[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 12 December 2012

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2012 14:06:38 -0600

*Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday,
12 December 2012*

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.

MP3 audio stream:

Download the 40 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player:

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RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:
*Welcome to Handiham World.*Meet the 75 meter band - A reliable friend year
in and year out.

[image: 3.925 MHz is displayed on an Icom IC-7200 radio.]
This week we are taking a look at a band that is useful during the entire
11 year solar cycle.

The 80/75 meter amateur band covers 3.5 to 4.0 MHz.  The ARRL Frequency
Chart shows us that this band is clearly a more complicated place to
operate than the 160 meter band, where everyone with a General license or
above has the same privileges and modes are not restricted to band
segments. On 80/75 meters there are restrictions by license class. Novice
and Technician licensees have 200 watt CW privileges in a limited portion
of 80 meters, while General and Advanced licensees have their own
respective limitations in both the CW and phone segments of 80/75.

CW, RTTY, and data are allowed below 3.6 MHz.  Phone and image are allowed
from 3.6 to 4.0 MHz.

A typical dipole antenna used on the 80/75 meter band is about a
half-wavelength long, but because this band extends along a fairly wide
portion of frequency spectrum, we do sometimes talk about an "80 meter
dipole", which is tuned for the CW portion of the band and is thus a bit
longer - around 130 feet (39.6 meters).  Note that this is about 40 meters,
or a half-wave on the 80 meter band.  Many operators prefer to spend more
time in the phone segment of the band, so they would prefer a "75 meter
dipole".  This antenna is cut for a slightly shorter wavelength and a
higher frequency, perhaps around 123 feet (37.5 meters).

What can you expect to hear if you tune around the 80/75 meter band?  If
you are listening during the daylight hours, you can hear distant stations
until the sun gets higher in the sky and absorption kills any chance of
DX.  The band will still often be useful for shorter distance regional
communications, perhaps a statewide net. A dipole antenna with a high angle
of radiation is ideal for this kind of communication. Once the sun sets,
80/75 starts to "go long".  Stations from many hundreds, even sometimes
thousands, of miles will now be heard. You can count on hearing stations in
the southern states from here in Minnesota with no problem at all.  As is
the case with 160 meters, the winter months tend to be best for using 80/75
because there are more hours of darkness and the band will be open for long
distance skip more hours, and because in the winter there is less
interfering static (QRN) from thunderstorms.

You can work all states on 80/75 more easily than you can on 160 m, but
those who prefer to meet on a less-crowded band for a casual roundtable
conversation are heard every day and through the night and early morning

A 125 foot dipole that might not fit a city lot can shrink to a much more
manageable size just by installing it in an inverted vee configuration.
This requires only one tall supporting structure for the very center, which
will be the apex of the antenna, right at the feedpoint. This will allow
you to run the feedline up the supporting structure, thus taking the weight
of the feedline off the center insulator.  The ends of the antenna angle
downward toward the ground and terminate at supporting structures that are
convenient but that keep the wire out of the way so that people won't walk
into it. I have used everything from trees to fence posts. Assuming a 125
foot antenna with a center support that allows each leg to angle downward
at 45°, the inverted vee will only take up about 90 feet of space. It also
has several other advantages. Because the center support holds the
feedline, it cannot whip around in the wind and possibly come loose or
break from the center insulator as easily. The center support structure
makes the inverted vee design much more stable and sturdier, allowing it to
stand up to icing and wind.  The part of the antenna that carries the
highest current is right near the feed point, and the feed point is at the
highest elevation of any part of the antenna, making for more efficient
communications.  One thing to watch out for is how you locate the ends of
the antenna. As with all half wave dipoles, there will be high RF voltage
at the end insulators. That means that you will want to keep them away from
any tree branches or anything else that might cause a short and away from
reach of any person who might inadvertently come in contact with that part
of the antenna. Always use high quality insulators in your antenna systems.

