[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 23 July 2014

  • From: <Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:11:33 -0500

Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for
the week of Wednesday, 23 July 2014

This is a free weekly news & information update from  <http://handiham.org>
Courage Kenny Handiham System. Our contact information is at the end. 

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Welcome to Handiham World.

Planning for that next phase in life - Part 2

IC-7200 tuned to 3.925 MHz and LDG AT-200Pro tuner

Special edition:  Making it easier at home

Last week we looked at how we might stay on the air even after a move to an
assisted living condo.  Today we are considering a strategy for "aging in
place", a goal for many of us who have ham radio stations with outdoor
antennas and who are comfortable with our current living conditions.  There
are advantages to aging in place, including not having to move, no pressure
to drastically downsize your home and furnishings, the freedom to have your
antennas and station on your own property, the satisfying comfort of
continuity in your life because you are staying in your home, and your
continuing connections with your neighbors, family, friends, and local ham
radio club.

Of course we can also do some of these things if we downsize and move to a
condo in the same neighborhood, but let's face it - any move at all will
bring into play highly disruptive forces as you are forced to pull up
stakes, deal with a household full of stuff, sell your home, and take down
your station. 

So a good option for many of us will be "aging in place" - staying in our
own homes after retirement.  But it's not as simple as just making that
decision.  There are still some plans that will need to be made, even if you
do not think you will move in the near future.  For example, part of your
planning will be a "reality check" on these three important facets of your

1.   The health of yourself and your spouse:  Are both of you physically
capable of staying safely and comfortably where you are now?  

2.   Your finances:  Can you afford to stay put?

3.   Your goals:  Are you both on board with goals that can be reached in
your current location?

If the answer is "yes" to all three, then you can age in place.  But don't
assume that you are done making plans and following through to make this
whole new phase of life work for you. Consider, for example, that you and
your spouse, assuming you both work outside the home, may very well retire
at different times.  For example, if I retire before my wife (husbands are
often a few years older than their spouses), then there will be a transition
time when it makes a lot of sense to stay in your home no matter what your
long-term plans might be.  This can provide a good time to assess your
capabilities and the viability of remaining in your home after both of you
finally retire.  So if I retire first and I'm a ham radio operator, I can
use the next couple of years to prepare for aging in place without feeling
pressure to get things done immediately. 

This is the time to assess my capabilities and do what businesses call
"scenario planning".  If I feel great right now and am in excellent physical
condition, I will be tempted to assume that I don't need to plan for a time
when that will not be the case, but that is a mistake.  One scenario is that
I will remain in great health for at least the next decade.  Another might
be that my health changes and that I might be less physically capable -
whether those changes mean declining eyesight or hearing loss, mobility
impairments, or serious illness or accident.


What does this mean as a practical matter?  Plenty, but you can be ready for
it as we shall soon see.  


One of your main considerations in staying on the air should be continued
access to your ham radio station.  Early on in your retirement, or as you
approach retirement, you should assess your station, taking a look at its
location in the house, the kind of equipment you have, and how well it is
working for you.  If you are planning to age in place and your ham shack is
in the basement or attic, will you always have the mobility to get up and
down stairs so that you can get on the air every day? In a scenario where
you would not be able to use stairs easily, could there be an assistive
technology solution like a stair elevator chair?  Or if you are considering
a ham shack remodel anyway, could you move the station to the main floor? 


What about your station equipment?  Could you still use it if your eyesight
failed?  Is it capable of being controlled by a computer?  These are not
trivial considerations!  If you are planning to upgrade your gear, why not
buy a radio that has a USB interface for computer control and capability of
blind or low-vision accessibility?  This kind of station puts you in charge
if you do need voice frequency readout or computer rig control at some time
in the future.  This might be the case after cataract or knee surgery, so if
you can't get to the ham shack or you temporarily need help "seeing" the
display, you could still stay on the air thanks to speech frequency readout
or being able to remote your radio via your home computer network so that
you don't have to use the stairs.  Of course your old ham gear might be just
fine - I'm just saying that if you are planning to upgrade anyway, get a
radio that has some accessibility options. 


