Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, February 14, 2018

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

  • News in Assistive Technology

  • Interview of the Week

  • Ham Radio In the News

  • Win Some Handiham History Loot

  • Equipment Connection

  • SOAR

  • Check into our nets!

  • ...And more!

A note from the coordinator...

Today is a relatively warm February day in Golden Valley, Minnesota. Having sun and warmth has not been the typical experience this winter! This week, we have another interview in the E-Letter. Because we received a lot of positive feedback from the last interview, we are hoping to include them more often. If you are interested in participating in an interview for Handiham World, drop me a note or give me a call. My contact information is included at the end of this article.

In the Handiham Program office, we are thrilled to have Nancy back from her vacation. She is busy catching up on all the work that piled up while she was away. If you are waiting on something from her, please be patient. She will get to your request as soon as possible. Remember, if you need to update anything like your contact information, call sign, license class, membership, or members only log-in information, you can email Nancy at Nancy.Meydell@allina.com.

Answer the Handiham History trivia question correctly to be eligible to win the prize! Winners will need to respond, confirming their contact information before we send out your prize. Please note: only current Handiham Members are eligible to win.

In the E-Letter this week there is a link to the new Smithsonian exhibit focused on inclusive design, an interview with a repeater owner who is also a member and volunteer in the Handiham Program, and a link to more information about SOAR, the Sisterhood of Amateur Radio.

Do you have a story to share about assistive technology or 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.

News in Assistive Technology

At the Intersection of Innovation, Technology, and Passion, a New Age of Inclusive Design Arises

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“Access+Ability” is a new exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City. The exhibit includes custom designed wheelchairs, hearing aids disguised as fancy jewelry, and stylish prosthetic leg covers. Partly inspired by the Smithsonian’s desire to improve accessibility for all people to its collections and programs, “Access+Ability” demonstrates the growing public interest in inclusive design.

Check out the full story at the following link: http://insider.si.edu/2018/02/intersection-innovation-technology-passion...

And check out the objects in the exhibition at the following link: https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/exhibitions/1141959921/

Interview of the Week

John Glass, NU6P, has been a Handiham member and volunteer for many years. This week, John shares his experience as a repeater owner in California. While the original interview is in the podcast, an edited, transcribed version appears below for those who prefer to read the e-letter.

LM: Welcome, John. I really appreciate your taking the time to talk with us today. To begin, tell us about how you got started as a repeater owner.

JG: In 1986, I was talking with a lot of friends locally here on VHF and UHF. We decided it would be fun to have our own repeater to talk on because, while there were a lot of repeaters in the area, we kind of wanted to have our own. I had always been interested in repeaters since becoming a ham, and I had the opportunity to get a location on a mountain top where we could install a repeater. So one thing led to another, and I bought a receiver, transmitter, duplexer and a repeater controller. In the summer of 1986, my first repeater went on the air. It is on the 220 band, and it has been operating ever since from the same location.

LM: So you started out with just one repeater?

JG: I started out with one repeater. We had an ACC controller on it which allowed us to have an autopatch. Later, we added a synthesized 2-meter remote base and a 440 remote base. It was really a lot of fun because the repeater is at 3,500 feet. These remote base radios allowed people to take their handheld or mobile radio and connect to simplex frequencies or other distant repeaters and be able to talk as though they were on the mountain top themselves. It makes it a lot of fun to be able to make distant contacts.

LM: That sounds like it.

JG: Then in more recent years, actually about 15 years ago, a friend of mine and I decided we wanted to install a 2-meter repeater for our local radio club. We did that, and it is on the ground here in Saratoga, California, where I live. One thing led to the next, resulting in people saying, now that we have a 2-meter repeater, why not also have 440 repeater. So we got one on the air. The two repeaters are linked together. The 2-meter repeater is low-level, and the 440 repeater is up at about 1,500 feet. It has really good handheld and mobile coverage for just about all of the Silicon Valley. We then put Echolink and IRLP on those two repeaters. As you know, these are the linking systems that allow us to connect to things like the daily Handiham Radio Club Net on the Echolink Conference Server. Having the ability to connect to other stations via Echolink or IRLP has allowed people in our local radio club to talk all around the world with a VHF or UHF handheld radio—and that’s really been a lot of fun.

LM: How busy are your repeaters?

JG: They’re not nearly as busy as they used to be. These days, there’s a little bit of activity in the morning and a little bit in the afternoon when people are going to work and coming home, but for the most part, that’s it. When the 220 repeater went on the air back in 1986, I would say for about the first ten years of its operation, it was one of the more popular repeaters here in the Santa Clara Valley. It had quite a bit of activity—I would say if you looked at the transmitter time on a daily basis, it was probably keyed between six and eight hours per day. Like a lot of other repeaters, however, the level of activity has really dropped off compared to what it was at its peak.

LM: If I remember correctly, you’ve added another repeater recently.

