Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 9 August 2017

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Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 9 August 2017

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.

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

Welcome to Handiham World.

In this edition: 

  • A note from the coordinator

  • Life of a ‘Semi-Retired’ Ham

  • Gary Gordon on the History of Computers

  • STEM extension program report

  • Accessible Solar Eclipse

  • Things technical Part 1—Why radials??

  • Avery's QTH

  • A message from the president…

  • Down memory lane…

  • Check into our nets!

  • ...And more!

A note from the coordinator...

What do you think about the future of Amateur Radio? Do you see yourself as a lone operator, or do you see yourself as part of a larger group? Here is an interesting article from our former coordinator, Pat Tice, WA0TDA, writing in the Fall 1992 issue of Handiham World, where he considered that very subject.

Where are we going, and with whom?

Think about this: Where is amateur radio headed? For that matter, what is amateur radio anymore? These are questions that might well be asked because our hobby seems to have gone into fast forward over the past few years, and rapid change has become, well, normal!

Twenty-five years ago, when Ned Carmen, W0ZSW, brought the Handiham Program into the world, life in the radio spectrum was simpler. There were the bands themselves. Harmonically related, they were easily understood and put to use with elegantly simple wire antennas. There were only five of them in the H.F. range, and no one had to remember much about where this or that band segment began and ended because only Novices had limited privileges and Technicians stayed up on the “bird bands”! Few folks could afford fancy towers or rotary arrays, which was a pity, because no one had dreamed up restrictive covenants yet, and most neighbors wouldn’t have minded a few antennas anyway. The rigs had only a few buttons and knobs, one of which controlled the VFO. The VFO often lived up to its name, because it drifted (by today’s standards) like a rowboat in a hurricane. There was really nothing about it that would prevent an inexperienced op from straying out of the band and picking up a “QSL” from the FCC! And speaking of the FCC, that was the agency that tested us for licenses back then. A steely-eyed examiner sat across the table from you while you held the pencil in your sweaty hand and scribbled the test message on a piece of paper as the CW rocketed out of the speaker. But everyone knew that you needed to know CW because that was one of the two modes that you had to choose from, the other being phone. Of course, there was some RTTY, but the gear was noisy and took up half your basement. SSB was a new wrinkle, and those with lousy VFO’s had a terrible time keeping signals tuned.

Yeah, things have changed! Our stations are almost cybernetic now, doing things for themselves. There are more bands, more hams to fill them, new license classes, volunteer examiners, and even new modes of operation. The changes over the past quarter century have been breathtaking, and the pace of change grows faster still!

Through all of this, there has been a steadfast friend at our side, sometimes gently guiding us when we needed help understanding some unfamiliar technology, sometimes prodding us along so that we would be operating properly, and always keeping us informed about what others of our number were doing and about what was happening around the world in amateur radio. I am talking, of course, about the American Radio Relay League, a representative organization of Amateur radio operators and others interested in amateur radio.

The League has been around a lot longer than the Handiham Program, but there are still some of us who don’t realize the full potential of this good friend. The ARRL, like the Handiham Program, is a teacher through its many publications. The Handbook, published annually, is a compendium of what every ham should know about radio history, theory, regulations, operations, and much more. QST keeps us up-to-date and provides for the publication of a wide variety of articles ranging from fiction to construction. The League’s study guides are at the ready should you wish to upgrade, and W1AW provides code practice and timely bulletins over the air. Individual help is available from “HQ”, or League headquarters, when we run afoul of local ordinances restricting antennas or when we are trying to sort out interference complaints. The League’s “Band Plans” are widely recognized and appreciated for their help in getting the most out of our limited spectrum. The ARRL has been generous in its support of the Handiham Program through the years of growth and change, allowing us to reproduce educational and other materials on tape, assisting us with donations, and even sending a representative to Radio Camp to help us introduce newcomers to the wonderful hobby that we enjoy so much!

Are you helping to represent Amateur Radio, to assist other Hams, to spread the word, to make your voice heard on policy issues? Are you a member of the League?

Twenty-five years after this article was penned, we can still ask the same questions. Where are you going with amateur radio? Are you going alone? Do you contact your elected officials to let them know how legislation impacts your ham radio activities? Having a partner that helps promote and defend our hobby is important.

Do you have a story to share about your 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.

