[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 12 October 2011

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2011 14:38:24 -0500

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.

*The temptation of power!*

[image: cartoon radio tower]

What is it about power that makes some people crazy for it?  Once they have
a taste of power, they want still more.

Of course in ham radio, the idea of more power is usually associated with
operating with higher power output by adding RF amplifiers.  If 100 watts is
good, 1,000 must be better, right?


What does the FCC say?  It's §97.313, Transmitter power standards. Section
(a)  says, "An amateur station must use the minimum transmitter power
necessary to carry out the desired communications."

There are good reasons for using lower power levels most of the time.  If
the other station can hear you when you are using 100 watts, you are only
wasting electricity to run more power than that.  We are more conscious
about waste these days, since power costs are going up and the generation of
that wasted power wastes resources and causes pollution.  Furthermore, that
unnecessary power can cause your signal to be heard on adjacent frequencies
and at long distances.  A high-power station can easily cause interference
to other users on the band, but there is also a much greater chance of RF
getting into nearby conductors where it causes bad things to happen.

I remember a Handiham member who moved into an apartment and was lucky
enough to be able to have a wire antenna installed on the roof of the
building. Back in those days, we were able to field volunteers to help
members with such projects, and our volunteer was able to install and
connect the antenna.  The fellow had moved from a private single-family
house where he had owned and operated a complete, well-equipped station that
included a linear amplifier for the HF bands.  Our volunteer explained to
him that the amplifier would not be practical in the new QTH, since there
was not enough real estate to get the wire antenna well away from the
building. The linear was stored in a closet, and the station was tested on
the air with good results.

Well, you can probably guess what happened.  The station's owner was used to
operating with high power. (Remember: the thinking was, "If some is good,
more is better.) So out came the linear from the closet and back into the
ham shack it went.  It wasn't long before we got a call with the bad news
that the poor fellow had lost his ham radio privileges at his new QTH after
setting off all the fire alarms in the building. I don't know if he was ever
able to get on the air after that.  It was before the days of remote base
internet operation, so he was probably stuck on whatever VHF repeaters he
could work from his apartment.

Adding a linear can put enough RF energy into the area surrounding your
shack to affect your neighbors, too, even if you live in a detached
single-family home.  Devices like audio amplifiers can be connected to
speakers systems in home theaters by long lengths of unshielded wire. The
final output ICs in these devices can act as rectifiers to demodulate the RF
and cause loud thumping noises in the speakers.  Other devices that may be
connected to long lengths of wire are alarm systems, intercoms, and smoke
detectors.  The relatively weak field from a 100 watt station might
occasionally affect something in one's own home, but is seldom a problem
next door.  Bump the power up to 1,000 watts and you are asking for

Another consideration is the need for an RF safety audit.  Generally
speaking, you don't have too much to worry about when using the typical
transceiver without an amplifier.  When you increase power levels beyond
that 100 watts you are going to need to "run the numbers" to make sure that
you are in compliance with RF safety rules.  For example, if you are using
100 watts on 29 MHz with a dipole antenna, you will be in full compliance at
a distance of 25 feet from the antenna for both controlled and uncontrolled
space.  However, if you use 1,000 watts and the same antenna, you are out of
compliance for uncontrolled space.  If a neighbor's property is within that
25 feet, you are now operating outside regulations and exceeding safe power
levels.  It is even worse if you have a beam antenna for 10 meters because
of the antenna gain, which could increase the RF exposure even more in the
uncontrolled space.  It goes without saying that you want to keep RF
exposure to yourself, your family, and your neighbors to safe levels. It is
much easier to do this at lower power levels.

My favorite reason to stick to lower power levels is that linear amplifiers
only give your transmitted signal a boost.  They do nothing at all to help
you receive weak signals.  In fact, calling CQ with your linear turned on
can lead to responses from stations that are too weak to copy. You can get
more bang for your buck by installing a better antenna system.  Once I
learned this for myself, I have advised new hams to concentrate on good,
effective antennas instead of amplifiers.  After all, the antenna system
will help pull in those weak signals, helping you both on receive and

There is a time and a place for turning on the amplifier.  It is when band
conditions are deteriorating and more power might help you complete the
QSO.  It might be when you are the net control station on an HF net and it
is necessary to use high power to make sure that you are heard throughout
the geographic area of the net.  It is probably going to be helpful in the
summer when there is thunderstorm static and you are operating on 75 meters.
But more often than not high power is really not necessary.  Let's not use
it if we don't need it.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager
[image: Dr. Dave climbs the tower]Help us win the Dr. Dave Challenge!
Thanks to everyone who has helped us with donations to the Dr. Dave
Challenge so far.  We are almost 1/5 of the way toward our goal.

