Many have found this little website and discovered they were not alone in their love for this little gadget! Their messages are shown below (used with their permission). If you have similar stories, please send them to me to add to this page! I've recently added a few new stories, so if you are just returning, have a look. -Jim
Recent addions: 2/19/12
Recent at the top, older at the bottom.
NICE WEB SITE!
I was really into the Knight kits back in ‘63 to‘66 when I was around 13 to 16.
I started with that little black 12 watt mono amp (forgot the model. I hooked up to my little record player which made it sound great. My father got me into the hobby when he got me the amp kit for my 13th birthday. I built it and couldn’t believe that it actually worked! I later started building Knight stereo kits for all my friend’s dads in the neighborhood once they heard I could build them one for CHEAP! They would buy the kits and bring them to me to build for them. I must have built close to 30 kits, for just $5 bucks each for my labor hahaha... But not bad money at the time for a weekend of work. And they always worked when I was done! Amazing! I made enough money from that to buy my own stereo set kit.
I got the Knight KG-400 stereo amplifier with the matching KG-50 Multiplex stereo AM/FM tuner. I’m a member of the NJARC now and into restoring old electronics like the radios from the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s, so I recently restored my KG-400/KG-50 kit back to brand new condition and I’m listening to it right now. I even still have the assembly manuals that came with them. I kept everything as close to original as possible. I even re-stuffed the KG-400 original electrolytic caps later on (a trick I learned from the NJARC) and put them back in so the top of the chassis would still look original. I got the kits with the cheaper metal cases, but after making more money on later projects, I bought the mahogany cases for them! The set works Great again and I love it! Its my favorite stereo in the house! There’s nothing like good old vacuum tube equipment...I attached a couple recent pictures of it.
Keep up the good work,
(Chuck sent along some photos of his restoration work. See them here.)
Wow! What incredible stories from the Knight-Kit fans. Always heard the apocryphal tales about how those would get out without really trying -- school kids, summer camp radio stations -- the list was endless.
I built one of the Lafayette radio wireless transmitter/amplifiers in the blue white-spattered "live" metal cabinet twice -- one for home and the second for our fraternity house at Kent State University. The odd part about the Lafayette xmitter was that it put an FM signal onto the mediumwave AM band -- so fat and happy that it would occupy nearly 15 khz. no matter what you tried to do to it. Centre carrier as slope-detected on AM was "dead." It also put out legendary harmonics so rich that if you had an FM receiver nearby, you could tune in one of the harmonics in proper mode! Never thought its coverage was entirely up to the mythical Knight Kit stories, since my reliable coverage was 1/2 mile max, but "WNJ" sure was lots of fun in New Jersey and in Ohio. In NJ, my Dad and I built a two-turntable masonite outfit with a bank of 10 DPDT slide switches for cueing and input transfers, since the whole works went through a battery-powered (mono) one-transistor!?! Lafayette mixer which managed to mix the outputs of two turntables, two mics and two reel-to-reel tape recorders. Also dropped into the masonite monster was a Lafayette VU metre with a pot for variable sensitivity which I never really got to read true peaks for the xmitter modulation (it took a feed from the speaker output on the xmitter), but it was good enough and tracked like a real VU in a real board. I even added a separate "key," which you typically saw over the rotary pots of broadcast boards to key-on mics or switch from "audition" to "programme." This key served to switch the mic off and on (which was a Lafayette PA mic on a boom, alleged to have characteristics similar to a much more expensive EV mic.) Inside the masonite monster was an AC/DC power supply that muted the monitor speaker when the mic was on. The relay was switched by another pair of contacts in sync with the mic switching on the key (can still hear that distinctive relay clicking). The masonite monster had a row of at least 10 RCA jacks in the rear which took line inputs from the tape recorders and the mic which was pre-amped by an outboard transistor radio with a built-in PA amp that would boost the mic output to something resembling line level. A pair of the RCA jacks also handled the muted monitor speaker input/output. As WNJ reached this level of sophistication, I had finally graduated from Kent State, gone to work for the ABC quad-nets as a studio engineer, nicked their jingle package onto reel, used it at home on "WNJ" and took the ABC Contemporary feed live from WABC so that WNJ could run news at :54:30 (y'see, their network news was never actually 'live at :55' - it was :54:30). I could start the news sounder from tape at about :54:28 and key-in local radio for the newsfeed when it was in the clear. Everything about the Lafayette xmitter was legal except for the 80' longwire up a tree in the backyard (and that weird FM signal). I was just damned lucky the frequent Jersey Lightning never found me -- it wasn't properly grounded; and, if you dared to "ground" that AC/DC Part 15 xmitter, you had to do it through a cap or drive yourself sky-high w/110 VAC, more or less.
The stories of the Lafayette xmitter at Kent State were even stranger with a decidedly bigger 100' backyard antenna (longwire) that was top-loaded by a discarded homecoming float flying saucer covered with chickenwire (it was about 10' across)! The station effectively covered dorms and classroom buildings up and down the northwestern end of the campus. We kept it running for an entire term, delighting in playing party records (like the Hot Nuts) and lots of rock'n'roll. Everybody's grades went into the toilet, listening to our fraternity bros on the air, answering the ever-ringing payphone or pulling an airshift. (Our profs thought we were drinking and doing drugs, but what it was, was radio!)Nobody on the air was even majoring in Speech/Broadcasting, but they just about had everyone on the air in the Cleveland/Akron market beat thanks to their skillful "rush" patter (think "Otter" in Animal House!) and free-form format. Since I was active on "legal" college FM radio and some comm'l radio in Akron, I kept my voice off the Kent State pirate station. They were remarkable times, and AM radio was still king. Both the Kent State and NJ iterations of the transmitter(s) rested neatly on 1200 khz. day and night (WOAI in San Antone was far-far away and the 'clears' were not yet broken down!) In Ohio, we were only slightly "elbowed" by WOWO, Fort Wayne on 1190 and (then) WGAR up in Cleveland on 1220. The xmitters seemed to be the most resonant and delivered the fattest signal into any excuse for an antenna at 1200 khz. I frankly dunno why I'm confessing to all this, but I pursued a 20-year broadcast career till deregulation killed it. These days, I have a real day job and am a programme host on an internet station from London run by a Radio Caroline alumnus.
