About Us

About Us

REARB MEMBERSHIP

20150811_090233-1People join the Royal Engineers Association Radio Branch for various reasons.  The majority are serving or ex professional radio operators, combat signallers, wireless operators, and today CIS Operators.  Mostly they serve in the Army command and control system (C2) as Sappers – handling communications between the commanders and RE troops in the field.  For them “home” is considered to be the RE Command Support Branch (CSB) – a training centre where the Command, Control, Communications and Information Systems (C3IS) are practised and developed.

(There is a long history of signalling in the corps dating back before the start of the corps of Royal Signals during WW1.)

According to OFCOM, the UK Radio Communications Agency, Amateur Radio is often practised by professionals in the radio and electronics field as a method of self training and experimentation.  The RE have traditionally used amateur radio as a method of training in basic electronics, batteries and charging and antenna and transmission theory.  To others amateur radio is a hobby.  Forty percent of REARB members are licensed amateurs.  Of these some are field engineers or tradesmen – typical sappers who have taken up radio as a hobby and enjoy being able to develop the skills and communicate worldwide with radio (or computers) in many ways.

The branch is open to all people with an interest in radio communications and electronics who have the Royal Engineers cap badge in common.  Our branch badge is a version of the RE Badge superimposed upon the crossed flags of the British Infantry Signaller.

Being a branch of the Royal Engineers dedicated to Radio Operators, Signallers and IT People has its perks. Being a national branch of the association, face to face meetings are expensive and there is no local branch meeting space. Some members live abroad.

However we meet mostly On air i.e. by radio.
nteregsThis meeting takes place every week on Saturdays. On air is a radio term  – it means over the airwaves.  We just get on the radio and talk to each other by forming up a “net” (or network). This radio network is theoretically world-wide but this usually means we can talk to each other wherever we are and throughout the UK.  We use the frequencies here at the times listed (although this may vary). (One amateur frequency band is shared with the military and military and amateur operators can communicate with each other).

Listen In

Five or six of our members are regulars and in 2015 a net was open on Saturday morning for 52 weeks of the year.  Anyone with a shortwave receiver can listen in. (It will need to have a mode called single sideband (SSB) as opposed to AM or FM). You can find one here on the web at Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker.  If you listen, you may hear other radio amateurs joining this radio net.  It attracts listeners and invites other amateur callers to join in.

Identification
Members have “call signs” to identify us and our locations. (A call sign consist of a short series of letters and numbers to indicate the country of origin, the type of licence and the date it was issued or its purpose like this:

G or Golf = England
3 = Full Licence
R or Romeo
E or Echo

See here for more info about callsigns in the UK

Royal Engineer Amateur Radio Callsigns

The corps has its own unique call signs to identify it on amateur radio. G3RE or Golf Three Royal Engineers is used by the veterans. G3XRE is the call sign of the Command Support Branch of the Royal Engineers.  GB0REM belongs to the Corps Museum in Gillingham, Kent.

Publicity and Commemoratives
We send a post card to people who make contact with us – they need to send us a report on what they hear to earn it.  This is to confirm and to commemorate the contact and they are collectable. Here are some of the cards we have sent out.  All contacts are logged.

Occasionally we set up Royal Engineer related special event stations. These use special call signs to identify us as Royal Engineers and these usually have a special theme such as an event in the corps history. In the last few years we publicised the corps involvement with Chatham and the centenary of the REA by contacting hundreds of other radio amateurs using the call sign GB100REA and GB200REC. Here are the cards we sent out.  With a list of operators and If you follow the links you can also see the log.  Here are some cards we got back.

Virtual Meetings
Being forward thinking we are also emailing each other regularly about branch matters and use Skype and we have a reasonably new presence of Facebook and Twitter. We are developing this so we can have a digital life.

Meetings
A single annual general meeting is held in Chatham each year during the corps memorial weekend – although this usually attracts committee only.

Posted in Radio Operating | Leave a comment

Bulletin: 28th August 2016

REA South East Group RE 300 Celebrations at Brompton Barracks

Arrangements for Branch Members only.

As previously notified, the above celebratory party at RSME costs £8 per head.  If you wish this branch to add you to its list of attenders, then please follow these instructions:

Email members at (@) reasignals.net with the names of members and guests and the vehicle reg, make and colour of the car you will be travelling in.

Simultaneously forward any money to the branch account using the instructions in our admin section  (under the official matters menu) making clear reference to your name and including the reference RE300SEPty.  i.e. FBloggsRE300SEPty

No registrations will be accepted after 16th September.

