Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health
Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for
the week of Wednesday, 24 June 2015
This is a free weekly news & information update from the Courage Kenny
Handiham Program <https://handiham.org> , serving people with disabilities
in Amateur Radio since 1967.
Our contact information is at the end.
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Welcome to Handiham World.
Old cathedral vacuum tube radio
In this edition:
. Musing about the good old days, part 2
. Accessible Field Day 2015
. Check into our nets!
. This week's website features a Morse Code training video.
. Dip in the Pool returns with a question from the Extra Class pool.
. The Remote Base HF report: Why we are considering new software,
and how your help is needed!
. July audio is in production.
. ...And more!
The good old days; Field Day was golden!
Pat and friend Newt with old gasoline generator
June brings us special memories of fun as we recall the ARRL Field Day
events of years gone by. In this vintage photo, you see me, WA0TDA on the
left, and my friend Newt, who kindly let several of us set up a Field Day
station on his farm southwest of Mankato, MN sometime around 1970, I'd
guess. Newt's generator would supply the power for those extra "off the
grid" points. It was a monster, and definitely a two-man (or more) lift!
We're checking the generator out in the barnyard between several pieces of
farm equipment, and the old barn that housed the station is in the
background. Newt's brother Bill was a ham, but I could never talk Newt into
getting his license. Sadly, neither of these gentlemen are still with us
and the "Roadside Farm", site of that long-past Field Day, has been sold and
all of the buildings demolished.
But back then, Field Day was an exciting adventure for a new operator like
me! The site at the farm offered us a chance to have Field Day in a real
field - and that meant we had enough room to string a long Marconi antenna
from the northeast corner of the barn to an absolutely massive oak tree far
out at the fence line between two fields. This required an antenna tuner
that consisted of quite a collection of air-wound inductors and old
scavenged variable capacitors, all mounted on a wooden frame. The station
was inside the concrete block barn, which was only used for storage. It
would not have been quite as pleasant had it housed cows or pigs! We "hams"
had a good time operating the Heath SB-101 station, drinking coffee most of
the morning and night and lemonade during the hot afternoon. Modes were SSB
and CW. Digital wasn't much of a "thing" back then, though I imagine some
contestants ran the old mechanical RTTY gear if they were dedicated enough
to lug it to a Field Day site. Logbooks were 100% paper, and duplicate
contacts were harder to avoid as a result. It turns out that when you have
several ops running the station, stations that have already been logged get
mistakenly worked a second and sometimes even a third time. The final logs
always had to be carefully checked for "dupes", which would be eliminated so
as not to inflate the score. This was a tedious task, and the entire
paperwork thing was always the least favorite job.
Field Day with my local radio club was fun, too. We had stations set up in
different locations from year to year. I was one of those guys who always
kept a regular sleep schedule, seldom staying up really late for anything,
but Field Day was different - I still remember staying up all night long to
operate the stations and arriving home early in the morning all bleary-eyed
but still jazzed up from the excitement of logging all those contacts when
bands like 80 and 40 meters were wide open during the night. Remember,
because Field Day happens near summer solstice, the hours of darkness are
minimal. Absorption and thunderstorm static plague bands like 80 and 40
meters something fierce during the summer months, and there is no worse
couple of weeks for HF propagation on those bands than those right around
Field Day at the end of June here in the Northern Hemisphere. You have to
be willing to stay up all night if you want to collect points on those
bands, especially in the wee hours of the morning when absorption in the D
layer is minimal and thunderstorms have been tamped down by the lack of
solar heating. The problem was that if you pulled an all-nighter at the
station, you were definitely not at your sharpest the next morning. You can
actually reach a point where coffee no longer works!
There is, of course, always the chance of bad weather during a Field Day
weekend. June is not always the most benign weather month here in Minnesota
or in much of the United States for that matter. This year flooding rains
have beset the South, the Midwest, and the Upper Midwest. We've had lots of
rain here in Minnesota, and I've had to disconnect the HF antennas from my
own equipment many times already even though we're only at the front door of
summertime. Last year I had a nearby lightning strike take out my Icom
IC-7200 and a couple of power supplies and pieces of computer equipment.