Aging in place means that you will need to periodically assess your needs
and capabilities as well as those of your spouse.  Right out of the gate at
retirement, you may both feel like you can do anything - and that's just
fine, but you have to take stock of your situation at intervals and plan
accordingly.  Will you be able to climb and maintain that tower and beam in
the back yard in five years?  How about in ten years?  If it's already been
up in the air twenty years as you head into retirement, what are the odds
that it will need maintenance and will you be able to perform it?  


This brings up a choice about your ham radio operation.  If you have a
well-maintained tower and beam and you are confident that you can either
maintain it yourself or - and this is a budget consideration - pay for
maintenance in the future, you might decide to keep it in place and enjoy
the DX.  If your antennas have not been maintained and are hanging on by
their fingernails, you might decide as you go into retirement to either
replace them with similar but new systems or to "downsize" from a tower with
all its maintenance needs to simpler vertical or wire antennas for the HF
bands and fixed antennas for VHF/UHF FM work.  If you enjoy weak signal VHF,
a more modest support and directional antenna may do for you.  


When it comes to antennas, you may be lucky and have help from your local
radio club when something goes wrong - but don't count on it.  I have heard
over and over how "everyone is so busy" or "I can't climb anymore" from my
fellow hams.  That says to me that if I decide to have a tower and beam, I
am probably going to be responsible for hiring a tower service to do repairs
if the day comes when I can no longer handle such things myself.  This is a
foreseeable problem for which I can plan.  My choice has been to ditch the
tower and beam and use simpler, easier to maintain antennas.  While I
realize that this is not going to place me on the top of DX pileups, when I
took stock of the kind of operating I actually do, most of it was checking
in to regional nets and making occasional random contacts.  That meant that
I could use modest wire antennas that I would be more likely to be able to
take care of myself for many years to come, even without assistance if
necessary.  If I become a silent key, my wife would not be burdened with a
tower and beam to have removed.  If a serious change in health forced us to
leave our home for assisted living, it would be one less thing to deal with.


You have to make the best of your options.  If you absolutely need a tower
and beam, your current system is in good condition, and you realize up front
that you may have to pay for commercial tower service in the future, by all
means keep it and enjoy using it.  If not, start early on to implement your
plan to simplify your station while making it more flexible should things

To summarize your plan for aging in place and keeping ham radio a part of
your life:

*       Assess your goals and needs early on in the retirement process.  The
more time you allow yourself to plan and prepare your home and station, the
easier it will be. 
*       Do scenario planning.  One plan will be for you to stay in your
home.  Another will be for what you will do if one of you needs assisted
living or special accommodations because of a change in health or an
accident.  The earlier you think things through, the more solid your
planning will be. 
*       If you replace radio gear, consider blind accessibility and computer
interfacing.  Someday you may want to remote it, even if only on your home
network, and if your vision fails, you will appreciate the speech frequency
readout and other access features. 
*       Relocate your station on a main floor if you can, since down the
road it may be harder to use stairs.
*       Simplify your antenna system to minimize maintenance.  
*       Stay active in your local radio club.  they are a good resource. 

We will talk more about some of these options for staying on the air in
future editions of your Handiham World.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator



Your Handiham membership qualifies you for membership in the FISTS CW Club.

Thanks to our good friends at the FISTS CW Club <http://fistsna.org/> , you
can use your Handiham membership certificate to join FISTS at no extra
charge.  Morse is a long-standing tradition in Amateur Radio, but it is also
a robust mode of operation with a large following, and remains the best tool
in your toolkit to collect DX contacts.  


We are pleased to announce that Handiham members are welcome in the FISTS CW
Club.  Simply provide the FISTS Club with proof of your Handiham membership,
which must be up to date, and you will be eligible to join FISTS without any
additional dues.  Handiham members receive a membership certificate when
they join Handihams or renew their memberships, so if you are a current
Handiham member, you may provide a copy of your membership certificate to
the FISTS club and join to enjoy the benefits and fellowship of FISTS and
CW.  Please note that we do not contact FISTS on your behalf due to privacy
regulations.  Please contact FISTS yourself with your Handiham membership


Contact information for FISTS North America is at
http://fistsna.org/contact.html.  You may go to the contact page and locate
club president Karl, KB1DSB.  

Ha, ha, speaking of CW, I have to run this again.  It's a story that I said
was from W1RX.  But the callsign SHOULD be WR1X.  When you consider the
story itself, it's really a hoot that I made the exact same mistake that
Paul outlines in his tale of correcting erroneous callsigns.  

