Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society

Mills on the Air, 2008 - Stock Windmill

15th May 2008Updated the report by Patrick, M0XAP; Mark Sanderson, M0IEO & pictures by Brian, G3CVI.


Mills on the Air, was this year organised for Saturday, 10th & Sunday 11th of May.   Patrick, M0XAP arranged with Essex County Council for CARS to operate from the grounds of Stock Windmill as it was on top of a good hill, with good take-off in all directions and had not been worked before.

Stock Windmill Stock Windmill
Stock Windmill
Photographs by John, G8DET

There was an absolute requirement that no radio equipmnent (even hand-helds) could be used inside the Mill.   This was agreed.   Patrick organised that CARS could use the call-sign GB5SM for Stock Mill and this was duly arranged with Ofcom.

Mark Sanderson, M0IEO kindly volunteered to use his Mobile Communications Centre (caravan) and this offer was quickly taken up - thank you Mark & your Wife, Belinda.  

Report by Mark Sanderson, M0IEO.

Well, what can I say, fantastic weather and a lovely location at Stock, Essex.   We arrived at 10 oclock Saturday to a beautiful day of glorious sunshine and temperatures well into the low 80ís.   Already on site were Patrick M0XPA, Clive M0GHH and John M3NNQ who left Canvey at the same time as me but had a better sat nav that didnít try and get him there via Timbuktu.   Also waiting for us to arrive were Brian, G3CVI our Club Treasurer and several other Members.   We set about setting the caravan up and within fifteen minutes we had the kettle on and cups of tea not long after.   For those of you who know me I am a typical builder and can't function without a mug of tea in my hand!

Once the caravan was set and the awning was up we left Brian, G3CVI to set up the Club Yaesu FT 847 and Tuner while the rest of us turned our attention to the antenna system for the HF and ďm rigs.   I must at this point say a big thank you to my wife Belinda, who although not a member of our Club and having little interest in radio was only too willing to follow me to Stock Windmill and help with setting up the caravan and awning and even the antenna mast.   She really is a brick when it comes to helping.   Anyway, with the Watson W2000 co-linier on top of the mast and a pulley just below for the long wire for HF we hoisted the mast to around 35 feet and set the guy ropes.   We then set the long wire and passed the business end to Brian who worked his magic with the tuner and got the HF set up and working, by this time it was mid day and we were starting to flag a bit with the heat so it was time for another cup of tea and a 10 minute rest.

Stock Windmill
Comms Centre in position with Mark (left) & Patrick - inside is John, M3NNG.

Rest over it was time to set up the 2m station, a Yaesu FT7800 2m and 70 cms rig that I always carry in the caravan.   I checked the co-linier with my antenna analyser and discovered I had a 10db loss on the coax, this I found to be a loose connection, which was soon sorted.   It always pays to check these things.   By this time Brian was going great guns on the HF and had contacted several of the Mills in Essex and Kent along with a good number of other stations.   We finally had the 2m station on air at 12:45 hrs by which time I was ready to drop with the heat.
Stock Windmill
Inside the operating tent

Patrick took over the HF side of things when Brian left us for the day and worked tirelessly throughout the afternoon and early evening, I donít know where he was finding them but he was pulling in stations from all over Essex, Kent and the Home Counties.   We had however developed a mains line buzz on the rig from the power lines, which were around 50 feet from the antenna.   We decided to persevere until the day cooled off a bit and then make some changes to the antenna.   John, M3NNQ was working hard on the 2m station and had by this time managed to fill one page of the 2m logbook.   I can honestly say that John was in his element and had the biggest grin I have seen in a while on his face.  
Stock Windmill
John, M3NNQ operating the VHF rig in the Mobile Comms Centre.
Photograph by Mark, M0IEO

By around 16:00hrs the mains buzz on the HF rig was too much to bear so we took down the wire antenna which ran to around 50 feet long and replaced it with a wire which was around 97 feet long, we also replaced the Clubs MFJ tuner with my SGC 230 antenna coupler and hey presto, instant tune and no mains buzz.  
Stock Windmill Stock Windmill
Clive, M0GHH (left) with Patrick on the microphone   -------   Looking from outside!
Photographs by Brian, G3CVI

Once again Patrick was back up and running on 80m and was into Holland, Germany and most of the UK.   That was half an hours work well spent.   We all worked on until 19:00 hrs with regular breaks for tea, coffee and air until the owners of the house next door pointed out that we were causing some interference on their T.V. set.   Given that we were in very close proximity to their TV. antenna and we were using 100 Watts, we decided the best plan was to shut down for the night as we had had a good run for the day and we were in need of some food anyway.

Belinda had come to the rescue there as well having cooked us a sausage casserole the night before and put it in the fridge, so 40 minutes later John and I had a nice meal, which we ate alfresco in the evening sun.   The rest of the evening was spent in the awning where we made a considerable dent in the stock of beer, which I had put in the fridge that morning, now this was living.

Sunday dawned as bright and warm as Saturday had been, we were in for another hot one.   Having spent a very comfortable night in the caravan, John and I were up and about by 7:30am and within the hour were tucking into a hearty breakfast of sausage, eggs and bacon and you guessed it, more tea.   Patrick arrived on the stroke of ten and we were off again.   We kept the antenna system the same as we had it the night before but after discussing out TVI problems of the night before we decided to reduce the output power of both rigs to 20 watts.   Conditions were fair to good on the HF rig with contacts into Wales and Scotland as well as most parts of the country.   Patrick was in his element with the HF side of things so John and I manned the 2m station where the band conditions were excellent; we were working well into Hertfordshire, Surrey, Suffolk, London and Kent.   I even managed a contact with Stevenage and District ARC where I did my M3 and 2E0 licenses, they were activating Cromer windmill in the village of Walkern just north of Stevenage, I am pleased to say we were giving them a stronger signal with 20 watts then they were giving us with 50 watts!

Stock Mill opened to the public at 2pm and there was a steady flow of people came to see the Windmill and there was a good interest in our radio station as well, we even had a visit from a photographer from the local paper who took photos of the mill and our set-up. I am sorry I canít remember the name of the paper but it is the local one for Billericay.   By this time some of the Club Members, Brian & Clive had arrived and it was time to start taking down and packing up.   All in all this took about an hour and a half to complete and by 18:00 hrs we were ready to roll for home having had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend doing what I love best, Caravanning and radio.   This hobby of ours just gets better and better.

Again I have a list of thank yous to say, to Patrick for setting the whole weekend up, to Clive, Brian, and John G8DET and to everyone else who came to help with the setting up and taking down, to John M3NNQ for being the kind of mate you always wanted but never dared to hope you would find.   And to the keeper of Stock Mill for putting up with us and being so hospitable.

High points of the weekend, good company, lovely location and working radio for fun.
Low points of the weekend, there were none except having to pack up and come home but then there is only so much fun you can have, just think, its back to work tomorrow but, think of the memories I am taking with me.

Well thatís all for now but I did have an idea on the way home, does anyone fancy Churches On the Air?

Thank you for the Report, Mark.

Patrick reports that many stations were worked in Europe as well as over 25 "Mills on the Air".

A great team effort - thanks to everyone - send your QSL cards, preferably via the RSGB Bureau - or direct - see CARS Web Site Home Page for directions.  

A special Windmill QSL Card has been produced for the event which is available on request.

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