Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, March 21, 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, March 21, 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

  • Check into our nets!

  • ...And more!

A note from the coordinator...

Nancy and I had the pleasure of meeting with Johnny Ott, WA8WFH, this morning in the Handiham Program office. Johnny took the time to come in and do an interview for Handiham World. If you live in or are traveling through the Minneapolis metro area, we would love to have you stop by!

The comments continue to come in, both in support of and against the ARRL proposal for expanded HF privileges for Technician class operators. The request includes some phone privileges in the 75, 40, and 15 meter bands along with RTTY and digital mode privileges on the 80, 40, 15, and 10 meter bands. I will post the comments in the E-Letter next week, so this is the last week to send in your thoughts if you have not already done so. The Handiham Program would love to hear your opinion! You can check out the story from the ARRL at the following link: http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-requests-expanded-hf-privileges-for-techni...

I am back in Minnesota this week after a short trip to Michigan last week to visit family and do some radio work. This week, we are getting ready to update the Handiham Program banner and brochures in preparation for attending Hamvention. Nancy is in the office during her regularly scheduled hours, but my hours vary depending on the responsibilities of the given day. 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, the last hat this week! 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, we have an interview from another popular Handiham Program member, probably the favorite standup comic of the Program. You won’t want to miss this one! There is an update on the Be My Eyes app about a new service that is included. Additionally, you will find the usual content contained in the E-Letter each week.

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

More on the Be My Eyes App

Be My Eyes is an app made up of a global community that connects people who are blind or have low vision with sighted volunteers. Volunteers assist users through a live video connection and work together to tackle challenges and handle a wide range of tasks. With more than 60,000 blind and low vision users and over 900,000 volunteers, the app harnesses the power of generosity, technology and human connection to help blind and low vision people lead more independent lives. Be My Eyes is available in more than 150 countries worldwide and in over 120 languages. The app is free for both iOS and Android. You can learn more in the following video: https://youtu.be/6GRfFuWsjNU

Be My Eyes now offers Specialized Help. Be My Eyes and Microsoft have partnered together to offer Specialized Help in the Be My Eyes app, so customers can connect over a video call directly with a Microsoft Disability Answer Desk representative. The app wants to partner with other businesses to make this type of specialized assistance readily available for those with visual impairments. Too many products, services, and websites are inaccessible for people who are blind or low vision. With Specialized Help, customers can connect with businesses, have personalized assistance, resolve issues, and handle tasks directly via video call.
To learn more, check out the following video: https://youtu.be/VM9yLxnzQAM

This is Julia’s story about using the Be My Eyes app in the kitchen and in her garden. https://youtu.be/VoUYqBZPYGs

Interview of the Week

This week, I have the privilege of interviewing Johnny Ott, WA8WFH. While the interview airs in the podcast, I have included an edited transcription of the interview below.

LM: Good morning, Johnny, and thanks for coming into the office to see us today.

JO: It’s great to be here, Lucinda, and thank you for the invite. Congratulations on your almost first year of “running the show” at the Handiham Program.

LM: Thank you. I understand that you are coming up to 51 years in the hobby yourself. Tell me a little more about that.

JO: It was May 5, 1967, a year after I graduated from high school. I was almost 20 years old. While I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, we had several people who had got involved in amateur radio. While my mom was never a ham, she took the lead in encouraging me to get involved. Our next door neighbor had what we would now call a general coverage receiver. I don’t think it had sideband on it. Then there were two brothers who ran a radio and TV store. They were both hams, and when one parent would be talking to one in the front of the store about the problem they were experiencing, I would be in the back of the store with the other having a “jolly, good old time.”

JO: I found out later that this was during the high point of a very active sunspot cycle. Even though I did not understand it like I do now, I was fascinated with what I was learning. When they got the idea that I was really interested, they started modifying receivers and building things for me for Christmas and birthdays. By the summer of 1959, when I came home for vacation from the Michigan School for the Blind in Lansing, I officially started studying a three-hole punched, printed pamphlet. It was called “Novice Practice Questions.” It contained a set of 33 sample questions that you would find on a Novice test.

JO: It was a year or so before I got my Perkins Brailler. So what my mom and I did was sit at the dining room table, me with my slate and stylus and her dictating the pamphlet. It reminded me of how the monks used to sit in their cells and copy manuscripts. Talk about writer’s cramp! It took all summer to get it done!

JO: Then I started getting code records and reels of paper tape. I would learn the code. In those days, they were using the traditional Ameko system. It was several years later before I learned the Farnsworth method from the Hadley School for the Blind. A year after I graduated from high school, it was time for me to take my first license test. I tested at home with two people from the local club, the Metropolitan Ragchewer’s Club. I passed the Novice and Technician theory along with the 5 words per minute code test. On May 5, 1967, I received an envelope with two pieces of paper signed by the FCC Secretary, my Novice and Technician licenses.

JO: In 1968, when incentive licensing started, I checked into getting another year added to my Novice license but was unable to do so. Back then, the Novice license was only good for one year and non-renewable. I did not get to do anything with my Novice because I did not have any equipment for transmitting. So, while my Novice expired, my Technician was still good. My Novice call was WN8WFH and my Technician call was WA8WFH.

