[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 02 April 2014

  • From: Pat Tice <Pat.Tice@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2014 20:05:28 +0000

[Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health]
Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the 
week of Wednesday, 02 April 2014

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

MP3 audio:

Get this podcast in iTunes:
[Subscribe to our audio podcast in 

RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:

Welcome to Handiham World.
The frustration of DAISY production
[Pat holding NLS digital cartridge]
The DAISY digital cartridges and mailers are a huge step forward in reading 
technology for our blind Handiham members.  I'm smiling in this photo with the 
digital cartridge, but that's only because I'm not trying to create a DAISY 
book at the moment.

Okay, I'll admit it.  Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed by technology.  It 
happens in ham radio, as those of us who have tried to program several of the 
new crop of Chinese handheld radios can certainly testify.

"So complicated it would make a nun swear", opined one commenter on eHam when 
describing the HT's programming procedure.

Well, Amateur Radio is supposed to be a technical endeavor, so we had best be 
prepared to encounter new technologies and to make ourselves comfortable with 
change.  The new normal is that things change more quickly, and often more 
radically than they did in the past.  In the past few years we have made the 
trip from cassette audio tapes to digital DAISY audio to provide our members 
with easier to access audio that is compliant with world standards.  
DAISY<http://www.daisy.org> can be delivered via NLS cartridges in Free Matter 
mailers or by digital download from an internet server.  We provide both 
services, but the path from inception to final execution has been a bumpy one.

Here's the thing:  I'm the kind of person who will actually read an instruction 
manual because I like to have my best shot at making something work when I try 
to use it.  Like most of us, I'll take a middle path between studying the 
manual and just saying to heck with it and trying to figure it out by the trial 
and error method.  While I certainly had many years to figure out how to 
produce audio books on cassette tape, the pace of change (Remember that?) has 
compressed our learning times and even our production schedules.

Here's my dilemma: There's a lot to learn about digital audio book production, 
and with all of the hats I have to wear, I have to take a "just get it done" 
approach a lot more often than I'd like to.  I'd appreciate a more 
comprehensive cookbook on how to produce DAISY books, but I've run into another 
problem of the rapidly changing technology scene, and that is the lack of up to 
date and consistent support documentation.  All too often, hardware and 
software development are not marching in the same parade, and the documentation 
is still back at the starting line trying to figure out when the parade even 

So when using software DAISY production tools like 
Obi<http://www.daisy.org/project/obi>, I'm sometimes confused by updates to the 
interface or functions that are only documented in a change list.  And I might 
not even know enough about the change to realize what it means!  None of that 
is the fault of the software developers - they develop, and it is usually the 
job of someone else to document and teach. Obi is a fantastic tool - and it's 
getting better and better.  The issue is that I feel as if I'm flying by the 
seat of my pants at times, and when you are really, really busy because there 
are lots of other aspects to your job, you can feel... frustrated.

Let's take a look at how a DAISY book is produced in our system.  Remember that 
DAISY production is not a single process.  There are different ways to automate 
production, including text to speech from documents produced on WORD or Open 
Office, import from a folder containing spoken word audio files in a format 
like MP3, and a tedious process of recording spoken word audio directly into a 
DAISY production tool to match it with text.  Given the complexity of what 
DAISY can be, automated tools like Obi are essential.

We begin with spoken word audio produced either by me or by our volunteers.  
Most of us record on a computer with the free open-source audio tool 
Audacity<http://audacity.sourceforge.net/>.  Learning this can be quite a 
journey in itself, as those of you who record and process audio already know.  
Audacity itself has evolved over the years and has gotten to be quite a good 
tool with many automated features that can save editing time while producing 
very good results.

The finished audio is then delivered to Handihams for processing into DAISY.  
There are a couple of ways it can be done, but the easiest is via a cloud 
service like Dropbox.  The volunteer places the files in a designated shared 
cloud folder and notifies me by email that they are ready.  When I read the 
email, I transfer the files to my computer's hard drive, creating a folder 
specifically for that batch of files.  Our volunteers have helpfully given each 
file a name describing what it contains, such as "01-Introduction" or 

Now it is time to fire up my preferred production tool, Obi.  This excellent 
tool is available free from the DAISY Consortium, and it is usable (mind the 
learning curve) by sighted and blind users alike.  It took me a while to figure 
out that one doesn't have to manually import each audio file separately for 
every section of a book.  Obi will do that automatically, but you have to dig 
into the settings to avoid some surprises, like the names of the files being 
truncated, which in turn leads to a confusing menu structure in your finished 

Why is there a setting to allow for truncated file names?  I found that out 
when trying to save to DAISY after doing the first part of the production, and 
that is that there is a limit to the length of the path to the filename.  Why 
is that?  It's crazy, but you can't have a fully-descriptive folder name along 
with a fully-descriptive file name for the book itself.  These are the sort of 
things that drive me nuts when I'm trying to get things done and out the door, 
all the while staying on top of all my other jobs.

