[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 08 February 2012

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2012 15:51:40 -0600


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.

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*Welcome to Handiham World.*

[image: cartoon radio tower]

*Are you a news junkie? I guess I might consider myself one. Every day I
use Google News, which can be customized by the user to reflect certain
preferences. For example, I am not a sports fan, so I can set the
preferences to give me few or no sports stories. On the other hand, I am
interested in science and technology and can get more of those stories. One
of my preferences is to get stories about ham radio. Google almost always
finds several stories about amateur radio in the news every day.*

A few days ago I spotted a story in a small town newspaper that turned out
to be a letter to the editor. It was written by an amateur radio operator
who was admonishing his fellow amateur radio operators to please monitor
their local repeaters in case there would be an emergency. He had an
example of an actual emergency when a call was sent out via a repeater but
there were no responses.

I have lost count of the number of times I have driven cross country
myself, monitoring the various repeaters along the way and throwing my call
sign out here and there, but getting nothing but silence in return. Others
have mentioned this phenomenon as well. Amateur radio repeaters are very,
very, VERY quiet these days. I often wonder if any of them get used more
than a few times a week.

Conventional wisdom about repeaters used to be that you wanted them to be
available during the "drive time" rush hour traffic in case they might be
needed to report some kind of emergency. These days, it is a rare motorist
indeed who does not travel with a cell phone. The cell phone is much more
likely to be a more efficient way to reach emergency service personnel
quickly than the local amateur radio repeater system. Yes, it is nice to
have the repeater system as a backup because cellular service as not always
available and is prone to overloading and failure during emergencies. But
on a typical day cell phones work as expected and do absolutely everything
they are needed to do. In fact, I suspect that most amateur radio operators
use their cell phones more regularly than VHF mobile radios.

While there may be exceptions to the quiet repeater phenomenon in a few
areas, I have heard nothing in the past few years to change my belief that
most amateur radio repeater systems in large metropolitan areas are grossly
underutilized. As I have said in the past, if a repeater system is to
remain healthy (an actively used system) it requires a critical mass of
regular users. One or two voices crying in the wilderness is not enough to
save a repeater system from oblivion. Successful repeater systems host
scheduled net activities, have a cadre of informal users who meet on the
frequency regularly, and are maintained to high engineering standards so
that the user base can enjoy reasonable reliability.

One thing that a repeater owner can do to make sure that the system is used
often and doesn't fade into obscurity is to connect it to a VoIP system
like EchoLink, IRLP, WIRES, or Allstar Link Network. Unfortunately, there
are amateur radio operators out there who don't understand this technology
and fear that it will somehow ruin the repeater system or dominate it to
the point that the repeater will be unavailable for local users.

This, my friends, is nonsense. All you have to do is listen on a connected
repeater system on a regular basis and you will find out that the repeater
is used much more often than an unconnected repeater system but not to the
point of overuse.  I have virtually abandoned repeater systems that are not
VoIP connected because they have no activity.  They sound exactly the same
whether the radio is turned on or turned off!  If your club's repeater
system is one of these dead zones, I urge you to bring up the possibility
of connecting it to the world via VoIP.  There may be a few old fogies who
will fulminate and fuss, but unless they are regulars on your local
repeater all day long and are leaders in keeping the system maintained and
active, I think you can safely call their bluff.

Getting back to that guy who wrote to his local paper, I guess I would have
to say that one would have a far better chance of gaining assistance in an
emergency if someone on a VoIP repeater heard a call for help.  The
reason?  There are actual listeners on an active system.  Even a listener
located in a different state would be able to set the ball rolling to get
emergency assistance.  On the other hand, a call for help on a "quiet"
repeater system is likely to result in nothing more than the wind whistling
by and crickets chirping.

For Handiham World, I'm...
Patrick Tice, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx <WA0TDA@xxxxxxxx>
Handiham Manager


[image: dog barking at cartoon mail carrier]

*Debra, K1DMJ, writes from ARRL HQ via the USVE List on Yahoo groups:*

I thought I'd make you aware that ARRL's study manual author, Ward Silver
N0AX, provides us with a spreadsheet identifying the question pool changes
that are made with each pool each time the NCVEC revises them.

We post the spreadsheet on our instructor resource page to help instructors
figure out what they need to change in their instruction materials when a
new question pool comes along. You'll find examples of these for the last
Tech pool change and the General change list as "question pool cross
reference" on our website at:

We'll be posting a similar spreadsheet to track the changes in the new
Extra pool in a few weeks.

*What has changed in the new Extra Class Pool?*

[image: Cartoon kid with book, pencil, and calculator]

Last week we reported that the volunteers at the NCVEC had completed the
revisions in the new Extra Class Question Pool, which will be effective on
1 July 2012.  Now NC4FB has posted a comparison between the Amateur Extra
(2012 - 2016) and Amateur Extra (2008 - 2012) questions pools is available
at the link below.