Whew! I feel better getting all that off my chest!
(Well!!! Someone with a Radio Caroline connection! Somehow appropriate for the Broadcaster community...Jim)
(Sam writes again...)
Jim, thanks for expressing your amusement at the stories of WNJ. Sam Clemens, of course, is my nom de plume. If the real Sam Clemens found it necessary to abandon that fine name in favour of Mark Twain, well, thought I'd pick it up, dust it off and have a go at it myself.
On the air, I use my actual name of RICH PHOENIX, and you will find me associated with The Album Zone at www.mixcloud.com/TheAlbumZone. I have even occasionally been heard, myself, via Radio Caroline on the web when it carried our AlbumZone programmes.
The boss is Johnny Reece, who has been at it since the '90s when he was awarded an airshift on the Radio Caroline radio ship when he won an all-London pub music trivia contest. I first caught up with him when the BBC was using AlbumZone to fill vacant airtime on their megawatt shortwave transmitters - a far cry from the KnightKit's .1 watt or 100 milliwatts which sound much more impressive.
I did 20 years of radio, on air, as a commercial and news writer and as an engineer. My college degree from Kent State (no lie!) is a Speech-Telecommunications B.A. degree completed in 1968 (narrowly missing the National Guard shootout in 1970). In 1969, I obtained my First Class Radiotelephone license, finally legitimising my years of tinkering. Sorry, no photos of WNJ, although there might still be an aircheck around here. Photos and recordings of that vintage were mostly wiped out in a 1997 housefire, along with a sizable vinyl collection.
These days, I work fulltime in municipal government - one reason why I choose anonymity in these WNJ ravings. I do internet radio as a hobby and oversee WPQJ970, a 10-watt mediumwave TIS station in our town that - predictably enough - has some of the loudest audio and best coverage of any such station in the state.
You will be able to hear me in action on the above mixcloud website. It's radio as I never, ever imagined it being done. It's produced in London where my boss assembles the playlists and e-mails 'em to me. The typical 2-hour AZ programme calls for about 28 voicetracks (or 'links,' as he calls them) which I voice here in NJ on an EV 635A that somehow survived the fire, and e-mail to him as mp3s. The results still astonish me. I suggest that you connect your best speakers or a good pair of cans when you listen. Yes, it's internet audio, but if you have broadband, think you'll agree that it's a notch in quality above today's broadcast FM. It's our hobby, we dump money into it and have loyal listeners -- (just like WNJ had in the good ol' days!) We are always looking for sponsors, so if you have anything to sell, especially on the internet, please write email@example.com and we'll be delighted to respond!
Rock On WNJ/AZ!
I have built a few Knight-Kit's such as the Star Roamer, a pair of C100's and a couple of pieces of test equipment. I also own the 100 in 1 Electronic Laboratory. I never built the Knight-Kit Wireless Broadcaster, but I had a friend who built a Lafayette broadcaster in the late 60's.
I wish I had kept all of the catalogs I had from the 60's but as a kid if I hadn't thrown them out, my mom would have tossed them out when she cleaned up my room.
Question, I can't remember if Knight-Kits were still listed in Allied Radio Shack Catalog #300 from 1971? If you have the answer, please let me know.
Thanks for this wonderful web site which I learned about from a recent Radio World article.
I used to work in the repair dept at Allied Radio in Chicago Ill in 1967. I remeber all the knight kits. The stereo amplifiers were my favorite. I still have old parts and wood cabinets some where for the kg 840??? i think ..thanks .
Hello again. My supervisors name at that time was Ted Kuchier, my spelling my be off. I was 17. It was one of my first jobs in the field of electronics. Today I am a recording engineer with my own label. I lost My I.D. button long ago, we all had them. The button color gave you access to different parts of the plant mines was gold
I can't believe I found this site. I built many Knight Kits as a youngster. I started with the crystal radio, then the broadcaster,(boy I had fun with that) then a tube tester,then the Space Spanner Radio,then,I think last,the 5",dual trace ocilloscope. I still have the Space Spanner in part. I modified it into short wave only and made a printed circuit for it. Was trying to find a manual or a schematic for the Knight Kit T-50 transmitter. Would love to hear back from you.................Chic
Great site. Brought back lots of memories. Here are some of my stories.
• Christmas of 1967 I got Knight-kit Ranger 5 tube superhet broadcast receiver. My Dad and I had it wired by Christmas afternoon. I still play this radio on Christmas Eve.
• Also that same Christmas Grandma gave me a Knight-kit crystal radio. Still have that one also.
• February of 1968 I bought a Knight-kit Span Master from the mail carrier. He wanted 10 bucks, and let me pay him a dollar each week.
• April of 1968, Knight-kit put the c100 walkie-talkie on sale for about 3 bucks. Put it together, used it with another walkie talkie…Sears I think. My brother David and I could talk out in the woods behind our house and at our Grandma’s house as well. This had a regen. receiver and the little coil which was tuned by a plastic wrench required touch –up as battery wore down. My CAP buddy lived about ½ mile away and we would connect these radios to longwire antennas and talk till batteries were dead. We also were conducting “Moon Bounce” experiments using Mom’s cloths line as a multi-element- driven antenna and the earth was our reflector. We would lay on the ground under the clothesline and when the moon was directly over head we would start transmitting, as you might guess, we never really worked any lunar DX but we still had a great time. Guess we should have spread aluminum foil out on the ground as the reflector!!!!!
