Handiham World for February 1, 2021

Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of February 1, 2021

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…

Please join us for the next Handiham Member Gathering on Saturday, February 13th. Whether this is your first time or you are a veteran of our Zoom gatherings, all Handiham Program members are welcome to join us. It’s a great time to reconnect with members that you haven’t heard from in a long time and to get to know new members. Watch your email for instructions to get an invitation to participate.

Photo Matt and Lynelle playing instruments at Radio Camp 2019.

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.

The next Morse code class series will be an intermediate level class starting March 1st and running for 12 weeks. Students will be able to attend an interactive class using the Zoom platform and will receive class recordings and practice recordings each week in Mp3 format. For this class, you need to already know the letters, numbers, and prosigns. We will focus on increasing your ability to copy, working toward a speed of around 13 words per minute by then end of the series. Students will need to practice regularly outside of class to be successful. If you are looking for a basic Morse code class, we will offer another series later this year. Contact Pemdy to be put on the list for an application for either of these two class series.

Photo of the Morse code key.

Building on the success of the 2020 Virtual Get on the Air class, we are getting ready for the next Get on the Air session, now running the week of February 15th. This will be an intermediate level class with in-depth coverage of a different topic each day. If you want to receive an application, please contact Pemdy right away. Space is limited, and the class is filling up fast.

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 13) covers inspiring club activity through the use of project nights. 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 office hours for the remainder of this week. Thank you for your patience during my jury service. 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 the WayAround app, another article about a radio failure on the ISS, and the next part of a new interview series featuring attendees from the recent Holiday Gathering. 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

WayAround App

Photo of WayAround App open on smart phone.

The Way Around app is a smart labeling system for people who are blind or visually impaired and is available for iOS and Android. Combined with the smart WayTags, the app allows users to add helpful information to items around their home and office. The simple tag-and-scan system lets users add a custom description for any item plus more details like washing instructions or expiration dates. Once users have listed everything they want to know, they can just hold their device close to the WayTag to transfer the information easily. The WayAround Starter Pack lets users try out all the different types of WayTag products, including stickers, magnets, buttons, and clips. With multiple styles and features like on-metal, waterproof, and extreme temperatures, there’s a WayTag product for just about anything. To learn more, check out the following website at: https://www.wayaround.com/.

You can also watch a video at: https://youtu.be/MCn7T2YC_BQ.

From the Mailbag

Photo of mail carrier with mail bag and letter.

Hi everyone,

Do you know where I can get something to check my SWR? I am running an Icom 718. The rig does speak the S-meter readings, but no SWR.


Angelo, N2DYN

Interview of the Week

On December 19th, we held the first Member Holiday Gathering on Zoom. During the event, members introduced themselves and shared a little about what they are hoping for in 2021. Please enjoy the next part of this event.

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

LM: Look, we got a hand up, Moose, go ahead.

MD: Hello, to you and all the folks who’ve joined the meeting. Like some of the others, I have to leave in a short while, so I thought I’d go ahead and raise my hand. My name is Moose Dailey. My callsign is KB1VUJ. I live in Biddeford, Maine, where a couple days ago at the airport, about 10 miles north of us, we had 17 inches of snow. But we’re dug out now.

MD: And anyway, my, like a lot of people, I’m hoping that we can get this COVID thing somewhat behind us and some more, under more control, so we can go back to having a more normal life. But personally, I’d like to be able to do more with Morse code. We’re just finishing up the class that Lucinda and Tom and John and Jim have done a wonderful job with, and so I’ve already signed up for the next one. So, I’m hoping that I can do more with that and get my speed up and and be on the way to be able to use CW. So, that’s how it is from here. Hello to everybody. And thanks, Lucinda.

