Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Handiham World for 27 December 2007

Greetings from my work at home office and ham shack!

Welcome to the final edition of your Handiham World for the year 2007. Yes, I know I'm a day late, but since I'm on vacation this week between the holidays, family and friends are taking most of my time and I expect most of our readers and listeners are also enjoying similar laid-back schedules.

2007 has been quite a year. We celebrated 40 years of Handihams - Our thanks to everyone who helped with Handiham audio, including Linda, N7HVF, and all of our volunteers. We still plan to stream some of this audio and make it available to you online.

This brings me to the latest news on the Handiham server. Our volunteers Phil Temples, K9HI, and Phil McNamara, N1XTB, who have been donating server space and maintaining the system, plan to move the entire website to a new computer. Although we will try to make this as painless to our users as possible, this is a really big project and I expect that good old Murphy (of Murphy's Law fame) will be right there helping us! Our affiliated club, the Stillwater Amateur Radio Association, has a website that has already been moved to a new machine.

Read more online, or listen in!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Handiham World for 19 December 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Vintage radio is fun to ponder so we look into the Allied catalog
  • Avery's QTH: Avery remembers his first rig
  • Tony is a good neighbor
  • Mailbag: New aftermarket voice modules
  • At headquarters:
    • Holiday closings
    • Radio Camp forms now online in Word format
  • Links to the Heathkit virtual museum, Allied Radio history, Lafayette catalog covers, more.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Handiham World for 12 December 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Visit a ham friend
  • Avery's QTH: Avery makes resolutions... again
  • Peter Dahl Co. going out of business
  • Sun comes down with a case of spots
  • Amateur Radio Scholarships
  • Mailbag: New aftermarket voice modules
  • At headquarters:
    • W0KVO birthday bash is a success!
    • Avery seeks more responses on CW certification program
    • KC9AGR visits HQ
    • Radio Camp forms now online in Word format
  • Elmer goofs off
  • WX spotting/reporting software tool
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Handiham World for 5 December 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • You can afford camp
  • Avery's QTH: Avery has an embarrassing moment
  • Reminder! W0KVO birthday bash
  • Gordo picks up the phone to help others learn
  • Mailbag: The talking dog makes the rounds
  • At headquarters:
    • New audio production computer arrives
    • Avery gets positive responses on CW certification program
    • Radio Camp forms now online in Word format
  • Elmer: Where to find a calculator
  • Another free screenreader
  • More free software
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Handiham World for 28 November 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • That perfect holiday gift
  • At headquarters:
    • California Camp applications go out
    • December tape digest in the mail
    • Year-end edition of Handiham World is online in PDF and audio
  • Avery's QTH: A boost for code
  • A new Cystic Fibrosis Support Net goes on the air
  • Don't rush into Vista if you want speed
  • W0KVO birthday bash
  • SKYWARN recognition day coming up this week!
  • Elmer: Coax can be lossy if you pick the wrong type for the job
  • Jean Shepherd links
  • Free screenreader
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Handiham World for 21 November 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Thank you, thank you!
  • At headquarters: Holiday closings, magazine digest for December
  • Volunteer hours needed - now you can send them direct!
  • Avery's QTH: New kid on the block
  • Another opportunity to confess to being a ham
  • SKYWARN recognition day coming up soon
  • Elmer: Finding a CW Decoder program
  • CQ web update and link to W2VU column - read it!
  • Consumer Vision published by a ham
  • Free screenreader
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Greetings from my work-at-home office and ham shack.Diane, WD9DNQ

Photo: Diane, WD9DNQ, has her Extra Class license and enjoys being a net control station. Volunteers help to make it possible.

Here in North America, we have a tradition of celebrating a day of thanksgiving in the autumn season. Thanksgiving Day comes at the end of the harvest season, when all of the crops have been brought in from the fields. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada. What that means, of course, is that this Thursday, November 22, the Handiham offices will be closed for the holiday. We will remain closed through the Friday and the weekend so that staff and volunteers can enjoy a long weekend with their families and friends. That doesn't mean that we are going to stay away from the ham radio stations, though! Please feel free to check into the daily EchoLink net as time and family commitments allow. I am hoping to sneak into the basement and turn on the rig a few times myself!

Harvest festivals are common in many cultures around the world, but thankfulness should be a year-around thing. We are thankful for our wonderful Handiham volunteers each and every day. They remain the core of the Handiham program, doing the organizing, building, designing, reading, tape production, teaching, and so much more throughout the entire year. Where would we be without them? "Hams helping hams" has long been our motto, and it represents the very best in amateur radio.

In the upcoming print edition of the Handiham World, which comes out next month, we will tell you about a cooperative project to help Diane, WD9DNQ, to operate her HF rig. The story is one in which volunteers come together to make a station accessible by voice command. Getting hams with disabilities on the air, making friends, helping others... we are truly thankful for our volunteers!

Patrick Tice
wa0tda@arrl.net
Handiham Manager

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Handiham World for 14 November 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • You can do this
  • At headquarters: Avery & Jerry are back
  • Volunteer hours needed - now you can send them direct!
  • Avery's QTH: Getting ready for the big day
  • What's an FMT? Read and learn, pilgrim.
  • EchoLink net update
  • Mailbag: I should have known better
  • November is a great satellite month
  • DAISY is the Word - here's why!
  • If you can't remember a tune, here's help
  • Free screenreader
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Greetings from my work-at-home office and ham shack.

