[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 06 February 2013

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2013 15:07:15 -0600

*Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday,
06 February 2013*

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center
Handiham System <http://handiham.org/>. 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.

MP3 audio stream:

Download the 40 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player:

Get this podcast in iTunes:

RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:
*Welcome to Handiham World.*Tidiness is a ham radio virtue.  Who knew?

[image: A tie wrap keeps a coil of wire safely out of the way behind a
radio during Field Day.]

We start out today by looking behind a radio at a recent Field Day event.
Usually we would be ogling the front of the radio so that we could see what
model it was and what accessories might be in use. But we are not
interested in the front panel today.  Instead, we are emphasizing the
virtue of good housekeeping in the ham shack - or at the Field Day site.
This particular setup shows a neatly coiled feedline that is secured with a
hook and loop wire tie, keeping it off the floor and out of the way.

Now, here is a question for you to ponder before we continue:  What topic
area is so important that it is found in EVERY Amateur Radio Question
Pool?  For extra credit, what is the element number?

But back to tidiness - that concept that seems so elusive to many of us.
The thing about keeping things tidy - that is to say, in order so as to
facilitate the efficient use of a space - is that it is something that
needs to be done every day, every hour, every minute.  This is a big
problem for lots of people because they have not developed the discipline
to keep their lives - and their ham shacks - orderly.  It is easier to put
a pair of wire cutters on the operating desk after trimming a ground lead
than to return the tool to its designated place in the workshop.

"But wait", you protest, "I want to test the radio right after I hook up
that ground lead, and I will put the wire cutter away later."

Ha, ha - We have all heard THAT before!  That wire cutter will be there
under a pile of paper on the desktop a month and a half from now.  And when
you need it you will wonder where it is.

I will never forget one workshop that I visited.  The guy had a running
tube-type rig under a pile of paper equipment manuals.  What could possibly
go wrong?  Another time I visited an amateur operator whose bachelor pad
was out in the country.  His weed-filled yard was a veritable obstacle
course of wire, tools, and assorted antenna parts. The ham shack was even
worse - poorly-lighted and replete with junk arranged (if that is the word)
in no particular order. I am pretty sure he had miles of wire but didn't
own a single wire-tie. Lest you think I am preaching from a high horse and
because I fancy myself a paragon of virtue, I might as well admit that my
own installations have not always been the best examples of tidiness over
the years. This comes from being lazy at times and not taking the time to
put things away or to properly complete one task before taking on the next

Are you still thinking about that topic area that is so important that it
is found in EVERY Amateur Radio Question Pool?

Well, it's SAFETY!   Safety is Element 0 (the final element) in all of the
pools.  RF safety, wiring, tower safety, dangerous chemicals and toxic
gases, shock hazards, power line dangers - all of these are covered in the
pools, but there is one that is missing: tidiness.

Over the years I have learned the virtue of keeping a modicum of
orderliness in the ham shack and around my antenna installations. Keeping
clutter away from electronic equipment allows for better air flow and
reduces fire hazards. Using wire guides and wire ties to keep wiring off
the floor and out of the way will help you to avoid tripping hazards.
Labeling wires that are bundled will help you identify the correct ones
later on so that you reconnect gear correctly and avoid shorting something
out or damaging it with RF.  Properly burying coaxial feedlines and ground
radials will eliminate a tripping hazard in the yard. Running antenna wires
up and out of the way will keep others from running into them.  A fence
around the base of an antenna or tower can help keep pets and children away
from the wiring.  A pegboard for tools will make it easier to get those
wire cutters back where they belong. Keeping the ham shack floor clear of
clutter will make it easier for you and others to use the space without
tripping.  Get in the habit of always removing anything that doesn't
permanently belong in the room as soon as you are finished using it. If you
drink coffee or anything else in the ham shack, have a place for your
beverage container that is off to the side and that is not directly above
any electronic gear.  Never leave half-finished food or drink on the ham
shack desk, because it invites spills.

