[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 09 January 2013

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2013 08:19:02 -0600

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

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

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*Welcome to Handiham World.*"This device complies with Part 15 of the FCC

[image: Back of remote sensor showing FCC statement]

*Last week we had a run of cold weather here in Minnesota, and the AA
batteries in one of our remote reading thermometers failed as the voltage
dropped below the operating threshold.  Since these cells depend on
chemical reactions to produce DC, they are susceptible to failure in cold
conditions when reactions can slow considerably.  Bring the remote sensor
back indoors and let it warm up, and it will work just fine.  Of course
that would not make much sense for a remote reading thermometer!*

So I stepped outdoors and retrieved the sensor and brought it down to my
shop, where I could put it under a shop lamp and use a small Phillips head
driver to get the four tiny screws out of the battery cover plate.  That's
when I noticed the ubiquitous FCC Part 15 statement:

*This device complies with part 15 of the FCC rules. Operation is subject
to the following two conditions:*


   *This device may not cause harmful interference, and*

   *This device must accept any interference received, including
   interference that may cause undesired operations.*

Seeing the statement reminds me of the growing cloud of radio frequency
energy that surrounds us, emanating from consumer devices of every shape,
size, and description. These wireless thermometer devices are intentional
radiators in that they are designed to use RF energy to communicate with
other devices by exchanging data or other information. Some devices are so
small as to make the FCC statement impractical, so a simple FCC logo may be
visible instead to indicate compliance. Part 15 also covers "unintentional"
and "incidental" RF radiation.  Some devices, while not specifically
designed to communicate wirelessly like the thermometer, may produce RF
radiation anyway because of the circuit design. This kind of energy is
incidental to the purpose of the circuit, but could still cause
interference. One example I located in our kitchen is a little 4-cell
battery charger.  Oddly enough, it is MUCH noisier than the wireless
thermometer could ever hope to be when I bring a Yaesu VX-5 HT close to it
while listening on 1.895 MHz AM, my tool of choice for noise sniffing.

Last night I checked in with a group of friends on 160 meters, but was
stymied by the noise level on the band. Although most everyone else was
having no problem hearing the weaker stations, my noise level made it
pretty difficult. I switched from the wire antenna I was using to the
ground-mounted vertical way back in the yard, and the noise level dropped
like magic.  I was able to hear everyone!

The wire antenna clearly tuned well on 160 and had more capture area.  Its
high angle of radiation should have suited the situation perfectly, but yet
the shorter vertical was better for receive.

Why was this the case?

I can't say for sure, but I have a theory.  The wire antenna is about 200
feet long. Most of its length is far out into our large back yard, running
far past the vertical antenna, but part of it runs between our house and
the neighbor's house. It is likely that in this crucial part of the run
that the antenna picks up  noise from "incidental" radiators like plasma TV
sets and whatever other nearby devices might be radiating from our house or
the neighbor's.  When radiating devices are plugged into the AC mains the
house wiring may even act as an antenna to increase the range of the
interfering signal. Generally the interfering signal levels are low and the
vertical antenna, fed with underground coax and far away from any
buildings, was not nearly so susceptible to these short-range interfering
signals and instead was able to "hear" the desired signals from amateur

Fortunately the noise level is not high every evening, so no further action
need be taken right now - but if the situation should get worse, it might
mean figuring out a plan to fix the problem.  This could take several


   Search for strong interfering signals the traditional way, with portable
   receiving equipment.  This takes skill and patience, and may require
   listening and tracking data over time, including recording the dates and
   times of the interference. When a suspect device is identified, try
   disabling it and checking the results with the receiver. This can be
   challenging if you determine that the interference is coming from outside
   your own home since you must then put on your good neighbor diplomat hat!
   Once located, measures are taken to filter or otherwise lessen the
   interfering signal. This could include relocating or replacing the
   offending device, turning it off while you are operating (if it is under
   your control), or trying to add filtering to the device to limit radiation.
   Turning off unused switching power supplies can be helpful. Sometimes
   interference comes not from Part 15 devices but from defects in power
   lines.  Notify your power company if you locate such interference.

   Change your own operating schedule to a time of day when there is less
   interference.  For obvious reasons this is not always desirable or
   practical - you really should be able to operate your station when you want

   Relocate or redesign your own antenna system to minimize near-field
   interference.  This is actually a really good plan, but not always
   practical if you must fit an antenna into a city lot. Many of us do,
   however, have some antenna options.  For example, I could beef up my
   vertical antenna system and make it better with more radials or a different
   radiator altogether.  This is in the works for Spring 2013.  I might even
   try running the wire antenna in a different location, but that is not my
   first choice just yet.