J-38 code key

I was reading the story of a person in 1931 taking his code test and I
thought of my experience in taking the English 12 WPM code test.    

I was in Penzance, Cornwall for several months in 1993 and went to the local
Ham Radio meeting.  It was announced that in a couple of weeks a code test
would be administered by what I would call VE's.  You need to receive an
entire QSO with only the possibility of a few errors and then transmit
perfectly with no errors, but if you did send incorrectly you had to send a
series of dits and then start over on that word.   

The test began. I received the code as G3MYN de EA8bzh and the rest.  One VE
transmitted while the other took down my words.  They then corrected it then
went on to my transmitting with a straight key.    

One read what was to be sent while the other copied.  

"EA8hbz de G3MYN."

 I said,  "Excuse me, but is this a QSO between the two stations I first

"Yes, why?"

"Well, the EA8 station call is different in the transmitting part of the

They had to go back and check out the first part and never before had they
had a student correct the test!  I passed with no problems and when we go
over to Britain we meet the VE and he still remembers my correcting the
transmitting test.  I don't know how, unless they honored my USA Extra Class
license, but a few months later without my taking their theory test I got my
full English license, M0CHG.  

In 1999 I visited the Poldue club located right next to Marconi's plot of
land where he first transmitted from in 1901
<http://www.hamradio.piatt.com/poldhu.htm>  with the radio club's antennas
over the national landmark property with the Nissen hut
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissen_hut>  just outside the property.  I've
got a certificate for working stations from this Marconi site.    

73,   Have a great day,   

Paul, WR1X

Thank you, Paul.  And for all of our readers and listeners out there, I want
you to know that mistakes are purposely inserted at intervals to make sure
that you are on your toes and can find them!

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

Yes, we still have people asking about Radio Camp, even though Minnesota
Radio Camp registration is now closed.  If you have camp paperwork and have
not yet sent all of it in, please do so quickly so that we can complete our
planning for the camp session.  We look forward to seeing you at Camp
Courage in Maple Lake, Minnesota next month. 

August QST is out:  Update

The August 2014 QST digital and print editions are out for ARRL members.  A
notable article is one by Joel Hallas, W1ZR, and Martin Ewing, AA6G,
entitled "Noise - Dealing with the Buzz".  The title tells it all - and who
among us doesn't have some RF noise to either suffer through, locate and
remove, or somehow mitigate through digital processing or some other means?
Want to hear what different types of noise sound like?  Check out the
"Sounds of RFI <http://www.arrl.org/sounds-of-rfi> " on ARRL.org.

*       Update:  Handiham members who use DAISY to access recorded books can
visit the Handiham members pages to download a zip file of the August QST
and CQ Plus digest recorded by N1BLF. 


Practical Radio

pliers and wire

Practical radio - The simple tools you need to keep handy

Ah, yes.  Tool and toolboxes.  Bench tools like scopes and meters.  Big
tools like chainsaws and ladders.  


If you are a ham radio operator long enough, you will amass quite a
collection of tools. If you are a homeowner like me, there will be a garage
full of them and more in the basement.  But let's face it - there are way
more tools around than you will typically use.  That sounds like heresy
coming from a guy who likes tools and do-it-yourself projects, but it's the


I use only a few of my hand tools in any given week.  Over the course of a
month, I'll likely use a power tool or two.  It's nice to keep a simple tool
kit handy for most daily chores and leave the heavy equipment for when it's
really needed.  I found that it makes sense to have a place on my workbench
where a small set of pliers, wire cutters, screwdrivers, and a multimeter
are all within a couple of feet.  These tools get used over and over, far
more than most of my power tools, heavy duty socket sets, or woodworking


One tool that is often overlooked is the simple paper clip.  I keep one that
I have straightened out close at hand for resetting routers and other
electronics that require you to push a recessed reset button.  Another is a
roll of plain, black vinyl electrical tape.  It can be used for temporary
repairs of all types or for bundling wire to temporarily tidy it up during a
project.  Another handy tool is a roll of reusable hook and loop wire ties.
I find that these are even better than the black electrical tape for
bundling wire, and they can withstand long-term use and then be reused,
whereas tape can deteriorate and get really sticky and messy. 

