[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 20 November 2013

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2013 15:29:24 -0600

Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health

Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 20
November 2013

This is a free weekly news & information update from  <http://handiham.org>
Courage Kenny 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.  

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Welcome to Handiham World.

Reading online 

Which devices and software do you use to access websites and read online

Are any of them accessible?

Pat holds up Android phone showing text from Treasure Island: Yo-ho-ho, and
a bottle of rum!

Here I am, holding up my Google Nexus 4 smartphone running the Kindle app.
The screen displays a page from "Treasure Island" - "Fifteen men on the dead
man's chest -- Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"

Novels like Treasure Island are a breeze to read on a smartphone with the
right software. My wife uses a Kindle Fire, which has a bigger screen, but I
prefer the Kindle app on my much more portable smartphone. Both of us can
see the screens, so accessibility issues are related to the size of the
text.  Both devices allow us to resize the text for comfortable reading.
Since I use bifocals, I appreciate the accessibility on these devices. Both
also browse the web, and the trend toward  "mobile" websites is much
appreciated.  These websites feature larger text that flows to the available
space as well as a simpler, less cluttered website structure. 

There are lots of other ways to read downloadable books and on line
publications.  Amateur Radio and most other magazines are online and
accessed by users running special apps or through web browsers that load
third-party software.  As a sighted person, I am able to read all of them on
my wide computer screen, but that is not true for all users.  Some apps are
not blind-accessible.  Others just don't translate well to the smaller
screens on portable devices.  

Most major publications follow the same publishing philosophy:  replicating
the printed page on a digital publishing platform.  It works on a large 16
by 9 format screen, but on the small screen of portable devices, I find
myself constantly resizing text and then scrolling left, right, up, down,
and finally going back to the print copy snarkily referred to as "the dead
tree edition".  The advantage of replicating the printed page is that the
publication appears exactly as it does in print.  That is also its
disadvantage, since real estate on a small screen is way, way more valuable
and scarce than it is on a desktop LCD that might be 24 inches from corner
to corner. Incidentally, running amateur radio applications on a large LCD
screen is quite a bit different than trying to run the same interface on a
mobile phone or even a tablet. On mobile devices microscopic on-screen
controls make for frustration, lots of scrolling, plenty of pinch and zoom,
and mistakes when one toggles the wrong button or form. That means that
applications also really should have a "mobile" version along with a
separate desktop version.

Newspaper websites are a good example of a mostly accessible online
publication model. Many of the newspapers offer some pay-for "look-alike"
online reproduction of the regular print version. I subscribed to my local
newspaper here in the Twin Cities, the Star-Tribune.  For purposes of this
essay, the Star-Tribune is interesting because it includes multiple
publishing platforms. There is a standard website version, a cleaner-looking
mobile version, an online reproduction of the print version, and the regular
print version that is delivered to homes or sold in newspaper machines or at
newsstands. I find myself getting tested on which of these platforms works
the best each Sunday, when we get the print edition delivered to our house.
I find myself not even looking at the print version because the regular
website version works better for me, with the exception of the color comics
pages. I would say that the least-used of any of these four platforms to
consume the exact same content would be the exact online digital
reproduction of the print version. The reasons are the same ones I have
already outlined: it is bothersome to have to resize text that does not flow
automatically and to have to scroll up and down and left and right many
times while trying to get through a single article. That makes me wonder if
I would be able to get by without a print version of the monthly magazines
to which I subscribe if the only online option is the "exact reproduction"
version that I find difficult to use.

I want to make it perfectly clear that these exact reproductions of the
print versions do not work well on smart phones. That wouldn't really be a
big deal if smart phones were a passing fad, but I recently read an article
about how Internet cafés around the world have seen such a drop-off in
business because of smart phone penetration into the marketplace that they
have had to either close or start selling other products and services.  Big,
clunky desktop computers are losing ground, and if it is hard to read online
publications on the devices people prefer - tablets and smart phones - my
guess is that they won't get read. 

But none of this actually addresses robust accessibility for blind users.
While a blind user can read my local newspaper thanks to the four possible
choices for platforms, most of the "exact reproduction" models use some kind
of technology that does indeed do well at imitating a print version but that
suffers from all of the aforementioned deficiencies and is also completely
inaccessible to blind readers.

Why is that?  Why do publishers use these platforms?

There are two reasons that strike me as likely:

1.      Publishers feel that they can wean print users away from physical
products that are expensive to produce and deliver to much cheaper digital
delivery.  The thinking (I suspect) is that these consumers are set in their
ways and will only accept a digital product that mimics what they are used
to in print.  

