The G0GNE Collection – History and Development

The trouble with Green boxes is that you can never just have one, so be warned!
I left the Army a very long time ago, in fact Google tells me that on that day “The Beatles received a gold record for “Yesterday” How nice!

Previous form…

I had used the awful WS88 in the cadets, a three channel VHF set that sat in an ammo pouch on the left of your belt and a battery in the right. You could spit further than the signal went !
Later in The Infantry Junior Leaders Battalion in Oswestry we did some signals classwork and the joys of low level voice procedure such as referring to a Company Sergeant-Major as “seagull” or “Sunray “ for a superior, as in “Fetch sunray, Over”,

Other than that my next meeting with radio was in Cyprus during the Civil War, I had to go to the thrown up TAC HQ at Elizabeth Camp on the long- gone Nicosia Airfield. There was a Signals truck with some very busy teleprinters inside and they were tied to some heavy Larkspur Equipment in Land Rovers parked outside, their engines racing on hand throttles!
So many years later I got my (B)Ham Licence and the call sign G6RLM then struggled with morse(still am) till I got my (A)Licence and the Call sign GØGNE. I was pretty busy with work as a Freelance Sound Recordist so I played radios sporadically throughout the eighties and nineties.

Playing tactical radio was quite difficult then and you needed big batteries so I did not bother with it much.

The Collection Begins

I retired about two years ago and had spotted all these green boxes at the War and Peace show at Beltring so I set about getting myself a PRC 320 and some ancillaries! They are tremendous fun. I had taken an FT817 around with me for a bit but its 5 Watt output is a struggle and the 30Watt output of the PRC 320 makes an enormous difference. People will tell you of their success with just the whip-that-comes-with antenna, have had a QSO with it and a short counterpoise and received a “5 and 9” from the Black Sea area! Italy is just too easy!

I worked the 320 out of the back of my Audi allroad quite successfully using the Kevlar wire antennas and it was about then that I joined the Vintage and Military Amateur Radio Society, A font of wisdom and information.



The Landy

The collection started to grow. At some point I decided that I wanted a Land Rover and have a proper setup in it so that I could properly “go tactical” . I had seen a Lightweight ½ ton Airportable Land Rover on Milweb ,classifieds. It looked good but was massive money as it had been completely restored, I rang up but there was no chance of a meaningful reduction so I forgot about it and resumed a fairly fruitless search. About 6 months later I saw that it was still being advertised but now at a reduced price, I rang, we haggled, I still paid too much but I had a good looking lightweight!

It came with a 320 that didn’t do AM and a 352 that barely worked, no matter, by now , I had suitable replacements. The FFR fitting (for it was a GS 12v) was reasonable and I soon found myself a civvy split charging box from Durite to provide 24v from 12v so that the batteries (yes I had to change them too) would top up on the run. I found a VRC 321 and a VRC353 for it and Ian, MØYMK suggested that as we only had two VHF frequencies we could use legally, wouldn’t it be a good Idea to bypass the tuner units in the wingboxes and cut a couple of rods to resonance? It took a little doing, 70Mhz cut to about 1 meter and a bit, 50Mhz worked out best with 2X1 metre rods! Works fine now.

 Onwards and Upwards

This is turning into a bit of a shopping list. Les Thacker 2EØIBN, found me a nice, Gold (Whuh?) yes Gold, Racal 8 Metre mast which I got properly bolted onto the tub at the rear! Stick a “Pineapple”VHF aerial on it and it performs really, pretty well!

Choose your Spot

I used to go up to a chosen spot on high ground that belonged to the National Trust , I had been getting away with it for ages but one day I had just strung up a G5RV antenna between the trees when the Warden turned up and threw me off, however we had a chat and with a small flurry of emails I got permission to occupy a bramble patch up there occasionally.

Gone Tactical

I love my” landy” but what I didn’t tell you is that my shack has all this kit in it too and more. So I don’t just have one PRC 320, I have five,  and Three VRC 321 for HF Also three VRC353s and all the associated cables, headsets kevlars, etc etc!  So my friends , stick to the black boxes, it’s cheaper!




Armed Forces Day 2012 at Bletchley Park

Glossary of Military Terms

See also Here

AWOL – Self explanatory except when used to state the obvious such as a component breaking loose and disappearing or hiding in a set for example.

