Handiham World for November 9, 2020

Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of November 9, 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.

Listen here:

Get this podcast in iTunes:


RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:

Subscribe or change your subscription to the E-mail version here.

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…

If you have not yet filed your comments on the FCC proposal to increase fees for amateur radio operators, you still have a week left to do so. The ARRL will file comments opposing the proposal, and with the fast approaching November 16th deadline, they are asking members to add their voices by filing comments as well. To help you with this process, the ARRL has prepared a Guide to Filing Comments with the FCC located at http://arrl.org/fcc-fees-proposal with tips and filing instructions.

Photo of FCC logo.

The virtual Closing the Gap conference is in its final few days, and I have been enjoying all the presentations about the latest in accessibility and assistive technology. It has been so nice to be able to attend virtually and take in so many sessions, even more than is possible at an in-person conference. I will continue sharing some of what I have learned in the News in Assistive Technology column over the next few weeks.

Photo of the logo for the 2020 Closing the Gap virtual conference.

Do you need cartridges for your NLS Talking Book Player? You can now order 4 GB, 8 GB, and 16 GB cartridges from the Perkins Library on Amazon with free shipping. Additionally, you can get mailers and the cable you need if you want to load your own cartridges. Please note: if you are waiting for mail arriving via Free Matter for the Blind, be aware that due to post office delays, mail may take as long as 6 to 8 weeks to arrive.

Photo of the NLS Talking Book Player.

Today was class 7 of the 2020 intro level Morse code class. Jim Shaffer, KE5AL, was our instructor this week, and next week, John Farina, W2QCY will be back at the teacher’s desk. Not only are students learning letters, numbers, and prosigns, the instructors are also helping teach the common abbreviations and shortcuts used in typical Morse code QSOs. In addition to a recording of each week’s class session, students also receive a second weekly recording with more practice to help solidify what they learned in class. If this class sounds like something you would like to participate in or if you are interested in an intermediate level Morse code class to increase your speed, you can ask Pemdy to put you on the list for the next classes in 2021.

Photo of the Morse code key.

Thanks to the success of the 2020 Virtual Get on the Air class, we are already working on plans for the next Get on the Air session in February of 2021. This will be an intermediate level class with more in-depth coverage of topics. If you want to be placed on the list to receive an application, please contact Pemdy.

Screenshot from 2020 Virtual GOTA Class with N3FJP logging software in use and photos and names from Zoom attendees.

The Handiham World E-letter list along with Handiham Notify and the Handiham Radio Club lists are moving to Groups.io. Invitations went out to everyone on the old Handiham E-letter and Handiham Notify lists. If you haven’t received one, please contact Pemdy for assistance. Once you are subscribed to the new lists at Groups.io, you will be unsubscribed from the old lists. All you have to do to subscribe is reply and send when you receive the invitations. You don’t have to type anything additional in the email to be subscribed to the new lists. Just like with the old Handiham World E-letter and Handiham Notify lists, you can’t post emails to the new lists. The lists are only for receiving notifications and E-Letters from the Handiham Program. Please note, while Handiham World is available to everyone, only current members of the Handiham Program are eligible to join Handiham Notify and the Handiham Radio Club lists. We are enjoying the improved accessibility with Groups.io.

Photo of green road sign with the word change printed on it.

The new Handiham Radio Club email list is the place where members can post, ask questions, and share their experiences with amateur radio and assistive technology. We have so many talented and highly experienced members in the Handiham Radio Club, making this an invaluable resource for information. If you are a Handiham Program member and would like to join the Handiham Radio Club email list, please contact Pemdy.

Due to the spread of COVID-19, we are not working from the office right now. 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.

Photo of 2 meter wavelength as guide to social distancing.

Along with the release of the new On the Air magazine, the magazine for beginner-to-intermediate ham radio operators, the ARRL is also doing a monthly podcast to take a deeper look at some of the topics and projects included in the magazine. The latest episode of the On the Air podcast (Episode 10) has an interview about the ARRL’s new Learning Network webinars. You can check it out at http://www.arrl.org/on-the-air-podcast.

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 and I will be working during our usual hours this week. If you call the Handiham Program office, please leave a message, and we will return your call as soon as we are available. 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 Android’s Action Blocks, another article about a Long Island radio club’s donation to a local hospital to support their COVID-19 response, and the next part of a new interview with Tom, KB8TYJ, one of our Morse code class instructors. 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

Android Action Blocks

Photo of Android phone display with Google Action Blocks on the home screen.

Enabled by the Google Assistant, Action Blocks helps people simplify interactions on their Android phone. This is especially helpful for people with cognitive disabilities, people with age-related disabilities, people who struggle with completing a multi-step process on their smart phone because of physical disabilities, or people who just want a faster way to complete an action with their smart phone. With a single tap, Action Blocks lets you quickly message a family member, watch a movie, check your schedule for the day, and more. It’s easy to create these Action Blocks with the free app available from the Google Play store, and once you create an Action Block, it is placed on the home screen to facilitate easy access. To learn more, check out the following website at: https://support.google.com/accessibility/android/answer/9711267?hl=en.

You can watch a video at: https://youtu.be/vzoqe3PF9LY.

From the Mailbag

Photo of mail carrier with mail bag and letter.

