[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 18 March 2009

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2009 14:30:40 -0500

Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 18 March 2009 

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
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Welcome to Handiham World!

Ham Radio Deluxe main screenFree software tour: Ham Radio Deluxe

Last week we talked about the free audio editing program called Audacity.
Today, I want to tell you about a wonderful way to control many modern
amateur radio transceivers using a personal computer. This information
pertains to users of Microsoft Windows because the software is written to
run specifically on that operating system. Ham Radio Deluxe is a free
software suite written by Simon Brown, HB9DRV. 

Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) also includes mapping, satellite tracking and the
digital mode program Digital Master 780 (DM780). It is designed for Windows
2000 or higher (XP, Vista, 7), also Internet Explorer 6.0 (or higher) is
required. It may work with Windows 98 but this is not supported. The policy
is to support Windows versions which are supported by Microsoft.

Any licensed Amateur may download, install, and use HRD. It is not open
source software, however.  The difference is that the software author does
not license the software under an open source licensing agreement, and the
computer code is not public.

Before I get into any details about Ham Radio Deluxe, I think we should make
it clear that this software is constantly under development and is thus
being improved all the time. It has gone through many releases and upgrades
over the years, and I have used it with great success in my own ham shack
for many of the years that it has been available. The fact that HRD is
always in active development sets it aside from many other software
packages. Oftentimes you will find that a rig control program has maybe one
or two releases, and not very much changes, if anything, after that. Ham
Radio Deluxe is different, because it keeps getting better and better. I
like the fact that I don't have to worry about ditching my rig control
program because it is hopelessly out of date. This is one of the most
important reasons to choose Ham Radio Deluxe.

In order to use software to control your radio, you will need to provide a
hardware connection between the radio and your computer. How you do so
depends on which radio you have and what kind of ports your computer has
available. Fortunately, there is information on the Ham Radio Deluxe website
that will help you get this part of the job done. In the case of my ICOM
IC-706M2G, I learned that I needed a special cable. This was relatively easy
to find at a good price via the Internet. Further connections were done via
a commercial rig interface, in this case a Rigblaster. I found that it was
easiest to follow the Rigblaster instructions and everything worked pretty
much as expected right away! You may find satisfaction in building your own
interface, and you will find plenty of help for doing so on the Internet.

Ham Radio Deluxe should be downloaded and installed after you get your
hardware connections in order. I won't go into detail, but HRD will prompt
you for the proper port settings the first time you use it, and after that
the computer will remember all of these details so controlling your rig will
be as simple as turning on the power to the rig and then running Ham Radio

Like many hams, I have a few frequencies and modes that I return to on a
daily basis. Generally speaking, most users will find that they do not take
advantage of the many features of HRD. For example, I will typically use HRD
and my ICOM to check into a local HF net, PICONET, once in the morning and
once in the afternoon. The net meets on 3.925 MHz SSB, and Ham Radio Deluxe
allows me to save that frequency and mode into my "favorites". A simple
click of the mouse puts me on the PICONET frequency. Since I like to keep a
record of stations that I have worked, I use the logbook feature in HRD. The
logbook is a pop up window that has all of the basic input fields you would
expect, but what makes it easy to use is that all I have to do is enter the
net control station's callsign, and the log book remembers the station and
allows me to choose "auto fill" to complete all the other fields with the
correct information about name and location, as well as a note that this was
PICONET. The frequency field always reflects the radio's true frequency,
which is sent by the data cable from the ICOM to the computer.

If you like DX, there is a DX spotting window built into Ham Radio Deluxe. A
list of DX spots appears below the frequency screen, and all you have to do
is click on the DX spot you're interested in, and the radio automatically
changes frequency to the same one as the DX station. I am not much of a DX
chaser, but I do enjoy using this feature to see which bands are open. Since
the DX spotting feature gets its information constantly from the Internet,
you need to have a live Internet connection. You do not need an Internet
connection to use HRD to control your radio, as long as the radio is
connected through an interface directly to your computer. However, it is
also possible to control a radio remotely via the Internet using Ham Radio
Deluxe. I have enjoyed using the K0LR IC-756 Pro transceiver located in
northern Minnesota, even though I was physically located in Gulf Shores,
Alabama. Lyle and I set up the details for me to log on before I left for
vacation. Since I was already familiar with controlling my radio with HRD,
it was easy to learn how to control another radio remotely via the Internet.