The multimeter need not be a fancy one.  Indeed, keep a cheapie around for
use on these around-the-house tasks like checking battery voltages or
testing continuity.  Lightweight is good, and if it's small enough you can
even slip it into your pocket.  


You've probably seen those "multi-tools" that you wear in a pouch on your
belt.  They have several knife blades, an opener, a file, scissors,
screwdriver blades, pliers, and more, depending on the model. If you are
going to be out and about, they can be quite handy, but be warned they are
not for any kind of heavy-duty use.  I keep one in a kitchen drawer and grab
it when I'm heading out to a project where I might just need an extra tool
and don't quite know what I'm going to need. 


The multi-tool won't always be enough, so get a small tool or tackle box - I
like the plastic ones - and assemble a collection of your most-used small
tools to fill it.  This simple box can save you tons of time that you would
have spent going hither and yon trying to assemble all the tools you need
for common household repairs.  


This is practical radio - Keep your toolbox handy!  (It could even ride
alongside your go-kit in an emergency.)


Handiham Nets are on the air daily. 


Last week I forgot to mention the name of the app I'm using for WX
emergencies and forecasts.  It's the WeatherBug app, which you can find in
the Play Store.  One feature that I really like is "Spark", which lets me
know how close to my location (determined by GPS) lightning strikes are
occurring.   I learned about this app from another ham on a 160 meter net.  


Weather emergencies can make daily scheduled nets operated on FM repeater
systems quite the challenge. On one hand, the net control station may find
almost no activity because people are just busy with summer things and not
inclined to get on the air.  On the other hand, you can be running your net
through a connected VoIP system and have dangerous weather conditions in one
or more repeater coverage areas.  Of course those systems should always be
able to disconnect the net for local emergency traffic, and in the event of
local emergency traffic when the net is still connected and time is of the
essence, the entire net may need to stand down.  This is the dual challenge
of summer - extreme boredom and low participation that may quickly be
overtaken by the demands of emergency communication.  


Screenshot of Emergency alert monthly test

You may want to consider enabling your smartphone to display emergency
alerts.  Here is a screenshot of the monthly alert test from my Android
phone.  When the alert screen is displayed, an audible warning tone is also
sent, followed by a voice explanation.  The WeatherBug app provides this
screen and audio alert. 


Listen for the Handiham Wednesday evening net tonight and try to answer the
N6NFF 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!  


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


This week @ HQ

Cartoon robot with pencil

IRB station W0ZSW is on the air. <http://handiham.org/remotebase/>   W0EQO
remains restricted due to firewall issues.   We are contemplating a TS-590S
station to replace one of the TS-480 radios.  

Reading online? You'll find the weekly e-letter online to be mobile-friendly
if you use the following link:


Email has changed.

Our new addresses are:

*       Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx
*       Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx

Toll-Free number is working:

We do ask that you call 612-775-2291 instead of the toll-free, which is
866-426-3442, if you possibly can, since we do have to pay charges on the
toll-free calls. 

Digests & Lectures

A reminder:  You may hear the old contact information, including email
addresses and phone numbers, in previously recorded audio lectures or
digests.  Please disregard old contact information and use our new email
addresses and phone numbers.  Similarly, old audio podcasts and HTML
e-letters will have outdated information.  Disregard it and use the latest
email addresses and phone numbers. 

July/August 2014 production news: 

The new Technician Lecture Series is well underway and we are up to seven
lectures. Log in to members only to take the Technician classes. The new
Technician 2014 - 2018 Question Pool with only correct answers has been read
by Jim Perry, KJ3P.  Remember that this new pool is for all Technician Class
testing on or after July 1, 2014.  It is also available in the members

QCWA Journal for July is available.  Check the Handiham and QCWA websites
for the latest. 

The August 2014 QST Daisy digest by Bob, N1BLF, is ready for our members to
play on their NLS or other DAISY players. 

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.  Time has not
permitted updates on this for several weeks. 

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

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.  

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 


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  <mailto:Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx>
Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx 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
<http://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3> 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:
 <mailto:Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx> Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

 <http://handiham.org> Courage Kenny Handiham Program
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
<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx  for changes of
address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 23 July 2014 - Patrick.Tice