Location

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

Google Map of Saltford Brass Mill

Introduction

Notice at Saltford Brass MillThe 10th and 11th of May saw the stalwart members of the club retruning once again to Saltford Brass Mills to set up and operate GB0SBM as aprt 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.

Equipment

Station EquipmentAs 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:

  1. Icom IC 706 Mk II
  2. MFJ Versa Tuner II
  3. 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) system. This was considerably better than the vertical and was the chosen method this year.

BuddiPole AntennaOf 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.

Operation

There was some sort of traffic problem in the vicinity of Saltford on Saturday morning, but fortunately Julien 2E0JCO had the foreseight 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 layby close to the Brass Mill boundary fence.

Julien 2E0JCO operating GB0SBMDavid G7BYN operating GB0SBM

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.

Logbook

GB0SDR – South Bristol ARC (Operating from Saltford Brass Mill)
Date Time (UTC) Station Worked Band or Freq'cy Mode RST Name QTH Notes
Sent Rec'd
10/05/14 10:52 GB2AWM 7.132 LSB 59 59 Mal   Alderford Mill
10/05/14 11:37 GB2WWW 7.111 LSB 59 59 Andy Norfolk Wicklewood Windmill
10/05/14 11:46 GB0MIW 7.128 LSB 59 58 Glenn   Mynydd Illtyd Windmill
10/05/14 11:50 GB5HW 7.137 LSB 55 59 Ken   Heage Windmill
10/05/14 12:00 GB0BWM 7.140 LSB 55 59 Mike   Brill Windmill
10/05/14 12:31 GB2UW 7.143 LSB 59 59 Dave   Upminster Mill
10/05/14 13:22 GB4MW 7.149 LSB 58 59 George   Mountnessing Windmill
10/05/14 13:30 GB0BM 7.157 LSB 57 58 Brynn   Burcott Mill
10/05/14 13:48 GB5FRR 7.163 LSB 44 56 Paul   Roughton Mill
10/05/14 13:57 GB2ERW 7.165 LSB 59 59 Garry   East Runton Windmill
10/05/14 14:13 GB1WW 7.170 LSB 57 54 Colin   Wilton Windmill
10/05/14 14:41 GB2GW 7.167 LSB 59 59     Gleaston Windmill
10/05/14 15:24 GB0WMH 7.180 LSB 59 59 Tim   Windmill Hill
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 16:08 GB6CW 7.160 LSB 55 44 Rob   Cromer Windmill
10/05/14 16:27 GB2EM 7.156 LSB 57 – 59 59 Al Elstead Surrey Tower Mill
11/05/14 11:17 GW6GW/P 40m LSB 40 59   Blackwood Gelligoes Mill
11/05/14 11:43 PD4JP 7.084 LSB 58 59 Pierre Rotterdam  
11/05/14 11:53 GB0CMW 7.090 LSB 42 58   Willingham Cattells 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 13:20 GB6MW 7.119 LSB 59 59 Keith Kent Meopham Mill
11/05/14 13:53 GB2RGM 7.094 LSB 56 56 Mark   Royal Gunpowder Mill
11/05/14 13:59 GB2RMK 7.107 LSB 58 55 Dave Rolvenden Granary Windmill
11/05/14 14:55 GB1WML 7.135 LSB 48 58 Darren Dorset White Mill