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*Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for
the week of Wednesday, September 27, 2017*
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.*
*In this edition: *
*A note from the coordinator*
*Failing at Being Disabled*
*Disability Doesn’t Make You Exceptional…*
*Getting on AM*
*Down memory lane…*
*Check into our nets!*
*A note from the coordinator...*
What is your favorite mode to operate? Each of us has different likes
and dislikes. Some people love to work satellites. Others enjoy digital
modes. Some people continue to enjoy packet. Still others prefer to work
DX. Some people, like Matt Arthur, KA0PQW, love to work AM. He is in good
company there as none other than Bob Heil, K9EID, also loves to operate AM.
Matt took the time to write his story of getting on AM for this week’s
E-Letter. Maybe his story will inspire you to try a different mode!
The Handiham Headquarters will continue to be short-staffed through next
Monday. Nancy is on vacation, so if you need something done right way,
please be sure to call or email me.
In the E-Letter this week there are links to a couple interesting TED
talks that offer some different perspectives on disability. Matt gives us
his story on AM. Finally, there is an article from a 1997 issue of Handiham
World in Down Memory Lane.
And one more thing for this late edition…I did an interview with Neil
Rapp from Ham Talk Live on Thursday evening. You can check it out here:
Do you have a story to share about your ham radio related activities?
Please send your articles and stories via email to
Lucinda.Moody@xxxxxxxxxx or by calling me at 612-775-2290.
*Failing at Being Disabled *
Born with a genetic visual impairment that has no correction or cure,
Susan Robinson is legally blind (or partially sighted, as she prefers it)
and entitled to a label she hates: "disabled." In this funny and personal
talk, she digs at our hidden biases by explaining five ways she flips
expectations of disability upside down. Check out this TED talk at
*Disability Doesn’t Make You Exceptional…*
Stella Young is a comedian and journalist who happens to go about her
day in a wheelchair — a fact that doesn't, she'd like to make clear,
automatically turn her into a noble inspiration to all humanity. In this
very funny talk, Young breaks down society's habit of turning disabled
people into "inspiration porn." The TED talk can be found at
*Getting on AM *
by Matt Arthur, KA0PQW
[image: Matt Arthur with his AM station. The big transmitter the
Heathkit DX-100, next to that is the Johnson Viking Ranger.<br /> Then
there is the National NC-303 receiver. There is also some other stuff like
the crystal calibrator and swr power<br /> meter and stuff.]
In 1982, when I finally decided to get serious and study for my amateur
radio license, I knew one of the modes I really wanted to get on and
operate was AM. It was back in 1978 that I heard my first ham radio
transmission—it was Don, K4KYV, in Woodlawn, Tennessee. He was talking with
his friend, Roger, N4IBS, now SK, who was in Nashville. Roger was quite
weak and difficult to hear. Now, I know why—he was running a Johnson Viking
Ranger that put out about 40 watts of carrier. Don was running his
home-brew with a KW of carrier. I have always remembered hearing that
conversation, and I later talked to Don, K4KYV, and told him about that QSO.
In late 1982, I took and passed the Novice test, receiving my amateur
radio license and my call, KA0PQW, that I have had ever since. In 1984, I
got my General license. It was shortly after that I decided to try getting
on AM. I can still remember mentioning my desire to operate AM to my elmers
at the Owatonna Radio Club, and they were horrified! They absolutely did
not want me to get on AM! At that time, I didn’t know anything about the
old SSB versus AM wars that took place in the 60’s and 70’s. I really
didn’t care, either. They told me there was no AM activity and that, even
if I got on, I wouldn’t be happy because there would be no one to talk to.
I knew better, however, because by then, I had an SSB rig and was doing
quite a bit of tuning around the bands and listening to that great AM
At that time, the old gear was cheap and quite easy to find. After the
conversation with my elmers, I just decided to become my own elmer. The
only rig I had was one on loan from Handihams, but I wanted my own gear.
Not too long after that, I was at an amateur fair that was held at the
state fairgrounds in St. Paul. Keith, K0HJC, was the Handiham Coordinator
at that time. I was standing there in the Handiham booth with my hand on a
National NC-300 receiver. Someone had already told me there was a price of
$70.00 on it, but I did not have that much money on me. That receiver,
however, just seemed to be calling my name. Keith walked over to me, and we
started talking. I asked him, not letting on that I already knew the price,
how much for the NC-300? He responded, asking if it was for me. I told him
that it was, and he said $40.00. I couldn’t get the money out of my wallet
fast enough! I took that radio home, and now I had half of my AM station. I
still have that receiver.
Not long after, at another ham fest, I found an old Heathkit DX-35
transmitter. I didn’t know anything about the rig, but it was only $15.00.
