Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 26 July 2017

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Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 26 July 2017

This is a free weekly news & information update from the Courage Kenny Handiham Program, serving people with disabilities in Amateur Radio since 1967. 

Our contact information is at the end.

Subscribe or change your subscription to the E-mail version here.

Welcome to Handiham World.

In this edition: 

  • A note from the coordinator

  • Ham Friendships Span Time and Space

  • The side-benefits of amateur radio

  • A bit of history from Gayle, W8KWG

  • A sailing story from Tom, WA8IVG

  • Down memory lane…

  • Check into our nets!

  • ...And more!

A note from the coordinator...

What does a typical ham radio operator look like? That depends on who you ask! Over the years, the members of the Handiham Program have come from all over the United States in addition to numerous countries throughout the world. While they have experienced different disabilities and pursued various occupations, they have an appreciation for the amateur radio hobby in common. The following article was printed in the Summer 1979 issue of Handiham World:

Profile of a Ham Operator

Dr. Marc Pressman’s interest in ham radio began 13 years ago when he came across a book on the subject in his junior high school library. The topic enthralled him. Not knowing any hams, and afraid to approach any of the tall tower antennas in his neighborhood, he taught himself the required Morse Code and electronic theory. After several failures at the FCC office, he finally passed his Technician exam and became WB4DRB. Since then, Dr. Pressman has received his Extra Class license.

During an interview to enter William and Mary College, the admissions officer asked him why his grades were so poor. Marc’s father interjected that he spent more time on ham radio than on his studies. The admissions officer happened to be a prospective Novice who appreciated the hard work in becoming an amateur radio operator, and Pressman was admitted.

Active in the William and Mary Radio Club, K4FEL, Pressman briefly served as president. Club members used to keep in close contact evenings by 2 Meter FM while helping one another with their physics and math homework.

After graduation, Pressman applied to medical school. Ham radio aided him once again. During a medical school interview, he discovered that the doctor interviewing him had spent time on the Project Hope ship in Ceylon. During that time, this doctor had contacted his family in the States via amateur radio, retaining a high esteem for hams. Pressman was admitted to medical school that year.

Despite the rigors of his medical training, Dr. Pressman has remained active mostly on HF, CW, and 2 Meter FM. He has made many friends among medical school people, and he even ran a class for prospective novices. His enthusiasm and assistance has encouraged his father, Maurice, WA4NEH, and his wife, Gale, WB3FC, to take up the hobby.

Dr. Pressman is now active in Pittsburgh on 80-10 Meters, CW and SSB as well as 2 meter FM. He also serves as a volunteer examiner for people with handicaps in the Pittsburgh area. Dr. Pressman, who knows the help and enjoyment ham radio can provide, wants to encourage more handicapped individuals to become hams.

What does a typical ham radio operator look like? Maybe you should decide! Each licensee has their own story to tell. You will find a few of them in this week’s E-Letter.

Do you have a story to share? Please feel free to send your articles and stories via email at Lucinda.Moody@allina.com or by calling me at 612-775-2290.

Ham Friendships Span Time and Space

By: Dr. Ronald E. Milliman, K8HSY

How many friendships have you developed through ham radio? If your answer is like most hams, it is many, probably even too numerous to recall all of them.

Just recently I’ve had some happenings that caused me to stop and ponder this very question. When I think about it, the number of people I’ve met and developed close friendships with is countless, spanning both time and space.

Several of those friendships started back when I was in Junior high school. Ron, K8OEY, and I met through an older ham, Leo, W8AJM, who knew both of us kids; and he knew we were both interested in electronics and were “ham wanna be’s.” So, Leo invited us out to his place so we could meet and get acquainted. From that meeting, Ron and I became best friends; we were inseparable. Leo was our Elmer. He first gave me my novice exam, and, a few months later, he gave Ron his test too. Ron and I built all kinds of electronic circuits and kits, and, yes, we even blew-up a few too. We remained friends over the years, right up to Ron’s early death a few years ago.

