[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 28 March 2012

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2012 14:40:14 -0500

Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 28
March 2012

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center
Handiham System. Our contact information is at the end, or simply email
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for changes in subscriptions or to comment. You
can listen to this news online.

MP3 audio stream:

Download the 40 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player:

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Welcome to Handiham World.

[image: drawing of transceiver]
Off the shelf

Most of us have heard the expression "off the shelf" when it comes to
purchasing an item from a store. We generally understand this to mean that
the item is readily available so that we can simply walk into the store,
find it on the shelf, put it into a shopping cart, and head for the
checkout line to pay for it. Buying an item "off the shelf" means that it
is produced for a mass market and therefore the manufacturer can take
advantage of spreading the production costs over a large number of units,
thus keeping the price as low as possible. Conversely, an item that is not
available "off-the-shelf" is probably produced in limited quantities for a
much more specialized customer. Because the production costs per unit are
quite high due to the fact that there are fewer units manufactured, the
customer must expect to pay more for that item.

This is basic economics. It is the reason why specialized adaptive
technologies such as standalone DAISY players can command a price of
hundreds of dollars more than simple digital audio players that are
produced for the mass market and available anywhere.

Amateur radio equipment is rather specialized as a category in itself
because it is produced for a limited market of amateur radio operators. You
don't expect to be able to go to a big box store in your neighborhood to
buy a transceiver. Some amateur radio equipment is manufactured with speech
frequency read out built in, while some radios have an option for an
additional speech module for blind users. Within the specialized category
of the amateur radio equipment, this additional adaptive technology adds
only a modest amount (under $100) to the total purchase price. Considering
the size of the potential market, this is very reasonable.

Personal computers, now a mainstay of the modern amateur radio station,
have moved steadily toward "off the shelf" accessibility. Many assistive
technology features are now built into operating systems. Apple provides a
built in screen reader that is relatively full featured. Microsoft also
provides a somewhat less complete screen reader and a very good speech
recognition dictation system. Screen reading software and speech
recognition software used to be expensive additional purchases that were
definitely not "off the shelf". Today there are more options than ever to
get many of these features already installed on the computer you buy at a
local retailer. Rather than being optional at considerable extra cost, they
are now available to everyone at little or no extra cost. This is the power
of mass production and mass marketing to bring costs per unit down and
provide an excellent benefit to those of us who need assistive technology.

Earlier this week I talked with a Handiham member who was wondering about
more "off the shelf" solutions for people who read DAISY books. Of course
specialized standalone readers are available, but they are expensive and
they are something else to carry around. Some of them, such as the Library
of Congress digital player, work well and are readily available free of
charge from the government for anyone qualifying for NLS services, but they
are not portable and thus not convenient to use in more than one place. The
fact of the matter is that blind people need to be out and about for work,
shopping, and all the activities of daily life just as anyone else does. We
agreed that it would be better to have a portable reader that could easily
be carried around all day long.

This, as you might expect, led us to the obvious conclusion that an already
available "off the shelf" device that most of us carry around should also
be able to function as a DAISY reader. Of course that device is the modern
smart phone, which might be an Android or an iPhone.

Neither of us knew whether it was possible to turn a smart phone into a
DAISY reader, so when we finished our phone conversation I turned to the
iTunes store and the Android Market (now called Google Play) to search for
DAISY reader apps. Guess what? There are some, available from a cost of
free to around $15 available for my own Android smart phone. The best bet
for Android looks to me like it is the Darwin Reader that reads both Daisy
formatted text and audio books and is also compatible with Bookshare and
Librivox. That one is $14.95. Compare that to hundreds of dollars for a
standalone digital player. And you already have your phone with you if you
are like me! Daisy Worm is under a dollar and available for iPod or iPhone.
There is also a Learning Ally app for iPhone for around $20.

The neat thing about the off the shelf smart phone is that it can also run
Echolink, which can be useful when you are on the go and want to maintain
your regular net check-in schedule via the HANDIHAM conference.