The treasurer will forward a collective payment to RSME with a list of attendees by NLT 19th September.

 

Posted in Bulletins, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bulletin: 14th August 2016

Medal_for_service_in_electronic_warfare_troopsElectronic Warfare – BBC says No Change despite advances in Battlefield Communications

Following training by the RE and R Signals in electronic warfare during the cold war and watching the draw down of NATO forces following the end of it, I was interested to see this recent article in respect of Russian Technological Advances by the BBC.  This basically states that Ukrainian forces were easily defeated by the deployment of search, intercept, location and jamming during the recent conflict.  The article suggests this should serve as a wake up call to the current NATO deployments in Europe, who are trained to react and respond to a different form of enemy.

SILAR JID

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bulletin: 11th July 2016

Neil Bernard Scales Ben Nevis for Dementia Sufferers

Neil Bernard has now completed his sponsored climb raising over £1000 for the Alzheimer’s Society on Saturday 9th July.  His training and the event were publicised via FACEBOOK so if you missed it, and still wish to contribute here is the URL

Well done Neil.

 

Posted in Bulletins, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bulletin: 20th June 2016

On Net

REA Radio Branch in Joint Military Communications Exercise

air cadetsBesides the regular Saturday net this weekend I made a late decision to take part in exercise BLUE HAM with the UK Air Cadets.  This took place on Saturday and Sunday 18th and 19th June 2016, as part of their 75th anniversary commemoration.  The aim of the exercise was to test the cadets ability to communicate using HF radio on a band of frequencies, shared with radio amateurs.  The exercise was nationwide and competitive.

The aim of activating G3RE was to show support for this, have fun and see what I could learn.

Choose your weapons….

2016-06-20 17.46.49 For the day I chose to use the UK\PRC320 and on low power, (5 watts) if it would work.  I reasoned this would be a better test of operating skill both ways.  I knew the approach would have two chances.  Either it would work OK if shortwave radio conditions were good, or communications would be very difficult.  As it happens,  my own schedule was limited to a quick test on Saturday, late in the day.  Also two sessions on Sunday morning (interspersed with shopping at the station commanders request.)

Results for G3RE

  • Radio Conditions:  Not optimal.  The prediction chart was showing the maximum usable frequency for short range communications was depressed, somewhere below five megahertz at the time of day.  This prediction was checked out by listening to the band for stations at various ranges and it appeared true.  See receiving below.
  • Transmitting;  Of the three stations contacted, MRE80, MRE68 and MRE43  – 2 were worked on 5 watts and the last on 100w.
  • Receiving;  On the heard list were two stations in Scotland, MRE24 and MRE25 who seemed to be a touch louder than the nearer contacts which was consistent conditions.  The average power available to cadets ranged from 30W to 100W.
  • Station Organisation:  I had opted to use a more difficult option rather than use a lot of power or a more sensitive radio set, one with a rotary tuning knob and digital display for example.
    The easy option

    An easier option

    If you are familiar with the PRC320 you will know how difficult it is to tune across a range of frequencies and locate a signal.  (After a few minutes your fingers will probably be sore and bleeding.  (I exaggerate :).As it was, the cadet stations were spread across the entire band.  I concede – the easy option would probably have increased my chances of more contacts, however to counter the problem of sore fingers, as an aid, I used a spotting receiver, the Software Defined internet Radio located at Hack Green in Cheshire. This also helped me to overcome local noise which has a deafening effect on my radio.

    To report locations, both cadets and amateurs used the amateur maidenhead locator system  (or QTH Locator) to send a grid reference.  On the web I found a very interesting digital map to help me to decipher and pinpoint the stations I heard.  So I also used that, as well as the usual websites, an aid.

Summary of Activity

For a potential total of 99 cadet stations I sensed cadet participation was quite low compared to what it could have been.  I could only see a few stations active at any one time by reading the exercise website.  G3RE was just one of a fair number of amateur stations on the air, and the data from their combined results – published here will make an interesting snapshot of the Five megs amateur band at the time.

The exercise web site made imaginative use of mapping to display locations and data to provide a running score but I felt this was one aspect that had more potential.

Overall this brief period of activity was a bit of fun and I learnt some lessons, especially about log keeping, spur of the moment decisions, station organisation, raising the standard of my receiver and putting up more power.

I am sure the Air Cadets and amateurs involved enjoyed it.  My effort didn’t win any certificates, but my final comment is that contacts with military radio stations are quite rare these days, probably due to a move to UHF secure communications.

G3RE remains open for communications exercises on 5Mhz for both amateur and military training.

