MRCA\ Gilbert  Red Ball 2018 Pictures


The sales grounds.




Equipment and set up at Beltsville Lake field operation, I ran portable while Walt operated the MUTT

After Action Report of the event:

What was supposed to be achieved by this project?

The MRCA annual Gilbert event in cooperation with Red Ball Military Vehicle Collectors event was this past weekend. The event was scheduled for Friday the 21st and Saturday the 22nd.

This event included setting up several exhibits of military radio equipment in the Howell building, a frequency measurement contest and several field exercises.

 Friday’s field exercise was planned for field and Man pack portables in and around the Beltsville Lake State park, Saturdays was more an informal event to take place at the Gilbert Fair grounds.

 Personally I had additional plans for operating the M&S Net on 60 meters on Thursday, operating all bands at Beltsville Lake on Friday and operation of the MMRCG Net of 40 meters on Saturday.

What was actually achieved?

 I arrived early Thursday morning and set up the crew tent that I would be staying in while at the event, unloaded the truck at the Howell building of the pack radios I was intending to use that weekend and unloaded the M151A1 mutt. Set up the mutt with both a 60 meter inverted V antenna and the onboard vertical antenna in advance of the M&S Net at noon. This year I also ran a separate MEP-025 DC generator during long periods of transmission to avoid having to run the mutts engine. Successfully logged into the net using the inverted V antenna and the AN/GRC-106 onboard the mutt and on the second go around switched between the inverted V and the onboard vertical antenna and notice around maybe a 10 Db. difference between the two favoring the inverted V but all stations were still able to copy.

As the day went on more of the MRCA members trickled into the site and started setting up the base stations for 51.0 and the HF base.

On Friday morning I spent much time looking at the vendors and all the stuff that was for sale at the event. The Red Ball event itself is not only a military vehicle show but also a equal size if not larger military equipment sale and swap fest. A number of military radios were for sale that included VRC-12 family of radios in the $200 to $400 range, tons of accessories and things like intercom and field telephone equipment and several items like GRR-5 receivers along with aircraft equipment like BC-348 receivers between $100 to complete with rack and dynamotor unmodified for $350 The only item I bought was a T-18 DC panel that was from a B-36 and was used to monitor the status of the batteries in the Nuclear weapons. Nice conversation item!

Around noon Walt (KB3SBC) and I loaded up the mutt and did the fifteen mile trip between Gilbert to Beltsville and set up the mutt in advance of the days nets. The goal as recommended by Mr. Starks (KB0SFP) was to operate using only the vertical antennas on the mutt. We did as his recommendation add an additional MS-118 to extend the vertical to 21ft as opposed to its original 17ft and we also put up the AS-2851Log Periodic for 51.0 back to the MRCA Base at Gilbert.

After unloading the mutt, setting up the antennas, ground rod and connecting the MEP-025 generator to the mutt via the slave connector we were ready for the day’s operations. The first net was at 1400 local on 60 meters (5.357 USB) and I decided to leave Walt in the mutt to run the net on the GRC-106 while I took the AN/PRC-108 and headed out “pedestrian mobile” and being that the PRC-108 was a radio designed for use by the USCG I walked a thousand feet or so away and set up on the floating boat dock on Beltsville lake. We had a number of stations that participated in that net with an attached list at the end of the document. Just using the seven foot whip on the PRC-108 and sitting right at the floating dock maybe thirty feet from shore I was able to copy all stations and be copied by all stations.

We used 51.0 FM to coordinate most of the stations located on or around Beltsville Lake and in addition also had a 144.225 link directly across the lake to the boat launch on that side. At the conclusion of the 60 meter net there was much discussion on if or what would happen with the 3.875 LSB Net being many of the stations were USB or AM only. Think two or three stations did contacts on that mode but we were just limited to AM/USB.

