<http://www.handiham.org/node/386> News Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 06 January 2010 This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham System. Please do not reply to this message. Use the contact information at the end, or simply email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx You can also listen to the content online: MP3 audio stream: <http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u> http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u Download the 64 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player: <http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3> http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3 Get this issue as an audio podcast: <http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham> http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham Welcome to Handiham World! Pat, WA0TDA, with handiham coffee mug. This week is a busy one with back to back meetings all day Wednesday and Thursday, so that accounts for this late (and shorter) edition of your weekly Handiham World. I hope you all had a pleasant holiday season and are ready to get back into the routine of getting on the air every day. I did want to let you know that Santa was good to me this year, because a brand-new Icom IC-7200 was under the tree on Christmas morning. I plan to learn a bit more about the 7200, then I'll write a more thorough review from the our particular Handiham perspective. The best points about the rig so far: * Front-firing speaker * Easy to use numeric keypad * Built-in speech for blind users, no extra module needed * USB interface on the back panel * Easy to read display * Great receiver So how's that for starters? I'll put together some more detailed thoughts later on, but I have to say that the new IC-7200 is really a step up from the IC-706 Mark 2 G that I had been using for HF. And I'm thrilled that manufacturers are finally including voice frequency readout that doesn't cost extra! Now, stay tuned for two new year's resolutions. That means you! For Handiham World, I'm... Patrick Tice, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx _____ New year's resolutions Resolution 1: Revise the nets. This is a big one that we mentioned last week: That we will bring the HF SSB nets back to life. We asked you for your ideas, but we did not get many responses because of the holidays, so I'm going to bring it up again. We did get a suggestion from Linda, N7HVF, who said, "Maybe we could use 14.305 MHz. There used to be a Council of the Blind net on that frequency." Linda thought that Monday would still be a good net day and that we might benefit by discussing this as a topic on the Echolink net. We will continue to encourage our members to check into the 40 m CW net as well, but 40 m is not always open across the continent and world the way 20, 15, and 10 m will be as the new solar cycle 24 starts to heat up. Although I'm going to propose some changes to the HF nets, I want to start by giving you the old net schedule. We can either go back to the schedule or design something completely new. Let me know your thoughts on the matter once you have gone over the list. Remember, when frequencies are not used on a regular basis, it should not be surprising to learn that other nets may have taken our place on the bands. Therefore, this old net schedule is only a starting point from which we will build our new HF SSB net schedule: Old net schedule: http://www.handiham.org/node/1 Okay, so that is the old net schedule that is still listed on our website. As I said, all of these nets have fallen into disuse. The one that lasted the longest, the 20 m net, had the additional problem of dealing with the Salvation Army net, which could sometimes start early or run late. Details on the SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network) net are on the SATERN website at: http://www.satern.org/net.html. <http://www.satern.org/net.html> Here is a radical proposal for you to consider: What if we had a 20 m net for Advanced and Extra Class licensees only? I'm not saying that we should completely abandon the General Class portion of the 20 m band. What I am saying is that in order to find a clear frequency, we may wish to consider these more restricted, less populated parts of the band. It seems unlikely that there would be any need for a Handiham Extra Class net on the other bands, as there is more available frequency spectrum on 15 and 10 m. Since we are starting a completely new discussion on SSB HF nets, we might as well be open to taking a look at the 75 m band. During the night, 75 m is open over a large part of North America. A Handiham net in the Extra or Advanced portion of the 75 m band might go over well with Handiham members who have upgraded their licenses and who have time in the evening instead of during the day. The Echolink net and the 40 m CW net have saved us from sinking into oblivion over the sunspot minimum of the past few years. Now it is time to take advantage of cycle 