[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 22 February 2012

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center
Handiham System. Our contact information is at the end, or simply email
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for changes in subscriptions or to comment. You
can listen to this news online.

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------------------------------
Welcome to Handiham World.

[image: Ham radio station]

*Have you ever belonged to a book club or discussion group? Sometimes
public libraries or local bookstores sponsor such activities. The idea is
for everyone in the group to read a book and then come together to discuss
it in a relaxed and cordial atmosphere.  *

I started thinking about this idea of having a discussion group while I was
listening to one of our Handiham nets. As luck would have it, I was also
browsing through the e-mail from my local radio club and one of the
messages in my inbox had a list of potential radio club program topics. The
idea of the book club discussion group and the message about radio club
program topics started to mix and merge in my brain. Perhaps it would be a
good idea to have a discussion topic on a regular basis during one of our
nets, but make it related to a particular article about ham radio, much the
same as a book club would discuss a particular novel. This would be
different than the trivia net in that a roundtable discussion would be
essential to make it work. The norm in many amateur radio nets is for the
net control station to run the net in what I will call a "linear" format.
In other words, the net control station opens the net with a preamble and
then follows a pattern of calling for stations to check in with traffic or
announcements or just to get on the station list for that day. Once checked
into the net, a station operator need not feel obligated to check in a
second or third time. In fact, if the net is run in this kind of linear
format, the expectation is that permission will be requested from the net
control station to "re-check" because it is assumed that once a station has
checked in the net will move on to each new check-in in succession.

Of course this kind of linear format will not work in a discussion net. By
its very nature, a discussion requires back-and-forth dialogue as ideas and
concepts are presented and then commented on by the group. If you were
sitting in a room at the library or bookstore with other book club members
who have read the book of the month that has been assigned for discussion,
how would you prefer that the chairs be arranged? My preference would be to
put them in a circle rather than in a long line along one wall of the room.
Having chairs in a circle promotes discussion, and what we want in a
discussion group is the interchange of ideas. It is not an accident that
this kind of ham radio net is called a "roundtable". Sitting around the
table encourages discussion.

So a linear format net is different in that very fundamental way from a
roundtable discussion net. If you tune across the amateur radio bands and
really get familiar with what is going on, you will soon learn that groups
of friends meet at various places on the bands around the same time every
day or evening. Most of these groups are really just informal roundtable
sessions and did not have a specific net mission or formal structure. There
are, however, some discussion nets that are more formal in that the
discussion topic may be limited by the group to a particular interest area
such as religion or aviation. What I would propose is something just a
little bit different in that the discussion topic would change depending on
which article is the assigned reading of the week. The net would discuss
that particular article and then participants would be able to weigh in
with their opinions and suggestions as well as comment on the opinions and
suggestions of the other net participants.

One consideration with this kind of a targeted roundtable discussion group
is that it tends to work best when there are not too many people trying to
participate. If the group gets too large, this will hamper discussion
because by the time everybody gets a chance to say their piece the allotted
time for the net may be nearly over. As with any kind of a net, everything
will run more smoothly when all of the participants know and follow the
rules. Some of the basics are:

1. Always yield to the net control station.

2. Stick to the topic.

3. Be sure you have read the article before joining the net as a
participant. If you have not read the article, don't bother checking in but
feel free to listen.

4. Try to be as brief and concise with your thoughts as possible so that
everyone will have a chance to talk.

5. Play nice! Be respectful of everyone's opinions.

6. Take notes during the discussion so that you can comment on what has
been said while you are waiting for your turn.

7. Maintain good engineering standards for your station and computer system
so that your audio is clean and easy to understand.

8. Be on time for the net. Remember, the discussion will begin right away
so the expectation is that only the stations who are on time will
participate in the discussion. Latecomers are welcome to listen to the
discussion.

9. As the discussion comes to a close, be ready with ideas for the next
week's topic. At that point, the net control station can ask for other
ideas and see if there is any consensus about the next article to be
discussed. Sometimes this will not be possible to nail down, given the
limited time available on the air. In that case, an e-mail message with a
topic can be sent to the discussion group participants.

10. If the net decides that the topic will be carried over into the next
week or that some other follow-up needs to be done, put that in your notes
to make sure that you don't forget to do whatever "homework" needs to be
done before the next net session.

