Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 2 August 2017

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Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 2 August 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

  • The amateur radio story of Tom Lykins K4LID

  • Ham Radio 2017 was Great!

  • Preparing for your amateur radio license exam

  • Call to Action

  • STEM as an Equalizer

  • Down memory lane…

  • Check into our nets!

  • ...And more!

A note from the coordinator...

Why amateur radio? That was one of the questions during an interview this week with Carl Belnap of the Talking Voice. (712-432-6499 Press four pound. Then press two pound. Then press nine pound for the first half and ten pound for the other half.) Ham radio communications differ from other methods because ham radio operators understand and apply the science and technology that underpins the hobby. That allows hams the ability to creatively solve the problems that impact their capacity to communicate, something that is not available when simply using Skype or a cell phone. If a person just wants to communicate, plenty of methods are available that don’t require a license. If, however, a person wants to develop their skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math, ham radio is the perfect hobby.

Luther Washington found the challenge of amateur radio to be just what he needed. His story was printed in the Summer 1993 issue of Handiham World:

A new perspective with Handihams

To Luther Washington, an active CB’er, radio was an almost unlimited hobby. It seemed to him that one could never exhaust the fun of getting on the 11-meter band and meeting other folks. But in 1980, a serious back injury at work left Luther with time on his hands. Unable to return to work, he soon realized that he had already plumbed the depths of the CB world, and there wasn’t much left to do!

Still, as he continued his physical therapy, his strong interest in radio remained, and he was drawn to a hamfest where Handiham Educational Coordinator Sister Alverna, WA0SGJ, was handing out literature at the door. Sister told him about the wide horizons of Amateur radio, the licensing requirements, and the services the Handiham Program could extend to him. It all seemed so much more exciting than CB!

Maureen Pranghofer, KF0I, then Handiham Student Coordinator, invited Luther to visit Courage Center for a look at the headquarters station, W0ZSW. It was amazing! Maureen explained how the equipment could be used to contact stations around the world, about the different modes of operation, about the QSL cards on the wall, and—most importantly—how the Program could help him achieve his Amateur Radio goals! Unable to resist the challenge, Luther “joined up,” and soon his days of therapy were no longer boring because he had something new to work toward, his “ticket”! Besides, he recalls, “My XYL, Mertha, didn’t like the CB. ‘That thing has GOT to go!’ she said.”

Luther studied with the tapes, and Tony Tretter’s voice became as familiar as that of an old friend. Maureen was his one-to-one helper, and he attended classes given by another Handiham member. Soon, he passed his Novice test and got on the air with a Tempo One. He worked his way through the license manuals, one by one, advancing through the “ranks”.

“Why don’t you go to Radio Camp?” suggested Dave Block, KA0VCW.

That was good advice! Radio camps were a big help! Luther attended three Fall Radio Camps at Courage North in Minnesota. He studied for and passed his General, Advanced, and Extra, working at home in preparation for camp, and then harder than ever during the weeks of camp.

It takes more than passing exams to be a ham, though. It takes a station, and a lot of hard work to set it up. That’s where Dave Michael, WA0CTZ, stepped in to help. Dave put up Luther’s tower. Greg, Luther’s son, is the designated tower climber. Greg has climbed the tower again and again, and worked on the “shack” as well. And while Luther may have great helpers, he dives into the ham radio projects that he can do by himself, even building traps and winding the balun for his own antenna!

Luther operates with a Kenwood 440, though he still has the Tempo. His favorite modes are HF SSB and two meter FM, and he can usually be found on 3.925 MHz, 7.248 MHz, 14.295 MHz, and the Handiham nets. He emphasizes that it doesn’t take an awful lot of money to get started in Amateur Radio, and even though he now has the Kenwood and a growing collection of antennas, the Tempo only cost him $150, and he used his existing CB antenna on 10 meters.

Says Luther, “The Courage Handiham Program helped me to gain a new perspective when life just seemed to have no direction. I was limited in my ability to move around and to meet people. More Handiham members should be able to visit headquarters and meet the people I have worked with personally. They are special people!”

