MRCA\ Gilbert Red Ball 2019 Pictures
MRCA Displays in the Howell Building.
Fridays Field Exercise HF AM/USB Pack Nets
The M151A1 served as the remote opps center at Beltsville Lake State Park
Walt K3SBC worked as Net Control along with also doing a NPOA event before the start of our operations
The MEP-025 28 Volt DC power plant for running everything onboard the mutt
I left Walt in charge at the Lake and set out down the road to operate backpack at the head of the lake. Never did find the top of the lake, just lots of Miskito's.
AAR of the event:
What was supposed to be achieved by this project?
Frequencies would include 3.57 MHz for CW, 3.885MHz AM, 5.357MHz USB, 51.0MHz FM as a coordinating frequency, 144.25MHz AM and 146.52MHz FM.
Multiple MRCA members arrive on Thursday and set up, the vendors are for the most part all set up on Thursday despite the rain earlier that day.
On Friday morning I checked out the vendors and all the stuff that was for sale at the event. Red Ball is not only a military vehicle show but also a 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 $450 range, tons of accessories and things like intercom and field telephone equipment and several items like what appeared to be a NOS PRC-47 set with transit case, accessories and generator for $1,100.00, a GRC-9 transceiver with power supply, cable and vehicle mount for $450.00 and PRC-25/77 sets in the $100 to $250 price range. There was also the usual collection of WW2 ARC-5 and related communications equipment in various states and prices along with a huge gray Navy RBB or RBC receiver that was under a table with its power supply.
This year Walt operated the GRC-106 on the mutt on 14.325 and activated Beltsville State Park as a “Parks on the Air” station from noon to around one local and completed around thirty SSB contacts including four European stations for a very successful NOPA session.
Around 1430 local 60 meters (5.357 USB) activity picked up with Walt operating the mutt the GRC-106 while I took the AN/PRC-108 and headed out for a remote location for pedestrian mobile. I drove four miles up the road to the head of the Beltsville lake and drove down a road that I thought would lead to the water but ended up somewhere in the state park that was heavily wooded. Decided to take a trail that I thought would lead to the water but only looped around in the woods and came back to the road.
Had the PRC-108 on my back with the whip antenna and a drag behind counterpoise and was able to work multiple stations on 60 meters without issue. Did notice a difference between when I was in the wood as opposed to when in an open aria as to how well people would receive and have to assume that the trees make a big difference.
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 and 146.52 The RT-246 (VRC-43) decided to fail after it got hot so lost all 51.0 operation in the mutt at that time.
When I returned from my walk with the mosquitos and before closing down operations at the mutt we QSY over to 3885 AM and operated several stations on that mode. Did not do any CW.
The Show and Tell operation went without issue with explanations of several of the displays but somehow assumed that I was skipped over and left before I had the opportunity to talk about the MAK transceiver that I brought. But that was my mistake.
What aspects of the project work?
The M151/GRC-106 set up worked great. Accomplished Parks on the Air activation, worked all HF Nets without issue including Saturdays hosting MMRCG Net using the MRCA wire antenna.
Also used URC-110 for VHF AM and FM communications from the mutt and both my backpack operations with the PRC-108 and the MAK transceiver that I brought for Show and Tell worked without issue.
What didn't work and why?
Saw a RT-524 that was “Demilled” for $200 and thought about making an offer and using the RT-246 to put it back together but by the time I got back to where it was it was gone.
I had a PRC-68 as a backup for the VRC-43 but did not realize that its batteries had died so it was useless.
And last but not least had around an S-8 local noise at the Howell building from the florescent lights from HF to VHF that resulted in difficult copy of weak signals.
This resulted in asking for relays a couple times during the MMRCG Net.
What would you change if given a second chance?
Replacement of the RT-246, or at least a repair that works all the time. Replace the disposable batteries in radios like the PRC-68 before the event.
Think about relocating the mutt for operation of the MMRCG Net prior to operation. The problems would be if locating away from everything would need to use the MEP-025 generator or perhaps locate somewhere close to one of the many electrical poles located throughout the fairgrounds? This will result in a clean received signals.
Still need assistance from a good CW operator. Walt is great for doing the voice operations but would like to be able to support CW operations from Beltsville Lake.
Noise suppression for the MEP-025, the generator has a fifty foot cable that connects it to the slave connector on the mutt. But the generator itself is so noisy (acoustic not electrical) that it is annoying. Cannot imagine that you were intended to use them in a war zone with all the noise they produce. Maybe find a more modern acoustically shelled version or something. The manual for the MEP-025 series generators spends about half of it telling how to build an in ground covered shelter so think that’s how you were supposed to solve the problem?
Thanks to MRCA and Red Ball for making this all possible. Already looking forward to next year!
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