When I first became interested in amateur radio in the mid 1970s, Radio Rallies were still a big part of the hobby. Most clubs seemed to have rallies and it was always difficult to find a parking spot near the venue. Amateurs would travel down as a group in their cars or on organised bus trips…many would be operating mobile and you could chat to friends, old and new, during the journey. There was always a ‘talk in’ station at the rally on either S21 or S22.
In those days, many radio amateurs were still keen builders and experimenters, making projects featured in Radio Communication, Radio Constructor, Practical Wireless and others. War surplus equipment was still fairly easy to get, and in good condition too.
Things were changing though. Solid state was the new normal and the heavy valved ‘boatanchors’ of the past were not so desirable. Modern, compact equipment was available to buy ‘ready to go’ but many amateurs modified ex PMR sets, such as the Pye Cambridge and Westminster. Back in those days, unless you had passed your 12 wpm morse test, you were restricted to 144MHz and above, so those frequencies were busy.
Wood & Douglas offered an appealing way to build your own 2m or 70cm transceiver to professional standards, in the form of a range of kits…or you could buy the boards ready made. The kits and boards were made available direct or from a carefully chosen selection of dealers. Each dealer had a sample case, containing an example of each board, along with its price and printed leaflets. These were quite large and heavy as they had a glass window and wooden construction. Access to the boards inside could only be had by removing the back cover with a screwdriver.
I was presented with one of these dealer cases, and judging by the odds and ends of paperwork still in the slots, it had belonged to John Birkett…someone who somehow seemed to be at every radio rally I ever went to. All the dealer had to do was arrive at the rally and open up the case, to be ready to take orders.
Here’s a series of photos of the contents of my dealer case.