In my 7th grade year, I switched from the public school system to the Michigan School for the Blind (MSB), located in Lansing, Michigan, and about 75 miles from my hometown of Sturgis. So, I lived on the campus of MSB most of the time, except for vacations. I lost most of my eyesight at age 8 from a pretty rare illness called Stevens - Johnson syndrome. I still had some useable sight, but I was really struggling in school because of my poor eyesight, and the medical and educational experts felt it was best if I switched to the School for the Blind. I was strongly opposed to this change; after all, my friends since kindergarten were all in Sturgis, and I didn’t know anyone at that “stupid school for the blind!” Besides, I wasn’t blind! This is an important part of my story because almost immediately I met several other kids at my new school who were also interested in electronics and becoming hams. Soon, I was fitting right in with my new pals, my “ham wanna be” buddies. We formed a study group led by one of the guys' Dad. His name was George Woods, but we all just called him Woody. Woody and his son, Gary, lived near the MSB campus; so, it was easy to get over to their house. Woody was ahead of the rest of us, and he took and passed his novice exam first. Then, he held study sessions a couple times a week in the evenings to help the rest of us prepare for our Novice tests.

We all studied hard, the electronic theory, the rules and regulations, and, oh, yes, the code. For most of the guys, the code was the easy part. Later, some of the guys developed code speeds of 40 words per minute and even faster. Over a few months we all passed our novice license exams and were officially real hams, no longer just "ham wanna be’s!" There was Ron Iser, KN8KLR, his Brother, Ronnie, KN8MEW; Ken Filter, KN8KIC; Gary Wood, KN8HLX; me, KN8HSY, and our Elmer, Woody, KN8HBX. We got to be really good friends, a tight little group. Woody let us use his Hallicrafters S-88 receiver and Heathkit AT-1 transmitter, running all of about 20 watts, if we were lucky. Eventually, we all got our own gear. Together, we had quite a variety of receivers and transmitters, a Heathkit DX-40, Hallicrafters SX-71, Globe Scout, some military surplus gear like the BC-348, ARC-5’s, and even some homebrew gear. We strung antennas out our windows, and even tried loading up bed springs and window screens. As kids, we were up for trying anything, which also explains how we ended up blowing up a few pieces of gear too. Those old PI output networks would attempt to tune more than what was good for them! Those days were back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and many of us who were members of that little group are still friends to this day, well over 50 years later.

After high school, we all went our separate ways, but we still stayed in contact on the air and through the grapevine we developed as graduates of MSB. I went on to attend Eastern Michigan University and then, into the business world, and eventually, on to graduate school at Arizona State University for my MBA and Ph.D. degrees. All along the way I met new ham friends. Ham radio was the one unifying thread. No matter where you go, if you are a ham, you can almost always find other hams who quickly become your friends.

My first professorial position was at the University of Texas at Arlington. Once again, I didn’t know anyone in Arlington. I went to a local Radio Shack store and ask if anyone was a ham or if they knew any hams in the area. Bingo! One of the fellows working in the store was a ham, and the customer he was helping was a ham. I introduced myself with my name and call, W7GPF. W7GPF was my call from Arizona, and I just moved to Texas and hadn’t filed that famous or infamous FCC Form 610 yet to change my address and get assigned a new call for the 5th call district. Anyway, we immediately struck up a lively conversation over something, probably antennas or the like. One of the guys, Vern (I don’t remember Vern’s call), invited me to their next ham club meeting. As it turned out, Vern and I were even neighbors; he lived just down the street from where I had purchased a house. Vern invited me to attend the local ham club meeting with him. I was able, then, to meet lots of the other hams in the area. One fellow in particular came right up to me and said: “Ron, I’m Rick. I’m not a ham yet, but I’m working on it.” That fellow turned out to be Rick Hamilton, who is now WB5VQW, and Rick and I have been ham buddies now for almost 40 years. We’ve gone to hamfest together, shopped the surplus stores together, and just recently Rick and his wife, Karen, who’s also a ham (WB5UFM), met with my wife and I to share some quality time together and talk ham radio and about the “good ol’ days.” Rick and Karen invited my wife, Palma, and me up to their FMCA’s Amateur Radio Chapter’s Rally/campout where I met up with several other ol’ ham friends from my days back in Arlington. We sat around the table and talked about how Rick and I managed to burn up something in one of my rigs and had to take it over to Bob to repair, and there Bob was sitting across the table from me. It was like those good ol’ days all over again!

A few years later, I moved from Texas to Louisiana where I accepted a position as Chair of the Marketing Department at Loyola University in New Orleans. As we were approaching New Orleans and getting close enough that I could hit the repeaters, I dropped my call on the one I was told was the most active repeater. Right away I have WD5DWO come back to me. It was Althea. She welcomed us to New Orleans, and offered to meet us and help us get acquainted with the area. We actually met for lunch, and Althea became an immediate good friend. Over the next few weeks, she introduced us to many other hams that also became good friends.