   Finally, you can make use of the noise-reduction technology in your
   existing radio. Learn to use the filtering and pass band tuning options.
   Check out the noise blanker and the noise reduction controls, and learn to
   set the noise reduction level - often a hidden menu item.

   MFJ makes a noise-reduction device that uses phase reversal to "cancel"
   noise.  It is the "MFJ Noise Canceling Signal Enhancer", model MFJ-1026.

[image: Pat holding the MFJ-1026 Noise Canceler]

This device takes an entirely different approach to noise reduction. It
"listens" for noise, then feeds the noise back to the radio 180 degrees out
of phase, which theoretically provides up to a 60 dB null to cancel the
noise. The null is sharp and the device must be tweaked to get the exactly
perfect phase reversal. It can be quite effective, but the preferred method
is still to locate and eliminate the noise source in the first place. The
MFJ-1026 is a choice when the noise source cannot be identified or if it is
not in your own home. The tuning is a bit fussy, but it can be effective
when nothing else will help.  A caution is that the device can be damaged
by transmitting through it - after all, it is connected right in your
feedline. There is a transmit/receive control jack in the back of the unit,
and it is important to have this wired properly. Follow all the
installation and operating directions carefully.  There is also a built-in
T/R switch that senses RF, but use with caution. We have burned out one of
these in the Handiham shack!  The MFJ-1026 needs a second receiving antenna
to "hear" the noise signal, and there are connectors for this external
second antenna on the back of the unit. A built-in telescoping antenna is
included, but unless the noise source is really right in your ham shack, it
isn't going to be effective. I recommend a second, dedicated receiving
antenna located outdoors.

Want to learn more about Part 15?  No problem - the ARRL website is an
excellent source:

Idea!  Part 15 would make an excellent topic for a club program. If there
is someone in your radio club who is technically-oriented and willing to
give a program on Part 15 and Part 15 devices, we strongly recommend it as
a very relevant learning experience.  One thing we have not covered here is
that Part 15 devices must accept interference from our licensed and
properly-operated amateur radio transceivers.  This is not always easy to
explain to a grumpy neighbor, so the club program might address how to deal
with this aspect of interference.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager

[image: cartoon robot with pencil]

Ken, KB3LLA, alerts us to the news release about a new refreshable Braille
display, the Focus 80 Blue from Freedom Scientific:

* *

The Focus 80 Blue is expected to be released in February 2013.

Dick, WA0CAF, likes a link to AudioScreen, an experiment in image
accessibility for blind people:

Audio Screen is an add-on for the NVDA Screen Reading software that can
allow a blind person to touch or move a finger around a Windows 8
compatible touch screen, and hear the part of the image under their finger.
According to the website by Michael Curran, "As Audio Screen requires NVDA
to run, the user will therefore also receive speech feedback such as the
name of the control or text, directly under their finger. Audio Screen can
be seen as an experimental alternative way for blind people to view basic
images such as diagrams and maps when no other tactile format is

*Find out more about AudioScreen here:
http://www.nvaccess.org/audioScreen/ *

*Bob, W8ULM, sent us a link to a really useful free web tool that creates
maps showing licensed amateurs around your own zip code:*

*This website will map the location of all hams in any area you designate,
such as by zip code:

This map is a graphic and not accessible by our blind members as far as we
can tell, but it is useful to those who can see a computer screen. When
tested for stations around the WA0TDA QTH, the map absolutely lit up with
stations all around me, including some in my own neighborhood that I had
not known about!  Highly recommended.

John, N1IWT, and Anne, K1STM, from TIPSnet write to let us know about the
suspension of the net:

With the new year, there are many changes with TIPSnet.

First, we enjoyed our Summer hiatus so much that we have continued it. The
main reason is lack of weekly interest.

Personally, we can think of reasons, but I think, lack of guests due to TV
nets on the same night drawing larger audiences was a major reason. Sandy
possibly, as many had more important things to worry about this Fall.
Whatever the reason we've only gotten 3 total emails asking where we
were... not too encouraging. So Anne and I have decided 12 years was long
enough and it was time. We needed and asked for help and no one came
forward due to commitments.

