May 14, 2010

Heron Corn Mill (Mills on the air weekend)

Hello Folks,

Its nearly two weeks since (Sands Contest Group) took part in Mills on the air weekend from Heron Corn Mill, Beetham in South Cumbria, and what a great weekend it was.

The work for this event stated on Friday 7th May when a working party was assembled to put the antenna's up and with the exception of a strong breeze Wx conditions were excellent.

The antenna's used:

Hughie G4UME and Frank G8BME worked as a team to build the mast and (Nest of Dipoles for 80m 40m) and all the team got together to pull the mast up and secure it with guy ropes. Once the antennas were raised and the coaxial cable fed into the barn, the SWR was found to be the best we have ever managed. A Job well done!

The Coaxial cable was fed through an arrow slot located quite high on the side of the barn, that in itself conjurers up all sorts history as the barn was obviously intended to be defended no doubt against the Scots. The Coax was cunningly kept out of reach by feeding it over the barns wooden beams.

40m 80m mast

The Spiderbeam
Whilst Hughie and Frank were sorting the antenna for 80m & 40m out, Kev and Ian started work putting the Spiderbeam together with help from Martin M0ZIF as needed.

Left to right Ian G0VGS, Kev G6FKE, Martin M0ZIF putting the spiderbeam together.

It was good to have Gary M0RGB with us for the afternoon and he wasted no time in getting to work hammering some of the stakes for the spiderbeam into the ground. We later learned that it was a good job these stakes went in at an angle because there was only between 3 and 4ft of soil before we hit the solid rock roof of the cave used to stream water for the fish pass.

Gary M0RGB

Because of the lack of space were spoiled with at Oysterber Farm, the spider beam had to be moved into the car park area of the site so that the sections of the mast could be extended and locked off and guide ropes fitted ready for the spiderbeam to be pulled up vertical. This is no easy task because although the beam is light gravity works against us and maintaining a delicate balance to stop the mast bending too much is crucial. On our first attempt to raise the spiderbeam we narrowly avoided disaster as a section of the mast started to bend badly, however our second attempt was successful.

You can clearly see the strain the mast is put under in these two photographs.

Erecting the spiderbeam involves close team with members using the guy ropes to apply or slacken tension to bring the mast as vertical as possible.

This picture shows Damien holding the mast steady once it was vertical to prevent it slipping whilst the rest of the team were tying the guy ropes off under the direction of Ian

Once the spiderbeam was safely up the area was taped off to prevent people walking into the guyed area's.

It was now time to move our attention to the stations we would be running over the weekend.

Station One
Our DX station was located on the top floor of the mill and consisted of:

Spiderbeam to cover any DX activity from Heron Corn Mill mainly on 20m but 15m and 10m were available to us if needed. Other equipment included the Elecraft K3 Transceiver, Ranger 811 Linear amplifier, and audio was provided by the trusty Heil Headset with a HC-5 Insert.

Band conditions were poor over the weekend an although we had operators dedicating their time very few stations were worked.

However visitors to the Mill showed interest in what was being done. Our callsign for the event was GB4HCM.

Graham and Martin can be seen operating the 20m station.

Here's Steve G1TLQ advertising the corporate image.

Station 2

Our second station was located in the barn and consisted of a TS-2000 fed by the nest of dipoles on Saturday, the station switched to the K3 and Linear on Sunday because 80m and 40m were the better bands.

Our secret weapon for the special event station was Ian's XYL Linda who started the weekends activities and contributed greatly throughout the weekend with her sense of humour and excellent radio operating procedures.

Linda G0YLM with Ian Logging contacts.

Damien G0LLG is operating here with Ian logging for him.

It was great to see the welcome return of Chris (in the blue shirt) G4LDS who has not been able to to join us for many months due to illness.

I had to include this picture of Damien having a chuckle at something that's amused him.... I don't know what it was but you just want to join in with him and have a chuckle yourself.

Training Display
Along with the radio stations we also had some displays that were popular. When not on the radio Kev and Ian looked after a training display "How to Become a Radio Amateur" The stand had both literature and construction examples on it for people to see, and they were able to advise members of the public about course in Cumbria and surrounding area's.

Ian produced a really good 30 minute DVD of our activities since the group was formed that was projected onto a large screen and ran on a loop throughout the event.

Themed Vintage Military Radio Display.
There was also a display of radio used by Bletchley Park and the Y stations during WWII. The display also covered the work of the SOE and their radio operators which included a replica code hanky and I was able to demonstrate how it was used to encode and decode messages for radio operators.

Brian G0RDH

A fully restored HRO

A fully restored Halicrafter SkyChampion S-20 identical to one stored in the original Station X water tower. This set had a very short production run of just over a year with introductory adverts appear in 1938 after which the more common version of the SkyChampion S20R was produced replacing the large band dial with a dial housed in a casing covering an illuminated dial. A good site to visit to see information on the SkyChampion S20 is another good site where you can see a restoration project on the S-20R is

A working RCA AR88 supplied to us and the Russian's as part of the Lend Lease agreement.

Again it was good to have Amateur visitors to the event with Barrie G1JYB Stephany G1LAT and Martin M0LCY seen talking to Linda G0YLM and Ian G0VGS. Bob G1OCK has been good to help us out with Transport over the event and it was good to see Bob G3VVT for a short time.

Group Photograph sadly missing Hughie G4UME and Andrew G0LWU who played a large part in the success of the weekend.

Finally just a few pictures of the new Turbine housing and Turbine.

The Turbine Housing building and Sluice in the final stages of construction.

The top part of the turbine.

The Turbine Drive Shaft

The Turbine house and Heron Horn Mill. The turbine is due to be commissioned in the very near future. For more information please visit Heron Corn Mills website where you will find video links and loads of information on the mill and its history.

Sands contest group had a fantastic weekend at the mill and our thanks go out to all the staff who looked after us for the weekend..... We've been invited back for next years (Mills on the air weekend) and are looking forward to another great event.