24 and the growing capability of the HF bands to sustain regular Handiham nets. I would like to see members of the Handiham Radio Club and our readers and listeners take up this topic and help us to move forward into the next solar cycle. How should we discuss this issue and how should we make decisions? Please let me know your thoughts. We would like to get this resolved as soon as we can so that we can set up a new schedule. Resolution 2: DOTA. My next resolution, and I hope this will be one of yours as well, is to get on the air sometime, on some band, each day. I call this "DOTA", or Daily On The Air. The way it works is that I have to get one contact made each day. It doesn't matter if the contact is made on VHF or HF, CW or SSB, through a repeater or simplex. I don't care whether it is made from the car while I am driving or if it is as simple as a quick check in to an HF net. It can be made from my main ham shack in my basement or from a handheld radio while I take a walk. In other words, the important thing about this resolution is that I am getting on the air somehow each day. The benefits of getting on the air each day are definitely worth my while. * I will be more likely to remember how to use more of the features of my equipment if I use it every day. * If a problem crops up, I will be more likely to find out about it rather than be stuck with a dead radio in an emergency. * I will be much more likely to stay in practice with good operating procedures if I get on the air every day. * I will be more likely to hear news about amateur radio infrastructure, such as my local repeater system, or find out what others are thinking if I am on the air each day. * I will be building a stronger Amateur Radio Service by promoting daily on the air activity. Remember, our spectrum is valuable. Use it or lose it! * I will make new friends if I spend some time on the air each day. Even talking with folks I've known for years is fun, then a new station breaks in and both of us get a chance to make a new friend. * I will be able to help others, especially if I spend some time monitoring the frequencies and making contacts throughout the day. You never know when someone will need you to make a phone call or give them directions, or just tell them what the weather is like. In short, there are many reasons for getting on the air every day. You will not only be doing something that is fun and good for yourself, but you are also keeping the Amateur Radio Service healthy! _____ Media hit: MONESSEN MAN FINDS OUTLET IN AMATEUR RADIO After being diagnosed with a debilitating back disease, Patrick Griffith could have easily slipped into a life of isolation and loneliness. Instead, the Monessen (PA) resident restored his faith in God, began volunteering and pursued a lifelong goal -- becoming an amateur radio operator. "It's just something I always wanted to do, but never had the time to do it," Griffith said. Congratulations to Patrick, KB3SGU, for getting this great press, in which he tells his story and how amateur radio can really be a worthwhile life goal. Patrick has earned his General ticket. You can read the entire article on the Pittsburgh Live website: <http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/westmoreland/s_658251.h tml?source=emailthis> http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/westmoreland/s_658251.ht ml?source=emailthis _____ Happy New Year message from Handiham Radio Club President Ken, KB3LLA: We had a great 2009, getting our club affiliated with the ARRL and having club representation at the Handiham booth at the Dayton Hamvention. We also had a super radio camp with a lot of educational seminars such as the ones on accessible tools for the Handiham shack and on Digital Accessible Information SYstem (DAISY) books. Let's not forget the productive and inspirational club meeting, too. While we're sad to be leaving Courage North, we're looking forward to our new home at Camp Courage Maple Lake this year. We'll be at Dayton once again and at radio camp this May. May we all have a happy and successful 2010. 73, Ken KB3LLA _____ Dear Elmer: Just wondering if you know of any ways for blind hams to use PSK-31 with a screen reader? Elmer says: Check out the DigiPan and DigiTalk versions of Skip Teller's (KH6TY) software for PSK-31: http://www.digipan.net http://www.qsl.net/kh6ty/digitalk.htm Actually, it will work with a screenreader, but it is pretty much self-voicing. The self voicing feature knows more pronunciations peculiar to ham radio text than Eloquence. Be sure to read the next story before you dive into DigiTalk with both feet! _____ Update: DigiTalk is a no-go with Windows 7 By Patrick Tice wa0tda@xxxxxxxx DigiTalk was written by Skip Teller, KH6TY, as a PSK31 program for users who are not able to see the computer screen. You likely remember Skip as the author of the widely-used DigiPan PSK31 software, which is available at http://www.digipan.net . PSK31 has gain a following on the air because of its extraordinary ability to pull signals