The sounds of Morse Code took over Lake Sumter Landing Saturday as the Villages Amateur Radio Club took over Market Square.
Several ham radio operators were present with their rigs to show off their radios and skills to young and old.
Five-year-old Caleb Goodwin learned how to spell his name in Morse Code using a World War Two era telegraph key which was used by the U.S. Navy.
Rich Erlichman showed his small handheld radio which links up with a network called Echolink which enabled him to contact several ham radio operators while traveling last year in Israel.
The compact size meant he did not have to carry any gear, except for that which would fit in his pocket.
Past president of the club Marty Brown was introduced to the shortwave radio world by her husband, Wayne, more than 50 years ago. They became friends in grade school and by the time Wayne graduated from middle school he had his radio license. They married the day he graduated from the Air Force Academy. The skills he learned as an amateur radio operator came in handy when he was stationed in Thailand. In between flying 100 missions over North Vietnam he helped run a ham radio system which allowed fellow service members to contact family members back in the United States.
Brown used the radios to contact a station setup and paid for by U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona. The system enabled soldiers to communicate with their families back home.
The club has 200 members, 10 of whom are women, and has a standing “Rag Chew” radio online meeting where members can share information every Monday night. The club has also aided other organizations with communications support for their events.
The Villages club is a member of ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio. This national organization has often mobilized members to aid communities in times of natural disaster and recently dispatched 50 volunteer radio operators to Puerto Rico.
The Amateur Radio Club meets at the Eisenhower Recreation Center.
The club’s website is k4vrc.com and has more information on both the club and resources for those interested in becoming radio operators.