WA0TDA with headset mic, apparently working on something.Well, well. The computer is not out in a snowbank and I'm still writing the weekly e-letter. Last week's unfortunate data loss is behind me, and I'm hoping this computer session will be more productive and less aggravating. Getting a lot of work done then losing it is just not an option, so this week's edition is being composed on Google's Page Creator. It keeps close track of "saves", and the undo function works flawlessly - so far. I wonder how far the trend will go toward web-based computer applications! I am virtually certain to make mistakes, and my old hard-drive based web editor has messed me up enough times to make me pretty wary. Once I lost the entire edition of the e-letter. Whether it was "operator error" or a computer bug, I don't know, but software does need to be a bit more forgiving in any case.

Last week I fell behind and was unable to produce audio lectures for our friends who are studying online. I hope to correct that situation this week - after all, we want to keep those folks busy, and every audio lecture hopefully brings our students closer to that first license or upgrade.

Which brings me to this: I know that there are some talented Handiham people out there who would do a great job as teachers, if they only thought about it a bit and decided to make the commitment to help others learn. Could one of those people be you? Think about how you would teach somebody a simple concept over the telephone. That's what teaching online in audio lectures is like. You have to describe things that are sometimes not described in the sighted world, because everyone assumes that the student can simply look at a diagram. Of course we know that is not the case! Sometimes it is necessary to compare one thing to another. A good example is the feedline we call "ladder line", to pick an obvious example. In an audio lecture, one would describe ladder line as looking very much like a ladder, with the two conductors on either side and the "steps" of the ladder being insulating material that holds the conductors in place and maintains consistent spacing along the entire feedline.

On the other hand, there are some things that can be taught "straight up", because they are as easily translated into ideas via audio as by the printed page. FCC rules and regulations, procedures for identifying one's station, and how to break into an ongoing repeater conversation all fall into this category.

For this volunteer work, you need a solid knowledge of the material you will be teaching, but you don't have to know everything, because you can always look things up before doing your audio lecture. Is this sounding interesting to you? Let me know and we'll talk.

Patrick Tice
wa0tda@arrl.net
Handiham Manager

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Handiham World for 07 November 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Analemma dilemma
  • At headquarters: Server upgrade continues, staff are out
  • Volunteer hours needed
  • Avery's QTH: No Avery
  • Ski in the desert
  • Lighthouse group offers free membership to Handihams
  • Mailbag: QST article is blind-accessible, new band plan for Region 2 makes waves
  • Free screenreader
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Handiham World for 31 October 2007


40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • A Halloween scare
  • At headquarters: Server upgrade, gooseneck mic at HQ shack, more
  • Avery's QTH: Halloween snowstorm
  • Lighthouse special event this coming weekend
  • Is open-source the answer?
  • Free screenreader
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Cartoon ghoul with pumpkin and HTGreetings from my work-at-home office and ham shack!

Graphic: The Old Man pays a visit. At least the pumpkin looks happy!

Here's a Halloween scare for you: Last week's "monopolizing the airwaves" comments were not the end of the story. If you will recall, I'd gotten an earful from a Twin Cities repeater user who thought that the Handiham nets were "monopolizing the airwaves". I never believed that to be the case, and said so. I think an aggravating factor was the fact that his favorite EchoLink-enabled machine was sometimes connected during the Handiham net. Frankly, that is not something I can really do too much about, but I decided to listen on that repeater to see if there really was a problem. Guess what? No problem. Hopefully that is taken care of and everyone can live happily ever after.

A few other comments that you were not privy to also flew across the email system, though. While I'm sure offense was not intended, one fellow complained that he understood that Handiham members "are generally retired, are disabled or are otherwise not busy, the users on (repeater frequency withheld) are the opposite of that..."

Then he went on to point out how busy he and his repeater user friends were (because they were working, of course) and how important it was for them to have a nice quiet repeater to use when their busy schedules finally permitted them to get on the air.

But wait, folks. That's not all! Then he went on to scold Handihams who transmitted over the top of him while he was connected to an EchoLink repeater:

"My experience in checking in once or twice a month leaves much to be desired, as I am often keyed over and talked over during my net-control acknowledged check-in. This is disappointing, and the hams that run your net should be ashamed."

Now, let me be the first to acknowledge that some Handiham members are retired, unemployed, and certainly do have disabilities of one kind or another. But that doesn't mean they are not busy, nor does it mean that, even if they have all the time in the world, that they do not have as much right to be on the air anytime they please. I don't recall seeing anything in Part 97 (The FCC rules here in the United States) or seeing anything in any other amateur radio regulations elsewhere on the planet, that gives priority on the airwaves to people with busy lives! In the years I've been working with Courage Center's Handiham program, I have met men and women from everywhere and every occupation. I'll never forget the medical professional who reinvented himself as an Internet vendor after losing his sight, or the vice-president of a big auto company who arrived at Radio Camp in a chauffeured limousine. Homemakers, IRS agents, scientists, doctors, computer science professionals, lawyers, teachers, clergy... we have had them all in Handihams. The idea that people with disabilities or who are blind are somehow sitting at home with time on their hands is just such ignorant thinking that it does put a Halloween scare into me!

Then there is the transmitting on top of others. Yes, that is certainly bad manners, and if the stations who did this actually realized what they were doing, I am sure they would be mortified! The Handiham nets are friendly get-togethers and no one would intentionally "step on" anyone else. But what is really happening here? The Internet introduces sometimes unexpected delays, and "newbies" who are not familiar with the EchoLink system and its quirks can occasionally cause doubling when they fail to allow adequate time to compensate for these delays. Used to operating on local repeaters or on HF, they think they are listening long enough and are transmitting on a clear frequency. Add to that the complicating factor of net participants who are using screenreaders to access their computers, and the sometimes cranky space bar transmit toggle in EchoLink, and the occasional mistake is pretty much going to be the norm.

