I'm going to start by saying what an absolute pleasure it was to sit around in the beautiful sunshine this afternoon just leisurely playing radio. If I'd have spent my last moments on Earth in this place today, it would have been an honour.
Huge thanks to Simon and the other mill staff that helped us with setting-up, fencing-off and otherwise accommodating and hosting us. Thanks too to the lovely ladies serving the tea and cakes inside the mill. We were given prime position inside the grounds of Jill Mill where we could both operate safely and also chat to the public about radio stuff.
Having learnt my lesson yesterday, I'd cut a new length of wire for 40m today, and whilst I'd only roughly measured a 20m length, once I'd strung it up in somewhere between an inverted L and a pointy inverted V configuration, it was found to be resonant at around 7.115MHz, so very happy with that. Unfortunately (and I can only think that it's because I had it at too acute an angle at the apex) the SWR at this frequency was around 2.5:1. To be honest, I didn't want to waste all afternoon trying to diagnose and rectify this issue, so I just let the tuner handle it for today, which it just about managed on 40m, 30m and 20m. I didn't look at any other bands during this session.
Now, as soon as I powered on the radio, and without even touching the VFO knob, I heard GB2KM chatting with another Mills station. I quickly checked the basic radio settings before calling in and making my first proper Mills contact!
Ironically, it was on 20m - at whatever frequency I'd left it on yesterday!
There was an awful lot of QRM, and John gave me a 4 and 7 signal report. He had my name in the log as Barry, and my location as Chatham in South Devon as opposed to Clayton on the South Downs, but I don't care - I had fulfilled my mission. GB0JJM had gone into Keston Mill's log. I could move back into my comfortable machine-controlled world.
Merv meanwhile had found a convenient disused alpine cable-car station with a flat roof on which to place his fancy new Tarheel screwdriver antenna.
It was the first outing of this very nice piece of kit since its purchase, so it was good for him to prove that it operated correctly and pulled in some signals, although he was plagued a little bit all day with a less than ideal battery voltage (spare car battery, like myself). He was also suffering from Mac computer gremlins preventing the use of WSJT-X, so no digital modes.
For Merv, I think today was more about some general shake-down testing and just to get out in the fresh air.
In fact, as long as you don't tell anyone, we spent most of the afternoon sitting around talking tech and swapping stories of past adventures and experiences. I kind of wish I'd met Merv a long time ago. I think we'd possibly have got into a fair bit of trouble together!
Not sure how this photo managed to capture a part of my car that wasn't completely buried in junk, croissant crumbs, a profusion of cables and a collection of empty tea and coffee cups. I later had my laptop set up alongside too for more FT8 action - this time on 40m and 30m.
Merv praying to Ra for more photons for his little solar panel. Behind him is a perfectly good camping chair, still in its bag... 😄
So anyway, I couldn't be bothered with social media reports and the like. It was a day for just kicking back and not worrying too much about anything in particular, and we both had a blast. The Mills Weekend event wrapped up at around 5:00pm, and so we cleared out at the same time. Simon asked after some photos and radio reports for the Jack and Jill website as we left, so I'm not sure what he'll make of some PSKREPORTER screenshots... maybe we've started a new thing?
You never know, we may get some interest from one of their website visitors, or from one of the many many people that came up to us and asked what we were up to over the weekend. Any which way you cut it, it was good publicity for both the windmill society, and for amateur radio in general.
Looking forward to next year, and I will seriously expect a few more club members to come and support this incredible opportunity in one of the best locations you could wish to operate a radio.