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!
Early Autumn Reading: Becoming a Ham (Part 5)

*We can't imagine going back to the days when there was only the most basic
adaptive technology.  But remember, that technology had to start somewhere
so that the talking accessible devices we take for granted today could be
[image: code key]

Becoming a Ham - Part 5

By T. A. Benham (SK - formerly W3DD, a callsign which has been reassigned.)

To perk up the late summer/early autumn ham radio doldrums, the Handiham
System proudly presents its summer serial, a story about one man's
experiences in the field of radio, starting with the first commercial
station in the United States, KDKA in Pittsburgh. Tom Benham, now a silent
key but who most recently held callsign W3DD, was a ham radio pioneer, and
being blind didn't even slow him down! Join us now as Tom's narrative takes
us back in time to the early 20th Century, and his new ideas that lead the
field in adaptive technology.

*Special Problems*

During my progress in Ham Radio, I encountered many problems that required
special attention. For example, how was I going to get the information that
a visual meter provides? Back before the 1980's, I caused the voltage drop
across the meter terminals to make an audible tone in a small speaker. This
was done with a potentiometer circuit. As the arm of the "pot" is turned, it
reaches a point where the voltage at the arm equals that of the meter. A
linear Braille scale behind the pot pointer indicates the reading. I
connected a chopper transistor (2N2646 UJT) between the arm of the pot and
the hot terminal of the meter. The chopper alternately connected and
disconnected the two points. If the pot was not at the zero point, a pulsing
signal reached the amplifier-speaker circuit and caused a tone. The
frequency of the resulting tone was controlled by an RC constant. At the
null, there is no sound in the speaker. I called the circuit a "null
detector". Of course it works well only with DC meters, although an AC meter
may be used if the AC voltage is rectified and filtered before chopping it.
Since the response is nonlinear, a chart is required. In order to read a
volt meter, it is necessary to access the terminals of the meter movement,
thus dodging the series resistors in the meter. Through a small company I
started in 1954, SCIENCE PRODUCTS, we adapted hundreds of Simpson 260
multimeters. We persuaded Simpson to sell the meters without the visual
movement (a saving of about $45 per unit). We mounted the potentiometer
circuit in the visual meter cavity, put a linear Braille scale over it with
a knob on top. Every function could be used with good accuracy. Because the
resistance scales are non-linear, we had to provide a Braille chart. A
variable pitch tone serves very well for tuning the plate circuit of a class
C amplifier for minimum or peak. We amplified the voltage across the meter
terminals, perhaps 100 times, and drove a variable pitch oscillator with the
amplified voltage. Using chips and transistors, I have made several such
tuners in a small box for blind Hams. While I had light perception, I used a
flashlight bulb to tune the final output. I connected a single turn loop,
perhaps 2 inches in diameter, across the bulb and held the loop near one end
of the tank coil. The RF current in the coil lit the bulb. I then adjusted
for brightest light. The same idea can be used on the antenna coil which is
coupled to the plate coil. Another approach is to use a 2 watt neon bulb.
Hold it in one hand by the glass envelope and touch the center of the base
to one of the antenna terminals. If it is a voltage point, the bulb will
glow quite brightly. I found that a finger touched to the point in question
was quite successful as I would receive a burning sensation and smell the
burning flesh. However, I did that only twice; the sensation is far from
pleasant! During late 1970's, artificial speech became available. This made
a great difference in the amount of information that could be transmitted.
Almost any display can be adapted to voice. However, things sometimes get
mighty complicated and costly. Science Products has developed talking
business machines such as cash registers, paper money identifiers, machine
tools for auto and refrigeration repair; scientific, statistical and
financial calculators; digital multimeters, frequency counters, and many
custom projects.

*To be continued...*

[image: dog barking at cartoon mail carrier]

*Mike, KJ6CBW, writes:*

I enjoyed your story about the Knight-kit receiver. When I was at Overbrook,
the club had a Knight-kit general coverage superhet receiver that included a
Q-multiplier. I thought it worked as well as a crystal filter without the
insertion loss. And later I built a regenerative receiver I used on 80
meters. It was unusual in that it used one triode of a 6SN7 as a cathode
follower that isolated the input tank circuit. It cut down on pulling
significantly, and it tolerated strong signals pretty well. I got the
circuit from the Braille Technical Press.

