Elvaston Castle

National Radio Rally


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Joe Bell (G4PMY) first visited the Elvaston Castle National Radio Rally in 2003. With him he brought his Russian R-161A Communications Vehicle. The vehicle generated a huge interest from the outset. As it trundled onto the rally site people came from all around the site to marvel at this colossal machine.

Joe was sited behind the main reception marquee where he quickly established his camp for the weekend. As can be seen from the photograph Joe travels with everything he needs including Beds, Kitchen, Communications, etc.


The R161 is a completely self sufficient radio communications base. It carries with it everything needed for its primary role which is that of communications base during time of hostility.

It wasn't too long before Joe had got the radio side of the R161 up and running and G4PMY was on the air from the site of the Elvaston Castle National Radio Rally. On board the R161 is a fully operational and powerful HF Radio Station complete with telescopic antenna towers which can be raised from the roof of the vehicle.


Joe kindly allowed members of the Nunsfield House Amateur Radio Group to use the might of this station to operate the rally callsign GB2ECR. During the Saturday before the rally the station caused a considerable amount of interest on 40m with amateurs from all over Europe calling in. Not only were they interested in the event but also in the truck itself. Joe sat with our club members as we worked one station after another. This is simply because the complex array of radio controls are marked in Russian. Although Joe has managed to convert a considerable number of the legends over to English it is still very daunting when using the station for the first time. Some of the vast array of controls can be seen on the special GB2ECR QSL Card which can be obtained when GB2ECR is operations from the R161.

Joe and his R161 have both become firm favourites with the Nunsfield House Amateur Radio Group, organisers of the Elvaston Castle National Radio Rally, and the rally goers alike. During the rally day there was a continuous crowd around the R161 and, as can be seen from the photographs, NHARG members kept the station on air whilst Joe supervised and answered questions from the public.   Joe and his vehicles are so popular that the rally now wouldn't seem right without them.

With these facts in mind Joe is now an integral part of the rally. He joined us in 2004 and we hope that, vehicles permitting, he will be with us again at the 2005 Rally. Look out for GB2ECR on the air from the R161 during the run up to the 2005 rally on the 12th June 2005.