The Silk Mill Station - GB1OOD - Up to 14th March 2011

After almost three months of weekend operation from the Silk Mill we have Busy_stationto conclude that the event has been a huge success and a very enjoyable experience.  We  operated mostly on 80m and 40m with an occasional QSY HF and have spoken to many friends (old and new) and colleagues from all over the UK and world.  Unfortunately, it has come to an end and the antennas have been lowered and packed away.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Silk Mill staff for all their help and encouragement setting up the station and supporting our cause. We could not ask for a friendlier bunch of people; they have consistently helped us overcome obstacles and have acted professionally at every turn despite the personal anxiety and disruption resulting from the  closure.  From all of us at Derby Wireless Club - a very sincere thanks. 

On the plus side; the museum was a fabulous location:  light and airy and full of interesting play things.  If you like aero piston engines and Rolls-Royce jet engines, then this was the place to be. The museum housed a huge RB211 engine that was complete in every detail.  Just around from where we sat was the Grasshopper beam engine that was built around 1850 and could have been seen running some weekends. From our operating position, we looked out onto the river Derwent.  We keep an eye on the river level by noting the water height on the local ducks - although there's a flaw in that theory it kept us amused!

The down side is noisy children (bless them) who insist on pressing the 'green' button on the 36 litre GRIFFON piston engine display just behind us.  Every five minutes the enormous engine rotated (driven by an electric motor) driving the propeller and increasing our acoustic QRM levels by 25dB.  The kids loved it but we are not so keen!  We also had to contend with an S8 noise floor which, unfortunately, is typical of so many inner city radio locations.  Despite all that we kept coming back for more so it must have been good fun.

Operations From the Silk Mill - Antenna Installation

Dateline: Saturday, 18th December 2010
Time: 10:00
Place:  The Silk Mill MuseumDerby’s Museum of Industry and Heritage
Who:  Chris, G4AKE and Dave, G1VAB

Whilst a lot of the country was suffering under several inches of snow, yet again Derby had missed it all and our two intrepid heroes suffered temperatures of -2 degrees Centigrade in order to put up an aerial.  Silk Mill Antenna detailBut why do a write-up for this activity?  I mean, putting an 80m half-wave dipole isn’t such a big deal; is it?  Lots of people have done it in the past and hopefully lots of people who are new to the hobby will continue to have the fun of doing the same in future years.  However, the aerial we were to put up would be for the 100th birthday celebration and involved our putting a short mast on top of the disused Fire Escape on the side of the Silk Mill Museum.  Fastening it into place, ensuring the dipole aerial was securely attached to the mast, running 100foot of feeder down the staircase, then drill a hole in a door frame for the feeder then putting a plug on.  That took care of the outdoor activities – apart from lifting the wires that make up the dipole legs and fastening them off nice and high and well out of reach of anyone passing by.

So - indoors and up onto the top floor we go, into an area not open to the public, and a length of rope lowered from an opening window to ground level.  One end of the dipole wire is attached, hauled up and tied off inside before closing and securing the window.  Now to the other end of the building and into a storeroom to repeat the process with the other leg of the dipole.  After moving some items we get to the window, do the ‘thing’ with the rope again and suddenly the job’s done and time for a coffee from the small café inside the Museum.  A look at the watch and – good grief!  - TWO HOURS!  Just as well we were busy when outside and we didn’t get cold.  About time we headed for our respective homes and avoiding the shoppers scurrying from shop to shop – well, as much as anyone can scurry with the quantity of people in the city centre this close to Christmas.  We did put an aerial analyser into use, just to see what the SWR looked like.  Result: 1.2:1 at 3.650MHz and rising to 1.8:1 at 3.795MHz.  Hmm – not bad.  A bit high at the top of the band, but with an AMU or, if using the Clubs old workhorse the FT101ZD then that shouldn’t be a problem. 

The NoV for the callsign kicks in on 1st January so we hope to be on air from about midday until about 5pm.  Obviously we can only operate when the Museum is open to the public so please see the Museum’s website for details of opening times and location.

We hope to operate from there during the weekends of January, February, and the first three weekends of March.  Regrettably the Silk Mill Museum will then be closed to the public for a minimum of two years due to council cut-backs so if you want to pop in and visit the station and see our small display then please do so.  (As the coffee is only about 70p a cup and the Museum being free admission, it makes a visit quite cheap!)  

SM Antenna

Dipole Antenna at the Silk Mill, Derby

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The 100 Years celebratory activities have always been treated as fun. Over three months we worked 335 stations in 36 countries and where possible, had a good natter.