[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 11 February 2009

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2009 15:19:54 -0600

Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 11 February

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham
System <http://handiham.org> . Please do not reply to this message. Use the
contact information at the end, or simply email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

This issue is being delivered in plain text, but is available in HTML with
graphics and photos. You can get the HTML version online at the following

You can also listen to the content online:

Listen to an MP3 audio stream:
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Welcome to Handiham World!

cartoon guy looking in crystal ballIf you're like me, you probably use the
web to check news. Printed newspapers and news magazines are "yesterday's
news" for sure, and it isn't surprising so many of them are losing market
share.  So we are reading what is now called "digital ink". And just as with
real ink newspapers, digital ink can give amateur radio some real media hits
- or misses, as was the case with one story that popped up on my Google News
page this morning. 

The story was on the Alva, OK Review-Courier website, and was a rehash of an
older post on an AOL-linked service called "Walletpop".  I'll give you links
to both in a moment, but the point I'd like to make about this sort of bad
press, which contains factual errors and even stupid spelling mistakes like
"Morris Code", is that once they are posted, they live forever on the
Internet as they get passed around every time someone re-discovers them.

In this case, the so-called "story" is about Ham Radio being one of 25
things about to become extinct in America. When it appeared first in
mid-2008, it wasn't real news then, either - just speculation based on
someone digging their old crystal ball out and trying to predict the future.
Among the unfortunate comments in the article was one about 50,000 ham
licenses being lost "in the past five years alone". 

I can only speculate how much email Tom Barlow, N8NLO, the original author
of the ham radio part of the Walletpop article, has gotten about this story.
Feel free to read the many postings on the website, too. I couldn't have
said it better than commenter Alan Pitts:

"The AH0A site <http://www.ah0a.org>  shows 684,000 hams in 2003 and 658,000
for 2008. That's a drop of 26k, -half of the 50k claimed above. But also
look deeper and note the numbers of higher class licensees. There's a much
greater percentage of hams going beyond just the entry levels of learning.
So while there's slightly fewer hams, they are much more active hams. As for
the age of hams, I can find no citation for the claims made. The FCC does
not keep birthdates or age information. There's a lot of twenty-something
people becoming Amateur Radio operators to join in the emergency response
work that the Amateur Radio Emergency Service does throughout the country.
Without hard data, it's anecdotal either way. But probably most important is
that even now, in the lowest part of a very low sunspot cycle, Amateur Radio
is active and engaging. Hams are being included in more and more emergency
planning ( -and needed in those roles too!), contest activity is up, there's
new digital capabilities announced almost weekly."

You can read Alan's entire comment on the blog post above. If you would like
to visit the phenomenal AH0A website and see more ham radio statistics than
you can even hope to digest, you can find it at:


Now, here are the other links you might want to visit:

48452&CategoryID=987&on=1>  Alva, OK Review-Courier website column link is
very long, so you can find it in on our website in the HTML version of
Handiham World.

The Walletpop website will drive you nuts when you try to read the entire
article, which requires you to reload over 25 pages, so here is a direct
link to the Ham Radio part, which at least has the correct spelling of


One thing the Internet is good for is that postings that are incorrect can
usually be refuted by readers in the comments section. In the old days of
real ink newspapers, we had to send a letter to the editor!

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice


Avery's QTH

 <http://www.handiham.org/node/192> Avery's QTH - Avery studies a book.
Antique Finn Baths sign in background advertises saunas, we think.

Welcome once again to my humble QTH:

Thank you for the nice responses I received on last week's edition of my QTH
column. That story sure brought up a lot of memories for me.

In my day the radio club meeting was after the regular school classes were
over. The person in charge was the science teacher who just happened to be a
licensed amateur radio operator. Only one or two of the kids were licensed,
but the rest of us were interested in short-wave listening. We also had the
desire to receive our licenses someday.
Most of us did manage to pass the FCC exams. In those days it required that
we travel to the nearest FCC office and take the exam in front of the
Engineer in Charge of that FCC district. We had to pass the code before we
were even given the written exam. OH yeah! Back then we had to copy one
solid minute in order to pass and that included all the letters, numbers,
and punctuation. If we failed we had to wait a whole month before we would
be allowed to try again, which meant taking the code again before getting to
the written part of the exam.

Once we had the ham "ticket", as we called the official license, most of us
purchased receivers but built our own transmitters. Nope! In those days
everything was not all in one box. Some people (me) had up to three switches
or more to throw just to go from transmit back to receive. Then reverse the
process when going back to transmit again. Let's see, had to switch the
antenna back and forth between transmitter and receiver while flipping off
the B plus on the receive and flipping on the B plus on the transmitter and
then reversing the process again and again. Once a person got hold of a
relay with enough contacts, that could all be done at once with one switch,
which was a major improvement!

