HAMFESTERS RADIO CLUB – W9AA
Meeting at Crestwood Community Center
14025 Kostner in Crestwood, Illinois.
Our club was formed by 10 amateur radio operators in 1933. To give you an idea of who we are here is a quote from our club constitution: “The club is a nonprofit organization, incorporated in the State of Illinois, of persons interested in Amateur Radio, who desire to promote a greater knowledge of Amateur Radio and electronics, to cooperate in civic activities needing communications, and to take a general interest in all matters concerning Amateur Radio.”
The club was started in 1933 by a group of three Hams, Herb Hamilton W9MRQ, George Fenton W9SXZ and John Huskava W9IMN. They probably became friends on 160 meters as that was the “2 meters” of that era. Their first meetings were held in each others homes, but this didn’t go over so well with the XYL’s and a new meeting place was found at one of the local parks. The club must have been a success from the start because in 1934 they were able to put up a station at the Century of Progress. The call used was W9HJO and in our photo albums you can see a picture of the station, six foot relay rack and all the things that it took to make a station in those days.
Around 1940 the meeting place was moved to the Viking Temple, which was really not a temple, but a lodge hall. Across the street was a gas station with a free standing 100 foot tower. The tower had a windcharger at the top to charge batteries for the station. One of our enterprising members got the club a spot in the building at the bottom of the tower and all of a sudden the club had a club station, callsign W9TFA “The Friendly Amateur.” Our present call of W9AA didn’t come until 1958. Upon the death of our past President Cy Read Hamfesters took advantage of an FCC rule that we could be issued his call, thus we became “First in the Ninth call area.” Some very famous people have been visitors and members over the years. Dr. Lee De Forest, Lew Mc Coy W1ICP, Father Moran 9N1MM, Marvin Camras, W9CSX, (Inventor of the Wire Recorder), Ed Andrew, KB9KV (The Andrew Antenna Corp.), Wes Schum, W9DYV (Mr. SSB, and at one time the Chief FCC Inspector for the Ninth Call Area was a Hamfester.
During our Sixty years Hamfesters has been through about 10 meeting places until the present were we are located at Crestwood Illinois. A very nice location with kitchen facilities and two large rooms. Our club donated a TV and VCR to this village hall and it is there for all to use. Very nice for our meetings that feature video’s.
Many things were accomplished during the 90’s. Our whole financial situation was reviewed. We purchased the TV and VCR, a trailer for emergency use, equipment for a W9AA packet mailbox. In conjunction with the CAPRA organization, equipment was acquired for a packet Node (ILOAK). Also purchased was a computer voice mail system for the Ham Radio Info Line 1 708 535 A HAM. Upkeep and expenses for this system are shared by about fifteen clubs in the area. Our club sponsors radio classes in the spring and conducts license testing on the Second Saturday of each Month.
Since that time the club has put on many radio demonstrations at civic events, Shopping Malls etc. and once a year at one of our meetings we have an “Open House” to show visitors the many facets of Amateur Radio. Our Emergency trailer goes to many events to show what a typical Ham operation is like. We also participate in a nation wide emergency event called Field Day and operate using only some sort of emergency power.
During 1999 and 2000 Hamfesters transmitted from the U505 Submarine at the Museum of Science and Industry during the Submarines on the Air special event. Here we installed amateur radio gear aboard the U505, installed temporary antennas and operated contacting other stations around the country doing similar things.
On a demand basis Hamfesters holds classes to help people obtain an Amateur Radio License. Once a month some of our members hold Volunteer Examination license testing sessions in cooperation with the FCC, At the present time Hamfesters has 150 members of all ages, occupations and interests. Our meetings are held at the Crestwood Civic Center at Crestwood IL and all visitors are welcome. One of the meeting highlights years ago was a talk by Dr. Lee Deforest who was the developer of the vacuum tube.
The first week in August the club puts on a “Hamfest” at the Will County Fair Grounds in Peotone, IL. A Hamfest is our version of a Flea Market and features much Radio and Computer equipment.
For further information you can contact our national Amateur Radio Organization (ARRL), 225 Main Street, Newington CT 06111 or at www.arrl.org