2.      The content in digital publications is too easy to steal unless it
is in some proprietary and usually non-accessible format.  It is shocking to
find out how much intellectual property is stolen and reposted all over the
place on the internet, some of it including entire books. 

The only one I consider truly valid is the anti-piracy concern.  Sure, there
are people who probably actually like the exact reproduction version of
their favorite publications, but I submit that they will eventually move to
easier to use platforms and seldom (if ever) look back. Some of them may
find the navigation and resizing just too bothersome. Others will upgrade
their hardware to some sort of tablet or mobile device and find the exact
reproduction to be too hard to use. Younger people using smart phones will
not even bother in the first place with clunky exact reproduction platforms.
And of course those of us in the aging baby boom demographic may need better
accessibility features that include blind access.

Content theft is an entirely valid concern. It is a real problem and is
widespread across the Internet. Unfortunately most anti-piracy solutions
also obliterate blind accessibility. The real challenge is to combine both
reasonable security and effective accessibility in a single platform. If
that cannot be accomplished, it means that an alternative accessible edition
is the fallback option. From websites to magazines to software,
accessibility remains elusive. The problem with this situation is that
accessible editions often don't even exist as an option!  That means that a
significant segment of the population simply cannot enjoy these products or
services. Furthermore, even when alternative options are available, they are
sometimes only produced much later than the original product and may be
incomplete. There is nothing new about this; blind people have lived in this
world since ever.

What can be done?  

First, let's all take a deep breath and think about the other guy.  The
blind user wants equal access.  The publisher wants to sell books without
having them shameless pilfered. Website developers want to produce
compelling eye candy to attract traffic and increase exposure to advertising
content.  Consumers want everything for free, or as close to it as possible.
Clearly there needs to be some middle ground, right?

The publishing business is evolving fast.  Just when exact reproduction web
browser plug-ins seemed to be the solution, along came smart phones and
small tablets that proved to be unfriendly to that format.  Before that,
print publications had begun to take a serious drubbing from the Internet.
Newspaper publishers felt that they had to have websites, but were left
wringing their hands over the hemorrhage of paid subscribers who could get
the same content on line for free.  Where this will all go is still hard to
say, but in the Autumn of 2013 it is still an open question as to how
content will be delivered to all who wish to consume it. 

At the Handiham Program we are trying to find accessible ways to make things
work, from websites to software to publications. It isn't easy, and we could
use your input whenever you find something that doesn't work for you. In
some cases, there may not be a fix, but that doesn't mean we won't look for
one.  And of course when you have ideas, we want to hear them.  My personal
wish would be accessibility that is built-in to software, websites, and
publications from the very beginning instead of added on after the fact.  

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator



Four amateur radio satellites ready for launch

Four new Amateur Radio "Cubesats" will be launched into orbit on Wednesday,
according to NASA: "The Japanese robotic arm will unberth the platform from
the Small Fine Arm airlock attach mechanism and maneuver it into position to
release the small satellites known as Cubesats. Three satellites -- Pico
Dragon, ArduSat-1 and ArduSat-2 -- will be deployed on Tuesday, and the
fourth Cubesat, TechEdSat-3p, will be deployed Wednesday."

*       Read the Cubesat story on the NASA website.

NASA says sun's magnetic field is ready to flip

We have been enjoying some good HF radio propagation as we approach solar
max in Cycle 24, and one of the things that happens at peak is the sun's
magnetic field reverses. According to solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of
Stanford University as quoted on NASA.gov, "This change will have ripple
effects throughout the solar system. The sun's magnetic field changes
polarity approximately every 11 years. It happens at the peak of each solar
cycle as the sun's inner magnetic dynamo re-organizes itself. The coming
reversal will mark the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24. Half of "solar max" will
be behind us, with half yet to come."

*       Read the entire story on NASA.gov and check out the YouTube video.
The date of this story is early August, which means that we are about at the
predicted reversal window right now in mid-November.

ARRL Files “Symbol Rate” Petition with FCC 

Once again ARRL presses for modernization of our regulations, requesting
that the FCC update Part 97 to provide a more realistic method of managing
spectrum while still allowing for experimentation with new, efficient data
protocols. The old symbol rate system would instead be replaced with a
"maximum bandwidth for data emissions of 2.8 kHz on amateur frequencies
below 29.7 MHz." 

*       Read the entire story on ARRL.org.


Practical Radio

pliers and wire

What's with that dead band?  Why are there no signals? What's wrong with my

Sure, it could be band conditions.  Maybe there's been a solar storm and the
bands are stinko.  But consider that it might be your automatic antenna
tuner.  Or pilot error. 