Consider, if you will, the profound difference in access "off-the-shelf"
can provide. By finding ways to make things like screen readers and DAISY
players available on mass-produced devices, we ultimately make these things
available to almost everyone.

For Handiham World, I'm...
Patrick Tice, handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Handiham Manager
ARRL volunteers make an impression

[image: cartoon people lined up holding hands, big, little, different
colors, one using wheelchair]

I just got off the phone with a fellow who is studying for his first
amateur radio license and is entering the hobby as so many of us did
ourselves, as a listener who tunes around the bands. Recently he had
occasion to buy a new antenna, but really needed some help figuring it out.
When you are a beginner, you probably don't know much about antennas and
feed lines. A call to ARRL yielded a couple of resources, the Handiham
program and a volunteer ARRL technical adviser. To make a long story short,
this young fellow was able to call the ARRL and get a very encouraging
welcome to amateur radio along with the offer of technical assistance. A
Handiham volunteer also responded with the willingness that we see so often
in our amateur radio community. Kudos to ARRL and Handiham volunteers and
to ARRL and their wonderful programs.
Troubleshooting 101

[image: Cartoon guy with toolkit]

"Help!  I was using Echolink and all of my favorite stations just
disappeared.  I think I lost them!"

Echolink problems can show up when you least expect them, especially if you
are not familiar with the software interface.  This problem is compounded
if you are blind and use a screen reader to navigate the Echolink screen,
which has several different "areas" such as the station list, the text box,
the transmit keying area, and the current connections area.  An essential
skill is learning how to navigate with keyboard commands.  These are
available on the Handiham.net  website at http://www.handiham.net/node/286.
I suspected that the favorite station list was not really lost, but that
the view in the station list area had simply been toggled to so-called
"index view". This is the default list of everything, and it can be a bit
daunting, even for a sighted user.  The trick is to know the keyboard
command to toggle quickly between index view and explorer view.  Once that
information was conveyed to this user, he quickly solved the problem by
switching back to the familiar explorer view.  The command is CTRL + Page

If you are using a screen reader, be aware that some special keyboard
commands may be in play as screen reader controls.  Some screen reader
users may have difficulty figuring out how to get in to the text box of
Echolink using the keyboard, as it isn't very obvious. The keyboard command
is: alt 4. For users of Window-Eyes, it is necessary to type insert b
first, as this is their bypass command, and Window-Eyes won't try to accept
alt 4 as a screen reader command.

Email me at handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.
Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager
A dip in the pool

[image: cartoon kid doing math problems]

It's time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the pool - the question
pool, that is!

Today we are taking a question from the General Class pool:

G2D10 asks, "What is QRP operation?"

Possible answers are:

A. Remote piloted model control

B. Low power transmit operation

C. Transmission using Quick Response Protocol

D. Traffic relay procedure net operation

Yes, I know for most of our readers and listeners this is a softball
question.  QRP is a commonly-used term in amateur radio parlance, so you
likely know that it does refer to low power operation, answer B.  In the
for what it's worth department, I think QRP operation is something that is
often not on our radar screens.  Today's HF radios typically run 100 Watts
right out of the box, and the typical operator will simply run the radio at
the full power setting all the time. It is usually assumed that the full
power setting is necessary for reliable communications, but that is not
really the case.  On the 75 meter PICONET that I often check into, I hear
Jim, K0BFT, operating SSB with a power level of 10 Watts or less.   This is
almost heresy on 75 meters, where it is common to use a kilowatt, because
it is assumed that band conditions will require the extra power.