I could afford that! The seller also threw in five extra 6146 final tubes
for it along with some crystals—most of which were not in the ham band. I
did find one, however, for 3.733 MHz. I decided to give it a try and get
the transmitter on CW. I never did get that rig on AM.
Next, there was the challenge of coming up with a way to have both the
transmitter and the receiver on an antenna at the same time. I didn’t know
anything about transmit/receive switches, muting, or anything else. After
thinking about it, I decided to put the transmitter on my 75 meter dipole
because I knew that I needed to have the transmitter on an antenna that
would work for the band I wanted to operate—in this case, 75/80 meters.
Then I put the NC-300 receiver on an old Hustler vertical that I had next
to the house. It didn’t hear the best on 75, but it was what I had.
Now, with the transmitter and receiver on their antennas, I decided to
try getting the DX-35 on the air. I had never operated a tube-type rig
before and wasn’t completely sure how to do it. The guy who sold me the
DX-35 talked to me about peaking the grid and dipping the plate. He also
showed me what the controls were while I was at the hamfest where I bought
it. What he shared was all I knew.
I plugged in the transmitter, turned it on, plugged the old straight key
in, and let it warm up a bit. The next thing I knew, I grabbed hold of the
straight key and got one huge shock! It scared me some, but I wasn’t going
to be stopped. I was going to get that DX-35 on the air. Being more
careful, I was able to tune the receiver to the transmitter. Then I started
messing around with the controls on the rig. I soon learned that if I had
the receiver mode switch in the right position, I could tune the
transmitter for maximum volume or for minimum volume in the receiver. Of
course, I wasn’t afraid to try stuff with the transmitter because I only
had $15 invested in it. The worst thing I could do was blow it up!
I first tried tuning the transmitter for maximum volume and started
calling CQ. I got no answers, but I did get a bunch of sparks and smoke
coming out of the DX-35. Also, I noticed that the signal level went down
considerably in the receiver. I knew then I had blown the thing up. But I
still wasn’t about to give up. I turned it off and let it cool down. After
letting it cool, I took the rig apart. Using one of the other 6146 tubes as
a reference, I was able to identify the one that was in the transmitter. I
removed the one from the transmitter and put in one of the spares. Then I
fired it back up to try again. The same thing happened a second time!
Again, I let it cool down and replaced the 6146 with yet another one. This
time, when I fired it back up, I decided to try tuning the transmitter for
minimum volume in the receiver. This worked much better. I called a few
CQ’s and was soon working a station in Louisiana. I can’t remember his
call—probably because I was so excited to be working my first station on
all my own gear! The rig still sparked a little, but now I was on the air.
Later on, I learned that the tank coil in the transmitter had been
smashed. I described what was happening with the rig, and they told me to
look at the tank coil. He described to me what it looked like, so I took
the thing apart again and discovered that, in fact, it was smashed. I tried
to reshape it back to as round as I could. It worked a little better but
still was not great. I managed to work 37 states and several stations in
Canada with it, however. That was probably the most fun I had ever had in
ham radio, but I still wasn’t on AM.
In the fall of 1986, while at the Waseca hamfest, I found a Johnson
Viking Ranger—the same Ranger I still have today. I started to talk to the
guy who was selling it. He really wanted to sell it with the Hammarlund
receiver he had with it as a package deal, but I told him I already had a
receiver. Finally, I talked him into selling me the transmitter only. So,
for just $50.00, I had my AM transmitter.
By this time, I had met someone who was not against the idea of me
getting on AM. He was Carl, WA0RLY, in Austin, MN. He came back home with
me to my shack, and we proceeded to get the transmitter on the air. He
helped me get a mic going for it, and we put it on. Using the same method
of tuning the transmitter for minimum volume in the receiver, I got on the
air. That same night, I worked several AM stations. I can even remember a
couple of them—Ed, KO3L, out of Pittsburg, PA, and Ed, WA3PUN, out of
Harrisburg, PA. That winter of 1986-87, I would start operating around 10
at night, and, a lot of times, I wouldn’t quit until 6 in the morning. I
got to know a lot of great guys and learned a lot about ham radio.
In 1987, I moved into an apartment in Minneapolis, MN, which put me off
the air on HF. I held onto the gear knowing that I would find a way to get
back on AM. The next year, I moved into a basement apartment that a friend
of a ham I knew was renting. It wasn’t much of an apartment, but at least I
could get back on HF. I was on for another few years, but circumstances
forced me to move to another place where I couldn’t really do HF. That put
me off the air on AM until just a few years ago.