As long as we mentioned the subject of Amateur Radio in the public schools,
let's talk a little more about it. Several of the schools in the Twin Cities
metro area have Amateur Radio as part of their actual day of classes. When
you think about it, that is a really good idea. Why? It is because in order
to receive a license, a person must learn some basic electronics and the
math that goes along with it. In learning the rules and regulations, they
learn about international radio-related laws. After they receive their
licenses, the students talk to people all over the world. What better way
than that to learn about cultures in other parts of the world? They learn
about geography, because after all you have to know what direction to point
the beam in order to contact that DX station you are trying so hard to get a
QSL card from. AH! QSL card, the proof of contact, and stamps are also a
learning experience. Stamps from all over the world are available for those
who like to collect them. Stamps from people they actually talked to!

Well, some people might suggest that Amateur Radio is OLD technology and why
should that be taught in school? It is true that Morse code is still used,
but on the Jay Leno TV show it was proven that it is still much faster than
text messaging. It may interest them to know that most of the Astronauts in
the International Space Station are licensed Amateur Radio operators and
they have a fully operational ham radio station on board. They spend some of
their free time talking directly to licensed students in many of the
schools. Now try that with your cell phone! It is true that only NASA, the
military, and licensed Amateur Radio operators are able to talk directly to
the International Space Station. Many of these same students may go on to
become the scientists and adventurers of the future, becoming the real life
Captain Kirk or Spock of the Star Ship Enterprise to go where no one has
gone before.

With all the different digital modes and range of frequencies that are
available to amateurs, it is no wonder that in 9-11 and Katrina Amateur
Radio operators got the information through when all else failed.

For many of the students in our schools amateur radio is just a
stepping-stone. Many will go on to become the engineers, scientists, and
educators of the future.

So for now, this is a former high school ham radio club member Avery signing

73 & DX from K0HLA, Avery

You can reach me at:
Please remember my office hours are just
Monday & Wednesday until 2:00 PM Minneapolis Time

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Optacon remembered

Optacon remembered

Graphic: Photo from 1973 OPTACON instruction manual shows user scanning book
with right hand while feeling tactile output with left hand. (Freedom

As we all know, hams love old equipment. Well, here is a blast from the past
for blind hams. For anyone who still has an Optacon and needs documentation,
it is available at


For those who are either too young to remember or don't know, the Optacon
was one of the pioneering devices in the realm of assistive technology
products. First manufactured in 1970, the Optacon (Optical Tactile
Converter) is no longer in production, but it still has dedicated users to
this day. The OPTACON is an electromechanical device that enables blind
users to read printed material that has not been transcribed into Braille.
It consists of a camera lens connected to a main electronics unit that
contains a "tactile array" that consists of vibrating rods that users feel
with their index finger. Printed text is, essentially, translated into
tactile vibrating images.

I have one!


Courage Handiham Radio Club President

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 <http://www.handiham.org/node/346> Events by N1YXU

February Events   

I went out to our front garden this past weekend to see if the tulips and
daffodils have started to come up.  They have not.  I believe they are
taking the same tactic that many of us are this winter - trying to keep warm
by staying inside.  It surely has been a long season to this point. The
solace that I find at this time of year is that it is prime contest season
for amateur radio operators.  The past several weekends have been very busy
at our house and in our ham shack.  We have hosted three multi-operator,
multi-hour contests in the last three weekends.  That kind of activity
definitely helps warm up the bands during the winter.  Be sure to listen for
N1LN or NC4KW when you are operating in contests.   

Be sure to look through the events for February.  I am confident that at
least one activity will catch your attention.  Until next month..   


- Laurie Meier, N1YXU 


.        Read more on the Handiham website.


ARRL </p />
<p>diamond logoW1AW to QSY on 160 Meters

Starting Monday, March 9, Maxim Memorial Station W1AW will be using a new
160-meter frequency for its CW transmissions.  To accommodate increasing
activity near the current bulletin frequency of 1817.5 kHz, W1AW will move
to 1802.5 kHz to reduce the possibility of interference.