If you or another family member are blind, you need to pay close attention
to keeping things in their place. If there are children in the house,
especially small children, you need to keep things in order but part of
your plan should be storage space - lockable if necessary - to keep
dangerous chemicals, tools, or equipment away from curious little hands! If
you are in the habit of putting the soldering gun away after you use it,
the kids will not be able to pick it up and burn themselves. And these good
habits are not just for you; they are for all of the family members to
learn and follow. The family dog or cat might need your special attention.
Jasper chewed through a headset wire in my ham shack and another time
enjoyed a nice, crunchy set of iPod ear buds.  This sort of thing can be
addressed by keeping these items out of the reach of pets - something
everyone in the family must learn. Pets can suffer serious injuries from
sharp or toxic electronic parts or from electric shock.  Properly dressing
cables away from curious snouts and putting equipment away when you are
finished using it can help, but a door on the ham shack may also be

If you work on equipment, take the time to put the covers back on.  Not
only is this safer for everyone in the family, but the cover can also act
as an RF shield. Even if you are the only one who ever uses the ham shack,
finishing repair jobs by putting the covers and shields back in place makes
sense.  You are never going to round up all the hardware if you don't do it
now, and open circuitry can let in insects, rodents, and dust. For
equipment with high voltage circuitry there is also a serious shock
hazard.  While you may think no one would be foolish enough to leave high
voltage transmitter tubes exposed during operation, I have actually seen a
supposedly experienced operator doing this. It is a serious breach of
safety protocol - and could result in injury or death. Nonetheless, there
sat the transmitter cover with the hardware scattered around the operating
desk. A bit of attention to tidiness here could save a life!

You cannot take if for granted that no one will wander through your yard.
I looked out one day to see a kid ride a bicycle through our back yard,
right across the lawn.  He rode over the radial field and under a wire
antenna with no problem because I had taken the time to be tidy about the
installation, keeping the wires out of the way. It is all about developing
good habits that will put tidiness - and safety - on autopilot.  Sloppiness
and complacency can be a deadly combination.  As the old saying goes, "A
place for everything and everything in its place." Not only is it good
housekeeping, but it will help to keep you safe in many aspects of amateur

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager
Reminder:  We have new W4MQ Client Software.  Please upgrade as soon as
possible <http://handiham.org/local/blind/w4mq_client_software.htm>.

*Guest Receive Operation via W4MQ software: *

The stations can be operated in a receive only mode by using the W4MQ
software.  The username is "GUEST" with a password of "1234".  Please note
that the W4MQ software must be installed and configured as shown in the
W4MQ Client Software page.

* W4MQ Client 
*This is where you want to begin if you are interested in what the whole
remote base thing is about, or if you are interested in installing the
software to use someone else's existing remote base station via your

* W4MQ Host Software:<http://handiham.org/local/blind/w4mq_host_software.htm>
*If you want to set up your own station as a remote base that can be
accessed from the internet, you will need the Host software.
Remote Base Health Report <http://www.handiham.org/drupal2/remote>
[image: W0ZSW remote base station showing TS480HX, power supplies, tuner,
and computer] <http://www.handiham.org/drupal2/remote>

*Remote Base health report: W0EQO is on line. W0ZSW is on line. *The radio
at W0ZSW is a Kenwood TS-480HX.* *The radio at W0EQO is a Kenwood
TS-480SAT. Speech readout of frequency is available on both radios for our
blind users and is enabled by default.  We have included a "widget" on
solar conditions from G4ILO on the website. We have reports indicating that
the information from this solar condition widget is screenreader-accessible.

*Scheduled outages:*

Please visit the Remote Base Health Report for any notices of scheduled
outages.  These outages are generally very short, but they are necessary
when the host computer configuration file is updated on each station. When
new users are added or some station parameter needs to be changed, the
configuration file must be edited.  The changes that are made do not take
effect without a reboot of the W4MQ host software, so that takes the
stations offline for a short time.  Occasionally there will be a need to
reboot the host computers.  This is necessary to install some operating
system or other software and security updates.  These outages are also
short duration, assuming everything installs correctly.  Our typical
scheduled outages are under five minutes.

*Unscheduled outages:*

Sometimes things just happen, right?  The internet could fail, there could
be a power outage, or in the summertime a thunderstorm might build up
quickly, necessitating a station's shut down and antenna disconnect to
prevent lightning damage. We could also have an equipment failure.  If you
notice that either station is off line for an extended period of time,
please report it to us by email.  We would rather hear about it from
several users than not know a station is down!

*Other issues:*

Once in a while someone will adjust the RF gain control down and not return
it to 100%, thus causing the station to seem "dead".  We ask all users to
please return the RF Gain to 100% if you do make an adjustment.  However,
we have not run into a situation where it is necessary to change the RF
Gain in the first place because you can instead use the attenuator to do
the same thing.  If you change the attenuator setting, please return it to
normal before logging off.  We have noticed that one issue with the RF Gain
setting is that it is very difficult to change using a screenreader.  If
you find the station in a misadjusted RF Gain condition, please email to
let us know.  We will fix it as soon as possible.  Please think of others
and do not change the RF Gain control from its normal 100% setting.

