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Those of us who grew up in the fifties/sixties/seventies, probably remember at least one set of walkie talkies, or at any rate had a friend with a set. This was the stuff of dreams for adventurous boys, and usually Christmas, birthdays, or perhaps a windfall gift from a relative would produce a set. Often, the reality was not quite up to the expectations of the dream, and most of our little 100 mw walkie talkies could only communicate over a range of a block or two. Usually, these items were quickly broken, or at least had bent or snapped antennas. Still, whatever their weaknesses, these were prized possessions and highly valued items - right up there with bicycles and gas engined airplanes.
If dad (or the father of a friend) was a hunter, outdoorsman, or worked outside a lot, you might have occasional access to a set of really good walkie talkies; but even these had drawbacks. For one thing, the antennas on these huge radios were as tall as we were. An antenna length of 42" to 48" was not uncommon. Most of the radios transmitted at one to four watts, and had perhaps six channels. Though units were available that could use all 23 of the channels then available, and latter those that could use all forty, they were expensive, rare, and heavy. The biggest obstacle was that technically, you had to be eighteen years old to operate a radio that put out the full four watts.
The AH-27F is quite simply one of the best walkie talkies you can buy - or at any rate one of the best that you could have bought, since they are now out of production. Some say that with the exception of Cherokee's own AH-100 SSB CB walkie talkie, this is the best that you can get period. This is everything that we, as children, hoped our walkie talkies would be - and then some.
The radio is well built, sturdy, and covers the entire 40 channel CB band (as well as some others, for those who wish to freeband). The LCD digital display can show channel, or frequency, as well as featuring a fifteen segment S/RF indicator, scan status, and memory being used. It also indicates if certain features, such as low power, are being used. Though this is an AM only radio, Cherokee also offered the AH-100, which was the same thing with SSB capability. The AH-100 is nearly impossible to get these days, while the AH-27 is available but the numbers are dwindling. A differently configured version of this radio is still sold in the UK as the Maycom AH-27.
The radios are snapped up almost as quickly as they appear for sale, because of the high standards to which they are made. These are essentially ham/marine quality radios configured to operate on CB frequencies. Though not quite up to the standards of PS/PB/commercial radios, they are far batter than nearly anything else you will find in CB. I can personally vouch for the fact that this radio is nearly identical to my AH-50 six meter ham radio.
The AH-27 has a number of different power options. These include an 8 cell pack, 6 cell pack, and various nicad packs. The nicad packs are identical to those used in certain models of Standard hand held radios. Thus battery packs should always be easy to find. A number of drop in and plug in chargers are available. As an example, the battery pack from my AH-50 six meter radio fits the AH-27 perfectly, and can be used with no problem. There are also some battery eliminators, and the marvelous Mobile com adapter. A power saving circuit, and special power saving mode, help extend battery life. In addition, a low power setting of one watt, helps to preserve battery life, when the full four watts is not needed.
Like the other Cherokee hand helds, as well as those by some other distributors, The AH-27 can take an external mike/speaker. It also has a standard BNC antenna connector. Longer aftermarket antennas can be easily attached, or a coax to a standard 50 ohm base or mobile antenna can be affixed. A look at the unit specs near the bottom of the page indicate that this is quite a bit better than most of the other CB walkie talkies on the market.
Not all of the included features are so useful, which I suppose is part of the ham legacy of this radio. Included features are a five channel memory, which is useful when you are on a ham radio with thousands of possible frequencies, but not such a big deal on a CB with forty. There is also a last channel recall, and a dual watch channel monitor. An instant channel nine button rounds out the list. Somewhat useful is the full band scan, which scans all forty channels in a few seconds. The front panel controls can be locked, to prevent accidentally changing something.
Front panel buttons select memory channel, light the display, and enable the scanning and channel watch features. Channels are selected by use of up and down buttons located on the side of the unit. They are just above the PTT switch. All switches are rubberized and sealed, as part of the weatherizing of this radio. The side of the radio is also where the battery pack release is located.