Life of a ‘Semi-Retired’ Ham

Editor’s note: Do you ever think about what your future will be like? Where does ham radio fit into the picture? Maybe you imagine finally having your dream station and antenna farm, or maybe you think that the future is when you will finally have time to chase that elusive low-power distant station that has been dodging you all these years! The following is an article by Eddie Thornson, N0YL, first published in the Summer 1979 issue of Handiham World:

Work I have lots of and visitors and friends come often—but a variety of people I find only via amateur radio.

When we moved to Grand Meadow, in southeastern Minnesota, I finally had room for a station. While still in the moving process, I wrote to a friend, Bob Russ, K0GKI, and asked how to become a ham. He told Ned Carmen, W0ZSW, who stopped in, strung up a dipole, and gave me my first look at ham radio. He came back with a stack of books a yard high, code tapes, and what had to be the world’s biggest tape recorder!

That was in January, 1967, and by April, Ned came with the 610 form for my Novice test, and we got the show on the road. In June, he put up my dipole and set up my first transmitter. What a delight to see the station take form; what a thrill to turn the switch on; how horrifying to see the black smoke pour out of the transmitter!

Ned didn’t give up easily, so, in a couple of days, he was back with another transmitter; and this time WN0RRA made her first contact and uttered the immortal words, “Would you believe this is my first contact?” When he came back, the guy said, “Yes, I would.” Oh, well.

About this time, the idea born in Ned’s mind of providing handicapped people with the tools to become hams had begun to take form as the Handiham System. As Ned collected donated gear, he often brought things to me to try out. In six months as a Novice, I used nine transmitters! I would have become a ham without Ned’s help, but it would have been much harder to do.

In 1968, my General license arrived, setting off six months of feverish SSB activity. Fortunately, sanity returned, and I headed back to the CW bands! Good friend Dex Henschel, then WA0DOT, now W0DH, Albert Lea, decided I needed the Advanced. There was no peace on the subject until 1969, when he brought over the test, and I did that bit. There was little glory in the Advanced, ‘cuz by then, Dex had his Extra—so in 1970, I did my best to prove the equality of the sexes!

Under “glories past,” we find 16 months as a route manager of a slow speed Novice net; a year as assistance SCM in charge of the CW nets, during which we had four Novices inducted into the Brass Pounder’s League (whew!); and a year as manager of MSN, the Minnesota Section CW net. I was net control hundreds of times, Minnesota rep to the Transcontinental Eastern Net hundreds of times, and shuttled more traffic between the CW and phone nets than I care to remember. In a sad yet delicious moment in 1977, good ole WA0RRA yielded to temptation and became N0YL, a change I do not regret.

Now, I am “semi-retired,” as antique doll repairing and doll making take most of my time. In a quiet moment, it’s great to work some CW, maybe a li’l DX on 15, or as NCS for an occasional hour on PICO Net. Ham radio waits patiently, and when I have more time, it will be there.

I am now working hard to become an original doll artist, which is what makers of original dolls are called. Believe me, it ain’t easy! Some of my gnome dolls are inspired by the “GNOME” book I received last Christmas from Carl Searing, W9NW, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. So, when I’m too busy to be on the air, blame Carl! It’s all his fault!

Gary Gordon on the History of Computers

This week, the Handiham Program heard from Gary Gordon, one of our volunteers who was a dedicated radio camp instructor. He built numerous hands-on learning aids that many of our members remember using to learn different concepts as they were studying for their license exams. Recently, Gary was interviewed for the Computer History Museum, in part because one of his 80 patents offered the first description of the optical mouse. His interview can be found at the following link: https://youtu.be/TxxoWhCzIeU

STEM extension program

Ken KB3LLA submitted the following report: The Pennsylvania Summer Academy STEM extension program for blind and visually impaired students took place from Saturday, July 29, 2017, through Thursday, August 3, 2017, at the Penn State campus. Participating institutions were Penn State University, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Blindness & Visual Services (BBVS), and NASA. I co-taught, with Prof. Stephen Van Hook and Prof. Angela Bishop, labs on electricity (series circuits, parallel circuits, LEDs, transistors, inductors, capacitors, motors, generators and alternators, solar cells, wind turbines, battery chemistry, and integrated circuits). The students had to take their own measurements with the Talking Labquest 2 http://www.independencescience.com/ and do their own mathematical calculations with talking scientific calculators and/or in Braille. Worksheets were provided in Braille and in large print.