Just like Luther, you can find many hands on projects in amateur radio that go beyond simply keying the mic. Do you have a story to share about your ham radio related activities? Please send your articles and stories via email to Lucinda.Moody@allina.com or by calling me at 612-775-2290.

The amateur radio story of Tom Lykins K4LID

My interest in radio began in 1958 when I was six-years-old. Prior to that, I wanted to drive race cars as my oldest brother did at Kilkare Speedway in Xenia, Ohio, and at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ohio.

Although I knew I was blind, I could not correlate why I could not drive a car. My brother tried to explain it to me, and it finally sunk in to my mind.

What, if anything could I do for a hobby or recreation? I had always listened to the radio and started playing with the dial. At that time we didn't have an FM radio or shortwave, just AM.

One of our local stations at the time (WBLY) operated on 1600 KHZ. This was at the top of the band, so it was easy to find. I knew if I tuned the dial past that end, it would stop. Being a young child, I forced the dial past the stop and broke the dial cord. After my Mom and sometimes my Dad would restring it, I would start again.

Beginning in 1959, my favorite radio station was WING, which operated at 1410 on the dial. I could not understand why, at sunset, I could no longer hear them. Why did they have to do this? As a result, I would cry and cry like someone had passed away.

It was worse for me when I had to leave home and go to school at the Ohio State School for the Blind, about fifty miles away. It was more difficult to listen to WING, and I had to listen in the day when I could but was stuck with WCOL in Columbus.

Beginning in 1960, I had enough. Something had to be done. So, I decided to memorize the radio dial which I have done since, regardless of where I lived or was, even on a temporary basis. It took a while, and I didn't understand about propagation and why things were the way they were on Medium Wave (AM), which is the standard broadcast band.

There would be times when I would listen for WING at night and in the daytime listen to WIZE, another local station in Springfield. However, listening to WBLY was a challenge as there was a Columbus station at 1580 KHZ on the dial which was WVKO. Their transmitter was on Henderson Road, about two miles from the school. Obviously, they wiped out WBLY unless you had a commercial grade tuner or receiver, which I did not have.

During this time at OSSB, a class was started for Ham radio. “CARA" The Columbus Amateur radio club had two hams who came to the school and offered classes. For some reason, you had to be in the 5th grade to take them. Their emphasis was learning the code and then theory for the Novice Class license.

In the meantime, I heard about shortwave radio from a friend. I asked for a shortwave radio for Christmas and received an 8 Transistor AM/shortwave radio for Christmas in 1961. The radio covered the 41-meter band. In addition to various broadcasts from The Voice of America, WRUL in New York, Radio Moscow and Cuba, I heard what are known as utility stations and amateur radio operators.

At that time, I had no conception of what Single Sideband sounded like and was not sure about CW (Morse code). In 1962, I soon learned from other students at OSSB the difference.

My father, who worked at the former Ohio Steele Foundry, said that there were some hams who worked with him. In looking back, he was confused between Ham radio and CB radio. It should be noted that CB radio started in 1958. My Dad said that as a "Ham Radio Operator," I could talk with world leaders and that was how meetings between various countries were held. I learned this was not correct.

At the School for the blind in Columbus, we had an amateur radio club station. The call sign was WA8BAR. Our rig was two homebrew crystal controlled transmitters for 80 and 40 meters and a Collins 75-A3 receiver donated by CARA. Unfortunately, we did not get much time on the air for those who were licensed.

In September of 1965, a new industrial arts teacher came to OSSB. His name was Starling Hutt with the call sign of W8QEM. He quickly learned from some of the older students that they were interested in amateur radio and, for him, not being familiar with teaching blind boys how to develop their manual dexterity, he saw an easy out. He proposed that all of us study for our Novice license and get our tickets. This was in the fall of 1965.

I had a terrible time learning the code. So, another friend said the quick way to learn it was to tell dirty jokes and to curse people out using the code and be as profane as possible. Instantly, I learned it over night, along with those around me. We were going around school using profane words and the most debasing conversations you could have.

