[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 11 January 2012

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2012 13:48:31 -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 guy carrying all about ham radio books.]

What better time to review things that need doing or fixing than the
beginning of a fresh, new year?  Here at the Handiham office we are busy
getting our 2012 bucket list ready to go.  Here are some of our major
"to-do's" for 2012:


   *Fix the website. * This morning I tried to reach Handiham.org and it
   was so painfully slow to load that the web browser just gave up and
   displayed an error message. We have been encountering this problem more and
   more over the past year, and it is related to the shared web hosting server
   that we are using. More than once the hosting company took the site down,
   surprising us and causing me to have to drop everything else to deal with
   the problem.  Furthermore, I have received complaints about audio files not
   playing through.  This can happen through the loss of connectivity due to
   server overload.  The Fix: Move the website to another hosting service.
   This project is a major one, and will result in a disruption of our
   website-based services, but it is going to have to happen sometime soon.
   We will keep you posted, but before we make the move I would like to hear
   from you if there is some website feature that you really would like to
   have that currently does not exist.  In the meantime, if Handiham.org
   appears to be down, it may instead just be really slow due to overload.
   Wait a while and try again.  If audio files do not stream all the way
   through, an alternative is to download them onto your hard drive then open
   them.  If downloading is slow, try again later.

   *Improve our audio recording quality.  *We depend a lot on audio
   delivered from the website, both for our weekly audio news and for audio
   lectures for those who are working on a license or upgrade. And we must not
   forget about the audio tutorials on how to use various rigs, either.  It
   has come to my attention that some of the audio lectures are incomplete.
   One, for example, is Extra Class Lecture 59, which simply cuts off at the
   42 minute mark. An alert Extra Class student let me know about this, and
   when I downloaded the lecture to check it, sure enough - the audio file was
   okay up to 42 minutes, after which it simply flat lined to the end.
   Checking my original MP3 file, I was disappointed to learn that it was also
   defective.  Unfortunately the original Audacity file was long gone, so
   recovery was impossible.  Since the Extra Class pool changes this summer,
   we have decided to just leave the defective file in place and concentrate
   on solving these kinds of quality issues with the new recordings that will
   begin as soon as the 2012 Extra Class pool is released.  To improve our
   audio, we will be updating Audacity and tweaking the settings.  We will
   also be using a new version of the Lame encoder for MP3 production.
   Because volunteers also produce audio for us at their own homes, we need to
   get more information out about how to record digitally.  A series of how-to
   articles on this subject will be appearing in Worldradio Magazine soon.

   *Upgrade the equipment at Radio Camp.  *Recently I proposed that we
   acquire a new radio for training purposes at Radio Camp.  At the same time,
   we would buy a new rotor to replace a non-working old unit on the 50 foot
   tower at Camp Courage. The proposed radio is the Kenwood TS-590S with VGS1
   Voice Guide module.  Following the camp session, the radio could be pressed
   into service as a remote base station using the accessible Kenwood software
   interface. This suggestion is under discussion on the Handiham Radio Club
   mailing list.

   *Assess the working space at HQ and make it more productive.  *A visit
   to our headquarters will make you a believer - that we need to do something
   to organize the working space better, that is. A hodgepodge of work
   stations, storage cabinets, and donated gear that needs assessment greets
   you as you walk in.  We need to put some serious elbow grease into making
   our headquarters a better space for working and operating, as well as for
   checking radios and accessories out to see if they are working and to make
   minor repairs, assemble power cables and coax jumpers, and make sure that
   each radio has all of its accessories.

   *Expand our Internet Remote Base capabilities.  *The addition of a
   TS-590S station would definitely be an improvement, but what if we could
   add a DX station with a tower and beam?  That is what we will be discussing
   as we gather for Radio Camp 2012 in June.  In the long run such a station
   benefits our members whether or not they attend a radio camp session.  It
   is an essential service to offer remote base capability now, having begun
   as a quirky experimental project at Courage North several years ago.
   Included in our effort is a revamp of the existing W4MQ software, which
   could use some additional accessibility features.  Since 2011 we have been
   hosting the W4MQ software project following the untimely death at age 58 of
   Bob Arnold, N2JEU, who had been hosting it for the past couple of years.

   *Prepare a new Extra Class lecture series.  *As mentioned, the question
   pool changes on July 1.  The Extra Class lecture series, designed to be
   blind-friendly and accessible to Handiham members with reading
   disabilities, takes an enormous amount of time to produce.  Based on a
   variety of references, it will take the student through the concepts and
   not simply a reading of a textbook or the question pool. I hope to get
   through it more quickly this time and with better audio.

