The "Astro Commander" walkie-talkie
(Also known as the "Space Commander")

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It would be too bad if the HA-70c walkie talkies never worked again, so let's fix them.

The idea was to replace the four electrolytic capacitors, then go after the transistors, which is exactly what was done.
But first I eyeballed the circuit boards, and I found something weird on the first one I opened.
WHAT THE DICKENS?! What happened to this resistor? It figures, this is the unit with no warranty card, or I would return it to Lafayette!

The other side of the circuit board has an amazing amount of solder on it.
The manufacturing process was probably all done by hand, and very quickly.

The broken resistor, four capacitors and a transistor were replaced. This unit now works as well as it ever did.

In the second unit there was a wire that wasn't soldered to the volume control. It was just sitting on it.
The catalog stated, "Completely Wired With Volume Control". Wouldn't that imply "Completely Soldered"?

Some of the old capacitors are only rated at six volts! Time marches on - the new ones are rated at 50 volts,
but are the same size. On the right, a 30 MFD cap tests at 728 picofarads. That's .000728 MFD. It is deceased.

Soldering the green wire onto the volume control and replacing the capacitors brought the second unit back to life.
Not only do the two HA70C's talk to each other, they are (unsurprisingly) compatible with the HA70d version.

I entertained the idea of replacing every resistor, capacitor and transistor in one of the HA-70C walkie-talkies. Considering how cheaply they were made I'd have the finest one on Earth, but what good would it do me? Who would I talk to?


Cheapie Walkie Talkies EI Jan 1968
The Space Commander appeared in the January 1968 edition of Electronics Illustrated as a "Cheapie" walkie talkie. This is obviously some kind of mistake. Cups and string? They should be sued for slander!

In this entire lineup, the Space Commander is the ONLY walkie-talkie that can be used in outer space, specifically, in orbit around Earth's moon. Does it mention this fact? NO. Obviously Radio Shack paid a lot of money to the magazine to have them include the Space Commander in the article. Want proof it was Radio Shack? There are no Radio Shack walkie-talkies in the picture. There's your proof!

Cheapie Walkie Talkies EI Jan 1968
Here's something very funny. The text above is from the "Swap Shop" column of Electronics Illustrated, January 1968.  This guy wants to swap his six dollar Astro Commander for a Hallicrafters or National receiver. You can guess how that probably worked out.

This is the same issue that has the article on "Cheapie Walkie-Talkies." This adds irony to the humor, since he would have had no idea the walkie-talkie article would appear in the same issue as his request.

Guess what - He's still around. His name is James Dean. He's 70 years old (as of 2022) and still lives in New Orleans.
Check out the walkie-talkie article on Page 73 here.

Lafayette Mystery walkie talkie
I found this picture of the box on the web. I wasn't able to contact the website owner, and now I can't even find the site.
What the heck is the astronaut holding in in hand??


Astro Commander
In the 1970 catalog, the walkie-talkie was called "Astro Commander" again. What is interesting is that the top drawing captured two members of the group "Devo" when they were youngsters. The middle drawing shows it being used to teach a deer to do headstands and other cool tricks. None of the people in the drawings are in outer space or engaged in activities pertaining to spaceflight, so they must be talking to someone who is.


Mike Simpson holding Space Commander picture
This is me. I can't get my picture on the Internet unless I put it there myself.
To download the box artwork, click here!



Now it's time for me to go into orbit around the moon in a Gemini space capsule and talk on my Astro Commander. If you don't hear back from me, that pesky heat shield failed on the way home.

If you found this at all entertaining, see Dave Hall's site and click on "CB Stories" here.

This broadcast is now concluded. Tune in again tomorrow; same time, same channel.