Accessible Solar Eclipse

Zach, N0KZD, sent in the following link:
I received this link on a local ham radio mailing list for a project that makes the solar eclipse accessible for those with visual impairments or unable to view the eclipse for any other reason. http://eclipsesoundscapes.org/

Things technical Part 1—Why radials?

From the Summer 1992 issue of Handiham World, editor Pat Tice, WA0TDA, shares the following introduction…

Finally…The straight up-and-down story about vertical antennas and radials!

Do vertical antennas really work? Don’t they need zillions of radials? What about those “half-wave” designs that claim that they don’t need radials…and, by the way, how can they be “half-wave” antennas when they are only 16 feet tall? I thought a half-wave on 20 meters was about twice that length! Won’t a ground rod be a good substitute for a radial system if the soil conductivity is good or if I live near water?

Associate member Don Newcomb, W0DN, answers these questions and more in this series of articles devoted to “Things Technical,” Don is an antenna designer by trade, an expert CW-QRP op, and a really, really fine technical writer. Read closely, and you may end up considering a vertical antenna for your station!

Reprinted with permission from DX Engineering / Butternut

There are few subjects in amateur radio that are so clouded in mystery as radials and ground systems for vertical antennas. That this should be so is itself something of a mystery, for countless books and articles have examined this subject in considerable detail over the last 50 years. The basic points are quite well known by now, except, it seems, among the amateur community.

Why so much confusion? Some people will tell you that vertical antennas require them for effective operation or even for low SWR, but you’ll see ads stating (a) that a particular vertical antenna works like a bomb with no radials at all, (b) that another doesn’t need any radials because it’s a “half-wave” tall on one or another band and remotely tuned, another (c) that their antenna can get by with a greatly abbreviated radial system because its feedpoint is a few feet above ground, and our favorite (d) is the one that claims that only a few 14 foot radials will allow it to deliver maximum operating efficiency.

The ARRL Antenna Book tells us that more than 100 much longer radials would be needed for that kind of efficiency on most amateur bands, even though the advertisements say otherwise! And what is meant by “ground” anyway? Much of the misunderstanding can be laid at the door of over-zealous dream merchants who prefer to gloss over unpleasant truths. Let’s review the basics and try to separate the facts from the hype.

What is a ground? It can be a connection to the earth itself and often is. At power frequencies, the earth is usually a good conductor, and most electrical codes dictate a copper-plated steel rod driven into the earth to a depth of six feet or more. Unfortunately, such a ground connection is next to worthless at radio frequencies, although it’s useful in preventing shocks. Too many amateurs have been electrocuted when they contacted the “ground” side of a feedline connected to ungrounded (or poorly grounded) station equipment while standing on damp earth! Be especially leery of old two conductor house wiring, and don’t count on the newer three-conductor wiring to take the place of a good earth ground to all station equipment that plugs into the power outlets in the shack! An ungrounded chassis can be lethal whether the unit is switched on or not, so drive that copper-plated steel rod into the flower bed and connect a heavy wire between it and all station equipment while everything is still unplugged.

But why should a ground connection that serves quite well at 60 Hz not also suffice into the megahertz range? And why do we even worry about it? Consider a vertical radiator installed at ground level and fed through the usual coaxial feedline, the braided outer conductor connected to the inevitable copper-plated ground stake. What is not so obvious is that the “business” end of a vertical antenna is also “connected” to the earth through the capacitance of the vertical radiator to the earth itself. True, this capacitance won’t be very great, but it’ll be great enough to cause current to flow in or along the earth all around the antenna out to a distance greater than the length of the vertical radiator. These “return” currents make their way back to the feedpoint to complete the circuit and can be seriously attenuated if they must pass along or through lossy earth. Even the most conductive earth is fairly lossy at radio frequencies, and the “return” losses can be severe unless an extensive radial system is used to provide a number of low-loss paths back to the feedpoint.

But what kind of losses are we talking about in the average case? The ARRL Antenna Book (any edition) suggests that 120 radials equally spaced and each a halfwave long would make an essentially lossless ground system at R.F., and the FCC mandates such ambitious systems for stations operating in the AM broadcast band. A lossless ground system means that all power applied to a vertical antenna part from conductor and loading losses (usually only a few percent) will be radiated instead of being lost in the earth as heat.