So naturally with a file and folder naming problem, things get disorganized and 
I lose track of what I have and where it is.  Add to that the production choice 
of DAISY 3.0 or DAISY 2.02 or both, and it gets even more confusing.  Even 
after considerable research, I still don't know if DAISY 3.0 is compliant with 
some, none, or all common DAISY players, including the NLS player.  Since I 
don't own a hardware DAISY player myself, all of my testing - when I actually 
have time to do any testing - is done with AMIS on a Windows 8.1 computer.  The 
safest choice seems to be to use DAISY 2.02 for now.

Perhaps it is my age, perhaps it is the file naming confusion, or maybe it's 
just that I have so much on my plate that stuff falls off on the floor for 
Jasper to scoop up, (Woof, woof), but I find that I have to regroup and 
reorganize my files just to keep on top of what I have!  Staying organized is 
essential, but it is challenging when tasks are so different and cannot be 
managed as neatly and tidily and one would want.  It's pretty difficult for me 
to change gears mentally from DAISY book production to a phone call from 
someone with a question about antennas, but that's what happens.  The resulting 
disruption can take its toll on the DAISY production task, resulting in 
mistakes at worst and extra time to get back into the groove at best.

Once production and file naming are completed, a compressed (zip file) version 
is produced if the book is to be offered as a web download.  This is done 
because it is easier for users to manage the download of a single compressed 
file than an entire directory of individual files.   When applicable, the zip 
file is uploaded to our server via secure FTP, and our website pages are 
modified to reflect the availability of the new book.

Meanwhile, back at the DAISY ranch, I still have to have a way to get the books 
out to our members who use NLS cartridges.  Our secretary, Nancy, maintains a 
database of NLS cartridge users and what they want on their cartridges.  This 
enables me to look at the database and know what needs to be placed on the 
cartridge for each user.  Some will want study materials, others will want 
equipment manuals, and most will want the monthly publications digest.  I 
remove the cartridge from their mailer, check the name on the mailer card and 
cartridge, then plug the cartridge into a USB adapter cable.  This brings up a 
folder view of the cartridge's contents, so I can determine what was on it last 
time and compare it to what will now be sent out in the current month.  I've 
hopefully chosen file names and formats that will agree with the user's player, 
and then I copy the correct files from my computer to each user's NLS 
cartridge, place each cartridge in its correct mailer, and mail out batches of 
Free Matter mailers.

These DAISY books are far, far better than cassettes ever were, but a job that 
was once accomplished by other staff and volunteers - audio copying and 
distribution - is now done by  just one guy - me.  Our recording volunteers do 
great work, but there is only so much I have time to do on this end.  That's 
why I depend on our users to alert me when something isn't working, and I'll be 
darned if I couldn't use a bit more help figuring out this whole DAISY thing.  
I know everyone is really busy - that's the way it is these days - but if you 
know something about DAISY production and could lend a hand or do some testing, 
even just occasionally, I'd sure appreciate it.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator


[Code Key]

Visit the Handiham booth at 2014 AES Superfest this coming Saturday!

Visit the Handiham booth and say hi to John, N0BFJ, at 2014 AES 
Superfest<http://www.aesham.com/aes-superfest-2014> on April 5th, 2014 from 9 
a.m. to 3 p.m.  The Superfest Grand Prize is a Kenwood TS-590S - Wouldn't that 
look good on your operating desk?


AES Milwaukee
5710 W Good Hope Rd
Milwaukee, WI 53223

Confirmed Exhibitors:

Cable X-Perts
Larsen Antennas
Unified Microsystems
West Mountain Radio


9:30 - WI ARES / Races - Skip Sharpe, W9REL
10:30 - History of the Milwaukee Radio Amateurs' Club - 96 years and counting! 
- Dave Defebo, WB9BWP
12:30 - Fox Hunting - Paul Gruettner, WB9ODQ
2:30 - Drawing of Grand Prize - Kenwood TS590S*

Milwaukee is now home to Icom's D-Star System and Yaesu's Fusion System. The 
Milwaukee Area Digital Operator's Group will be demonstrating both systems in 
their booth this year.

*Prizes: You must be present to enter the prize drawings. You need not be 
present for the grand prize drawing.

