Saturday, 13 August 2016

Clansman Manpacks for Amateur Use - Part 6

Ok, we're nearly done! So far in this little series ive talked about which of the Clansman manpack radios are usable for amateur radio, and what you need to make one workable for you, such as the audio anciliaries and the antenna systems. In this second to last article, i'll briefly mention a few items which whilst not essential, will make your life a little easier!

Charging

Probably the very first thing your going to want to do is charge your battery! Now, im not going to profess any great expertise here! Myself, I use a Turnigy Accucel-8 intellegent charger, but thats because it can cope with my Lithium Polymer battery as well as all the others, so is a sensible move for me.

There are a number of standard Clansman chargers, of which the most common is the DCCU. Unfortunately, the 14v version of this is somewhat harder to come by than the 28v version! Whichever you get, you will need to connect it to a suitable DC PSU (which is why the 14v is best for us, as most hams wil have a high current 13.8V PSU!). You will also need a battery charging cable, which plugs in to the DCCU and then into the four pin socket on the battery.

Direct Current Charging Unit (DCCU)
There are adaptor plates and the like also available for the DCCU, but really just the cable is  enough, unless your equiping a small army.

There are some other chargers out there, intended for mains or vehicle use. If you have a bit more money to play with and like to have your batteries looked after a bit better, there is the IBMU (intellegent Battery Management Unit). This will take up considerably more shelf space though!

IBMU
But, what happens when your out in the 'field' and your battery runs low? Well, if your normal you pack up and go home, or put on a spare battery. If your a total masochist, you might fancy spending a few hours turning the knob on one of these

Hand Charger
The hand charger clips on to the PRC-351/352, 319 and 320, between the radio and the battery, and allows the battery to be charged by hand. As nice as it is to have one of these to complete your collection, I really would not recommend trying to seriously charge a battery with one!

As well as the DCCU charger cable, a battery extension cable is also worth having. Originally intended to allow the battery to be kept inside clothing to keep it warm, these make connecting power a bit easier, especially during service and repair. You can of course cut it and add connectors for other batteries or power supplies. They are available for the 24v battery and the 15v battery used on the PRC-350.


Frames, Straps, Bergans

So youve charged your battery and are ready to head off up a hill with your PRC-320 or PRC-352 and play radio. You cant help but have noticed its bloody heavy! What you now need is something to make carrying these sets easier.

The traditional way of carrying the PRC-320 or the 351/352 is via a nice solid, heavy steel frame! The Frame, GS, and the Plate, Adapter, are needed for this (if you get a GS frame, make sure you get the adapter plate and the straps!), which has various captive bolts to screw the radios on to the frame with. The frame also has cable clips for the coaxial patch lead between the PRC-351 and the 20W amp.
GS frame and adapter plate

There is also a 'lightweight' frame available, only its not! (lightweight!) and is considered not as comfortable as the GS. It has one advantage, its design makes standing the radio upright a little easier

'Lightweight' frame
Both are horrible to carry really. But there is a much nicer way to carry your radio - the Bergan. This is a nice DPM (Disruptive Pattern Material, i.e. camo) ripstop nylon carrying pack of the Soldier '95 Pattern clothing series. Internally, there is a long slot to house a whip antenna, and various straps for the different radio configurations (conveniently the straps are marked with which radios they are used with). Externally, the two padded adjustable shoulder straps are complemented by a waist belt, there is a large pocket for ancilieries or a spare battery. There are also various straps and zips that allow additional pouches, commonly known by the Toms as 'rocket packs' to be attached, into which you can cram all the rest of the kit you need.

Radio Bergan (open)
The author, with PRC-320 in radio bergan, and 95 pattern smock
If you have a PRC-350, you will need a pair of carrying straps for this, which are unique to that radio. But, it will also strap into the Bergan.

And thats pretty much it. You now have all thats needed to carry and use these great green radios. Thats not to say there are not other bits of the Clansman range you might like to get, which can make using them a bit easier or more fun. There are audio extension cables out there which are useful, and the CRS/LR box allows the PRC-320 to be used with a remote handset, for example. .

CRS/LR Interface Box


Morse Keys

If your a CW operator, a morse key will be required! The desk keys seem to be harder to come by than the leg keys, which whilst they can be used on the bench, are intended to be strapped to the operators thigh.
Thigh strap key
Bench/Vehicle key
 
I'll try and add a better pic of the leg key later. I myself dont have a vehicle key, but I do have a leg key or three! (the one above, a sealed Racal type, and a beautiful WW2 McMurdo aviation thigh key)


Where To Buy?

Maybe you have been reading this but dont yet have a green radio, and are wondering where to get one?

These days of course, ebay seems to be the main market place. As with anything on ebay, you will find good and bad sellers, and a lot that are mediochre. I will not mention any that I consider bad or just lacklustre, but will advise that you read the feedback of anyone you consider buying from. This is sensible whatever you are buying! Likewise, there are sellers online. Another great way to find them, and accessories, is at ham radio rallies - look for the car boot and junk box sales!

I will mention here a few sellers who ive dealt with and had exceptional experiences with -

LRSeries-Surplus -  On ebay and online. Deals mainly in Landrover spares, but has great deals on Clansman. Dom is a nice chap who ive met in person. http://www.lrseries.com/

PTS Norfolk - Exceptional range of Clansman parts, many small items that you wouldnt think would be available at good prices. http://www.ptsnorfolk.co.uk/100820/info.php?p=4  Trades as gten98.

Army Radio Sales - Ive not had direct experience of these, but I include them to give them a plug, since ive been nicking their photos! http://armyradio.com/Clansman-Radios/

2012mdlradios - Occasional ebay seller, real nice chap, will go out of his way for you!  (thats not a link im afraid, but search on ebay for him)


The sellers above will kit you out! Incidentally, if you are one of the above sellers, feel free to, ahem, 'reward' my promotion of your business! Theres still some odd bits im looking for...

My remaining kit wishlist

Standalone Loudspeaker and connecting cable
CRS/LR box and connecting cable
Audio extension cable
PRC-350 battery extension
PRC-350 carry straps
Hand Charger
Bench/vehicle Morse Key
JAMCAT unit to CES
couple of chassis mount 7-pin audio sockets
Handset pouch


Feel free to just drop any of the above into a box and ship to me!  ;-)

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