Welcome to our new on-line community and blog dedicated to second users who preserve and operate the Clansman range of radios.
Thanks for being a part of this. My name is Mel and my colleague in this venture is Stu. I’m the person that started it but that doesn’t mean I think I own it. It’s ours. If anyone is interested in contributing articles and content or moderating the community we would be most pleased to hear from you.
So, why did I start this when there are so many on-line communities with similar interests?
The Clansman range of radios are becoming more and more popular amongst radio hams both in the UK and overseas, but no dedicated on-line community exists to cater solely for the second life user in the amateur radio community. We hope that this group will focus upon this specific need without the influence of military surplus traders and the like. That doesn’t mean you’re not welcome if you sell a bit of kit now and again, (in fact we would encourage you to advertise here and from time to time we will want to review your products and sales pitches) but what we do ask is that if you have any commercial interest in any of the opinions you express in this forum, they are declared. We also intend to become an on-line resource or reference.
I am ex-army although, to be fair, I was never really that keen on it. However it started a lifelong love of all types of army gear and the radios are no exception. I’m not what you would call an avid military radio collector; I’ve actually only had a few. So far I’ve had 2 Thomson TRC-300 HF Man-packs, 2 Racal/Syncal-30, TRA-931s (wish I still had those) and 3 Clansman/Plessey UK/PRC-320s, two of which I still have.
Apart from radios I’ve had an enormous amount of military antenna equipment over the years and at one point was lucky enough to own a South African Army Series 2B forward control Radio truck with a 30 foot mast.
The 320s are the only military radios I have now.
What is it that makes radio amateurs want to own and use radios such as the UK/PRC-320? They have some disadvantages to the typical ham radio operator: for example, it’s not easy to scan the bands. They’re pretty big and heavy for what they do. The Army fill up about a quarter of the space of a land-rover with a load of radio equipment that in total has little more functionality than an FT-817 measuring just a few inches and probably only weighing a couple of pounds including an internal battery.
Ok, they can do some things that typical ham radios can’t but mostly they are functions that most amateurs won’t use, such as remote ops or re-broadcasting. Sure, some people will want to collect them irrespective of their functionality for their aesthetic or nostalgic beauty. Whilst this is certainly part of the reason for me it is the build quality and useability that I love.
It’s true also that in some respects a clansman is a compromise on the functionality of the average amateur radio but in other respects it has much greater functionality. I can chuck mine in the back of my car with a load of camping equipment without fear of damage. I can get it muddy and wet without fear of it giving up the ghost. I use mine “Post Office Bike Mobile” without the need of weather protection for the radio. I can set it up in minutes with almost anything as an antenna and use it almost anywhere. What else can you do that with? Some collector types are opposed to any modification of these sets, considering the original integrity to be the most important attribute. That’s fine, but for me I want amateur radio useability and if that means non-standard mods, so be it. However, for me any modification should not distract from the very strong attributes that this radio has to offer. After modification it should still be able to cope with the rigors that it would confront in its military role.
The UK/PRC-320 is a great piece of kit for the radio amateur but in its original specification it lacks LSB which some may find a bind. I did, because my main bands of interest are 80 and 40 meters. It can however be easily modified to work on LSB.
I think I’ve read all the published mods. Many possible switching strategies have been put forward which can be more than a little confusing to the average hobbyist. We hope through this group however to bring these techniques to the average hobbyist in ways that are readily repeatable.
I got my first 320 `sold as seen in need of TLC’ at a rally about 2 years ago. This has never worked but the front panel is the thick finned version and is in very good condition. I stripped and polished the alloy on this to good effect but never managed to get the radio working. More recently I considered purchasing a full working setup with LSB with a view to swapping the innards into my externally renovated 320. An open and honest transaction with satisfactory buyer protection proved to be harder to achieve than I anticipated. Beware of sellers who offer to exchange non-working radios for another of the same type but stipulate that all post and packaging costs for returns are the responsibility of the buyer. It appears to me that the buyer is being unfairly used as quality control and this could turn out to be expensive.
Anyway, in the event I ended up buying 2 more non-working radios as I considered this to be the safest route and at the very least would leave me with a pile of spares. I have now managed to get two up and running.
We hope that in this group a resource will develop whereby members can acquire 320s and related equipment at a fair price and with confidence.
I look forward to a successful group developing and urge all members to be active contributors to the forum, the files and photographs sections. Over the next few weeks I will be attempting to upload any information I have on the UK/RT320 and would urge others to do the same.
We want this group to be as open as possible and to that end the only other rule at this point is that contributors identify themselves with their name and callsign.
Although the group is dedicated to the 320, it can be assumed that all Clansman or indeed any other military radio gear is fair game.
Thanks for joining. Mel. M5ZZR