Even so, I feel as if I have barely started to use all of the features Ham
Radio Deluxe has to offer. You can run digital modes, track satellites, map
the contacts you are logging, operate CW, display a short wave station
database, and customize the program to your liking. Since I can see the
computer screen, I do not use the built in voice to speak frequency and
mode, although these features are available in Ham Radio Deluxe. It is worth
noting that the spoken frequency is not dependent on any voice module being
installed in the rig. Even if the transceiver does not have a voice module,
HRD can still speak the frequency. That said, what I have heard from blind
hams is that HRD is not all that blind-friendly from the standpoint of
screen reader users. I would like to get more detail on what features are
accessible and which ones are not. Since this software is supported by an
excellent team of volunteers, perhaps one day accessibility improvements can
be made.

You can get Ham Radio Deluxe at: <http://www.ham-radio-deluxe.com/> 

Next week: Two free screen readers.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager

 <mailto:wa0tda@xxxxxxxx> wa0tda@xxxxxxxx


Burghardt Amateur Center closes retail ham radio store

Well, It's official. Rumors started flying last week that longtime amateur
radio retailer Burghardt Amateur Center of Watertown, South Dakota had shut
its doors. Hams being hams, they were discussing this news on the repeaters,
on the HF bands, and on the Internet. I decided to call the Burghardt
service number and find out for myself, since the Handiham program had often
used the services of Burghardt's for repair. Jim Smith, W0MJY, owner of
Burghardt Amateur Center in Watertown, South Dakota, told me that the
company will no longer sell Amateur Radio transceivers and accessories. The
company will now be called Burghardt Radio Repair, and will continue to
repair amateur radio equipment.

While talking on the phone, we reminisced about those days long ago in the
mid-1970s, when Don, W0DN (SK), and I made a sales trip to Watertown to see
if we could convince Stan Burghardt, W0IT (SK), to sell the brand-new model
of vertical antenna we were manufacturing. We put one together right there
in the store! Even though the antenna had the unlikely name of "Butternut",
it proved to be a pretty good seller for years after that. Members of my own
local radio club have enjoyed making pilgrimages to Watertown over the
years, sometimes combining an operating event with a trip to the radio

Retail margins in the amateur radio equipment business have always been
pretty thin, and between the current economic recession and competition from
less than full service dealers selling on the Internet, it is easy to see
how it would be difficult to maintain a stock of expensive amateur radio
equipment and make the sales part of the business profitable. Thankfully,
Burghardt Radio Repair will still be there when your radio gets sick. We
wish Burghardt Radio Repair the very best! 

You may also wish to read a story about Burghardt's on the ARRL website:


Avery with morning coffeeAvery's QTH

Welcome once again to my humble QTH: 

Early Saturday morning I tuned my Yaesu FT-100 to the 9:30 am  local Swap
net. Oops! it was way too early, so I decided to see what else I hear on the
2 meter band. On the 145.450 MHz repeater (Echolink Node 89680) I happened
to hear a net going on. I listened for awhile and heard the net control
announce it was a QCWA (Quarter Century Wireless Association) net and he was
taking check-ins, and  whether or not people were members they were welcome
to check in. 

I grabbed the microphone and put out my call. Sure enough I was
acknowledged, so I came back and mentioned I was also a member of QCWA and
was secretary of QCWA Chapter 8 at one time, but had not been very active
for awhile. 

Well, with that, all the QCWA members wanted to say hello to me and it was
like old home week. For those who are not aware, the QCWA  requirement for
joining is that you had to have been licensed at least 25 years ago. It  is
OK to have had a license, dropped it and then gotten it back again but that
first one had to have been 25 years ago. At the time I first joined Chapter
8, I was the youngest person there but of course that is no longer true. 

Why did I mention QCWA? For some time now the Handiham System has been
providing the tapes for QCWA along with our own. One track on the 4 track
tapes is sometimes devoted to QCWA. Some of the QCWA people are also members
of Handihams. Pat, WA0TDA, manager of Handihams is a member of QCWA also.
QCWA has chapters almost everywhere, so if you are interested you might want
to check out a chapter in your area. Even if you are not yet able to join,
there are many experienced people who may be able to help you upgrade or
answer some of your other Amateur Radio questions. 

The weather here is quite nice now; the warmest it has been since November,
and the temperature has been running in the 40's, 50's, and 60's Fahrenheit.
Ah! That is above zero. Now is a good time to check out those antennas. Be
sure nothing is in the traps. Be sure the rotator is working correctly.
Check out that lightning protection system. Be sure all the ground radials
are connected. Maybe you were wanting to put up a new HF or UHF/VHF antenna,
so now is the time to get started. 