Amateurs must usually make do with much shorter and many fewer radials, particularly on the lower frequencies, but one can often reduce the length of radials and their number considerably without incurring significant loss. Still, the Antenna Book observes that with only two 1/8 wavelength radials (about 17 feet on 40 meters) overall efficiency is not likely to exceed 25%, in which case the difference between a bare-minimum ground system and an “ideal” one might amount to a whopping six decibels or more. Much depends on the natural conductivity of local soil. Sandy, arid regions are probably the worst, but the best is none too good compared to seawater. It’s worth noting that what matters is conductivity at or near the surface of the earth. If your R.F. has to fight its way through several feet of high resistance sand or rock to find a low-resistance path back to the antenna feedpoint, you’ve probably lost the battle already. Sub-surface mineral deposits and high water tables don’t help much either, for these are usually too far down to do much good. Fresh water, by the way, is not a very good conductor at R.F., so don’t look for any great benefit from nearby lakes, ponds, rivers, creeks, or swimming pools!

Some people imagine that they have a wonderful ground system because they’re connected to a well casing that goes down several hundred feet. Not so, alas! Remember that your return currents will be flowing all around the antenna on or slightly under the surface, so even a six-inch casing won’t provide much surface area along which current can flow. In other words, your well casing could go down 15 foot or 1500 feet without doing much to reduce your earth losses in the HF range.

Next time: Should you copper-plate your lawn? Don discusses some practical aspects of ground systems.

Welcome once again to my humble QTH:

Editor’s note: Avery, K0HLA, sent us the following article this week, one that he wrote when he worked at the Handiham Program years ago.

I just had a minor panic session here. You see, I was in the process of attempting to answer some emails I received after joining Facebook.

The problem was I could not find my password for Facebook. Seems to me I had this same problem with Skype, the Handiham remote base and several other applications. I was told by several computer knowledgeable people that it is not a very good idea to use the same password for every application. That sure seems like a sensible idea to me, because someone would be able to get into all a person's accounts with just finding out the one password.

I had been keeping all my passwords in a pocket-sized notebook about a half inch thick (which worked out quite well until recently) when I was going into too many new places on the web and just putting the password down on any piece of paper that was handy with the good intentions of transferring them to my little password book. Lesson learned. Do it right away. Don't wait until later. It’s too easy to misplace the paper and forget the password. Also, make a backup just in case something happens to the original password book.

Because it is made of paper, it could have many things happen that would make it unusable. Oh No! Don’t keep passwords in a secret file on your computer. It is too easy for a hacker to find if they break into it. Anyway, after going through every scrap of paper I could find several times—still no password. Well, I thought most web sites have a place to get back a password if something like this happens, so I will check it out. Sure enough, they did have a way to get a new password if the other one is lost or forgotten. Oh boy! That would mean going though most of the process all over again and waiting for the new password to come. I didn't really want to wait since I had a "ton" of messages to respond to. I shut down everything and really gave some thought to the possible solutions. What might I have used as a password for this? I was very lucky in that all of a sudden it registered with me like a lightning flash out of the blue. I had it, and now I could answer all my emails. You better believe I have brought my password books up-to-date. Some people may use a tape recorder or some new-fangled digital device to record their passwords instead of notebooks, which is fine as long as no one else has access to them.

Now why did I mention this security thing with the passwords?

Two words: Homeland Security.

Did you know that President Bush signed into law a bill that made all amateur radio operators part of Homeland Security? (It doesn't matter what class of license a person holds). The reason is because of Katrina and 9-11. Amateur radio got the information passed when all else failed. There are many things we can do to help with Homeland Security. Some are for our own protection. A good one is not to mention on the air that you will be out of town before you go or you could come back to a cleaned out home. After you are back it is too late for someone to take advantage of you. Look out for anything abnormal going on around you. Is that person out at 2:00 in the morning really delivering the early edition of the newspaper or are they scouting the neighborhood to find easy places to break into? Take part in as many of the emergency classes and emergency training exercises as possible. Learn how to run a net under very stressful circumstances. An emergency is not time to find out you don't have the skills to handle it.

Please, please know that it is often times more important to just be listening and to be there if you are called. You are only wasting time and tying up the frequency if you don't have the necessary information net control is looking for.

