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A few of us attended an impromptu get-together up at Jack & Jill windmills today, to celebrate Mills Weekend.

This wasn't an MSARS event, but several Mid Sussex members showed up including myself (obviously), Adrian M0TCD and wife Sue 2E0ZYL, Mike G8KMP and Chris M7VJE. It was great to see all of you, and thanks for lending your support to Mills on the Air, and indeed the Custodians of Jill Mill itself (herself?) who also showed a keen interest in our activities. I appreciated it personally too.

Adrian was set-up and ready to go at around 7:30am apparently, which is the middle of the night in my household. I was a bit behind in my organisation and casually rolled up at around 10:15am, whereupon I came across Adrian and Mike in the car park. Sue was busy hitting up a few stations on 40m, and had already clocked up several QSOs including a couple or three mills.

It was a beautiful sunny morning, and the wind was a mere breeze - perfect conditions. Adrian had his Hustler 6BTV superbly well dug-in on the westerly-facing front edge of the public car park, with its super-solid looking steel drive-on tilt-over baseplate pinned into the ground and with full double-height guy-wire support. Proper belt and braces, and it looked majestically SpaceX-like!

That little nubbin strapped to the 10m trap at the bottom is a bolt-on for 15m apparently?! I need to ask Ken about this, so I'm told.

 

 

I took up a position on the opposite side of the car park to try and avoid any interaction with Adrian's antenna. It was reasonably busy when I arrived, with the usual dog walkers, trail runners and cyclists, but at no point did the car park 'run out' of available spaces, and I don't think any of us ever felt that any member of the public were likely or even able to get within several feet of our kit, which made everything more enjoyable and relaxing. Adrian and Sue had their antenna location taped-off, and mine was in the dead-zone, near the rear hedge, so no foot traffic nearby.

 

Mike took me up to meet the guys working on Jill Mill. Nice chaps, and very welcoming. I think they really appreciate all the support and publicity they can get, especially on Mills Weekend, so it was good to show our faces and let our presence be known. They were performing some reparations today in readiness for tomorrow, but the way their maintenance schedule has fallen (based heavily on the prevailing wind conditions, apparently - who knew?) meant that we were invited into the actual Mill grounds to operate tomorrow (Sunday). Result! The Mill grounds open at 13:30 and close at 5:00pm, so perfect for my plans tomorrow, when Merv and hopefully one or two other members will drop by. Poor old Russell is a bit under the weather, otherwise he would have come, but we appreciate his support regardless and wish him a swift recovery. Mike got off home at around this time, but his presence was tremendously valued.

While Adrian and Sue were smashing their way through the logbook, I was still setting up and faffing about trying to get WSJT-X (which always runs in 'split' mode) to play nicely with my automatic ATU. They were confusing the underworld out of each other for some reason, but I made it work somehow.

I'd jury-rigged a resonant wire setup for the 20m band over the preceding couple of days, which necessitated adding 700mm of steel whip to the top of my fibreglass mast. I'd had this all working reasonably well at home, including the addition of a small coil to drop the resonant frequency of the wire on the 10m band to something more useable, and this continued to work at the frequencies required when up on top of the Downs, which was reassuring.

Unfortunately, the 20m band was a total washout as far as Mills was concerned. Nobody told me, but then I didn't think to ask anyone which bands to target either! Oh well. Living and Learning is still a thing for me. More wire in the air tomorrow then.

Adrian reported that 80m was pretty dead, but 40m was still producing results. Meanwhile, I'd ATU'd my lash-up to bear fruit on 17m, 12m and 10m. 15M was a no-go, as you might imagine. Later I also found that 30m tunes up really well too, but a test on 40m also proved impossible. All of this I expected, so fair dos.

I should mention that I was running FT8 the whole time, as I wanted to test my digital setup further, and also wanted to get the Mills callsign GB0JJM out as far and wide as possible to create some publicity for Mills in general. I realise that this probably isn't the done thing but I'm happy to wear the naughty badge. I did notch up a few good contacts into Japan and the US given the fairly poor conditions.

Cars came and went, and I wasn't really paying too much attention until Chris M7VJE popped up behind me. Great to see him up there. We've only ever met over Zoom, so cool to make that meet-up in the real world.

He settled up the end of the car park to save being swamped by stray RF, and had a good afternoon skipping around the bands using his neat custom-built 20m and 15m whips on a mag-mount.

 

 

We all enjoyed a good chin-wag throughout the afternoon, and put about 1% of the world to rights while we were at it.

I did manage to spit out a couple of tweets in reply to the MSARS tweet regarding MOTA, but I will try and do better tomorrow.

Thanks to Adrian and Sue for lending some credibility to the Mills experience. At least someone knew what they were supposed to be doing.

Now I'm off to charge many batteries in readiness. Join us in person or on-air between 13:30 and 17:00 tomorrow afternoon.

#MOTA #MOTA2022 #MILLSONTHEAIR

73's

Berni M0XYF