JO: In those days, Novices did share some frequencies on the 2-meter band from 145 to 147. If I really wanted to do it, it would have been perfectly legal to have WA8WFH talk to WN8WFH, although people would have questioned my sanity. But, since I never had any equipment, that never happened, and my sanity was not questioned.

LM: Just a minute, Johnny. I am not sure all of our members would agree with that.

JO: Well, I know…that’s probably true and a debatable issue!

LM: OK, go ahead.

JO: Anyway, I actually did not get on the air until 1968. I had some people come over, and my brother helped me out with antenna work as well. I was on 6-Meter AM with a Gonset g-50, and I worked a lot of DX when the bands were open. Then I got a Gonset Communicator II for 2-Meters. That was basically it for the time being.

JO: As I started to get around on the bands, I learned about MARS. That fascinated me too, and I wanted to get into as much as I could in the hobby. In February of 1969, I became a member of Air Force MARS. I was in that for the next ten years, and I learned a lot! Yes, you could get the surplus equipment, but I learned how to run amateur and MARS nets, I was able to do some public relations, I introduced ham radio to the National Federation for the Blind, I traveled, and various other things. The travel was great, and I really enjoyed it. On Saturday evenings, I was able to run the Michigan State MARS Directors Administrators Net. That was great too, because I learned a lot of things.

JO: Then, in 1973, someone told me about getting commercial licenses. I thought maybe I could do something with that. In the beginning, I figured if I could get my General, that would be it. I never dreamed I could get anything beyond it. In 1974, I went to the Detroit FCC office and took my Technician theory test and also tried the 13 word per minute test, but I did not pass. I did, however, get my Technician license with credit for the General class theory. In 1976, I went back to the FCC office to take my 13 word per minute code test. While I was there, I also decided to try the Advanced theory test, and I passed it along with the General class code test.

JO: My mom was always encouraging me, but my dad never really got involved. One of the things I could do in my MARS career was to let my mom talk to her cousin in Pittsburg via a phone patch. Every 10 minutes or so, the net would check for traffic. If there was no traffic, they would talk for around an hour. People tried to convince my mom to study for her license, but she said she did not have the ability to get a license. She decided to enjoy the hobby through me.

JO: I moved from Detroit to Kalamazoo, and on December 3, 1990, I got my Extra. A big part of me getting that license was the help of Maureen Pranghofer. She helped me in so many different ways. The license came in January of 1991. Then, in 1992, I moved to Minnesota to attend the National Federation of the Blind’s training center. I kept up with Maureen during my year there, and she suggested that I would be a good person to work for the Handiham Program.

JO: I think I originally joined the Handiham Program in 1984, and on February 17, 1994, I became the student coordinator. Later, I became a volunteer, managing the W0ZSW radio station and helping to teach the live classes in the auditorium by demonstrating the equipment. In 1995, I went to radio camp for the first time, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Having gotten my Extra, I soon found out that, if I wanted to do it, I had commercial code credit and some other things. So I decided to try for my commercial radio license. It has been a lot of fun, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It took a while and a lot of work, but it was worth it!

JO: With all that, everyone decided that I should become a Volunteer Examiner. So I passed my ARRL VE exam. Then I decided to take my exam to be a VE for the W5YI group. I have done some testing sessions with the ARRL VEC. I have done all kinds of things, and it has been a wonderful experience. I have learned a great deal. The latest thing I did was to become a Handiham Life Member when that option became available. When the Handiham Program was in transition, I stayed with the Program, even though there were rumors of its demise. And if there is anything else I can ever do for the Program, I am here to do it! I want to thank everybody who has helped me over the years.

Editor’s Note: Johnny gave us a lot of info in the interview, so look for the second half in next week’s E-Letter.

Ham Radio in the News

Radio Amateurs Pitch In to Help as “Hat Trick” of Major Coastal Storms Hit Northeast

The recent storms that have battered the Northeast have kept Amateur Radio volunteers busy. Volunteers have handled numerous reports of adverse weather conditions, including wind damage and localized and coastal flooding. You can read the entire story at the following link: http://www.arrl.org/news/radio-amateurs-pitch-in-to-help-as-hat-trick-of...

Win Some Handiham History Loot

Here is your chance to own a piece of Handiham Program history! We are offering the last remaining 40th Anniversary Handiham hat. These hats were originally available in 2007 as part of the celebration of forty years of the Handiham Program. If you want a chance to win this hat, make sure your membership is current and answer the following question:

 Tan baseball cap with with Handiham 40th Anniversary logo embroidered on the front” width=

The first annual May Convocation took place in 1969, with its purpose to recruit new members and volunteers to the Handiham Program. Later, radio week was added to the Handiham schedule, offering a full week at Camp Courage for the purpose of studying radio, Morse code, and theory. In what year did the first Handiham Radio Camp, then called radio week, take place? (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. 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, March 27.

Equipment Connection

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The list is open! If you have a request for the Equipment Connection, contact me, leaving your name and phone number. I will call you to discuss your request. Please note that it may take several days for a return call due to all of the other things going on in the Handiham Program. If you don’t hear back from me after two weeks, you may contact us a second time.

Many thanks to the numerous people who have offered equipment for Handiham Members. 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.

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 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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