1st event of the years at the Royal Gunpowder Mills

My local radio club LEFARS (Loughton & Epping Forrest Radio Society) enjoys a great relationship with the Royal Gunpowder Mills at Bishops Waltham in Essex.

Formerly a factory for Gunpowder, established in 1850’s the site went on to manufacture nitro-based explosives and further more to become the Propellants, Explosives and Rocket Motor Establishment until 1991 when it closed ending 300 years of explosives production and research.

LEFARS has a permanent NOV to operate GB2RGM from the site and has a dedicated radio shack and aerial installation which is used during activations, which take place throughout the year.

Activations tend to be timed to occur during special events either on the RGM calendar or in the ‘radio calendar’. The site having both waterwheels and gunpowder mills, and a light railway,  GB2RGM is fired up as part of Mills on the Air and also Railways on the Air and sometime Museums on the Air.

This year the first chance to activate the callsign was for the VE day celebrations over the Mayday Bank Holiday weekend. This event did not take place last year due to uncertainty over the future of the RGM, but this year, the venue enjoying a reprieve and hosted the event once again.

LEFARS exhibition Marquee

LEFARS exhibition Marquee

Lefars were invited to set up a display again and put together a collection of classic radios in keeping with the events Military and WW2 theme. Both sections of the LEFARS marquee were set up and a selection of Vintage military and domestic radio equipment was set up on display. Many of the exhibits actually work, and some were used to demonstrate that the technology of the time still works well today.

Information about current day Amateur Radio, including some history

Information about current day Amateur Radio, including some history & notable QSL cards 

A mixture of military and domestic radios.

A mixture of military and domestic radios.

Morse keys and eare SOE radios.

Morse keys and rare SOE radios.

A Valve collection, or 'Bulbs' as someone called them!

A Valve collection, or ‘Bulbs’ as someone called them!

More Vintage military Radios

More Vintage military Radios

More radios for spies!

More radios for spies!

M0VID's WW2 Canadian built radio gear.

M0IDF’s WW2 Canadian built radio gear.

There were many re-enactors on site, many of whom had a selection of non-working radio sets. Many of us tried to convince them it would be a great idea to at least get their M6 licence and use the things, but hey, we tried!

M0VID is not the only chap with a Jeep and a Radio

M0IDF is not the only chap with a Jeep and a Radio

M0IDF went walkabout with his 38 set which was only putting out 200mw and was designed for fairly local communication. GB2RGM worked him all around the site with fine audio, we were well impressed with the performance of this little radio on what is a really inefficient aerial!

M0IDF with his 38 set get in the swing of things in uniform!

M0IDF with his 38 set get in the swing of things in uniform!

For those people looking to get into the vintage military scene, there were even a few radios up for sale from some of the re-enactors.. check out the final pic..

For sale!

BC221 & 342 For sale!

I will be back at the RGM this weekend for Mills on the Air.

Active Summer 2016

Summer 2016 was an active time of year when I managed to get out and about to some great activations.. from Lighthouses on the air when LEFARS activated a light house and lightship at Trinity Buoy Wharf on the 20th August:bow-creek-lighthouse-aerials

 

 

 

 

 

lv95-long-shot

Helping LEFAR activate GB2ECS (The final Essex Country Show)

ecs-at-sunset

 

To me helping at Jota @ Gilwell Park

gilwell-current-antenna-farm

 

I am just amazed at how much you can do in this hobby. Sadly it has resulted in me ignoring my home station, so to make up for it, the next post will be all about that.

GB2RGM activations this year.

With the Royal Gunpowder Mills under the threat of closure, due to the planned takeover of a leisure group and their plans to turn it into a youth activities camp, LEFARS has been quite keen to make use of the permanent NOV GB2RGM while we can. As a consequence I have been down to lend some support while I can.

Me operating ably assisted by John Glover M0JGR (Photo John Ray G8DZH)

Me operating assisted by John Glover M0JGR (Photo John Ray G8DZH)

The first weekends operations (Mills on the Air) were pretty quiet as band conditions were pretty woeful, but the second weekend on the 14th & 15th we activated the site, coincided with the RGM’s Steam weekend, which saw a number of miniature and indeed the odd full-sizes steam engines turn up for a Steam Rally.

Lady of the Lake miniature showman's tractor. Show winner. (Pic Brian Porter 2E0FHU)

Lady of the Lake miniature showman’s tractor. Show winner. (Pic Brian Porter 2E0FHU)

We plan on running the station later in the year as well, especially for the Railways on the Air special event, as The gunpowder mills has a narrow gauge railway. So I am looking forward to getting back down there on the weekend of the 24th and 25th September.

The 'Hot Seat' at GB2RGM. showing the Yaesu FT1000 MP MK5 Field Radio that is in use with a doublet. (Photo by Marc Litchman G0TOC)

The ‘Hot Seat’ at GB2RGM. showing the Yaesu FT1000 MP MK5 Field Radio that is in use with a doublet. (Photo by Marc Litchman G0TOC)

Hopefully we will see the return of the remote ATU which inexplicably stopped working on the last day of operation, sending the SWR rocketing and requiring the internal ATU on the radio to be re-activated.

Visitors are always welcome. The shack is located next to the building that hosts the small arms museum, but it is always worth checking that the club is operating the station before visiting!