Why not write for us?

The blog or weblog exists in the world wide web in order to carry original articles and anecdotes in a reader friendly form to internet users.

Why Blog?

Compared to forums and wiki’s if you are interested in writing up and retaining your experiences, the blog is the more permanent way of achieving this.  If you are like me you’ll probably be alert now to the way the same questions come round and round in a cycle on the forums and you will probably be aware your work can become quite easily trashed on a wiki as other users refine it.  If that’s not for you, the blog offers an editorial format which preserves your original work.

The Clansman Radio User is looking for experienced authors, who can review mods and write about their experience with the Clansman Radio System either as a first user or as the sets become recycled in their second life.

Use the contact form in the panel or subscribe.  We are happy to assist people taking their first steps in blogging.


Welcome – From Mel M5ZZR

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

Welcome – From Stu, G4IYK

Why this Blog?  Why now?

Like Mel and several million people in UK, I am ex-army, and I was a ham radio operator for most of the time while serving in the forces – in fact, as Clansman was coming into service, I was just newly licensed and within two months of obtaining my licence, I found myself operating a net of Clansman HF sets in quite an exciting situation.  This was in 1979 and during that time I began to operate the Clansman Radios “off net” so to speak, on the amateur bands, partly to relieve the boredom of being located miles from civilisation for long periods, and to enable me to keep my hand in.  This theme continued throughout my time and when I left the army Clansman was still in service.  I enjoyed the experience of radio operating, and in the wee small hours, whenever I was operating the radios, I often wondered if I would ever be able to own any of the Clansman sets.  I couldn’t imagine affording what the army paid for them, the design – being built for the cold war, had a high price tag – a UK/RT 320 was rumored to have cost £13K should you have the misfortune to lose one (and this created a rigorous accounting system).  Imagine how happy I was when I discovered that the HF sets had become the cheapest ever rugged general coverage transceivers available on the market?  This meant I could afford to have a few around and keep them working.

A 320 in the shackNostalgia aside,  I now realise that by keeping the Clansman radios in service – this in itself is a good thing to do because I imagine the resources that were invested in producing the sets and maintaining them to be huge.  As a second user I think by keeping the sets in use as long as possible, promotes social responsibility in amateur radio.

As I understood from reading the press,  the sets began to fail at the end of the systems life – remember the bathtub curve of failure?  But as a piece of history and a feat of engineering the synthesised transceivers have excellent performance and are good to go in less strenuous circumstances – sometimes needing a bit of TLC and restoration – i.e. the man-packs are a highly portable item which can be operated out of the boot of the car or backpacked.  The vehicle sets are heavy and would anchor a boat, well a pocket battleship really 😉 The pleasure of owning and operating the sets is a fantastic tribute to the designer, and the design leads to many claims of outstanding performance at very low power and in less than optimal conditions.

Our blog

The blog and forum is constructed as an observation of the on-line communities which have sprung up to pool resources – these are like minded people, some technical, some beginners and some black box operators both professionals and amateurs, customisers and modifiers and entrepreneurs. The blog is therefore in the style of a magazine – where advertising and articles come together in mutual interest. It is hoped you will feature your mod, customisation. goods, operating anecdotes and questions here.  The unique aspect is; it does not use the fixed format of yahoo and it covers the whole Clansman range for the second user – exclusively.  We hope it will become an on-line reference in its own right – given time.


Stu – G4IYK

Authoring and Advertising Policy

This blog is in construction and is aimed for people to share anecdotes about their usage of the clansman radio system.  It fills a unique slot because there is no other such blog.

Readers and subscribers are all welcome.

If you want to become an author you are welcome to apply.

Advertisers are welcome – comments are welcome unless otherwise stated.

All ads are placed by the management and unless otherwise stated this is a service in development and chargeable.

Contributions acknowledged from Mel, M5ZZR, Stewart G8YQN, Robin G0GNE and Steve M0SLK

Stuart Dixon G4IYK

4th November 2012