Ptarmigan radio

Contributed by Royal Signals Museum Blandford

The Handset for the Ptarmigan Single Channel Radio Access (SCRA ) Mobile Area Communications system

The forerunner of the Mobile phone designed for the British Army. Its gave inpetus to develop a civilian system.Ptarmigan was the first Digital Area Communications System which provided secure speech, telegraph and data services, to subscribers across an area of operations - (EG BAOR - Germany and Western Europe).

It used Radio Relay and Satellite technology. Its design and development gave the necessary impetus to manufacturers to use the technology to develop a civilian system, which soon outstripped the military development. The system included the Single Channel Radio Access (SCRA) vehicles, which can be seen as mobile masts and transmitters, which gave an extended area of access to subscribers. As the transmitters were housed in armoured vehicles or trucks the whole system was dynamically mobile.

It was a portable phone, which could be used on the move and could synchronize with different 'cells' in separate geographical locations. This was an Army first and the forerunner of mobile phones.

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  • 2 comments
  • 1. At 12:50 on 10 November 2010, Dave Loynes wrote:

    This photograph (actually taken by myself some 6 years ago!!) is not a photo of the Ptarmigan Mobile Phone, but merely of 3 of the phone's accessories (or Ancilliares.) On the left is the Control Keyer, and on the centre and right are the Local and Remote Intercomm. Sets, each item equipped with it's own Handset.

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  • 2. At 09:15 on 19 November 2010, Dave Loynes wrote:

    This would have been a photo of the Ptarmigan mobile phone (or SCRA Terminal, to give it it's correct name,) but it appears that one can't paste a photo into a comment!!

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