We plan on keeping the www.tipsnet.org domain and website as an archive of
programs and our email addresses - yes they are there. Also, we are keeping
the tips discussion email reflector;  it's very low use so it will serve as
a conduit to listeners. We still want to communicate as friends with all.

Have a wonderful 2013 and who knows - there may be a time to come back with
TIPSnet in another form in the future...  keep your eyes open.

Thank you to the whole cast of characters from Kevin KD6PDG who started the
net, and Dorrie who followed and got Anne involved in the net, to Steve
WA4VWV our mentor, what guests that man found - and for Katrina we had over
1000 stations checked in including satellite feeds to networks around the
world, Tad KT1NG too many thank you'd, and to the repeater clubs,
operators, and trustees and the trustees and devotees of EchoLink and IRLP,
may more learn that these modes can be a useful tool for nets.

True weekly supporters and I will forget some -- first, SPARC and Brian
K1SOX, our main RF and Echolink entry point, the NEW-ENG group W1RJC,
K1SOX, KD1CY and your other partner's thanks for the connections, Thank you
to our other stalwart Grahame VK2FA and the VK2RNC repeater group, the
Hunter Radio Group in Australia, how can we say thanks. AL7YK in Bethel,
Alaska our far western friends, our Handiham Friends Pat Tice, and the
MN-CONF conference and Chris John's and the KI4GGH system couldn't have
lasted so long without your support and that of others along the way,
KB1AEV in CT, the DODROPIN conference and many more that stopped by for a
net or 2 along the way.

Lastly, the listeners, our partners, checking in - you kept the net going
on the busy and the slow nights. Thank you everyone. Kudos to my partner
and wife Anne K1STM who many nights after a long work-day did the NCS
duties week after week.

See you all on the radio,


Anne West K1STM TIPSnet Net Manager
John West N1IWT TIPSnet Program and Publicity Manager

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:*

*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

*Other ways to connect:*

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)

WIRES system number 1427
*A dip in the pool*

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

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

T7B08 asks, "What should you do if a "Part 15" device in your neighbor’s
home is causing harmful interference to your amateur station?"

Let's take a look at your possible choices:

A. Work with your neighbor to identify the offending device
B. Politely inform your neighbor about the rules that require him to stop
using the device if it causes interference
C. Check your station and make sure it meets the standards of good amateur
D. All of these choices are correct

Well, what do you think?  Should you sneak over to your neighbor's house
and pour coffee into the device?  Tell your neighbor in no uncertain terms
that you will bring the FCC down on him if he doesn't comply immediately?
Give up ham radio in favor of gardening? No, none of that!

The correct answer is D, because you should first check your station and
make sure it meets the standards of good amateur practice, then work with
your neighbor to identify the offending device after politely informing
your neighbor about the rules that require him to stop using the device if
it causes interference.  Let's all play nice here, boys and girls!

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

[image: Giant alligator grabs Pat, WA0TDA]

*The main Handiham website, www.handiham.org, has recovered from a serious
failure on Monday, 7 January 2013. *A problem with the table structure in
the SQL database made the site inaccessible, though the member section and
remote base section remained in service throughout and were not affected.
During the outage, users were redirected to our secondary site,

Both remote base HF stations are on line. The latest remote base health
report is at:

*Thanks to new volunteer reader Daryl Stout, WX1DER, for reading the W3BE
column from the latest QCWA Journal. *It will be available in the Members
section by Friday 11 January.  We no longer carry the expanded version of
the QCWA Journal, but this always popular column by John B. Johnston, W3BE,
covers questions that might come up about how to comply with FCC rules.
John uses a question and answer format to explain the reasoning behind the
rules.  These are questions that you and I might think of and they are
answered clearly and concisely.  John served on the staff of the FCC, so he
knows what he is talking about.  Check out his impressive resume here:

*The January Audio Digest is on line in the member section and in the mail
on digital NLS cartridges for those who returned their cartridges from last
month.  *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.

*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 like resonance from 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.

Don't forget that Courage Center is a registered non-profit and your gifts
to Handihams are tax deductible.  We appreciate your support!

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

*Change in address for equipment donations:  *Please contact Pat, WA0TDA,
before making any donation of equipment. My phone number is
763-520-0511and my email address is
pat.tice@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. The address is now the same as our postal
mailing address. This should simplify our contact information.

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

*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 1-866-426-3442

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 www.handiham.org.
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.

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


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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 09 January 2013 - Patrick Tice