• Fall of 1968 ( I was working at small grocery store) I saved money and purchased a Knight-kit Star Roamer short wave receiver. TA DA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nice radio but I did not have access to signal generator for alignment.
• Spring of 1969 Knight-kit sold the five channel solid state cb transceiver thru Civil Air Patrol for 29.95 plus shipping. Transmitter portion came pre-wired and tested so the builder just put in parts associated with receive. I ran this CB legally on CAP 26.620 megacycles(I always liked megacycles better than megahertz) duties using a home made dipole and storage battery. I may have also used it illegally during that time (hope the statute of limitations has run out).
Have a Polaroid picture of Dad in my room with the radios in 1969. Dad is still living and remembers the radio days as well. My brother while not a kit builder was a shortwave listener which received ribbing from employees in the post office as to his being associated with “commies” when he received a qsl card from Radio Moscow. His most cherished radio was a Hammarlund HQ-129X which his wife gave to me shortly after his death this past November.
Those kits and science projects led me to become licensed ham, licensed electrical contractor and licensed electrical inspector.
I am indebted to the following for help along the way:
• My Dad ( Al Strickland)who never could find his soldering iron, solder, electrical tape or the batteries I had removed from the flashlight.
• My brother David Strickland who shared the many radio and electrical adventures with me.
• AJ Perkinson ( father of prettiest girl in my class) always willing to offer parts and advice for my projects
• Ed Harris; telegraph operator for the railroad and a soldier of fortune that practiced pillaging and looting in Europe after WWII.
• Jet Jackson, principal and science teacher that granted me a complete pardon from fight on school bus if I would help adjust electro-mechanical clock/school bell to correct time (some how I think he felt that just because I was in the office for punishment that I was involved with changing times on the clock). Hope statute of limitations is up on that one also.
• PD Weston, my wife’s dad. Hardware store owner/radio tv repairman that recognized a kids potential.
• Most of all my wife and kids, since one day they’ll have to sort thru all my junk!!!!!!!!
In the 50s I had a Knight 10-in-one kit. Built on a wooden breadboard with a 35Z5, 35L6, 12.... triode, and an 82 volt isolation/plate/filament transformer. The first unit was a regenerative radio which did OK to the earphone. There was an AM broadcaster and an electric eye. I did a lot with them, forgot the other 7 things.
Bruce Roe K9MQG
(Yup! Had one too, mine was a 12-in-1, built them all several times. I keep a 12-in-1 kit around just for the memories. One of my favorites was the light-relay. -Jim)
I surfed into your website last week and have spent several very pleasant hours drilling around through the various pages and links. I grew up in the 1950s and had several Knight Kits in my childhood including two broadcasters and a Star Roamer. Reviewing your site has brought back many very fun and long lost memories. With a really long steel wire antenna strung between the houses of my friends and my broadcaster, I actually accomplished complaints from my neighbors about our “jamming the radio waves.” What an amazing and elevating accomplishment that was for a teenager in the late 1950s.
Thank you for your website.
Now that I have retired from corporate engineering pressures I am spending some time accomplishing many projects I had to ignore for a few decades. While I was reading over your site I started thinking that re-creating a Knight Kit broadcaster would be a fun and rewarding project.
From: Alan Burton
I read about people going into the big Allied store in Chicago back in the early 60’s, I really don’t think my heart could have taken it. At that time that would have been my definition of heaven. Living in a rural area, I had to order most of what I got. I would sit and drool for hours over the Allied, Heath Kit, and Radio Shack catalogs. I ordered the Knight Kit Broadcaster in 1964 when I was 14 years old. I built a small radio station in the room beside our garage. I built a mixing board out of scrap lumber, added pots, switches, on air light, and a very small Vu meter which I purchased from a local supplier. I had a small reel to reel recorder on which we recorded commercials, we also had two turntables which I had taken from old record players. I built a small news desk on the other side of the room and ran a microphone to that as well. On the RF side I quickly figured out that by running my antenna line outside and wrapping it like a coil around the telephone line that ran over the garage I could get the signal to induct into the line and you could pick up my station for about two miles in either direction as long as you were say a couple of hundred feet of the phone lines and most houses fell into that category. It was so much fun and pacified me until such time as I became a licensed broadcaster at the age of 17 in 1967. Since that time I have built two radio stations here in my home town and it all goes back to my Knight Kit days.
I was doing a little reminiscing today and remembering a little three tube Knight Kit broadcast transmitter that I built back in the early 1960s when I was in high school. It didn't take a lot of browsing to find your site. Thanks.
I built numerous Knight Kits over my high school years, but the Broadcaster was my first. I'll never forget the first time I actually broadcasted something to our radio with it. I even remember the first tune. I sang "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey" thru a little crystal mike that I had. I remember my mother getting somewhat upset because she went by the nickname "Bill".
That first experience led to my outlaw radio station, KYHM, (Kan You Hear Me). I set it up in my bedroom with a turntable and microphone. I had a long antenna outside which was of course very illegal. I vividly remember the fun I had with it. It was both a learning experience and a way for me to play tricks on my friends.
I read on your website that you had acquired two of these broadcasters. Do you find them often or are they extremely hard to come across. I would love to have one for old-times sake. You published a schematic. Do you also have a parts list. It shouldn't be hard to find the parts and build a replica if I can't find an original.