Thanks to the air cadets for the opportunity.  If this exercise runs again I would be happy to participate for the duration.

73 de Stu

Posted in Radio Operating, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bulletin: 4th June 2016

afdEvents in June

Just to remind you there are several Events Related to the Corps 300th Anniversary this month and its Armed Forces Day – celebrated in various events across the country this month.  A selection of these are listed in the branch calendar.  Did you know you can download this to your smartphone or computer?

On Net.  

For the active radio operators, the morning net this morning was exceptionally clear on two seperate HF Frequencies.  An archive of radio net activity is now available Here.

Looks like the weather is turning fine and our guests this morning are the Gravesend Branch who are here to discuss electronic publishing.

Best Wishes, (73)

Secretary,  Radio Branch

Posted in Bulletins | Leave a comment

Bulletin: 24th May 2016

MOD Publishes Annual Population Survey of UK Armed Forces Veterans Residing in Great Britain

REA HQ have advised the above mentioned document is located at their website

Acting REA controller Lt Col (retd) Neil Jordan summarised the document as follows:

Key Points

  • There were an estimated 2.6 million UK Armed Forces veterans residing in households across Great Britain (GB) in 2014.
  • UK Armed Forces veterans residing in GB were predominantly male with over 50% aged 75 or older. This was expected given that National Service ran from 1939 to 1960 and, at certain times, stated that males of specific ages were required to serve.
  • The South East and South West of England were estimated to contain the highest number of UK Armed Forces veterans equating to 28.6% of the veteran population residing in GB.
  • Across UK Armed Forces veterans and non-veterans residing in GB there were no differences in the types of long term health conditions, with the most prevalent long-term health conditions being musculoskeletal and cardiovascular and respiratory problems. There were no differences in the health conditions reported by the working age (16-64) veterans, when compared to the standardised non-veteran population; however a significantly higher percentage of retirement age (65+) veterans (44.9%) reported conditions relating to legs and feet, when compared to the non-veteran population (33.9%). This may partly be due to the physical activities veterans would have partaken in whilst in Service.
  • There were no notable differences in the employment status of working age UK Armed Forces veterans residing in GB when compared to non-veterans with 75.3% of veterans employed compared to 78.3% of the standardised non-veteran population.

 

 

Posted in Bulletins, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Bulletin: 12th March 2016

RE300LogoREA Calendar of Events Updated

As its the RE 300 celebration this year and in view of so many RE Regiments stationed in UK its never been a better time to plan a catch up with old comrades. In view of this and to help you plan your trip, a downloadable calendar is available here.  It includes links to maps of the main RE 300 venues.

 

 

Posted in Bulletins, Events, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Register for the REA Chilwell Weekend and RE300 Open Day 10th – 12th June 2016

sapper300The RSM of 170 Engr Group is planning a fantastic weekend at Chilwell in Nottingham from 10th to 12th June. Full details and a programme for the weekend are available here.

Branch Members should register in advance for accommodation and meals which are available at a very reasonable price in camp. Local hotels are recommended for accompanying families.  A registration form is available from the branch secretary and needs to be returned by 21st April 2016 to be included.

Posted in Bulletins | Leave a comment

In Memory of Spike Bernard RIP

sketch1452116247139 (2)REspects

Spikes family have informed the branch of an Online Memorial where you can leave your personal respects.

Exploits

Also from Neil Bernard is a copy of a newspaper article relating to his exploit in 1970 where he organised medical supplies across the iron curtain for a polish lady in distress.

Follow Neil Bernard on Facebook where he is raising funds for the Altzhiemer Society.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bulletin: 16th January 2016

oosSpike Bernard G4AKQ remembered on the Airwaves

A small group of amateur radio enthusiasts who regularly met with Spike G4AKQ when  transmitting from his radio shack in Gillingham – gathered on the international short waves this morning to pay their respects to him and his wife Dora Bernard RIP.  A short article describing the funeral was read out over the radio.

Listen here to the radio net.  (the reading starts at 10 mins 50 seconds into the recording). Read it here together with an article from Kentonline.

From the Service

As a founder of the REA Radio Branch and a keen professional and amateur radio operator Spikes life in our community was highlighted during the service together with his military history and his achievements in the NHS as a Dementia Champion.  The order of service proudly bore his photograph as well as the branch badge he designed.

With the branch standard in the backdrop, together with that of the Southampton and Medway Branches of the REA on parade alongside our Standard Bearer Tom Milne, about a hundred people lined the avenue as he drew up to the church, many of his comrades wore the veterans uniform – corps head dress, insignia and medals to show their respects.  The radio branch was well represented at the funeral and two branch members acted as pall bearers and escorted the family, while a small contingent of members were present in the congregation.