You can see that this is a whole different ballgame than the nets that we
are used to. Most typical linear format nets require virtually no
preparation and ask very little of participants. A discussion roundtable
net requires a different level of commitment but at the same time can be a
more rewarding experience because of the depth of your participation.
Roundtable discussion nets are not for everyone, and no one need apologize
if they are just not willing to commit the time and effort that this kind
of net requires. I have often found myself tuning around the bands and
listening to different roundtable conversations without actually
participating. There is nothing wrong with doing a lot of listening – after
all, you can learn a lot by listening. If a topic area seems beyond your
understanding, listening is probably your best choice until you learn
enough to join in. On the other hand, some people are adventuresome and
jump off the highest diving board as soon as they get to the pool. "Learn
by doing", they will say, and they might just be right!

This morning I enjoyed listening on 3.930 MHz.  "The Morning Group" is up
here in Minnesota, but I'm sure you have similar groups located near you.
Round table discussions need not be formalized with a net control station,
nor do they have to have a scheduled topic. You may find this kind of
informal net to be an interesting way to stay in touch with a small group
of friends who share some of your interests. On the other hand, a directed
net with a net control station can give a formal roundtable with a
designated topic for the day just enough direction to make for a lively and
fun conversation.

For Handiham World, I'm...
Patrick Tice,  wa0tda@xxxxxxxx
Handiham Manager
------------------------------
This a reminder about the new handiham.org.

We are now running on a new server, where we expect excellent service and
reliability. There are likely going to be a few glitches, so bear with us
while we get everything up and running. The old website is now available
with somewhat less maintenance at www.handiham.net. Please report problems
to wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx   If your log in credentials don't work on the new
website, you need to create an account. Please use your callsign as
username (or whatever username you had for the old website if you are not
yet licensed.) Here is the Create Account Link:
http://www.handiham.org/user/register
------------------------------
Letters

[image: Cartoon rabbit postal carrier with letters]
Phil, K9HI, likes a link to an iPhone brailling application:

Something of interest perhaps for the newsletter.  Mind the word-wrap in
this long URL or it won't work:

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/02/20/0136243/georgia-tech-iphone-app-could-help-blind-users-text
Mark, WB3CAI, writes about an Internet radio show:

I listened to the stream / podcast of  www.qsoradioshow.com and Handihams
was mentioned in passing to one of the callers.  The podcast lasts 4 hours.
Ted, the host, mentioned the good reception in shortwave receivers from
Radio Shack costing only $50 to $100.  He also reported that the website
has 150,000 downloads per month. This is proof there is interest in ham
radio among the people using the Internet.
Paul, W8IRT, has a suggestion for a certificate:

For years, in the Friday morning 7112 HH CW group, I have given numbers to
participants. To increase cohesion and Courage HH awareness, it might be
nice to issue  a small , say half letter size certificate, with date, call
& HH number + a HH blurb. Those HH numbers could then be exchanged like
they do SK, 10-10 , SKCC etc.  Do you have a computer-savvy volunteer who
could design such a thing? The graphics & all that? I can run them off on
my printer.  What say you?


73, W8IRT

*What do you think of Paul’s idea?  It would be fun to collect numbers! And
is there a talented person out there who can design a certificate?*
------------------------------
APRS guide available - Learn the basics and have fun!

Sure, you've heard of APRS, but perhaps you have only the vaguest idea what
it is all about. Why not read an excellent beginner's guide on the subject,
and do it for free?  It's the APRS Beginner Guide 2011 from Steve, K9DCI.
Some of you may remember Steve from his audio tutorials on the Kenwood
TH-F6A handheld radio.  Here's a sample as Steve tells us about the menus
on the 
TH-F6A.<http://handiham.org/manuals/Kenwood/THF6A/thf6a_k9dci_menu_description.mp3>

Last year Steve wrote a tutorial on APRS, or "Automatic Packet Reporting
System".  It is an easily-digested 16 page document in PDF format that
contains embedded text and is arranged to be highly readable by everyone.
Screenreader users should have no problem because the flow of the text is
exactly what you would expect of a typical single-column document produced
in a text editor. There are no diagrams.  It is free for amateur radio use.