Summer is a good time to get experience because there are many city and town festivals where amateurs take part. Not only are they fun, but the learning experience is different every time.

What? A contest to find out who checks into the most web sites and has the most passwords? Naw! I don’t think so. In so doing, we could be giving away some information that might make it easier for some hacker.

So, until next time
73 es DX de K0HLA Avery

A message from the president…

August 8, 2017

Dear ARRL Member:

Based on feedback I’ve received, it seems to me that some members still don’t fully understand certain features of the Amateur Radio Parity Act (ARPA) and what it is meant to do. To make things clearer, we have developed an FAQ in the format of questions and answers. Please take a few minutes and read the FAQ to learn more about the ARPA.

Here is the direct link:

Here is another link with additional information:

Thanks to those of you who have written your Senators in support of the ARPA. If you have not done so, please do so by clicking on the link below. It only takes a minute.


Thanks. Let’s keep the effort moving!


Rick Roderick, K5UR


ARRL - The national association for Amateur Radio®

Down memory lane...

And in honor of the celebration of 50 years of the Handiham Program, here are two articles about Dr. Tom Linde, KZ0T, the first from the Fall 1979 issue of Handiham World, and the second from the Fall 1983 issue.

He talks to anybody, anywhere

Have you ever made radio contact with a sheepherder in the outback of New Zealand?

Tom Linde, KB0JQ, from Knoxville, Iowa, did, nearly two hours’ worth. The New Zealander was transmitting from a portable rig on a mountain, while surveying his flock.

Tom, (formerly WB0FOQ) passed his Advanced class exam at Radio Camp this year. Not so surprising when you learn of his background and accomplishments.

Born with cerebral palsy, Tom has severe physical and verbal impairments. His determination to excel, however, appeared early in life. Once, as an eight-year-old, he met a ham who could “talk to anybody, anywhere, at any time,” Tom said. Exactly what Tom wanted to do.

He had to wait, however, until 1965 when he enrolled in a Novice class in Milwaukee. His capacity for learning had already been demonstrated in 1961, when he received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Illinois.

Tom earned his Novice ticket, and, not to be denied, he immediately began to work for the General class. In 1971, he moved to Knoxville where he joined the staff of the Veterans Hospital as a clinical psychologist.

“Dr. Tom” learned about the Courage Handiham System through our fundraising appeal sent to hams in eight states earlier this year. He joined and soon applied for Radio Camp. There he passed the Advanced test—and even more important, the 20 WPM code test for the Amateur Extra! He passed the written test at the Midwest American Radio Relay League convention in October.

Tom is a family man. His wife, Ann, and two sons, Peter, 12, and Matthew, 10, take much of his time. Yet he continues to find enjoyment on the air…such as shooting the breeze with a sheepherder on his mountain top.

Handiham Member Receives Phillips Award

Dr. Thomas Linde, KZ0T of Knoxville, Iowa, was named one of five winners of the 20th annual Rose and Jay Phillips Awards presented by Courage Center. Linde is a clinical psychologist with the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Knoxville.

The Phillips Awards honor individuals who have achieved vocational success despite a severe physical disability. Linde, who has cerebral palsy, received the award at a public ceremony at Courage Center on September 23.

Besides his work counseling severely mentally disturbed patients at the VA Medical Center, Linde is an experienced ham radio operator who holds an Extra class license and is active in the Courage Handiham System.

In accepting the award, Linde said, “Over 100 years ago Bismark, the German statesman, said, ‘Politics is the art of the possible.’ For tonight, let me suggest that rehabilitation is the art and the science of the possible. It is an art because it requires humane imagination to create the opportunity for growth and productive living, at home or on the job. It is a science because it demands the best of caring ingenuity to create strategies and technologies to compliment and supplement limited human abilities.

“All of this is given dimension, is given meaning by the courage of those who work to become more able, and those who assist in this important quest.”

Editor’s note: You can still find used copies of Dr. Tom Linde’s book,I Am Not What I Am: A Psychologist's Memoir: Notes on Managing Personal Misfortune, via the internet.

What are you waiting for? 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 CST (Noon Eastern and 09:00 Pacific), as well as Wednesday evenings at 19:00 hours CST (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 our Handiham Club Net Manager, James, KD0AES.


  • 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.  It's easy and secure!

    • 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:

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 Lucinda.Moody@allina.com  for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new address.

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