Thinking back to past Field Days, I can't remember many seriously bad
weather incidents, though we did have to shut down from time to time as bad
weather made its way through. This week we are experiencing a G4 class
solar storm that has wiped the HF bands almost free of communications. It
should resolve by Field Day weekend, but think what the weekend would be
like if it had hit right on Field Day? The bands would be dead and it
wouldn't be much fun. Past Field Days for me have never seen that kind of
solar event, but it could happen. In case you are wondering what could be
worse than solar absorption and QRN, a G4 solar storm would be it.
As I ponder my experience with past Field Days, I (thankfully) cannot recall
anyone getting injured. That seems like a miracle, considering all of the
possible ways to win a Darwin Award. Nonetheless, group efforts that were
well-planned made those weekends about as safe and family-friendly as any
outdoor activity could be. I remember the most successful Field Days were
those preceded by weeks (or more) of planning that included site selection
away from hazards like power lines and having spotters available for antenna
work, especially work that involved climbing.
Next time you take a trip down memory lane and remember those good old days
fondly, remind yourself that even though ham radio was fun and more than a
little challenging back then, today we have better electronics with digital
ease and stability, small and highly functional equipment, energy-dense
batteries, far more frequencies and modes, and just way more good stuff.
These really ARE the good days, and there is truly something for everyone in
Amateur Radio right now.
...Which brings me to accessible Field Day:
2015 ARRL Field Day logo: Ham Radio
Build memories of the good old days to talk about years from now when you
take part in Field Day 2015 this coming weekend, June 27 - 28 2015. If you
are in the vicinity of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis - St. Paul Minnesota,
check out the accessible Field Day operation of station W0JH at Autumn Hills
Park, 5701 Norwich Parkway in Oak Park Heights, MN. A 2-station (CW &
Phone), emergency power operation is planned. Courtesy of the Courage Kenny
Handiham Program, we will be using a Kenwood TS-590 transceiver at each
station. Multi-band center-fed dipole antennas will be utilized. Setup will
begin around 9:00 AM Saturday June 27 and we will go on the air at 1:00 PM
CDT (1800Z). Operations will continue until sundown Saturday (due to park
hours limits) and resume around 8:00 AM CDT Sunday the 28th until 1:00 PM
Accessibility features are:
. Accessible parking spaces
. Paved sidewalks and paths
. Paved picnic area under a shelter roof
. Accessible restrooms with running water
. Electrical outlets for wheelchair charging
. Transceivers equipped with Kenwood VGS1 voice guide modules for
More information on this event is available at the website of our affiliated
club, the Stillwater Amateur Radio Association, sponsor of this event.
(For Handiham World, this is Pat Tice, WA0TDA.)
Call for public service and Field Day 2015 stories.
If you are a person with a disability or sensory impairment and have a
public service communications or Field Day 2015 story to tell, won't you
please consider sharing it with us? Field Day is June 27-28.
We all know that public service communication is an important aspect of
Amateur Radio. Many ham radio operators have participated in some form of
public service communications, whether it be support for events like bike
races, marathons, and parades, or emergency communications in response to
threatening weather and natural or man-made disasters. But what is perhaps
less known is that Amateur Radio operators with disabilities can participate
in these activities and do an excellent job. They can take the courses, be
there for practice exercises, staff a station at a checkpoint during a
scheduled event, and yes - be ready and able to answer the call during a
communications emergency! Field Day is a great opportunity to hone your
If you have a public service experience to share, please email us. We'd
love to hear from you!
Check into our Handiham nets... Everyone is welcome!