As Jerry, N0VOE, has said many times, "this is why they call it AMATEUR radio".

Jerry has a point. It really is all about getting on the air, making friends, communicating, having fun, and gaining more technical expertise. But if newcomers are made to feel that they have to walk on eggshells lest they make a mistake, they will be afraid to try anything new. We don't want that, do we?

(Knock at the door))

Oh, excuse me... I have to answer the door.

Yes?

"I am the ghost of The Old Man... The legendary OM of amateur radio past."

"Are you here for trick or treat?

"No, I just wanted to remind your listeners about the Amateur's Code."

"Go for it. I'll just eat this candy while I'm listening."

The Radio Amateur is:

  • CONSIDERATE...never knowingly operates in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.
  • LOYAL...offers loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs, and the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.
  • PROGRESSIVE...with knowledge abreast of science, a well-built and efficient station and operation above reproach.
  • FRIENDLY...slow and patient operating when requested; friendly advice and counsel to the beginner; kindly assistance, cooperation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit.
  • BALANCED...radio is an avocation, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.
  • PATRIOTIC...station and skill always ready for service to country and community.

The original Amateur's Code was written by Paul Segal, W9EEA, in 1928, and I hope your readers and listeners will pay it heed, before it is too late...

"Gosh, he's gone. Vanished without a trace. Well, more candy for me."

Listen to the podcast to hear it all!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Handiham World for 24 October 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Monopolizing the airwaves
  • At headquarters: Camp dates set for 2008, equipment request submitted
  • Avery's QTH: A teaching moment
  • Space Shuttle audio
  • WWV rumor is good for a laugh
  • Free screenreader
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Greetings from my work-at-home office and ham shack!

Pictures: Cartoon graphic of sun and photo of Dennis, K0CCR, getting on the air.

Drawing of sunC'mon, sun! We are certainly stuck at low ebb as far as solar activity goes. I'm starting to think back to the last solar cycle's upturn, when the Icom company featured "Here comes the sun" ads. No one is ready to proclaim that the current cycle is ready to start producing more sunspots. ARRL reported last week that the sun was blank, and the SOHO sun gadget I have in my Windows Desktop Sidebar tells the same sad story this week. The past weekend I listened a bit on 20 meters and had to check to see if the coax was even connected, but it was just bad band conditions.

So what to do? Fortunately, with winter coming on here in Minnesota, we are starting to see better band conditions on 75 and 40 meters. The summer sun drives the atmospheric conditions that produce thunderstorms, and with less daylight we have less thunderstorm static on the bands. Even at solar minimum, these two bands tend to be reliable spots to make reliable HF contacts.

But EchoLink and EchoLink-enabled repeaters as well as the reliable IRLP system have really come into their own as the sunspot cycle tanked. November 4 will mark the end of daylight saving time here in the United States, which means that we will be making some changes in the Handiham daily EchoLink net. I have heard a number of suggestions about net timing, and we have boiled our choices down to these:

1. Keep the net time exactly as it is, without following the change back to standard time. This would mean that the 11:00 CDT net, which is at 16:00 GMT, would stay at 16:00 GMT but would change to 10:00 A.M. United States Central Standard Time.

2. Change the net time relative to GMT, but keep it the same time relative to Minnesota time. Thus, the net would be at 11:00 A.M. Central Standard Time, but change to 17:00 GMT on November 5.

Your thoughts on this are needed soon, so that we can make a decision.

Now, with that out of the way, here is some related information:

In an email discussion, Jerry, N0VOE, got the following comment from a local Twin Cities repeater user:

"It seems like there is a Handiham net on every day -- sometimes twice a day -- on the air. Is there really a need for MORE nets? Can't the Handiham folks get on the air without a net and participate in our king of hobbies with general chatter without monopolizing the airwaves?"

Are Handiham nets "monopolizing the airwaves"?

I would suggest that the ham bands are in need of more activity, not less. I monitor a few wide-area repeaters and hear little or no activity all day long. Even drive time is usually quiet, thanks to the availability of cell phones. If a Handiham EchoLink-enabled net is on the air an average of, say, 40 minutes a day, that amounts to 280 minutes per week. A week has 10,080 minutes, so if my math is correct, the Handiham nets are on less than 3% of the time. Granted, no one would consider the wee hours overnight as "prime time" on the repeater systems, but even so the daytime net usage can hardly be considered to be "monopolizing the airwaves". While some of the repeaters are linked in the Twin Cities coverage area (which makes the Handiham net appear on multiple systems at times), there are still so many underutilized systems out there begging for someone to throw out a callsign that it is virtually always possible to find an idle repeater.

K0CCR gets on the air to stay in touch with his friends.A ham who has not been active through several solar cycles might not be aware of how solar minima can drive ham radio technology and social interaction. At maxima, HF conditions are great and operators spend a lot of time working DX and enjoying reliable HF contacts, be they nets, contests, DX, or plain old QSO's. At minima, hams get creative and start building systems and gear that are suited to the diminished HF conditions. This is what drove the 2 meter repeater system into the mainstream of amateur radio at a time when manufacturers were selling HF rigs that worked only on the lower HF bands. At the current solar minimum it is VoIP that is now becoming mainstream. The technology follows the band conditions to allow hams to stay connected with new technologies and to maintain the social connections they have built up when HF conditions were better. Thus, VoIP has become a mainstay of really good, vibrant, healthy repeater systems.