I know that antennas for the 75/80 meter band can be challenging to fit in,
but it is possible to have a a lot of fun on the band using a multiband
vertical antenna. Many models cover 75/80, and most of us can fit a
vertical antenna nearly anywhere, assuming that you can keep it away from
power lines. Many days I enjoy using a vertical to work stations on bands
like 20, 15, and 10 meters, but I also am able to press the vertical into
service for a regional 75 meter net with no problem at all. Sure, it isn't
my first choice for 75, but I know it will work and sometimes the
conditions actually favor vertical polarization over horizontal.  Another
antenna you might consider is the simple end-fed wire. As with the end-fed
wire for 160, you will want to feed it against an excellent ground system
with some radials for the highest effectiveness. Of course you will need a

If you are interested in working all states (WAS), you really should
consider 80/75 this winter. On this band alone, you can work the majority
of the states simply by learning about propagation on the band and
listening for nearer states during the daylight hours and distant states at
night. Remember also that both Handiham remote base HF stations are
equipped to operate on 80/75.

Next time:  The 40 meter band.

Let's get out there and enjoy HF!

Email me at handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.
Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager
What kind of microphone are you using?

[image: Logitech desk mic and monitor showing w4mq software interface.]

Bring up the subject of microphones and you are sure to get plenty of
opinions from amateur radio operators. Most of us are probably content to
stick with the microphone that came with the transceiver, at least for some
of our on the air activity. Others prefer some kind of a specialized
microphone costing hundreds of dollars because they find that it is more
configurable to their needs and makes operating more efficient and
comfortable. Sometimes you will hear on the air comparisons as microphone
geeks run A-B tests to compare one microphone with another one. I have
always been one of those operators who has been content with the microphone
that came in the box with the rig, but when the Handiham remote base HF
stations came online, I was introduced to yet another option – the computer

I had always assumed that the microphone that came with the radio would
always do a better job than some less-than-expensive computer microphone,
but once I got on the air using the HF remotes, I began getting good signal
reports that included unsolicited mentions of "nice audio". Usually people
don't comment on audio quality spontaneously unless there is something
really, really wrong and your signal sounds like a spoon that fell into the
garbage disposal. Anyway, the long and short of it is that you can produce
fine audio for amateur radio communications use when the input device is a
simple, inexpensive computer microphone. In the accompanying photo, you can
see a Logitech USB desk microphone that is used with the computer running
the W4MQ remote base client software. This combination allows me to make
nice, clear contacts using the HF remote base stations and gives me the
convenience of a desk microphone. The Logitech even has a pushbutton toggle
switch in the base to mute the audio, a feature that is convenient if I get
a phone call or am using the computer for some other application, just to
make sure that I don't transmit accidentally. I was first introduced to
this microphone when we received the donation of one for the Handiham
program from Howard, KE7KNN.  I liked it so much that I bought one for
myself to use at my own station. There are other desktop microphones out
there, and there are many excellent  headset-boom-microphone combinations.
The one thing I would recommend is that you get a USB microphone instead of
trying to depend on the analog microphones with the three and half
millimeter audio plugs. Having the USB microphone allows you to tailor the
audio specifically for the application of the remote base station so that
you don't have to worry about messing up the settings for your internal
computer soundcard.  It is like having a second specialized soundcard,
which is especially useful if you are blind and using a screen reader that
depends on having soundcard resources.

Is there a computer microphone that you should not use? Although I have not
had any real problem making contacts with the built-in microphone on a
laptop computer, these built-in microphones do have some serious
disadvantages. They are generally not able to cancel noise and are likely
to pick up sounds that are some distance from you somewhere else in the
room. In other words, if the dog starts barking that will completely
obliterate your voice as the AGC circuit in the computer tries to reset the
level. The sound can also be hollow or the level may vary enough to be
annoying. I have heard people getting good results from extremely cheap
microphones simply plugged into the computer's sound card. You have to be
careful doing this with remote base operation because if you happen to be
multitasking with the computer and some other application begins calling
for sound card resources, you can mess up the settings or inadvertently
send the wrong audio to the rig. That can be embarrassing!

The long and short of it is that you can get excellent audio for HF
operation using a computer microphone. You don't have to spend a fortune on
a high-end microphone, either.

