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Radio enthusiasts to ‘ham it up’ at Winfield Township this weekend

Tom McCracken suggests a signal adjustment to ham radio operator Denny Stokes during a Field Day exercise in 2019. Butler Eagle file photo

The Butler County Amateur Radio Public Service Group is inviting the public into the world of amateur radio this weekend, June 22 and 23, with its Field Day event at the Winfield Township municipal building on Brose Road.

It is part of the American Radio Relay League’s annual nationwide Field Day, which is typically held the fourth weekend of June. Field Day is an opportunity for amateur radio clubs such as the Butler one to demonstrate and introduce amateur radio to the masses, while also giving members a chance to hone their skills operating the radio.

The field day will run from 2 p.m. Saturday, June 22 to 2 p.m. Sunday, June 23, and is open to the public from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

In recent years, Butler’s radio club has ballooned in membership, from “about 25” members in 2020 to 93 members, according to club president Tom McCracken (call sign KA3KST).

“We do have a website, and people see us on there and know that we give tests whenever they request them,” McCracken said. “And that has really helped us out.”

Aside from serving as a hobbyist group, the radio club also serves the serious purpose of assisting Butler County’s 911 operations center with backup emergency communications whenever necessary.

“If there's an issue going on, and your police, fire department, et cetera, are all busy and have their work to do ... they can send us down, and we can get the information real quick so they can make decisions accordingly,” McCracken said.

Although the radio club is not pressed into service to assist the 911 center very often, McCracken said it is very important to be prepared in the event they are needed.

“We practice all the time,” McCracken said. “We haven’t been needed in several years, and that’s good. We like it that way. But this exercise on Field Day helps train the new members in setting up in an emergency in a rather rapid fashion.”

Julian Savage, left, and Tom McCracken operate one of four ham radio control centers during Field Day in 2019. Butler Eagle file photo.

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