The Split Mode setting is another one that you should leave alone unless
you actually want to run split!  The reason is that the frequency readout
will tell you the receive frequency, then when you transmit you may end up
on another frequency with the split function enabled.  The letter "S"
toggles split mode on and off.  The letter "E" sets the transmit frequency
to be the same as the receive frequency while in split mode.

*Lag in response while using the W4MQ software:*

Users are asked to upgrade their software immediately.  The new software
fixes response time lags, and we are sure you will find it to be much
better than the old version.

[image: cartoon robot with pencil]
Ken, KB3LLA, writes:

[image: Ken takes one for the club while campaigning for the presidency.
Camp Courage horse Elvis gives him a smooch!]

I am writing to let you and the Handiham membership know that I will be
stepping down as radio club president at radio camp this Summer. This will
be the end of my current term. I feel that it is time to let someone else
take over in order to bring new and fresh ideas to the club. I appreciate
the opportunity that the membership, you, and the staff have given me to
grow as both a person and as a ham since my initial election in 2008. I
plan to help my successor have the same experiences. Additionally, I will
now have the opportunity to move on to other challenges in the Handiham
program and in the hobby. I plan to be as active as ever. To everyone, it
has been both an honor and a privilege to serve as club president, and you
can look forward to my continued friendship and involvement with the
Handiham program. Thanks once again.

73, Ken, KB3LLA
Handiham Radio Club President

*Editor's note:  *A big thank you to Ken for his years of service as club
president. Ken was instrumental in helping us to design and implement the
formal organization of the Handiham Radio Club, including the Constitution
and the ARRL affiliation.  I am happy to hear that he is going to still be
involved with the club and Handihams after his term is up this summer.

Don, N4KC, writes:

[image: Riding the Shortwaves book cover - by Don Keith N4KC - close up of
HF rig tuned to 20 meters]

Though not a handicapped ham, I do enjoy very much seeing your newsletter
(I see it on www.AmateurRadio.com <http://www.amateurradio.com/>). I have
written a book about amateur radio and I think your readership might be
interested in it. It is titled *RIDING THE SHORTWAVES: EXPLORING THE MAGIC
OF AMATEUR RADIO*. It is primarily aimed at those considering entering the
hobby, or for those who might have been licensed but have never really
found their niche or simply lost interest. I also talk a great deal about
why ham radio has remained so vibrant despite the common misconception that
the Internet, cell phones, Facebook and the like have taken its place. The
final chapter in the book will be of considerable interest to handicapped
hams. It is a short story that features a handiham as the principal
character and is based on a couple of disabled ham friends of mine.

In a recent review of the book, QST says:

*"...entertaining and informative...eminently readable by youth or adult,
it covers the waterfront, from why Amateur Radio, at 100 years of age,
remains fun and relevant...and more to the point, what you need to enjoy
and explore ham radio's magic."*

Yep, I'm trying to promote the book, but I really do think many of your
readers would enjoy knowing about it. More info:

Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Don Keith, N4KC
Ron, W2WU, writes about Hurricane Sandy:

Cynthia Adams, KD2ANY, and Ronald Johnson, W2WU, worked together as
emergency communicators during and following Hurricane Sandy, a monster
storm that devastated large sections of East Coast housing and

We did 22 hours of emergency response during Hurricane Sandy, got home and
watched part of our building's roof fly away and the power grid fail as
transformers blew up. That was a light show! The project was 10 days
without power/heat.

We were fortunate to have access to the emergency generator for our
refrigerators. We keep medications needing refrigeration in them. We
started identifying persons on life support needing power and getting
extension cords to them. Management didn't know where to turn and vacated
the tenants. Cynthia and I went to City Hall, saw the mayor and other
officials who at our behest set up a limited response for food and blankets.

Management was spot buying gas/Diesel in 5 gallon cans. We had the County
do a fuel drop for the emergency generator. The fuel truck had a police
escort (lights/siren). In short

 our landlord seems not to have any emergency plans or "it's not going to
happen to us mentality."

Bottom line: We did what hams do naturally - respond to those in need.