Hi everyone,

I wanted to offer some suggestions regarding how to effectively learn the Morse code. The first thing I want to say is that it will take time, but if you persist, you eventually should get there. Short listening and learning sessions are always the best, even if you have to do them several times a day. When you attempt to learn the characters, learn them by their sound, not by counting dits and dahs. It’s the sound of each character that you listen for when copying the code. When you work with words, start with shorter words first; the longer words will come with time. Another suggestion would be to concentrate on listening to and copying the code first, so you are extremely comfortable with it. Then, sending will be much easier and should almost come naturally. I know this all seems a bit overwhelming at first, but believe me, you are not alone.


Tom Behler, KB8TYJ

Interview of the Week

Tom Behler, KB8TYJ, joins us this again week for the next part of a new interview talking about the virtual Morse code class. Tom is one of three instructors teaching for this intro level class. He is both a member and volunteer in the Handiham Program and brings a great deal of experience thanks to his many years as an active ham radio operator. Please enjoy the next part of this interview.

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

LM: And with the extended sunspot lows that we have had in recent cycles, Morse code is another mode that you can use when conditions aren’t the best. You can still make Morse code contacts even when you can’t make phone contacts.

TB: Well, I always tell people—well, with modes like FT8, it’s a little bit different now, but I always used to tell people that CW always gets through. It gets through much easier than a single sideband contact would get through, simply because all you’re doing is turning on and off your transmitter. You’re not modulating a voice. You’re not doing any of that stuff. You’re just sending code, on and off, and that will always get through. I can make CW contacts with just 10 watts that would easily take me over 100 watts to make on single sideband.

TB: And the other thing that I would point out is that there are practical reasons to learn the code. How many repeaters do you hear on the air that ID in CW? There’s a lot of them. If you know CW, you can get the call sign of that repeater, and you can look it up if you need to in order to get the information about how to get into the repeater, what the tones are, etc. But you won’t be able to do that if you can’t copy the call in CW.

LM: Right.

TB: So, there are all kinds of reasons to learn the code.

LM: And the same thing is true as far as the beacons. When you’re looking for band conditions to see if a band is open to a specific area, you want to be able to copy that.

TB: Yep, you want to be able to copy that, and learning the code will let you do that. Another advantage of learning the code is this: Don’t forget, folks, CW is international. With the help of prosigns and the Q signals, you can save lots of time and efficiently communicate with people across the globe. You don’t necessarily have the language barrier that you would with voice contacts. CW is CW, and that is also important, especially if you end up doing a lot of DX or long-distance work.

LM: And on Field Day, you’ll be the most popular member of your club if you’re racking up CW points.

TB: Well, yeah, because, for example, Field Day. Many of you know this. If you make a phone contact, single sideband, it’s one point. Guess what? CW contacts, like all other digital contacts, are two points.

TB: In fact, it was funny. I moved down to this area of Michigan four years ago—I can’t believe it’s been almost four years already. And I started attending one of our local clubs here, and they started talking about Field Day, and somehow the subject of CW came up. And I said, do you want me to make some CW contacts for Field Day for you? Yeah, yeah, we could do that.

TB: And I worked with another club member, and we set up a CW station, and boy did we become popular because we got twice the number of points for every contact that anybody else made, and it really raised our score. And we had fun, which was the most important thing.

LM: Yes, absolutely. It’s the fun. We don’t want to forget that. Yes, we do things to support our communities and provide support in areas like public safety that we do with ham radio. But it’s still a hobby, and we need to have fun.

TB: So, the Morse code, CW, is out there, and it’s a valuable mode. And once you learn the code, if you use it on a regular basis, I guarantee you that your copying and your sending will increase over time. It’s like anything else. If you use it, you won’t lose it. In fact, if anything, you’ll gain those skills in additional ways that you never thought was possible.

TB: I can remember back in the day, I used to never think much about contesting, for example. Now, it’s like I’m addicted to it. I mean, because it’s fun. Like, last year, I made this many contacts in this contest. Let’s see if this year I can make more, you know. You set your own little goals. I’m not a big gun contester, but I can contest.

TB: And CW is the easiest way that I can contest because I don’t have a high profile station here. I don’t have a high profile antenna system. I just have wire antennas, and I’m in a small lot here and can’t do much. But CW can get me on the air, and in contesting, I can compete with the rest of them because I know the code and I know how to use it.

Stay tuned for the next part of our interview with Tom airing next week.

Ham Radio in the News

Long Island Hams Honor Local Hospital’s COVID-19 Efforts with Donation

Photo of Radio Central Amateur Radio Club logo.

On Long Island, New York, where the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard earlier in 2020, members of the Radio Central Amateur Radio Club, W2RC, decided that medical responders and their support teams needed a show of support for their service. The club took up a collection for a donation to the local hospital, St. Charles Hospital, in Port Jefferson. The club’s president, Neil Heft, KC2KY, said they wanted to do something more than just putting up a thank you sign. Their donation was recently presented to the hospital in recognition of the hard work done by all the staff. To learn more, go to: https://forums.qrz.com/index.php?threads/long-island-hams-honor-local-hospital%E2%80%99s-covid19-efforts-with-1-000-donation.732216/

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 General Class pool this week to a question about ferrite cores.

G6B01 What determines the performance of a ferrite core at different frequencies?

A. Its conductivity.
B. Its thickness.
C. The composition, or “mix,” of materials used.
D. The ratio of outer diameter to inner diameter.

Ferrite is an iron-based ceramic material that increases the permeability of an inductor when used as a core. It is important, however, to use the right composition or mix of materials based on the frequency and power levels required for the inductor you need, making answer C the correct choice. If you get the opportunity to wind your own ferrite core inductors, you will find that it is a bit of an art form and a very educational process.

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.

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 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.


  • 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.