Thanks for your website and your help. I'm now 59 years old and do a lot of reminiscing.
Talk about bringing back memories as a kid in Chicago. I grew up on Knight Kits. I remember my first one was a small crystal radio. I eventually moved into the clock radio, mono and stereo amps, tuners, tape recorder,test equipment and even an oscilloscope. I also built a couple of ham receivers but no transmitters.I would spend hours looking the catalog over and over looking for that new challenge to build and own. When I was a kid I used to live in that store on Western Ave.
I grew up in Schiller Park and my dad owned a manufacturing company on Grand & Wood Str which was just East of Western. On Saturdays I'ld drive in with him or take the bus. I'ld walk that store for hours.I remember buying parts required patience because they were slow, but it was worth the wait. My dad bought me my first kit. From my first kit to last I enjoyed building and regretfully troubleshooting. Not everything worked the first time. I remember building a kit which when turned on for the first time just let out lots of smoke. Obvious there was something wrong. But who cared. That's how I learned about the electronics.
I remember when Allied moved from tube to transistor stereos. The units got a lot more powerful but smaller. But eventually brought the end. With foreign competition able to make complete assembled units for the same or less money, the end of the kit was inevitable.
I even built some Heathkit kits, even a TV. It wasn't the same though. I think those years building kits gave me love for fine stereo equipment today and a good understanding of electronic circuits. Even though my background is mechanical engineering, I can still pick up a schematic and understand how things work. I owe that to my Knight Kits.
And yes I remember the Olsen store across the street. I worked in one in Northlake Plaza. Certainly though not in the same caliber as Allied Radio.
Thank you for the memories and hope you find more people who grew up on Knight Kits.
Larry Zanotti South Carolina
My best friend in elementary school bought a Knight Kit AM broadcaster. Man we wore that thing out playing with it!
The Knight Kit had a profound affect on our lives. My buddy is now a Patent Agent with the US Patent Office.
I went to engineering school and graduated with an EE Degree in 1978. My love for circuits has recently culminated in the development of a single chip CMOS satellite receiver:
Who would have guessed that the Knight Kit would have brought us this far!
73's Charlie Thompson W5CDT Austin, TX
A big Howdy to you from Utah! Just today (Oct 16, 2004) I received a Knight Radio Broadcaster and Amp as a gift from an old high school buddy in Michigan. I had originally built one way back in the early 60's as I recall. I don't remember what ever happened to that old unit but it sure gave us lots of fun.
Our radio days lasted most of a year. We were "On-The-Air" every night from 7 to 10 PM. We had the "Nifty Fifty," the top fifty records. I only made about 50 cents an hour working in a grocery store, so most of that money went into buying our nifty fifty records.
Our setup included two three speed turntables, a homemade mixer, microphone, a tape recorder and of course the Knight Broadcaster. Our antenna may have exceeded the limits by a bit. Dad owned a piece of land that was about four city blocks long but only 175 feet wide. Our home was at one end of the land with a large two car garage out back. Our radio station took up one half of that garage. Our antenna ran about half the length of that land, about 900 hundred feet, a simple long wire, strung about 30 feet over the ground. Our tests showed us getting pretty good coverage out to about 10 miles. As kids, we didn't know any better and thought them rules about antenna length didn't pertain to us.
Our shows were the latest "Nifty Fifty records," news from last nights newspaper and assorted comedy skits we recorded on tape for playback on the air. One recurring skit featured "Chef Nogood," a comedy cooking show.
A few years later, after a stint in the U. S. Army, I took the test and became a full fledged ham radio operator and still am to this day, legal now, operating as K8BR, Extra Class.
I recently purchased a small solid state AM broadcast kit. Very nice but it hardly covers the whole house. I plan to put this old Knight in operation to broadcast old time radio shows to my collection of antique radios. I've got quite a collection of old time 1930's and 40's radio shows and stack them in a fancy CD player which drives a fancy mixer and thus into the old Knight Broadcaster.
I love the glow of them old radio's in a darkened room at night listening to old mystery shows or Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, Edgar Bergen & Charley McCarthy and Abbott & Costello. Yes, I'm old enough that I heard those shows on radio so long ago, when TV was still many years away. I can close my eyes and see all those characters looking just like I wanted them to look. I can still use my imagination with the help of this old Knight Broadcaster to "see" the Lone Ranger as he rides yet again.
As for other Knight Kits, I had an Ocean Hopper, a Span Master, a R-100 receiver, Volt/Ohm meters and now proudly own a Star Roamer that my Dad built many years ago. I recently "tweaked" the coils on the Star Roamer to peak it up and made one change. When my dad built the radio he went the wrong way around the tuning shaft with the dial cord, so that when you turned the main tuning right the dial went left. I simply reversed the dial cord so now the dial goes right when you turn the knob right. Still, it's a neat little collectors radio.
Thanks for putting the comments of other Knight users on the web site. I'm adding those to my notes to be saved along with the schematic you have. Many thanks for your efforts!
Brian Ripley Ogden, Utah
Hi Jim. This is a great site, and I will be anxiously looking forward to seeing more stories about various Knight-Kit projects. I have some goodies to share, too, so be looking for them in the near future.
My phono oscillator was the enclosed type, and I cannot even remember when they had an open chassis style. The closed chassis was dangerous enough because the line cord plug was NOT the keyed type that became the standard later, and the AC/DC design meant that you could actually plug it in backwards and have the full 110V on the case! The paint helped a bit, but there were plenty of bare spots sticking out ( including the transformer core ) that would give you a real wallop if you had things hooked up just wrong! ( more about that in a minute )
I had a very good friend in my pre-teen years, and we lived about 2 miles from one another. We decided that we were each going to build one of these things, and use them to talk to each other in a quazi amateur radio mode.
