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Author Topic: The truth about handles  (Read 6384 times)
AA4PB
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« on: May 27, 2014, 10:59:21 AM »

Back in the late 1950's, when I first got my start in radio, (before there was any 11M CB) hams operating AM phone often used the term "handle" in lieu of "name". I don't really know why except that "handle" was the nickname that they wanted to be called on the radio. In most cases it was the same as their name, but not always. A "handle" was NEVER used in lieu of the FCC issued call sign. Those hams on AM phone also used many of the Q signals like "QSL" and "QTH".

When 11M CB opened up many of the first users were hams or people who had been exposed to ham radio but never got past the CW requirement. It was natural for them to use the radio procedure that they were accustomed to hearing on the ham bands. Like the hams, they identified their stations with the FCC issued call sign. They used the term "handle" in lieu of "name" and they used many of the Q signals, called CQ, etc. When the FCC started to clamp down and issue "pink slips" to CB operators who worked excessively long distances, many started to identify their stations with a "handle" in lieu of their call sign so that the FCC wouldn't know who they were or where to send the "pink slip". So, the use of "handle" or Q signals on voice did not originate with CB.

11M CB first started with a construction article in (I think) Radio-Electronics Magazine. The article identified the soon to be CB as a "no-test" version of ham radio. I knew a few people who worked in electronics, had an interest in ham radio, were SWLs, but had no interest in learning Morse. They all built transceivers from the article and got on the air on day 1 of 11M CB. Several of them eventually got a ham license.

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K7KBN
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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2014, 01:32:52 PM »

In the book "Anne of Green Gables", the term "handle" is used several times as an early 20th-century Canadian term for "name".  I first heard "handle" spoken in that sense in an old black-and-white cowboy serial on Saturday mornings.  Probably Hopalong Cassidy.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
ONAIR
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« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2014, 02:19:50 PM »

Many people who first got into CB, began using it to rag chew. When the FCC proclaimed that "idle chit chat" was against FCC rules, they just stopped using their call signs!  That's when the use of "handles" really took off.
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K2OWK
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« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2014, 05:19:26 PM »

I am one of the old hams (mid 1950s) that remember when CB was a ham frequency. In the late 1950s it was removed from the ham frequencies (with many hams upset) and turned over to CB use. It was supposed to be a short range communications system for business and for personal communications. If I remember it was never supposed to be a test free ham band. The calling of CQ was strictly forbidden. In calling another station you had to use that stations call. If the station had a different call sign then yours, you could only talk a designated amount of time before going silent for a designated time period. When talking to a unit under your call sign there was no limit for talking, but the premise of the CB system was for short communications of a personal nature or for business. My original call was 2Q7421. I used my CB to talk to my wife on the way home from work. This was a legal 2 way personal communication. The maximum input power to the CB transmitter was 5 watts with a maximum output power of 4 watts. In the 1960s it all came apart. The FCC tried to charge a $18.00 for a CB license per year. (a ham license was $4.00 per year). Most CBers decided not to pay the fee, but continued to operate illegally, They started to use handles instead of calls. They began to use CQ and ignore all FCC mandates on the band. Skip came in in the later 1960s on the 11 meter band and CBers tried to talk to everyone the could. The beginning of the linear phase started. Base stations were caught by the FCC using as much as 10 KW. See some of the old QST mags of that era. They used to post the names and the fines levied on those people each month. In the end so many were operating illegally and were impossible to track as most were mobile the FCC gave up on enforcement. They only went after the people using linear amps. The rest as long as they used legal power anything went. Check out the CB band now. It is mostly frustrated people that could not pass the ham test. There is more cursing and fighting on that band then on an "R" rated movie. What the original use CB band was supposed to be is long gone and will never return. A lost and destroyed frequency band.

The above is just what I remember. Some of it my be wrong but I am an old guy who still uses CW. Go figure.

About the term handle, if memory serves me? Came from the original use of hand held microphones. The operator of the microphone gave his name as the user of the microphone that he was holding on to. This also included desk microphones and boom mikes. At that time you had your hand on the mike to operate the push to talk button. No VOX yet. The term handle was used by CB operators who used fake designations to keep the FCC from finding out who they were and trying to be original. They picked up the term from old time hams like myself who used it on the ham bands. CB operators also picked up the police designations for certain things. like what's your 20 (1020) for location. Going 10-7 for off the air. plus many more.

Thanks for reading my rant.

73s

K2OWK
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K7KBN
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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2014, 08:50:19 PM »

OWK-

Seems I'm from about the same vintage as you.  Nice "rant", but I would make one small correction:  originally, the FCC specified a maximum of 5 watts of DC input to the final.  With no RF wattmeters available to most hams at that time, plate voltage times plate current had to serve, and it did quite well.  The four watt RF OUTput requirement came about when prices began to drop for good quality "instruments".

What I found interesting around that time was the CBers griping that FCC had taken away a whole watt!, when assuming a generous 60% efficiency, 5 watts IN would be 3 watts OUT.  No amount of arguing could convince them that FCC had GIVEN them a whole watt!