When I moved to Ellendale, Minnesota, in 1996, I became very interested
in VHF/UHF operating. Because of that, I did not bother to get an HF
station going right way. Also, it didn’t take very long for my shack to be
full, leaving no room for an AM rig. I considered selling the Ranger and
the National receiver, but all I got from prospective buyers were low
offers. That made me mad, so I decided I would just keep the gear. That
turned out to be a good thing because I started hearing more activity on
AM, and I really wanted to get on the air on AM again. I started looking at
the gear, and I discovered that both the receiver and transmitter needed
work. I found someone willing to do some repairs and get the rigs going
again for me. I still did not have a good way to set the equipment up,
however. There simply was no room in my shack! A friend found me some big
tables that were being sold from the place where he worked. He purchased
them with me in mind, and, after looking at them, I knew they would work
for setting up the AM station.
By this time, I knew I did not want to use my old method of tuning up
the transmitter. I had the RF Applications P-2000 CW SWR/power meter, and I
knew it had a tuning aid built into it. Also, I now had a T/R switch on the
Ranger, but I still didn’t know how the switch really worked. I started
thinking. I knew I had to get someone to help me the first time I got it on
the air. I called a long-time ham that I had worked on VHF and UHF and who
also operated AM. I talked him into coming down and helping me get the
thing on the air. I think that was in 2014, but I am not sure anymore
I have had a few transmitter problems off and on, mostly old component
failures, but I have really had a great time being back on the air on AM.
Back in December of 2016, I bought a National NC-303 receiver that I had
always wanted. I put it in line to replace the old NC-300, but I still keep
that rig as a spare receiver. This fall, I picked up an old Heathkit DX-100
transmitter that I had always wanted from a friend who had completely
restored it to great working shape. He helped me get the station set up so
I can have both transmitters on the air with the one receiver. So now I
have my National NC-303, the Johnson Viking Ranger, and the DX-100 all up
and running. Most mornings, you can find me operating AM down on 3.730 with
a bunch of great guys from the upper Midwest. And you can bet that come
wintertime when it is way too cold outside, I will get on in the AM window,
3.880 to 3.890, late at night, working stations.
Several people have told me I should give up the old gear and run AM on
my rice box, but to me, that’s just not the right way to do AM. While I
like my rice boxes, my Kenwood TS2000, to me, there is nothing like an old
AM rig. They just have some kind of soul you won’t find with these modern
rigs. I am certainly planning to operate with my old rigs for many years to
come. So look for me on 75 meter AM. Get on with whatever it is you
have—whether it is a rice box rig or some old gear. I also operate SSB on
HF and still operate SSB CW on VHF and UHF in addition to running a couple
of repeaters on 1.25 meters and 70 cm.
I hope to hear you on the air soon—especially on AM.
Thanks and 73,
Matt, KA0PQW, the AM voice of Ellendale, MN
* Down memory lane...*
In honor of the celebration of 50 years of the Handiham Program, here is
a story from the Summer 1997 issue of Handiham World.
*“The Patient Who Couldn’t Speak”*
By Dennis W. Ross, MD, N6DR
Years ago, I was one of a group of medical students on a neurology ward
at the Veterans Administrations Hospital in San Francisco. While at the
bedside of one patient, half listening to the professor drone on about a
rare neurologic syndrome, I distinctly heard someone call for help. Looking
around, I could see no one calling and none of my colleagues seemed to have
heard anything. A minute later, I heard it again, and this time found the
source. A patient across the room was sending Morse code with a spoon on
the bedside table. I walked over to this patient. The nurse told me that he
was aphasic (unable to speak) because of a stroke four days earlier. I
started sending code to him with the spoon. In a rush, he poured out his
story to me, at first sending too fast for me to follow.
Harry was retired from the merchant Marine, now living in an old
sailors’ home “on the beach” in San Francisco. He was a large man who
looked older than his reported age of 69. He didn’t have the weather-beaten
look one imagines in old sailors. He explained to me that this was because
he’d always been a radio operator, inside a small dark room away from the
elements. He told me that since his stroke, he’d felt as if he were trapped
in the radio room with the door locked from the outside. The receiver was
still working, but the transmitter was broken. He couldn’t talk back to
anyone. He’d been tapping away with a spoon for days, even though he’d
given up hope of being “rescued.” Paralysis of his right side had prevented
him from writing any messages.
I brought to the hospital an old Vibroplex Sidewinder telegraph key,
which was Harry’s favorite for sending Morse code. Harry had spent a good
part of his life on oceangoing freighters as a radiotelegraph operator. He
told me a story of something that had happened at sea several days before
the attack on Pearl Harbor. Harry surmised that there was a large number of
Japanese ships in the Pacific. His merchant vessel wasn’t far from the
Japanese fleet and heard the low-power radio exchanges between large
numbers of vessels using the variant Morse code of the Japanese. He tried
to inform West coast and Hawaiian naval authorities of the impending
attack. Harry proudly displayed a book one of his friends had brought from
the old sailor’s home that told this story.
