Axel Jack looks back at the Fidelity 1000 CB Radio and it’s other various guises to remember how bad these radios really are…
Way back in the early days of CB, when it was legalised in 1981, there was many CBs that arrived very quickly on the market. Some were acceptably good, like Unidens, Rotels, Yorks, Midlands etc. Since the required specifications were fairly tight on the transmit side and very relaxed on receive, some sets were built as cheap as they thought they could get away with. Hence Amstrads, Binatone route 66 and a hundred other “bleed over boxes” were marketed which worked OK, but had terrible adjacent channel rejection.
But amongst all these sets there was one that stood apart from the others, the Fidelity 1000. It was also available as a Johnstone or Gecol (and even the lovely Cheiza brand – Ed, TM1), who made two models based on the same design. A Fidelity 1000 look-a-like called a GT858 and another which is exactly the same rig with a few more buttons called the GT868. But don’t think Fidelity got it all wrong, the Fidelity 2000 was a cracking rig, same chassis as a Rotel, York or Harrier. The 2001 was the same as an Amstrad and wasn’t nearly as good. But if you haven’t ever seen a 1000, try to, you’ll never forget it. The rig is a basic simple set with just volume, squelch and channel change controls. But even so it is huge. It is so big that the case is much larger than the PCB that it houses.
Even though it has abundant empty panel space the mic socket still exits on the left side rather than the front so the rig requires even more space to mount in a vehicle. The mounting bracket is a strong enough affair, with 4 bolts to screw into the side of the rig. These bolts are 2 lengths, and the short ones must be used in the top holes. If you screw the long ones into the top you destroy a screened tuning can which is immediately behind it. Why didn’t they make them all short? Feck knows!
So to the controls. The volume turns the sound up and down and works fine. And the channel selector does actually select channels, but from there on it goes down hill. The squelch is the slowest I have ever experienced. It takes about a second to close after a signal is heard. On a quick fire contact, you might as well not use it. There is also a low power switch on the back panel, but who uses them?
The Johnstone and Gecol GT868s have another three controls. An RF gain which does not alter the gain at all. It just turns the signal down so that it is still as audible but the meter reads less. Then there is a dimmer, which dims the channel readout until it disappears altogether, but leaves the signal meter light as bright as usual. There is also a PA switch, which is about as useful as shoes on a snake.
The signal meter reads way too high. And I mean WAY too high. If its not indicating S9+30db, you wont hear it too well. Received audio is very bassy in tone and buzzes all the time. Adjacent channel filtering was obviously an optional extra as if there is a strongish signal anywhere near, all 40 channels drop out completely. It is common to see the signal meter jump up and down wildly as middle distance signals de-sense the receiver. Transmitted audio is also bassy and buzzes, and is best described as crap.
How to make the best of your Fidelity 1000
- Give it to someone you don’t like.
- Grip it front panel down in your right hand with the speaker facing away from you. Fourth finger between volume and squelch control and first finger on the channel change. Rotate your body at speed with the 1000 at arm length. Release the 1000 when at full speed. Then run away before someone throws it back.
- Use it as a garage doorstop.
- Keep it as a conversation piece so you can laugh with visiting CB’ers about how crap rigs were in the early days
- Break it for spares. You never know, some of the smaller components might be common parts with a rig worth keeping.
- Give it to a rig doctor so he can use it as a “loaner”. That will make sure the guy putting the rig in for repair comes back and settles his bill very soon.
In conclusion. This is the worst rig I have ever seen. If you are a bit insulted by this because you have used one for years and are happy with it. Then I salute you. But for goodness sake, get yourself another rig, you deserve it! Reviewed by Axle Jack who foolishly bought a Gecol as his first rig after legalisation day. (forgive me I was only 14). (That’s alright, we’ll let you off – TM1)