out of nearly dead air to produce text that scrolls across the computer screen. My experience is that even Morse code signals cannot get through as well as PSK31. With the recent upgrade of my computer system to Windows 7, I decided to see if DigiTalk would run on a new operating system. The software was written when XP was the current version of Windows, so it seemed reasonable to see what would happen. I went to the download page for DigiTalk, which is not the same one as DigiPan. If you want DigiTalk, you need to head for http://www.qsl.net/kh6ty/digitalk.htm. Once you are there, read everything carefully. You will note that older versions of Windows, like 98, are also supported. There is no mention on the DigiTalk page about Windows Vista or Windows 7. Once DigiTalk was downloaded, I went ahead with the installation. Unfortunately, even though the program installed, it would not run and quickly brought up a dialog that took me down a crooked path of incompatibility! I'll same you the grief by just letting you know that DigiTalk depends on a program called Microsoft Agent in order to run. Microsoft explains that "This problem occurs because Microsoft has decided to stop the development of Microsoft Agent technologies. Therefore, Microsoft Agent is not included in Windows 7, and it will not be included in any later versions of the Windows operating system." There is a hotfix, but it is certainly not guaranteed to work. The bottom line: DigiTalk will not work on computers running Windows 7 or future versions of Windows. A blind Windows 7 user is better off either running DigiTalk on an older computer with XP, or else in a virtual XP machine, provided the computer is capable of running one. Although most blind Handiham members have not made the move to Windows 7 or Windows Vista, eventually the DigiTalk software will fall out of use because it is not compatible with the newest version of Windows. If you have a Windows XP machine, stick with it for a PSK31 ham shack computer. Downloads: DigiTalk setup: http://www.qsl.net/kh6ty/Setup.exe Download the TruVoice speech engine, tv_enua.exe: http://activex.microsoft.com/activex/controls/agent2/tv_enua.exe If you are running Windows 95, 98 or 98SE, download MSagent, MSagent.exe: http://activex.microsoft.com/activex/controls/agent2/MSagent.exe If you are running Windows XP, download the Microsoft SAPI 4.0 runtime support: http://activex.microsoft.com/activex/controls/sapi/spchapi.exe After downloading, run the downloaded programs. The Run command for DigiTalk is \program files\digitalk\digitalk.exe . Please send bug reports to KH6TY: kh6ty@xxxxxxx Tip: Save and restore your Windows audio mixer settings with QuickMix, which I will warn you right now, only works in XP: http://www.msaxon.com/quickmix/ Part of the above was compiled from the DigiTalk website: http://www.qsl.net/kh6ty/digitalk.htm Comments related to the accessibility of PSK31 software are welcome. Please email wa0tda@xxxxxxxx if you have discovered an accessible alternative to DigiTalk, or if you are now using DigiTalk and wish to share your thoughts with our readers and listeners. _____ This week at Headquarters: · Welcome to two new repeater systems carrying the Handiham daily net: KG0BP-R is in Rochester, Minnesota on 444.575 MHz with a tone of 110.9 Hz. KD0BQK-R is the Fort Dodge, Iowa repeater system, on 444.950 MHz with a tone of 110.9 Hz. · We are on Twitter! Look for us on Twitter by searching for "handiham". We invite you to follow us. Handiham web page posts are now "tweeted" automatically! · Ken Padgitt has completed the January 2010 Doctor Is In column from QST for our blind members. This audio is posted today! · Get the four-page year-end Handiham World print edition in audio read by N1BLF, or in PDF, available right now as a download. · Get the Handiham World PDF download: http://www.handiham.org/files/hhw_winter_2010_final.pdf · January 2010 QST & Worldradio audio digests are available for our blind members. · Get the Handiham World Year-End Edition in audio, read by Bob Zeida, N1BLF: http://handiham.org/files/hhw_print_winter_2009_2010.mp3 · Volunteer reader Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the Winter 2009-10 QCWA Digest. · Log in to the member section of the Handiham website and find the magazine digests in the Library. · Our Contact information is the same, but keep watching this space for changes: Email addresses will not change. Courage Center Handiham System 3915 Golden Valley Road Golden Valley, MN 55422 763-520-0512 (Nancy) 763-520-0511 (Pat) Our email address (for Nancy's office) is hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Pat can be reached by email any time, including nights and weekends, at wa0tda@xxxxxxxx Minnesota Radio Camp dates for 2010, Camp Courage: Arrive Friday, May 21. Class days: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. VE Exam Day: Thursday. Volunteer Examiners arrive in the morning to visit with campers and eat breakfast together with campers, volunteers, and staff. Depart