I figured out how to turn off the oscillator portion of the little box by switching the cathode of the 50C5 off of ground. Thus, we both could tune to the same frequency and take turns transmitting and receiving. ( see, I told you it was a lot like an amateur radio setup! )
We used standard broadcast band radios to listen for each other, but like many radios of that era, these had external antenna connections as well as the loop on the back of the set. So even though we were some distance apart, it was quite easy to hear each other, thanks to many many feet worth of extra wire running out to some trees in the back yards!
Another one of the "improvements" I made to the broadcaster was to feed audio back through the transformer to modulate the thing. I am not certain, without looking more into the schematic ( it HAS been years ! ) what that accomplished from an electronic point of view, but I will tell you that the audio was much better when it came from that external hi-fi amplifier than the audio that was generated by the little two tube modulator that was built into the rig! BTW, which hi-fi amplifier do you think I used? If you guessed the 12 watt mono amp ( I forget the model number, but it was a Knight-Kit naturally! ) you are absolutely correct ! The amp had a black rectangular chassis, and a gray perforated cage. I have a story about that, too, but I will also save that one for later!
No, I have not forgotten about the AC/DC chassis. Both of us lived in houses with steam heat radiators. These things were hooked into a sort of grounding system and sat promenently under the windows in each room of our houses. I will never forget one of the storys that my buddy told me about leaning across his little transmitter and grabbing hold of the radiator for whatever reason. ( probably checking to see if the heat was "on" in his room ! ) Well to use his words, which I will never forget, " I grabbed hold of that radiator, and BOY did I ever get a SHOCK! "
I have always wondered to this day if Knight was ever sued for manufacturing and distributing such a dangerous device! Of course, now days, we are much more litigious than we were back then. Probably good for Allied Radio!
Well, I have gone on to a career in Electronics that is over 35 years long, now, and I can thank Allied Radio and their Knight-Kits for pointing me in the direction that I eventually traveled !
Best to you! Jim Stanicek
Hi again, Jim
I wrote up another little story about my adventure with the C-100 Walkie Talkie. I will be telling you some stories about other kits I assembled at about my Jr. High School days. My first "real" HiFi system was built from a KnightKit 12 watt basic amplifier, plus some heathkit stuff. I'm trying to find the info on that amp. It was a real sweetheart, and a friend of mine just picked one up in mint condition off of EBay. It is as nice as I remember it being!
Well anyway, here is the Walkie Talkie story. You may use it as you please:
I can remember the C-100 Walkie-Talkie quite well. It was one of the first kits I believe I ever built. The time was back in the earlier days of CB radio, ( I was probably about the age depicted by the boy in the catalog illustration ) and radio in general was a brand-new and exciting adventure to me.
It took me a long time to save up the $17.76 , plus the Shipping and Handling that two of those little rigs cost, and it was a glorious day when I sent my order off to 100 N. Western in Chicago.
Several days later, the boxes arrived, and I anxiously tore into the packages to pull out all the parts to put them together.
One thing that surprised me a bit about the little Walkie-Talkies was how small they were! I guess I wasn't expecting them to be the size of a military WWII outfit, but the picture led me to believe that they would be a bit bigger than they actually were! When I look at the illustration on the website, I still think they should have been a bit heftier than they actually were!
Another thing that kind of amazed me was that the regenerative rush from the receivers was almost as easy to hear on the sets as the output from the transmitter!
None of this was a detriment to my actual enjoyment of the little rigs, however, because they actually did work the first time I hooked batteries up to them, and I could talk to my buddy up to a couple of blocks away using the little outfits!
My biggest thrill came when a real, honest-to-goodness CBer with a real base station actually came back to me and talked with me for a few minutes! He asked me what I was using, and when I told him I had put the radio together with my own hands, he seemed genuinely impressed! The rush of the super-regen receiver is probably what drew him to the channel I was on!
Well, my buddy and I had a great time with the little rigs, but eventually, other things came along to occupy our time. I never did stray very far away from ham radio, however, thanks to friends whos Dads were hams, a ham radio station in our High School, etc.
I can thank the C-100, though, for giving me one of the first experiences I had of actually being "on the air" !
Best Wishes, Jim Stanicek AG3Y
Here is another of my adventures as a youth, building Knight-Kits. You will see that this story has a bit of a twist to it.
By the time I got to High School, I was getting a reputation of being "that kid that can build and fix kits, pretty good! "
Part of our Technical Training classes consisted of putting together projects which either consisted of a collection of parts and a schematic from one of the popular electronics books of the day ( Science and Electronics, Popular Electronics, etc. ) or a kit from Heath, or Allied Radio.
Well, one of the guys in the class had purchased a Knight-Kit SpanMaster ( see the following URL ( http://www.dxing.com/rx/span.htm ) a really nifty looking 2 tube super-regenerative broadcast-shortwave radio.
The only problem is that he couldn't get it to receive a single thing. Not even a local broadcast station! After fiddling around with it for days, he finally gave up in disgust and asked me if I could take a look at it.
I received the shock ( not electrical, fortunately ) of my life when I opened up the cover and saw that he had wired the entire radio without ever cutting a single component lead shorter than full length! Can you imagine what a radio looks like that has all kinds of resistors and capacitors sticking out on the ends of 3 inches of wire? Not only was it no wonder it didn't receive anything, but it is very amazing that it didn't short out completely !
Well, the first thing I did was to "re-kit" the entire radio, which is to say that I unsoldered all the components from the terminal strips, etc. and put them back into cupcake trays. I then proceeded to re-build the radio, paying close heed to the instructions, "cut the leads on a .01 mfd capacitor to 3/4 inch , and attach one lead. . . . " etc.