*Next time: We talk a little bit about the VoIP software Skype, which we
use for the audio in remote base operation.*
Thoughts on FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in WT Docket No. 12-283By
Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager

On October 2, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in WT
Docket No. 12-283. In the November 7 edition of your weekly Handiham World
we heard from ARRL Dakota Division Director Greg Widin, K0GW, seeking input
from his Division:

*In October, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rule-Making proposing
changes to the Amateur Service rules. The FCC proposal includes:*

   - *granting Exam credit for expired amateur operator licenses; *
   - *shortening the grace period for renewal of amateur licenses from 2
   years to 6 months; *
   - *reducing the required number of Volunteer Examiners from 3 to 2; *
   - *permitting remote test administration; and *
   - *allowing amateur stations to transmit TDMA using FXE phone and FXD
   data emissions.*

*Here's a link to the ARRL Web story:

And here's the link to the FCC's NPRM:

Comments are due to FCC by December 24, 2012. I would like to hear your
comments and feedback on any of the FCC proposals in this NPRM.
Thanks es 73, Greg Widin, K0GW ARRL Dakota Division Director ARRL--of, by
and for the Radio Amateur

ARRL Dakota Division Director: Gregory P Widin, K0GW
k0gw@xxxxxxxx  *
Here are our thoughts on this NPRM:On lifetime exam credit:

In recent years there has been a trend toward making processes simpler and
easier. Rules that have been in place for decades need to be reviewed to
assess their effectiveness and relevance, and the discussion does recognize
the interplay of one rule with another - the license renewal window of two
years could change if lifetime exam credit were to be granted, or if a long
(10 year) renewal window replaces the existing two year window, then
perhaps there is no need for lifetime exam credit.  On the other hand, what
is to be done with callsigns that should not sit in limbo for years? The
question is one of balance.  The process needs to be reasonable and fair,
be consistent with good service to citizens, and not add to the costs and
overhead of administering the VE program or the related FCC processing and
record keeping.

We believe that the best balance is in the granting of lifetime exam credit
with a corresponding reduction of the renewal period from two years to the
proposed six months. I know that people are used to a two year "grace"
period, but come on - if you are so disengaged from Amateur Radio that you
need two years to figure out that you need to renew, you are probably not
going to care one way or the other if you keep your callsign.  Six months
is more than enough, and way more than most other renewal periods for
nearly any other license or certification. In any case, even after the
grace period passes, one would be able to get a new license by proving
previous exam credit rather than by taking the tests again. This would help
to free up inactive callsigns while still maintaining a pathway back into
the Amateur Radio Service for those whose licenses have long expired. Thus,
the FCC proposes that the vanity callsign wait also be set to six months.
Another reason cited by the FCC is to keep the licensee database accurate.
These seem like reasonable changes that would make the system more
On reducing the number of required VEs:

The FCC states, “We believe that reducing the number of required VEs can
increase the availability of examination opportunities (by enabling VEs to
offer more frequent examination sessions, or examination sessions at more
locations, or both), while not compromising the reasons the Commission
decided that more than one VE is necessary. This in turn would reduce the
difficulty and expense that some examinees and VEs experience in traveling
to an amateur radio license examination session.”

On the face of it, this goal is a worthy one that could indeed help VE
teams in sparsely-populated areas offer more VE sessions.  I know there is
a tradeoff between having three VE team members to better assure exam
integrity and the very real need to address the relative difficulty of
offering timely VE sessions in rural areas.  We talk with Handiham members
who have to travel long distances to test, and people with disabilities
often face a much more complicated and sometimes expensive travel day
because they may not have access to a personal vehicle.  I have to come
down on the side of supporting this change - but a smaller two member VE
team should only be used when three VE team members are simply not
available and the exam could otherwise not be administered in a timely
On remote VE testing:

The FCC opens the possibility of remote testing using audio and video “to
provide that, at the option of the administering VEs and the VEC
coordinating the examination session, the VEs may be ‘present and
observing’ an examinee for purposes of the rule when they are using an
audio and video system that can assure the proper conduct and necessary
supervision of each examination. Commenters should address what, if any,
specific requirements should be incorporated into the rule (such as
requiring one VE to be physically present at the examination session) and
whether remote testing should be permitted everywhere, or only for
examination sessions at less accessible locations (and how to define such
locations). We believe that permitting remote examination administration
can increase the availability of examination opportunities, which would
reduce the difficulty and expense that some examinees and VEs experience in
traveling to an amateur radio license examination session.”

