produces many other radios for other labels like Galaxy, Superstar,
Connex, General, Virage, Mirage, and at one time even Cobra as well as
others. Clear Channel on the other hand conceived, designed, and oversaw
the production of the AR line of radios. These radios were developed to
compete in performance with the big buck HF rigs. These radios were
developed to meet the demands of the real amateur radio market as well as
the 11 Meter market.
This is how the 10 Meter market evolved. In 1969, Herb
Johnson of Swan Engineering produced the Cygnet 260, a 10-80m bare bones
transceiver. It was basically a Swan 350-C with much of the circuitry
eliminated to better compete with the new Japanese sideband rigs appearing
on the market. At this time, CB radio was going great guns. Sam Lewis and
his father, of Palomar Electronics, were producing the 546 sideband rig
and eventually the Skipper 71, 73, 73B, and private labeled the 1046 for
Swan. Herb removed all but 10 Meters from the Cygnet 260, added there most
sophisticated VFO circuit, and replaced the final section with a single
6LF6 to increase the power output because the 260 only put out 60-Watts on
10m. He stared selling the radio as the Swan 1011. Sales of the 1011 went
through the roof.
Someone else that went through the roof was Johnny Griggs
of the west coast head of the ARRL (American Radio Relay League). Inside
of six months, Griggs went down to see Herb several times threatening to
have the amateur fraternity boycott Swan. Sam Lewisís dad and Herb
cooked up a deal, Swan would not market the radio, they would build the
radio a under private label program under the Palomar Siltronix label.
During this period, Palomar was also building VFOs for Baggys radio under
his ďSlider/ScannerĒ brand. Siltronix took over the marketing and
expanded the distribution to their Palomar 2-step distributors. Up until
then, the 1011 was only available through Swan amateur dealers.
Swan was bought out buy Cubic Corporation, a San Diego
based conglomerate that mainly sold sophisticated communications equipment
to the US government and military agencies around the globe. A couple of
years after that, Cubic bought Siltronics from Palomar. At that time,
Palomar hooked up with Les Ernshaw and started the Kachina project. At the
same time, Palomar was in partnership with Communications Power
Incorporated (CPI), developing the DigiCom, the first programmable CB
radio, until the FCC, under pressure from Cobra and EF Johnson, told them
they had to change the circuit, even though they (FCC) type accepted the
radio. The partnership lead to the CPI radio and accessory lineup.
In 1980, Palomar died while the10 Meter market faded.
However, the Palomar people continued in the amplifier business, making
amplifiers for their friend Im, the owner of Sommerkamp. Sommerkamp had
the European distribution sewn up. Im was also responsible for putting
Yaesu Munsen (YM) on the map in the early 70ís. When he first visited
Mr. Hasagowa in Japan, his main business mainly consisted of repairing
color TVs in Tokyo. He had built a few sideband radios and was starting to
build up sales outside Japan. Meanwhile, in the US a couple of guys
started Spectronics East & West. They would drive around LA in a
converted ambulance (circa Ghostbusters) delivering radios to anyone with
the cash. Im made a deal with Mr. Hasagawa. Im put money into YM, in
return, Im got total distribution rights for a specified period and all
would bear the Sommerkamp brand. Im showed Mr. Hasagawa the one thing that
put YM on the map, how to install the crystal for easy 11 Meter
Im had an engineer named Mr. Sakamoto in Japan. When the
exclusive ran out in the late 70ís, Im had Mr. Sakamoto develop the
TS788, Palomar/RF Limited supplied the MRF454 transistors and when the
radio was available, RF Limited in exchange got the TS788 exclusive for
the Americas. This was when I got involved with RF Limited, repairing
Sommerkamp 788 radios.
The 788 was a compact 10/11 Meter transceiver with output
power around 70 Watts PEP. The SSB transmission was not the cleanest on
the market and there were many problems with the Circuit boards. It was a
dual board radio with a wiring harness sandwiched between them. The boards
were also phenolic double sided and the feed-thoughs were constantly
breaking. Although this was a very innovative radio, it was a nightmare to
work on. Im realized the magnitude of the problem and after a while
abandoned the project
In 1982, RF Limited started developing the Ranger
AR-3300. They wanted a fully computer controlled radio and at that time
CMOS was the most readily available. NEC helped them along the way. The
designer of the AR-3300 had also worked with Mr. Sakamoto on the TS788.
The lead engineer designed the front end for most of the AOR scanners.
Thatís the main reason the 3300 and 3500 radios have such good front
ends. These radios were built by a subcontractor to AOR, Nissei in Tokyo.
The first production run was built in January 1984 and delivered in April
1984 and Clear Channel Corporation was born. The radios had warble
problems and other issues. This is when they hired an engineer named Vic.
Vic came aboard and solved the problems and continued to work for Clear
Channel developing options for the AR-3300.
To overcome the low audio in FM, Vic developed the SP-1
speech processor, which works awesome in all modes. In addition, the SP-1a
is now manufactured by Bobís
CB. Vic did some audio tailoring on the transmitter for all modes of
operation. When you hear a 3300 or 3500, you can hear the results. On a
properly tuned AR-3300 or AR-3500, the quality matches that of the most
expensive HF rigs.
Then Vic developed the 100 Watt RF amplifier and made
changes to the AR-3300 such as RF bypassing to insure clean operation. At
that time, we were shuttling evaluation radios across the county from
Clear Channel Corp to Bobís CB and back. I was involved in testing
Vicís changes in different environments and played a small part in some
of these ECOs. Then came the AR3500, which incorporated all the
engineering changes that Clear Channel was adding in the US. The 100-Watt
radios were converted 30-Watt radios, most were done at their facility in
Washington State. Bobís CB immediately
became the East Coast Warranty center for Clear Channel certified to do
all conversions including the 100-Watt upgrade. I, seeing one shortcoming
of the radio, developed the memory NiCad battery backup BB-1.
Later Vic developed the CW-1 CW board with all mode
adjustable power. Then he developed the SM-1 scanning mic board, which
allowed frequency scanning from the microphone. This is why there are
4-pin and 8-pin wiring codes for the AR-3300 and AR-3500 radios. Any 3300
radios with the 8-pin connector have more than likely been changed during
the installation of the SM-1 or SM-2 scanning mic board. During the middle
of AR-3500 production, Clear Channel changed over to the 8-pin jack at
production to eliminate that time consuming step during the installation
of the scanning mic option. Both the CW-1 and SM-1 were improved and
upgraded to the CW-2 and SM-2. Both had improved features and reliability.
latest radios RF Limited brings to the Amateur platform are the Magnum
radios, under the Magnum International label. All that needs to be said is
the RF Limited folks continue to bring quality products to the
A special thanks to Sam Lewis of RF Limited/Magnum
International for contributing so many details to make this article
Other links to view Magnum