Happily, the radio worked perfectly after I re-built the thing, and the fellow was very happy that his money had not gone to complete waste. He did not get a good grade for his project, but he did get a radio out of the deal, and I got even more of a reputation for being "that kid that can build and fix kits, pretty good! " If I remember correctly, I also got extra credit from the Electronics Shop teacher for a job well done!
Sincerely, Jim Stanicek
Being too young to drive (legally) at the time, I contented myself with playing around with this little broadcaster to get my kicks. I too had a sizeable antenna wire lead on my set. There was a street under construction not far from my home and they did a lot of blasting. Used dynamite wire was plentiful, so we (me and these other two fools) gathered it up and made one whopper of a antenna. As well as I remember it was approx. 50' long. It ran down the side of the house and thru all of the fruit trees in the back yard. We used to play DJ and entertain about half of the North end of Frankfort, Kentucky.
One night we took a breadbox size transistor radio that I had just received for Christmas (It came from the Sears-Roebuck catalogue, transistor radios were fairly new to us back then too), tuned it to my broadcaster, and hung it up in a tree on the corner of my street. With all the lights in the house off we waited for any unsuspecting prey to walk by. There was the usual smattering of kids on bikes and girls walking home, but then there was also this one older fella who always closed down "Sleepy" Harrod's liquor store about two blocks away, and this just happened to be his regular route home, made twice as long because he wasn't walking too straight by that time of night anyway. Sure enough, around 11 p.m. he came into view and we decided to have some juvenile fun at his expense. As he walked under the tree, we started calling out for help, telling him that we were drunk and stuck up in the tree. Well, he declared that he too was a little smacked, but proceeded to try to climb the tree to help get us down. He must have tried to get up into that tree for 10 or 15 minutes before he finally gave up and just sat down on the ground with his back on the tree ... and fell sound asleep. We couldn't get our big, new transistor radio back while he was there, and it was starting to drizzle, so we called his home and told his wife where he was. We didn't bother to tell her how he came to be there, though. About five minutes later, here she came from the opposite direction, housecoat a-flyin' and armed to the teeth with a broom. I swear, if I had known how badly (and often) she was going to beat at that poor old man, we'd have never called her in the first place. Anyway, after they were out of sight, we went up the tree after the radio, and proceeded to drop it ... about fifteen feet to the ground! That's when we learned that it's very, very true what they say about payback. It IS a .....!
Now that I'm grown (or supposed to be, anyway), I look back on that escapade with the fondest of memories. And, given the right (read that wrong) set of circumstances, I could probably get into trouble with a whole new generation of unsuspecting victims. If I just hadn't busted up that radio!
I have both versions but unfortunately I donít have the proper knob on one/can anyone help with that??
Also we used the broadcasters to communicate as kids with our Popular Electronics (SWL) call. I was WPE9FE. We used CW by running feedback into our AM receiver. We used to broadcast the neighborhood news every Saturday AM and play a couple records also. (OK I guess my antenna wasn't ten feet either. I grew up in Chicago and used to ride the Western Ave. bus to Allied often on Saturdays to gawk at the rigs in the ham shack. Then a trip to Olson Electronics across the street before catching the bus home. What FUN.
Harry Blesy Harry used feedback to generate the code tones, and told me that though the and his friend where transmitting code, they had to look each character up on a chart to send a message! 0.5 WPM? Thanks, Harry! --Jim
After reading the "Broadcaster" stories from others on your website, I thought you and others might be interested in reading about my experiences as well.
I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and my father was a United Methodist pastor there in the late 60's. As a hobby, my dad restores and collects antique radios, so I owe much of my early electronics experience to him. At the time, Dad also had a couple of radio programs on the local Christian radio station, WDJC. After a few visits to the station, and after meeting their Chief Engineer, I was hooked on radio. Around age 11, I built a small studio with two turntables, a cassette deck, a small battery powered mixer, and a cheap crystal microphone. Later, I got a nicer dynamic mic with a boom -- boy did I feel like a pro then! Since the mixer didn't have a cue function, I modified a small "speaker selector box" that my dad had for the purpose of off-air cueing. I don't remember the manufacturer of that little box, but obtained a "Gates" nameplate from the WDJC engineer so it would look more professional! I also had one of those "suction cup" telephone pickups so that I could take "on-the-air" requests from my friends. I even built a "tape delay" for the telephone using an old reel-to-reel recorder which I had modified by adding a loop of tape and an extra head. My first transmitter was a CB walkie talkie, operating on Channel 14. I found that a harmonic appeared at 108 MHz, so I called my station WNSM (Weather, News, Sports, and Music) at 108 MHz FM. Yeah, I know it probably wasn't legal, but it was all I had! Later, I got a small electronics kit and built a very low power transistorized battery-powered AM transmitter -- never got much range out of it though. Shortly thereafter, a friend at the local electronics store gave me a Knight-kit Wireless Broadcaster and Amplifier. Using the new transmitter and a variety of antennas, I was able to broadcast over a range of a few city blocks. My friend, Lee, helped me with the "DJ" work. We eventually built a small station at his house, too. At age 13, I got my first Amateur Radio license (WN4YKJ), but still couldn't get broadcasting out of my blood.
When my family moved to Sheffield, Alabama in 1972, I again set up my little radio station. This time, I found a friend named Jimmy who had similar interests, and before long we had a two station network! Somewhere around that time, I built a new transmitter using a 12AX7 pre-amp, and two 6C4's for the oscillator and modulator. Using a variety of antennas, I was able to extend the range to where the station could be heard, albeit with some difficulty, about 2 miles away in nearby Muscle Shoals where many of my friends lived. I settled on the frequency of 770 kHz and began using the call letters "WABC." I wanted to sound just like the real WABC from New York which I often listened to at night. I even taped their jingles so that I could sound more professional.
