Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Handiham World for 30 May 2007

In this issue you will find:

  • HQ news up front - celebrating volunteer milestones
  • Frequency Chart update
  • Avery' QTH: Disability can be a capability
  • Free Online Workshop on Electronic Braille Books
  • Open General - study quick!
  • Worldradio & QST digests for June are ready
  • Elmer: Say yes to ARRL Field Day
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

KC0LJL and WA0TDA on graduation dayGreetings from Handiham headquarters!

Photo: Handiham volunteer Will Tice, KC0LJL, wearing is cap & gown from high school graduation, and proud dad Pat, WA0TDA.

Some of our headquarters news needed to be put up front this week, because it is such a busy time of the year... Dayton is fun, but always sets me back a bit in office work. As anyone who works at a job knows all too well, the work tends to stack up when you take a few days away from your usual work routine.

  • I want to apologize for not getting a weekly Education email out, and for not getting any new audio lectures ready. This takes time, and I just didn't have enough of it! However, there will be new audio lectures tomorrow, Thursday May 31, 2007.
  • Pardon me for tooting my own horn as a proud papa, but congratulations are due to my son Will, KC0LJL, a Handiham volunteer, who graduated from high school last Friday. We are especially proud of his magna cum laude status and his achievement award in honors physics. He has received scholarships to attend St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, where he plans to pursue a combined major in math and computer science. St. John's University is the birthplace of Minnesota Public Radio and even sports part of the "Lake Wobegon Trail" on campus. Will's duties have included tape duplication, DVD duplication, washing dishes at Radio Camp, and currently website Flash development. We are so proud of Will... and we are so grateful to him and all of our volunteers who make Handiham services possible.
  • Phil at a W1AW operating position, one had on a cw paddle, the other on the radio tuning!Speaking of volunteers, Phil Temples, K9HI, a Radio Camp instructor and the computer professional who maintains our website, has received special recognition in the 2007 Community Service Award from his employer, Boston College, for his caring spirit in volunteer service to the Courage Handiham System. With Phil's help we have turned the Handiham website from a homemade-looking second-rate effort to a first-class web resource for Handiham members that delivers online audio and current ham radio and assistive technology news and features. Phil's focus areas at Radio Camp include advising the Handiham Radio Club and planning and management of public service and EMCOMM training. He has served as the Eastern Massachusetts Section Manager in past years, and now serves as ARRL Affiliated Club Coordinator in that Section.

Photo: Phil Temples, K9HI, operates W1AW. Phil was honored this month by Boston College for his volunteerism with Courage Center's Handiham System.

Congratulations, Phil!

  • Handiham Student Coordinator Jerry Kloss, N0VOE, celebrates a milestone this week when he celebrates his 70th birthday. Attaboy, Jerry!

Jerry, N0VOE, and Guide Dog Trawler in the handiham officePhoto: Jerry Kloss, N0VOE, and his Guide Dog Trawler pose for the camera in the office at Courage Center.

Jerry's duties include welcoming new members to the Handiham System and helping them with their first studies in amateur radio. Often times Jerry discovers that the new Handiham member does not know about resources that could help them with their reading, computer access, or mobility in other areas of life. Amazingly, people come to us for information about amateur radio and also learn about the Library of Congress National Library Service accessible audio, screen reading computers, state services for the blind, and service dogs, as well as other services available to people with mobility impairments, the deaf community, or people who cannot speak.

Jerry's friendly, welcoming manner puts newcomers at their ease and helps them become part of the ham radio community. He learned patience and good telephone skills while spending most of his working life at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Jerry recalls, "One person would call in to complain that we didn't put enough salt on the road to clear off the ice, and the next one would call in to tell us that there was too much salt on the roadway and that it was rusting his car".

So you can see that Jerry's job at MNDOT required good listening skills, problem solving, and plenty of diplomacy! All of these have turned out to be perfect assets for success in his "retirement job" at Courage Center's Handiham System. We are so lucky to have a nice guy like Jerry working for us. Best of all, 70 birthdays have not slowed Jerry down at all. Happy birthday, Jerry!

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Handiham World for 23 May 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • We're baaaack!
  • Avery' QTH: Avery & his buds go shopping
  • W2TSE puts Seeing Eye on the air
  • Audio delivery plan from NLS
  • Open General - study quick!
  • Worldradio digest for June
  • Links to Fair Radio, CQ Serenade
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Back from the show
Hamvention 07Greetings, everyone!

Photo: Pat, WA0TDA, at the Handi-Ham booth, Hamvention '07.

Well, we are back from Dayton Hamvention and we have some interesting stories to tell you. Over the next few weeks we will probably remember something funny or interesting that we encountered during the world's largest amateur radio trade show. We want to thank the wonderful people at Hamvention for everything they do for amateur radio and the Courage Handiham System. Of course our volunteers deserve special recognition for reserving the booth space, arranging hotel accommodations, staffing the booth, and doing set up and take down. Thanks to John Hoenshell, N0BFJ, Larry Huggins, KA0LSG, and Jennifer Thompson, KC9AGR, for booth duties. Also, a special thanks to Avery Finn, K0HLA, for stopping by the booth frequently during the show and being willing to pose for some new "Avery's QTH" pictures.

Regular Hamvention goers will remember many weekends that included heavy rain and cold wind. This was especially true when Hamvention used to be held during the month of April. The Hamvention committee wisely moved the show date to mid-May, which definitely helped in the weather department. In fact, the weather was absolutely perfect -- not too hot or too cold or too windy or too anything. It made strolling around the enormous outdoor flea market a rather pleasant experience. It was fun to look at all the stuff that people think they are going to sell. I say "think", because some of that stuff... oh, gosh. If I ever brought some of those things home, I would be sleeping in the garage for sure! On the other hand, there is always some really good stuff. I generally shop for small items like replacement connectors, computer parts and wires, electronic parts, and small hand tools in the flea market. I am never disappointed in the selection. While musing over some audio equipment at one of the outdoor vendors, I spotted Chris Peterson, KG0BP, one of our long-time Handiham volunteer instructors. As many of you know, Chris is the producer and star of the audio shows "The Space Report" and "Chris's Radio Therapy". Chris advised me that we really should do something about our Handiham podcast audio quality, which even we have to admit is somewhat, um, borderline. He suggested a small mixer and a better microphone, which I will certainly look into. One thing we are doing with this podcast is increasing the sample rate to provide better audio quality. I welcome your feedback on how we sound.

But back to the show. Inside, there are acres and acres of vendors. Anything and everything having to do with ham radio is available at Hamvention, and the good thing is that you can see most of it right there in front of you! New transceivers and other new equipment frequently show up for the first time at Hamvention time. That is also usually the time new amateur radio study materials are offered for whatever new question pools are coming online July 1.

You cannot possibly see everything in only one day. Our volunteers set up the booth on Thursday, a day that I typically spend on the road driving from Minnesota. On Friday we are ready for a complete day at the show. Since there are more than enough of us to staff the booth, there is always time to walk around inside and outside. Actually, for me this is a very important part of the show. It is not that I am necessarily shopping for new equipment, though I do like to do that. The real value for me is meeting and greeting amateur radio operators at different companies and organizations, from far-flung places around the world, from different organizations like ARRL, FISTS, The RAIN Report, W5YI, and so on. I also delight in talking with supporters of our program like ARRL, Gordon West, and Buckmaster Publishing. Of course there are individual donors and supporters as well, and I enjoy visiting with them face-to-face and finding out what they are doing these days in amateur radio.

Hamvention is truly a great experience. If you have never been there, you should think about trying to make next year's show.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Handiham World for 16 May 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Hamvention bound
  • Avery' QTH: The gadget
  • Familiar voice to retire
  • AT Partnership
  • Open General - study quick!
  • New York City ARES makes EchoLink a permanent fixture
  • Eat like a radio camper, Yum, Yum.
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Hamvention bound

This week, Avery and I, along with thousands of other amateur radio enthusiasts, are headed to Dayton, Ohio for the biggest ham radio trade show of all. We'll keep this issue short, so that we have time to pack clean socks and to set radio memories!

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Handiham World for 9 May 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • Meetings are good for something
  • Avery' QTH: Good ol' summer
  • website goes bye-bye
  • Read those PDF manuals with your Kurzweil
  • QCWA & ARNEWSLINE announce mentoring program
  • May Events posted
  • Take the tour
  • Elmer goofs off
  • Eat like a radio camper
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Handiham World for 02 May 2007

40 years of the Courage Handiham SystemIn this issue you will find:

  • The next big thing
  • Avery' QTH: The stranger rides into town
  • Countdown to Dayton
  • Blind-Hams Reflector Update
  • ElseeMore client addition enhances EchoLink for blind users
  • Meet Tom Linde, KZ0T
  • Birthday message update
  • Take the tour
  • Elmer confirms it: Short-wave listening is changing fast!
  • In RekkyTec: Kenwood VGS-1 voice module
  • Eat like a radio camper
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

New Kenwood radio promises EchoLink connectivity

The next big thing
Kenwood TM-V71By Patrick Tice, WAƘTDA

At the Handiham System we are always keeping our ears to the ground, hoping to pick up the vibes on any new technologies, radios, or operating trends that happen to be coming our way.

It never fails; there is always something different and interesting on the horizon. The trick is learning to recognize it and to decide whether it will be the next big thing or just a ho-hum that will never really catch on.

In recent years, we have reported a lot about VoIP applications like EchoLink, written about accessibility, and even started an EchoLink-enabled informal net. We have set up an EchoLink-enabled repeater of our own for a week at Minnesota Radio Camp, and began training Handiham members on the use of EchoLink repeaters as well as the EchoLink software and how to access it with screenreading computers.

This month, with a proposed release date scheduled for late May 2007, the Kenwood Corporation will introduce the TM-V71A dual band mobile radio, which is specifically equipped for enhanced EchoLink operation. If you get QST, you can find the TM-V71A on the back cover, printed upside down. This was not an accident; the radio’s control head can be installed either way on the main body, so it is more versatile in mobile mounting. An optional VGS1 module provides vocal confirmation of frequency and other parameters as well as record and playback of received or transmitted signals, adding to its versatility for blind operators.

Why do I mention this particular radio? After all, new radios come out all the time. Well, it’s specifically marketed as being ready to work EchoLink, with its 10 dedicated EchoLink memory channels and sysop-mode operation. That says to me that EchoLink has arrived as an accepted operating mode that is well on its way to becoming mainstream in the amateur radio service.

Don’t believe me? As of 30 Apr 2007 19:13:30 UTC, when I am writing this, a quick check of the EchoLink logins page shows an impressive total of 3,648 logged in, with 1,648 of those being repeaters. Stations from everywhere are listed, from Iowa to China!

In a recent cross-country automobile trip with my family, I was surprised by how difficult it was to access repeaters along the route, and to actually find someone willing to carry on a contact. I wrote about this and soon heard from others whose experience echoed mine. Amateur radio is evolving. It may not be that long before the “legacy repeater”, whose traditional mode of operation on a single RF frequency pair limits its functionality to a relatively small footprint, falls into such a state of disuse that its claim to spectrum will be challenged. An argument could be made that this has already taken place, and legacy machines are dinosaurs on the way to extinction. The radio manufacturers are voting with the release of new features. Will repeater owners listen? Listen to more online!