In December of 1965, I passed my code test. It should be noted that in those days, you had to take a sending test as well. My test for my written came in the mail to Mr. Hutt, our instructor, and on a cold snowy Monday afternoon in January of 1966, I took my test along with others in the class.

Most of us failed. This was because the tests we had been sent were different from the ARRL questions we had been studying. When Mr. Hutt gave me my score, he said. "Lykins, you did stinkin."

I was totally disheartened. Another reason was that there were no solid state rigs at the time. You had to load and tune your transmitter which I knew would be a problem for me.

Later that winter, I, along with another student, were called into the Principal’s office. He started sending CW back to us. We were caught! No more cursing people openly with CW. However, we would still do it discretely.

I took my Novice test again in April of 1966 and passed. Now, how was I going to get on the air? When I would go home on weekends, there was a ham who gave classes in code and theory every Friday evening. His name was Paul Crowell, W8WXG. He had a big table in his home with a code key at every place fed into a Morse code oscillator, and we would send and receive the code.

In April of 66, Mom and I along with another friend, Jim Hill, went to Custom electronics in Dayton. They were on Brown Street next to NCR (National Cash Register Company). There, Mom bought a Hammarlund HQ110 for me. Now, I needed a transmitter, key, and crystals for the novice band. In Springfield, we had a Lafayette Radio store on Belmont Avenue operated by Joe Elliott, W8VZM. He had a Heath DX-20 transmitter for sale for $35. Mom bought it, and Paul Crowell gave me a key. Mr. Hutt found a place in Florida where you could buy Jan Crystals for $1 per crystal. Mom bought for me all of the crystals for 80, 40, and 15 meters where Novices had privileges to operate. Now, to put up an antenna!

While all of this was going on, I was big into CB. In Clark County, we had a Junior CB Club. We would meet at the Moorefield Township Fire Department or the Carpenters Hall in Springfield. I had a friend, Butch Phillips who said he would put up a 40 meter antenna for me. While his heart was in the right place, we didn't have the right material to put up a proper antenna.

So, on August 30, 1966, we fired up the DX-20. Remember, I didn't know how to tune it and, as a consequence, "smoked it." The stench was so bad that Mom could not get rid of it for over a year. No matter how hard she tried, nothing would work to eradicate that smell. By this time, I was totally discouraged with Ham radio and said it was a lost cause.

But wait!!!!!!! There is more!

I moved to Louisa, Kentucky in 1972, and the first ham radio operator I met was Elmer Tom Pigmon K4PGA. He was using the tube tester at Ern's Newsstand located on Pike Street across from City Hall. Although I had not been active in Ham radio since 1966, I still kept up with what was going on in the hobby. I then met Leonard Compton, K4PFZ and his brother Jim Frank, W4ZVL. I would not meet Fred Jones, WA4SWF until a couple of months later. Frankly, I was amazed that Louisa had so many hams. Fred and I became fast friends and he told me about a repeater that he and Elmer Tom wanted to put on the air.

At that time the Big Sandy Amateur Radio club was formed. Our meetings were held at City Hall and later at the original repeater building on Five Forks Hill at the home of Charlie Fyffe, WD4LIP. I still was not really interested in getting back into amateur radio.

There was a policeman at the time, Larry Sparks, who was interested. When we would work together, I taught him the code. For practice, he would read articles from the Big Sandy News and resend them in CW. He finally thought he was ready to take his test. When he took the code test, administered by Fred Jones, he passed. The FCC sent back two written tests instead of one. Fred called and asked if I wanted to take the novice test. I said I really didn't care, it was a bunch of junk and to forget it. But he persisted. He said that he and Elmer Tom needed someone to monitor the repeater and that they could not be there to do it all of the time. I had the perfect situation to do so. So, I acquiesced and took the test. Needless to say, I passed with flying colors. This was in January of 1978.