LM: Thanks, Moose. I appreciate you being here. And it’s been fun to have you in the Morse code class. We really enjoyed it. All right. Since I don’t see any more hands up right now, let’s start working through the list that we’ve got. And let’s see, I’ve got somebody that’s listed as Don’s. Go ahead, and you can tell us your name and your call sign and what you’re hoping for for 2021

DD: Are you looking for me? Don, in Idaho?

LM: I am.

DD: Okay, I couldn’t find the unmute button. I had to grab my grandson.

LM: Hey, grandsons are great.

DD: No kidding. Anyway, um I’m kind of new to this Zoom stuff. I’ve only done this a couple of times. And anyway, the call sign here is WD9DWD. That is a vanity call. And before you ask, why would I have a vanity call it is kind of long and tongue twisting. When I wanted a vanity call, everything I wanted did not work. It wasn’t available. So I put down the model number of an antique tractor that’s here on the ranch that I used to take to antique tractor shows, that is a McCormick WD9. And my initials are DWD, and I put them together, and lo and behold, hey, that was available. So that’s my call. That’s why I got a 9 call sign here in 7 land.

DD: Anyway, with that, I don’t have much to say. I spend a lot of time on HF radio and DMR. And as far as anything changing for radio for next year, nothing really big on that. No more to say from here WD9DWD, wishing all you a Merry Christmas and Happy DX.

LM: Well, Merry Christmas and Happy DX to you. Let’s see. Next up here is Lowell.

LM: My name is Lowell. My call is W8QIY, a call I’ve had for 66 years, so I don’t usually forget it for that reason. First of all, I want to wish everyone a blessed Christmas and a good New Year. And a part of my wishes for the good New Year is that, like others have said, we can just get COVID-19 put away once and for all.

LM: Ham radio wise, well I’m thankful because I have a lot of made since I’ve only been here two years, but I’ve had the privilege of making a lot of good ham radio friends. And I now have up a 30 foot tower with my hex beam on it, thanks to all these gentlemen, and gals, and also have a two meter and 440 antenna. So pretty well fixed on antennas in which I didn’t think would probably ever happened, but it happened. And I’m very, very happy about that.

LM: I guess my big goal is I’m trying to learn as I’ve mentioned this last time, I think, I’m trying to learn a lot of things here at one time. And having my call for 66 years gives you a clue that unfortunately, having a lot of birthdays seemingly lately. It seems like they roll around quickly. And it’s harder for me to learn things. So I’m trying to learn Windows 10 and JAWS and all of that at one time because they took away my XP–you can’t use that anymore; and they took away Window Eyes, so that’s not protected anymore.

LM: So, I had to make all these transitions. Well, that’s the thing that I’m going to be sweating in 2021. So, I hope I can perhaps get that behind me. So that’s about all we have here. There’s so many people, I don’t want to take too much time. I do. Thank you for the opportunity of being on today. A very good day to all of you. Thank you.

LM: Thanks so much for being here. And, yeah, it’s tough when you got to learn all that new stuff. That’s not an easy task. So, keep up the hard work there. Next up here, Johnny.

JO: It’s great to be back with you all. And this has really been a weird stretch of time, because I’ve been without this here cell phone for several months. What they finally were able to do, and I never heard of this before. I got this thing back a couple days ago. And it’s got, I guess you’d call it a magnetic battery charger. There’s a little round piece that is part of the thing that plugs into the phone.

JO: And then on the cord, the phone cord itself, the charger cord, and it’s a nice long one too, I might add, there is a magnet, a teeny weeny little magnet. And you leave the phone plugged in, or the thing plugged into the charger plugged into the phone. And you take this with the long cord, put the magnet on there and it stays. Then when you want to take it out, you leave the plug in, just take the magnet on the cord off the round piece.

JO: I never heard of such a thing before. It’s brand new to me, but I like it. It makes things a lot easier. And I’m sorry I missed the CW, but I couldn’t do anything about that without either the cell phone or the computer. The computer is still having problems. I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And hopefully things will return to normal. And hopefully I’ll get back to where I can get back on the air, and do you know that this year, I haven’t been on the air at all between the computer and all the other stuff that’s breaking down. So that’s my answer.

