Wednesday, 26 January 2022

WHY JOIN A CLUB?

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IS IT WORTH JOINING
YOUR LOCAL RADIO CLUB?

Some hams operate alone and have no desire to get involved with other operators on a face to face basis and that's obviously their choice, but there's a lot to be said for joining a local radio-club and that's what I want to look at here.  Through different hobbies I've learned that there are many benefits to joining a club and over the years I've greatly enjoyed my membership of the local Biker Club, Art Club, Photography Club, and more recently Radio Clubs.

Clubs offer different things to different people. Beginners who are looking to get into the hobby can gain access to a wealth of knowledge and advice at their local club. Radio equipment and antennas are also readily accessible too. 

Of interest to beginners in particular are the training schemes on offer which usually cover  Foundation level to Intermediate and even Advanced level (Covid restrictions permitting). The beauty of training schemes at Radio Clubs is that they are taught by actual radio operators who just love to help and encourage newcomers, as opposed to formal teachers in educational centers who may treat it solely as employment. 

At West Manchester Radio Club,  training is offered at all three levels and bear in mind that you don't have to follow it through with an examination at the end - if you just want to learn for the sake of learning, then feel free to join one of the existing courses. 

Examinations used to take place on the Club's premises but Covid changed everything and at the time of writing, exams are completed online with the RSGB from your own home. This may change back at some point. More details on WMRC courses can be found here.

Aside from training courses, West Manchester Radio Club offers members plenty of other learning opportunities in the form of Guest Speakers and Demonstrations and not all of these need to be outsiders - sometimes it's equally valuable and entertaining to have a Club Member do a Show & Tell on a subject that he's particularly passionate about such as 'Operating Remotely' or 'Introduction To C4FM' or 'DIY Antennas', etc. There's always something new to learn in this great hobby and at the Club, there's always someone with valuable information to impart.

West Manchester Radio Club is based in the town of Astley which is convenient for many North West operators, being just a short drive from Bolton, Bury, Leigh, Wigan, Prestwich and Manchester.  But when it comes to clubs, it's not always about a convenient location - it's also about the long-term availability of the venue and the facilities on offer. 

Many Radio Clubs find themselves relocating every few years because they've been forced out from the venue or because it's just no longer suitable or maybe the facilities no longer meet the requirements of the club.

West Manchester Radio Club is based at a Social Club which has pretty much everything you could ask for...

  • Large and roomy with ample seating.
  • Rooms reserved for Club activities.
  • Lots of private parking.
  • Disabled access & toilets.
  • Licensed Bar.
  • Coffee, Tea and light snacks.
  • Gaming areas for R&R.
  • Separate secure Shack.
  • Provision for DX antennas.
  • Sufficient internet access.
  • Lots of power points.
  • Storage areas for equipment.
  • Outdoor social areas.

But it's not all about going to a ClubHouse and talking radio! Most clubs arrange activity events throughout the year and these are varied to suit the many different interests of the members. Some will be interested in a QRP Field Day while others might prefer a day-trip to Jodrell Bank or Hack Green. Everyone's catered for and everyone's free to suggest something. 

West Manchester Radio Club Has its own UHF Repeater - GB7WM which is currently setup for FUSION and is normally linked to North West Fusion Group. The installation of this repeater (and antenna) was typical of the sort of projects that members can enjoy participating in.


As a group, or individually, members have completed all sorts of little projects from which others can learn including...

  • Building a Repeater
  • Operating Remotely
  • DIY Antennas
  • Building Electronic Kits
  • Erecting Antennas
  • Planning Permissions
  • Entering DX Competitions
  • Working with Linears
  • Working QRP
  • SOTA & POTA 
  • Exploring Digital
  • Using VNAs
  • Using Morse Code
  • QSO with a Space Station
  • Setting up DSTAR, C4FM, DMR
  • Setting up Logging Software
  • Raspberry Pi for Amateur Radio
  • and many, many more!


More than anything though, Radio Clubs exist to bring together like-minded people and to create an environment in which they can relax, enjoy, study and learn. In a busy world full of work commitments, stress and worry, your weekly visit to the Club can mean a very welcome break!

So why not try your local Club? It costs nothing for your first few visits and ongoing membership costs are minimal. You'll almost certainly gain from your membership and although you may not think it, you may well end up helping others out - we've all got something to learn and something to teach. Take a friend along with you!

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West Manchester Radio Club
Astley and Tyldesley Miners Welfare Club
Meanley Road
Gin Pit Village
Astley
Manchester
M29 7DW.

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