EchoLink operation is also more inclusive, allowing Handiham members of any license class to interact over large distances. An HF net, to be as inclusive, would have to be on an HF phone frequency open to Technician class operators, which (of course) means 10 meters. Good luck with that at solar minimum!

So EchoLink can be an excellent way to bring new hams up to speed on operating skills at any time in the solar cycle. It is also ideal, because of its reliability, as a platform for social interaction among friends on the air. It is certainly better to use the repeater infrastructure than to let it sit idle. Unused spectrum is likely to be ripe for the plucking by commercial interests.

The way I look at it, the Handihams are doing their part. Now, how about some other users getting on the air and making use of that other 97% of the air time?

Patrick Tice
wa0tda@arrl.net
Handiham Manager

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Handiham World for 17 October 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Last call for antenna work in Minnesota!
  • At headquarters: Camp dates set for 2008, Lifetime membership considered
  • Avery's QTH: A physics experiment convinces the judge
  • Open-source screenreader project
  • Handiham volunteer admitted to Supreme Court Bar
  • Framingham ARA supports Handiham program
  • Meteor scatter fans - get ready for early Orionids
  • Straight Key Century Club membership won't break the bank
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Greetings from my work-at-home office and ham shack!

I'm tanned, rested, and ready after a week of vacation. Well, no, I'm really not, since all I did was take a week off to get things done around the house. At least I had time to finally rehabilitate my zepp antenna by replacing the entire length of wire, trimming all encroaching tree branches, and replacing and re-orienting the 450 Ohm ladder line that feeds it. An inspection of the Butternut vertical revealed that a piece of hardware had come loose, nearly allowing a stainless steel bolt to work its way out of the middle of the antenna. I replaced that from the old junk box and antenna bone yard that every ham worth his or her salt has squirreled away somewhere, and everything tests out as "good to go". Up here in Minnesota, we never trust winter weather to hold off too much beyond October, so one needs to get the antenna work out of the way before then. I remember a huge blizzard on Halloween one year (1991), and the snowfall exceeded three feet at my QTH. It would be a major downer to be in the middle of an antenna project and wake up to that! Who wants to spend the winter watching TV, when there is all that great DX on the ham bands during the winter months?

After that experience, I now look at Halloween as a sort of target date for getting antenna work completed. I know that I can always do any kit-building or experimenting with new modes later on, but it really is the "last call for antenna work in Minnesota" right now. If you are having trouble getting motivated, which sometimes happens when you have several antenna systems to maintain), you might consider performing "triage", the way they do at the emergency room when staff have many incoming patients with injuries. I like to begin by looking at anything that is not working and cannot be reached from the ground. Always take care of those things first, since bad weather will make them much more difficult later on. Then move on to the things that don't require so much climbing, such as replacing radial and grounding wires, sealing wire feed through spots in the walls, fixing the fence around the base of the vertical or tower, and so on. Even if bad weather closes in, those things can be taken care of whenever there is a mild weekend.

One bonus of replacing the entire 125 foot length of my zepp antenna is that the old wire can be pressed into service as additional radial wire around the base of my ground-mounted Butternut vertical. That is for an upcoming weekend... if the snow isn't three feet deep by then!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Handiham World for 10 October 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

Avery's QTH

...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Greetings from my work-at-home office and ham shack!

I am taking a week of vacation, but thankfully Avery is still in the office and he has sent you another edition of Avery's QTH.

There are no Friday audio lectures.

Patrick Tice
wa0tda@arrl.net
Handiham Manager


Photo: Avery looks for new funny stories with the largest magnifier he can find!

Welcome once again to my humble QTH:

Gosh, folks! I think we started something here as the funnies just keep rolling in. Here we go with this week's.

From Stanley Logvynenko somewhere in cyberspace:

Way back in the 1950's there was disaster in a coal mine in Nova Scotia Canada. Everyone was at the entrance waiting and waiting to be rescued. Also waiting at the entrance was this reporter. Every once in a while he would flash his camera's flash just to check his battery and it worked faithfully. After 24 hours the rescued miners started to come out and this reporter wanted to take the picture so he pointed the camera pressed the button but no FLASH...... He killed the battery by checking the flash too many times!

From David Depew, KF6TPQ, Burbank, CA:

This is not a funny, but is interesting at this 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik and of our U.S. satellite in January, 1958. In my senior year of high school in 1957-1958, I was taking chemistry. For my term paper, I wrote about ancient batteries. Electroplated jewelry from about 1,500 years ago had been found. The electric batteries used electrodes of copper and of iron with fruit juice as the electrolyte.

To research this, I went to the main Los Angeles City Public Library in 1958. As I looked through books on electricity and electronics from the early 20th century, there was something interesting. The old style cardboard cards were in the pockets inside the front of each book. Virtually all of those books had been checked out by "JPL" the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. JPL had designed, built and launched the Explorer 1 satellite in three months. I think that when they got the order to promptly build the satellite, someone was assigned to research in all the old library books for all possible information on batteries, in the hopes of building good batteries for the satellites.

In the 1980's, I met the man who designed and built the first little tape player that was in our PROJECT SCORE satellite. It carried a prerecorded Christmas message from President Eisenhower and broadcast it on December 19, 1958. That was the first voice ever beamed to earth from space.

I hope you enjoyed these week's funnies. Send me some more!