In March, I received my call sign, WD4RWU. Previously in Ohio my Novice call sign was WN8TWH. Neither call sign was to my liking. I knew I had to upgrade to Technician class to get on two meters and to use the repeater. So, back to the books again. It was ironic that I passed my Technician class exam in December of 1978, just before the major flood which almost wiped out the construction dam in Johnson County. As a precaution, residents of Johnson County were evacuated to Louisa. Fortunately, the dam did not collapse, but there was major flood damage. The repeater was put on the air on September 4, 1978, which was Labor Day.

Fred, Elmer Tom, and I went to St. Albans, West Virginia, to the residence of Don Rees, W4VQA, who built the repeater. We brought the repeater back and put it on the air. It was a GE Proline with two Ringo Rangers for antennas.

Throughout the years since then, I have loved and enjoyed this hobby and the friendships I have made. No tongue can tell what this has meant to me. Like the author of Tennyson's brook, I could go on and on and on and on, but it is time to bring this missive to a close.

Thank you, Fred Jones, WA4SWF, for making it happen for me, not only on two meters, but also HF and the Kentucky Nets. Fred introduced me to the National Traffic System in February of 1978. I have been hooked ever since.

Times have changed, and people have come and gone, but I will always remember my roots, not only in Ham radio but in radio in general. Thanks to all who helped make it happen for me. I have held an advanced class license since 1995. Since that time, the license structure has changed. No longer is there a Novice or Advanced Class license. Those of us who have these classes of license can retain them as long as we like, so long as we renew them. My involvement with the Handiham program began when I was into NTS Nets. Judy Mortinson, WB0WNJ, along with Sister Alverna, would send out radiograms to all Handiham members. As part of the Kentucky Traffic net and the Daytime 9th region phone net, I would pass and relay traffic. Sad to say, Judy wound up in a nursing home and later became an SK.

I think that the Handiham system is definitely a worthwhile program, but we need to find a way to get more local hams involved. This is generally where "mentoring" starts, from the local level. Thanks for allowing me to post my story.

Tom Lykins, K4LID
Louisa, Kentucky.

Ham Radio 2017 was Great

By Ken Silberman (KB3LLA) and Christoph Bungard (DF9WM/KB3PRN).

Ham Radio, the biggest ham fest in Europe, was held from Friday, July 14, through Sunday, July 16, in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The ham fest was put on by the German Amateur Radio Club (DARC).

The Handiham Program shared a booth with the Interest Group of Blind and Visually Impaired Hams in Germany (IbFD). Handiham members Christoph Bungard (DF9WM/KB3PRN) and Ken Silberman (KB3LLA), as well as a number of other blind and sighted German hams, handed out literature for the Handiham and IbFD programs and talked about both to visitors. We also demonstrated accessible radios, EchoLink, and the Handiham remote base.

There were frequent interactions with visitors as we assisted with the scavenger hunt that the DARC had organized for children and young adults. At our booth, participants were given a piece of paper with a word in Braille written on it which they had to decipher by using a Braille alphabet.

In addition to being a Handiham member, Christoph is also the president of IbFD. So, this was truly an international effort! IbFD was very kind to have invited Handihams to participate in the show for the second time in a row.

For blind and visually impaired hams, the highlight of the show was the RFinder Android Radio. http://androidradio.rfinder.net/ It is both a cell phone and an HT. Because it runs on Android, TalkBack works. Ken was able to select a repeater from the RFinder database. There is currently a 440 version that is both analogue and DMR. A two meter analogue version is supposed to come out soon, without DMR. A dual-bander with DMR is supposed to come out next year.

All the usual venders were there too. We all got Yaesu hats and visited the ARRL booth. We ate a lot of great German food and experienced wonderful German hospitality!

Some of us participated in a VHF/UHF contest at Ham Radio. At the show, Ken spoke with some dedicated CW operators. They showed him a small, old Russian spy key, and a homemade key with a knife as the paddle. We also met Jean-Claude Heim (F6IRS), vice-president and secretary of the French blind amateurs group (UNARAF). One of the really cool highlights was a ham that went Zeppelin mobile. Yep! He had QSOs from a blimp.

This year’s show is history, but we are already talking about possibly meeting again next year at Ham Radio in Germany or at the Dayton Hamvention in the U.S.

