Mills QSL Card

Introduction

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 (WGS84 Geoid): 51.401318°N, 2.451439°W
  • OSGR: ST 68692 67018 (6 figure ST686670)
  • IARU: IO81sj
  • WAB: ST66 – England
  • IOTA: EU005 (UK Mainland)
  • What 3 Words: ///unravel.transmits.rely (Operating Post Entrance)
  • What 3 Words: ///haggis.bibs.explored (Parking)

Location

Operation

Equipment Used

  • Nissei DPS300GL power supply,
  • Yaesu FT991 HF/6m/2m/70cm multi-mode transceiver,
  • MFJ 993 auto atu,
  • 80m flexweave doublet fed with 450Ω ladder line supported at the feedpoint by a MFJ-1908H 13m telescopic mast,
  • Acer Aspire 8942 laptop running PyQSO under Debian Bullseye with the MATE Desktop,
  • Behringer XENYX 302USB audio mixer, and
  • Logitech external powered speakers.

Saturday 13 May 2023

With spring very truly sprung and the promise of good weather we were, once again, on our way to Saltford Brassmill. Good weather is important at this location, we have little or no cover in the outside Mill grounds. For once the team arrived more or less at the same time, Andy G7KNA was just ahead of Mark M0SKV and Greg 2W1BUF and started by transferring equipment from the car to the site before moving away to park further from the Mill beyond the residents parking zone that now exists.

Mark M0SKV operating GB0SBM with Greg 2W1BUF logging

The 3 members of SBARC set about assembling the hardware and erecting the antenna. For an odd reason we felt that the site had changed since our last visit. Maybe it was the placement of the centre support pole for the inverted-vee antenna or perhaps things really had changed but we found ourselves tying off to a tree at the southern end of the site which we don’t recall having to do in previous years. The antenna was set up running nominally North – South which should have given us favourable propagation to the East and West.

Our location this year was in what we consider to be the best position within the Mill grounds, at the front of the site and directly adjacent to the main path from the road to the Mill entrance allowing us to be seen both by those walking past the site and those entering the site. This location has the added advantage of leaving the “groundskeepers” compound accessible to the Mill volunteers who were busy tending to the grounds.

Mark M0SKV operating GB0SBM

With the station setup we proceeded to get on air, and; oh dear! What had happened to the propagation? There was hardly anything to be heard on any of the regular bands: 20m, 40m or 80m and a large proportion of our “CQ” calls went unanswered. To say that operating was a struggle would be an understatement, we managed to contact 3 mills within the UK and worked into England, Belgium, the Netherlands and Wales.

Despite the poor band conditions we were visited by some members who either hadn’t been to a Special Event with us before or hadn’t been seen at a Special Event for a number of years. Ken G4XCB came to lend moral support, advice and general bonhomie, the lesser spotted Peter G0DRX came to join us and was able to offer advice concerning Dan 2E0IGS‘s QRP rig that he brought along for evaluation. However, Sunday was to bring out an even lesser spotted member, so read on…

Mark M0SKV operating GB0SBM with Greg 2W1BUF logging observers (left to right): Ken G4XCB (seated), Peter G0DRX and Dan 2E0IGS

We spoke with our good friends Dave G7BYN and Matt G7FBD from North Bristol ARC (see our article on our support for their Flight 777 Special Event here) by phone but even with an agreed frequency we were unable to have a successful 2 way QSO.

We did try a few experiments or tests. We were interested in obtaining an audio recording of one or more QSOs. We had established that our Behringer XENYX 302USB audio mixer could be plugged into the Club laptop and it would be recognised as an audio device; this allowed the received audio to be recorded using Audacity (quite possibly the best cross-platform Open Source general purpose audio editing software available) after suitable specification of the input source. However, obtaining the transmit audio was, at least initially, not so straightforward and we were considering all sorts of complicated arrangements of separate recordings, multi-tracking etc. As it turned out, one of our team hit upon the idea of simply activating the “monitor” function which provides output of the transmit audio. Initial tests were encouraging, and had we had more QSOs we might possibly have moved this further forward. Initially there were issues with RF causing clipping of the monitor audio but a makeshift ferrite seemed to indicate that this could be dealt with, setting the relative levels of the received and transmit audio was going to to need a bit more work but the signs were encouraging and we would continue these experiments on Sunday.

We closed it all down around 15:00 BST about an hour earlier than we would normally expect to, the Mill volunteers were quite happy with that as after a busy day they were hoping to shut a bit early. Except that they had a party of about 6 arrive at 15:00 just when they were thinking of closing!

Sunday 14 May 2023

Sunday dawned with similar weather to the Saturday, Mark M0SKV and Andy G7KNA independently made their way to Saltford from their respective QTHs, once again at more or less the same time. Chatting over GB3BS on the way there Andy offered to get coffee and croissants from a nearby garage to make a civilised start to the day, an offer that was welcomed by Mark and reciprocated his organisation of coffee for the larger team on the Saturday.

The team included Ken G4XCB and our lesser spotted Treasurer Chris 2E0TBS making his first appearance at a Special Event in a very large number of years, we think it could be as long as 11 years since his last recorded appearance at a Special Event (Railways on the Air 2012), but there is some photographic evidence that has was also at VHF Field Day in 2013 (briefly before scuttling off to Clutton to operate from there).

