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.

 

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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

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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

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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

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Bulletin: 4th January 2016

Maurice Bernard (RIP) seen here second right at the 2005 AGM

Maurice Bernard (RIP) seen here second right at the 2005 AGM

Branch President Maurice Bernard, BEM – RIP

Sadly Spike Bernard passed away on 17th December 2015 after a long fight with cancer.

He will be remembered at a service in the garrison church of St Barbara in Brompton on 15th January.

In the interim the radio branch is being managed by the chairman and secretary until the next AGM.

Welcome new Members

The branch welcomes Bill Williams who joined us in December 2015.

Seasons Greetings!

The branch would like to take the opportunity to wish its friends and members, and all their families a happy and prosperous new year in 2016.

 

Best Wishes

 

 

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Bulletin: 24th October 2015

tomminRadio Branch Standard on Parade – EOD 75th Anniversary Service

The branch Standard was paraded by Tom Milne at St Paul’s Cathedral on 22nd October at a service to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Bomb Disposal.  (The link takes you to the International Business Times website which carries a good account of the event which was attended by HRH Prince Harry).  The standard will be on parade again on Monday 26th October at a service to mark the launch of the poppy campaign.

G3RE – Call Sign of the Royal Engineers Association Radio Branch Renewed

The branch has recently renewed its licence for the club callsign G3RE.  (Golf Three Romeo Echo)

The licence is a full club licence which allows branch members who hold amateur licences to operate the branch radio station.  Full licence holders can operate the radio station unsupervised.  Members who use, or are planning to use the station call sign are referred to the terms and conditions of the Amateur Radio Club Licence issued by OFCOM in the UK.  Members can apply to use the station via the form here – usually for a month at a time.  The current operator is displayed here.

On Net

On net this week the discussion is about widening the frequencies and modes used on our radio nets and two life member certificates are awarded for services rendered.  A Technical discussion about preparing to use digital modes such as PSK 31 takes place.

Member George Penman lets us know he is listening to the net via hack green while he recuperates from a recent illness.  (Get well soon George).

Congratulations to Dave Barker and Derek Watts G3XWD new Life Members

Both Derek and Dave have been awarded life membership of the radio branch and the branch is in the process of issuing a new life member certificates – to be designed by Tom Milne.  The award comes after being nominated by the branch treasurer and seconded by the secretary in a unanimous vote held on the air.  The award is for services rendered.  A vote of thanks to Dave and Derek has been recorded.

In other news, Branch funds received a boost this month after two very generous donations.

Review of frequencies and modes used on Amateur Radio Nets

Operating Schedules, Timings and Frequencies are in the process of being updated to include digital activity and providing a presence on the 40 meter amateur band – mid week on Tuesdays and Wednesday Evenings.  This is in addition to the Saturday morning net.  Unfortunately the 40m band does not usually support voice SSB, at short range, in the evenings.  Up until now difficulty has been experienced establishing a voice net due to strong interference from more distant stations.  It is hoped by using what are known as weak signal modes in internationally protected spot frequencies, this will lead to a successful radio net and more contacts.  The use of the forty meter band is thought to be essential for branch members, some of whom cannot operate with any power on the lower frequencies.

PSK31 (a text mode) has been chosen for the new frequency.  The frequencies in use so far are the standard 7.040 Mhz and 3.580 Mhz frequencies.  Members are currently testing out the mode and upgrading their equipment and have partially commenced operating for 30 minutes from 7PM on the 40m frequency and 7:15 on 80m if nothing heard (local times).  Both Tuesdays and Wednesdays evenings are being tried  It will be quite easy to find members transmitting on PSK31 as their call signs and any text transmitted will be displayed on the computer screen as they transmit.  Additionally when operating PSK31 the data gathered by individual users about stations heard and contacted by individual stations can be displayed on a map here.

 

73 de Stu, G4IYK

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