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

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2013 08:01:26 -0600

*Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday,
06 March 2013*
*NOTICE:  We are a day late due to the mailing site being
down yesterday afternoon.   *

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:

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RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:
*Welcome to Handiham World.*Learning the bands can pay off with a better
ham radio experience.

[image: Picture shot from above, showing guy holding microphone and
operating HF station, Kenwood TS-570.]

For the past few weeks, we have been concerned primarily with the new
Handiham remote base software client. Because of that, I have spent quite a
lot of time watching exactly what people do with the remote base stations.
Sometimes the stations are tuned to what is essentially a dead frequency
for many minutes at a time, and the user seems to be tuning around in a
futile effort to locate on the air activity.

This got me to thinking about what newcomers to the HF bands might know –
or not know – about which bands are most likely to be open and usable at
any given time of day. Of course HF band conditions are subject to change
because of many things, among them seasonal differences between the length
of daylight, weather conditions that can dish out thunderstorm static or
ducting, solar weather that can wipe out all kinds of frequencies, sunspot
activity in the 11 year average solar cycle, time of day, and… Well, you
get the idea. There are lots of things that affect HF propagation. Learning
about how the bands work is not something that can be accomplished without
on the air practice. Sometimes it is simply necessary to let people tune
around the 160 m band at high noon in the summer when there is nothing to
be heard but static. That is the way they are going to learn that 160 m is
not a good band during summer, and that it is especially useless during the
middle of the day.

The danger here is that this new user will come to the wrong conclusion and
assume that 160 m simply doesn't work at all, perhaps because the antenna
is inadequate or because there is "always" interference and noise on the
band. Of course, if they happen to try 160 m during the nighttime hours in
winter they will find the band populated with stations and think that they
have made a wonderful discovery. There is an ebb and flow to band
conditions on HF. It takes time to gain the knowledge and experience about
how the bands work from day to day and month-to-month and yes – even

We are nearing solar maximum now, and there is some talk about this
particular solar cycle producing a rare double maximum. Once maximum is
reached, solar activity and sunspots will decline and we will reach a
minimum around five or six years later. During solar maximum high sunspot
numbers are linked to good band conditions on the higher short-wave
frequencies. The 10 m band will be especially good at solar maximum,
allowing for DX contacts with very low power.

The 10 m band is "open for business" right now. Sure, there will be days
even during solar maximum when 10 m will not be very useful. Overall,
though, the 10 m band is getting to be about as good as it is going to get
and now is the time to get out there and use it! At solar minimum, the 10 m
band will be open very little for DX by comparison.

Okay, so here we have two very different HF bands, 160 m and 10 m. A half
wave dipole antenna for 160 m is going to be almost 250 feet long from end
to end. A 10 m antenna is going to be under 17 feet long from tip to tip.
Which antenna are you more likely to be able to construct yourself and
deploy on your property? I would be willing to bet that the 10 m antenna is
the better choice, especially right now at solar maximum when band
conditions favor DX and low-power operation on 10 m. Not only is the 10 m
antenna much easier to construct and install, but it is likely that you can
fit it in just about any urban yard.

The problem is that newbies without HF experience don't necessarily know
and understand the differences between HF bands. There are lots of
variables to be considered, as we have pointed out. As experienced amateur
radio operators who want to help newcomers learn about the art and science
of radio, I think we have to walk a middle ground to help them on their
voyage of discovery as they learn about the different characteristics of
the HF bands. That means that we should not be surprised when hams who are
new to HF operation do not understand why the 10 m band may be a better
choice for their resources right now than the 160 m band. There is nothing
wrong with offering respectful and helpful advice to a newcomer to the HF
bands. Since almost all new General Class operators began their amateur
radio careers as Technicians who spent most of their time on VHF and UHF
repeaters, those very repeaters might be a good place to discuss the
characteristics of HF and what strategies you, as an experienced operator,
have found successful. Radio club meetings are another excellent venue for
education. While it is true that most of the club members will have had at
least some HF experience, nearly everyone will be able to benefit by a
review of HF bands and the strategies one may use to maximize results.
Radio club programs can touch on HF propagation even if they are nominally
about other topics like DXpeditions, antennas, or Field Day.

When I say that we have to walk a middle ground, what I mean is that we
don't want to try and dictate what is best for every HF newbie. People have
a way of discovering what they like and what they don't like. Sometimes
they do have to make their own mistakes and learn by experience. Our job is
to be there for them when they have questions and to lead by example,
freely sharing information about the HF bands that will quite literally
open up the world to them!

*Question:  How can I learn more about when bands are likely to be open and
which bands to use at different times of the day and during different
seasons? *

*Answer: There are lots of resources, but here is one that is easy to read
and understand:
http://www.hamuniverse.com/hfbands.html *

*Another excellent resource is the article "First Steps in Radio",
available in PDF to ARRL members in the QST archives <http://www.arrl.org/>,
January 1985.  *Because of its age this article is a PDF image that does
not contain embedded text for blind users, but Handiham members can listen
to our audio recording by volunteer Jim Perry, KJ3P, available in the members
section at Handiham.org <http://handiham.org/drupal2/user>.  Our thanks to
Jim for his help in making this available to our blind members.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager

[image: cartoon robot with pencil]
Jose, KK4JZX, writes a how-to:

   - How do I check what frequency the remote base client is on using
   JAWS?  Jose has written a response to this common question, and you can
   find it on the Remote Base website:


   - For this and other remote base tips and tricks, please visit the
   remote base website at http://handiham.org/remotebase and use the Search
   field to look for key words.  You will be surprised what you can find,
   including some of Jose's other JAWS tips, when you type JAWS into the
   search field.  Try it and there will be related posts and pages brought up,
   one or more of which will have the information you want.