73
Pat K7KBN
« Last Edit: May 27, 2014, 09:02:48 PM by K7KBN » Logged

73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
K1CJS
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2014, 07:09:52 AM »

As far as I'm concerned, my name is Chris, my call is K1CJS, and the handle is on the side of my Yaesu FT101!!   Grin

Seriously though, 'handle' was the term adopted by CBers as a way to ID while avoiding use of their callsign--in that they figured why give monitoring 'officials' easy access to who was breaking the rules back then, since they figured that those rules put too much of a 'crimp in their style!'  73!
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AA4PB
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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2014, 07:27:37 AM »

Yes, CBers eventually adopted "handle" as their station ID (sort of a tactical call sign). However, the word "handle" did not originate with CB. It was commonly used by hams for the name.

I looked up some of the current FCC regulations (which may have changed since the early days). The maximum distance that a CB station can legally work is 250kM or 155.3 miles. The maximum time that two or more stations can communicate with each other is 5 minutes and must then be followed by at least a 1 minute silence period.
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WI8P
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2014, 07:52:15 AM »

To paraphrase an old lawyer joke, 99% of CB'ers give the rest a bad name.  Although a neighbor in the 50's got me interested in amateur radio, I became a CB'er in the early 70's. I don't remember my call sign other than it had K's and Q's in it. There were still a lot of good folks on the air back then and language was still monitored quite well.  Through the years, including now, I still put a CB radio in my truck for no other reason than getting road reports when traveling.  It's a shame the FCC let the band degenerate to what it has become, but I can understand why with the lack of funding provided to them.  It would be nice to see the band cleaned up again but I don't see it happening.  As for handles, I looked at it as a privacy issue more than anything else.  You also have to remember that CB radios were a hot theft item and people were paranoid about letting people know who and where they lived. There was no internet then took instantly ID a member.  I knew people who used magnetic mounts so they could stick the antenna in their truck when they parked.  We had so many stolen at work, I used a quick disconnect bracket and took mine into work and locked it in my tool box. 
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K9YLI
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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2014, 08:02:53 AM »

I heard  'handle'  on Ham radio  long before  CBs.
I have heard it was in responce to question.."how do I get a hold of you?
As in the vernacular of the day..  whats your name.?

as you get a hold of something by its handle.. (smart alec response)

hence       handle = name
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AA4PB
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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2014, 08:39:17 AM »

The term "handle" for name was apparently slang used in some European countries and then caught on among the cowboys in the western U.S. I don't know why it caught on in ham radio. Probably just something to be different than the general public. Perhaps similar to the use of "we" as in we are running a KWM2 here or we have a 3 element Yagi here. I remember my dad asking why I always said "we" on the radio when I was the only person in the room  Cheesy My answer was always I don't know - that's just what everybody else says.
 
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KD0REQ
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2014, 09:07:29 AM »

from WN0CBZ to KAHS7272 and now KD0REQ, I've seen the scene unfold.  the "business" section of CB has devolved to modded radios and just "yo, Pete."  as in change the output transistor and crank up the splatter, why sure, dump your load by the red flasher, RoadHog, and pick up my hard hat if you see it, blew out the cab.  don't run over my cooler!

the "family band" handhelds sell well and aren't crowded.  good for calling out which of 120 cat-5s are number 71 and 72 after the electricians cut off the numbered ends.

nice to move the lids out of band.
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K0JEG
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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2014, 05:35:55 PM »

Other than in the CB culture of the 1970s, this was the only other reference to handles I've seen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVloShOH8Ko

Unfortunately, the over-the-sholder shot of what Porky was reading didn't get included, but basically it said something like "Get to know the child by asking him his name... after all, every pot has a handle."
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K9AIM
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« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2014, 06:43:37 PM »

Back in the late 1950's, when I first got my start in radio, (before there was any 11M CB) hams operating AM phone often used the term "handle" in lieu of "name". I don't really know why except that "handle" was the nickname that they wanted to be called on the radio. In most cases it was the same as their name, but not always.

My uncle was  9CCA very early in the amateur radio days (i believe he was born in 1906) and later became W9PUT (now sk).  In 1976,  my father died and my uncle helped me learn morse code and study to pass the Novice exam. By October 1976, I was a licensed ham and got one of the last WN9 calls before the FCC did away with issuing 'N's for Novices. I heard my uncle work many stations on SSB, and he would usually say the 'handle' here is Kurt.  That was his real name, but he had probably been a Ham for 50 years by 1976.  Later I noticed CB used handle a lot and it actually is something I never used (instead I used 'name').  I remember that i associated 'handle' with CB and felt it was a long step down from the professional and scientific saviore faire i associated with 'amateur radio.'   

I wonder what other examples there are of words that have been hijacked like that by 'Johnny-come-lately's'?
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KI5WW
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« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2014, 06:51:12 AM »

When was it that , handle (name) became "personel". Whats your personel? The personel here is ......

Think that was late eighties, early nineties maybe. That was an odd phase of ham radio.

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MAGNUM257
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« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2014, 05:24:44 AM »

I have been using the handle "Magnum257" on the 11 meter band since the late 1960's. But the use of the word "handle" to mean a name goes back long before radio was invented.

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary....

Full Definition of HANDLE

1:  a part that is designed especially to be grasped by the hand

2:  something that resembles a handle

3  a:  title 8 
    b:  name; also :  nickname


4:  hand 11c

5:  the total amount of money bet on a race, game, or event

6:  a means of understanding or controlling <can't quite get a handle on things>


http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/handle



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