*Pat says:  I found an Allied catalog page that shows a complete ham radio
station from 1962.  The Knight-Kit receiver shown here does include a
Q-multiplier, so perhaps it is the same model Mike used at the Overbrook

[image: Complete ham radio station from 1962 Allied catalog.]

*Image:  Allied Radio catalog page.*  The entire station on this page
included the receiver, a T-60 transmitter, microphone, "smooth action" hand
key for Morse, 50 feet of RG-8 coax with 4 PL-259 plugs, unpadded
headphones, an antenna relay that looks like a Dow-Key model, a speaker, and
not one but TWO transmitting crystals!  The price?  $199.95, and you could
pay $10 monthly.  In case you think to yourself, "Wow, that's really cheap
for a complete station", $200.00 in 1962 had the same buying power as
$1,461.19 in 2011.

*Maurice, KD0IKO, called in to say* he tested the Wouxun radio by placing it
in his freezer (set at approx. 10 degrees) and found that the radio did not
function when it was below freezing. He also said that you should remind
everyone that batteries do not function well at or below freezing.

*Pat says: More of those radios are out there and will be exposed to cold
weather.  Maybe we will get some more reports on this popular HT from cold
weather states.  I once had a mobile radio that would get so cold in the car
overnight during Minnesota winters that none of the knobs could be turned
and the display wouldn't work. *

*US Department of State Travel Warning:*

This warning was issued on October 11, 2011. It reminds us, as volunteer
emergency communicators, to remain alert.  Most of us have grown used to
communications responses following natural disasters like hurricanes or
tornadoes. We cannot forget that terrorism, industrial accidents, or severe
earthquakes, although much more rare, are still real possibilities and will
happen with even less warning than major weather events.

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens of the potential for anti-U.S.
actions following the disruption of a plot, linked to Iran, to commit a
significant terrorist act in the United States. This Travel Alert expires on
January 11, 2012.

U.S. citizens residing and traveling abroad should review the Department's
Worldwide Caution and other travel information when making decisions
concerning their travel plans and activities while abroad. U.S. citizens are
encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S.
citizens without internet access may enroll directly at the nearest U.S.
Embassy or U.S. Consulate. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for
the embassy/consulates to contact them in case of emergency.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling
1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers
outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at
1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
Troubleshooting 101: Autotuner won't match a wire antenna.

[image: Pat and giant alligator]

*Last week we took a look at a very common problem, an antenna that can't be
matched by an automatic antenna tuner:*

*You are running a late-model radio with a built-in automatic antenna tuner.
Your new wire antenna, fed with twinlead or open wire line and a length of
coax for part of the distance, tunes on 40 through 10 meters but not on 75
meters when used with the automatic tuner.  You know that other operators
using similar antennas can operate on 75 meters, so what might be wrong and
what can you do to correct the problem?*

This generated quite a few responses, among which were these:

   - *Bill, K9BV, says,* "The tuner isn't working because the ground wire
   from the tuner is harmonically related -- just make it longer or
   shorter...or buy the MFJ box that "tunes" the ground wire.
   - *Tom, WA6IVG, writes, *"I've always been puzzled as to the popularity
   of using coax and open wire in the same feed situation. Unless the coax
   happens to be an even number of half wave lengths long, the impedance of the
   open wire and antenna will not be properly reflected at the tuner end of the
   system and there will be an unfixable mismatch between the coax/tuner and
   the open wire/antenna. The best solution is to use an appropriate balun at
   the tuner end and skip the coax. Next best is to muck about with the length
   of the coax trying to get an even number of half wave lengths on all the
   bands desired. Pretty hard. It's also possible the wire antenna/open wire
   feed combo simply presents an impedance that is outside the auto tuner's
   range, other than extending the antenna or getting an external tuner with
   wider matching capabilities, nothing to be done."

