Military PRC Radios for Amateur Use

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KD2MND

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Dec 21, 2016
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Eastern Long Island, NY
Does anyone on here use military radios for amateur purposes? I recently obtained a PRC-77 from the Vietnam years and an older PRC-10 from the Korean War, and both have FM capabilities on the 6 meter amateur band. The power output of these portable manpack radios is only between 1-4 watts, so I'm curious to know how others use these radios efficiently- whether it be high gain antennas, linear amplifiers, etc. Share your thoughts.
 

M1009

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South East WI
I have been using various Military radios for a few years now and have found a couple of different ways to reach out with some of them. I have a PRC77 Back-pack radio that I have used as a portable with limited line of sight transmit range. You can run a AM-4477 Range booster with the radio for slightly better range.

I have an AM-2060 mount for my PRC77 vehicle mount in the M1009, I use the large automatically adjusted AS-1729 antenna / base. Keep in mind that I can not have this antenna vertical when driving down the road, it measures 14' 5" tall from the ground to the tip. This will allow to reach out much better than when I use the back pack radio antennas.

I also have a PRC-119 back pack radio that I also set up with a MT-6576 with MX-10862 vehicle mount. This set up has a MT-6353 mount with an AM-7238 RF amplifier and will reach out quite well. The truck mounted AS-3900 antenna that measures 13' 5" tall from the ground to the tip, again I don't drive down the road with this antenna vertical.

I don't have pictures of the set up on this PC but can upload something later if needed
 

prcguy

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So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
I use all sorts of modern military radios every day for amateur use on HF, 6m, 2m, 220 and 440 bands. I have used my Tokyo-Hy Power HL-50B 50w 80 through 6m amplifier with a PRC-77, PRC-68B, PRC-126, PRC-128 on 6m and it worked great.

The main problem with the PRC-77 series is you really need to talk with other similar radios that have 150Hz tone squelch, otherwise you have to run it open squelch. The most common amateur/collector frequency for these is 51.0Mhz and in effect a PRC-77 is a single channel radio for 51.0MHz because there is really no other place you can use it.

I also have several military amps that will take 1 to 5w in over the 30 to 520MHz range and amplifiy to the 20 to 75w range depending on the model. There are lots of these amps on Epay if you know what to look for. For antennas I sometimes use amateur types and I have some 9ft tall Shakespeare 30-512MHz vehicle versions for some of the wide band mil radios here.

Tonight I just got back from a road trip to the ARRL "Quartzfest" in Quartzsite, AZ and used one of my mil radios during the entire trip on 2m into a 20w military amp with a Larsen 5/8 2m whip which also works great on 6m.
prcguy
 
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SCPD

QRT
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Virginia
We had several PRC-128 transceivers at work for several years....their origins a mystery...
.
Depending on the module, they could be swapped High Band or Low Band VHF. Ours were Low band and cover'd 30-88 Mhz.
.
They were an ease to programme; they were used with their handset telephones. Several lab-made sets of rechargable battery packs made it easy to use them as a portables, but this radio has that 150 Hz tone for military squelch's. Annoying to other non PRC's. It could be turned off on transmitting by pressing and holding the squelch button (??- its been awhile- I have forgotten which switch it was)- or in our case, switching to Wide Band receive minimized the tone received at non 150 Hz units. These 128's receive squelchs, in our cases, didn't seem to be activated (?), or maybe the receivers were not configured for it-- because they would receive any signal- simple carrier operated.
They were neat units, with the metal flexi-antennas, and they were Solid! We used them officially on 39, 40 Mhz--though the truth be told, they were tried all over the entire 30-88 Mhz range --with equal performances..... They had a non-line of sight range of several miles.
.
But that 150 Hz tone was a major pain. In the end they were excess'd and passed on to who-knows where.
.
I did park one on my desk for a short portion of a summer, on 51.000 Mhz, hoping to hear something.... but Nada.... :)
.
.........................................CF
 

prcguy

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So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
The entire PRC-68 series including the PRC-68, A, B, PRC-126 and PRC-128 were noise squelch on receive and there is an internal squelch adjustment pot.

The PRC-68B is the most useful of the series with 2.5KHz frequency increments where the 126 was 25KHz and I believe the 128 was 12.5KHz increments. That didn't matter much on VHF low where the channel spacing is 25KHz but if you put in the VHF hi band module the large increments were almost useless.

My best contact between a PRC-128 and a PRC-68B with stock antennas was about 60mi from a tall mountain in So Cal and I suspect we could have done further.
prcguy



We had several PRC-128 transceivers at work for several years....their origins a mystery...
.
Depending on the module, they could be swapped High Band or Low Band VHF. Ours were Low band and cover'd 30-88 Mhz.
.
They were an ease to programme; they were used with their handset telephones. Several lab-made sets of rechargable battery packs made it easy to use them as a portables, but this radio has that 150 Hz tone for military squelch's. Annoying to other non PRC's. It could be turned off on transmitting by pressing and holding the squelch button (??- its been awhile- I have forgotten which switch it was)- or in our case, switching to Wide Band receive minimized the tone received at non 150 Hz units. These 128's receive squelchs, in our cases, didn't seem to be activated (?), or maybe the receivers were not configured for it-- because they would receive any signal- simple carrier operated.
They were neat units, with the metal flexi-antennas, and they were Solid! We used them officially on 39, 40 Mhz--though the truth be told, they were tried all over the entire 30-88 Mhz range --with equal performances..... They had a non-line of sight range of several miles.
.
But that 150 Hz tone was a major pain. In the end they were excess'd and passed on to who-knows where.
.
I did park one on my desk for a short portion of a summer, on 51.000 Mhz, hoping to hear something.... but Nada.... :)
.
.........................................CF
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
65,126
Location
Virginia
Thanks for the information, PRC.....
.
We never looked into the spec's on these radio- sort of "ham hand'd" (Pun intended.. :) ) our way with getting them to operate-- and it seem'd to work.
.
We did *Cook* one, as I remember. They were very unforgiving as to their battery supply voltage. As I recall, one of the constructed battery packs was several volts over the regular military pack's. ....Literally the 4th of July occurred on that lab bench-- or so I was told,--- as to the reason I had to write a 'Cannibalized Unit" report.
.
I think we were able to talk 128 to 128 from a line-of sigh distance in excess of 50 miles... but that was line of sight. I did hear, and that is hear, once- a ham call CQ on 52.525-- he was a Six in California-- summer E-Skip... no contact,... but I tried. :)
.
Neat radio, the PRC-128
.
..................................CF
 

mm

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Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
616
Not really a PRC model but I have a Wulfsberg RT5000 helicopter transceiver that does the 150 hz Mil tone and in addition it does various modulation bandwidths that lets this radio communicate with mil radios without issues.

This radio covers 29.7 to 960 MHz, the only complaint is that it doesn't do the 29 -29.7 MHz 10 meter ham band but other wise it talks to the PRC's that cover 29.7 to 88 and above 137 MHz just fine so it's a nice radio.


My neighbor has several American, NATO, Soviet and Chinese mil radios that he frequently uses on 6 meters, 2 meters and even one converted AM 220 MHz portable modified to do the ham bands which he uses to talk to my Wulfsberg and even to my numerous Motorola low band radios without any big issues.


My neighbor uses one of his 6 meter capable PRC's to talk to Arizona and California hams frequently on 51 MHz during summer e's season openings while I'm doing the same with my MT1000, 99 channel Motorola HT's.
 
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