[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 04 January 2012

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2012 14:52:20 -0600

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center
Handiham System. Our contact information is at the end, or simply email
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Welcome to Handiham World!

2012 would be a good year to revisit our Handiham nets.  Years ago, before
the Internet made linking VHF and UHF repeaters so commonplace, there were
Handiham nets on 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters... If I'm remembering
correctly.  The nets slowly dropped out of favor, and the prolonged sunspot
minimum we experienced a few years ago was only part of the problem.  Today
we have the slow speed 40 meter CW net on Fridays, but I have had some
inquiries about SSB nets, and I have to say that our Handiham phone nets
are pretty much dead.

*10 Things That  Kill HF Nets*

[image: Smiling cartoon guy wearing headphones]

To consider what happened and whether or not it makes sense to go back to
HF phone nets, we need to look at other things that are happening within
Amateur Radio and society at large. Here is my list of HF net-killers:


   *Lack of organization*.  Any activity that involves a group of
   participants meeting at specific times for some stated purpose requires
   some organization.  To understand this concept, let's consider a simple job
   like mowing your lawn. You would be correct to assume that you can do this
   job yourself, so no formal organization is required. On the other hand,
   suppose you must mow a golf course.  Now you need a formal organization,
   because the job is too large and complicated for one person. The head
   groundskeeper will be in charge, doling out job assignments to a crew.  A
   net can also need formal organization, depending on its size and purpose.
   When you don't have job assignments or other necessary organization, it can
   make a mess of the net.

   *Failure to commit.*  This is a problem in every club, and can sure be a
   problem when it comes to net participation. You need a critical mass of
   committed participants to make a net happen.  Not enough commitment equals
   dead net.

   *Distractions & competition from other activities.*  This is a problem
   for every club, bowling group, TV network, newspaper, and amateur radio
   net.  There is competition on every front from something else, no matter
   what you are trying to organize, and that in turn makes it hard to get
   participants to commit to the net.

   *Crowded bands. * Now that the solar cycle is yielding more favorable HF
   propagation conditions, the most popular HF bands are more crowded than
   ever.  It can be difficult to find a clear frequency on which to gather for
   your net.

   *Poor HF propagation.*  Ha, ha, this is also an excuse for a failing
   net, because just as good propagation can result in crowded bands, bad
   propagation can result in empty bands. You have to hear them if you want to
   work them, goes the old saying.

   *QRM.*  This annoyance has been around as long as anyone can remember,
   but it can kill a net if the net participants don't know how to manage it.
   Who wants to listen to all that noise and interference?

   *Poor net control technique.*  Oh, man - don't get me started.  A net
   control station that cannot control the net is a real turn-off for many
   would be participants.

   *Bad marketing.*  If no one knows about the net, it is unlikely to grow
   and prosper. You can't leave it to chance that people will simply run
   across the net by tuning around the bands, although that sometimes does

   *Lack of flexibility.*  Everyone knows that people have lots going on in
   their lives and that they cannot make every net session. HF conditions
   change all the time. Sometimes there may be another QSO on the net
   frequency. If the net does not have flexibility built into it, these
   problems can turn into a failed net.

   *Not having a plan.*  What if the frequency is already in use?  What if
   the scheduled Net Control Station does not show up? What if the band is
   dead?  If there is no plan to deal with such things, the net can fold like
   a tent in the wind!

Fortunately, we have an excellent Echolink net that meets daily. We can
take a look at what planning and organization along with good marketing
have accomplished to keep that net healthy, and perhaps apply some of those
same principles to building an HF net.   We need to develop a plan.
Handiham Radio Club President Ken, KB3LLA, has sent out a query to gauge
interest via the Handiham Radio Club email reflector. If there is enough
interest, we can decide what kind of a net it will be and what bands and
times should be considered. Our Echolink net does not have to deal with the
challenges of poor band conditions, solar cycles, and QRM (usually). Those
things can make HF unpredictable, so we need to have a plan to deal with
the "what if's".  Net Control of an HF net can be similar to running an
Echolink net, but each has its own special challenges and requires learning
how to handle them.  For example, handling a station checking in without
proper identification might be similar no matter what the net.  On the
other hand, while an Echolink NCS needs to know about the quirky delays
built into VoIP communications, an HF NCS would consider it essential to
understand how changing HF conditions shape the band as daylight turns to
night.  Since we have all been away from SSB Handiham net operation for
years, we probably need to include some basic training for everyone, and
that includes participants as well as net controls.

