Millennium era kids may not have heard of it, and older folks may think of Morse code and vacuum tubes. But Amateur "ham" Radio has changed, and it's alive and well in the Cedar Creek Lake area.
When radio first began, all operators were amateurs. As commercial use of radio spread in the early 20th century, there was an attempt to force the remaining amateurs off the air, including tagging them with the derogatory term "ham." Amateur radio operators successfully fought back the legislation, became a federally licensed service, and adopted that derogatory term "ham" as a badge of honor. Over one hundred years later, there are 750,000 licensed ham radio operators in the U.S.
Today, hams can use hand-held transceivers to talk around the world. They have their own satellites, radio networks, computer controlled radios and a myriad of activities to keep them busy.
The Cedar Creek Amateur Radio Club, formed in 1981, has experienced a growth spurt of late and now has thirty active members, both guys and gals. Since Morse code is no longer a requirement, and the test is administered by local certified instructors, it's easier than ever to get "on the air."
Local hams keep in touch using the club radio "repeater" system, callsign K5CCL, that provides them with county wide talk coverage using only a five watt hand-held radio. And, through a nifty utility called Echolink, the system can be connected to any of thousands of other repeaters to talk to hams around the world. This capability has proven very useful when there is severe weather in the area.
The National Weather Service (NWS) office in Fort Worth has an extensive ham radio station staffed by volunteers. When there is severe weather in a county, their office uses ham radio to connect with that county's ham radio SKYWARN net. In Henderson County, the Weather Service uses Echolink to communicate with local ham storm spotters.
The use of ham radio for both fun and public service is growing at Cedar Creek Lake, and club members are actively seeking others to join them on the radio.
If you're interested in ham radio, visit the club website, www.k5ccl.org, for more information, or stop by a club meeting. They meet the 2nd Saturday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Mabank Café.
In the photo below are the current officers of the Cedar Creek Amateur Radio Club. From left to right, Rich Casey, N5CSU, Vice-President; Bill Saylor, KE5WUT, Secretary; Ed Busch, K8MKN, President; and Jeff Irion, N5FZP, Treasurer.