How to find the Handiham Net:
1. The Handiham EchoLink conference is 494492. Connect via your iPhone,
Android phone, PC, or on a connected simplex node or repeater system in your
2. WIRES-2 system number 1427
3. WIRES-X digital number 11165
The Handiham Net will be on the air daily. If there is no net control
station on any scheduled net day, we will have a roundtable on the air
Cartoon multicolored stickman family holding hands, one wheelchair user
Our daily Echolink net continues to operate for anyone and everyone who
wishes to participate at 11:00 hours CDT (Noon Eastern and 09:00 Pacific),
as well as Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 19:00 hours CDT (7 PM). If
you calculate GMT, the time difference is that GMT is five hours ahead of
Minnesota time during the summer.
Doug, N6NFF, poses a trivia question in the first half of the Wednesday
evening session, so check in early if you want to take a guess. The answer
to the trivia question is generally given shortly after the half-hour mark.
A big THANK YOU to all of our net control stations and to our Handiham Club
Net Manager, Michael, VE7KI.
This week's website: YouTube video "Army Morse Code Training Part 1"
As long as the bands are dead from this week's massive solar storm, we might
as well stay on memory lane at take a look at how the Army did Morse Code
training back in MCMLXVI. What, you don't read Roman numerals? That's
1966, soldier! Check out this introductory Army training video on Morse
code on YouTube. <https://youtu.be/Li8Hiwbc664> Don't worry if you can't
see it; the audio is great!
A dip in the pool
Dip in the pool is back! Our question this week is from the Extra Class
question pool, number E4E12. It asks:
"What is one disadvantage of using some types of automatic DSP notch-filters
when attempting to copy CW signals?"
Possible answers are:
A. The DSP filter can remove the desired signal at the same time as it
removes interfering signals
B. Any nearby signal passing through the DSP system will overwhelm the
C. Received CW signals will appear to be modulated at the DSP clock
D. Ringing in the DSP filter will completely remove the spaces between the
While you're thinking about which answer might be the right one, let's think
about why modern transceivers still support CW as a mode. All you have to
do is get some really bad band conditions to appreciate the versatility of
Morse code. A practiced operator can pick out a CW signal when conditions
make phone operation almost impossible. It would be difficult to market a
radio without CW capability.
Did you decide which answer is the correct one? If you picked answer A, The
DSP filter can remove the desired signal at the same time as it removes
interfering signals, you got this one right. Since the DSP - digital signal
processor <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_signal_processor> -
operates via clever algorithms that detect and remove unwanted nearby
signals, it is a wonderful help on the crowded phone bands. Sometimes,
though, DSP can "confuse" a desired CW signal with an unwanted carrier, thus
blocking the very signal that you want to hear. I use the notch filter
feature sparingly, and then only when operating SSB.
Both Handiham HF remote base internet stations will be up and running later
Scan this QR code to visit the Remote Base website on your smartphone.
Handiham Remote Base info QR code
. W0ZSW is down for maintenance today. We decided to take advantage
of the terrible band conditions to spruce things up a bit.
. W0EQO is operational, but yesterday a Skype crash sidelined the
station. Frequent Skype crashes have been occurring at both remote hosts,
making for more time spent in fixing things. Be sure to let us know when
something isn't working. We generally check the stations early in the
morning, but then we may not have time to check later in the day when
something might break, so we depend on you to let us know.
. The W0ZSW TS-590S test is suspended so that the radios can be used
at Field Day.
. If you are a registered user, check the station's schedule for
which rig is in use at the <http://handiham.org/remotebase/> remote base
website and in the W0ZSW Skype status.
Contact me if you are interested in hosting a Handiham Remote Base station,
either here in the Twin Cities or anywhere else in the USA!
<mailto:wa0tda@xxxxxxxx?subject=Participate%20in%20TS-590S%20Testing> If you
are an experienced TS-590S and ARCP-590 user and are interested in
participating in beta tests, please let me know.
<http://www.remotehams.com/> Remotehams.com rig control software:
We are considering a switch to this software to operate the Handiham Remote
Base HF stations, so if you are a remote base user, please pay attention.
This software offers considerable benefits over our existing software, and
it is available free. There is also no need to depend on Skype for audio.