2014 Radio Camp (Saturday, August 16 through Saturday August 23, 2014)

The Equipment Program will be at Radio Camp.  Campers will be able to take home 
equipment, provided that the Equipment Program has it available.  Campers 
should let us know what they need to get on the air. Categories of equipment 
that can be made available for you to take home from camp are:

VHF/UHF radios

HF radios

Accessories like speakers and tuners

Morse code accessories

Other accessories - Please let me know what you need.

Dick, WA0CAF, likes a link:

This one is about designing in web accessibility from the get-go:

George, N0SBU, sent us some pictures of the new 70 cm Hugo repeater:

Here are some pictures of the 443.050. Take a look at the repeater website:



Dip in the pool dives into the Extra Class:

[battery charger]
Image: A battery charger can create 

Today we are checking out a question about noise - that annoying noise that 
plagues our receivers at times.

E4C15 asks, "What is the primary source of noise that can be heard from an HF 
receiver with an antenna connected?"

Possible answers are:

A. Detector noise

B. Induction motor noise

C. Receiver front-end noise

D. Atmospheric noise

Believe it or not, the right answer is D: Atmospheric noise is actually the 
primary source of noise that can be heard from an HF receiver with an antenna 
connected.  I picked this question because we are headed back into thunderstorm 
season here in the United States Upper Midwest as we move into Spring.  
Although we still have some snow on the ground, yesterday we had a few drops of 
rain and a bit of lightning and thunder.  The resulting noise in the radio 
spectrum can be profound - really disruptive.  When a strong storm is nearby, 
the HF bands can be unusable!

However, there are plenty of other sources of noise to make our lives difficult 
even on sunny days.  These are usually man-made RF interference, coming from 
appliances, TV sets, switching power supplies, motors, power lines - you name 
it!  We are pretty much on our own as to identifying noise sources before 
anyone will help us do anything about them, but there is a helpful resource on 
line where you can listen to the sound of various noise sources.  This can at 
least get you started on your detective work by knowing what kind of noise you 
might be hearing in your receiver.  It's the ARRL Sounds of RFI page:

It's not too early to think about Field Day:

  *   The 2014 field day packets and rules are available from ARRL.  Visit:

Practical Radio

[pliers and wire]

When do you need high power?

Ah, yes - the siren song of high power is calling you!  With that enormous HF 
linear amplifier you will definitely keep the band open hours longer every day. 
 You'll be top dog in the pileups.  No one will ask for repeats of anything.  
Life will be good.

Um, not so much.

The need for high power can be pressing at times and under special 
circumstances.  But most of us do not even need to own HF linear amplifiers to 
have a full amateur radio experience year in and year out.  Let's take a look 
at who might actually need an amp.

The Net Control Operator:  This is an operator who regularly has net control 
station duties, especially on the longer wavelength bands like 75 and 40 
meters.  Conditions on these bands can vary quite a bit, and to maintain a 
consistent signal the net control station may want to run a linear amplifier.  
An example would be when a 75 meter net control station needs to be heard over 
a state-wide area and there is a lot of atmospheric noise.

Operators who regularly keep a schedule:  These might be stations using 160, 
75, or 40 meters, or even some higher frequencies, who wish to have extra power 
available when sky wave propagation is not the best.  Most days 100 watts will 
be fine; other days the amplifier is nice to have so that you can keep the 

Operators who participate in emergency nets on the HF bands:  A linear 
amplifier may be called for when you have to make contacts and you do not have 
the luxury of waiting for conditions to improve.

But there are also some good reasons NOT to have an amplifier:

You usually will not need it:  This is a biggie.  Most times, most bands, and 
for most contacts, a linear amplifier will NOT make the difference between 
making contacts and not making them.  Especially on bands of 14 MHz and higher 
frequencies, if the band is open, you will make contacts.  If not, you won't - 
no matter what the power.

Money spent on expensive HF amplifiers would be better spent on beefing up your 
antenna system:  It's true!  An antenna with directional gain enhances your 
transmitted signal, just like an amplifier - but it also does the same good 
stuff to signals you are receiving, where an amplifier does nothing.  As the 
old saying goes, "You can't work them if you can't hear them."

Your ham shack might not be able to handle the power:  I'm talking the AC power 
coming into the shack.  Some hefty amplifiers need 220V service.  Electrical 
work is not cheap!

Amplifiers introduce another layer of complexity:  You are adding another piece 
of gear that needs to be hooked up, grounded, and powered.  It will also need 
maintenance and introduces another potential failure point in your station.