JO: And for those who are thinking of a New Year’s resolution, if you haven’t done it already, upgrade. It will give you something to look forward to. Anyway I’ve probably taken too long. And I just want to get back on the air and get things back to normal, and I hope we get to go, all go to camp next year so I can do what I’ve always wanted to do. And I want to get Shane Larson up to camp so we can get him his General and maybe go to Extra.

JO: Anyway, I’ve been holding it too long. But it’s great to be back, and my cell phone is now working like it should now with the magnetic charger. Anyway, I’ll let you go. Yeah. Oh, and I forgot to say, if I haven’t identified, this is WA8WFH for 53 years with that call. And I ain’t about to change it, no way. Anyway. I’ll throw it back over to you, Lucinda, and again, the best of the holidays to one at all. And I hope everybody wins.

LM: Thanks Johnny. I appreciate you stopping by and glad you were able to join us this time. Johnny couldn’t make it on the last one because he didn’t have a working phone, so it’s good to have him back with us. Let’s see. Next up is Christoph.

CB: Yeah, hello everybody. This is Christoph, Delta Fox 9 Whiskey Mike, and when I’m in the US, I’m also known as Kilo Bravo 3 Papa Romeo November. Well, as for amateur radio, what I would really like to do is familiarize myself with the Handiham Remote Bases a little more. Couple of weeks ago, I downloaded and installed the current version of the Remote Hams client which turned out to be a rather frustrating experience, because I found out that the software wasn’t really that accessible with JAWS by, with JAWS for Windows, but I remember that one of the previous versions had been more accessible. So I hope I’ll be getting some help with that.

CB: And as for 2021, in general, I just hope it will be a much better year for everybody and also to be able to travel internationally again. That’s it from here. 73 and a Merry Christmas to everybody.

LM: Thanks, Christoph. It’s good to hear from you. We haven’t gotten to hear from you in a while and glad you’re able to make it in spite of the time difference. Hopefully you’ll be able to make it out to some more of these things in the future and hopefully as–hopefully things will improve and you will be able to start traveling again here in the next year.

Stay tuned for the next part of this Gathering airing in the next issue of Handiham World.

Ham Radio in the News

ARISS and Partners Are Investigating Space Station Ham Radio Failure

Photo of ARISS logo.

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) and its partners are working to discover the cause of a failure within the on-board amateur station located in the Columbus module. Unfortunately, ARISS was forced to cancel a planned school contact when no downlink signal was heard. The problem could be in a new external RF cable that was installed during a recent spacewalk. For now, ARISS is checking to see if another radio can be used until this current issue is fixed. To read the entire article, go to: http://www.arrl.org/news/ariss-and-partners-are-investigating-space-station-ham-radio-failure

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 Technician Class pool this week to a question about automatic gain control.

T4B11 What is the function of automatic gain control, or AGC?

A. To keep received audio relatively constant.
B. To protect an antenna from lightning.
C. To eliminate RF on the station cabling.
D. An asymmetric goniometer control used for antenna matching.

Automatic gain control, or AGC, used to be known as automatic volume control, or AVC. Ham operators use the AGC to help level out the huge variations in signal strength that a signal can undergo between a distant station and the receiver, keeping the received audio relatively constant and making answer A the correct choice. For phone, slow AGC is used, and for CW, fast AGC is used. The AGC system in your rig can vary from rudimentary to extremely sophisticated with variations in attack time, decay time, “hang time,” and other parameters. The purpose with all these variations, however, is to make HF reception more effective over widely varying conditions.

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 February issue of the QCWA Journal is now available in Mp3 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 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. During the Friday Mid-day net, Jim, KE5AL, asks a question from the current Extra Class pool. The answer is given at the end of the net. A big THANK YOU to all of our net control stations and to Diane, KK6LOE, our 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 $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.