Handiham World for April 13, 2020

Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of April 13, 2020

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
  • From the Mailbag
  • Interview of the Week
  • Ham Radio in the News
  • A Dip in the Pool
  • Website Update
  • Equipment Connection
  • Help Needed
  • Check into our nets!
  • …And more!

A note from the coordinator…

We will continue our tribute to Bill Vokac, K9BV, in the next couple issues of Handiham World. Bill, a Handiham Program volunteer for many years, became a silent key on March 20, 2020. He leaves a legacy of ham radio operators who became licensed thanks to his teaching along with a lot of special memories of sailboat rides during Radio Camp. We are so thankful for his many years of service to the Handiham Program.

Photo of a smiling Bill Vokac, K9BV, at one of the Handiham Radio Camps he loved so much

The Handiham Program is grateful to both the ARRL and CQ Magazine for publishing our need for more readers. Many have stepped up to offer their services, and we look forward to adding a lot of new material on the website as projects are completed.

As we remain in our new normal of maintaining physical distance to slow the spread of COVID-19, there are several things that can be done to help maintain a sense of calm amid the chaos. First, limit your exposure to news coverage of the virus to no more than a few minutes per day. Second, maintain contact with friends via radio (the preferred contact method for hams), phone, or video chat. This is a great time to keep your local repeater active and check in with hams you haven’t talked to in a long time. Third, keep a consistent routine of getting up, eating meals, exercising, and going to bed. Even if you are now staying at home, that routine will help you to maintain structure in your life. Finally, see what you can do to help others. Perhaps you have a neighbor whose children would like to know more about ham radio. Maybe you can call someone you know who is now isolated due to the virus. Helping others encourages a sense of purpose and connection.

Photo of 2 meter wavelength as guide to social distancing.

Due to the spread of COVID-19, we are no longer working from the office. We are still able to check our phone messages and return phone calls, and mail will be picked up as often as possible. Of course, the best way to get in touch with us during this time is via email.

Along with the release of the new On the Air magazine, the ARRL is doing a new podcast to take a deeper look at some of the topics and projects included in the magazine. You can check it out at http://www.arrl.org/on-the-air-podcast.

At this time, Radio Camp 2020 is still on for this summer. Applications went out in February, and several completed applications have already been returned. If you want to come to camp, please fill it out and return it as soon as possible. If you haven’t requested one and you want to come to camp this year, please contact Pemdy right away. Please note: In the event that there is a cancellation of camp due to COVID-19, all payments, including the deposit, will be refunded.

Photo of Camp Courage North bunk in one of the lovely log cabins.

Camp will include license class instruction along with lots of hands-on amateur radio and training in science, technology, math, and engineering. Instructors are experienced ham radio operators from many locations who come together each summer to make this great experience a reality for campers of all abilities. The week will also give campers the opportunity to learn from each other while enjoying traditional camp activities like swimming, meals in the great outdoors, and nightly campfires.

Photo of radio campers out on the pontoon boat on Lake George.

If you are having trouble receiving your E-Letter, you can always go to https://handiham.org/wordpress1/weekly-e-letter/ to see the latest E-Letter. Additionally, you can go to https://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3 to listen to the current podcast. These links are updated each time a new E-Letter and podcast is released.

Pemdy will not be in the office this week. Because she will be busy trying to catch up next week, please expect delays in processing requests. Additionally, because I will be out of the office next week, there will be no e-letter on March 20th. If you call the Handiham Program office, please leave a message, and we will return your call as soon as possible. When you leave that message, don’t forget to leave your name, phone number, call sign, if you have one, and the reason for your call. Also, if you send an email, please include your name along with your call sign, and the reason for your email to speed up the response time. As always, if you need to update anything like your contact information, call sign, license class, membership, or members only log-in information, you can email us at handiham@allina.com.

In the E-Letter, there is an article about the new virtual braille keyboard for Android devices, another article about the upcoming World Amateur Radio Day, and some more tributes to Bill, K9BV. Of course, you can also find the regular articles you see here 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

A New Keyboard for Typing Braille on Android

Photo of android phone with virtual braille keyboard

With the development of braille more than 150 years ago, reading and writing were made accessible to people who are blind. While refreshable braille displays make typing accessible on Android devices, they are anything but convenient. The new TalkBack braille keyboard is a virtual braille keyboard integrated directly into Android devices running version 5.0 or later. It’s fast, convenient, and one more step toward universal accessibility. The virtual keyboard uses a standard 6-key layout familiar to braille users and supports both grade 1 and grade 2 braille. It is currently only available in English. Please note: TalkBack gestures are not supported while using the virtual keyboard. To learn more, go to: https://www.blog.google/products/android/braille-keyboard/

From the Mailbag

Photo of mail carrier with mail bag and letter.