A very similar thing happened when we moved to Kentucky, and I joined the faculty at Western Kentucky University. I was able to immediately connect up with the local hams here in Bowling Green, and they became our first friends, helping us get settled, answering questions about the area, and inviting me to join the local ham club, the Kentucky Colonels Amateur Radio Club. I’m also a member of the Princeton, Kentucky Amateur Radio Club. The guys in both clubs helped me get up my antennas and have become some of my best friends.

Even more recently, my wife and I traveled up to Michigan, my home state, to visit our many friends and relatives that live up there. As it turned out, the highlight of our trip was traveling over to Grandville, Michigan, to meet for the first time, Tom Behler, KB8TYJ. Tom and I initially met on the Blind Hams’ email list and over the past several years, we have developed a strong friendship, though we never met in person until our recent trip to Michigan. We made it a special point to go over to Grandville to meet Tom and his wife Sue, who is also a ham, KC8IFP. My wife and I shared a delightful afternoon with Tom and Sue in their charming home. Later that evening we went to dinner with Tom and Sue, and several other friends met us at the restaurant; and, as you may have suspected, more of our old ham buddies were among those we met there. This included Bob Sikkila, K8MXC, and Larry Alman, W8WR; both are former high school classmates from the Michigan School for the Blind. While the food was delicious, the time we shared that evening together was even better!

As you read this, I’m sure you can reminisce over very similar experiences. Like me, you’ve probably developed lots of good friends; some are probably even your very best friends and some you’ve known over many years. Whether you are a rag chewer, a DX chaser, someone who enjoys participating in nets, or a builder/experimenter, you can always find other hams that share your interest with whom you can develop close friendships. Some of those friendships last forever!

The side-benefits of amateur radio…

In 1994, when I was thirteen years old, I had to have some pretty involved back surgery. I had just received my license in April of that year, and my surgery was in July at Johns Hopkins. This was before the days of cell phones and tablets, of course, and I figured I'd bring my HT along to keep me company in the hospital during my week of post-surgery hospitalization. I had quickly made friends with a bunch of folks on a repeater in northern Virginia where I lived. My ham friends came through, even switching over from our regular repeater in Virginia to one in Annapolis that I could hit with my HT, just so they could keep me entertained during my time in the joint--I mean the hospital. Despite my probably being a little loopy because of the pain drugs, my ham radio friends kept me thinking about something other than my back pain for that week. In fact, my recovery went so well that I got to leave the hospital two days early. Fast forward a month and a half, and off I went to my first radio camp at Handihams, where I upgraded to an advanced license and had the time of my life.

Catherine KE4LAM

A bit of history from Gayle, W8KWG…

Most of you probably know me from previous radio camps (2011-2012). If not, this is W8KWG in Columbus, Ohio.

It all began when I was in my late teens. I received a book from the Cleveland Public Library about amateur radio. I did not order it, but, in essence, it was rather interesting. I also read a book about the Handiham Program and how it got started. Maureen Pranghofer was one of the founders.

I put my budding interest in radio on the back burner. I did all of the other mundane things: graduating from high school, attending Goodwill Columbus for word processing training and getting a job.

The interest of amateur radio kept prodding me to find out more. I first called Handiham Systems to get some information about how to start studying to get my ticket. I got my Technician Class license in April, 2009. My call sign was KD8KWG. I started in public service and traffic handling and wanted to know more. I proceeded to get my General Class license in June, 2009. After checking radio reception in my condo, my friend and I were disappointed at the lack thereof. He suggested that I start unplugging things to see if it would improve. It was like night and day.

Out went the cable boxes, out went the TV’s. Needless to say, things started looking up. I started studying for my Extra Class license soon thereafter and passed my test in November, 2009. I applied for my vanity call sign in 2012.

I have been blind since birth and have found Amateur Radio to be a cool avocation. I have worked all states, have made contact with Special Event stations and have ran Special Event stations. I have helped out in numerous public service events and drills. It wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of Handiham Program. Thanks again for all you have done and continue to do.

73, de W8KWG

A sailing story from Tom WA8IVG…

Here's a story from my sailing days where ham radio possibly saved a lot of worry and an unnecessary search.

In 1995, while my wife, Sue, NY6D, and I were active members of BAADS, the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors, an experienced skipper and friend Laurence asked me to crew for him in the 1995 Double-Handed Farallon race.

This famous race requires ocean capable boats be crewed by a skipper and only one crew. Fortunately for me, they forgot to include any specification against the crew being blind.

The race starts just inside San Francisco's Golden Gate and proceeds out under the bridge and 29 miles across the often stormy gulf of the Farallons to the barren and uninhabited Farallon islands. The racers "round" the south west Farallon island and return to San Francisco Bay. This race is a long 12 hour or more sail in BAADS' somewhat slow but reliable Ericson 27, Endless Time.