If you want, publish this in the newsletter. The very best to you and the
Handihams staff.
73, Cynthia, KD2ANY, and Ron, W2WU
Joe, N3AIN, writes:

Congratulations on the work you did on the remote software. The update went
flawlessly. Much better than the old install. Just a few curiosity
questions. You know my obsession with finding and solving RFI problems!.
Well. In tuning around both remote bases yesterday, I heard two different
kinds of noise. The W0EQO has what sounds to me like switching power supply
noise that can be heard on the lower end of the broadcast band, just below
160 meters and on and around ten meg where WWV is. The W0ZSW has what
sounds to me like plasma. I didn't mark down where I heard it, however.
It's not a problem since the noise on neither of the rigs seems to be on
the ham bands, but as I said, I'm obsessed with finding and clearing
problems like this even when I know deep down inside it's not always
possible. Do you know where the noise on the two bases is coming from? Just
curious. If I were up there, I'd love to have the task of finding and
filtering all that noise. It may not be possible, but it would be a neat
project. In a perfect world, there would be no switching power supplies.
Take care and happy, hopefully RFI-free hamming.  - Joe

*Editor's note:  *The noise at W0ZSW is from a plasma TV.  RF chokes have
been ordered to hopefully help that situation, which is worst on nights and
weekends. The impact is severe.  The noise at W0EQO could be coming from a
switching power supply serving another piece of equipment in the server
room at Courage North. The kitchen is on the floor just below, so there
might also be a piece of equipment there causing the problem.
Avery, K0HLA, writes:

The March issue of Popular Communications will have an article on Ham Radio
Deluxe 6.0.

BTW - It was fun listening to the HomePatrol-1 scanner earlier this week.
Bunch of stuff because of  President Obama being in town.

73,  Avery
A member writes:

I remember several months ago when I was studying the Handiham general
class lecture podcasts regarding measuring current and resistance and
voltage. You stated that the good news was that talking multimeters were
out there. The bad news was that we would likely need to find someone who
had one and wanted to sell it as, at that time, no one was making a
multimeter that talked.

Well, things have changed. I just received a new talking multimeter. I
ordered it from the NFB Marketplace.

It is a digital talking multimeter that can handle up to 1000V dc or 700V
ac. All functions including DC and AC voltage, DC and AC current,
resistance, capacitance, frequency, continuity, and other functions are
easily and clearly spoken. The cost is $49.00. Three AA batteries were
included and installed although their website says the batteries are not
included. It has a nice rubberized carry case and print manual.

In about three days my order was delivered. I took it out of the box and
found that it had a solid weighty feel. This model is by Tophand. The mode
selector rotor turns solidly and the speech and display buttons feel good
to the touch. The speech synthesizer that does all of the talking is high
quality and humanlike. The large 3.5” digital display is backlit and can be
illuminated on demand or locked in the “on” position. The voice readout of
the display is activated by either pressing a button on the face of the
multimeter or by pressing a “speech” button on the “active” lead. Speech
can be on demand or continuous.

I hope that this information will be useful to other visually impaired hams
who haven’t been able to find a talking multimeter. If you or your readers
need more information just contact the National Federation of the Blind at:

You will find the talking multimeter in the section labeled “Measuring
Devices and testing equipment”. Their phone is (410) 659-9314.
Handiham Nets are on on the air!

[image: TMV71A transceiver]

*We are on the air daily at 11:00 USA Central Time, plus Wednesday &
Thursday evenings at 19:00 USA Central Time.  *

*The official and most current net news may be found at:
http://www.handiham.org/nets *

*Join us on the Thursday evening Handiham Radio Club TechNet. * The
frequency in the local Minnesota repeater coverage zone: 145.45 FM,
negative offset with no tone and 444.65 MHz with 114.8 Hz tone in the Twin
Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota. The UHF repeater will be
heard more easily in the Eastern Twin Cities.  You will find our daily net
on the air at 11:00 hours USA Central Time, with a Sunday roundtable
session for a change of pace. A Wednesday evening session at 19:00 hours
USA Central Time also offers a chance to take a guess at a trivia question
(offered by some Net Control Stations) and visit with your friends on the
air. Ideal for those who can't make the daily morning session! Then
Thursday evening at 19:00 hours return to the Tech net and learn something

*EchoLink nodes:*

*Welcome to the NX0P repeater,  146.685 with a tone of 100Hz,  Echolink
node number 513917.  The NX0P machine is near Albert Lea in far southern
Minnesota, near the busy intersection of US Interstate highways 90 and 35. *

*HANDIHAM* conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity
*VAN-IRLP*, node 256919
KA0PQW-R, node 267582
KA0PQW-L, node 538131
N0BVE-R, node 89680

*On the 220 MHz band: *223.94 negative offset, Arden Hills, MN Tone 100 Hz
- KA0PQW (link)

*Other ways to connect:*

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)

WIRES system number 1427
*A dip in the pool*

[image: Pat shows off his new Plantronics USB headset!]