Hi Lucinda,

I just wanted to let you know that I worked 6 contacts in the FOC QSO Party! I got 3 on 20 and 3 on 40, and the 82-foot snake antenna is inside my apartment running 15 watts.

Take care,

Trippy, AC8S

Interview of the Week

Linda Reeder, N7HVF, reached out to me to share her memories of Bill, K9BV. Please join us for her interview.

Photo of arm in suit jacket with hand holding a large communications microphone.

LM: We’ve got Linda Reeder here, N7HVF, High Voltage Female, and she’s been coming to camp since basically the inception of camp. And she’s known Bill all those years, and she’s got a couple stories she wants to tell us.

LR: Okay, well, Bill has a sailboat that he loves to sail. I’d never been on a sailboat before. I like to go on the pontoon boat with speed. He said, well, Linda, we’re going to take you on the sailboat. And he was teaching me how you have these things, and if it’s not very windy, then you have to make it move. And you have these paddles, and you have to push them so the boat will start moving. And I was sitting there saying it was hard work. And he was laughing, but it was a lot of fun. And so he took me on the sailboat, and it was an experience that I’d never had before. Sailboats are really different from pontoon boats in that the sails count on the wind, but if there’s not much wind, you have to help. And that was hard work! But I enjoyed it so, and I thanked Bill for letting me have that experience. I was sad when he died. He was a good instructor, and he loved his sailboat. And he would always bring it to camp. Every year that he came, that sailboat came with him.

LM: Yep. For many years, when Bill would arrive at camp, you’d see his vehicle with his ham radio license plate on it, and then he’d have his bicycle with his ham radio license plate on the bicycle, and then the sailboat.

LR: Yeah.

Photo of Bill sitting at a table with several amateur radio teaching aids.

LM: And he loved amateur radio, and he loved sailing, but I think most of all, he loved teaching. He was always teaching, and by the way, he loved his grandkids—but he was also always teaching his grandkids. So, Bill took every opportunity to teach whatever it was. And in fact, I don’t know if you were aware, one year, Bill taught Matt Arthur and I dowsing.

LR: Hmm.

LM: And I remember initially thinking this can’t be for real, and he said he would show us. Actually, we discovered we could find wires underground and track those wires.

LR: Hmm. That’s neat!

LM: He took an old coat hanger and set it up, and that’s what we used to track the wires underground.

LR: Oh, I remember, because we needed it for antennas and things for our equipment

LM: So he taught us how to do that. We were able to track the wires underground between cabins, and it was really interesting—one of those things I never thought I would learn to do. I actually didn’t think it was possible, but it turned out to be.

LR: He was fun, and I’ll never forget! That was the first time I sailed in a sailboat where you had to actually move paddles back and forth in the water to make it move. My arms were getting tired!

LM: Yeah, he was making you work for your ride!

LR: Yeah! He loved that sailboat!

LM: He absolutely did!

LR: He was a good man to help out the Handiham Program.

LM: He was. He was a faithful volunteer for many, many years. He taught Technician and then General, and then this last year he went back and taught Technician again. And even last year when I realized I didn’t have any General class students, and I called him up and said, hey, any chance you’d be willing to teach Technician? And he said he would do whatever I needed.

LR: So, he did Technician. And he left early last year because he wasn’t feeling well.

LM: Right.

LR: So, he didn’t stay for the whole week.

LM: Yeah, he wasn’t feeling well when he arrived at camp, and he left a day early, which was unusual. He’d never done that before, but once we got done with the testing session, then he packed up and started heading for home. He had a long trip to get back home, and he was pretty wiped out from the week. I think it’s good that he got to have one last Radio Camp experience.

LR: I know. He was a good man, and we’re all going to miss him.

LM: Very much.

LR: It was an experience I’ll never forget.

LM: He leaves some big shoes to fill. I don’t know if we’re going to find another sailboat person.

LR: I know.

LM: Well, I appreciate you sharing your story tonight about Bill. Is there anything else you wanted to say about him?

LR: Just that he was a great man, and we’re really going to miss him. And we really appreciate all he’s done for us. And thank you, Bill, for your contribution to the Handiham Program.

