Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, September 20, 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.

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Welcome to Handiham World.

In this edition: 

  • A note from the coordinator

  • A New Way of Seeing

  • Building a Car for Drivers Who Are Blind

  • Discovering A New Normal

  • Avery’s QTH

  • Down memory lane…

  • Check into our nets!

  • ...And more!

    A note from the coordinator...

    The natural disasters just keep coming. After several hurricanes, news of another earthquake in Mexico broke as I was penning this E-letter. What does that have to do with amateur radio? As hams, all of us should be ready to help or at least stand by and keep the frequencies that are involved in disaster communications free for those who are participating in the response. If you are interested in helping, some reputable disaster services organizations that you can check out include ARES/RACES, SATERN, and the Red Cross. Keep in mind that all organizations will require an application that includes a background check. Additionally, you will have to complete several training courses. One thing you can do is complete the IS 100, 200, 700, and 800 courses offered through FEMA that are required by nearly all disaster service organizations. You can find a link to the online courses here: https://training.fema.gov/IS/

    The Handiham Headquarters is short-staffed this week and next. Nancy is on vacation, so if you need something done right way, please be sure to call or email me.

    In the E-Letter this week there are links to a couple interesting TED talks. There is a story phoned in by a Handiham member that relates the impact Sister Alverna had on him during an especially difficult time in his life. Finally, there are two articles from Handiham World that were originally published in 2009.

    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.

    A New Way of Seeing

    What would a city designed for the blind be like? Chris Downey is an architect who went suddenly blind in 2008; he contrasts life in his beloved San Francisco before and after -- and shows how the thoughtful designs that enhance his life now might actually make everyone's life better, sighted or not.
    Check out this TED talk at https://www.ted.com/talks/chris_downey_design_with_the_blind_in_mind?utm...

    Building a Car for Drivers Who Are Blind

    Using robotics, laser rangefinders, GPS and smart feedback tools, Dennis Hong is building a car for drivers who are blind. It's not a "self-driving" car, he's careful to note, but a car in which a non-sighted driver can determine speed, proximity and route -- and drive independently. The TED talk can be found at https://www.ted.com/talks/dennis_hong_making_a_car_for_blind_drivers?utm...

    Discovering A New Normal

    from Dennis Opoka, KA8WII

    Dennis received his amateur radio license in 1986 using the materials from the Handiham Program that were provided on cassette tape. At the time, his son was nearly two years old, and his first wife had recently passed away. Sister Alverna was a wonderful friend to him, spending hours talking to him via the telephone, helping him get through the difficult time of adjustment. She even sent him a light detector so he could know when his son left the lights on, because Dennis was blind.

    After Dennis earned his Novice license, he borrowed equipment from the Handiham Program that had rivets to mark the dial. He had to count to make certain he was in the Novice portion of the band. One time, he got a QSL from the FCC, telling him that he was transmitting out of band. He wrote them back, explaining that it was an error and why. He said the FCC was satisfied with his explanation.

    Dennis got his Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University with a history and political science major and an economics minor. He chose substitute teaching after college, believing that a school would give him a job if they observed his work. The schools did not hire him, however. After two years and some 3,000 applications, Dennis applied at the US Department of Labor. He was told they had never hired a blind person before, but Dennis challenged them that since they set the rules, they should also set an example and not discriminate against an employee based on a disability.

    As a result of his persistence, Dennis became the first blind person hired by the US Department of Labor. He worked for Veterans Reemployment Rights, a program that helped vets reclaim the job they left when they entered the military. The program also handled job placement and training for veterans who were not employed before they entered the military. Dennis worked there for 33 years before he retired.

    He credits his parents for his success in life. They enrolled him in a special education program that mainstreamed him, allowing him to learn to function within a sighted world. He states that his father never knew the meaning of “can’t.” His parents knew to let him find his way in life rather than over-protect him.

    Now, Dennis is remarried. He enjoys canning, wood working, and hunting. Hunting? With the help of a partner, he got his first doe a few years ago. He has also bagged four turkeys. He also puts up hundreds of jars of canned goods each year, and he has excelled at wood working. He shared that the iPhone has changed his life. Two of his favorite apps are Seeing AI and BlindSquare.

    The final thing Dennis shared in our conversation? “Either you want to become part of life, or you let it pass you by.” Those are challenging words to all of us!

    Editor’s note: Dennis relayed this in a conversation earlier this week and graciously allowed his story to be included in this week’s E-Letter.

    Avery’s QTH

  • Welcome once again to my humble QTH:

    Earlier this week, someone asked me about shortwave listening (SWL) and where to find a certain shortwave broadcast service, the BBC. According to the information I found in a web search, the BBC had stopped broadcasts to North America in 2001. I had no idea. Where was I all this time?

    On the ham bands only, I guess. It had been a very long time since I had tuned around the shortwave bands, listening to all those neat stations like the BBC, Radio Moscow, Radio Australia, HCJB and many others. I would get the International news by listening to several of these stations on my Hallicrafters S-40B receiver. It was not too surprising to find very different points of view on the same news event. If I needed to get the time or check the frequency of my receiver's dial I would use either WWV on 5, 10, or 15 MHz here in the United States or 7.335 MHz, CHU in Canada. Since I was just a few hundred miles from the border, CHU was very easy to receive.

    Now I see that even that CHU frequency has changed to 7.850 MHz.

    According to Wikipedia, "While no one knows the exact number of SWLs, most estimates place the number in the millions. In 2002, according to the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters, for estimated numbers of households with at least one shortwave set in working order, Asia led with a large majority, followed by Europe, Sub Saharan Africa, and the former Soviet Union, respectively. The total estimated number of households worldwide with at least one shortwave set in working order was said to be 600,000,000. SWLs range from teenagers to retired persons to David Letterman, who has mentioned on several occasions how much he enjoys listening to shortwave, particularly broadcasts by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)."