ARRL does so much for us! I hope you have renewed your ARRL membership.  I
just talked to a ham this morning who had let his membership lapse, but who
was going to renew this morning. Go for it! It's easy to renew online at the
ARRL website, too. <http://www.arrl.org> 


Handiham Monday Evening EchoLink net to QSY

Speaking of QSYing, the Handiham Monday Evening EchoLink Net Worldwide is
preparing to change days and times. Strictly speaking, we are not correct in
calling that a "QSY", which refers to a frequency change, but it was just
too good a term to use following the W1AW story! Net Manager Howard, KE7KNN,
has decided that the Monday time is no longer working well for us and that
Wednesday nights will work better. In a discussion about the timing, Matt,
KA0PQW, noted that the CNIB net run by our friends in Canada starts at 6:30
PM USA Central Time and sometimes lasts longer than 30 minutes. Since that
would put the CNIB net into the Handiham net proposed time of 7:00 PM, we
are now considering a delay of 30 minutes to 7:30 PM USA Central Time. Keep
watching Handiham World for updates on this change. Right now Howard is
waiting for approval from repeater owner N0BVE, Don. 


EchoLink woes: You're not alone

cartoon guy shaking fist at dead computerI can't tell you how many hams I've
heard from who have had problems getting EchoLink to work through a
firewalled router. Thankfully, most of these trials and tribulations have a
happy ending when the offending router finally listens to reason and starts
allowing the correct port forwarding. Usually the problem shows up when some
piece of hardware gets changed, as might happen when, as one user told me
this week, he changed to Verizon fiber optic service. That, as you might
expect, meant a change in routers. 

Oh, oh.

Well, the problem was evident right away. The typical symptom is that
EchoLink will start as it always has, but when you try to connect to a
station like "ECHOTEST", the connection times out. You, my friend, need to
tell your router who's boss!  This has happened to pretty much all of us,
myself included. Thankfully, the EchoLink help files are quite complete, and
tell you exactly which port settings you need to change. EchoLink help will
also direct you to www.Portforward.com, which is a great resource for
learning how to enter the EchoLink settings in your specific router. 

Okay, so here is what our friend with Verizon says:

At first Verizon service didn't know what we were talking about and had
never heard of EchoLink. I turned off the firewall in Verizon Internet
Security and noted EchoLink worked. We called Verizon and got a more
informed technician who, after I told him what I had done, connected us to
the tech with the company that writes that program. She!, Wanda, said for me
to make sure I note that a lady did it, took over my computer and had it
fixed in a couple of minutes. Below is what she did in case someone who has
Verizon Security Pack calls you or Avery:

EchoLink Firewall Protocol   

1.    Open up Firewall.

2.    Go to Internet Access Rules.

3.    Go to Advanced

4.    Add port or protocol..

5.    This is where you add or change indicated changes.

So there's one story. This week, I switched to T-Mobile at Home, the VoIP
phone service that will replace my old land line at the WA0TDA QTH. With
this particular service, you have to install a router that will provide the
interface to your home phone, since everything will go through the Internet.

Oh, oh.

You knew there was going to be an EchoLink problem when I mentioned the word
"router", didn't you?  Sure enough, when the router was installed in
daisy-chain fashion between the cable modem and my trusty D-Link wireless
router, EchoLink refused to work. This time the solution was simple:  I just
unplugged everything and re-wired the phone router AFTER the D-Link, which
meant EchoLink didn't have to run through the new router at all. However,
the original instructions said to hook it up the first way, so this goes to
show there are more than a few ways to solve a problem!


Laugh of the week

Take a look at this:   


Go to "Antenna Problem". For those who are blind, the photo shows a large
microwave antenna being serviced and when the radome (the protective
non-metallic cover) is removed from the front of the antenna, huge numbers
of acorns fall out.  Those squirrels were busy!  And we wonder if those
acorns are now roasted by all that RF.


This week at Headquarters:

*       Remote Base Access!  Handiham Members wanting Remote Base access
please email wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx Include your SKYPE name, as SKYPE is used for
the audio to and from the transceiver. We are starting to compile a user
*       Instruction pages for the W0EQO Remote base have been updated,
including how to get SKYPE. Log in to the members only section and
<http://handiham.org/user>  follow the Remote Base link.

*       Request for General class lectures: George, N0SBU, has completed
putting the website General lectures onto 4-track tapes for members without
Internet access. Contact Nancy at HQ for details.

