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Author Topic: Slow lingering death of MARS.  (Read 886734 times)

Posts: 1

« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2013, 04:54:16 PM »

^^^^ Bump ^^^^

I know I'm late to the party here, but I'll offer my .02 anyway.

MARS is what first drew my interest to ham radio.  During my first WESTPAC cruise (1985) I got a Red Cross message that my grandmother in Pennsylvania had passed away.  I had to send a MARS message back home.  I didn't know what that was but I played along.  As I finished writing out the message, the radioman helping me asked if there was anything else I wanted to add.  I was just being a wise guy and I said, "Yeah, send cake rolls".  Two months later I get a large care package.  In it were 6 boxes of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls.  .....Oh, the chocolate was all melted, but we enjoyed them just the same.  Smiley

It wasn't until after that cruise that I discovered my message had been passed word for word in very short order and that they'd read my words at my grandmother's eulogy.

...Fast forward some 7 years later and I'm in a naval dental clinic where someone has left a copy of QST in the waiting room.  On the cover is an article header that got my attention, "Voices from MARS".  I put that copy of QST in my back pocket and took it home, where the dream of a new and expensive hobby took root.  I recall that day fondly.   The wife,.....not so much.   Angry
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 04:59:29 PM by KK4LOZ » Logged

Posts: 212

« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2013, 05:10:30 PM »

I belonged to Army MARS in the 70s and 80s, and even then it was yawn city. Today, it's as dead as the planet Mars.

Posts: 5

« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2013, 12:10:00 PM »

OK, I got 2 Cents worth also.....
I joined Mars to expand my understanding and HF radio uses for EMCOM. I would recommend Mars for anyone wanting to expand their HF communications knowledge. Mars uses several digital modes, and you can become proficient in their use. Mars also allows uses of digital modes and speeds that are not yet allowed on the Ham bands. I some instances Mars uses HF with digital encryption to transfer messages. Especially for supported agencies. Mars uses HF frequencies outside of the Ham bands, allowing for more usable frequencies available in the event of a major disaster event when some Ham frequencies are very crowded and congested. While it is true the advent of the internet and cell phones have circumvented some of the need for HF communications, It is also true in a major event the loss of cell and internet connections can adversely effect their use. This is when Mars operations can and does assist our supported agencies, using HF, to relay email and messages to stations many miles away that are connected to the cell and internet services.  The Mars mission has been changed from it early years, but its far from death! If you are interested, contact a Mars member and ask some questions! I think you will be somewhat surprised at our current mission objectives.

Posts: 56

« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2013, 07:37:04 PM »

Now the MARS folks seem to think they will get used when a local Governement requests them, kind of like ARES. I doubt the Military will be willing to spend money to mobilize civilian volunteers to support anything. Possibly a new organization under FEMA, or something along those lines. . .

Sorry that this sounds cynical, but the way the DOD and other D's of the Federal Government operate these days, they might be required by Congress to spend more by just contracting it out to "friends of the family".

Posts: 382

« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2013, 06:24:07 AM »

I have to agree that MARS is not needed like it was before.
I too ran phone patches from Fort Huachuca, AZ as a casual operator while stationed at the fort at a radio op and radio operator instructor. My NCOIC had something to do with the station and had me sit in at times to give the regular ops some time off. That was in the late 1960s.
It was needed and desired then and I felt useful doing what we did.
Many years later, after getting my ham ticket back from my days as a Novice, I found that the MARS station was active and I was again living in the Fort Huachuca area. I found out that a local club member was involved with the station and I went out to visit the station and found it is true in that "you cannot go home again".
Wow had things changed! It was just not the same at all other than the same building.
With improvements in communications technology on all fronts MARS and ham radio for that matter is more or less a dying breed.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2013, 07:14:51 AM by W7KKK » Logged

Posts: 90

« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2013, 06:51:06 PM »

Check out the Army MARS FaceBook page.  They are quite active and post pictures of their HQ station and operating activities.