* Check it out now:
** K9DCI APRS Beginner Guide
2011*<http://k9dci.home.comcast.net/~k9dci/APRS%20Beginner%20Guide%20-%20K9DCI%20Ver%205-1.pdf>
------------------------------
Troubleshooting 101

[image: Cartoon guy with toolkit]
An ounce of prevention is better than 12 ounces spilled.

Sometimes the best troubleshooting has more to do with preventing problems
than in trying to find and repair them. When liquids spill onto electronic
equipment the results can be disastrous. Over the years while working in
the Handiham program, I have certainly heard some interesting stories about
equipment getting soaked. One guy spilled coffee with cream and sugar into
a radio that was turned on. Another fellow left his handheld radio in a
pocket and ran it through the washing machine. (No names here; you know who
you are.) Neither radio worked after those incidents. Had the first radio,
the HF transceiver with the coffee spill, been turned off when the spill
happened there is at least a possibility that the unit could be restored.
Unfortunately, if a circuit is energized when the spill occurs it is likely
that there will be serious damage to multiple components and the cost of
the repairs may exceed the value of the radio.

If you are like me, you probably like to have a cup of coffee or a can of
soda nearby when you are operating the radio. This is actually a fairly
common practice, especially if you are going to be operating for a
significant period of time, as in a contest. Why not take a few minutes to
figure out a way to prevent that cup of coffee or can of soda from ending
up in a radio or accessory? Let's get started. First, assess your desktop
operating space. If your coffee cup is going to be on the desktop, you need
to check the space below the desk. Is that where you located your rig's
power supply? What would happen if the coffee spilled on the desktop and
flowed over the edge? Is the power supply far enough away from the
potential spill to be safe? On the desktop itself, a spill will spread out
for a couple of feet or more. What is in the potential spill zone? Computer
keyboards are especially vulnerable to spills because they are wide and low
and the coffee cup or can of soda is often located nearby. Most radios have
some kind of feet or a "bale" that folds out to set the radio at an angle.
This is usually enough to prevent a desktop spill from getting into the
circuitry, but any wires or connectors that are on the desktop could get
wet. Electronic equipment should never be placed directly on the floor in
an area that could get wet, such as a basement. If you must place equipment
on the floor at least use some boards or other support to get the equipment
a few inches off the ground. This will be enough to prevent damage from a
minor spill.

Back on the desktop, consider having a special place just for your coffee
cup that is far out of the way of the equipment. Make sure that it is
located in a spot where it won't be toppled when you go to reach for
something else on the desk. I like the idea of having it next to something
like a wall, which is where I keep the coffee cup in my ham shack. I have
trained myself to always expect the coffee cup to be right there in that
same spot, so I am less likely to forget where it is and cause a spill. I
know this sounds like common sense, but I have to say it anyway: never
place a drink or food on top of your equipment. That's actually how the HF
radio in the example above met its doom. If you are so short of space in
your ham shack that you have no place to put a coffee cup other than on top
of the radio, you either need a new ham shack or you need to put up a
separate shelf just for your coffee cup. A spill on a separate shelf
located to the side of the main operating desk is unlikely to cause any
damage to equipment.

If you are blind, you have probably already figured out how to best
organize your desktop space to prevent spills. At radio camp, spills are
relatively common because people put drinks on the operating desk that is
used by many different people. Obviously when others use the operating
desk, they do not expect your can of pop to be sitting right next to the
computer keyboard or the Morse code key. A special measure of care always
needs to be taken in a shared operating environment like a club station.
The best rule for a club station is "no drinks or food of any kind on the
operating desk – period".

If a spill does happen, you should take measures to get the power turned
off as soon as possible but in a safe manner. Always keep in mind that any
liquid that is likely to be spilled can potentially conduct electricity and
cause electric shock. If you can safely disconnect the power at the wall
outlet, that may be your best option. Never take a chance and assume that a
circuit is safe until the power has been disconnected. Some equipment can
fail dramatically if soaked while it is operating. You can put tube-type
linear amplifiers in this category because they have very high voltage on
the plate circuitry and the glass envelopes of the tubes can shatter. There
can be a serious shock hazard.