An Android app is also available, as is a physical control device, both at a
reasonable cost. The entire system is free to use via PC. A benefit for
those who host stations (like us) is that the administration of users is
more straightforward and consistent - and much less time consuming. The
Remotehams.com website also has an active user forum that can answer
questions, which is a good way to avoid lots of tech support. We would like
to sunset the existing station software in the near future to help make the
user experience better and to streamline station management. Please, if you
are a screenreader user and can help, consider trying the RCFORB software
from Remotehams.com and letting us know what you think. Here is a synopsis
of my experience so far controlling the WA0TDA IC-7200 via Remotehams:
Icom IC-7200 RCFORB screenshot showing virtual radio interface
The <http://www.remotehams.com/> Remotehams.com RCFORB client is in use at
the <http://tice.us/wa0tda/> WA0TDA HF remote base. We think that this
client is screenreader accessible and would like to hear feedback from blind
users. So far I have been delighted with this method of controlling remote
base HF radios around the world. The software does speak the frequency
readout and control settings for blind users, a feature available in the
settings. The nifty thing is that once you set up your preferences in the
settings, it applies across all of the radios available around the world.
For example, if I want to ask my IC-7200 what frequency it is on, all I have
to do is the keystroke combo ALT-SHIFT-F. Later that day I decide to listen
on a Flex radio in Alabama. I use the same keystroke to ask the Flex to
tell me the frequency. This is really nice because once I learn the RCFORB
software, the commands are pretty much universal across radios, subject to
the radio's features. Remember that the radio does not need to have a
special speech chip installed because the voice frequency announcements are
done in the RCFORB software, not the radio's hardware.
The procedure for getting the RCFORB software set up is a bit different than
what you are used to with remote base operation. Your first step is to go
to the website <http://www.remotehams.com/> Remotehams.com and read about
the system, which provides access to many stations around the world as a
volunteer effort. The RCFORB software is free and works on Windows
computers. You can support the project with a donation if you wish. You
should set up a free account. Uploading a copy of your license is highly
recommended if you expect to request transmit privileges on any of the
The Remotehams system has several key advantages over our existing W4MQ
1. It appears to be more blind accessible.
2. It is under current development.
3. It supports physical hardware devices on the client side, like K3
transceivers and a neat little hardware box into which you can plug a
microphone and key, though it can also be operated from a computer or
Windows tablet without these extra devices.
4. There is a great Android app that allows you to control radios from
your smartphone. It's under $10 and works well for me, though I have not
tested it with the Android screenreader.
5. You don't need a third-party audio application like Skype since it has
its own built in audio.
6. Multiple users can listen at the same time without resorting to
Echolink. The RCFORB client allows for a number of listeners with one
control op at a time.
7. From an administration standpoint, the host software for this system is
much easier to manage. If someone wants to use my station, all I need to do
is check my list for transmit requests and check the uploaded licenses for
verification. I can then add the user to the list of those who have
transmit permission. Although I did have to open several ports on my router
to the host computer, this is not necessary for the actual users of the
station, so the client software is very easy to set up. No fiddling with
your router's ports!
8. Finally, once you set up the RCFORB software there is access to many
stations. You don't have to worry about setting a special IP address for
each station as you do with the W4MQ software. This makes it much easier to
use many different stations, a definite advantage as band conditions change
from one geographic area to another.
On the hosting side, those of us who set up the stations for others are
usually already very busy already with our own projects, our jobs and
families, and everything else that needs doing around the house.
Maintenance of W0ZSW and W0EQO as it is now with the existing software is
really, really time-consuming. There is a lot that needs to be done by the
system administrators. Nothing is automated and each host computer needs
separate maintenance, including for simple things like requested password
changes. Software crashes are getting more common. It is time for a
reliable, updated rig control system. That is why we need to get your
Please consider testing the Remotehams.com system and letting me know what
you think about it.
July 2015 QST has been released in digital print format, available to ARRL
members. The Doctor is In column, recorded for our blind members by W9MJY,
is now available. We are working on the rest of the digest audio.