Friday, May 28. Cost of Radio Camp: The cost of Radio Camp depends on your ability to pay, so anyone can afford to attend. Ask for an application. · Camp Courage is west of Minneapolis. The address is 8046 83rd St NW, Maple Lake, MN 55358. · The phone number of the Camp Courage office is (320) 963-3121. · If you want to receive a Camp Courage summer camp schedule, you may call for one. · The camp schedule includes information about Handiham Radio Camp. · If you need specific information about the radio camp or want to be on the radio camp mailing list, you may call Nancy in the Handiham office at 1-866-426-3442. Volunteers: VOLLI is now in service. It stands for VOLunteer Log In, and is a way for our Handiham volunteers to register and then enter their volunteer hours without having to fool around with paper records. We encourage volunteers to create a user name and password, then submit their hours spent recording audio, doing club presentations for us, and so on. Volunteer hours are important, because United Way funding depends in part on volunteer hours. If you are a volunteer and need a link to VOLLI, please email me at wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx Our special thanks to my son Will, KC0LJL, who wrote the Java code for VOLLI. Volunteers, get your hours in through VOLLI. You may also submit volunteer hours to Nancy at <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Remote Base Status The Remote Base at Courage North is in service. Please feel free to use this wonderful member resource. 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 us. Echolink net news Wednesday evenings the Handiham Echolink net is on the air. Please join us and check in or simply listen in, as you see fit. Since we are looking forward to the New Year's holiday, we have at least two days when the daytime Echolink net may or may not be on the air. Finding net controls for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day will be a challenge. I would like to encourage the nets to go on normally those days, and if there is no net control station, please just feel free to hang out on frequency and have an informal chat and wish each other a happy holiday season, whichever holiday you are celebrating! We are on the air Wednesday evenings at 19:30 hours Minnesota time (7:30 PM) or GMT: Thursday morning at 01:30 Z. Daily except Sunday at 11:00 hours Minnesota time (17:00 GMT) Where: · 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. Supporting Handihams Now you can support the Handiham program by donating on line using Courage Center's secure website. It is easy, but one thing to remember is that you need to use the pull-down menu to designate your gift to the Handiham program. · Step one: Follow this link to the secure Courage Center Website: https://couragecenter.us/SSLPage.aspx?pid=294 <https://couragecenter.us/SSLPage.aspx?pid=294&srcid=344> &srcid=344 · Step two: Fill out the form, being careful to use the pull-down Designation menu to select "Handi-Hams". · Step three: Submit the form to complete your donation. If the gift is a tribute to someone, don't forget to fill out the tribute information. This would be a gift in memory of a silent key, for example. We really appreciate your help. As you know, we have cut expenses this year due to the difficult economic conditions. We are working hard to make sure that we are delivering the most services to our members for the money - and we plan to continue doing just that in 2010. Thank you from the Members, Volunteers, and Staff of the Handiham System Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Handiham Membership Dues Reminder: Handiham renewals are 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. Your renewal date is the anniversary of your last renewal, so your membership extends 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 year. · Donate an extra amount of your choice to help support our activities. · 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: 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 toll-free.1-866-426-3442 toll-free -- Help us get new hams on the air. Get the Handiham E-Letter by email every Wednesday, and stay up-to-date with ham radio news. You may listen in audio to the E-Letter at www.handiham.org <http://www.handiham.org/> . Email us to subscribe: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at <http://www.handiham.org/> www.handiham.org: · Beginner · General · Extra · Operating Skills That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System! Pat, WA0TDA Manager, Courage Handiham System Reach me by email at: patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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 01/07/2010 - 01:48 · Login <http://www.handiham.org/user/login?destination=comment/reply/663%2523commen t-form> to post comments · Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/663> version · Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/663> to friend _____ 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.