*Let's review the things that we can do to help prevent spills: *

   - Make sure that all equipment is raised above the surface of the floor
   and the surface of the desk by at least a small amount.
   - Have a special place on the desk or a separate shelf for your coffee
   cup or drink where, if a spill occurs, no equipment will be impacted.
   - Never place drinks or food on top of equipment.
   - Never place a coffee cup or drink on a part of the desk where you will
   be reaching past it or over it to get something else.
   - Use a spill-proof container.
   - In a shared operating environment such as a club station, observe the
   rule of no food or drink at the operating position.
   - If a spill occurs, cut the power safely and disconnect the equipment
   for assessment and cleaning.

Okay, none of this is rocket science, but the temptation to put that coffee
cup on top of the rig "just this once" might prove to be an expensive
mistake. Sometimes the best troubleshooting is taking a few minutes to plan
and prevent problems in the ham shack in the first place.

Email me at  wa0tda@xxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.
Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager
------------------------------
A dip in the pool

It's time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the pool - the question
pool, that is!
Today we are taking a question from the General Class pool.

G9A13 asks: *What would be the SWR if you feed an antenna that has a
300-ohm feed-point impedance with 50-ohm coaxial cable? *

Possible answers are:

A. 1.5:1

B. 3:1

C. 6:1

D. You cannot determine SWR from impedance values

Did you pick answer C, 6:1?  That would be the correct one, because, as I
teach in the General audio lectures, if you get one of these questions it
is really just a matter of simple arithmetic to get the answer.  Just take
the smaller impedance number and divide it into the larger one. 300 divided
by 50 equals 6.  The reason that this is good to know is that you will
likely not be able to operate your radio's transmitter with an SWR of 6:1.
You must then install a balun to match the 300 Ohm balanced line to the 50
Ohm unbalanced coaxial cable.
------------------------------
Aftershokz Review

*Thanks to Ken, KB3LLA, for passing this review on to us after it
originally appeared on the Promotion Technology list at nfbnet. *

Last month, I posted about the Aftershokz bone conduction headphones. Well,
I got mine, and I love them! Here is the review of the headphones by me and
Mike Calvo:
http://serotalk.com/2012/02/21/a-review-of-the-aftershockz-bone-conduction-headphones/

Again, you will need an adapter to use these with the Kapten Plus. I have
not tried this yet, but I see no reason it would be a problem.   --  Buddy
Brannan, KB5ELV - Erie, PA
------------------------------
Remote Base Health Report for 22 February 2012

[image: W4MQ software screenshot]

* Operating tip:  If you see a "checking status" message on the W4MQ log in
screen, it could indicate that the station is not online, but it could also
mean that you are not connected to the Internet. Check your Internet
connection first, but if it turns out that the station is actually off
line, please report it to **wa0tda@xxxxxxxx* <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>*. *

*W0ZSW is on line.
W0EQO is on line. *

Please check the latest operating tips on the remote base pages:
 http://handiham.org/local/blind/w4mq_remote_base_software.htm
Request for feedback!

Have you installed the remote base software?  How were the instruction
pages on our website?  We know that these pages need updating and we are
looking for feedback from users.  The idea is to make them less confusing -
and they are pretty confusing right now because we have added items over
the years without looking at the big picture.  If you have suggestions, we
would very much appreciate hearing from you. Please contact wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx


The link to the daily status update pages:
www.handiham.org/remote

Our thanks to volunteer engineer Lyle Koehler, K0LR, for his help
maintaining the station databases and updates.
------------------------------
This week @ HQ

[image: guy on tower]
Camp application packages were mailed yesterday, Tuesday February 21st.

Dates for Radio Camp 2012 are Saturday, June 2 - Friday, June 8, 2012. This
will be earlier than usual so that we can test for Extra under the existing
question pool, which expires at the end of the last day of June.
If you are a Handiham member and your member log in does not work on the
new Handiham.org, please use the Create Account link and set up your new
account.

Your log in credentials should still work on the old site, which is now at
www.handiham.net.