So until next time 73 es DX de K0HLA Avery

You can email Avery with your funny stories or anything else at:
avery.finn@courage.org

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Handiham World for 03 October 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Beep, beep
  • Avery's QTH: Thanks, but...
  • Poll says antennas need work
  • Change of seasons, change of... net?
  • Event certificates mail this week
  • Elmer goofs off
  • Magazine digest status
  • Revised Part 97 in text posted
  • Audio project status
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Handiham World for 25 September 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • It's just that I'm lazy
  • Joybubbles and the telephone
  • Avery's QTH: Hey, my light's gone out
  • Volunteer gets photo honors
  • Resource links - Part 5
  • Knock, knock. Who's there? FCC. Oh, oh.
  • Elmer tackles baluns
  • Magazine digest status
  • Last call: 40th QSLs need to be in now!
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Handiham World for 19 September 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Handiham survey updated
  • Avery's QTH: Marathon Cooperation
  • Resource links - Part 4
  • New online Q & A pool test and study site in beta
  • Elmer lists his open-source faves
  • Audio lectures return this week
  • Handiham server upgrade begins soon
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Handiham World for 12 September 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • K9HI gets on the big screen (not the movies!)
  • Avery's QTH: Avery catches up
  • Resource links - Part 3
  • Elmer bails out of Dragon, tries Vista voice input
  • Classes begin this week at Courage St. Croix
  • Handiham server upgrade begins soon
  • Friday audio lectures may be late this week
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Handiham World for 05 September 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Back to work
  • Avery's QTH: Avery recalls what happened last week
  • Resource links - Part 2
  • September Events by N1YXU are posted
  • Classes begin next week at Courage Center
  • Online audio lectures to resume this week
  • cassette tapeBook & Tape List Updated as of September 5, 2007
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Handiham World for 22 August 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Mother Nature throws Minnesota another curve, but ham radio is there.
  • Audio podcast special: Matt's unvarnished narrative tells about emergency response in flood.
  • Avery's QTH: Funnies part 8.
  • Elmer goofs off, says he's cleaning garage.
  • Radio Camp starts Friday.
  • CJ gets S-Line ready for camp.
  • September digests ready.
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Handiham World for 15 August 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Amateur Radio: It's not just about EMCOMM
  • Avery's QTH: Funnies part 7
  • Elmer transfers EchoLink settings
  • Radio Camp Countdown!
  • KA0PQW records TS-2000 audio tutorials
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Handiham World for 08 August 2007 (Part 2)

Re-post. Sorry about that missing audio link!

40 years of the Courage Handiham System

In this issue you will find:

  • No sunspots? Sun still helps us make radio contacts.
  • Avery's QTH: A bridge falls down
  • ARRL email forwarding hiccups
  • In AT: Blind Way Finder
  • Elmer and TV snow
  • August Events by Laurie
  • W2VU PopComm article added to audio for blind members
  • Band plans & beacon links
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

The Handiham World for 08 August 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • No sunspots? Sun still helps us make radio contacts.
  • Avery's QTH: A bridge falls down
  • ARRL email forwarding hiccups
  • In AT: Blind Way Finder
  • Elmer and TV snow
  • August Events by Laurie
  • W2VU PopComm article added to audio for blind members
  • Band plans & beacon links
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

73 - Pat, WA0TDA

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Handiham World for 01 August 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • How to avoid ghastly poetry & rotten tomatoes
  • Avery's QTH: Avery's funnies, part 5
  • Elmer and the zero-slash part 3
  • Magazine audio digest for August sent in 4-track
  • Radio Camp registration closes
  • Two specifically blind-accessible logbooks
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Handiham World for 25 July 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Vacation backup
  • Avery's QTH: Avery's funnies, part 4
  • Elmer and the zero-slash part 2
  • How long should Technician courses last?
  • We continue to work on Kenwood TMV71A resources
  • 40 Years of Handihams - Special Event creates 14.140 discussion
  • QST audio digest for August posted
  • EchoMac links update
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Handiham World for 18 July 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Odds & ends
  • Avery's QTH: Avery's funnies, part 3
  • Elmer and the zero-slash
  • More resources added on the Kenwood TMV71A
  • There is still room for Technician & Extra at camp
  • Virtual Courage North tour goes online
  • FISTS announces on the air events
  • 40 Years of Handihams - Special Event
  • WR audio digest for August posted
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Handiham World for 11 July 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Daisy, Daisy...
  • Super spot sparks space spectacular
  • Avery's QTH: Avery's funnies, part 2
  • July Events from Laurie (Yeah, I know it's a wee bit late - "my bad", sez Pat.)
  • N7HVF quick view of the Kenwood TMV71A
  • Open-Source Talking Book Reader
  • There is still room!
  • Making Contacts, Making Friends is back
  • QCWA audio is online
  • Elmer is off this week
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Handiham World for 27 June 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • No, not every antenna needs a tuner
  • ARRL website features Handiham story
  • Avery's QTH: Avery gives a signal report
  • Courage Handihams invited to ACB
  • FCC takes expected action, dismisses two petitions
  • UFO callsign never takes off
  • Old General marches off to retirement
  • Elmer: Where did the "rubber ducky" come from?
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Handiham World for 21 June 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Daily EchoLink net time change in July
  • Avery's QTH: Avery tells a funny
  • Hams with Special Needs Getting RadioACTIVE
  • Wanted: Early adopters!
  • July audio is posted
  • Open General - study quick - this pool is gonna go any second now!
  • Elmer goofs off (again)
  • Link to an active Field Day plan
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Greetings from Handiham headquarters!