The NC4FB comparison points out that there are 702 questions in the new
pool.  The current (old) pool contains 738 questions, so the new pool is
slightly smaller:

*Forty-four (44) questions that were in the Amateur Extra (2008 – 2012)
question pool do not appear in the Amateur Extra (2012 – 2016) question
pool.  Eight (8) new questions were added to the Amateur Extra (2012 –
2016) question pool.  Two-hundred and thirteen (213) questions match
between the two question pools.  Four hundred eighty-one (481) questions
were changed between the Amateur Extra (2008 – 2012) question pool and the
Amateur Extra (2012 – 2016) question pool.*

More detail may be found on the excellent

We have posted a copy of the new pool on the Handiham website:

The NCVEC Extra Class page is at:

*Troubleshooting 101: Can I use my amplifier?*

[image: Pat and giant alligator]

*Pierre, K9EYE, had an experience that made him ask this very question.  It
has to do with whether a licensed amateur radio operator can use an HF
amplifier that was purchased used and wasn't FCC-certified.  Can he do so? *

*Pierre says: *

Some of you overheard my discussion with Tim (callsign withheld), regarding
the equipment that I operate. He was concerned that the Amplifier I am
using is illegal and this makes my operation illegal. I have not been on
the air till I get final resolution from a number of authorities. Without
going through the entire details, this is the summation:

The FCC rules clearly state that a licensed amateur radio operator may use
an amplifier that is not certified, however, he is responsible for any
spurious transmissions or interference that may occur. We are responsible
to follow all the rules, even with homebrew equipment. We do not all own
expensive test equipment, but we can ask for signal check, audio report or
anything that turns up on those using a SDR receiver that can see the
signal. I purchased my Amplifier in early 2006, right after upgrading to
Extra. At that time I even checked out the legality of me using this
Amplifier, and I was told that licensed amateurs may use any equipment that
is designed to be used in the amateur radio bands. With Tim's question I
have even contacted the ARRL, which I am a member of, and spoke to Dan
Henderson the regulatory authority, N1ND. He also advised me that it is ok
to use this Amplifier. The rule that Tim is looking at is in reference to
selling, importing and distributing, nothing to do with a licensed Amateur
radio operator from obtaining and using the equipment.
Below is more info that came from Steve, K9DCI.

*Steve, K9DCI, replies:*

Hello Pierre,

I managed validation and certification departments in Motorola before
retiring and am very familiar with the fundamental certification process as
well as understanding FCC rules, though I had no professional
responsibility for Amateur Amplifier certification. Certification requires
an extensive number of operating parameters to be measured by an FCC
certified lab and shown to be within FCC limits. This includes things like
transmit power, frequency stability, modulation levels, out of normal
bandwidth products and audio shaping (TX and RX). This also includes
spurious emissions during receive and transmit both from the box and
separately from the antenna connector. Most of this information is
available on the FCC web site.

This question prompted me to brush up on current rules and I was surprised
to see revisions as recent as 2006. I knew my paper copy was outdated, but
knew the current rules would be available on line. The current law is very
clear that licensed hams can purchase uncertified power amplifiers, linear
or otherwise. The requirement for Amplifier Certification does not apply to
individual ham stations. Our license, however, still comes with the
responsibility to stay within all rules whether they be operation,
frequency restrictions, license class restrictions or equipment
performance. In my many years as a ham, I have been continuously pleased
the way hams, generally want to do the right thing...

...The Power Amplifier rules were set in place solely to limit the rampant
use of power by CBers. Unfortunately, it spilled over to affect the Amateur
Service because Amateur HF linears worked just fine on 27 MHz. While the
rules have evolved as I see on my older paper Part 97, the 2006 rules are
simpler and are very explicit stating that the certification clause does
not apply to a licensed ham acquiring an amplifier for use in his own
station - and it does not make the path by which it was acquired important.
Our license says (and I know this can be disputed) that we have the
knowledge, or at least we are mandated to assume the responsibility to make
sure we follow all aspects of the rules. This has always been the case. We
can build homebrew, we can modify old military and commercial equipment and
we can even purchase commercial Amateur gear for our use on the bands. It
is only recently that this amplifier certification has burdened us because
of the CB problem.

Another common misconception is that commercial ham transceivers are "Type
Accepted" in the same manner as commercial equipment. It is assumed that
all of the performance standards in the FCC standards, as I note above, are
guaranteed by it. Many will be alarmed to learn that there is absolutely no
such thing. First, the term 'Type Acceptance' is no longer used. Though it
is the very same process, the term was changed to simply "Certification".
Second, Ham equipment in not Certified either - at least, nowhere near what
many hams assume. The only certification you will see on the gear and on
the FCC certification database (which is accessible on the web), is for
Part 15.  Part 15 is the same thing required of computers, TV's and many
things which contain electronics that internally use RF type signals that
could "escape" and cause interference to nearby sensitive receivers. These
are called "un-intentional" radiators. This means that they are not
intended to radiate any RF for normal use, but might, and usually do to
some extent.