June CQ Magazine audio digest has been recorded for our blind members by Jim
June QCWA Journal has been recorded by Jim Perry, KJ3P, and is available in
streaming MP3 from a link at <http://www.qcwa.org/qcwa.php> QCWA.org or
<https://handiham.org/audio/QCWA/QCWA-2015-June.mp3> listen here.
Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the June DAISY audio digest including QST
articles of interest to our blind members. It is now available as a DAISY
download. Thanks, Bob!
Podcast: If you would like to receive this audio newsletter as a podcast in
software other than iTunes, the RSS feed for the audio podcast is:
Email version: <http://www.freelists.org/list/handiham-world> Subscribe or
change your subscription to the E-mail version here.
Weekly audio reminder: If you are a Handiham member and want a weekly
reminder about our new audio, let us know. Watch for new audio Thursday
afternoons. (Some audio is available only to members.)
Beginner course DAISY download available for our blind members: We now have
the DAISY version of the entire Technician Class lecture series on line for
Some of you have asked about the 2015 General Lecture Series. The new
General pool will be used for exams beginning on July 1, 2015. If you are
planning to study for General at Radio Camp in August, you will take your
exam based on the new General question pool.
But you can start studying using the new pool right now! Bob Zeida, N1BLF,
has finished the recording of the new 2015 General Class Question Pool and
it is in the General Class section in the Members part of the website.
Jim, KJ3P, has recorded the DXer's Handbook Second Edition by Bryce, K7UA,
for our blind members. If you are a Handiham member and need a link to the
DAISY download, please let me know.
Thanks to our volunteer readers:
Radio Camp News: We will once again be at the Woodland campus, Camp
It's almost the end of June! If you have been sitting on that camp
application, time to fill it out and send it in. If you have equipment
needs and wish to get equipment to take home from our collection of donated
gear when you come to camp, let us know.
Cabin 2, site of our ham radio stations and classes.
Photo: A Woodland Cabin with screen porch, fireplace, kitchen, laundry, and
comfortable great room.
<http://truefriends.org/camp/> Camp dates are now published in the True
Friends Camp Catalog. They are Tuesday, August 18 (arrival) through Monday,
August 24 (departure),
Please let Nancy know if you wish to receive a 2015 Radio Camp Application.
. You can pay your Handiham dues and certain other program fees on
line. Simply follow the link to our secure payment site, then enter your
information and submit the payment. It's easy and secure!
o Handiham annual membership dues are $12.00. The lifetime membership
rate is $120.00.
MEMBERSHIP DUES PAYMENT LINK
o If you want to donate to the Handiham Program, please use our donation
website. The instructions are at the following link:
DONATION LINK <http://www.handiham.org/drupal2/node/8>
o We hope you will remember us in your 2015 giving plans. The Courage
Kenny Handiham program needs your help. Our small staff works with
volunteers, members, and donors to share the fun of Amateur Radio with
people who have disabilities or sensory impairments. We've been doing this
work since 1967, steadily adapting to the times and new technologies, but
the mission is still one of getting people on the air and helping them to be
part of the ham radio community. Confidence-building, lifelong learning,
making friends - it's all part of ham radio and the Handiham Program.
Begging cartoon doggie
o The weekly audio podcast <https://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3> was
produced with the open-source audio editor Audacity
How to contact us
There are several ways to contact us.
Courage Kenny Handiham Program
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN 55422
E-Mail: <mailto:Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx> Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx
Preferred telephone: 1-612-775-2291
Toll-Free telephone: 1-866-HANDIHAM (1-866-426-3442)
Note: Mondays through Thursdays between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM United States
Central Time are the best times to contact us.
You may also call Handiham Program Coordinator Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, at:
FAX: 612-262-6718 Be sure to put "Handihams" in the FAX address! We look
forward to hearing from you soon.
73, and I hope to hear you on the air soon!
For Handiham World, this is Pat Tice, WA0TDA.
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!
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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 Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx
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