[handiham-world] Handiham World for the week of 16 July 2008

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2008 12:43:34 -0500

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

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Courage Center - Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN 55422

Toll-Free: 1-866-426-3442
Email: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxx  

Website: http://handiham.org <http://handiham.org/> 


Welcome to Handiham World!

 Antenna warning label says watch for wires
<http://handiham.org/images/warning.jpg> Perhaps you have seen the ARRL
story about Edward Thomas, KC0TIG, and his son.  They were electrocuted
while putting up an antenna.  The story is a familiar one; raising an
antenna and contacting high-voltage power lines with deadly results.

It is a terribly sad story.  Edward's granddaughter witnessed the accident
and had to alert neighbors, who called 911. Neither man could be saved.

Back in the mid 1970s, when Don, W0DN (now a silent key), and I started the
Butternut antenna company, we had to learn how to make commercial antenna
products. Both of us had made plenty of antennas as home-brew projects, but
when you make products that you are going to sell to the public, you need to
follow certain protocols. One of these was to place a bright yellow warning
sticker on each antenna. That sticker, which warned against contacting power
lines with the antenna, has probably saved some lives over the decades, but
I suppose there is no way to know that for sure. 

In the accompanying photo, you see a well-worn sticker on one of my own
Butternut antennas. 

"DANGER", it says, "WATCH FOR WIRES". It continues by warning the user that
they can be killed by power lines and that they should read the

These days, I'm sure that all antenna manufacturers provide warning labels
on their products as well as prominent warnings in the text of the assembly
instructions.  The problem is that such warnings become so familiar to us
that we might simply begin to ignore them.  As amateur radio operators, we
should always put safety first.  Of course no one would argue with that, but
safety practices are not really something that you can simply turn on and
off like a switch.  People who assemble antennas cannot always be counted
upon to read instruction manuals, especially the part at the beginning that
cautions you to look up in the air for overhead power lines.  Even the
bright yellow stickers can miss getting one's attention.  No, safety is not
just another paragraph in the instruction manual for your antenna.  It is a
long-practiced habit that we have adhered to from day one, whether it be at
Field Day, setting up for an emergency, or putting up a new antenna from

Always look up.  Always.

The thing about habits is that they can guide us in the right direction even
when the brain slips into neutral.  In an emergency situation when antennas
need to be put up quickly, your mind is going to be on getting set up as
quickly as possible to provide communications.  If you are in the habit of
always scanning your surroundings, looking up, down, and around before
putting up any kind of antenna structure, you are more likely to do the
right thing, avoiding overhead power lines. I remember reading about another
tragic accident in 2005, where four men, volunteer leaders, were
electrocuted at the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia. They were
putting up a pole to support a dining canopy, when it apparently contacted a
power line. It can happen - and does - when you least expect it. Even four
sets of eyes did not see the overhead danger.

Aluminum ladders, antennas and masts, towers, guy wires, gin poles... all of
these conductors are likely to be used by amateur radio operators in the
normal course of antenna installation and maintenance. If you are not in the
habit of looking around you for hazards, there is no time like the present
to start training yourself to do so. Know your surroundings by taking a tour
around your property. Where does the electrical service enter the house? Is
it overhead or underground? Are there power lines running adjacent to your
property? Are they overhead or underground? Simply put, this basic walk
around your yard can be a life-saver. You need to avoid contacting overhead
lines or digging into buried cables.

The person most responsible for your safety is YOU. Antenna manufacturers
can put all the warning labels in all the right places, but having good
safety habits in the first place is even a better bet! Start building those
good habits today.

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager


Now, back to our vintage QSL card series.  

Here is a QSL card that will bring back memories for many hams around the
world. Marv Mahre, W0MGI, is a very active amateur radio operator. What you
may not know about Marv is that for years he operated a QSL card printing
business, and his beautiful designs are still tacked onto many ham shack
walls. This particular card was printed on glossy white card stock in three
colors plus black. The cartoon image, which really looks like him, shows a
smiling, bespectacled Marv banging with his fist on a J-38 Morse code key.
Logos for various organizations Marv belonged to at the time, including
ARRL, QCWA, and the St. Paul, Minnesota Amateur Radio Club, as well as the
Society of Wireless Pioneers logo, which is one I didn't even know about,
are displayed prominently on the front of the card.

The text of Marv's card is just as interesting. It states Marv's old German
call, DL4HQ, from the time he was stationed in Europe in the early 1950's.
He has always been interested in railroads, and the card says, "RAILFAN".
Finally, at the bottom on the card's front face, are the words "Assistant
Director - Dakota Division".

The back of the card is arranged in the typical "post card" style, with a
space on the right-hand side for postage and the recipient's address. The
left side has a form for the details of the contact, which in this case was
with special event station W200ZSW in May of 1988. I suspect that the
special callsign was issued to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the
Handiham System. In his remarks, Marv says, "My mobile rig used in a hurry
to make the contact."