The Handiham website log in credentials are for the use of Handiham
members. If you are not a member, you may still enjoy browsing the many
articles and the weekly audio podcast without logging in. If you are a
Handiham member (you have joined us by contacting Handiham headquarters),
you may use the Create New Account link to get started. Please use the
email address you already have on file with us, and your callsign as the
user name. The reason for this is that we need to check to see that you are
who you say you are. We get many fraudulent credential requests from
spammers. Odd user names instead of callsigns get deleted. If you are a
Handiham member without a callsign (you are studying for Technician),
please be sure you let our office know what username and password you would
like so that we can set it up.
The link to the Create Account is here:
http://www.handiham.org/user/register
------------------------------
Tonight is EchoLink net night.

[image: Echolink screenshot]

The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is at 19:30 United States Central time,
which translates to 01:30 GMT Thursday morning.
EchoLink nodes:

HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)
KA0PQW-R, node 267582
KA0PQW-L, node 538131
N0BVE-R, node 89680
N9GMR-R 640860
W0EQO-R, node 309436
Other ways to connect:

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)
WIRES system number 1427

More information about repeaters and nodes may be found at
http://www.handiham.info.
------------------------------
Stay in touch!

Be sure to send Nancy your changes of address, phone number changes, or
email address changes so that we can continue to stay in touch with you.
You may either email Nancy at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or call her at
763-520-0512.  If you need to use the toll-free number, call
1-866-426-3442. Mornings Monday through Thursday are the best time to
contact us.
------------------------------
Supporting Handihams - 2012.

Now you can support the Handiham program by donating on line using Courage
Center's secure website. It is easy, but one thing to remember is that you
need to use the pull-down menu to designate your gift to the Handiham
program.

Step one: Follow this link to the secure Courage Center Website:
 https://couragecenter.us/SSLPage.aspx?pid=294&srcid=344

Step two: Fill out the form, being careful to use the pull-down Designation
menu to select "Handi-Hams".

Step three: Submit the form to complete your donation. If the gift is a
tribute to someone, don't forget to fill out the tribute information. This
would be a gift in memory of a silent key, for example.

We really appreciate your help. As you know, we have cut expenses this year
due to the difficult economic conditions. We are working hard to make sure
that we are delivering the most services to our members for the money - and
we plan to continue doing just that in 2012.

Thank you from the Members, Volunteers, and Staff of the Handiham System.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager
patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Handiham Membership DuesBenefits of membership:

www.handiham.org/membership
Handiham renewals are on a monthly schedule - Please renew or join, as we
need you to keep our program strong! You will have several choices when you
renew:

   - Join at the usual $12 annual dues level for one year. Your renewal
   date is the anniversary of your last renewal, so your membership extends
   for one year.
   - Join for three years at $36.
   - Lifetime membership is $120.
   - If you can't afford the dues, request a 90 day non-renewable sponsored
   membership.
   - Donate an extra amount of your choice to help support our activities.
   - Discontinue your membership.

Please return your renewal form as soon as possible. Your support is
critical! Please help.

The Courage Handiham System depends on the support of people like you, who
want to share the fun and friendship of ham radio with others. Please help
us provide services to people with disabilities. We would really appreciate
it if you would remember us in your estate plans. If you need a planning
kit, please call. If you are wondering whether a gift of stock can be given
to Handihams, the answer is yes! Please call Walt Seibert at 763-520-0532
or email him at walt.seibert@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Ask for a free DVD about the Handiham System.

It's perfect for your club program, too! The video tells your club about
how we got started, the Radio Camps, and working with hams who have
disabilities.  We are in the process of revising the video, so it is
presently out of stock.  You can get on the list to get one when they are
back in stock.

Call 1-866-426-3442 toll-free. -- Help us get new hams on the air.
Get the Handiham E-Letter by email every Wednesday, and stay up-to-date
with ham radio news.

You may listen in audio to the E-Letter at  www.handiham.org.
Email us to subscribe:
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at
www.handiham.org:

   - Beginner
   - General
   - Extra
   - Operating Skills

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System!
Pat, WA0TDA
Manager, Courage Handiham System
Reach me by email at:
patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Radio Camp email:
radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


------------------------------


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 wa0tda@xxxxxxxx  for
changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and
your new address.

Courage Center Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN 55422
763-520-0512
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


[image: ARRL Diamond Logo]

* ARRL is the premier organization supporting amateur radio worldwide.
Please contact Handihams for help joining the ARRL. We will be happy to
help you fill out the paperwork!*

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 22 February 2012 - Patrick Tice