Just in case you did not catch this: Amateur Transceivers are certified as
though they do not transmit. That is not a mistake. No extensive receiver
or transmitter performance parameters are measured for FCC certification on
Ham transceivers. NONE! The only thing certified to the FCC is what happens
to spray out of the box and wiring during receive, per Part 15. You can
verify this by looking at your rig or on the FCC database. Because a
transceiver or receiver can scan channels, it comes under scanning receiver
rules. This certifies that the unit does not radiate (spray from the box)
any RF signals above a standard low level. It is measured while the unit is
not transmitting.

So... all this hullabaloo about the legality of uncertified amplifiers is
completely overshadowed by every uncertified transmitter in use today. Go

Just make sure to accept your responsibilities and use best practices to
the best of your ability. You are free to send this note to anyone asking
questions or feeling that your issue needs to be debated further. If this
information is doubted, as any and all on-line information should be, I
suggest the horse's mouth.

Contact either the Regulatory Information Manager at ARRL headquarters, or
go directly to the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET).
ARRL: 1-888-277-5289 Dan Henderson, N1ND
I am sure Dan would answer questions about a legal matter for any ham.
OET: http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/contact/  or 1-202-418-2470
73, Steve, K9DCI

*Thanks to Pierre and Steve for sharing.  It is a question that comes up
from time to time because of a misunderstanding of the rules. *

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 not one, but two questions from the new Extra Class

*E7A03 asks us: Which of the following can divide the frequency of a pulse
train by 2?*

Your possible choices are:

A. An XOR gate
B. A flip-flop
C. An OR gate
D. A multiplexer

*Next, E7A04 asks us: How many flip-flops are required to divide a signal
frequency by 4?*

Your possible choices are:

A. 1
B. 2
C. 4
D. 8

How many of you changed your answer to the first question after you saw the
second question?  No problem - you could do that on the actual exam, so I'm
okay with you doing it here.  These questions are about "flip-flops" and
answer "B" is correct for both of them.

Here is a flip-flop diagram, courtesy Wikimedia Commons:

[image: Flip Flop image courtesy Wikimedia commons.]
An SR latch, constructed from a pair of cross-coupled NOR gates. Red and
black mean logical '1' and '0', respectively.

Flip-flops can be constructed from a variety of active devices, even vacuum
tubes!  They are a basic part of today's digital circuitry.

*Bonus question:  How many flip-flops are required at the beach?*

Answer:  None, if you don't mind stepping on seashells from time to time.

*Armond Noble, N6WR, Silent Key*

CQ Magazine is reporting that Armond Noble, N6WR, founder and publisher of
the print version of WorldRadio magazine, died February 1st  in Sacramento.
He had been ill for about two months.

A short obituary has been written and posted in the CQ Newsroom:
http://www.CQNewsroom.blogspot.com <http://www.cqnewsroom.blogspot.com/>

The "With the Handihams" column has long been a feature in Worldradio

*Remote Base Health Report for 08 February 2012*

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


   *W0ZSW is on line.   W0ZSW has returned to remote base service following
   Saturday operation during the Minnesota QSO Party. The station was operated
   under local control by Handiham members and volunteers. We thank all who
   participated in the contest.*

   *W0EQO is on line. *

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

   *The link to the daily status update pages has changed:

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

*This week @ HQ*

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

   - *If you are a Handiham member and your member log in does not work on
   the new Handiham.org <http://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:

   - *A new Handiham Radio Club Mailing List has been created:  *The new
   Handiham Radio Club email reflector has been set up and populated.  A test
   message will be sent to the new list this afternoon. Ken, KB3LLA, and I are
   discussing what new information about the Handiham Radio Club to put out on
   a public website page. This was prompted by an inquiry from interested
   people who live nearby Camp Courage, and who had seen the club's
   information on the ARRL Club pages on the ARRL site.  Of course the club is
   for Handiham members, but this is not necessarily set in stone when it
   comes to locals taking part in things like the VE session at Camp Courage,
   for example.  Ken and I would also like to clarify our mission statement
   and what information should be included when a request to join is sent to
   Ken.  He has received many requests saying simply, "I want to join", but
   that makes it necessary to begin a series of email exchanges to get all of
   the necessary information. This creates extra work and takes more time than
   if all of the information had been included in the first place.

   - *The old mailing list robot sent out erroneous statements about
   "mailing list reminders" last week.*  I will contact the hosting service
   to drive a wooden stake through the heart of this zombie robot!

   - *A new Handiham Volunteer Instructor Mailing List *is under
   construction.  Stay tuned!  I hope to work on it Friday.

   - *Audio update: *Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the February CQ
   Magazine audio digest for our blind members.

   - *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


   *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. *

*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 2012.

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, 08 February 2012 - Patrick Tice