PRC 77, PRC 320 Use in Sota

Hi, everyone. I am a sponsor teacher for a School Ham Club that wants to try SOTA. We have two military surplus radios that are fully operational and CW equipped. I was wondering if anyone has tried using military radios for activations? I carried one in the service and will be carrying it again until we can get other equipment later- but worried about distance and 6m band.
Any advice will be appreciated.

I humped a PRiCk-77 a few times in my USMC daze! :wink: Not a fun radio to operate. 6 meters would be the only U.S. ham band it would work on, and at 50khz steps too boot! When, and that’s a big when, six is open, you’ll work the world, or at least a lot of stateside stations :wink: 52.525 is the FM hangout, but don’t recall the PRC-77 covering that freq due to the 50khz steps. I could be wrong - going off of memory here, it’s been several years since I last saw, nor wanted to see another PRC-77 HI HI…The PRC-320 is/was a Brit radio iffen I recall correctly. Covered HF SSB and CW. That would be your bet. Never saw one nor had the chance to use it. We had the PRC-104 back in my time in…
Do you guys have any 2M FM gear? If you’re close enough to a populated area, I’d start off with 2M simplex until you can get a newer more modern HF rig to use. Used FT817 would be a great radio to show/demonstrate for a school outing. Have fun and good luck!

73, Todd KH2TJ

I have a PRC 320 and have used it for SOTA, they are brilliant rigs. The only downsides for Ham use are that a) because they have frequency selector knobs rather than a dial it is difficult to scan the band and b) unless you do the modification they only do USB not LSB and so are not usable below 10MHz on the Ham bands. I’ve done the mod on mine and it works well. Do also remember that on USB the frequency readout is offset 2kHz.

73, Colin G8TMV

Except on 5 MHz!

Ive used my PRC-320 on various SOTAs, so long as you can handle the weight then they are fine!

I would suggest that if using radios of this weight, then doing so in a team is best, that way the radio carrier doesnt have to haul anything else - the rest of their kit being distributed between the other team members.

I have a full collection of UK-PRC Clansman radios. The -349 is not of any amateur use (wasnt much military use either!). The -320 is the HF set, the -350 and -351 are the only usable VHF FM sets. The -351 I think is similar to the PRC-77 and very heavy when compared with what modern radios can do! The -350 is a 2W FM set that just manages to cover 6m in 25kHz steps. I ‘might’ take mine up GW/NW-001 Snowdon this coming Thursday!

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Thanks for the update! This is a school club radio, so many hands make light work!
Good luck with Snowdon! We got such a good deal with the 351, it seems a shame not to use it.

Hi Todd,
Thanks for the info, You are right about it, quite a beast at times. We have some cheap Baofung 2m handhelds that we will start to use with some homemade yagis.
We will start the search for a better radio!
Thanks for your help!

Hi Don,

Don’t discount using the ex military radios in portable mode in a sports arena or better still a park. There are park operating awards similar to SOTA and these may be more suitable for introducing outdoors radio to a group. Make it a field day and throw in a fox hunt.

Good luck.


Thanks for the advise, I’ll look up those park operating information for our club
Thanks for your help!
73 don

I’ve carried the PRC-320 up a summit along with the clansman fibreglass mast, dipole and the full bag of ancillary bits and pieces. Heavy but do-able, especially if you have help to carry all the ancillaries.
The nice thing with the PRC-320 is that you have a little more oomph at high power (30W) which can really help with SSB. Obviously these radios are terrible for ‘tuning around’ but for a SOTA summit where you find a clear frequency and stay put they are perfect!
Enjoy it…

Michael (G0POT)

Hi Michael,
Thanks for the advice! we can establish small base camps to get everyone on and logged. So that’s great!

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Well, I wont now be taking the PRC-350 up Snowdon! Just tested it to check its working and discovered ive not modified it to remove the 150Hz tone control. So at the moment its not compatible with ham radios!

My other option would be the 351, but at the moment thats configured in the PRC-352 setup with amp and SURF unit - would be a complete strip down of the system needed that I dont have time to do. Besides, the PRC-351 is heavier!

Martin, perhaps there are enough people interested that you could organise a “Green Radio” event where activators and chasers use ex-military radios? Maybe with sections for solid-state and valved sets or a weight category.

I think that is great! It would give my students that “Iron man” factor to help lug one up the hills and dales