LM: And thank you, Linda.

Stay tuned for a new interview airing in two weeks.

Ham Radio in the News

World Amateur Radio Day on April 18 Celebrates 95th Anniversary of the IARU

IARU logo

On Saturday, April 18, we will celebrate World Amateur Radio Day (WARD). The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) is celebrating its 95th birthday with special event stations, most of which are sponsored by IARU member societies. The event starts on April 18th at 0000 UTC and runs for 24 hours. The theme this year is “Celebrating Amateur Radio’s Contribution to Society.” Due to the unusual circumstances we are facing with the spread of COVID-19, the event also highlights the key part amateur radio plays in assisting people who need support and in keeping people connected while maintaining a safe distance. Amateur radio operators have a long track record of helping during emergencies, and once again, we are seeing hams increase their on-the-air activity and supporting others throughout the world. You can read more at: http://www.arrl.org/news/world-amateur-radio-day-on-april-18-celebrates-95th-anniversary-of-the-iaru

A Dip in the Pool
drawing of person studying

It’s time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the question pool…

Let’s go to the Extra Class pool this week to a question about measuring SWR.

E4A08 Which of the following instruments would be best for measuring the SWR of a beam antenna?

A. A spectrum analyzer.
B. A Q meter.
C. An ohmmeter.
D. An antenna analyzer.

When it comes to antenna installations, besides the crew to do all the heavy work, you also want an antenna analyzer. It helps you tune the antenna by measuring SWR on the different bands. You can also find out if there are problems with an antenna while you still have your crew there to fix the problems, which is much easier than having to arrange another crew for another day.

Website Update

Photo of the words website update with construction equipment working on the letters.

Here are the latest updates on the new Handiham.org website. Don’t forget to monitor the site for updates throughout the week. When changes are made, I will post to the website. You can also find the latest updates any time by going to https://handiham.org/wordpress1/website-updates/. If you have any feedback about the website, I would love to hear from you. If you are a current member and your credentials are not allowing you to login to the site, please contact Pemdy for assistance at handiham@allina.com or 612-775-2291.

The April issue of CQ Magazine is now available in DAISY audio in the magazines and newsletters section of the members only website.

Equipment Connection

Photo of Icom IC-7200 with LDG auto-tuner and power supply.

Equipment connections are happening, and 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 the other things going on in the Handiham Program. If you don’t hear back from me after two weeks, you may contact me a second time. Additionally, if you have received any equipment from the Handiham Program during the last 12 months, you will automatically be placed at the bottom of the list so that others can also participate in the Equipment Connection.

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.

Help Needed

Photo of note with the words help needed written on it.

The Handiham Program needs contributors to Handiham World. Do you have a particular interest in amateur radio that you would like to share with others? Maybe you have a particular mode or band you like to operate and have learned a lot about. Or maybe you have some great stories to share from your experiences in the amateur radio hobby. Put your writing skills to work for Handiham World by sending your submissions to Lucinda.Moody@allina.com.

We are always looking for more readers, including some with a background in teaching in STEM related fields, especially if you have also worked with students requiring accommodations. We also need some readers with a background in teaching in STEM related fields, especially if you have also worked with students requiring accommodations. This volunteer position requires you to use your own equipment to record, however, we will provide the reading materials. If you or someone you know would like to try reading material for the members only section, please contact me for more information on how to submit a demo recording.

We need help updating our available resources for members. If you are blind and enjoy using your ham radio or assistive technology related devices, your assistance is especially needed. It would be a big help to your fellow Handiham Members if you would record a tutorial or product review. These need to be sent in Mp3 format, and the Handiham Program reserves the right to edit the recordings as needed before publishing in the Members Only section of the Handiham.org website. Please contact me at Lucinda.Moody@allina.com or 612-775-2290 if you have any questions.

I want to say a big thank you to those who have made or volunteered to make tutorials for the Members Only portion of the website. We have already had a number of members step up to offer their services, and their help is greatly appreciated! We also have some new readers who are working on some books, so keep watching for website updates as we add more content.

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 DMR Talkgroup on Brandmeister is 31990. On AllStar, it is available at node 47367.
  • 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.


  • 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 $15.00. The lifetime membership rate is $150.00.
    • 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

E-Mail: handiham@allina.com

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

Note: Tuesdays through Thursdays between 9:00 AM and 3:00 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 assistive technology, operating information, and Handiham Program news. It is published on Mondays, and is available to everyone free of charge. Please email handiham@allina.com for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new address.