But that's not the case.  It is often possible to make very effective
contacts with 10 Watts, even on 75 m.  Better yet, low power can be used to
work around the world on higher frequency bands like 10 m, which has had
some excellent openings lately.  Consider giving low power operation a
try.  It can be very satisfying to find out how many contacts you can make
using QRP!
Story by KI6IET Appears in Worldradio Online

The inspiring story of Tom Howard, KI6IET, as told by Tom himself, is now
available on line in the April 2012 edition of Worldradio Online. Sighted
users please follow the link to the story:


While the story is not blind-accessible, it has been recorded in audio
format for our blind members.  Please go to the April Worldradio audio
digest in the members section at Handiham.org. Tom's story begins at 12:35
into the audio. Our thanks to Bob Zeida, N1BLF, for his recording.
Remote Base Health Report for 28 March 2012

[image: W4MQ software screenshot]

Earlier this week the T-1 internet connection at Camp Courage failed, but
our remote base station W0ZSW stayed on line, thanks to its use of a
separate DSL line.  Hooray for redundancy!

We have a new beta website for the remote base software. You may check it
out at:

*W0ZSW is on line.
W0EQO is on line. *

Please check the latest operating tips on the remote base pages:

Request for feedback!

Have you installed the remote base software?  How were the instruction
pages on our website?  We know that these pages need updating and we are
looking for feedback from users.  The idea is to make them less confusing -
and they are pretty confusing right now because we have added items over
the years without looking at the big picture.  If you have suggestions, we
would very much appreciate hearing from you. Please contact

The link to the daily status update pages:

Our thanks to volunteer engineer Lyle Koehler, K0LR, for his help
maintaining the station databases and updates.

[image: Cartoon dog barking at mail carrier]

Avery, K0HLA, writes about getting his latest edition of the FISTS

"I just read an article in the FISTS newsletter about working WAS on 900 mw
or less.  It was done on an Elecraft K2.  There is also an article on
learning CW, with several apps listed for your smart phone or iPad  It is a
cool issue."

Pat replies:  The FISTS newsletter is called "The Keynote", and it is the
official publication of the International Morse Preservation Society. I do
have a copy here and will read part of it for our audio digest if time is

N0YR delivered the following message sent via NTS:


Pat says:  The NTS, or National Traffic System, is there to handle
messages, and it is up to us to use it and keep it healthy and active.
Consider sending a message yourself through a traffic net so that you stay
in practice.
This week @ HQ

[image: happy cartoon guy wearing earphones]

The Handiham System will have an information table at Midwinter Madness
hamfest this coming Saturday, March 31st:

   - MIDWINTER MADNESS Hobby Electronics show Saturday, March 31, 2012
   8:00AM - 1:00PM
   - Buffalo Civic Center 1306 County Road 134 Buffalo, MN 55313
   - Talk-in on 147.000 +
   - Web site http://www.k0ltc.org
   - Email k0ltc@xxxxxxxxx
   - Sponsor:  MAPLE GROVE RADIO CLUB, PO Box 22613, Minneapolis, MN 55422
   - Phone 763 537-1722

Bob, N1BLF, has completed the April 2012 Worldradio audio digest for our
blind members. Check it out in the members section.  Thanks, Bob, for
another great job of recording.

April QST audio digest is now also ready for our blind members in DAISY
format, playable in your Library of Congress digital player.  Handiham
members who use these players and who would prefer to receive a copy of the
monthly audio digests on the special Library of Congress digital cartridge
should send a blank cartridge to us in a cartridge mailer (no envelopes,
please), so that we can place the files on it and return it to you via free
matter postal mail.  Your callsign should be on both the cartridge and the
mailer so that we can make sure we know who it's from. Blank cartridges and
mailers are available from APH, the American Printing House for the Blind,

   - Digital Talking Book Cartridge Catalog Number: 1-02610-00, Price:
   - Digital Talking Book Cartridge: Mailer Catalog Number: 1-02611-00,
   Price: $2.50

Order Toll-Free: (800) 223-1839.

April QST audio digest is now also ready for our blind members in DAISY
format, as a digital download for your computer DAISY player or to place on
your digital cartridge or other portable DAISY player. Visit the DAISY
section on the website after logging in.