Phil, K9HI, posts in the Eastern MA ARRL Section News:

   - Youths from the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown will be
   treated to an educational evening of ham radio at the Cape Cod National
   Seashore Headquarters in Eastham on May 22 from 7 PM until 8:30 PM.
   According to National Park Service Education Specialist and KM1CC
   trustee Barbara Dugan, N1NS, members of the Barnstable ARC will be on
   hand to assist with demonstrations. "The Perkins School has been coming to
   the park for over 35 years to stay in our Coast Guard Station in Eastham.
   We've done a few ham programs with them in the past."

Handiham Nets are on on the air.  Heads up for Daylight Time!

[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.  *

*Heads up for Daylight Time!  We maintain our nets at 11:00 hours daily
relative to Minnesota time.  Daylight Time begins at 02:00 Sunday morning,
10 March. Since the nets remain true to Minnesota time, the difference
between Minnesota time and GMT is -5 hours.  The net will thus be on the
air at 16:00 hours GMT.  This is one hour earlier than usual if you are on
GMT. *

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

E3B06 asks, "Which of the following amateur bands most frequently provides
long-path propagation?"

Possible answers are:

A. 80 meters
B. 20 meters
C. 10 meters
D. 6 meters

If you don't know the answer, you are probably a newcomer to the HF bands.
This is where reading these two resources will help you out:

*A description of HF bands and their characteristics:
http://www.hamuniverse.com/hfbands.html *

*"First Steps in Radio", available in PDF to ARRL members in the QST
archives <http://www.arrl.org/>, January 1985 and to blind Handiham members
in the Handiham members section in spoken word audio after member
. *

*But what is the answer?  It's B, 20 meters.  *The 20 meter band is one of
our most valuable, staying open to long-distance propagation throughout the
11 year solar cycle and through much of the day and night.  Learning about
these band characteristics will help you make more contacts and have more
fun on the air!

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.
This week @ HQ**Some of our new audio for blind members:*

   - In Operating Skills: Jim, KJ3P, reads the First Steps in Radio Article
   about the characteristics of the various HF bands. perfect for newbies or
   experienced hams - from January 1985 QST. Available after member login.
   - Jose, KK4JZX, tells us about a new way being developed to make the Web
   Transceiver more blind-friendly. Includes JAWS and NVDA audio demo of new
   proposed enter logon information

*The DAISY <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DAISY_Digital_Talking_Book> digest
for our blind members is completed for March.  *

   - *Our thanks to Bob, N1BLF, Jim, KJ3P, and Ken, W9MJY, for reading this
   month.  *Look for these DAISY materials in the members section.

*Spring Break News!  *

   - **The Handiham office will be closed March 8 through 12 for Spring
   - This office closing does not affect other Courage Center programs and
   - The Handiham website will continue to serve you with all its usual
   features, but there will be no tech support available to answer questions
   until we return from Spring Break.
   - The Handiham Remote Base stations W0EQO and W0ZSW will remain in
   service through Spring Break.
   - All Handiham nets continue on their regular schedules.
   - There will be no new Friday audio during Spring Break.
   - No applications for membership or changes in address can be processed
   between March 6 and March 18, when our schedule returns to normal.
   - Radio Camp application packets will be mailed sometime after March 18.

*Radio Camp application packets will be ready for mailing in late March. *

**2013 camp dates call for arrival on July 28 and departure on August 2.
We have confirmed that we will offer our campers who pass Technician at
camp brand-new handheld radios. Radio camp will emphasize ham radio fun and
getting on the air.

We will feature:

   - Technician beginner small group class - Get your first license and get
   on the air!
   - General Class study group for those who need a quick review before
   taking the General exam.
   - Extra Class study group for those who need a quick review before
   taking the Extra exam.
   - VE session conducted by SARA, the Stillwater (MN) Amateur Radio
   Association, on Thursday, August 1, at 1:30 PM.
   - Operating Skills small group get on the air sessions and discussions
   - ARRL update - What's new at ARRL.
   - Extra Class seminar for those with Extra Class licenses who want to
   participate in more advanced technical projects and discussions
   - Several stations to operate, including maritime mobile on the camp
   pontoon boat with Cap'n Bill, N0CIC
   - Sailing with Skipper Bill, K9BV
   - Handiham Radio Club meeting and elections
   - Dining in the nearby newly-remodeled Woodland dining hall.
   - Fun in the sun during Minnesota's excellent summer season - at Camp
   Courage on beautiful Cedar Lake!

For a Radio Camp application, email Nancy at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or
call her at 763-520-0512.

*Our scheduled Extra Class lecture this week is postponed for Spring
Break.  *However, all courses, Tech though Extra, are 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
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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 March 2013 - Patrick Tice