And what if we end up on 17 meters?  The unspoken word is that there are no
formal nets on that band, but we had quite a successful run of "non-net
get-togethers" on 17 organized by Alan, K2WS. When the sunspot numbers
tanked, the band was dead most of the time and the "get-together" went off
the air.  17 is hopping today, so another "non-net get-together" is worth
considering. It needs no formal NCS, only committed participants.  Talk
about easy!

The choice of bands requires some thought.  HF being what it is, we will
not be able to include people around the world as we do now with Echolink
and IRLP. And there are trade-offs.  Let's consider a 75 meter net as an
example.  There are plenty of open frequencies on 75 meters during the day,
but band conditions are such that only a few hundred miles can be covered,
and many potential participants have to be at work during the day and
cannot check in except on a rare day off.  If the net is moved to the
evening hours so that people who work can check in, by then the band has
lengthened out and many hundreds of miles can be covered.  That makes the
band much more crowded. QRM is more likely to be a problem. Furthermore,
because propagation on 75 m is so tied to the amount of daylight, seasonal
changes in propagation are profound. In the summer, there is high
absorption from so much sunlight and the band can be quite dead for many
hours during the long days.

When you consider the nature of the HF bands, "reliability" is not the
first word that comes to mind.  Conditions change all the time, sometimes
very quickly. We may need to consider different frequency bands and
different times to provide alternatives and to bring the HF net experience
to more people.  If you are not on the Handiham Radio Club mailing list and
want to weigh in, just send me an email. In the meantime, you can enjoy the
Friday CW Net: 7.112 MHz CW, 09:00 - 12:00 ET.  And don't forget the daily
Echolink net!

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

[image: dog barking at cartoon mail carrier]

Chris, KG0BP, writes with a net suggestion:

I'm all for doing something similar to the 40 meter chats we used to do on
Friday nights.  My suggestion would be a 40 meter "winter" schedule, and a
20 or 17 meter "summer" schedule. I think it would be nice  to do something
in the evenings so that those of us who work during the day can participate.

Tom, KB8TYJ, writes about his 10 meter interference. In case you are not
familiar with the noise, you can listen here:

I just wanted to let everyone know that my 10-meter interference problem
appears to be gone! I checked both yesterday and today, and no noise! I'm
now thinking it was caused by some sort of a Christmas display or something
that my neighbors have decided to put to rest for another year. I sure hope
so! I'll let everyone know if it comes back, but I have my fingers crossed
here. If 10 meters opens up again, you can be sure I'll be making up for
lost time.  At least that band should now be usable for the North American
QSO Party contests this January.

*HANDIHAM AND SOUTHCARS: A New Friendship for the New Year*

[image: cartoon family members holding hands]

Handihams = A great group of people looking to expand the hobby of Amateur
Radio with an emphasis on helping others with limiting disabilities.

SouthCARS = A great group of people looking to expand the hobby of Amateur
Radio with an emphasis on engaging “youth of all ages” in the fun available
in the hobby.

Of course, this isn't all that these two groups do. There's just too much
to list here. An undeniable fact is that Handihams + SouthCARS = FUN!! With
this fun comes the opportunity for newfound friendships. These friendships
can help those interested in the hobby become involved and licensed, and
those already licensed can upgrade to a higher class and more privileges.
Back in early December, Handihams and SouthCARS linked their servers
together for the first time on Echolink to have a net to show appreciation
to the Handihams for all they do. Since then, the two have connected
together every Saturday after the Handiham Mid-Day net for SouthCARS
Pacific Coast Connection, usually around 12pm Central time (1800Z). On
Sundays, Handihams and SouthCARS join servers again at 9am Central time
(1500Z) for SouthCARS Sunday Ragchew, a moderated ragchew with a different
topic each week. They stay connected through the Handiham Trivia Net that
starts at 11am Central time (1700Z). These two groups have previously
joined forces for a Christmas special and, more recently, a New Year
special. SouthCARS, the South Coast Amateur Radio Service, has outreach
programs, the next being on the International Morse Code starting January
29, 2012. These classes are open to all, whether you know the code already
and need a refresher or need to learn code from the beginning. To sign up
for this class, simply send an email to voip@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with
your code level and your contact information. Much more information can be
found on the South CARS website at:

Hope to hear from you soon!

