Thursday, 17 September 2015

A quick note about Clansman radios

The chances are that if your reading this blog on a regular basis, what im going to mention here is irrelevant. But, you might be considering getting an ex military radio, and might be wondering which of the Clansman range to go for.

I am not going to mention the vehicle sets here, as I have little experience of them. I will only talk briefly of the suitability for amateur use of the 'manpack' radios.

As far as the manpack Clansman radio go, there are six choices. Not all are any use to us!

The PRC-349 and PRC-344 are of no amateur use. In fact, unless you are a cadet instructor, using them on-air is illegal. Entirely. Dont even consider it!

PRC-349 is a 'handheld', yeah right. About the size of a house brick sliced in half lengthways, it covers 37 to 47MHz. These are still MoD frequencies, although the radio is a mere 250mW, so you probably wouldnt get caught, its illegal to use in the UK, even by amateurs. Yet strangely, working 349s sell for rather a lot of money, I do wonder who's using them...

PRC-344 is a backpack UHF AM transceiver for forward air control and operates on the military airband. Dont even think about it! You'd probably get away with a 349 if you were no where near an exercise, but this will get you DF'd and an Ofcom van and a scuffer jam sandwich outside your house in pretty short order!

This leaves us with the PRC-320, PRC-350, PRC-351 and -352.

Of these, perhaps the most useful and most popular, but also most expensive, is the 320. This is a HF manpack covering 2 - 30MHz in 100Hz steps, AM, CW and USB at 30W. It can be easily modified for LSB. Its only drawback is its decade switch tuning. These sets were not designed for trawling the bands! Its built in manual ATU and standard antenna wire spools and masts however make this a potent set.

Next up is the 350. Covering 36 to 56MHz at 2W FM, these are usable on 6m. They sell for low prices as they are low powered, of limited use, and use a 15V battery which is non standard. They are a bit smaller than the 351

The 351, as seen in my earlier post, covers 30 to 76.995MHz FM in 25kHz steps, 4W out. It can be used on 6m and 4m. Although heavier, its more practical than the 350 as it shares its battery options with the 320. The audio ancillaries are also all interchangeable. You will see these with a 'SURF' unit attached - dont bother unless you really want to, or your set came with one. The SURF, or Selector Unit Radio Frequency, is essentially a pre-selector. Its intended to allow two or more radios to operate in close proximity. Nice to have but not necessary for normal amateur use.

Last on the list is the 352. Giving out 20W, this is simply the 351 with an add-on amplifier block! It is not for use with the whip antennas used with the 351 though, and is for use with the various 'Ground Spike' antennas.

A word about antennas -
The 351 can use a 50cm 'battle' whip flexible antenna, or a 1.2m sectional antenna. It can also use the Ground Spike, Elevated Ground Spike, and vehicle whips. The 352 should always be used with the Ground Spike or Elevated Ground Spike.

The 320 can use a 2.4m sectional whip, or, pretty much any normal (or even abnormal) form of wire antenna - dipoles, slopers, random wires.

So there you go. As an amateur, the 320, 350, and 351/2 are useful sets. If your not an amateur, then all of them will make you a nice display of military comms kit, but theres nowhere you can legally transmit on them.

But dont let me put you off!

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