Remote testing appeals to me, because I am used to operating remotely in my
work for the Handiham program. Giving examinations remotely is an obvious
way to make a VE session available in an isolated area. However, the FCC
would also like to know if remote examinations should be available
everywhere.  We have no objection to its wider application, but the devil
is always in the details of such things. It will be necessary to figure out
a process to ensure exam integrity, and this will certainly take some time.
What constitutes being ‘present and observing’ must be clearly defined.
On emission designators and TDMA:

We support the changes recommended by ARRL. ARRL states, "The ARRL will
file an amended waiver request immediately in the hope that it can be
quickly granted in light of the strong support for the ARRL’s Petition that
is reflected in the comments filed on RM-11625.”

[image: cartoon robot with pencil]

George,  NB9R, writes seeking participants for ARES:

My name is George Geotsalitis and I'm one of the Assistant Emergency
Coordinators for the ARES Group in DuPage County, Illinois. I'd like to
talk to someone in Handihams regarding the existence of any Handiham
members who live in or around our county. We have a definite interest in
training Net Control Stations for our ARES nets.


George Geotsalitis, NB9R
Public Service & Emergency Communications Manager
DuPage County ARES Assistant Emergency Coordinator
NWS Severe Weather Ham Team

We have withheld George's contact information to prevent junk mail and
telemarketers, so please contact the Handiham office for his phone number
and email address if you live in the Chicagoland area, especially the
northwestern suburbs, and wish to participate in ARES NCS training.  Please
email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for the contact information.
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.  *

*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 General Class pool and take a look rectifiers:

G7A06 asks: *"What portion of the AC cycle is converted to DC by a
full-wave rectifier?"*

Possible choices are:

A. 90 degrees
B. 180 degrees
C. 270 degrees
D. 360 degrees

Think of a wave as a complete circle of 360 degrees.  In a sine wave, as we
proceed through time, we begin at 0º, proceed to the first peak at 90º,
return back down to the baseline at 180º, dip to a low below the baseline
at 270º, and finally return back up to the baseline at 360º, ready to start
the next cycle.  D, 360 degrees, is the right answer because a full wave
includes 360º.

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.
*Remote Base health report: W0EQO is on line. W0ZSW is on line.

[image: W0EQO remote base at Courage North, Lake George, MN.]

*Work continues on the remote base software.  Both stations are accessible
via Echolink for receive.  *Look for W0ZSW-L and W0EQO-L using the search
function in your Echolink application.  Please note that it is not allowed
to connect through RF to the two remote base Echolink nodes, you can only
use the Echolink application of a computer or smartphone.

If problems show up, please email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

Keyboard commands list updated:

*Solar Activity Forecast:* Solar activity is expected to be at very low
levels with a chance for C-class flares on days one, two, and three (12
Dec, 13 Dec, 14 Dec).

Credit: NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center:
This week @ HQ

[image: Cartoon guy carrying ham radio study books]

The December Audio Digest is completed and digital DAISY cartridges are in
the mail. All December 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

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

Plan now to contact the Handiham office with your news or address changes,
stories to share, or anything else that needs to be completed before year's
end.  The Handiham office will close for the week of Christmas through the
end of the year and will reopen after New Year's Day.  That means that once
Nancy leaves the office at 2pm USA Central Time on December 20, any
business you have left until the last minute will have to wait for the
first week in January! Please plan ahead - it will not be possible to get
in touch with us during the last 10 days of the month!  During that time we
will keep the website up to date and assure that the remote base stations
are operational. The nets will continue on a regular schedule most days,
but family holidays are special and sessions may be simple open round
tables if no net control shows up.

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

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

*Equipment change: *We no longer accept antennas, except small accessory
antennas for handheld radios. *We do not accept donations of cassette tapes
or tape equipment or used magazines. *
No more tape digests and manuals

*Please remember that the cassette tape digest ceases following the mailing
at the end of November!  After that all audio is in DAISY digital format or
on line through the members only section of handiham.org. The Library of
Congress 4-track tape system will no longer be supported in any form after
2012.  *

*George, N0SBU, reminds us that the final tape digest mailing is out and we
will no longer support cassette tapes. We do not accept donations of
cassette tapes or tape equipment.  *

*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 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, 12 December 2012 - Patrick Tice