Preparing for Your Amateur Radio License Exam

By: Dr. Ronald E. Milliman, K8HSY

If you are preparing to take your ham license exam, regardless of the license class, Technician, General, or Extra class, here are some resources that can help you prepare and pass the first time through.

These ham test preparation materials and resources are quite accessible and available to blind and low-vision individuals who are seeking to become new licensed hams or to up-grade to a higher license class. Some are free and some have a modest charge, but they are all good.

* * *

Courage Kenny Handiham Program | Handiham.org: Amateur Radio & Technology for People with Disabilities

* * *

Dave Casler’s Ham Radio Home Page, includes topics such as: Becoming a ham radio operator; The three amateur (ham) radio license classes; plus videos to aid your preparation for your ham radio license test)

* * *

AA9PW FCC Exam Practice

* * *

HamTestOnline - Ham Radio Exam Courses and Practice Tests

* * *

Ham Radio School.com | Use Our Integrated Learning System and Really Get It!

* * *

Gordon West Radio School

* * *

If you live in Australia, the Radio Electronics School has a DVD course for their Standard license classification, which is their middle license class
For more information, contact: RON BERTRAND, VK2DQ; email: ron@res.net.au

* * *

It is strongly recommended that you study the material available from Handihams, and then use that material in conjunction with the study materials and practice exams available from one of the above sources. Among the sources cited, I, personally, prefer HamTestOnline; though they are all good. It is further recommended that you keep repeating the practice exams until you can consistently score 90% correct or better before taking the exam for real.
Good luck!
Ron, K8HSY

Call to Action…

ARRL President Issues Call for Members to Reach Out to their Senators to Support S. 1534


ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, is calling on League members to urge their US Senators to support the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2017, S. 1534. ARRL has opened a RallyCongress page to simplify the task.

“[W]e are at a crossroad in our efforts to obtain passage of The Amateur Radio Parity Act,” Roderick said. He said the campaign to secure passage of the bill scored a major victory earlier this year when H.R. 555 passed unanimously in the US House of Representatives. Obtaining passage of the companion Senate bill, S. 1534, is the final legislative hurdle.

“Now is the time for all hams to get involved in the process!” Roderick said. “Many of you already live in deed-restricted communities, and that number grows daily.”

He urged radio amateurs now restricted by a Homeowners Association from installing effective outdoor antennas to visit the RallyCongress site and e-mail their two US Senators. He also encouraged those not now affected by deed covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) to support their fellow radio amateurs by doing the same.

“If you want to help create an opportunity — not available before now — for Amateurs who live in deed restricted communities to install effective outdoor antennas on property that they own or lease, send these e-mails today!” Roderick said. “We need you to reach out to your Senators today. Right away.”

S. 1534 was introduced in the US Senate on July 12, marking another step forward for this landmark legislation. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are the Senate sponsors. The measure will, for the first time, guarantee all radio amateurs living in deed-restricted communities governed by a Homeowners Association (HOA) or subject to any private land-use regulations, the right to erect and maintain effective outdoor antennas at their homes, while protecting the aesthetic concerns of HOAs.

STEM as an Equalizer

I remember as a child being amazed by a "transistor radio." It was Christmas time, and I was probably no older than three. We came home and were about to open presents; my mother handed me a package that was playing music! I was so amazed! I scrambled to open the package and held in my two hands a radio that wasn't plugged into anything. What I mean by that is that I had thought up until that point that all radios needed to be plugged into an outlet. I remember with great respect the outlet because I accidentally put one of my fingers near one of the two prongs when I tried to plug in the radio and got a big shock! Yet, this radio was playing music and didn't need any electricity from an outlet. This started my fascination with everything electronic at a young age. The radio that I held in my hand was a "Heathkit" radio with six transistors. The "Heathkit" meant that it was purchased as a kit from a renowned supplier of all things wonderful pertaining to electronics!