Around 1530 the 3.875 AM net was established, 3.885 had traffic so it was decided to migrate to 3.875. Once again Walt (KB3SBC) on the GRC-106 was net control and the list of stations will be attached. Being my PRC-108 is rock bound and only had 3.885 I was unable to participate but once again from the stations active it appeared that everyone was able to work without issues, although we did have a GRC-9 that never got up on the air in time. There was also a CW net at 1600 hours at 3.570 but being my CW skills are sadly lacking and I did not bring a CW key for use in the mutt we did not participate. The final net was at 1630 local on 51.0 FM and this time I used my PRC-68, the VRC-12 set up in the mutt served as net control. We did make a effort to set up a huge antenna to connect back to the base at Gilbert but unfortunately were not able to get anyone to man that position. Once again a list is attached.

After the day’s events a bunch of us gathered at the Boat ramp lot to help pack up the mutt and also some mutt driving around the parking lot, boat ramps and access road occurred.

On Saturday back at Gilbert drove the mutt to the far end of the vendor sale section. All the sale spaces were not occupied so plenty of space was available at the far end of the fairgrounds to park the mutt and drive in a ground rod. Just using the twenty one foot vertical and the GRC-106 was able to check into the MMRCG Net on 7.296 USB without issue. Copied most stations and according to reports was not an issue with the remote stations copying me. Did not use the generator being was only doing one net so everything was powered by the mutts batteries during operation. Did do some operation of the VRC-12 with a couple people on 51.0 and although there was activity on that channel during the event we did not do an organized net on Saturday.

One of my goals was to also operate on ten meters and did do a short QSO on 29.1 FM back at the Howell building using the Russian R-107 field pack.

 What aspects of the project work?

 Before the event I put together a list of “Mission Objectives” that included operating primarily on just the vertical antennas onboard the mutt, operation on 40, 60 and 80 meters USB including the two off site nets (M&S and MMRCG) and local operations on all of the above including 51.0 FM, 144.225 AM and 29.1 FM and was successful on every one, 29.1 may be questionable being it was just one way. All of the equipment worked and aside from me dropping and breaking a handset on the PRC-68 had no technical issues.

 What didn't work and why?

The LSB Net on Saturday was beyond my technical abilities, and I do not see any point in the future where I would be modifying or changing out the GRC-106 for a radio with LSB being the majority of Mill Radio operations that I take part in are USB/AM. In not having a CW key onboard that precluded participation in the CW net. The Man pack – portable net for 51.0 or 29.1/.4 never developed, perhaps because as soon as the MMRCG net was concluded it appeared that many wanted to start packing up and departing. By one or two in the afternoon almost everyone was gone.

 What would you change if given a second chance?

Bring a CW key for the GRC-106, although my CW skills are lacking there are others who are proficient. Indeed there are any number of individuals who can perform the Net control, general radio operations and CW way beyond my capabilities and this is one of the events that we can all take advantage of others strengths and capabilities. Thanks again to Walt for doing net control.

Would be great to get more portable and man pack radios out in the field, we did have a large number this year but always can use more spread further apart. The ideal case would be assorted size and class of portable stations spread all the way up and down the Lehi Valley being that this is one of those rare places where you have plenty of locations to set up and work from. Future ideas may be a HF and VHF network that have to work not only up and down the gorge but across the surrounding mountains?

Don’t know what the solution is to the Saturday local net at the event, maybe some way of getting people to stay longer? One of the reasons that Joe W4VAG did not respond later in the MMRCG net was that the radio he was using got packed up before the net ended.


Friday Field Nets, KB3SBC was Net Control

5357 USB Net @ 1400 hours local.

KW1I    WA4VAG    KK1K    KD2GFN     N3FRQ    KA3EKH    KA2GON    WD8INC    WB2JWU    KA3TIN    NN2K    W1NZR    KD3HT


 3875 AM/USB Net @ 1530 hours local.

KW1I    WA4VAG    KK1K    KD2GFN    WD8INC    KA1JHN


 51.0 FM Net @1630 hours local.

KW1I    WA4VAG    KK1K    KD2GFN    N3FRQ    KA3EKH    KA2GON    KA3TIN    NN2K    KA2JHN    W1NZR




Thanks to MRCA and Red Ball  for making this all possible. Already looking forward to next year!



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Oct 18