It's time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the pool - the question
pool, that is!

*Let's go to the Extra Class pool: *

E6F04 asks, "What is the photovoltaic effect?"

Possible answers are:

A. The conversion of voltage to current when exposed to light

B. The conversion of light to electrical energy

C. The conversion of electrical energy to mechanical energy

D. The tendency of a battery to discharge when used outside

The correct answer is B, The conversion of light to electrical energy.  The
only reason I picked this question was that early this morning I noticed
that our LED garden lights had snow on top of them.  Of course they were
not working, because the layer of snow was directly on top of the
photocells that collect the light and turn it into a charging current for a
double A cell in the light's housing.  I cleaned off the snow so that they
would charge in the daylight, and in about an hour it started snowing
heavily again.  Well, that's Minnesota.

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.
This week @ HQ*

*WD8RJR is a silent key: *We are sad to report that long-time Handiham
volunteer and mentor Paul Baumgarte, WD8RJR, has become a silent key after
a brief bout with cancer.  He was 91 and a mentor to many hams in New York
State and continued this outreach of helping others later on in western
Ohio following his retirement.
*The February digest is underway.*  Check it out in the members section for
the latest Daisy digest. Meanwhile, all January DAISY files are available
in the DAISY section of the website following member login. Please let me
know if you have trouble using the DAISY files, because this is an
important member service and we want you to take advantage of it. Thanks to
Bob Zeida, N1BLF, for the Worldradio Daisy audio and to Jim, KJ3P, for the
QCWA Journal and help with QST. Thanks to Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, for the
Doctor column again this month.  We are waiting for the recording of the CQ
issue to complete the DAISY digest.  **

*Another member service is the audio lectures for Technician, General, and
Extra.  *All courses are available on line for your use whenever you want
to study or review. Teaching is done with thoughtful attention to
descriptions for those who are blind, and we promote understanding concepts
rather than simply memorizing the question pool.  If you would like to use
this service but do not understand how, please contact us.  We can also put
the audio lectures on your DAISY digital NLS cartridge if you prefer that
method instead of downloading or streaming audio from the website. Our
latest audio lectures cover concepts in the Extra Class course. Please join
us in whatever course you need, and also please let us know if you would
like a specific topic covered in our Operating Skills lecture series.

*Handiham net information and news: *The official and most current net news
may be found at:

*Digital mailers are important: *If you do mail a digital cartridge to us,
please be sure that it is an approved free matter mailer. Otherwise it will
quickly cost us several dollars to package and mail out, which is more than
the cost of the mailer in the first place. We don't have a stock of
cartridges or mailers and not including a mailer will result in a long
delay getting your request back out to you.

*DAISY audio digests are available for our blind members who do not have
computers*, playable in your Library of Congress digital player.  Handiham
members who use these players and who would prefer to receive a copy of the
monthly audio digests on the special Library of Congress digital cartridge
should send a blank cartridge to us in a cartridge mailer (no envelopes,
please), so that we can place the files on it and return it to you via free
matter postal mail.  Your callsign should be on both the cartridge and the
mailer so that we can make sure we know who it's from. Blank cartridges and
mailers are available from APH, the American Printing House for the Blind,
Inc. <http://www.aph.org/>

Digital Talking Book Cartridge Catalog Number: 1-02610-00, Price: $12.00

Digital Talking Book Cartridge Mailer Catalog Number: 1-02611-00, Price:

Order Toll-Free: (800) 223-1839.

The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital

Get it all on line as an alternative:  Visit the DAISY section on the
Handiham website after logging in.
Stay in touch

[image: Cartoon robot with cordless phone]

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

Handiham Manager Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, may be reached at
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or by phone at 763-520-0511.

Mornings Monday through Thursday are the best time to contact us.

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, KD0LPX, at
763-520-0532 or email him at walt.seibert@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

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 Handiham Weekly E-Letter in MP3
format <http://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3>
Email us to subscribe:

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:

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
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc.
Include your old email address and your new address.
Return to Handiham.org <http://handiham.org/>

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 06 February 2013 - Patrick Tice