   *Plan for the future.  *In the past we have periodically called on
   volunteers who serve as members of an advisory board. It is time once again
   to bring the Handiham Advisory Board back to life so that we can be sure we
   are hearing from our members as we plan our way forward into the next few
   years.  Obviously technology is changing, and our services must change with
   it.  I can't see the future any better than the next person, but one thing
   I have learned from experience is that there is usually wisdom and insight
   to be gained by bringing knowledgeable people together to tackle projects
   like this.  Any one person has limitations based on their likes and
   dislikes.  In a group, we will have a chance to bring forward new ideas,
   hash them through, and decide where we need to place our efforts.  This is
   timely, since I will turn 64 in April and will eventually retire.  While
   that may not happen for a few years, we need to plan now for a smooth
   transition, and that can't really take place easily without a "future plan"
   of where the Handiham program should be in the years ahead.

   *Leverage social media.  *With other amateur radio organizations and
   services already in the game, we have some catching up to do.  The Handiham
   program does not have a Facebook or Google Plus presence, and it is no
   longer possible to ignore these powerful marketing tools. Courage Center,
   our parent nonprofit company, and Courage Center Camps (of which we are
   part) both have Facebook pages. Figuring out a strategy is key, since we
   would need to limit our administrative time on such an account due to
   limited resources.

So there you have it.  It's ambitious as lists go, but I think you will
agree that these are all things that must be done to maintain the program.
In due course I will be calling for help and I am confident that we can
work together during 2012 to make Handihams even better.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager


[image: dog barking at cartoon mail carrier]

*Pat, KK3F, writes:*

*I wanted to remind you that Winlink classic works well with Window-eyes of
various flavors. RMS Express seems to do so as well. *

*Here is the letter that WA0TDA wrote to the Handiham Radio Club Mailing
List regarding upgrading our station equipment:
*Hello, Radio Club members!  As we start thinking about program needs for
the upcoming Radio Camp 2012, it crossed my mind that we should consider a
new HF radio - the Kenwood TS-590S.  This radio takes the excellent VGS1
speech module and is highly accessible.  It is also well-regarded by blind
users.  The QST review was good, and the specs are pretty impressive.  Its
form factor is more user-friendly than that of the TS-480 series.  When you
sit down in front of it, you have to look twice to make sure it isn't a
TS-570.  The advantage over the 480 besides the better specs is the more
complete and logical layout of the front panel, which just plain has more
room for buttons than the 480.  This makes it much easier to direct keypad
enter frequencies.  We should also consider replacing the antenna rotator
at Camp Courage with a new model.  The addition of these new pieces of
equipment would bring us up to date and make HF operation a lot more fun.
The rig control software for the 590 is quite accessible and can
accommodate up to 100 users in its database.  Paired with a rig control
computer, there would be an opportunity to both teach the computer control
aspect of operation and later on put the radio on line.  Thoughts?*

*Some of you wrote about having a new HF net:  *

   - *Part of the charm of HF is its unpredictability...and all of your
   points are well taken. (Who is pushing FOR an HF net?) Having a Handiham
   net would teach that -- as it frustrates "newbies" -- but it would be good
   for them to learn... Wouldn't hurt to try ONE net -- providing you have the
   "person power" (can we be "p.c." and say "manpower?") to run it -- say one
   day a week? (as a trial...late Sunday night?) (And I am NOT volunteering to
   be a net control...)  Bill -K9BV*
   - *40 meters is open for me into the Midwest - if Europe does not drown
   us out! Doctor Dave, KN0S,  AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!*


*Almost there!*
[image: Dr. Dave Justis, KN0S, and snowman friend after storm in Virginia,
January 2010]

The Dr. Dave Challenge now stands at *$4,930.68*.

Thanks to everyone who has helped us with donations to the Dr. Dave
Challenge so far.

*Troubleshooting 101: Solved! High SWR on 20 meters with Butternut Vertical*

[image: Pat and giant alligator]

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

Let's review the problem before we give the answer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


   What caused the problem with the tuning on 20 meters?

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

*Gerry Leary, WB6IVF, was first to come up with the correct answer. *Gerry
writes: *First, that antenna needs a matching section of coax. Second, I
think that the condensers should be checked to see if they still work.*