I remember thinking how amazed I was that I could tune a dial and hear different radio stations. It was like they magically appeared. Later I would build crystal radios which consisted of a coil of wire with an antenna inside; and when one moved the antenna up and down a different radio station would play through an earphone attached to the radio. The radio was very simple. There was a coil of wire with an antenna, a small crystal with two wires attached to it, and the earphone. No batteries were needed because the magnetic energy of the radio wave was enough to power the sound through the earphone.

The various electronic parts such as tubes, transistors, and crystals became a mainstay in my life that captured my interest.

Fast forward to 1967-1968, when I was met Ned Carmen, who asked me if I would be interested in learning more about Ham Radio. As soon as I heard the word "radio," I was all for it. Followed was an incredible experience of learning radio theory, talking to other hams, and experiencing the wonders and mysteries of radio waves!

One of the first questions I asked was "where are the Braille books that I can read about Ham Radio"? I was told that there were lots of "blind hams", and that all I need to do was reach out. I remember pouring over a magazine called the "Braille Technical Press", which had all kinds of circuit descriptions complete with full instructions in how to build them. I learned all about the "base" "emitter" and the "collector" of a transistor. I learned about how antennas are magnetic pickups that capture the magnetic flux of the radio waves and generate very tiny voltages that can then be picked up by a receiver. I learned that it isn't a good idea to grab hold of an open wire feeder line feeding a long wire antenna through a match box when the transmitter is keyed! I learned Morse code and passed both the code and theory test for the novice license! I went on to pass the general license and continued my fascination with all things scientific and radio!

For me, science and ham radio were absolutely one and the same. Ham radio taught me about physics. Ham radio taught me about electricity. Ham radio created the incentive for me to understand the mathematical equations for reactance and inductance! Most importantly, ham radio taught me, a blind person, Helen, a person who was in a wheel chair because of polio, the Sisters of the convent of Assisi Heights, the IBM engineers of the Rochester Amateur Radio club, the many others that were either blind, paraplegic, quadriplegic, that we have an equalizer that bridges us together.

Now, fifty years later, the significance of science and all manner of technology and mathematics (STEM) is more important than ever! STEM is the great equalizer. Regardless of our disability--blind, paraplegic, quadriplegic--we all have an equal chance in ham radio to learn science and math in a practical setting. Our children can experience the wonderful world of experimentation!

A strong Handiham organization is a key component of a strong STEM foundation for all of us who want to embrace equality in the disabilities!!

No matter what our disability is, we have an equal chance!

-Kevin WA0UWW

Down memory lane...

In honor of the celebration of 50 years of the Handiham Program, here is an article from our former coordinator, Pat Tice, WA0TDA, first printed in the Winter 1995 issue of Handiham World…

Things technical: Small antennas revisited

A common complaint among Handiham members, many of whom live in apartments, is: “Sure, I would like to get on the HF bands, but I can’t have an outside antenna.” When I hear from members who have this problem, I first try to find out if they’ve exhausted all possibilities for an outside system. For example, a vertical antenna, ground-mounted, can be inconspicuous and take almost no real estate. Some landlords won’t mind a tidy installation to the rear of the building. Hams living in mobile homes can sometimes install verticals disguised as flagpoles, and no one is the wiser! A 20 meter vertical is about 16 feet long…just right for a mobile home park! End-fed wires, running from a metal balcony or counterpoised by aluminum siding, can be very effective and are barely noticeable. You might be surprised to find out that the landlord may allow you to install an antenna on the roof…You never know unless you ask! Well, did you ask? You got turned down? Too bad, but it’s not the end of your HF career! Now you are free to concentrate on compact antennas that won’t work quite as well as their outdoor cousins, but will nonetheless allow you many hours of enjoyable contacts on the shortwave bands. There are plenty of ingenious antenna designs, but they usually fall into one of two groups: loops and wires.

Loop antennas can be impossibly tiny compared to a full-sized dipole, and that means they can be made to fit almost anywhere. Commercial versions, such as the MFJ “Super Hi-Q Lopp” (36 inches diameter) and the “Box Fan Portable Loop” (a 2X2 foot box the size of a fan) operate 10 to 30 MHz and 14 to 30 MHz respectively, and will truly fit anywhere. As you might expect, the feedpoint impedance of compact loops isn’t very close to 50 Ohms; in fact, it may be on the order of a fraction of an Ohm! If the conductor is not carefully designed, and connections aren’t perfect, RF loss can be enormous! A matching system is essential, of course, and all units include one. The AEA Isoloop, which is similar to the MFJ loop, is 35 inches in diameter and covers 10 to 30 MHz. Commercial loop antennas of this type cost between $200 and $330.