Posts: 98

« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2013, 08:04:26 PM »

Come check us out:

Posts: 49

« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2013, 08:39:38 AM »

When I first mentioned getting licensed to my father, he immediately related going to a MARS station in Vietnam and talking to my mother. Obviously those days are past. I think MARS would be a natural pool of operators and frequencies for serious EMCOMM use, a step above the current ARES / RACES 2M clubs and their orange vested wannabes. Perhaps it needs to be transferred to FEMA and given a more current mission?


Posts: 9930

« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2013, 12:12:53 PM »

I remember making mars calls home from viet nam and korea, back in the late 1960's, and later I even passed a few messages as an air force mars guy,but now that is not necessary when you can call anyone world wide for free or next to nothing.  I remember when calling in and getting on the Goldwater net, the long distance call from arizona to your home was free because senator Barry Goldwater let MARS use his ORTS lines for free call  from mars.  Hello Ma, over..

Posts: 3

« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2014, 11:57:38 AM »

To augment a previous thread entered a few months ago (from K5DHL)...  I now have a pretty good HF setup, a couple real nice radios (one for voice, & one for digital),  a nice vertical antenna + others strung among the forest,  tuners,  linears, etc.   .....  & I am not so inclinded to re-up my MARS association.   As I see it, the MARS organization is a semi-militarized organization of mostly civilian volunteers.   My previous experience in Oklahoma seems like some in leadership ranks tend to see and treat the MARS participants as lower level enlisted folks, with mandatory direction given or "else" scenarios..... - a mechanism that doesn't work well for volunteers (i.e. ya can't treat adult volunteers like privates, something many former NCO's don't easily comprehend).   I guess it's no wonder there are very few volunteers in Oklahoma.   The mandatory time on the NETs was not so enjoyable (even when I could only receive, since I couldn't get a decend SWR during my 6 month training period) but it became just a  "putting in the time" gig, instead of a genuine enjoyable ham radio experience.... and the information exchanged was nothing more than a "social" event with lots of QRM.   In conclusion I hope the MARS mission is successful, whatever that is, or morphs into....    If I felt I could genuinely contribute to viable organization for the benefit of Americans I would re-up in a heartbeat.

Posts: 5030

« Reply #25 on: March 22, 2014, 04:00:44 PM »

Mars was once a very good thing, helped out guys overseas with phone
patches, Mars Grams, etc. Actually had a mission with the military.
Those days are over with.  No actual need for Mars now with all the
modern communications.  It is slowly, a little at the time, being dropped
by all the services.  Day may come when its needed again, but I doubt it.

I hope you are wrong... 

I do not think he is. In fact, I was interested in learning this and doing some mars about 2009, and was already hearing that it was on the way out and dying. You have things like Skype and Facetime, which soldiers can literally have teleconference in real time with a computer or smart phone.

In my area, I do not know anyone at all doing MARS. And that says a lot.

I wish it were not true, but it appears so.

Posts: 3206


« Reply #26 on: March 23, 2014, 05:22:04 AM »

What the MARS "programs" desperately need are to to become a single, MARS program with a single, command structure.  Currently, each of the three programs maintains billets for any particular function when there should be billets under a single point of control thereby eliminating a lot of waste both monetary and personnel.  A common training program can be established, again eliminating monetary and personnel waste.

Posts: 3

« Reply #27 on: April 10, 2014, 10:24:14 PM »

Unfortunately the OP is right about MARS.  About the only way MARS would be relevant again would be if there was a major world wide disaster, pretty much known as "The Big One".  Where common communication systems would fail and demand overwhelms availability.

Posts: 27


« Reply #28 on: April 15, 2014, 01:26:12 PM »

I sent a MARSGRAM to my sister from Germany when I was on my way to Desert Storm.  She never did get that.  Kinda important at the time.  Just sayin.  Epic fail!! 

You might check and you will find that there are no guarantees of delivery. All MARS members are volunteers. If you want a guarantee go use a paid message service.

73 de w8nsi/nnn0uzw jim

Posts: 446

« Reply #29 on: June 02, 2014, 05:32:06 AM »


What is wrong with MARS, the AN/PRC-148.
This is a large form factor Walkie Talkie that covers 30 MHz to 512 MHz.
It does satellite communications directly.
It does AM and FM.
The newer JTRS even does some digital waveforms.
Everyone has one.
That is what is wrong.
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