Saltford Brass Mill is situated on the banks of the River Avon in the village of Saltford, 5 miles west of the City of Bath in the South West of England. Its postal address is Saltford Brassmill, The Shallows, Saltford, BS31 3EY . However, there are some specific details that will be of interest to radio hams:
- Lat/Long (Brassmill): 51.401219°,-2.451116° – label "S" on map
- Lat/Long (Operating Position): 51.401754°,-2.451437° – label "O" on map
- IARU: IO81sj
- IOTA: EU005 (UK Mainland)
- WAB: ST66 – England
The 10th and 11th of May saw the stalwart members of the club returning once again to Saltford Brass Mills to set up and operate GB0SBM as part of the Annual Mills on the Air event.
The Mill is tucked away in a side street of Saltford and not perhaps the most obvious place to get to. If you are interested in visiting please use this link to jump to a "live" Google Map which will assist you with route planning.
Sadly the Brass Mill is currently undergoing restoration to repair the damaged roof and public access is not permitted. In fact we haven't worked from inside the Mill in all of the operations the club has put on.
It is understood that the Mill contains 2 of the original 4 water wheels although these are no longer harnessed to the Brass Mill equipment. However, a dynamo is harnessed and can be powered by the wheels and it is our ambition that one year we will be able to use this as the power source for the station. We feel it will be something special to be able to report to those stations we work, be they other mills or individuals, that the station power is being provided directly by the Mill we are representing.
As in previous years we elected to go with the "Keep It Simple" philosophy. Knowing that we would be operating on battery from the back of a van our equipment comprised:
- Icom IC 706 Mk II
- MFJ Versa Tuner II
- External speaker
Our antenna selection will be discussed in more detail shortly but although we had hoped to be able to avoid the use of an ATU we found that the chosen BuddiPole was just too short to be resonant on 40m necessitating the use of the ATU.
In past operations we have usually employed a vertical antenna. The basic characteristics of a vertical antenna are its low angle of radiation resulting in good DX performance. However, water mills are, by definition, situated alongside watercourses which, again by definition, are usually situated in valleys. Unless the valley is particularly wide the upshot of this is that most of the low angle radiation is shot directly into the valley sides and does little in the way of effective propagation. Last year saw us start playing with a horizontal antenna set low (compared to the operating wavelength) to the ground resulting in a much more NVIS (Near Vertical Incidence Skywave) propagation. This was considerably better than the vertical and was the chosen method this year.
Of course the choice of which particular horizontal or inverted vee to employ still left a myriad of possibilities available to us. However, the lack of supports and the need to avoid trailing feeders across sections of the verge where the public regularly walk meant that we were looking at some sort of self supporting antenna and the BuddiPole system seemed to fit the bill.
Strangely, despite the manufacturers claims, we found that the BuddiPole was about 100mm too short on 40m to be resonant. Not sure why this should be but the addition of an ATU rectified the situation and allowed operation to commence.
There was some sort of traffic problem in the vicinity of Saltford on Saturday morning, but fortunately Julien 2E0JCO had the foresight to get out early enough to either avoid the resulting congestion or have sufficient time in hand that the congestion didn’t stop him arriving early enough to secure our favoured operating spot in the lay-by close to the Brass Mill boundary fence.
After being joined by David G7BYN and setting up the team was augmented by Andy G7KNA and Eddy 2E0LJT. We began by searching out other Mills operations. The log shows that although we were late on air as a result of the traffic problems, and the first QSO wasn’t logged until 10:52 local time, within 3 hours and 5 minutes we had secured the requisite 10 mills stations to qualify our operation. We went on to work a total of 27 stations over the weekend of which 24 were mills of one description or another.
Best DX for the weekend was probably the Dutch operations that take a big part in Mills on the Air, they are after all blessed with a large number of Windmills making this event something of a magnet for them.
Sundays operation saw a sadly reduced team with only Dave G7BYN and Julien 2E0JCO turning up. Andy G7KNA was there in spirit, being elsewhere taking part in a SOTA activation in Newbury and working GB0SBM from Walbury Hill on the Sunday.
GB0SDR – South Bristol ARC (Operating from Saltford Brass Mill)
|Date||Time (UTC)||Station Worked||Band or Freq'cy||Mode||RST||Name||QTH||Notes|
|10/05/14||11:46||GB0MIW||7.128||LSB||59||58||Glenn||Mynydd Illtyd Windmill|
|10/05/14||13:57||GB2ERW||7.165||LSB||59||59||Garry||East Runton Windmill|
|10/05/14||15:45||GB0HPM||7.191||LSB||59||59||Tom||Holton Post Mill|
|10/05/14||15:51||EI2NCR/P||7.188||LSB||55||59||Ben||20 miles north of Dublin IO63wn||Windmill|
|10/05/14||16:27||GB2EM||7.156||LSB||57 – 59||59||Al||Elstead Surrey||Tower Mill|
|11/05/14||12:01||PH14MILL||7.096||LSB||56||59||Jon||De Hoop JO21bt|
|11/05/14||12:10||G7KNA/P||7.058||LSB||32||32||Andy||Newbury||SOTA G/SE-001 Walbury Hill|
|11/05/14||13:01||GB4JHM||7.110||LSB||31||52||Ian||Biggleswade||Jordans Holme Mill|
|11/05/14||13:53||GB2RGM||7.094||LSB||56||56||Mark||Royal Gunpowder Mill|