If that’s too rich for you, you might try your hand at homebrewing a multiband loop, but this is not a project for the faint-of-heart! Great care must be taken to avoid any sort of loss, and you must be prepared to construct a suitable capacitor to be driven by a low speed gear-head motor. For a good construction article, see “A Home-Brew Loop Tuning Capacitor” by Bill Jones, KD7S, in the November, 1994 issue of QST. Coincidentally, the same issue describes a compact loop for 80 meters in the Technical Correspondence column. This design, by Dr. Jon Jones, NO0Y, is 7X9 feet, and is very inexpensive to build. An advantage is that the capacitors are fixed value, so it is not necessary to construct a motor-driven tuner. This, and most loop designs, will not tolerate over about 100 Watts, but that’s plenty to make many good contacts.

The other type of compact antenna, the wire antenna, is generally easier to make, and can be up and running in a matter of minutes. The disadvantages, compared to compact loops, are the need to provide multiple insulated supports (at least one on each end) and the space requirement: more! Wire antennas can be the standard dipole design for 20 through 10 meters and still be small enough to fit into an apartment. Calculate a starting length by the formula: 468 divided by the frequency in MHz. A dipole for operation on 28.350 MHz would then be: 468 divided by 28.350 = 16.51 feet. Sixteen and a half feet is a manageable length, but 10 meters has not been very usable during the current sunspot minimum, so for the more reliable 20 meter band: 468 divided by 14.2 MHz = 32.96 feet. Not too many apartments will accommodate a 33-foot antenna, so it’s time to start snaking the antenna around the room, making as many bends as necessary to fit it in. Keep in mind that doing so will probably detune it somewhat and that there will be some cut-and-try before you are satisfied. RF voltage will be highest near the ends, so care should be taken to see that they are insulated and away from metal pipes, ductwork, or trim.

Another design is the end-fed wire. The conductor is simply a random-length wire strung around the room and fed with a tuner. The advantage of this wire design is that it can be made to work on a variety of bands, unlike the dipole, which works only on a single band. Disadvantages are the need for a tuner (the ones built into most rigs won’t do the job because they lack adequate range and the need for a good ground against which to “work” the radiating element. A ground may be rather difficult to find, because RF ground is quite different from DC ground. A long wire running to a ground rod is usually not an acceptable RF ground. A nifty little box (really a tuner) called the “Artificial Ground” by MFJ can be used to make an otherwise useless wire into a working approximation of “ground.” With this, as with all tuners, be prepared to take some time to learn the settings for various frequencies, and don’t be surprised if you have to change settings even for a relatively minor move up the band. Watching the SWR bridge is crucial, so members who are blind need an adapted SWR meter such as the one detailed in the July, 1994 QST magazine.

When you have your indoor antenna farm securely planted, there are a few basics to remember. First, because you may be operating in an apartment where a neighbor’s turf is only inches from yours, RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) or TVI (Television Interference) may be problems. While some problems can be solved by assuring that your signal is as “clean” as it can be, a sad fact of life is that typical consumer electronic items are easy prey for a strong RF signal. The result will be unhappy neighbors who can’t understand why they should tolerate interference on their $10 telephones and plastic-encased television sets. Secondly, because you will be operating near your antenna, you will be sitting in an RF field. While no one really knows if high levels of RF (at least at amateur frequencies) are harmful, it is prudent to limit exposure by operating low power. This is good operating practice anyway, and it will also serve to reduce or eliminate RFI and TVI. Finally, you must be prepared to be flexible. When your transmitter is causing interference, you should limit your hours of operation.

Small antennas, even when used indoors, can open the door to the excitement of the shortwave bands. Give them a try!

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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