Happy summer solstice to all of you in the Northern Hemisphere, and happy Winter to everyone south of the equator. I have always wondered how one decides whether it is summer or winter when one lives exactly on the equator! You are not imagining things - your weekly e-letter is really a day late. That's because we were at Courage North yesterday, and just didn't have time to put the edition together. Or maybe we were just waiting for summer to arrive!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Handiham World for 13 June 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • W1AGP is the new voice of ARRL Audio News
  • Will Talking Books go away?
  • Take a new Handiham online survey
  • Avery' QTH: He gets a call from the FCC!
  • TM-V7A comments point to a real winner of a radio
  • K9HI promotes ham radio at Zola Center
  • July magazines arrive; June audio is posted
  • Open General - study quick - only one short week left!!!
  • Elmer goofs off
  • Links to ham radio audio news from several sources
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Handiham World for 13 June 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • W1AGP is the new voice of ARRL Audio News
  • Will Talking Books go away?
  • Take a new Handiham online survey
  • Avery' QTH: He gets a call from the FCC!
  • TM-V7A comments point to a real winner of a radio
  • K9HI promotes ham radio at Zola Center
  • July magazines arrive; June audio is posted
  • Open General - study quick - only one short week left!!!
  • Elmer goofs off
  • Links to ham radio audio news from several sources
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Allen Pitts, W1AGPGreetings from Handiham headquarters!

Photo: Allen Pitts, W1AGP, the new voice of ARRL Audio News.

Before we get to the Talking Books story, it has been a busy time of year for many of us with graduating high school seniors. With so much going on, I'm afraid I sometimes get behind in my reading of amateur radio news. Even the ham radio audio newscasts sometimes have to go by the wayside when things get over-the-top busy in our household. I like all of the audio news features, including the RAIN Report, Amateur Radio NEWSLINE, and ARRL Audio News. Anyway, the reason I mention this is that I haven't had time to listen to Allen Pitts, W1AGP, the new voice of ARRL Audio News. I was reminded of this when I saw a note on the ARRL website mentioning that there were some glitches in the audio. Since we are all too familiar from first-hand experience with producing audio that has glitches, I could only be sympathetic! If one is going to have glitches in an amateur radio audio news program, this is probably the time of year to do it because so many of us are too busy to notice in the first place! I hate to admit how far behind I am in my reading of the amateur radio magazines in regular print format.

Well, hopefully that will change as we move ever closer to summer's premier operating event, ARRL Amateur Radio Field Day, some of the initial rush into summer will ease up a bit and we can pay a little bit more attention to amateur radio news and operating. In the meantime, I suggest getting your amateur radio news via audio while you are participating in some other activity like walking or running for exercise, driving your car, or simply relaxing. By telescoping activities this way, you can still keep your self up to date on the latest news without committing any more time to reading. Maybe you really can do two things at once!

Please be sure to give the ARRL Audio News a listen. Allen, W1AGP, is doing a wonderful job. There is a link to his bio in the RekkyTec links later on in this edition.

By the way, those of you who are listening to the Handiham audio this week will hear quite a difference in Avery's QTH. We have finally gotten Avery to sit down at a computer and record his audio using Audacity. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the difference in audio quality.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager
wa0tda@arrl.net

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Handiham World for 06 June 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • N7HVF posts operating event
  • N1KB honored with W1H event
  • Get a FREE Kenwood HT!
  • Avery' QTH: Band Police almost get Avery
  • FCC's ULS gets easier to use
  • Rusty resumes NTS birthday messages
  • June audio tapes are mailed
  • Open General - study quick - only two more weeks!
  • Laurie posts June events
  • Elmer: Poor you. You didn't listen.
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

N7HVF operates from the pontoon boat at radio campGreetings from Handiham headquarters!

Well, it is official. Handiham Radio Club President Linda Reeder, N7HVF, has published special event information on the ARRL website for the on the air celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Courage Handiham System. Of course we will have more about this upcoming operating event in future issues, but you might as well be among the first to know, so here are the details just as they appear on ARRL Web:

Aug 25-Aug 28, 1400Z-0200Z, Lake George, MN. Courage Handi-Ham System, W0EQO. 40 Years for Handihams. SSB 14.340 7.240 CW 14.140 7.040. Certificate. Avery Finn, 3915 Golden Valley Rd, Golden Valley, MN 55422. Using call signs W0EQO and W0ZSW.

I ask you to notice the dates of the event. Hmmm, let's see... What happens every year in late August? Anyone? Raise your hands if you know the answer! Okay, you in the back row -- do you know the answer? Yes, that's right -- Handiham Minnesota Radio Camp. This year, Radio Camp runs from Friday, August 24 to Friday, August 31. The operating event will start on a Saturday, which should be just perfect for anyone who has the weekend off from work and who wants to contact the Radio Camp special event stations.

Most special events have just one callsign, but we have decided to use both W0ZSW, the official Handiham Radio Club callsign and W0EQO, the usual Radio Camp station callsign because both of these calls belonged to important historical figures in the Handiham System. We will tell you more about that later on as we get closer to the operating event.

Linda has al ready made headway into the Handiham audio history project. She has been interviewing people and taking audio notes. She tells us how she got started with the Handiham System:

"When I first learned about Handihams, it was 1986. I already had my Technician license. I was putting the Advanced Class question pool into Braille..."

Podcast subscribers and website listeners will hear the entire text of Linda's comments. Thanks to N7HVF for all of her hard work on the Handiham History Project. If you would like to submit audio telling us about how you got started in ham radio and Handihams, please let me know. I will make sure that Linda gets a copy of your audio comments.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager
wa0tda@arrl.net

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Handiham World for 30 May 2007

In this issue you will find:

  • HQ news up front - celebrating volunteer milestones
  • Frequency Chart update
  • Avery' QTH: Disability can be a capability
  • Free Online Workshop on Electronic Braille Books
  • Open General - study quick!
  • Worldradio & QST digests for June are ready
  • Elmer: Say yes to ARRL Field Day
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

KC0LJL and WA0TDA on graduation dayGreetings from Handiham headquarters!

