Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society

Mills on the Air, 2010 - Stock Windmill

18th May 2010Report by Mark Sanderson, M0IEO.


Mills on the Air, was this year organised for Saturday, 8th & Sunday 9th 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.

Unfortunately the ECC Windmill Officer died suddenly during the later part of 2009 - CARS extend their condolenses to his family and friends.

Stock Windmill
Stock Windmill
Photographs by John, G8DET taken in 2008.

There was an absolute requirement that no radio equipmnent (even hand-helds) could be used inside the Mill or aerials could be attached to any part of it.   This was agreed.   Patrick suggested that CARS should 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) again this year and this offer was quickly taken up - thank you Mark, M0IEO & John, 2E0NNQ.  

Report by Mark Sanderson, M0IEO.

We arrived at Stock Windmill at 10:00hrs in what can only be described as a spring squall, but unperturbed, set about making a camp of the caravan and setting up the awning ready to be on air by mid-day.   The awning was up in no time with the help of Patrick Xavier, M0XAP and John Blamey, 2E0NNQ and with the addition of a couple of chairs and a table was soon in fine shape for working in.   Next we turned our attention to the antenna system, we were using the standard kit for field days of a long wire antenna supported by a 40’ telescopic fibreglass pole which was also used to support the co-linier antenna for 2m and 70cms.   This we have found to be the quickest form of antenna to erect and with practice we have got the installation time down to about half an hour.

With the antennas set it was time to go on air and with Patrick working HF in the awning using a Kenwood TS480 SAT connected to an SGC 230 tuner he was calling on 80m for all he was worth while John and I set about getting the 2m radio on air.   For this we were using my Yaesu FT7800, a good basic 2m and 70cms radio, which will run all day at 50 watts.   After a quick check of the antenna on the analyser which gave a 1.1 to 1 reading it was off to a flying start.

Stock Windmill
The Communications Centre (Mark in the centre)

Contacts were hard fought for the first two hours on HF, with Patrick calling CQ until he was almost horse, it became evident that there may have been a problem somewhere in the set-up.   After a few investigations the problem was soon discovered, in our haste to set up, the antenna and earth wire had been connected to the wrong sides of the SGC unit so in effect we were transmitting into the earth system of copper pipes which Patrick had buried two years previously.   It is a testimony to the design of the SGC unit that no damage was done to either the radio or the tuner.   Once this was corrected contacts were a lot easier to come by and Patrick was soon working mills all over Essex and neighbouring counties as well as further away in Norfolk and Lincolnshire.

John was working away with the 2m station for all he was worth with contacts including Rayleigh Windmill, which was being activated by South Essex ARS, Upminster Windmill being activated by the Havering and District ARS and several other local mills in Essex and Kent.   The best 2m contact of the weekend was with the Jack and Jill Windmill just outside Brighton in Sussex with 5/9 contacts being exchanged each way.   We closed the station at 19:00hrs on Saturday evening, having had a complaint on the first year at Stock Mill we didn’t want to risk upsetting the neighbours with interference from the radio.   Patrick had left for home by this time but John and I were staying for the night with the caravan.   After a dinner of sausage casserole prepared by my wife Belinda the night before, we settled down to watch a film on TV and to make a hole in the caravan beer mountain.

On Sunday the weather was a little kinder to us with only a few showers in the morning and a dry afternoon.   Following a hearty breakfast of regimental proportions, always one of the treats of Mills on the Air weekend, the radios were set and checked and once happy that all was well we were off again.

Stock Windmill
The Poster announcing CARS in attendance

  Once again Patrick was in his element with the HF set while I got going on the 2m station.

Stock Windmill
Patrick, M0XAP in full swing

  Many of the Mill stations were the same as the day before so I set about working as many non-mill stations as I could.   As anyone who listens to 2m on a regular basis will know, this is not easy these days.   2m used to be a popular band but in the last few years seems to have fallen out of favour with many people.   I don’t know the reason for this but like most things trends come and go.   Even so a good number of stations were worked on 2m and HF with the weekend total being evenly split at about 75 contacts for both stations.   By about 16:30hrs with 80m in pretty poor shape and 2m as dead as a door nail, it was time to pack it all away for another year.

Stock Windmill
Packing up - worse job!

By 18:00 we were on the road with another successful Mills on the Air weekend under our belts.

As always there are a list of thanks to be given for a good weekend, this year the list is as long as ever so here goes,
To Patrick Xavier M0XAP for organising the weekend and being with us from start to finish.
To John Blamey 2E0NNQ for the assistance with getting there, setting up, taking down and operating the 2m station and for much of the weekend.
To James Beatwell 2E1GUA for cycling the 10 miles from Chelmsford to support us and adding to the 2m logbook.
To Jim Salmon 2E0RMI for coming and working 2m, and especially to Ann Salmon, for the tin of flap Jacks she made for the team, they were lovely.
To Bob Tokley G4MDB for coming and giving Patrick a break on the HF station.
To David Davis G3SVI and Myra Davis M0MYR who came both Saturday and Sunday and worked with us to set up and operate.
To Adrian Soane M0ABY and his wife who came from St. Albans to be with us for the day on Sunday.

Stock Windmill
Inside the Communications Centre, Mavis (left) John and Adrian enjoying the warmth and a cup of tea.

To CARS Chairman, John, G8DET who called in on 2m and then helped to gently take the station apart.

And finally, to all those who worked the HF or VHF station, your calls made the weekend worthwhile.   Special QSL Cards are available via the RSGB Bureau or Direct from: -

PO Box 112,
CM3 4DF.

Enclosing a SAE.

73 de Mark Sanderson, M0IEO.

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