Daily visits by the medical staff amused Harry and me because, for a
while, we became the center of attention. A group of doctors would surround
his bed and watch me write down Harry’s Morse code messages to the outside
world. As time passed, however, there was little change in Harry’s
neurologic deficit. And, like all things, the novelty wore off, and Harry
never regained his ability to speak; but he was verbose in Morse code for
all the days I was able to follow him.
While Harry was in the hospital, I got to know him much better than any
other patient on the neurology service. Years later, I remember his stories
when I’ve forgotten everyone else on that ward. Ironically, this patient
was classified as “unable to communicate” and considered a special problem
for nursing-care placement. I don’t think aphasia was a serious problem for
Harry. He was accustomed to many nights at sea, talking via Morse code to
his friends on the other ships and posts around the world. I believe Harry
and I communicated better by Morse code than we would have by voice. I knew
his medical history more thoroughly than if I had interviewed him in the
conventional way. Even though Harry could hear without a problem, I began
speaking to him only in Morse code. It seemed more appropriate and gave a
private and personal nature to our conversations, if possible, when talking
on a large, open ward.
The other doctors and the nurses who couldn’t understand Morse code
treated Harry as if he were deaf or spoke a foreign language. I’d been
taught that aphasic stroke doesn’t limit a person’s hearing. Despite proof
of that for Harry, people would tell me a question to ask of my patient.
Then they’d be surprised when he started sending his answer in Morse code
before I had sent any code myself.
Communicating on a Different Level
There’s a special nature to communications via Morse code. At night,
when I wear headphones and listen to code over the short-wave radio
(usually with my eyes closed), I feel that I’m communicating without
talking or hearing voices. After a long day of talking to people and
hearing many voices, it’s a pleasant feeling. An hour or so after I put on
the headphones and Morse code fills my ears, I have the feeling that I’m
using a more primitive part of my brain. The message seems to come to me in
a whisper or even to represent something I’m remembering rather than
hearing. I no longer formulate what I want to say and then translate it
into code for my fingers to send. The thoughts just come out. The syntax of
my message changes and doesn’t resemble transcribed speech. I’m not sure
where the speech comes from when I enter this relaxed state of
communication. It doesn’t feel like it’s coming from the conventional
speech centers in the left temporal lobe of the brain.
I’d like to be able to give a telegraph key to the captain in Jack
London’s novel, Seawolf. In the final pages, the captain is shipwrecked and
marooned on a distant shore. He also suffers progressive neurologic
collapse. As the captains’ sensory functions shut down one by one, I’d like
to see if he could still communicate in Morse code.
Talking via short-wave radio blinds both parties to the cues that go
with face-to-face communications. The radio makes the other person
invisible, the code takes away accents and conventional patterns of speech.
The listener can’t judge whether the other person is well-dressed or
well-educated before the conversation starts as we so often do in
conventional communications. Radio also places the other party of the
conversation at a distance.
The psychological space that surrounds us isn’t invaded by the person on
the other end of the conversation. I read of a medical student who had much
more meaningful conversations with her pathology professor via ham radio
and Morse code at night than during regular daytime teaching sessions. This
doesn’t surprise me. Morse code is a social equalizer and a more intimate
way of talking.
Radio conversations in Morse code differ from spoken communication in
that you can’t be interrupted, unless you’re using full break-in, as do
skillful traffic handlers. Normally, your part of the conversation doesn’t
end until you throw the switch. Only then can the other person speak, and
he can’t be interrupted until he passes the communication back to you.
Morse communications are succinct. Written and spoken language is more
formal and structured than the abbreviations used in Morse code.
Morse code may be declining as a means of communication. Exchanges of
computer-generated code may soon replace manually sent dots and dashes
pounded out by a well-rounded fist balanced atop the plastic knob of the
telegraph key. My experience with Harry makes me think about how little we
know about the nature of human communications.
*What are you waiting for? Check into our Handiham nets... Everyone is
How to find the Handiham Net:
The Handiham EchoLink conference is 494492. Connect via your iPhone,
Android phone, PC, or on a connected simplex node or repeater system in
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
[image: Cartoon multicolored stickman family holding hands, one
wheelchair user among them.]
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 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, James, KD0AES.
*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. *
Handiham annual membership dues are $12.00. The lifetime
membership rate is $120.00.
MEMBERSHIP DUES PAYMENT LINK
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>
How to contact us
There are several ways to contact us.
*Postal Mail: *
*Courage Kenny Handiham Program 3915 Golden Valley Road MR#78446 Golden
Valley, MN 55422*
* E-Mail: **Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx* <Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx>
* Preferred telephone: 1-612-775-2291 Toll-Free telephone: 1-866-HANDIHAM
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 Lucinda Moody, AB8WF, at:
73, and I hope to hear you on the air soon!
For Handiham World, this is Lucinda Moody, AB8WF
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
Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc.
Include your old email address and your new address.