I took my Icom IC2AT 2 meter HT with me so as to be able to talk to Sue and keep her aware of our progress. Endless Time had on board a standard marine VHF transceiver which operated from the vessel's "house" battery, a 12 volt heavy duty battery used for lights etc. We were required to check in with the race committee boat both before the beginning of the race and as we approached the finish line. Any vessel not spotted by the committee boat at the finish line and/or not checking in by VHF marine radio could be considered missing.

The marine radio worked properly on the way out, but after a rather rough 12 hour passage with consistent 6 foot seas, 20 knot plus winds, including one squall of 40 knot winds, and very heavy rain, the connection between the radio's power leads and the battery had gone south. Somehow a 1/4 inch wing nut on the battery terminal had loosened and gone missing.

When I was unable to restore a good connection, I grabbed the trusty Icom HT and contacted a fellow ham on the San Francisco radio club's 145.15 repeater W6PW/R. I had this helpful ham (sorry his call has gone away with time) contact the sponsoring club, the Golden Gate Yacht Club, and pass word to the committee boat that Endless Time was re-entering the bay all well, but we were "DNF" (Did Not Finish) as, due to more squalls, we chose not to actually round the required island.

Again, had I not thought to bring the HT along, not only would I not have been able to update Sue, but we might well have been reported missing and had a search started for us before we could return to dock and a "landline" phone.

Those who might have time to spare and wish to read the full length version of this story and some of our other sailing stories can find them on our web site at: http://fwx.fastmail.fm/sail.html look under Telltales for Farallon '95.

And again, uncountable thanks to BAADS http://www.baads.org, my grand friend, Laurence Kornfield, and my ever fabulous wife, Susan, NY6D.

Tom Fowle WA6IVG

Down memory lane...

In honor of the celebration of 50 years of the Handiham Program and in keeping with the theme for this week, here is yet another view of an amateur radio operator from the Summer 1989 issue of Handiham World…

Handiham member tells her story

I was born in Keokuk, Iowa, in 1921, the youngest of five girls. At the age of seven, my grandma and I went to Chicago to live with my aunt so that I could attend public school. When I had learned braille and a little typing, I started attending classes with sighted students. I took assignments back to our room where the special education teacher helped when needed.

I trained with my first guide dog as I was finishing high school, so he could help me on campus as I started college at Mt. Carroll, Illinois. After two years there, I transferred to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where I graduated in journalism. After that, I went to Philadelphia and took Home Teacher training and worked for several years in Chicago.

I met my husband, Orville, during an in-service training program. He had come to Chicago from Seattle, Washington, where he had developed a weaving program which was nationally known.

Orville was an electronics engineer and was head of radio departments in Seattle and Chicago. When his vision no longer permitted the close work, he became a guide lecturer at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Orville always wanted me to be as independent as possible, so when I became an amateur in 1953, he set up a nice station for me and built a tuning device so I could meter the transmitter.

Orville passed away in 1986. He had completely remodeled this old house when we came here in 1974.

The house is small but has a large fenced-in yard where my guide dog, Rambo, has room for exercise. Prior to Rambo, my shepherd dogs were from Master Eye guide dog school in Minneapolis. I guess that’s what got me interested in NORTHCARS net.

Rambo is a Pilot Dog from Columbus, Ohio, where I trained with him in November, 1988. He is a spirited animal and a real pal, as well as a guide. We sing in the church choir and attend church meetings. We belong to a book club and read continually.

The ham activities I’m involved in include 40 meter net coordinator for the OMISS net and wandering around on the other bands looking for rag chew contacts. My rig is a Ten-Tec 540, with an SB200 amp and a vertical antenna good for 10 through 80 meters. My two meter transceiver is an Icom 751A. By Helen, W0PXE

What are you waiting for? Check into our Handiham nets... Everyone is welcome! 

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 your area.

  • 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 get-together.  

    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 CST (Noon Eastern and 09:00 Pacific), as well as Wednesday evenings at 19:00 hours CST (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.  It's easy and secure!

    • Handiham annual membership dues are $12.00.  The lifetime membership rate is $120.00.

    • If you want to donate to the Handiham Program, please use our donation website.  The instructions are at the following link:

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


Preferred telephone: 1-612-775-2291
Toll-Free telephone: 1-866-HANDIHAM (1-866-426-3442)

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: 612-775-2290.

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 Lucinda.Moody@allina.com  for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new address.

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