Mark M0SKV operating GB0SBM with Chris 2E0TBS logging

The propagation was as dire as it had been on the preceding day, and only 2 further QSO’s were added to the very meagre log. These were both into Ireland, one to southern Ireland (Eire) and the other to Northern Ireland.

Downtime (left to right) Chris 2E0TBS, Ken G4XCB, visiting amateur and Mark M0SKV (facing away from the camera)

We made further progress with the recording of QSO’s, adding a more permanent ferrite to the USB audio lead from the mixer to the laptop but we still have to get a better level balance, something we will persevere with at Lighthouses (our next event is VHF Field Day but recordings of this aren’t representative of normal QSO’s). Robin G3TKF came along for a visit as did another couple of people who were unconnected with the Club, but with the dire propagation we did what all Radio Hams do and retired to the pub for a chat!

Location of Participating Mills Worked

Log for Mills on the Air 2023

Date (UTC) Time (UTC) Stn Worked Band or Freq’cy Mode RST Name QTH Gridsquare Notes
Sent Rec'd
13/05/2023 10:25 GB4CM 40m SSB 59 59 Ron Combe Mill – https://www.combemill.co.uk/ IO91HT29 Banbury Amateur Radio Society G0BRA http://www.banburyares.co.uk/
13/05/2023 10:51 GB2FM 40m SSB 58 59 Hamish Fulbourn Windmill – http://fulbournwindmill.org.uk/ JO02CE Cambridge and District Amateur Radio Club G2XV cdarc.org.uk
13/05/2023 11:01 GB0TWM 40m SSB 58 59 Colin John Webbs Windmill – www.thaxted.co.uk/index.php/tourism/places-to-visit/the-windmill JO01EW Harlow and District ARS G6UT www.g6ut.com
13/05/2023 11:14 GB0HM 40m SSB 59 59 Liam      
13/05/2023 11:41 M6NER 40m SSB 56         Fallen back into the noise before end of QSO
13/05/2023 11:47 PI4WZN/P 40m SSB 57     SE Netherlands    
13/05/2023 11:48 PD5S 40m SSB 59 59   South East Netherlands    
13/05/2023 12:11 GB0HM 40m SSB 59 59 Sue Hull    
13/05/2023 12:17 PH1IM 40m SSB 58 59   Netherlands    
13/05/2023 12:19 ON9CBD 40m SSB            
13/05/2023 12:58 GW4GMY 40m SSB 59 59 Martin Welshpool    
13/05/2023 13:00 G4CMP 40m SSB 59 59 Pat Liverpool    
13/05/2023 13:04 G0GWY 40m SSB 59 59 Geoff North Lincolnshire    
13/05/2023 13:07 G4OCU 40m SSB 58 58   RAF Cranwell Lincolnshire    
13/05/2023 13:11 M0ZEM 40m SSB 47   Bob Co Durham    
13/05/2023 13:14 PA6MM 40m SSB       De Middelmolen – see QRZ.com PA6MM JO21JU VERON A12 PI4VAD PI4VAD https://www.pi4vad.nl/
13/05/2023 13:20 OT2023EPIC 40m SSB 59 59        
14/05/2023 10:58 EI2EIM 40m SSB 58   Daniel      
14/05/2023 11:54 MI0AIH 40m SSB 59 59 David      

Those “Pesky” RSL’s

The Regional Secondary Locators (RSLs) are letters altered or added to an individual or club amateur radio callsign to denote which part of the United Kingdom the station is operating from, the map and table below indicate the principles:

Location Foundation Callsigns Intermediate Callsigns Full Callsigns Club Callsigns Special Event Callsigns
England M#☐☐☐ 2E#☐☐☐ G#☐☐☐
M#☐☐☐
GX#☐☐☐
MX#☐☐☐
GB#☐☐☐

Typically Special Event Callsigns are of the form GB + 1 Number (0-9) and 3 letters.
However, Special Special Event Callsigns can have 1, 2, 3 or even 4 letters after 1, 2 or even 3 digits following the “GB” prefix depending on:
1. Ofcoms disposition,
2. Who you ask,
3. Who you know, and
4. How much “clout” you can bring to bear.

Guernsey MU#☐☐☐ 2U#☐☐☐ GU#☐☐☐
MU#☐☐☐
GP#☐☐☐
MP#☐☐☐
Isle of Man MD#☐☐☐ 2D#☐☐☐ GD#☐☐☐
MD#☐☐☐
GT#☐☐☐
MT#☐☐☐
Jersey MJ#☐☐☐ 2J#☐☐☐ GJ#☐☐☐
MJ#☐☐☐
GH#☐☐☐
MH#☐☐☐
Northern Ireland MI#☐☐☐ 2I#☐☐☐ GI#☐☐☐
MI#☐☐☐
GN#☐☐☐
MN#☐☐☐
Scotland MM#☐☐☐ 2M#☐☐☐ GM#☐☐☐
MM#☐☐☐
GS#☐☐☐
MS#☐☐☐
Wales MW#☐☐☐ 2W#☐☐☐ GW#☐☐☐
MW#☐☐☐
GC#☐☐☐
MC#☐☐☐

Map of RSL's

We have long harboured the ambition to work all RSL’s on a single Special Event or contest but have yet to manage this (although we have come close on a few occasions). We didn’t manage it again this time either, but we live in hope!

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