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Reviews Categories | Transmitters: Commercial/Military/Marine adaptable to ham use | PRC-104 HF Manpack Help


Reviews Summary for PRC-104 HF Manpack
PRC-104 HF Manpack Reviews: 1 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Description: Hughes 25watt 2-29.999Mhz SSB/CW manpack

One of the more current HF Manpacks used by the US military. Only recently being phased out for newer radios like the PRC-138. Also made by Tadiran under Hughes license for a follow-on USMC contract.

Also known as the "Improved High Frequency Radio" (IHFR).

Later variants include PRC-104A & B.
Product is not in production.
More info: http://www.pacificsites.com/~brooke/PRC104.shtml
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You can write your own review of the PRC-104 HF Manpack.

KM4BA Rating: 5/5 Mar 2, 2007 15:55 Send this review to a friend
One of the best military HF manpacks available  Time owned: more than 12 months
The PRC-104 is one of my favorite radios I own. It's a 25-30 watt HF Manpack with integral auto-tuner made by Hughes and Tadiran. These radios are fairly current and are just now being phased out for newer radios. Most were used with various special forces. Given where my unit was surplussed and it's evidence of many amphibious ops, it's most likely it served with the SEALS.

While I now also have smaller/lighter radios like the VX-1210 to use portable, the PRC-104 is still more fun to operate, and I plan to keep mine indefinitely!

PRC-104's run from $1500-2700 when available, and tend to sell very quickly, typically by word of mouth.

The PRC-104 is a very easy rig to operate, largely just set the frequency, and go. Audio tones let you know the state of the antenna tuner, etc. Likewise, "clicking" indicates state of charge (below 20v).

One downside is no memories, which some paramilitary radios like the PRC-1099 have. But it's fast & easy to change frequencies, and can be done in the dark with no problems if you know your starting point. I really do not find the lack of vfo/memories a problem the way I operate portable.

Receiver- The AGC is very aggressive, and sometimes it can make you think the radio is "clicking" when you unkey and there is a strong signal present. But the receiver is quite "hot", and it's reasonably selective, though not a contest rig.

After using modern DSP rigs, you do realize how much the DSP reduces static levels. On a whim I hooked up a $10 Radio Shack DSP/Speaker using the data cable, and it worked great. For demo's it's quite handy. I'll be modifying the RS DSP to take 28v, and will rig up some type of cable to feed it from the radio's battery.

Transmit audio is quite punchy, and there is normally quite a bit of compression. You may have to try several handsets, and Mark KI0PF rates the H-250 as middle of the pack for TX audio. I have swapped between a few, and have 1-2 that get good reports. I also use my favorite H-161 headset for serious operating.

The PRC-104 is a bit wider than many of the common manpacks. It was designed for the ALICE Pack, and was issued with one. While the Alice pack works and is cheap, I have found some other alternatives I prefer.

The PRC-104 is ideal for usage with modes like PSK and Pactor, as it is setup already for data. Just throw the switch, and you bypass compression and AGC for use with fsk. I use mine for portable Pactor3 with airmail, and it works like a champ!

The PRC-104's are quite rugged, and the only work I have had to do involved corrosion from military service in/near sea-water. The radio is completely gasketed, so inside mine was fine. But the audio connectors & knobs were very corroded, and the faceplate was starting to show corrosion where the paint had worn. When a decade switch became finicky, I looked for some help.

Jim KA8TUR fixed me up with a new circuit board, connectors, and knobs. I disassembled the faceplate, cleaned up the corrosion on the faceplate itself, and repainted with the correct 34052 paint. (Mine was in the Marine green colors). It made all the difference in the world, and the radio operates great with the newer decade switches and knobs.

Some people have pointed out the PRC-104 used many now hard to find IC's which may make it difficult to repair. This is offset by the fact that the PRC-104 has proved to be a very reliable set, with the main issue typically being mechanical wear after a decade of hard military usage with special forces. Unlike many of the other modern HF manpacks which need tweaking/repair to be usable even when new, all the 104's I know of in private hands have largely been problem free.

There are many excellent sites with history and specification about the radios. Two good ones to get started are:

Brooke Clarke N6CGE is a very comprehensive site on military radios and accessories, including the PRC-104 & family

DH4PY's GreenRadio-


My experiences and photos can be seen at: < http://www.pinztrek.com/radio/PRC-104>
 


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