I never quite got broadcast engineering out of my system. I attended Auburn University and got a degree in Electrical Engineering in August of 1983. During those years, I had the opportunity to visit HCJB in Quito, Ecuador and developed a keen interest in shortwave radio. In my Senior year, I worked at our campus radio station, WEGL, doing some on-air shifts and engineering work. After graduation, I worked for Alabama Power Company for 7 years, but again, couldn't get radio out of my system! I got back into ham radio around 1986, this time receiving the call sign KB4TXM. In 1990, I left Alabama Power to serve as a missionary radio engineer with the Far East Broadcasting Company on the island of Saipan where I am now the Chief Engineer for International Shortwave station KFBS. So, you see, I am another broadcast engineer who got started using the Knight Wireless Broadcaster.
Thanks so much for the website, Jim. I have really enjoyed reading about your experiences as well as those of others. Keep up the good work!
73, David Creel AH0AM
P.S. Does anyone remember a similar transmitter made by Lafayette? I remember reading about a Lafayette 100 mW transmitter in an electronics magazine in the early 70's, but don't remember the model number or any of the details.
...and yet another broadcast career started by the Knight Broadcaster! Thanks, David! --Jim
This site brings back memories. I lost my broadcaster while I was in tech school years ago when my parents loaned it to a neighbor kid and it never returned. I still have the manual and memories though.
My experience with the Broadcaster started when I was in 6th or 7th grade. I had been interested in electricity before I was 2 and by the time I was 10 I had the house wired with battery operated lights and had a "workshop" where I did experiments. My electric train was a major item at Christmas.
Anyway, I did my first radio work in 5th grade when I worked on an old radio my dad had. He introduced me to a local repairman who fixed the radio and a month or so later my grandparents had a radio that had the same problem, a loud hum. I took the radio, found the same part, the filter cap, bought a new one and was "hooked". Soon after that I met a class mate's older brother who also fixed electronic things. He had a broadcaster that he used to play records over and also to talk to a friend of his across town. I bought one and soon we had a "network" going. We'd talk everyday. You see we made a few minor changes to the broadcaster. First we put a switch in the plate voltage line to the oscillator so we could turn the carrier on and off. We also replaced the capacitor in the LC resonate circuit so the frequency was stable. A quiet frequency of 825 khz, kc's then, was found and the oscillator coil was adjusted to allow operation at that low frequency. We could then talk back and forth with each other.
Eventually the group grew until we had close to 10 of us in town. Some of us bought communications receivers which allowed us to be farther away. There were also experiments with using tuned long wire antennas and even a homemade PA. We even had call signs which were the stock number of the broadcaster, 83Y706, and added a letter after it. I was 83Y706G.
If my friend Jim reads this, he pointed me to this site, he can add some of his stories, like when he almost set his room on fire with his amplifier, or the time the local radio station accused us of interfering with their "mega watt" signal and we all had to go talk to them. We did regular signal checks and using good receivers were able to hear our signal 8 miles up the Allegheny river valley.
Lots of fun and good experience to take me into a job in high school
for a repair shop and an electronics profession and more for the last 33
Dick, you've got one of the more unique Broadcaster
stories here! 2 way on the Broadcast band, huh? And 8 miles?
Can anyone beat that, and if so, how did you do it?? Thanks again...
.(.and another Broadcast Engineering career
started byt the Broadcaster! Dave, did you know there is already
a balanced audio input on the Broadcaster? It's the "speaker out"!
Yes, you can drive audio back into the oscillator from another amp, and
it sounds just great. You get around the non-linear nature of the
modulator stage, and the hum of the 12AX7.... Jim
I recall building two of these (couldn't resist taking the first one apart), I think I was 7 years old for the first one. Probably closer to 10 on the second. Didn't know much about loading an antenna, but I think it always sounded better on the 10' antenna, though I tried longwires with little luck. About 1 mile was the best I ever remember. Today with a carefully matched 3 meter antenna with a capacity hat and 100 milliwatts I think six or seven miles to a car radio was easy. I have a friend who has a beacon in the new 1700 KHz band and we can get him 100 miles away, again 100 milliwatts and a good 3 meter antenna properly matched.
Back to the Knight Kit, I set up a split site (the basement for a "studio" and the upstairs bedroom for the "transmitter" shack using an old amplifier/mixer driving a 600 ohm line. I can only remember the limited audio bandwidth, really bad. I spent allot of time broadcasting to the limited audience, friends and neighbors, but it was fun. In remember getting a second transmitter in the form of a wireless oscillator and sending stereo on two different channels. Knight kits are fun, it would be fun to have the wireless broadcaster again (if only to see how well an antenna could be matched to it). Well it did help to progress into a career and today I have been a Ham radio operator for 33 years and a comfortable income from these pursuits. I am writing this from my cabin in the mountains at 8500' over a two-way satellite link (high speed) probably the best in this county.
Thanks for the nostalgia.
I came across your web page through Deja-News
while I was on a
mission to find a Knight-Kit Broadcaster. It was (and still is) my hope
to find one of these long lost childhood souvenirs.
A couple of months ago a friend of mine called
me and told me of a
fellow who had acquired a bunch of electronic junk and wanted to get rid
of it. I checked it out and bought the pile for $25 bucks. Among the
various treasures were a 1962 and 1963 Allied Radio Catalog, both in
very good to excellent condition. The $25 was well spent when I opened
the catalog and set my eyes on that broadcaster. I relived many hours
spent over the glow of the 2 50C5's and the 12AX7A transmitting to the
world, the news of our household (as I saw it) and begging for
listeners to call AXtel56206 to let me know that they heard me. Those
were very good days!