There really isn't one correct answer as to a "fix", but the problem is
caused by the radio's internal antenna tuner not being able to supply enough
of the right reactances - probably inductive reactance - to "tune" the
antenna and feedline.  To put it more simply, the radio's internal tuner
does not have enough range to tune an antenna with an SWR of over about
3:1.  Heck, for old timers 3:1 was darned near a perfect match - but new
radios will not operate with such high mismatches.  The radio's protection
circuitry will "fold back" the output power as the SWR rises.  A Kenwood
model will give an audible Morse code indication of "SWR".  So what can be

   - *Add coax: * I am a great fan of trying the simplest, cheapest options
   first.  You might consider adding a length of coiled coaxial cable to the
   existing feedline and trying the internal tuner again.  It may be possible
   to match the system if you add another 25 or 50 feet of coax. I would not
   recommend this on a system designed for VHF operation due to the insertion
   loss at those frequencies, but for HF it is negligible, especially on 75
   meters - typically a fraction of a dB.
   - *Use a manual tuner:  *Virtually all manual antenna tuners have more
   range than internal tuners.  A manual tuner may match the band that gives
   you problems and you can use a "straight through" position on the manual
   tuner's switch so that you can use the rig's internal tuner on the other
   bands.  MFJ makes a "tuner extender" that does much the same thing, and it
   also includes a straight through position.
   - *Use an external automatic antenna tuner:  *Models like the LDG
   AT-200PRO and most others offer a wider range of impedance matching than
   internal tuners.  We use LDG autotuners at both Handiham remote base
   - *Add coax & use an external tuner:  *This is for tougher cases when you
   might need to combine two of our tricks to get your antenna to tune.  If the
   antenna is still out of the range of either your external automatic or
   manual tuner, you might have to add that extra coil of coax and try tuning
   - *Change the antenna's length:  *You will notice that this is the last
   thing I would like to try, the reason being that outdoor antenna work is
   likely not going to be easy.  Also, adding wire can be tricky, and you may
   not have room for it anyway.  Adding antenna wire to solve a problem on 75 m
   might cause other bands to be out of the tuner's range.

In the final analysis, it is best to have resonant single-band antennas in
the first place.  Given the circumstances most of us face, that is a hard
goal to reach and we are probably going to have a need for antenna tuners!

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

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager
Today's kluge:  Balun cover

[image: MFJ current balun with plastic food container cover held in place
with duct tape]

One reason it is good to listen on the daily Handiham net is that you might
pick up some news about the weather.  While "reading the mail" during
today's net I heard a station in the western Twin Cities metro area report
"a deluge of rain" that was heading toward the Twin Cities.  Thanks to that
warning I was able to kluge up a protective cover for my newly-installed MFJ
current balun on the outside wall of the house.  I used a rectangular
plastic food container, the kind that something had been sold in, and cut a
hole on one end for the coax to exit through the bottom.  The 450 ohm ladder
line goes neatly in at the top, flattened between the siding and the lip of
the container, whose open end faces the wall.  I sealed the deal with duct
tape - what else?

Thanks to the timely weather warning via the net, I even had time to get
Jasper out to take care of business.

Let it pour!
Remote Base Health Report for 12 October 2011

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

*Big news: We are taking over the hosting and updates for the W4MQ software,
thanks to Stan, W4MQ, who has generously offered his software code and
assistance. Here is the updated page:

*We have posted the links to the client software, but not to the host
software.  Please email me at wa0tda@xxxxxxxx if you need that link. We hope
to add it and more support information to our pages soon. *


   *W0ZSW is on line. *

   *W0EQO is on line. *

We attempt to post a current status report each day, but if you notice a
change in either station that makes it unusable, please email us immediately
so that we can update the status and look into the problem:
wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxx the best address to use.  Please do not call by
phone to report a station
outage unless it is an emergency. Email is checked more frequently than the
phone mail in any case.

W0EQO is on line. W0ZSW is on line as of this publication date.  Users may
choose IRB Sound on the W0ZSW station if they prefer it over SKYPE. The
W0EQO station does require SKYPE, however.  IRB Sound on W0EQO has been
noticed to have dropouts on transmit.

You can view the status page at:
This week @ HQ

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

   - *Nancy will be out of the office until Thursday 20 October 2011.
   - *I am working on a new audio lecture for General to be posted on
   - *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

   - *Matt, KA0PQW, has completed a fourth Wouxun audio tutorial.  This
   latest one talks about the charger and some other side notes.  *The
   series is here:
   1. *http://handiham.org/manuals/Wouxun/KG-UVD1P/01-wouxun_ht.mp3 *
      2. *http://handiham.org/manuals/Wouxun/KG-UVD1P/02-wouxun_ht.mp3   *
      3. *http://handiham.org/manuals/Wouxun/KG-UVD1P/03-wouxun_ht.mp3 *
      4. *http://handiham.org/manuals/Wouxun/KG-UVD1P/04-wouxun_ht.mp3

   *Tonight is EchoLink net night.*  The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is
   at 19:30 United States Central time, which translates to 00:30 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 - 2011.

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 2011.

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, 12 October 2011 - Patrick Tice