*       New in Operating Skills: Volunteer reader Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, reads
the "Doctor is in" column from QST for our blind members. February audio is
posted. QST, CQ, & WORLDRADIO audio digests are available for our members.
Login <http://handiham.org/user>  to the member section of the Handiham
website and find the magazine digests in the Library. The February 2009 QST,
CQ, and Worldradio digests have been read by Bob Zeida, N1BLF. 
*       Stay in touch!  Be sure to send Nancy your change 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 toll-free at 1-866-426-3442. Mornings are the best time to contact
*       Rustic sign says Courage NorthRadio Camp dates for 2009 are set:
Arrive on Sunday, August 16 and depart on Sunday, August 23, 2009. Minnesota
Radio Camp will be at Courage North, deep in the pines of northern
Minnesota's beautiful lake country. Those of you who have enjoyed a Handiham
Radio Camp at Courage North before know what a beautiful place it is,
located on a pristine lake with plenty of lakeside activities, woodland
trails, comfortable housing, great food and fellowship, and of course plenty
of ham radio fun. This year we will have our Kenwood TS-480 remote base
station operational at the camp, as well as an EchoLink node so that you can
stay in touch with your ham radio friends with a handheld radio.  We will
have several other stations available, including the popular Kenwood TS-2000
transceiver and the new Kenwood TM-V71A blind-accessible dual band radio.
Courage North has high-speed Internet access. You can come to camp to take
one of the licensing classes for Technician, General, or Extra, or you can
take a class in operating skills or an Extra Class seminar, which covers
some of the more advanced news and technology in amateur radio today. There
is always time for fun at camp, and we always take some side trips to places
like Lake Itasca, the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River. If you
would like us to send you an application packet, please e-mail Nancy at:

As soon as the application forms are printed, we will send you one. We hope
you can join us for Minnesota Radio Camp 2009. The Handiham Radio Club will
also meet at Courage North during Radio Camp week. This year there will be
bus transportation as well as airline transportation to Bemidji. We also
have plenty of free parking and pick up for free at the bus station and

*       Minnesota Radio Camp VE Session <http://www.handiham.org/node/335>
time & date set:

 <http://www.handiham.org/node/335> Minnesota Radio Camp VE Session Set

An open VE (Volunteer Examination) session for ham radio licensing has been
scheduled for the last full day of Handiham Radio Camp on Saturday August
22, 2009. The session is sponsored by the Paul Bunyan Amateur Radio Club &
Courage Center's Handiham System.

Walk-in's are welcome. If you have been studying for your amateur radio
license, you are welcome to join us at Camp Courage North, Lake George, MN
to take your exam.

Place - Courage North Dining Hall
Time of session - 9:00 AM
Walk-ins accepted - Advance notice is helpful, but not required.

o   Read more on the <http://www.handiham.org/node/335>  Handiham website:

Reminder:  Handiham renewals are now on a monthly schedule - Please renew or
join, as we need you to keep our program strong!

You will have several choices when you renew:

*       Join at the usual $10 annual dues level for one year. 
*       Join for three years at $30. 
*       Lifetime membership is $100. 
*       If you can't afford the dues, request a sponsored membership for the
*       Donate an extra amount of your choice to help support our
*       Discontinue your membership. 

Please return your renewal form as soon as possible. 

Your support is critical! Please help. 

The Courage Handiham System depends on the support of people like you, who
want to share the fun and friendship of ham radio with others. Please help
us provide services to people with disabilities. We would really appreciate
it if you would remember us in your estate plans. If you need a planning
kit, please call. If you are wondering whether a gift of stock can be given
to Handihams, the answer is yes! Please call Nancy at: 1-866-426-3442 or
email: <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 

Ask for a free DVD about the Handiham System. It's perfect for your club
program, too! The video tells your club about how we got started, the Radio
Camps, and working with hams who have disabilities. Call 1-866-426-3442


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

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

*       You may listen in audio to the E-Letter at www.handiham.org
<http://www.handiham.org/> .  
Email us to subscribe:  <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 

Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at
www.handiham.org <http://www.handiham.org/> :

. Beginner 
. General 
. Extra 
. Operating Skills


That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System!

Manager, Courage Handi-ham System
Reach me by email at:  <mailto:patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 

*       Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
*       Jerry, N0VOE, Student Coordinator: jerry.kloss@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
*       Avery, K0HLA, Educational Coordinator: avery.finn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
*       Pat, WA0TDA, Manager, patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
*       Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 


ARRL </p />
<p>diamond logo

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!

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 wa0tda@xxxxxxxx for
changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and
your new address.


.        By wa0tda at 02/11/2009 - 20:53 

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Courage Center Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN 55422
E-Mail: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

Toll-Free telephone: 1-866-HANDIHAM (1-866-426-3442) 

FAX:(763) 520-0577 Be sure to put "Handihams" in the FAX address! 

We look forward to hearing from you soon.


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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 11 February 2009 - Patrick Tice