That is correct, Gerry!  The antenna is 26 feet long, as pointed out when
we presented the problem.  The entire length of the Butternut vertical is
active on 20 meters, but remember that a quarter-wave vertical on 20 meters
is only 16 feet.  One perennial problem with short antennas, such as the
mobile antennas used for HF operation, is the low feedpoint impedance that
goes along with shortening antennas.  Guess what?  The feedpoint impedance
goes up when the radiating length is longer than 1/4 wave.  That affects
the SWR, because the antenna is not well-matched.  What is needed, as Gerry
suggests, is a matching section of coax.  Coaxial cable can act as a
matching transformer if the correct type of cable is used (75 Ohm) and care
is taken to make it 1/4 wavelength long. When this matching section is
connected at the feedpoint and the regular 50 Ohm feedline is connected
after the matching section, the SWR comes right down and everything tunes
perfectly.  Remember last week's "Dip in the Pool" question?  E9F05 asks: *What
is the physical length of a coaxial transmission line that is electrically
one-quarter wavelength long at 14.1 MHz?* (Assume a velocity factor of
0.66.)  This was a HUGE hint about the troubleshooting problem if you were
savvy enough to recognize it. Incidentally, the length of the 20 meter
matching section of 75 Ohm coax that is included with every NEW Butternut
vertical is about 11 feet 4 inches long.  When Bill bought the used
antenna, which was fed with the feedline underground originally, he did not
get the original matching section of coax.  Tom had a replacement in his
car trunk, which he made by following the formula to calculate physical
length for a quarter wave. (Or by looking it up in the PDF instruction
manual, as Avery, K0HLA, did.)  Thanks to all who wrote in with answers.

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

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

*A dip in the pool*

[image: Guy studying license manual.]

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

Today we are taking a question from the General Class pool.

G9B03 asks: *What happens to the feed-point impedance of a ground-plane
antenna when its radials are changed from horizontal to downward-sloping?*

Your possible answers are:

A. It decreases
B. It increases
C. It stays the same
D. It reaches a maximum at an angle of 45 degrees

The correct answer is B, It increases. Of course this only works in
vertical installations where the antenna is mounted above ground, such as
on a roof or tower.  It is usually a win-win situation to slope the radials
downward, because there are usually more convenient tie-off points at the
far ends, and also because the higher feedpoint impedance is likely to
favor a better match at the feedpoint for 50 Ohm coax.

*National Federation of the Blind 2012 Scholarship Program*

To recognize achievement by blind scholars, the National Federation of the
Blind annually offers blind college students in the United States and
Puerto Rico the opportunity to win one of thirty national scholarships
worth from $3,000 to $12,000.

Visit the NFB website for details:

*Remote Base Health Report for 11 January 2012*

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


   *W0ZSW is on line. *

   *W0EQO is on line. *

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

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

You can view the status page at:

*FCC denies petition in vanity & club calls rules*

[image: FCC Round Logo]

11January 2012: In the Report and Order in this proceeding, the Commission
amended the amateur radio service rules by, inter alia, imposing limits on
club station licenses and call signs.1 The American Radio Relay League,
Inc. (ARRL) filed a petition for partial reconsideration of the Report and
Order. 2 ARRL argues that further rule amendments are required to fully
implement the intent of the rules adopted in the Report and Order. As set
forth below, we conclude that ARRL’s concerns are already addressed by our
licensing rules and processes, so we deny the petition.

*Read the entire FCC document here:
http://www.handiham.org/node/1272 *

*This week @ HQ*

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

   - *Audio update: *Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the January audio
   digest of CQ magazine for our blind members. George, N0SBU, reports that he
   has sent the audio tape digest to our blind members who do not have
   Internet access.
   - *Handiham.org has experienced terrible performance problems recently.
   *We are working on it, and will ultimately be moving the site off of the
   current server.  We apologize for the inconvenience.  There is no need to
   report to me that it isn't working, as we know already that there is a
   problem. The members section of the site is working somewhat better and may
   load while the main site will not. The remote base Internet stations W0EQO
   and W0ZSW are not affected by this problem as they are hosted on other
   - *Laurie, N1YXU, has completed the January Events column.  *Sorry for
   our delay in getting it posted.  You can find it here:
   - *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. *

[image: Dr. Dave climbs the tower]

Help us win the Dr. Dave Challenge, which continues into this new year.
Thanks to everyone who has helped us with donations to the Dr. Dave
Challenge so far.

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

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

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

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

Thank you so much for your support!

*Now you can support the Handiham program by donating on line using Courage
Center's secure website.*

It is easy, but one thing to remember is that you need to use the pull-down
menu to designate your gift to the Handiham program.


   Step one: Follow this link to the secure Courage Center Website:

   Step two: Fill out the form, being careful to use the pull-down
   Designation menu to select "Handi-Hams".

   Step three: Submit the form to complete your donation. If the gift is a
   tribute to someone, don't forget to fill out the tribute information. This
   would be a gift in memory of a silent key, for example.

We really appreciate your help. As you know, we have cut expenses this year
due to the difficult economic conditions. We are working hard to make sure
that we are delivering the most services to our members for the money - and
we plan to continue doing just that in 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, 11 January 2012 - Patrick Tice