Mills on the Air FAQ’s by PAøHPT
Corrected by M1ABM
What is Mills on the Air?
Mills on the Air is an event which originated in the U/K in 1999 and is known as National Mills Weekend. This year is the 15th year of the event which is held each year on the second weekend in May. Mills seek to make contacts with other radio amateurs and in particular with other mills and pumping stations. In the UK there are usually 60 or more mills operating as Special Event Stations. It is possible to work on all bands but the most activity is on 40 meter and 2 meter. In The Netherlands it has been promoted from 2009 on by Jelle, PD5JFK and Bernard, PD7BZ. Bernard has a website (http://www.pd6mill.com) where all participating mills whether in The Netherlands or in other countries can register their mill or pumping stations on the website log.
We are fairly new to this event In the Netherlands so of some 1100 mills in Holland in 2012 only about 20 stations were active from a mill / pumping station. That can be much more!!.........
How do I find a mill?
A mill is easy to find, but you have to contact the miller or the owner of the mill. If you are a miller yourself, there is no problem. If you are a radio amateur and you look for a certain mill, look for when the mill is working. You can nearly always visit a working mill and once there you can talk directly to the miller. He can inform you of the possibilities of setting up a radio station at the mill and how you can gain permission.
If you have selected a mill but you do not know the miller or owner look at the websites that contain information about your country’s mills: the “Molendatabase”, and the site of “De Hollandse Molen” Here you will find all information about opening hours, contact, miller, owner, technical details, history, etc.
How can I get permission for the event?
The permission to set up the radio station is given by the miller and the owner of the mill. That can be the Mill Trust, the waterboard, the local municipality or a private person. Mostly the permission of the miller is enough: he has the contacts with the owner and knows what the possibilities are.
Clearly explain what Mills on the Air is about, how it works and that the contacts go all over the world. Explain about other joining mills and pumping stations and, if known, that when there are radio amateurs in the mill they can attract many more visitors on Mills on the Air day.
Can I join on my own?
Yes, you can join on your own or with a group. With a group you have more possibilities for operating more bands at once. If you are miller/radio amateur as I am, it is difficult to join Mills on the Air on your own: You have to look after the working mill, the visitors and also run a radio station. That is too much as I experienced in 2009 so I asked two colleague radio amateurs to help. With more people you have more freedom to explain to visitors what our hobby is and how it works. It is a good idea to have a World or European map on which you mark the worked stations so the visitors can see what distances are bridged. The visitors are often astonished about the distances we bridge!
Do you have to ask for a special event callsign? ( Dutch situation)
No, that’s not necessary. You may also work with a club callsign or your own /A callsign.
However a special event callsign is nicer and attracts often more stations, especially when the mill has a special prefix and suffix. And you can make a special QSL-card.
Can I choose a self made call at the AT? ( Dutch situation)
AT means: “Agentschap Telecom” = Telecom Agency
About the apply for a callsign: you can ask for a self made callsign coupled to your own callsign at the AT. As normal special event call it starts with PA6 of PD6. You can also take the year, or at a 60 year jubilee for instance PA60…,PD60..
After the prefix you are free to make a suffix of your own. For my poldermill De Dellen it is for instance PA6WMDD (=Wind Mill De Dellen). Mill “De Zwaan” has even PA6DEZWAAN as callsign! You are free to make a callsign yourself, but it is nicer to make one to the British example with the name of the mill or place in it. Such a special event call is valid for 4 weeks and can only be reactivated after a 4 week rest.” Normally you ask for one time, but if you planned to be often active in the year on open days you have to apply for more times. Every time again! For example I ask for a date a week before and a week after Mills on the Air day thus giving time to experiment with the temporary installation. Normally you make the application somewhere in March. If you put the name of the mill after the address, the name will be displayed in the licence. The licence comes by post within 10 days. Incredible as it may seem in this day and age but it is free of charge! If you apply at very short notice before the event, the licence comes per e-mail.
How do I apply for a callsign at the AT? ( Dutch situation)
Have your DigiD at hand if you want to apply. If you have no experience in applying via the AT site, I made a foolproof instruction, hi…… You need nearly a wand to fix it if you are inexperienced or forgotten!
Go to the site of the AT ( www.agentschaptelecom.nl)
Open the site and click right in the list on “Radiozendamateurs”.
Click left in the bar on “Registreren”.
Click right under on the blue part “Open Gebruikersregister”.
Click now in the opened screen left on “Mijn Gegevens”.
Now is asked for the DigiD username and password.
There opens a field now with your data.
Click on your underlined “Registratienummer” on the left under your data.
You are now entering a field “Melding Amateur frequentieruimte”, used for special-event calls.
Click right-under on “Toevoegen” and enter the data of the special-event station.
Click on “Ga verder” .
The next screen gives the just given data. When there is something wrong, you can alter the data now.
Click on “Verzenden”.
You see the screen “Bevestig email”: click on “Verzenden”
Screen: “De gegevens zijn verzonden”, click on “Gereed”.