The included battery pack is designed for use with standard AA batteries. Various higher capacity packs, and rechargeable packs are available as options, and it is possible to buy standard battery packs which will fit. At one time, I might have preferred a rechargeable pack with a drop in charger; but with the availability of NiMh batteries, one of these replenishable packs could last forever. The only downside is that they can not be recharged while in the pack, and must be taken out and topped off in a standard recharger. I can live with that. From the outside, these packs look like any handi talkie rechargeable pack. The only thing I noticed
is that the pack didn't really want to stay closed when loaded with batteries. This is not a huge big deal, as sliding the pack into the radio will secure it closed; but it might be a consideration if you like to have several packs ready to go.
Audio is great on this unit, and I am able to copy with no problems, even outside or when it is a bit noisy. I have gotten a number of compliments on my signal from other CB user, who were surprised to hear that this was a handheld. There are a lot of neat bells and whistles on this radio, including a selectable frequency display. This can come in quite handy of you take advantage of this radio's considerable capabilities of freebanding or outbanding.
A number of different Cherokee handheld radios were marketed at the end of the last century, all made to one basic design. Similar radios were the six meter, ten meter, and GMRS radios. These were produced in Korea, and imported by Wireless marketing Corp. This company was started by former Cobra electronics vice president president Doug Marrison. As Cobra was primarily a marketer of CB radios, this is where the new company made its start. In addition to the handhelds, there were also some Cherokee base and mobile CB radios, as well as a small selection of ham gear.
The photo below shows the AH-27 next to its sibling AH-50. The two radios are nearly identical, and are functionally very similar except for the bands they cover. Some of the better Cobra and Midland radios, as well as the Maycom, Northpoint, and Midlands are also of similar design. The AH-50 looks slightly different in the photo because it has a charger unit in tandem with the battery. The charger unit is removable and could just as easily fit on the AH-27.
Probably the neatest accessory that all of these related radios take, is the Mobile com adapter. This permits the AH-27 to be installed in a car, boat or whatever, and used like a regular mobile radio attached to a vehicle electrical system and antenna system. This is a particularly nice feature because, frankly, at 27 MHz, the little 9" rubber duck antenna is useless. While you can certainly talk to other units on this antenna, you are limited to a mile or so of range, perhaps a bit more if the terrain is suitable. This is reduced even more if using the unit inside of a metal structure like a car body.
Using the Mobile com adapter, you can get five to ten miles of range out of this unit, plus you have the long duration operation afforded by your vehicle's electrical system. This transforms the unit from a handheld to a true mobile.
The Mobile Com adapter is more than just a power adapter. It slides onto the base of the radio in place of the battery pack. In addition to allowing the unit to be powered from a vehicle power plug, it also allows connection to a standard coax connector for use with a vehicle mounted antenna. Operation is then similar to one of those mobile units with all the controls in the microphone.
A magnet mount antenna coupled with this adapter makes for a good quick and dirty radio unit for lending out, or for use in borrowed or rented vehicles. It might also make a good emergency transceiver for those who do not have cell phones, or who may be in areas without cell coverage. it can also be an option for the occasional radio user, vacation user, or someone who prefers no permanent installation, for security purposes.
These were an optional accessory for the Cherokee radios; but come standard with certain other radios, such as the Midland 75-820, and 75-822 radios, as well as other full sized handy talkies manufactured by Maycom, and sold under a number of different labels.
Most of my amateur radios have some sort of enhancements or modifications made. Such changes are popularly known as mods. They basically come in two varieties - legal and illegal. Nearly all of my ham radios have been modified in some way, and all of my radio pages have mods listed, so I decided to include them here as well - but beware. Amateur radios can be significantly modified, and still remain legal. CB radios can not be modified at all without breaking the law, and yet many people modify them anyway.
I do not recommend modifying this radio, for several reasons. First and foremost, it is against the law. This is not some local ordinance, but federal law. Secondly, if you modify this radio to talk out of band, there will be nearly no one to talk to. Such operation is known as freebanding or outbanding, and is described a bit more fully on my page dedicated to the subject. If you are really interested in such things, you are far better off becoming a licensed radio amateur. This will permit you to do far more things, using far more frequencies, and vastly more power, than anything you could do with a modified CB radio. I should also mention that I have not made these modifications to my own radio. Why should I? If I wish to use 100 watts, or 500 watts, or 1000 watts on HF/VHF frequencies, I may do so legally as a licensed ham operator. Having said this, here are the mods.