As is pretty easy to tell Mancorad W9DK has had a bit of a Hiatus. Meetings have been quarterly at either Tony’s Pizza or the Tower Tap. The changed meeting locations works around the City of Manitowoc’s reduced low temperatures in the parks building during etc winter, makes access easier for this not able to climb the stairs, and lets those who wish to eat or have a beer do so.
2016 is a watershed year for Mancorad. The City intends for the club room location to move, several members have either become SKs, are unwell, have new little children or have had job changes – all affecting the ability to get together significantly.
On different levels of Ham Radio their remains a nice program at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum’s submarine the USS Cobia Radio club that a former Mancorad president spearheads, and the local ARES/RACES group remains somewhat active.
But none of the groups has all that many young members, and of the several waves of Hamcram tech licensees only about one in ten has go on further in ham radio. Sadly several have not only moved away for school, careers and opportunities, but have started to let their licenses lapse.
The several successive waves of local industry downsizing – one of the Nuclear Plants closing, Manitowoc Cranes shedding 30-40% of its engineers, and all the others has taken a lot of good folk out of the area, including some who were either interested in becoming Hams or who were already licensed.
As a result of changing conditions Mancorad needs to change, and the club once it moves will be operated much skinnier – sort of a virtual/internet club with a club room.
The relocated Club Shack will be scaled down to match what is in a typical Go-Kit style operation, and will continue to be open for club members to use by appointment.
The proposed new location features gigabit fiber internet, so there will be a have emphasis on “ham radio – internet” technology, with IRLP, Echolink, WIRES-X and D-Star all in consideration.
The W9MTW (W9DK) 146.610 and K9MTW 145.110 call signs will likely end up on relocated smaller profile repeaters, but repeaters we hope will be internet connected. Be aware that it is only a mater of time before the W9DK (W9MTW) tower is replaced, and community plans were not able to guarantee a place for amateur radio on the replacement. Actually wit the expected access limitations and rules it makes sense to relocate elsewhere. It is unlikely that the resulting coverage area can match what the 146.610 has now, as non of the prospective sites has the same height.
Thinking that playing hard on the EmGov angle might aid in securing the same coverage, Mancorad has offered to move the 146.610 to either a repeater trust, or transfer it to the ARES/RACES group. To date Manitowoc ARES/RACES hasn’t felt they want to support the 146.610.
The backup 145.110 repeater will be relocated to a dedicated tower being made available to Mancorad privately, and should have a similar coverage area once moved. For insurance and technical reasons the club is likely to “lease” usage of the repeater/tower rather than directly own it.
In preparation for the club room move the club is going to skinny down, and watch this blog for announcements of any ideas declared surplus being sold. A strategic plan has been drafted that doesn’t provide for as much “museum style property holdings” and the Scholten W9BZU Homebrew Radio has been offered to the Manitowoc ARES/RACES Group, to EC NZ9Z as a remaining personal friend of W9BZU and to the ARRL to no avail. Unless another area ham with Scholten W9BZU connections speaks for it, this radio will be gifted, along with several other surplus items, to a sale to benefit the HandiHams Group. Link to Handihams
Volunteers are being sought to photograph old club minutes for electronic storage for posterity. The actual paper many years are recorded on is degrading that this appears to be the best way to save the heritage of Mancorad before the old minute ledgers fall into dust.
The move is a wonderful opportunity to preserve what is important while offloading the debris that every club accumulates.
Expect later this year a return to a small level of club dues to support the relocated repeaters.
Watch this space for more news!