The recording is done and is worked out by AT. After some time the alteration is to see on the site together with your normal license data. If you click on the registration number of the special event call, you get the data of that call.
If your reporting is shortly before the event, you get an e-mail as conformation-licence. If there is more time, there will be a letter of conformance with the callsign from the AT.
If you do not have a DigiD, you can apply by sending a letter to the AT.
N.B.: You can ask for a special event call for a maximum of 4 weeks. After that you can ask for a new-one, but there must bee 4 weeks between the old and the new-one. After that time you can apply for a new special event call.
The costs: it is total free!!
How do I apply for a callsign in the U/K?
In the U/K you need to get a Special Event Station licence from the Radio Society of Great Britain which usually starts with GB0..... or GB2......
Is it nesessary to inform the police?
If a mill is situated in a remote place or there is no electricity it is always a good idéa to inform the local police. If you work with a generator there will be light on at times at night when there is normally never seen any light.. It is good to inform the local police and tell them what you are doing. Invite them to come and look. They do often so in quiet hours. It gives them a positive look at our hobby, because mostly they will be confrontated with radio pirates and not with us. Take care that your special event licence is on display somewhere on site or, at least, that you have it with you.
Must I registrate someware when I join?
There is nothing obligatory but it is nice to join a certain “club”.
The site here in the Netherlands is www.pd6mill.com which is run by Bernard, PD7BZ. (email@example.com) .On this site are most Dutch stations registered and also many British and other European stations. The site is prepared once a year around December for the following year. You can then register again for the following year if you joined the previous year. It is easy to recall all of your site text of last year, put it in Word and revise it for the coming event. Return it to Bernard and he will put it on the site again. In that way you can update your information easily.
The joining British stations are to find on the site of the Denby Dale Amateur Radio Society www.g4cdd.net. On top of the page is a knob “Mills on the Air” and a knob “Current registrations” We can join that site too and with a registration number you can alter the data yourself. The contact person is Gerald, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively it is possible to register at QRZ.com On QRZ.com you can also register your QSL-manager, so the QSL-cards go to the right person. In addition don’t forget to inform the Dutch QSL-bureau so they know who the manager is for the call.
What kind of aerials do you use?
You can use and make all kind of aerials but you have to ensure care that they don’t interfere with the normal mill work.
Outdoors you can make all kinds of HF aerials if you have room there, from simple wire aerials , verticals to a rhombic…… On the gallery of the mill or on the ground you can often place verticals for the higher bands. On the gallery you can make the feeding point of dipole aerials. You can also make aerials from the cap of the mill downwards but be aware that if the wind turns during the day, the aerial has to be loosened before winding the mill hi….. For VHF-UHF you may be able to place verticals on the back or side of the cap with the cables directly inside. Watch here also for winding of the cap! With a selfwinding cap it is not possible to place aerials on the cap. Rotating aerials are difficult on the cap. You have to place them outside the mill on a pole or so. All depends from the local possibilities.…….
What frequencies are used?
Considering working frequencies; this is mainly on 40 meter, but the other bands on shortwave can also used if you like. The novice PD-stations in the Netherlands can operate on 40 meter and that is also the most usable band for the mills in Europe at daytime. There are also stations who work on VHF-UHF alone. Here in The Netherlands we work mainly on 40 meter and on 70, 145 and 432 Mhz mainly local.
There are no specific frequencies here in Holland. With a special callsign you will attract more stations……
Are you stick on a certain frequency or do you give CQ and listen the band?
You have all possibilities. If your CQ has lots of response and you have a complete pile-up, you stay on the spot. But often changing frequency can also work.
Which modes are used?
The most used mode is SSB and on VHF also FM. CW and Digimodes too. The visitors cannot always hear radio conversations but can see that we have a very broad hobby with lots of modes. Most people know RTTY, known as Telex, and CW from news bureaux and films. But that radio amateurs use a lot of all modes is not really known. At last it is a good promotion for the amateur radio hobby. Let us hope that this will attract many new people to the hobby in the coming years!
I will be active on Saturday only, is that a problem?
Mills on the Air goes from Saturday 00 hour till Sunday 24 hour. You can work on all hours during that time. Mostly during the daytime will the mill be open to the public. So if you want to join for an afternoon only, you can. It is recommended to put the times on the site of the mill and / or on www.pd6mill.com That’s more convenient for other stations who will work you.
Are there awards for Mills on the Air?
Bernard, PD7BZ. (email@example.com) is the contact person for the Dutch Award.
In England “the Havering and District Amateur Radio Club” (G4HRC) gives the Essex Windmill Award for working of 4 mills in their neighbourhood.
Belgium also gives an award, that is more for the “Molenpatrimonium” www.belgianmillaward.be
If you worked enough stations for the award, you can apply for it. Not only mills but also normal radio amateurs can apply for the award. It is important, that your mill is on the list for a certain award. If you are on it, the organizer can see that your mill is valid for the award.