Scott N5HUM
Troubleshooting 101: High SWR on 20 meters with Butternut Vertical

[image: Pat and giant alligator]

The Butternut HF9V and a variety of other models have been on the market
for decades and are still a popular choice for an affordable multiband
vertical antenna. I am going to set forth a scenario about an SWR problem
and let you try to figure out how to solve it.

Tom and Bill head for the local hamfest and as, luck would have it, Bill
finds a used vertical antenna at one of the flea market tables.  It's a
Butternut vertical, the HF9V, which is still a current model, but this one
has been installed outdoors for a few years and shows some signs of
weathering. Since the antenna is 26 feet long, it has been taken down into
four sections, but the coils and capacitors are all in place.

"I'm selling this antenna for a friend who is moving", explains the guy at
the flea market table.  "He had it ground-mounted in the middle of his back
yard, and the radials and coaxial feed were underground. He says he can't
find the instruction manual, but I know that if you just look at where the
aluminum tubing is still shiny, you can easily reassemble the antenna
exactly as he had it. Tighten the clamps and you are ready to put it up and
get on the air."

Bill has always wanted a vertical antenna and knows exactly where he can
put in in the back yard, so he goes ahead and buys it.  Tom is impressed
with the purchase and even agrees to help Bill with the installation.
Everything goes according to plan, and the antenna goes together
perfectly.  It turns out that the seller was right and it was easy to find
the exact spots to properly telescope the sections together.  The RG-213
coaxial cable was laid out on the ground along with four wire radials.  The
coax and radials would be buried later, and more radials could be added,
but for now just connecting the coax braid and radials to the grounded side
of the feedpoint and the center conductor of the coax to the vertical
element would do for initial testing.

Back in the ham shack, Bill connected the transceiver and Tom reminded him,
"Let's listen first."

That was good advice, and it was clear that the antenna was working.
Signals were really rolling in on 20 meters, and there were strong stations
on 15 and 10 as well.  Daytime conditions were not the best but several
stations were heard on 75 and 40 meters.

"Let's check the SWR", said Bill.

Tom keyed the rig and kept an eye on the transceiver's internal power meter
while Bill adjusted the external SWR meter to check the relative readings.
75, 40, 30 meters - so far, so good.  The bandwidth was sort of narrow on
75, but that was to be expected. The problem was with 20 meters.  An SWR of
over 2 to 1 was the best they could do. Worse yet, the antenna seemed to be
resonant in the 20 meter band because the SWR was a bit higher at the band
edges.  It was just not low enough in the center of the band.  Tom recalled
from his days of building homebrew dipoles that when the lowest SWR was
within the band and the SWR was higher at the band edges, you could not
just make the antenna longer or shorter to tune for a lower SWR. "I don't
think we can change the tuning by telescoping the tubing and making minor
changes", he mused.  "Let me think about this for a day or two and maybe do
a little research."

The next Saturday Tom showed up at Bill's QTH with the answer and something
in the trunk of his car that solved the problem.


   What caused the problem with the tuning on 20 meters?

   What did Tom have in the trunk of his car that fixed the problem?

Email me at wa0tda@xxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

*A dip in the pool*

[image: Guy studying license manual.]

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 Extra Class pool, so prepare for a
dive into the deep end of the pool.

E9F05 asks: *What is the physical length of a coaxial transmission line
that is electrically one-quarter wavelength long at 14.1 MHz?* (Assume a
velocity factor of 0.66.)

Possible answers are:

A. 20 meters
B. 2.3 meters
C. 3.5 meters
D. 0.2 meters

If you are like most operators, you don't think that much about velocity
factor when you are considering coaxial feedline.  You are more likely to
consider whether the cable is the correct impedance, how much loss it will
have for a given frequency in a 100 foot run, and (naturally) the price.
Velocity Factor is an odd rating - the 0.66 rating assumed here means that
the electrical signal will travel at 66% the speed of light in that
particular kind of cable. In the wacky world of physics, it means that a
"quarter wave" length of coax is not determined by simply calculating the
wavelength at a particular frequency and dividing by four to get a quarter
of that amount.  Ha, ha - Physicists love crazy concepts like "accuracy",
so to figure this particular example, they would first convert frequency to
wavelength, working in the highly-respected scientific units of "meters":

Length in meters = 300 divided by f (Mhz)

So 300 divided by 14.1 = 21.277 meters.  Now, one might think, "That is a
big number, but I am cleverly going to divide it by 4 and that will thus be
a quarter of a wavelength."

