A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ANTIQUE WIRELESS ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN AFRICA (AWASA)
By Cliff Smyth, ZS6BOX
It was at a flea market held in March 2000 by the Pretoria Branch of the South African Radio League that Cliff ZS6BOX cornered OM Basil ZS6BDS, the Late Willem ZS6ALL and the Late Bushy ZS6YQ and mooted the idea of forming the Southern African Collins Interest Group. Note Southern African, as that would allow for the inclusion of the Late Dudley Z22JE operating out of Harare.
The following Saturday at 08h30 on 40M the first Net took place with Gary ZS5NK, Badie ZS4PA, John ZS6AN/ZS6BNS/ZS4S and Ludwig ZS6WLC reporting in. Meanwhile Cliff sent a letter to all of those that he had heard on the bands using Collins rigs. Shortly thereafter Rod ZS5RK, Andy ZS6ADY, Rad ZS6RAD, Daniel ZS6JR, Sid ZS6GQ and Allan ZS1FG/ZS6BIK, who secured the callsign ZS0AWA, were joining in every Saturday.
Basil ZS6BDS was the first elected President, followed by the Late Bushy ZS6YQ, known affectionately as “Mr Collins of Southern Africa”, who had modestly declined to take office from the start , followed by Rod ZS5RK. The Late Willem ZS6ALL, was the Net Controller.
It was Rod ZS5RK, who on realizing the group had grown to its limit, proposed the first major change. This was the inclusion of operators of other makes of radios. After all there were only a limited number of Collins operators. So on 22 March 2003, the Southern African Collins Interest Group was incorporated into the now "Southern African Antique Wireless Association", with Cliff ZS6BOX as Founding President and Willem ZS6ALL continuing as Net Controller. As envisaged, the new group soon grew. Rod also compiled “The Mission Statement” which was translated into Afrikaans by the Late Willem ZS6ALL.
At this stage it must be pointed out that one of the major reasons for starting up these associations was due to the fact that new “bells and whistles rigs” were coming up on frequency, and some Hams were giving up the hobby feeling left out with their dated equipment. Soon the OM’s were pulling out their old rigs from under garage workbenches and placing them in “pride of place” in the shack. All were willingly assisted by the members with the technical knowledge and who also took a delight in seeing the “filaments glowing” again.
The President for 2004 was the Late Bushy ZS6YQ/ZS6M, followed in 2005 by Gary ZS5NK, Rod ZS5RK, in 2006 and Andy ZS6ADY, who had introduced the excellent Newsletter that has done so much to keep the current interest going, in 2007. Andy also designed the present day logo. Meanwhile Barry ZS6AJY, started to control the weekly CW Net on Saturdays at 14h00 on 7020.
Rad ZS6RAD was President in 2008/9, Don ZS5DR, who heads up the KZN Chapter, in 2010/11, Richard ZS6TF in 2012/13 and Ted in 2014. It was Richard who introduced the concept of a “topic for discussion” for the SSB Net that has not only served to structure the “overs” of the highly attended Saturday SSB Net but helped to gain a good listenership of non-members.
During June 2014, Jacques ZS6JPS launched the AWASA Website and was appointed Webmaster.
Annual General Meetings and get-togethers have been held at Rand Airport, William ZS4L’s farm, West Rand Amateur Radio Club and more recently at the Kempton Amateur Radio Technical Society. Richard ZS6TF has been instrumental in gaining the callsign ZS6IEE, for the South African Institutional of Electrical Engineers museum in Discovery Johannesburg. This museum could become home to a display of donated antiques amateur equipment as well as operating stations ZS6IEE and ZS0AWA, manned by members of the AWA.
Nets are held every Saturday from 06h00 using AM on 3615, at 08h30 using SSB on 7140Mhz relayed on 14140, whilst Barry ZS6AJY controls the CW Net from 14H00. John ZS1WJ who heads up the Western Cape Chapter, runs a Net every Saturday at 07h00 on 7080 SSB. Every Wednesday evening from 07h00 an AM Net is operated on 3615 with MF’s being played by those who choose to.
Much of the success of the organization is due to the fact that membership is “free and by association”, as well as the fact that any “business matters” are handled by a committee of seven very dedicated members.