Every so often I take a look at the W0ZSW remote base station to observe
right at the rig what is happening when a user is connected.  Sometimes
registered ops or "Guest" ops are logged in, and the radio is tuned to some
rather odd frequency where there is likely to be nothing but static.  Other
times I see familiar call signs of regular, experienced users and the radio
is tuned to a frequency in a band that is open and signals are being heard.
I have puzzled about this for a while and have tried to think about why
users would tune the radio to a dead band.

I suppose there are several possibilities. A guest user probably doesn't
know much about how to use the radio or software and might not even have a
license. Of course one cannot transmit with a guest account, but the radio
can be controlled for receive purposes. It is easy to imagine that this kind
of user would not know which bands are open at any given time of the day or
night. There are some registered users who do the same thing and obviously
to be registered they do have to be licensed, but perhaps we should not be
assuming that they know how HF propagation works.

I was discussing this with one of our volunteers the other day and we agreed
that the entry into amateur radio via a mostly VHF FM repeater experience
with the Technician license would not give one the necessary experience to
understand the HF bands. It is easy for a beginner to assume that they will
hear signals nearly anywhere and then to cast about more or less at random
around the bands without finding much of anything.  That leads to
discouragement and possibly the assumption that HF isn't worth the trouble.
Unlike the repeater, there is no identifier coming back to you after you
transmit your call. 

There is also the possibility that some of the users do not understand the
importance of using the antenna tuner correctly. The LDG tuners that we use
sense RF energy on transmit and tune until a satisfactory match is found. If
a frequency has not been used recently, the tuner may need several seconds
of stable key down RF to achieve the match.  One way to make this happen is
to switch to AM mode (assuming you are in the phone portion of the band) and
key down for several seconds while identifying your transmission.  It will
not necessarily work to transmit SSB to make the LDG achieve a match,
because you are not transmitting a consistent signal long enough for the
tuning cycle to complete.  A symptom of this is that the tuner clatters away
as you speak to the other station during your transmission, and the other
station may describe your signal as "choppy".  The problem is that you, the
user operating from far away at your home computer, cannot hear the tuner
struggling to find a match.  It is exceptionally important to have a match
because a mistuned antenna system may not receive properly and may sound
"dead" even when there are signals on the band.

The W0ZSW station showing the LDG autotuner near the center.

·         Tip: Once the LDG tuners memorize a frequency, the next time that
frequency is used (or one very nearby), the tuning is nearly instantaneous. 

·         Tip: Sometimes the band is open but newbies have no idea where to
look for signals.  This is something that comes by experience, but generally
speaking you will find some stations just above the lower end of the General
Class phone band.

·         Tip:  If you are unable to hear signals on your HF rig and you
have tried making sure the antenna is correctly connected and tuned, check
the RF gain and make sure it is at 100%.  

·         Tip:  If you are a Handiham Remote Base registered user and have
trouble hearing stations when connected, be sure the antenna is tuned and
you have identified yourself after transmitting.  

·         Tip:  Check the HF propagation forecast.  The bands may be really,
really bad following a coronal mass ejection from the sun.  This has caused
some of us to think our antennas had actually been disconnected or had
fallen down. Band conditions: Check
http://handiham.org/remotebase/station-status/ for a current HF conditions
report from G4ILO. 

·         Tip:  Learn more about LDG automatic antenna tuners on YouTube,
where LDG has posted some excellent instructional videos which also include
very good audio. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-mZFfqWfGc> 

·         Tip:  If you have a manual antenna tuner, YouTube can also help
you out with some information about how to use it.  This is a video
describing the use of a roller inductor style tuner, the MFJ Versa Tuner 5.

This is practical radio.  Use what works for you.


Handiham Nets are on the air daily. 

If there is no net control station during any scheduled net time, just go
right ahead and start a round table discussion. 

TMV71A transceiver

We are scheduled to be on the air daily at 11:00 USA Central Time, plus
Wednesday & Thursday evenings at 19:00 USA Central Time.  A big THANK YOU to
all of our net control stations!  What will Doug, N6NFF, come up with for
his trivia question tonight? Tune in and see how you do with the question
this week, or just check in to say hello.  

We maintain our nets at 11:00 hours daily relative to Minnesota time.  Since
the nets remain true to Minnesota time, the difference between Minnesota
time and GMT is -6 hours.  The net is on the air at 17:00 hours GMT.   

The two evening sessions are at 01:00 GMT Thursday and Friday.  Here in
Minnesota that translates to 7:00 PM Wednesday and Thursday.  

The official and most current net news may be found at:


A dip in the pool

Pat shows off his new Plantronics USB headset!