    What you will hear on a frequency depends on whether it is day or night and what season it is. What part of the world you are in makes a difference too, as broadcasts are beamed to specific audiences in different geographic locations. A very important factor is what kind of antenna you are using. The right antenna will make a very big difference in what you will be able to hear.

    On a summer day in the USA, you will hear a lot of noise on many of the bands just above the broadcast AM bands. At night there will be many stations on those same frequency bands that were so noisy with static just a few hours earlier. If you listen in the wintertime in North America, most of the shortwave bands will have stations. Many of what used to be mainstay stations have gone off the air because of the internet and all the new digital technology. Most of the stations leaving the air can still be heard on the internet. Many people listen on their computers or HD radio.

    Some of the things you may hear besides the broadcast stations are military communications, pirate stations, number stations, ships and aircraft to name a few. Yes, as some people have said, you have the world at your fingertips.

    One of the more popular SWL monthly magazines is "Popular Communications" (a sister publication of "CQ" Magazine), which contains all the current most up-to-date information on SWL'ing. They list what stations are on at what time and on what frequencies. Whether or not they are in English and, if not, what language is being used are other items listed. Also, they have stories on different aspects of radio broadcasting, many times giving the history of a station or activity. Pictures of QSL cards are sometimes shown as well.

    If you are a licensed radio amateur, SWL'ing can still be fun and even let you know a little about the propagation. If you are hearing a shortwave station in Asia, it would be a good bet that as a ham you would be able to contact that part of the world. Or, if Radio Australia was heard, then getting into Australia via amateur radio would be a very good possibility.

    So until next time,

    73 & DX from K0HLA, Avery

    Editor’s note: This article was found in the March 4, 2009 issue of Handiham World. Times have changed since then..."Popular Communications" was a sister publication of "CQ" Magazine that ceased publication in 2013. SWLing is now covered in "CQ."

    Down memory lane...

    In honor of the celebration of 50 years of the Handiham Program, here is a story from the November 11, 2009 issue of Handiham World.

    PICONET get-together celebrates friendship, community

    Long before I ever got involved with the Handiham System, I was a real fan of the 75 m band. Sure, I enjoyed chasing a little DX on the 10, 15, and 20 m bands, especially when I first got started in amateur radio in 1967. At that time, phone equipment was simply out of the question. Novices did not have phone privileges and were expected to work as much CW as possible in order to build up their Morse code speed to pass the General class license exam in front of a stern-faced FCC examiner within one year. If you didn't pass the license exam within a year, you were off the air. If you ask me, that was real incentive licensing!

    When I did get my General Class license in 1968, I quickly made plans to get on the air with amplitude modulated phone. My old Knight-Kit T-60 transmitter used a screen modulation circuit to produce a feeble and ineffective phone signal, so I still managed to work more CW than phone. I saved my money, which wasn't all that easy when I was in college and had plenty of other expenses for tuition and books, and finally saved up enough to get a real SSB transceiver, a Heathkit HW-100. Believe it or not, that complicated kit containing 20 vacuum tubes worked the first time. I had carefully laid out all of the parts on our family's ping-pong table and followed the detailed directions in the Heathkit manual very carefully.

    Since I was finally able to get on single side band phone, I quickly discovered the fun to be had on daily regional HF nets. When I learned about the PICONET, I quickly made it a regular part of my day whenever my busy college schedule allowed. The PICONET is a long-time affiliate of the Handiham System, and it has proven over the decades to be a wonderful place to make friends and build a community on the air, goals consistent with the values of the Handiham Program. The net meets daily except Sunday on a 75 m frequency, 3.925 MHz. Its theme is operation in the "public interest, convenience, or necessity", from which its name is derived. Traffic is passed regularly, but most of the net time is given over to small talk and informal visiting. In short, it is a great place to simply meet your friends and be part of a larger community. Since the 75 m band is reliable throughout the 11 year sunspot cycle, it has been possible to maintain the net on a regular basis, which is important to keep regular participation year in and year out.

    Sometimes friends like to see each other in person, so the PICONET members arrange an annual get-together. This year it was in a small town in northern Minnesota, Perham. Although I couldn't attend myself, I was pleased to see plenty of photos and even some video with sound available on the PICONET website. One of my favorites was Harold, KB0ROB, who has been a long-time volunteer examiner at the Courage North Handiham radio camps, playing the fiddle and singing with a group of other ham radio operators at the annual PICONET luncheon. Be sure to pay a visit to the Facebook page to hear Harold and "The Old Friends" singing "Back on the PICONET Again" and "Buffalo Gal".

    The PICONET Facebook group can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1585174651699792/

    You can find the PICONET website at www.piconet3925.com

    Editor’s Note: There is a musical clip from "Back on the PICONET Again" in audio podcast edition.

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 CDT (Noon Eastern and 09:00 Pacific), as well as Wednesday evenings at 19:00 hours CDT (7 PM).  If you calculate GMT, the time difference is that GMT is five hours ahead of Minnesota time during the summer.

    Doug, N6NFF, poses a trivia question in the first half of the Wednesday evening session, so check in early if you want to take a guess.   The answer to the trivia question is generally given shortly after the half-hour mark.  A big THANK YOU to all of our net control stations and to our Handiham Club Net Manager, James, KD0AES.


  • You can pay your Handiham dues and certain other program fees on line. Simply follow the link to our secure payment site, then enter your information and submit the payment.  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 Nancy.Meydell@allina.com  for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new address.

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