Members Only Website Update:

Handiham.org open enrollment is over, but Handiham members who do not have
log in credentials for the site may request them by emailing
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx This step was taken to curtail the hundreds of
account requests from spammers and other non-members each week.
Tonight is EchoLink net night.

[image: Echolink screenshot]

The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is at 19:30 United States Central time,
which translates to 00:30 GMT Thursday morning.

The 11:00 daily net will be heard at 16:00 GMT.

EchoLink nodes:

HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)
KA0PQW-R, node 267582
KA0PQW-L, node 538131
N0BVE-R, node 89680
N9GMR-R 640860
W0EQO-R, node 309436

Other ways to connect:

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)
WIRES system number 1427

More information about repeaters and nodes may be found at
Stay in touch!

Be sure to send Nancy your changes of address, phone number changes, or
email address changes so that we can continue to stay in touch with you.
You may either email Nancy at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or call her at
763-520-0512.  If you need to use the toll-free number, call

Handiham Manager Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, may be reached at
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or by phone at 763-520-0511.

Mornings Monday through Thursday are the best time to contact us.

Answers to many questions about radios, Echolink, nets, and the Remote Base
stations are all at www.handiham.org.
Supporting Handihams - 2012.

Now you can support the Handiham program by donating on line using Courage
Center's secure website. It is easy, but one thing to remember is that you
need to use the pull-down menu to designate your gift to the Handiham

Step one: Follow this link to the secure Courage Center Website:

Step two: Fill out the form, being careful to use the pull-down Designation
menu to select "Handi-Hams".

Step three: Submit the form to complete your donation. If the gift is a
tribute to someone, don't forget to fill out the tribute information. This
would be a gift in memory of a silent key, for example.

We really appreciate your help. As you know, we have cut expenses this year
due to the difficult economic conditions. We are working hard to make sure
that we are delivering the most services to our members for the money - and
we plan to continue doing just that in 2012.

Thank you from the Members, Volunteers, and Staff of the Handiham System.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager

Handiham Membership Dues

Benefits of membership:


Handiham renewals are on a monthly schedule - Please renew or join, as we
need you to keep our program strong! You will have several choices when you

   - Join at the usual $12 annual dues level for one year. Your renewal
   date is the anniversary of your last renewal, so your membership extends
   for one year.
   - Join for three years at $36.
   - Lifetime membership is $120.
   - If you can't afford the dues, request a 90 day non-renewable sponsored
   - Donate an extra amount of your choice to help support our activities.
   - Discontinue your membership.

Please return your renewal form as soon as possible. Your support is
critical! Please help.

The Courage Handiham System depends on the support of people like you, who
want to share the fun and friendship of ham radio with others. Please help
us provide services to people with disabilities. We would really appreciate
it if you would remember us in your estate plans. If you need a planning
kit, please call. If you are wondering whether a gift of stock can be given
to Handihams, the answer is yes! Please call Walt Seibert at 763-520-0532
or email him at walt.seibert@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Ask for a free DVD about the Handiham System.

It's perfect for your club program, too! The video tells your club about
how we got started, the Radio Camps, and working with hams who have

Call 1-866-426-3442 toll-free. -- Help us get new hams on the air.

Get the Handiham E-Letter by email every Wednesday, and stay up-to-date
with ham radio news.

You may listen in audio to the E-Letter at www.handiham.org.
Email us to subscribe:

Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at

   - Beginner
   - General
   - Extra
   - Operating Skills

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System!
Manager, Courage Handiham System
Reach me by email at:

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

Radio Camp email:

*ARRL is the premier organization supporting amateur radio worldwide.
Please contact Handihams for help joining the ARRL. We will be happy to
help you fill out the paperwork!*

[image: ARRL Diamond Logo]

The weekly e-letter is a compilation of software tips, operating
information, and Handiham news. It is published on Wednesdays, and is
available to everyone free of charge. Please email
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc.
Include your old email address and your new address.

Courage Center Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN 55422

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