Radio Exploits

The service was conducted by a personal friend, padre Steve Spencer and during the service he related a particular story from the cold war era.  Spike answered a radio call for help after hearing an amateur radio transmission from Poland about a young woman in difficulty during pregnancy.  She and the unborn child were in danger and needed drugs which weren’t available behind the iron curtain. Spike relayed the message to various agencies who located the drugs and then delivered them to a border checkpoint on the Inner German Border to be handed over to the East German authorities for onward transmission. The outcome was never recorded.  (His action is quite remarkable given the high degree of security, the official secrets act and various restrictions around amateur radio during the period.  It was a mark of his skill and compassion that he carried it off – ed.)

Read a  transcription of the service here.

In among the tributes laid out in remembrance, were photographs of spike operating his radio stations DL5XW and club station DL5YQ.  He also operated under many calls from various locations as can be seen here

A VETERANS HOPE

I hope there’s a place way up in the sky,
Where veterans can go, when they have to die.
A place where a guy can buy a cold beer,
For a friend and comrade, whose memory is dear.

A place where no doctor or lawyer can tread,
Nor a veteran affairs type would ere be caught dead.
Just a quaint little place, kind of dark, a little smoke
Where they like to sing and have a good joke.

The kind of place where a lady could go,
And feel safe and protected by the men she would know.

There must be a place where old vets go,
When their pain is finished and their walk gets slow.
Where the cognac is old and once again we are young,
And songs about war and comrades are sung.

Where you see all the fellows you have known before and,
They call out your name, as you come through the door.
Who would buy you a drink, if your thirst should be bad,
And say to the others “He was quite a good lad”.

Then through the mist, you spot an old guy,
You have not seen in years and you realize the past has gone by.
He would nod his head, and grin from ear to ear,
And say “Welcome buddy, I’m pleased that your here”.

“For this is the place where veterans come,
When their journey is over and the war has been won.
They have come here to be happy and get a good rest,
This is heaven, my son…you’ve passed your last test.”

(Poem Anonymous) – reproduced with permission Paul Finnis who read it during the service.

Branch Matters
A proposal that the branch make a contribution to Dementia UK in Lieu of any flowers was made by Tom G4CMG and voted at a committee review during the Christmas break.  Personal contributions in memory of Spike can be made at the link above.

Radio Conditions Today
The 80 meter amateur band supported good communications with a little interference off to one side of the frequency making for relatively good reception from the remote receiver at Hack Green, Nantwich in Cheshire where the recording above was made.

The remainder of the the net was dedicated to engineering communications and a study of the propagation which was typical for the time of day and year on two frequencies.

Skype

It is proposed Skype is used as an engineering channel for the Radio Nets and tomg4cmg is the Skype Name of Tom G4CMG who is coordinating that.

Digital Smart Technology for Amateur Radio – D-STAR

A number of branch members are now equipping with D-STAR.

How D-Star works.  As a computerised service the call sign and various other details of transmissions are registered in a worldwide database (on the the web) so that stations can be located automatically and linked to, wherever they are in the D-Star network.  Instead of being transmitted using the old analogue frequency modulation (FM), the voice is digitised and sent in data packets containing information about the sender and receiver as well as the voice information.  Text is transmitted simultaneously.  Apps can be used to send text and pictures.  The global DSTAR network facilitates worldwide communications using radios or computers.

Radio Nets (two way conversations between 2 or more radio stations) are conducted around various remote repeater sites (aka) gateways.  Once formed, a net may operate around the gateway locally, or a user can link to another gateway across the internet.  Alternatively he or she may choose to communicate via computer servers known as reflector sites.  Direct communications are also being made on various amateur bands including Short wave.

Several Branch members are known to have D-STAR and the club station G3RE will operate on D-STAR eventually.

When it is ready the branch will publish its details.  At the moment Reflector DCS005 has been suggested but equally the international reflector REF001C is a good starting point.

In the mean time you can locate various branch members in the network and work directly.  At the time of writing G4IYK is listening on his local repeater GB7OK in Bromley, Kent.  G6TGO is active as well as G6XRE.

NB.  D-Star is one of  three digital networks being constructed by radio amateurs.

40 Meter Band

Proposals have also been made to form a lunchtime net on 40m.  Most regular Net Operators are now equipped for PSK31.

 

73 and Best Wishes,

Stu – G4IYK

Posted in Branch Matters, Bulletins | Leave a comment