I built a number of Knight-Kits and Heathkits
back in the 60's, but
I remember most the broadcaster. I would appreciate greatly any help you
could give me in finding one.
Feel free to use my story, but I can't take the pressure anymore! I
MORE THAN 10 ft OF ANTENNA WIRE ON MY BROADCASTER. Whew, I feel better now
having gotten that off my chest after 30 some years. I still think the F.C.C.
is watching me so you better only use my initials in the credits..
It was September of 1962, I was 17 at the time and really enjoyed AM radio, no MP3 then or CDs, Cassettes or even Stereo Eights. It was AM for the most part, and it was fun to listen to the radio. Hot Jocks made it all that more interesting and fun. I didn't know much about radio then, only knew how to listen to it ! I had a good friend who was an amateur radio operator, he was only 17 also, however he had radio theory down. One day I was over at his house and he was showing me his projects and I spotted a little square blue metal box with three tubes. I asked him what it was and he said it was a small radio station, I said "How much" I think he sold it to me for $20 at the time, and he even let me pay for it on installments!
I had no idea how it worked and I dont think I even got the schematic with it. I took it home and got a few good shocks off of the transformer less chassis, I do remember that. I remember trying several different antennas of which I knew nothing about what I was doing in relation to what was good and what was bad in antennas. I learned a lot about radio from the little transmitter. I learned I could easily knock out my neighbors ball game reception from my house when I was transmitting. Actually , I could take out most of the AM band a house or two away, so I know the broadcaster put out more power than 100MW, it had to. I never did check the actual power of the transmitter with a watt meter. I never had a watt meter then and I wouldn't of known how to use it if I did. I remember my Ham friend saying he calculated the power dissipated by checking the plate current and multiplying by plate voltage and it came out to a watt and half or so. Now I know there is an efficiency factor so I am not saying the transmitter put out a watt and half, but at even 50% efficiency, that was still at 750 MW.
I used the broadcaster as an amplifier for my crystal radio projects also, It was real handy to connect a speaker to the device and use the mic input for crystal radio reception. I tried several antennas as I mentioned before, the primary one was a 75 foot out side long wire antenna. It worked well for a block or so but didn't really have the range I wanted. I think that for the most part it was due to the fact I was using a horizontal polarized antenna and trying to receive the signal on a vertical car radio antenna. I did my DJing for a while late at night hoping that the skip signal would put me down in some heavily populated area for an evening of reception. Who knows, perhaps it did, I will never know, but I do know if a few MW hits the ionosphere it can easily travel hundreds of miles. After a few nights of that, I accepted the fact I wasn't going to be a top 40 jock but, nevertheless I still had lots of fun trying.
A couple of months went by and another high school friend got interested in the broadcaster, so he ordered one from Allied Radio. He built his himself and his really worked good. He lived about four blocks away from me and we both set up our radio transmitters and began our own Ham operation on the BC band! Very nice. We used the "oscilliation break out" as our test tone so we could pinpoint our transmit frequency for the others receiver. Anyway we felt that because both of us were on different frequencies there wasn't much chance anyone would ever notice what was going on, and for the most part no one ever said anything. The only problem we had was many times we could not reach each other, some times I received my friend and some times he received me but many times we couldn't hook up. Boy did that tick me off, especially when I received him clear as a bell and he couldn't hear me. I remember one time we were trying to reach each other and we couldn't transmit four blocks, but then the next day in school someone told me they heard me on the radio, and they lived about a mile away ! So much for signal propagation.
I did several tests with the broadcaster, one was for maxim range, I used a vertical fishing cane pole, with wire strung from the base of it to the top of it and then back down to the bottom. The wire was not spiraled and I didn't use any type of loading coil because I didn't even know what that was at the time. The antenna was mounted on top of a flat roof garage about 12 feet high. I took a turntable and the transmitter and sat it on the roof of the garage. I used a long extension cord which hung over the side of the garage to an outlet inside the garage. I think the combination of the two, the antenna, and ext cord, formed a dipole type antenna. To my suprise, I easily transmitted well over four miles in all directions with that setup, It was such an improvement over what I had been getting for range it was almost unbelievable. The strange thing about it was when I tried to feed the vertical antenna with a feed line and having the transmitter in the house, it didn't work out very well. Range really dropped off.
As time went by, I entered the military service, I sent home for the transmitter to see what it would do in a new location. Well it worked, but I had tons of hum problems and I guess I just gave up on the Transmitting business. I sold the transmitter to a guy in the Navy, and within a few days he was telling me how he transmitted three miles with the thing to his girlfriends house ! Well I was ticked again because I thought it had lost all its pop. One thing for sure, the transmitter is fussy about its antenna loads, perhaps with a proper loading coil and a proper feed line, I could do wonders with the little box today. The first thing I would do is change the simple rectifier they have in there to a full wave bridge with transformer power supply, and while I was at it I would go for maximum supply voltage for the 50C5 plate. I dont have my tube manuals in front of me right now, but I am sure the 50C5 could take more than the 100 or so DC volts in the circuit as it now stands.
After the service, I went to several radio communications schools, and racked up lots of Transmitter building experience. I would like to get another broadcaster just to do it all over again. I have been looking all over for one when I found this website, I am glad I came across the site, its good to see someone doing a tribute to this almost forgotten little wonder. Hopeful some day I can find another Allied Broadcaster, and this time, Ill do it justice by using a proper antenna. I would really like to know how much power these things put out. Any one have a Knight Kit Broadcaster ? If you know of anyone who has one for sale, have them E mail me: