Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Handiham World for 05 August 2009

Welcome to Handiham World!

Avery's QTH: My volunteer roots

Avery in the ham shack

Welcome once again to my humble QTH:

This is going to be somewhat difficult for me, and I am not quite sure where to start, so I guess I will just start at the beginning. As a very famous baseball player, Yogi Berra, once said when asked how he comes up with all those one liners, "I just say what comes out of my mouth", and so this will be just what I type.

Many years ago when Bruce, K0HR, was Handiham Manager, he set up a Field Day on the back lawn of Courage Center. It was just outside what was then the Handiham radio room. Well, I arrived right after my work day was over and was talking to Bruce. Then he mentioned that the kid in the wheelchair operating the Novice station rig was having trouble making contacts and could I help him. (Remember that in those days a Novice could only work CW on HF bands)

OK! So he had permission from his parents to stay a couple hours and take part in the Field Day at Handihams. I went over and sat down in a chair next to him and listened a while as he attempted to make some contacts. I noticed right away several stations responding to his CQ but he was not able to notice his own call being sent. I told him stations were answering his CQ and I would copy for him and he would send. As they sent, I would write down the letter and say it and then I would tell him to listen 3 down for this pitch or whatever the case was. After a few contacts he seemed to catch on, so I told him to try it himself.

Well, that did it and a few more contacts and he was glued to the rig logging one contact after another. The only break he took was to go in and call his folks to get permission to stay all night and continue operating the Novice Station. As I remember, it was a little cool that night and Courage Center located a couple blankets in which he wrapped himself and covered all but his keying and writing hands. I was hooked and I became a Handiham volunteer right after that.

I was net control for two of the larger repeater organizations in the Twin City area, and when it was my turn to do the net I would hop into my car and drive over to the radio room at Handihams and do the net from there. Of course that was great PR for Handihams. I was one of very few volunteer people to have permission to use the radio room 24/7. Sometime, years later I did a CW up-grade net from that same radio room every Thursday evening for two hours. I started at zero for people who needed to learn the code and going up to 5, 13, and 20 words per minute so each license class was covered.

Don't tell anyone, but I was cheating. The 5 word practice was really 7 and the 13 word was really 15 and the 20 was really 24. I planned for when they went to take the code test that someone might drop a pencil on the floor, sneeze, rustle some paper, or cause some other distraction, and the little extra speed would give them a buffer so they would still get through the code test with a passing score.

Also, one evening, long before all this digital stuff, we decided to do a marathon net and went quite late into the evening with an amazing number of 303 stations checking in. We had 3 operators taking turns, one logging for the other two. The information was sent in to the Guinness Book of Records and we received a very nice letter with their letterhead saying that although it was a record, they did not have a category for it so it would not be included.

As some of you are aware Jerry, N0VOE, left the staff of Handihams to retire but is still a Handiham volunteer, and my hours were changed to just Monday & Wednesday, the reason being the economy and some of the programs being affected by it.

Well, now it is my turn to retire from Handihams, due to this same economic problem. Our budget is shrinking. Like Jerry, I will be around as a volunteer like I was for so many years before I became a staff member.

This will also affect some of the programs. I was taking care of the equipment loan program. I won't be there to do that anymore so there goes that program. Hopefully the remote base will help make up for it though. Some other things I did will not get done either, since it will just be Pat and Nancy on the staff and they will have to devote their time to other matters.

I plan to be with the Handiham staff until late September, and after that I will return to volunteer status.

So, it is with mixed emotions that I say,

73 es DX de K0HLA Avery

You can reach Avery Mondays and Wednesdays, preferably in the morning hours, at 763-520-0515 or by email at

Thank you, Avery. We will keep our readers and listeners posted on all headquarters news.