FFR – Fitted for Radio – in a vehicle the fittings that are required to mount the radio and its components and provide appropriate power supply etc.

TAC HQ – Tactical Headquarters

Larskpur Radios – a system of radios in service prior to Clansman in 1978

Bowman Radio – a system of secure radios and IT applications superseding the Clansman range of radios.

Secure Radio – an encrypted device for point to point communication via the airwaves which hides intelligible speech or data from potential eves dropping.

Insecure Radio.  A device used for broadcasting intelligible speech or data and which can be received and understood by a human or machine equipped with a common radio receiver without the need for special equipment to decode the voice or data.

Radio Net.  Two or more radio stations working together on a common frequency for the purpose of radio communications.

GSM – a secure protocol for use over mobile telephone and radio systems.

Protocol or communications Protocol.  A system used to send and receive data for example, Packet Radio (AX25 or X25), TCP/IP, GSM usually determining the start and end of a transmission and the number of digits and their specific meaning within the protocols framework.

Low level voice procedure (or VP.)  A system comprising low level voice codes, prowords and callsigns for example which enabled the efficient passage of radio messages on a net.  E.g. “Hello Zero this is Two fetch sunray over”. Meaning hello control station this is 2nd troop (or section) bring your commander to the set over.  Prior to 1980.  Sunray is an appointment title for the commander.  After 1980 this obsolete example would have been replaced by Hello Zero this is Two Zero fetch 0A over.  Explanation:  Voice procedure changed during the Clansman Era following Exercise Lionheart when it was realised everyone knew what the voice codes (MAPCO, Slidex etc), callsigns and appointment titles meant – including the enemy who could eavesdrop on messages and hack the codes very quickly.  The callsign system and appointment titles were a “dead giveaway” as to who was talking to who and even indicated whether the transmitter was infantry, a tank, gun or piece of engineer equipment for example.  Blue forces were defeated by their lack of communication security during Lionheart and this led to a very intensive change programme.  The next generation VP was aimed to improve the situation by providing a better callsign system and voice codes to support radio messages VP was changed and included the new battle code, (BATCO). and was much more effective.  The time taken to encode and decipher slowed everyone down by a factor of three for several years, prompting a popular rising in face to face communication and promoting the dispatch rider or “”Don R” – until some add ons were invented, called secure orders cards, which meant radio messaging was speeded up again..

Ancillary – An item of kit – part of the set – such as an antenna or headset.  

Pineapple.  Clansman Elevated VHF Antenna

Going Tactical – Camouflage nets and all in a concealed location for example.  AKA a day out, picnic or field day or rally.

GS – as in GS Landrover.  General Service.  Not normally fitted for radio.

Civvy.  You lot (as opposed to soldiers).

Bathtub Curve of Failure.  A graph depicting the likelihood of failure against time for the life of equipment.  This model illustrates the two points in the life of any device where failure is most likely, such as the beginning of life when the device is first switched on, or the end of life.

FUG.  AKA Atmosphere – particularly when enclosed, confined and heated and comprising fumes and scents, and special lighting effects and sound effects.  The presence of warm sweaty bodies, loitering within tent to create a tobacco smoke, fart laden dimly lit bordello like scene for example.  The fug is usually created within a command post or vehicle and is essentially a special business environment or workplace comprising a bubble of specially created atmospherics.  The environment is created within a layered cover comprising a camouflage net outer layer, overlaid onto another hessian or tarpaulin layer and finally the tent skin itself.  These wrappers are specially arranged to exclude all light emissions and noise sources and it is within, that radio operators and commanders, sift assemble and route information and intelligence, and pass orders throughout the day and night.  Compare and contrast the atmosphere in the same location at day break, when the wrappers are thrown off in favour of fresh air, bacon and eggs, strip washes and gun cleaning.  Caution. Some combinations of fug can be deadly, for example when carbon monoxide is introduced to the mix.  Less deadly but more exotic mixtures can contain irritants such as CS Gas, various colours of smoke, old spice, Lynx, Brut, petrol fumes and camping gas, toast, parafin, steam, compo cooking etc.  Noise effects include morse code (before it was phased out), jokes, BBC world service, radio fans, voice and data messages, generators purring, human grunting, farting, snoring, banter, chatter and sometimes, the gentle rhythmic chatter of cicadas.

Warry.  or Warlike.  In simulations or combat, the appearance of looking the part.