With warmer weather tornados and hurricanes show up, so you may want to
check out a SKYWARN class and monitor the SKYWARN and hurricane frequencies.
Don't check in unless you have something the net control needs. Listen to
the net controls and be there if they need you. If you have some urgent
traffic for your part of the area and no one else is around, then check in
and offer to take the information and deliver it. Be sure you deliver it. It
may not be a bad idea to have an HT with you most of the time either as you
never know when the nasty weather may pop up. 

This is one application for our new remote Kenwood TS-480 base. Not too
often are tornadoes found that far north, so it is very likely that it will
be operational should your HF antennas go down and you need to get out
important emergency information.

73 & DX from K0HLA, Avery

Remember: You can reach me Monday & Wednesday until 1:30 Minneapolis time
Email me at:


A homebrew project like this needs a radio

John's homemade car parked in his driveway.

Reported by Pat Tice, WA0TDA

Some ham radio operators build electronic kits. Some even etch their own
circuit boards and design and build radio gear from the ground up. Then
there's Handiham volunteer John Hoenshell, N0BFJ, who designed and built a
car... yes, an automobile!

We have been watching this homebrew project take shape over the past few
years. I always get a chance to visit with John at Dayton Hamvention and at
Handiham Radio Camp, so I've gotten to see photos of the project when it was
just a "frame car" - the metal frame without any sheet metal.

I asked John where he's getting the parts.

"Scrounging - anything I can find", he says.

It turns out that anything made of the right kind of metal, plastic, or
whatever is fair game for John's car project. Even sheet metal from an old
refrigerator is pressed into service as John scrapes the bottom of the
dumpster looking for new treasures.

All this project needs now is a transceiver mounted under the dashboard. Oh,
and for those of you who know John, a battery charger!

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Wednesday Evening EchoLink Net

Wednesday Evening EchoLink Net happy guy with headset

Tonight you will have an opportunity to meet your friends on the Handiham
net. Please join us and check in or simply listen in, as you see fit:


Wednesday evenings at 19:30 hours Minnesota time (7:30 PM)
GMT: Thursday morning at 00:30 Z


145.450 MHz N0BVE repeater (Minneapolis-St. Paul) 
Node 89680 (EchoLink worldwide) 
IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector) 
WIRES system number 1427

Everyone is welcome. You do not need to be a member, and the net is relaxed,
friendly, and informal. 

By the way, our Net Manager Howard, KE7KNN, reminds us that we need net
control stations for the Wednesday evening net and for the Monday through
Saturday morning net. If you are in the Twin Cities, all you need is a radio
that can get on the 145.45 N0BVE repeater, and if you live outside the RF
area, you can still be net control via EchoLink, IRLP, or WIRES. 


Extra Pool Handiham DAISY book

Extra Pool Handiham DAISY book

Beta test the new Extra Pool Handiham DAISY book:

1. You will need eClipseWater, so here is the link to the website:

2. You will need a DAISY book reader. If you want to read a DAISY book on
your computer, you can use an open source free program like AMIS, which is
pronounced "ah-mee". You can find it at:

3. Here is the link to the new Handiham Extra Class pool DAISY book.
Remember that you need eClipseWater to reconstruct the book onto your hard
drive before putting it in your DAISY player. Also, this option is for those
who wish to boldly go where almost no person has gone before, to experiment,
learn and have fun with new technology. Which means that I won't give you
tech support on all this stuff!

Anyway, here is the link to the file:
If you get this to work for you, I'd like to hear from you. We are in the
beta testing phase of DAISY book production.  

Thanks for your help!

Best regards,

Patrick Tice, Handiham Manager


This week at Headquarters:

*       Nancy is back in the office this week.
*       Tom Fogarty, KB0FQW, worked out of the Handiham office a couple of
days this week. He even checked into the EchoLink net! Tom is the Camping
Department Director and usually works out of Courage North. (Tom is Pat's
boss, so he get's dibs on the rig at HQ!)
*       Radio Camp applications are now printed and in the mail. If you
attended radio camp last year, you are on the list to receive an

*       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. Pictures of camp are available online.
*       Once again, campers earning their first license, the Technician, at
Radio Camp will get new handheld radios to start them off on their ham radio

*       It's like a vacation! 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. 
*       Radios galore! 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:

You may also call Nancy toll-free at 1-866-426-3442 to request an
application packet, renew your Handiham membership, or make a donation to
support our work.

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

*       New in Operating Skills: 

*       April QST digest audio is online for our blind members. 
*       Volunteer reader Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, reads the April "Doctor is in"
column from QST for our blind members.  
*       March audio is also posted. WORLDRADIO audio digest is available for
our members. Login to the member section of the <http://handiham.org/user>
Handiham website and find the magazine digests in the Library. The 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

*       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.


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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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