QSL cards are not as common is they once were, and that is kind of a shame.
It was always fun to get a card like Marv's, even for a mobile contact. Hams
proudly displayed their QSL card collections on bulletin boards, in special
plastic QSL card holders, and simply tacked onto walls. Logbook of the
World, which can be used to efficiently confirm contacts, is more practical
these days, but it is just not quite the same, is it? High postage rates may
keep us from sending lots of cards, but you may still want to confirm those
special contacts in this most traditional of ways: with the good, old ham
radio QSL card!

Incidentally, Marv is a member of the Handiham affiliated Stillwater Amateur
Radio  <http://radioham.org/> Association. He seldom misses a meeting, even
the informal Thursday evening eyeball QSO sessions at Courage St. Croix in
Stillwater, Minnesota. On the air daily, Marv is still among the most active
operators in the club!

We will bet that you have vintage QSL cards, too. If you can send a scan or
photo of your vintage QSL cards, we will feature them here. What the heck -
the HF bands are still pretty poor, so we might as well keep ourselves busy
with vintage cards! Please send the images to wa0tda@xxxxxxxx along with a
few words, if you wish, explaining the card or perhaps recalling those days
when you were sending lots of these out. We will also feature your comments
and callsign in the story.


 W0MGI QSL Front <http://handiham.org/images/w0mgi_vintage_qsl_front.jpg> 
 W0MGI card back <http://handiham.org/images/w0mgi_vintage_qsl_back.jpg>


Field Day stories, anyone?

Avery's QTH is taking a break this week, but he is still looking for Field
Day stories, especially funny things that he can share with our readers.

Do you have a field day story to share with us?  Let Avery know about your
Field Day adventures (or misadventures), and let us know if it is okay to
use your callsign and name if we print your story.  You may e-mail Avery at


AMIS is your friend

 AMIS is your friend

DAISY books provide spoken word audio that is connected to text.

How to get started:

* You will need a DAISY book reader. You can easily read DAISY on your
computer, but you need a software program to do so.

* AMIS is a free of charge, open source DAISY book playback software. DAISY
books are used by our Handiham members who are blind or have a reading
* Version 2.6 is the latest stable release of AMIS. You can view the release
notes, learn the latest news, or download AMIS by visiting Sourceforge:

* Members can log in to the Members Only section, go to the Handiham Daisy
Book Collection, and in the DAISY subfolder, find the folder of interest to

* For example, go to the folder arrl_emcomm_notes and you will see a number
of files. You will need to copy all of these files into a folder on your own
hard drive. It is best to use an FTP program.

* Then use AMIS to open the book. The file you want AMIS to open is
ncc.html. All the files from the folder must be in the same folder for AMIS
to read the book.


E-mails Asking for Personal Information Are Not from ARRL

ARRL has posted a notice on http://www.arrl.org <http://www.arrl.org/>  to
warn members about a "phishing" scheme that involves an email message
soliciting information. The mail supposedly comes from "accsupport at
arrl.net", but there is, of course, no such mail address at ARRL. In fact,
the ARRL already has the necessary information about its members, and would
not ever send out messages asking for information again. This sort of
message, which solicits personal data, is sent out by criminals who
ultimately hope to profit in some way by stealing identities or using email
or website accounts for illegal activities, such as spamming. 

Bank customers are the more usual targets, and the caution is the same: Your
bank already has your information and would never solicit personal data via
email. It is unusual to see arrl.net addresses targeted for ARRL member

A check of the message header, which you get to in different ways depending
on your email client, shows a "reply-to" at a Gmail account, not an ARRL
account. This sort of thing is a dead giveaway that someone has set up a
Gmail account for this illegal activity. Of course when you see this
activity, you should alert the host of the reply-to account, in this case
Google, and ask them to cancel the illegal sender's account. They should
gladly do so, as fraudulent activity is always a violation of a provider's
terms of service.

For the record, ARRL or Gmail are in no way at fault for this activity, and
in fact they are both victims of the person perpetrating the fraud. However,
ARRL is doing the responsible thing by alerting its membership of the scam.
If you get similar emails that are forged to look like they are from
Courage.org or Handiham.org, never reply with personal information.

If you have questions about any communications from us, you should contact
Handiham Headquarters to be sure that we actually sent it.


Slacker sun still disappoints

 Solar image from SOHO
<http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime/mdi_igr/512/latest.jpg> Image:


Remember that you do have an alternative to HF for worldwide communications:

As if we needed to be told, there is news out today that the sun is, well,
not really newsworthy - at least as far as solar activity is concerned. In
fact, the very lack of solar activity has now become the news story. Amateur
radio operators worldwide have been waiting and waiting and waiting some
more for the sun to perk up and enter the new cycle. Sunspots, which are
connected to good HF band conditions, have been reluctant to make their
appearance, surprising solar weather forecasters!

Check out the Science at NASA RSS feed at:

NASA Science News for July 11, 2008 reported that the sun is entering its
third year of eerie calm. Sunspots are rare and solar flares simply aren't
happening. Is this "solar minimum" lasting longer than it should? A NASA
scientist has examined centuries of sunspot data to find the answer,
revealed in the story from Science at NASA:

The Handiham EchoLink net is on daily except Sundays.