JG: Yes, a friend of mine and I just put up a DMR repeater a couple of weeks ago. DMR is Digital Mobile Radio. It was a mode that was designed by Motorola, originally for commercial use, and it has really increased in popularity with hams over the last few years. This repeater that we put up is made by Motorola, and it is a 440 repeater. It’s at about 2,000 feet, at a friend’s house who lives at a great location for ham radio. It has nice coverage. For people who are familiar with DMR, our repeater is on the Brandmeister network, which means we have access to many TalkGroups, not only here in the US and Canada but worldwide. It’s a lot of fun being able to use this new mode and get familiar with it. We’re really having a great time exposing some of our friends to this new mode that they haven’t had a chance to try out yet. I think it is one of the digital modes that is really taking off in amateur radio. It has seen a lot of growth in the last few years, and I think it is going to continue to have a lot of growth because of the fact that radios for getting on are relatively cheap. You can buy a single band hand-held with a high capacity battery and a drop-in charger for just under $100. It’s not very expensive to get operational with this mode.

LM: What would you say your biggest challenge has been over the years as a repeater owner?

JG: I think one of the biggest challenges has been keeping interest up. What I mean by that is that when you go to a lot of work and expense to get a repeater put together, operational, and on the air, my feeling is that if you have equipment, it is meant to be used. I think my biggest challenge has just been finding interesting people to talk to who enjoy continuing to use it. With all the other facets in amateur radio and just other things in general that people have to occupy their time these days—cell phones, the internet, being able to set up your own custom play lists for music and things like that so that when you are out and about in the car you don’t have to listen to commercial radio anymore if you don’t want to. You know the intrigue and interest in amateur radio I think is one of those things that can make it difficult to keep people coming back and engaged and wanting to use their radios.

LM: I think we are seeing that throughout the country as well. If someone were to come to you today and say, “Hey, I want to put up a repeater,” what would you tell them?

JG: What I would tell them is you need to consider a few things. Number one, is there going to be enough local activity to make it worth it for you. Secondly, are there any frequencies that are available in the area that you live in on the band you would like to operate on. If you are not sure of the answer to that question, there are volunteer coordination groups that exist for every state. My recommendation to a person would be to contact your local frequency coordinator to find out if you can get a frequency pair assigned in your local area. And then, it is just going to be a matter of if you have the help available and the money to spend to get the equipment that you want to really make your repeater system successful.

LM: It sounds like involvement with your local club is important.

JG: Very much so, I would say.

LM: This is an instance where the group can come together to make something good happen, something an individual would have a much more difficult time accomplishing.

JG: Absolutely. That’s very true.

LM: Do you have any memories from over the years about your repeaters that stand out?

JG: Well, let’s see. In the early days of my repeater operation—as I said, it went on the air in 1986—this was before people were able to get cell phones. Having access to an autopatch was a big deal for a lot of hams. On our original repeater, there were a fair number of emergency autopatch calls that were handled over the years as well as a few interesting calls where people would get a hold of somebody that, even though they were told they were on the radio did not really understand what they should or should not say. And fortunately, the way the repeater was set up, if the user transmitted, they would mute the person who they had called on the phone. That way if the person started to say something that was inappropriate, simply by keying your push-to-talk, you could silence them on the repeater transmitter. And it was good that it worked that way because there were a few times that people were about to say something that would not have been really appropriate for amateur radio.

LM: That was a fortunate set up. I’m sure that saved a lot of problems for you!

JG: It really did.

LM: For a take away on this topic, what would you like to tell us

JG: I’d like to say that operating your own repeater can really be a lot of fun. There is a lot to be learned technically. You have the opportunity to make some really good local friends who get active on your repeater, and it is also a way of giving back to amateur radio in terms of providing a public resource that hams can get on and enjoy using.

LM: Thanks. I really appreciate your taking the time to talk to us today.

JG: You’re very welcome.

Ham Radio in the News

Future Harvard University President Bacow, KA1FZQ” width=

An amateur radio operator was named the next president of Harvard University. The ARRL has announced that Lawrence S. Bacow, the next president of Harvard University, is also known as KA1FZQ. You can read the article in its entirety at the following link: http://www.arrl.org/news/radio-amateur-named-as-next-president-of-harvar...

Win Some Handiham History Loot

Here is your chance to own a piece of Handiham Program history! This week, we are offering a Courage North mug. The Handiham Radio Camp was held for many years at Courage North, and many members have special memories from that camp. If you want a chance to win this mug, make sure your membership is current and answer the following question:

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What event took place in June, 1969 that was attended by the early Handiham Program Members? (Hint: Check out past E-Letters from 2017 if you are not sure of the answers to these questions.)

You can send your answer via email to Nancy.Meydell@allina.com or call 612-775-2291. Make sure to include your name, call sign, license class, and current contact information. We will pick the winner on Tuesday, February 20.

Equipment Connection

photo of Icom IC-7200 with LDG auto-tuner and power supply.” width=

We are so grateful here at the Handiham Program for the offering of several pieces of amateur radio equipment as a result of the announcement of our new and improved Handiham Equipment Connection. If you have equipment that you would like to donate to a Handiham Program member, please email Lucinda at Lucinda.Moody@allina.com or call 1-612-775-2290.


Sisterhood of Amateur Radio

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The women of SOAR are thrilled to share the excitement of being an amateur radio operator with the Girl Scouts to develop the interest of the girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. You can learn more about SOAR and their work at the following link: http://www.soar-yls.com/

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 six hours ahead of Minnesota time during the winter.

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 Michael, VE7KI, the Handiham Radio Club Net Manager.


  • 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. 

    • 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:

  • As always, while our other services require that you have a current Handiham Program membership, you do not have to be a member to receive the Handiham World E-Letter.

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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