Monday, 14 January 2008

The History of Billy's Backbiters

The first Drop Off alarm I made was back in 1985 as a final year Technology project at school. I’d just got into piking and needed an alarm and it was either a couple of month’s worth of paper-round money or a trip down to Radio Shack for a bag of bits. This original drop-off had a mercury tilt switch in a kinda egg case with a hair grip as the clip, the little solid state buzzer could hardly be heard if you we’re more than a few feet away but it did the job and after proudly showing off my creation to the lads up the local lakes it wasn’t long before I was knocking a few out for a bit of extra cash in my student days.

As the years went buy I would always knock a few up when asked to by the local Pikers and PAC lads. It would normally be a couple of years between making a few and so I’d always go back to the drawing board each time in my selection of components to use. About 10 years ago I settled on a design that has changed little, this finished design has been based on pike fishing week in week out of a true variety of waters, the reason it hasn’t changed is that this design has stood the test of time and as I walk the banks of the local rivers and lakes I will always invariably bump into someone who has had a set of drop offs and is still using them, many have bought fancy new ones since and binned them after a couple of seasons and returned to using the old faithful’s. It made me laugh the other week when chatting to an old piking mate he commented “You know them Drop-Offs I had of you in 98, well they ain’t ‘arf quiet now”..... “When did you last change the batteries” was my reply, “don’t think I ever have” was his “DOH”.

At the start of this piking season (2007/8) I had a request for a few drop-offs from mates and PAC Region 20 members and so got the bits in to knock up 10 units. 5 we’re spoken for and I thought I’d have a fancy new set myself and punt the others out on the Forum. Well the response was overwhelming and I was inundated with enquiries, especially as there was a whole host of threads on the forums about how un-suitable and un-reliable some of the mass manufactured drop off alarms were.

After having all these enquiries I thought long and hard about the time commitment required in making so many drop offs but decided to give it a go for a limited time to see the response. It seems that pikers out there have been crying out for a decent reliable drop off alarm and so now I find myself in the workshop most nights making my alarms. A twist to the story came when one night whilst going through parts catalogues I came across a crystal blue case exactly the same dimensions as the ones I was already using… “oooohhh” I thought, If I stuck a bright LED in them the whole case would light up and it would be one less hole for water to get in and so the Billy’s Bluenose Backbiter was born. Bits were purchased and the prototype signalled its first run a few days later. I haven’t looked back since. So now I’ve decided that so long as folk want them I’ll make them and give my fellow pikers what they’re after; a tough and reliable drop-off alarm that will see them through many seasons.

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