All licensed operators are welcome. The net is controlled but informal, and
there is no need to be a Handiham member to participate. Sometimes the net
control station will throw out a discussion topic to liven things up! Listen
in a few times if you are shy, and then take the plunge and throw out your
callsign. Days: Monday through Saturday, and Sunday if anyone wants to take
an informal session.

Times: 11:00 hours United States Central Time M-S and a second Monday
session at 19:00 Central Time.

Frequency in the local Minnesota repeater coverage zone: 145.45 FM, negative
offset with no tone in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul

EchoLink nodes:

KA0PQW-R, node 267582

WA0TDA-L, node 302454

N0BVE-R, node 89680

The Monday evening EchoLink net is at 19:00 United States Central Standard
time, which translates to 00:00 GMT Tuesday morning during North American
Daylight Time. In the winter, the GMT schedule shifts one hour to 01:00 GMT.
Connect from any Internet-enabled computer in the world, and come out on
Twin Cities repeater N0BVE on 145.450.


This week at Headquarters

The August QST audio digest is available for our members. Login to the
member section of  <http://handiham.org/user> the Handiham website and find
the magazine digests in the Library. 


Handiham World: This is our weekly e-letter, which is also available as an
audio podcast. It is published Wednesdays on http://handiham.org
<http://handiham.org/>  and is also available in streaming audio on that
website. This newsletter is available via Freelists.org, which hosts our
mailing list. Go to
and create an account. This list is open to everyone, regardless of Handiham
membership. The list does not accept member posts, as it is only used to
send out the Handiham World on Wednesdays.


Avery's schedule changes: Avery is now out of the office on Tuesdays. This
helps save transportation costs and energy!


New in Manuals Section at Handiham.org: Tutorials from Scott, N7ZIB, on the
Motorola GP300 VHF or UHF HT. You can read reviews of this radio on eHam:
http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/2635, or log in to members only and go to
the manuals link, then the Motorola folder. You will also find Scott's first
tutorial on the Motorola MaxTrac radio in the same folder. Scott is a
frequent checker-inner on the Handiham Echolink net
<http://www.handiham.org/node/1> , and is located in Margie, MN, way up in
far northern Minnesota, near the Canadian border, eh.


Two weeks to register! 5 spots available. 

There are still 5 places open for campers at Minnesota Radio Camp! Handiham
members who pass their Technician license exams at Radio Camp this summer
will receive new handheld radios. If you know a person with a disability who
would enjoy ham radio, please send them our way. We want to get those new
hams on the air! Camp begins on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 and finishes on
Wednesday, August 27. Both Wednesdays are travel days. 


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@xxxxxxxxxxx or call her
toll-free at 1-866-426-3442. Mornings are the best time to contact us.  



Perkins Brailler needed: 

We have a member seeking a Perkins Brailler. Please contact Avery Finn,
K0HLA, in the Handiham office if you can help. Phone toll-free
1-866-426-3442 or email Avery at avery.finn@xxxxxxxxxxxx  


 plugged-in robot <http://www.handiham.org/images/bd05047_.gif> 

RekkyTec Links

Electrocution story on ARRLweb:

Antenna and Tower Safety from ARRL: (accessible text-embedded PDF)

The ARRL Atlantic Division Web Site,   <http://www.atldiv.org/training.htm> 
offers several "webinars" during the month of July. 

Free screenreader via the web:  <http://www.accessibilityisaright.org/> 

KNFB Reader:  <http://www.knfbreader.com/products-mobile.php> 


 Cartoon guy with toolkit <http://handiham.org/images/bd06227_.gif> 



Elmer has started a blog! You can find it at:

You can write to Elmer with your questions: <mailto:elmer@xxxxxxxxxxxx> 


 Huge alligator grabbing Pat, WA0TDA
<http://handiham.org/images/alligator.jpg> Reminder:  Handiham renewals are
now on a monthly schedule - Please renew or join, as we need you to keep our
program strong!

Image: Meet our new dues collection agent! A huge alligator grabs Pat,
WA0TDA.  "Sure wish I'd renewed my Handiham dues sooner." 

For years Handiham membership renewals were done each July. This year, we
are going to a monthly system.  If you renew in March, your membership goes
until the following March, for example. 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. There is a postage paid
envelope provided, and you won't get a visit from you-know-who.

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@xxxxxxxxxxx> 

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@xxxxxxxxxxx> 

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@xxxxxxxxxxx> 

*       Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxx

*       Jerry, N0VOE, Student Coordinator: jerry.kloss@xxxxxxxxxxx

*       Avery, K0HLA, Educational Coordinator: avery.finn@xxxxxxxxxxx 

*       Pat, WA0TDA, Manager, patt@xxxxxxxxxxx

*       Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxx


 ARRL </p />
<p>diamond logo <http://www.handiham.org/images/arrllogo.gif> 

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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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World for the week of 16 July 2008