Power consumption!  You'll use more if you turn the amp on every day.  Better 
to go green if you can and use less power while benefiting by a higher gain 
antenna system.

RFI:  Your potential to interfere with all kinds of devices around your own 
home and those of your neighbors increases along with your power levels.  
Devices that are not affected at 100 watts might bark in protest and misbehave 
at 500 watts.  Think about smoke detectors, fire alarm systems, phone wiring, 
audio cables feeding stereo systems, TV sets, broadcast band radios, ground 
fault interrupters, you name it.

This is practical radio - Use only the power you need.

Handiham Nets are on the air daily.


Listen for Doug, N6NFF, tonight and try to answer the trivia question during 
the first half hour.  Check in later just to get in the log and say hello.  The 
trivia question answer is revealed shortly after the first half hour.  If you 
are up to a challenge, see if you can correctly answer this week's question.

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!

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 
Daylight Saving time and GMT is -5 hours and the net is on the air at 16:00 
hours GMT.

The two evening sessions are at 00:00 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:

This week @ HQ

[Cartoon robot with pencil]

Email changes coming April through May

We will be making some changes this Spring in our email systems.  Watch this 
newsletter and the Handiham website<https://handiham.org> for any changes in 
our contact information.

Digests & Lectures

Reminder:  If you use the NLS cartridges, please return them to us by the first 
week in the month so we can include your cartridge in the next mailing.

April 2014 QST Doctor column is ready to go out via NLS digital DAISY 
cartridge.  I'll be mailing them this week, time permitting.

CQ Plus April 2014 digest is in DAISY format.  Log in and check out the new CQ! 
 This will be included in this month's NLS cartridge.

QCWA Digest for April 2014 is available in MP3.

We have new CQ audio for our blind members submitted by Jim, KJ3P.  It is an 
interview with Jim Kutsch, KY2D, President and CEO of The Seeing Eye. This is 
from the January 2014 issue, and some additional audio submitted by Bob, N1BLF, 
from the March/April CQ Plus.  If you are a Handiham member and wish to be on 
our closed notification list for Friday audio, please contact Nancy Meydell in 
our main office.

I have started a recording project for Operating Skills, based on the ARRL 
book, "Internet Linking for Radio Amateurs" by K1RFD. The goal is to make more 
information on VoIP available to our blind members.

In the Extra Class audio lecture series we have completed the course, finishing 
up with safety. Everything is now on line and available either as a Daisy 
download in zip file format or as individual MP3 files.  The zip file is a half 
gig, so it is huge.  Please don't attempt it on a slow or flaky internet 

Jim Perry, KJ3P, Bob Zeida, N1BLF, and Ken Padgitt, W9MJY do the volunteer 
digest recording.  Thanks, guys!

In Operating Skills: Joe Bogwist, N3AIN, opens his Radio in the Dark series 
with tutorials on how to use the new Kenwood TS-590S 160 - 6 m transceiver!

Secure, blind-friendly Handiham website login:

*         We ask that you please log in securely if you are using any kind of a 
public network or unsecured wireless.

Remote Base News

Both stations are operational.

[W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North.]

[Kenwood TS-480HX transceiver with LDG autotuner]

Both Handiham Remote Base internet stations W0ZSW and W0EQO are on line for 
your use 24/7.

  *   If you use Skype for audio, please connect and disconnect the Skype call 
to the remote base manually.  The automatic calling and hang up is no longer 
supported in Skype.
  *   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:

Digital Cartridges now Stocked at Handiham HQ:

Nancy now has the NLS 4GB digital cartridges and mailers available at our cost. 
 She says:

We now have a supply of digital Talking Book cartridges and mailers available 
for purchase for our Handiham members.  The total cost for a set is $15.50.  We 
will download any digital study materials from the Members Only section of our 
website onto your cartridge at no additional cost.  Minnesota residents please 
add $1.13 MN Sales Tax.

[Pat holding up NLS digital cartridge and mailer]

Don't care to download Handiham materials via computer? The NLS 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, too!

Want to log in?  Let's go:

Secure, blind-friendly Handiham website login:

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.

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, 

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

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

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

The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital cartridges:

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<mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> or call her at 
612-775-2291 If you need to use the toll-free number, call 1-866-426-3442.

Nancy Meydell, Handiham Secretary: 612-775-2291 (General information about the 
Handiham program, membership renewals)

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA: 612-775-2290 (Program Coordinator, technical questions, 
remote base requests, questions about licensing)

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 
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:

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

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<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>  for changes of 
address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new address.

Return to Handiham.org<http://handiham.org>

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 02 April 2014 - Pat Tice