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

Let's go to the Extra Class pool and examine a question about noise:

E8C09 asks, "Which of these techniques causes a digital signal to appear as
wide-band noise to a conventional receiver?"

Possible answers are: 

A. Spread-spectrum 

B. Independent sideband 

C. Regenerative detection 

D. Exponential addition 

Lately we have been discussing digital signals in our Extra Class course,
and we have found that spread-spectrum signals can actually raise the noise
level for conventional receivers when there are enough of these signals in
the same area.  The correct answer is A: Spread-spectrum.  Ideally the
spread-spectrum signal is at such a low level that it falls beneath the
receiver's noise threshold and is never noticed.  

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment. 


This week @ HQ

Cartoon robot with pencil

Office closed on Friday, 22 November 2013

·         Our office is closed on Fridays through the end of the year.  We
are also going to be closed for a long Thanksgiving Day holiday 28-29
November. Please note that this date was incorrect (a week too early) in the
last edition of your e-letter and podcast, though it was correct on our
website.  Whatever you do, don't show up at your mother-in-law's house this
week expecting Thanksgiving dinner or you will likely instead be given a job
like cleaning out the rain gutters before being rewarded with a dinner of
canned soup and a peanut butter sandwich. 

New web design software

*       Microsoft Expression Web 4 is now in use to produce this newsletter.
Please let us know if there is anything that is not accessible or that is
improperly formatted.  


*       ARRL has published the December QST on line for ARRL members. The
National Library Service is back on schedule for the DAISY version. 
*       Worldradio Online for November has been completed by Bob Zeida,
N1BLF.  Thanks, Bob!
*       QCWA Journal audio for November is in the members section and also
be available from the QCWA website.  
*       QST digest audio for November is now available in DAISY for our
Handiham members.
*       CQ for October is also available.  There is a delay in the November
*       Jim Perry, KJ3P, Bob Zeida, N1BLF, and Ken Padgitt, W9MJY have
kindly done the volunteer recording.  

Remote Base News

W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North.

Both Handiham Remote Base internet stations W0ZSW and W0EQO are on line.  

*       The LDG AT200Pro is back in service at W0ZSW after our run of
testing with the AT1000Pro2.
*       200 watt operation is restored on 160, 80, and 40 meters for Extra
and Advanced Class users on W0ZSW. 

·         Outages: Outages are reported on

Operating tip:  Find out how to tell if the remote base station is already
in use if you are using JAWS: 

*       Listen to the tutorial:
*       Read the tutorial in accessible HTML: 


Pat holding up NLS digital cartridge and mailer 
Don't care to download Handiham materials via computer? This digital
cartridge and mailer can bring you Handiham audio digests each month, plus
we have room to put the audio lecture series or equipment tutorials on them,

*       If you have trouble logging in, please let us know.  
*       All Daisy materials are in zip file format, so you simply download
the zip file you need and unzip it so the Daisy book folder can be accessed
or moved to your NLS or other Daisy player.
*       Tip: When in the Daisy directory, it is easy to find the latest
books by sorting the files by date. Be sure the latest date is at the top.
The link to sort is called "Last Modified".  
*       You can also find what is on a web page by using CONTROL-F.  This
brings up a search box and you can type a key word in, such as "September".
You may find more than one September, including 2012, but you will
eventually come across what we have posted for September 2013. 

*       Our thanks to Bob, N1BLF, Jim, KJ3P, and Ken, W9MJY, for reading
this month.  Look for these DAISY materials in the members section.

Digital mailers are important: If you do mail a digital cartridge to us,
please be sure that it is an approved free matter mailer. Otherwise it will
quickly cost us several dollars to package and mail out, which is more than
the cost of the mailer in the first place. We don't have a stock of
cartridges or mailers and not including a mailer will result in a long delay
getting your request back out to you. 

DAISY audio digests are available for our blind members who do not have
computers, 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 call sign 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,
Inc. <http://www.aph.org>  

Digital Talking Book Cartridge, 4GB, Blank; Catalog Number: 1-02609-00,
Price $13.00

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

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

The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital
cartridges:  <http://www.loc.gov/nls/cartridges/index.html> 

Get it all on line as an alternative:  Visit the DAISY section on the
Handiham website after logging in. 


Stay in touch

Cartoon robot with cordless phone

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 1-866-426-3442.

Handiham Program Coordinator 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. 

The Courage Kenny Handiham Program 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. 

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 Handiham Weekly E-Letter in MP3
format <http://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3> 
Email us to subscribe:

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

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

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!

ARRL diamond-shaped 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.

 <http://handiham.org> Courage Kenny Handiham Program
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422


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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 20 November 2013 - Patrick Tice