21.277 divided by 4 = 5.32 meters.  Just as you are thinking how smart you
are, you notice that none of the answers given as choices is anywhere close
to 5.32 meters. So you say, "To heck with it", and go on to the next

No, really what you do is multiply the 5.32 meters by the velocity factor
of 0.66:  5.32 meters x 0.66 = 3.51 meters.  Hey, that is answer "C".
Hurrah, you have solved the problem using real math and learned that
velocity factor is actually good for something.  You are almost a
physicist, darn near.

[image: Screen shot of calculator showing 3.5106...]

*CERT Basic Training Participant Manual in Braille and Screen Reader

*The National CERT Program continues to promote CERT training for all
audiences. In addition to the recent release of the low vision and Spanish
versions of the CERT Basic Training Participant Manual, we are pleased to
announce the release of the Participant Manual in Braille and PDF screen
reader versions. Each version includes the same content as the standard
version Participant Manual—the nine units of the course and 13 hazard

Please access the screen reader version of the Participant Manual on the
national CERT website:

Local CERT program coordinators/managers can request copies of the Braille
version of the Participant Manual. Please call the FEMA Distribution Center
at 1-800-480-2520 or email FEMA-Publications-Warehouse@xxxxxxxx Use
Publication Number P-856 and Catalog Number 11189-2 to order the
Participant Manual (four volumes in Braille). Please be sure to allow 6 – 8
weeks for delivery.

For additional tools for communicating with all audiences, including people
with disabilities, please visit the FEMA Office of Disability Integration
and Coordination Preparedness Resources web page:


National CERT Program
Remote Base Health Report for 04 January 2012

[image: Kenwood TS-480 transceiver, used in both remote base stations.
(Universal Radio image)]


   *W0ZSW is on line. *

   *W0EQO is on line. *

   *Please check the latest operating tips on the remote base pages:

Our thanks to volunteer engineer Lyle Koehler, K0LR, for his help
maintaining the station databases and updates.

You can view the status page at:

ARRL Releases DIY Magic Video

Kudos to ARRL on this excellent promotional video. It is designed to
showcase the do-it-yourself and building aspects of Amateur Radio. ARRL has
an explanation here:

This week @ HQ

[image: Handiham headquarters at Camp Courage, Maple Lake Minnesota]

   - Pat, WA0TDA, is at Camp Courage on Thursday and away from the
   telephone or email. Nancy is in the office as usual.
   - 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.


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

   EchoLink nodes:
   - KA0PQW-R, node 267582
      - N0BVE-R, node 89680
      - *HANDIHAM* conference server Node *494492* (Our preferred
      high-capacity node.)

      Other ways to connect:
      - IRLP node *9008* (Vancouver BC reflector)
      - WIRES system number *1427*
      - 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 toll-free at 1-866-426-3442. Mornings are the best time to
   contact us.

Supporting Handihams - 2012. [image: Dr. Dave climbs the tower]Help us win
the Dr. Dave Challenge, which continues into this new year.
Thanks to everyone who has helped us with donations to the Dr. Dave
Challenge so far.

Money is tight these days and we desperately need your support.  Now,
thanks to a generous challenge grant by Dr. Dave Justis, KN0S, we have a
chance to help fill the budget gap.  Dr. Dave will donate $5,000 to the
Handiham System if we can raise a matching amount.  That means we need to
really put the fund-raising into high gear!  If you can help, designate a
donation to Handihams, stating that it is for the "Dr. Dave Challenge".  We
will keep you posted in our weekly e-letter as to the progress of the fund.

Nancy can take credit card donations via the toll-free number,
1-866-426-3442, or accept checks sent to our Courage Center Handiham

Courage Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422

Be sure to put a note saying "Dr. Dave Challenge" somewhere in the envelope
or on the note line of the check.  If you donate online as detailed toward
the end of your weekly e-letter, be sure to designate to Handihams and then
send me an email letting me know you donated to the Dr. Dave fund:

Thank you so much for your support!

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:

   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 2011.

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

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager

Handiham Membership Dues

Reminder: 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

   Join for three years at $36.

   Lifetime membership is $120.

   If you can't afford the dues, request a 90 day non-renewable sponsored

   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.
Call 1-866-426-3442 toll-free.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:

Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at





   Operating Skills

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System!


Manager, Courage Handiham System

Reach me by email at:

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

Radio Camp email:


[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!

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

*hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  *

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 04 January 2012 - Patrick Tice