Photo: Handiham volunteer Will Tice, KC0LJL, wearing is cap & gown from high school graduation, and proud dad Pat, WA0TDA.

Some of our headquarters news needed to be put up front this week, because it is such a busy time of the year... Dayton is fun, but always sets me back a bit in office work. As anyone who works at a job knows all too well, the work tends to stack up when you take a few days away from your usual work routine.

  • I want to apologize for not getting a weekly Education email out, and for not getting any new audio lectures ready. This takes time, and I just didn't have enough of it! However, there will be new audio lectures tomorrow, Thursday May 31, 2007.
  • Pardon me for tooting my own horn as a proud papa, but congratulations are due to my son Will, KC0LJL, a Handiham volunteer, who graduated from high school last Friday. We are especially proud of his magna cum laude status and his achievement award in honors physics. He has received scholarships to attend St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, where he plans to pursue a combined major in math and computer science. St. John's University is the birthplace of Minnesota Public Radio and even sports part of the "Lake Wobegon Trail" on campus. Will's duties have included tape duplication, DVD duplication, washing dishes at Radio Camp, and currently website Flash development. We are so proud of Will... and we are so grateful to him and all of our volunteers who make Handiham services possible.
  • Phil at a W1AW operating position, one had on a cw paddle, the other on the radio tuning!Speaking of volunteers, Phil Temples, K9HI, a Radio Camp instructor and the computer professional who maintains our website, has received special recognition in the 2007 Community Service Award from his employer, Boston College, for his caring spirit in volunteer service to the Courage Handiham System. With Phil's help we have turned the Handiham website from a homemade-looking second-rate effort to a first-class web resource for Handiham members that delivers online audio and current ham radio and assistive technology news and features. Phil's focus areas at Radio Camp include advising the Handiham Radio Club and planning and management of public service and EMCOMM training. He has served as the Eastern Massachusetts Section Manager in past years, and now serves as ARRL Affiliated Club Coordinator in that Section.

Photo: Phil Temples, K9HI, operates W1AW. Phil was honored this month by Boston College for his volunteerism with Courage Center's Handiham System.

Congratulations, Phil!

  • Handiham Student Coordinator Jerry Kloss, N0VOE, celebrates a milestone this week when he celebrates his 70th birthday. Attaboy, Jerry!

Jerry, N0VOE, and Guide Dog Trawler in the handiham officePhoto: Jerry Kloss, N0VOE, and his Guide Dog Trawler pose for the camera in the office at Courage Center.

Jerry's duties include welcoming new members to the Handiham System and helping them with their first studies in amateur radio. Often times Jerry discovers that the new Handiham member does not know about resources that could help them with their reading, computer access, or mobility in other areas of life. Amazingly, people come to us for information about amateur radio and also learn about the Library of Congress National Library Service accessible audio, screen reading computers, state services for the blind, and service dogs, as well as other services available to people with mobility impairments, the deaf community, or people who cannot speak.

Jerry's friendly, welcoming manner puts newcomers at their ease and helps them become part of the ham radio community. He learned patience and good telephone skills while spending most of his working life at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Jerry recalls, "One person would call in to complain that we didn't put enough salt on the road to clear off the ice, and the next one would call in to tell us that there was too much salt on the roadway and that it was rusting his car".

So you can see that Jerry's job at MNDOT required good listening skills, problem solving, and plenty of diplomacy! All of these have turned out to be perfect assets for success in his "retirement job" at Courage Center's Handiham System. We are so lucky to have a nice guy like Jerry working for us. Best of all, 70 birthdays have not slowed Jerry down at all. Happy birthday, Jerry!

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager
wa0tda@arrl.net

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Handiham World for 23 May 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • We're baaaack!
  • Avery' QTH: Avery & his buds go shopping
  • W2TSE puts Seeing Eye on the air
  • Audio delivery plan from NLS
  • Open General - study quick!
  • Worldradio digest for June
  • Links to Fair Radio, CQ Serenade
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Back from the show
Hamvention 07Greetings, everyone!

Photo: Pat, WA0TDA, at the Handi-Ham booth, Hamvention '07.

Well, we are back from Dayton Hamvention and we have some interesting stories to tell you. Over the next few weeks we will probably remember something funny or interesting that we encountered during the world's largest amateur radio trade show. We want to thank the wonderful people at Hamvention for everything they do for amateur radio and the Courage Handiham System. Of course our volunteers deserve special recognition for reserving the booth space, arranging hotel accommodations, staffing the booth, and doing set up and take down. Thanks to John Hoenshell, N0BFJ, Larry Huggins, KA0LSG, and Jennifer Thompson, KC9AGR, for booth duties. Also, a special thanks to Avery Finn, K0HLA, for stopping by the booth frequently during the show and being willing to pose for some new "Avery's QTH" pictures.

Regular Hamvention goers will remember many weekends that included heavy rain and cold wind. This was especially true when Hamvention used to be held during the month of April. The Hamvention committee wisely moved the show date to mid-May, which definitely helped in the weather department. In fact, the weather was absolutely perfect -- not too hot or too cold or too windy or too anything. It made strolling around the enormous outdoor flea market a rather pleasant experience. It was fun to look at all the stuff that people think they are going to sell. I say "think", because some of that stuff... oh, gosh. If I ever brought some of those things home, I would be sleeping in the garage for sure! On the other hand, there is always some really good stuff. I generally shop for small items like replacement connectors, computer parts and wires, electronic parts, and small hand tools in the flea market. I am never disappointed in the selection. While musing over some audio equipment at one of the outdoor vendors, I spotted Chris Peterson, KG0BP, one of our long-time Handiham volunteer instructors. As many of you know, Chris is the producer and star of the audio shows "The Space Report" and "Chris's Radio Therapy". Chris advised me that we really should do something about our Handiham podcast audio quality, which even we have to admit is somewhat, um, borderline. He suggested a small mixer and a better microphone, which I will certainly look into. One thing we are doing with this podcast is increasing the sample rate to provide better audio quality. I welcome your feedback on how we sound.

