The Omega Radio Club has a long history which started somewhere back in May 1979.
The Early Years
Someone asked the other day, ” How did the club start?” Like everything, it had a simple beginning and begun just by people talking to one another on the “new fangled” UHF frequencies recently instituted by the then DOC- (Department of Communications). They talked about everything from their ? wave sitting on top of the fridge to trying to guess what the others looked like.
While most were home based, there were one or two who were mobile only and used to be perched on top of the highest hill in the neighbourhood and consequently, were able to reach both side of the big hill, which proved handy at times. Our biggest thrill of the night was when there was an unknown “breaker”, or when one person came in with- “Good evening squad”.
Someone got the nice idea of having a news session to fill us all in on the latest events radio- wise and, while we were all for it, someone said, “It couldn’t be done!” We went ahead anyway. Snippets of news were put on tape and then played the tape on a Sunday night.
Eventually, someone suggested a BBQ somewhere so that we all could meet one another. Some had already met the hard way- like a flat battery and a plaintive call at 2-30AM for help! The curiosity of one got the better of him and he arrived on the hill one day. It was always the aim to find an even bigger hill. You must also remember that due to the bad old days of HF/SSB of 27MHz, names, telephone numbers, and your true locality was taboo over the air.
Well, that BBQ happened on a wet Sunday and what a great time it was! So much so that we decided on another in a few weeks time. At a latter BBQ, someone suggested starting up a club, and called for volunteers. Every one took a step backward, not forward, but eventually a ‘Steering Committee’ was formed and with some arms up their backs, we got a nucleus together.
After much deliberation, we had what looked like a workable constitution, and arranged to meet at one of the chaps’ house on a certain day. That very day, two of the chap’s family contracted the Mumps, so his wife, being on the Mothers’ Club at the local school, hastily sought permission of the school Principal to have the meeting there. And so, of all the nine callsigns there, one was unknown to us, but not for long. We painstakingly worked through every clause of the constitution, finally giving it the nod. Some of the originals were not available that night, because of the flu and other reasons so the Treasurer went after them.
So, we finally had a club with no name and 11 members. At the time of the first committee meeting, ideas were sought and one chaps’ wife came up with the name of “Omega” out of the blue. There was lengthy discussions before finally settling on the name; OMEGA RADIO CLUB. The reason being that we decided we would bring anyone into the Club that was interested in radio of any description, whether 27MHz or UHF, or short wave listener or amateur.
One of the first rules of the Omega Radio Club was that under no circumstances would anyone’s arm be broken again in trying to get them to join. They join of their own free will. That rule was never put in writing, but still applies today as a ‘gentleman’s agreement.
At the second committee meeting, we decided to start a magazine to keep everyone informed of events and eventually came up with the name “THE SPECTRUM” and why not- our field of endeavour covered it. Of course, we had the same trouble getting an Editor, but our first edition did come out 3 months later.
With $110 we couldn’t do that much, and struggled along the best we could until other people joined us. Unfortunately, of the original 11 founding members, there are some six members still around. We have lost touch with some others.
Despite these traumas, we still have our chat sessions most nights, and someone asked a question about tyres on his car. This started a learned session, with other coming in on the conversation, asking questions, and so begun our first broadcast! The idea kept going as there was always someone wanting to know something and someone who could expand on the subject. If there weren’t, we would get someone to come along as a guest speaker who was versed in that particular subject. This took time, and our broadcast then became a weekly event.
Happily, all this time saw other people joining us and we can well remember talking to our 22nd member one night, and telling him that a place would be reserved for him, because that was his callsign number. We were also lucky with many people who did things for us, but for a variety of reasons, did not want to join the club. Mostly at the time was due to some disenchantment with some older 27Mhz clubs at the time. We today are fortunate in that regard.
Although many members have come and gone, there are many whom still keep in touch, and bob up occasionally. If you consider the family involvement and the ones who were with us, but did not join, there have been many hundreds of people whom we have known, and in many cases, still in touch with. We at times, have our sadness’s too in the untimely death of people we have known, but we go on, remembering them as they were.
It was one of our broadcasts many years ago, that put us in touch with the people that were eventually able through a Government Grant, to purchase and erect, the channel 5/35 emergency repeater, but at the time were unable to get the installation and servicing done. Our non-member and good friends did this for them, and we (the club) volunteered to pay for the licence fee and any spare parts necessary as part of our pledge to help the community wherever possible. Further to this, we use to hold chat session with people in homes to help them get use to radio.
Word travels fast, and it wasn’t long before we had our first “Car Rally” which started in the city, and ended up in Bairnsdale, with many relay points along the way! We did not always have a club repeater, or other repeaters to use along the way.
A non-member who had been to a “Ham” foxhunt, got our club interested in doing the same thing with many using the old 320’s of the day. (That’s all there was in those days!) After a lot of difficulty because of too much power up really close, another group of non-member friends, donated to us a low powered, battery operated, specially designed and approved with DOC, “Fox”
These same people hearing of our difficulty with a couple of car rallies, decided that perhaps we could use a repeater to advantage, and to our great surprise, at an Annual General Meeting, came forward, and handed us our very own repeater! Work then begun to get a trailer and other equipment so we could make this repeater, truly mobile. Eventually, with some extraordinary donations from both members, and non-members, our repeater was housed in a secure trailer with a pump up mast and all the auxiliary equipment we could use.
The day I am writing this is the 2nd of May, 1985, and as it happens, it is the club’s 6th birthday today- six years after we had our inaugural meeting in the school room because someone got the mumps. It is wonderful how much could happen in such a short space of time.
“The Grey Ghost”
Our late foundation member, Les- VBW395, originally wrote the above article on this web page. As far as we can ascertain, has not been published before 1985. (Other than in the membership handbook recently). We have no idea why it was originally written, or whether it was originally intended to be included in our club magazine, “THE SPECTRUM”
It was found included in a file of our club deliberations on Incorporation.
Les has been remembered via an annual award called the; “VBW395 Les Paget Award”