But back to the show. Inside, there are acres and acres of vendors. Anything and everything having to do with ham radio is available at Hamvention, and the good thing is that you can see most of it right there in front of you! New transceivers and other new equipment frequently show up for the first time at Hamvention time. That is also usually the time new amateur radio study materials are offered for whatever new question pools are coming online July 1.

You cannot possibly see everything in only one day. Our volunteers set up the booth on Thursday, a day that I typically spend on the road driving from Minnesota. On Friday we are ready for a complete day at the show. Since there are more than enough of us to staff the booth, there is always time to walk around inside and outside. Actually, for me this is a very important part of the show. It is not that I am necessarily shopping for new equipment, though I do like to do that. The real value for me is meeting and greeting amateur radio operators at different companies and organizations, from far-flung places around the world, from different organizations like ARRL, FISTS, The RAIN Report, W5YI, and so on. I also delight in talking with supporters of our program like ARRL, Gordon West, and Buckmaster Publishing. Of course there are individual donors and supporters as well, and I enjoy visiting with them face-to-face and finding out what they are doing these days in amateur radio.

Hamvention is truly a great experience. If you have never been there, you should think about trying to make next year's show.


Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
patt@courage.org
wa0tda@arrl.net
Handiham Manager

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Handiham World for 16 May 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Hamvention bound
  • Avery' QTH: The gadget
  • Familiar voice to retire
  • AT Partnership
  • Open General - study quick!
  • New York City ARES makes EchoLink a permanent fixture
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Hamvention bound

This week, Avery and I, along with thousands of other amateur radio enthusiasts, are headed to Dayton, Ohio for the biggest ham radio trade show of all. We'll keep this issue short, so that we have time to pack clean socks and to set radio memories!


Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
patt@courage.org

wa0tda@arrl.net
Handiham Manager

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Handiham World for 9 May 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Meetings are good for something
  • Avery' QTH: Good ol' summer
  • DXTuners.com website goes bye-bye
  • Read those PDF manuals with your Kurzweil
  • QCWA & ARNEWSLINE announce mentoring program
  • May Events posted
  • Take the tour
  • Elmer goofs off
  • Eat like a radio camper
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Handiham World for 02 May 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • The next big thing
  • Avery' QTH: The stranger rides into town
  • Countdown to Dayton
  • Blind-Hams Reflector Update
  • ElseeMore client addition enhances EchoLink for blind users
  • Meet Tom Linde, KZ0T
  • Birthday message update
  • Take the tour
  • Elmer confirms it: Short-wave listening is changing fast!
  • In RekkyTec: Kenwood VGS-1 voice module
  • Eat like a radio camper
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

New Kenwood radio promises EchoLink connectivity

The next big thing
Kenwood TM-V71By Patrick Tice, WAƘTDA

At the Handiham System we are always keeping our ears to the ground, hoping to pick up the vibes on any new technologies, radios, or operating trends that happen to be coming our way.

It never fails; there is always something different and interesting on the horizon. The trick is learning to recognize it and to decide whether it will be the next big thing or just a ho-hum that will never really catch on.

In recent years, we have reported a lot about VoIP applications like EchoLink, written about accessibility, and even started an EchoLink-enabled informal net. We have set up an EchoLink-enabled repeater of our own for a week at Minnesota Radio Camp, and began training Handiham members on the use of EchoLink repeaters as well as the EchoLink software and how to access it with screenreading computers.

This month, with a proposed release date scheduled for late May 2007, the Kenwood Corporation will introduce the TM-V71A dual band mobile radio, which is specifically equipped for enhanced EchoLink operation. If you get QST, you can find the TM-V71A on the back cover, printed upside down. This was not an accident; the radio’s control head can be installed either way on the main body, so it is more versatile in mobile mounting. An optional VGS1 module provides vocal confirmation of frequency and other parameters as well as record and playback of received or transmitted signals, adding to its versatility for blind operators.

Why do I mention this particular radio? After all, new radios come out all the time. Well, it’s specifically marketed as being ready to work EchoLink, with its 10 dedicated EchoLink memory channels and sysop-mode operation. That says to me that EchoLink has arrived as an accepted operating mode that is well on its way to becoming mainstream in the amateur radio service.

Don’t believe me? As of 30 Apr 2007 19:13:30 UTC, when I am writing this, a quick check of the EchoLink logins page shows an impressive total of 3,648 logged in, with 1,648 of those being repeaters. Stations from everywhere are listed, from Iowa to China!

In a recent cross-country automobile trip with my family, I was surprised by how difficult it was to access repeaters along the route, and to actually find someone willing to carry on a contact. I wrote about this and soon heard from others whose experience echoed mine. Amateur radio is evolving. It may not be that long before the “legacy repeater”, whose traditional mode of operation on a single RF frequency pair limits its functionality to a relatively small footprint, falls into such a state of disuse that its claim to spectrum will be challenged. An argument could be made that this has already taken place, and legacy machines are dinosaurs on the way to extinction. The radio manufacturers are voting with the release of new features. Will repeater owners listen? Listen to more online!