[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 13 March 2013

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 13 Mar 2013 14:45:33 -0500

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

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center
Handiham System <http://handiham.org/>. 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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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.*Batteries charged?

[image: NiMH battery charger and 4 AAA cells being charged.]

Welcome to our weekly podcast and newsletter!  My batteries are definitely
recharged after a short Spring break in a sunny spot. Nancy will be back
from her Spring break on Monday, 18 March, so the office will be back in
business again.  Since I am playing catch-up and fielding phone calls and
emails by myself today, we can't have a full-length edition as we usually
do, but let's see what we can fit in to bring you up to date.

One of the interesting things I noticed on the flight back to Minneapolis
yesterday was that the fellow sitting next to me had a tablet computer - an
iPad, I think - and he fired it up as soon as the captain gave the okay for
electronic devices shortly after takeoff.  He proceeded to watch a video
the entire flight, which meant that he was using the device in an
energy-intensive video mode for over three hours.  The device wasn't
plugged into any kind of USB charger or supplementary power source, so that
meant that the internal battery was able to power the tablet for several
hours of constant use in a demanding mode.

*I was impressed!*

I wish I knew more about batteries.  My best guess is that a tablet
computer uses a high energy density power source like a lithium-ion
battery.  Such batteries have sometimes made the news when they have
overheated and failed, sometimes causing burns and fires. One new airliner
has been in the news lately because of lithium-ion battery fires.  This
kind of battery can sometimes be defective because of contamination in the
manufacturing process and cause the device in which it is used - such as a
laptop computer - to overheat and even start a fire.  But no battery
chemistry is perfect, and lithium-ion batteries are really good - and safe
to use - these days.  They charge relatively fast and have the desirable
high energy density that portable devices crave.  Battery failures are
relatively rare.

When I think about the limitations of early handheld radios, I know that I
wouldn't want to go back to the bad old days when rechargeable batteries
were heavy, slow and fussy to charge, discharged really fast, and often
failed to take a charge after a year or less of use.  You had to be careful
about charging some of the old nickel-cadmium cells because they couldn't
be charged too quickly and they would sometimes fail far earlier than their
projected lifespan if you allowed them to overcharge or if you let them go
completely dead, didn't charge them fully before use, and on and on.  It
seemed like no matter what theory I followed to try and keep  my HT's NiCd
battery packs alive, they went "toes up" well before their time.  I had a
couple of universal NiCd chargers that could take several sizes of cells,
from the square 9V to AA, AAA, and C cells.  The batteries gave me no end
of headaches and usually needed charging often before failing after a year
or so, no matter how much I used them.

Today's NiCd batteries are built a bit differently and are more reliable.
Newer chemistries like nickel-metal-hydride and lithium-ion have become
more popular and have certainly proven more reliable in my ham radio
devices - and in other things like cameras and remote controls, too.  The
lithium-ion battery in my UV5R HT seems to just go and go.  My old pair of
Icom IC-T2H handheld radios used 8 AA NiCd cells that have long since gone
to the battery graveyard, and I have given up on anything but disposable AA
alkaline cells for them.  Not only are the alkalines more reliable, but
they are readily available, have a long shelf life, and are easily disposed
of.  NiCds have fallen out of favor because one of the ingredients,
cadmium, is a heavy metal that poses an environmental hazard.  It is
heavily restricted in Europe.

If you own portable radios and use them for public service communications,
you will certainly want to do a bit of research on batteries. If you
respond to a communications emergency and show up with only one battery and
no way to charge it, you are not going to remain in service very long
before you will have to borrow someone else's spare radio or battery.  If
you have an old radio that accepts commonly available AA cells, by all
means bring it and a package of alkaline AA cells along as a backup. The
bottom line is that you have to know your batteries - pay attention to the
charging time they require and how long they last.  Remember that a busy
communications emergency may call for more transmit time, which means
shorter battery life.  Use low power when it is practical to extend battery
life. One good way to make this possible is by also packing a high gain
antenna for your radio, which will allow you to extend its range with low
power.  The antenna is easy to pack in your go-kit and will serve you well
in emergencies. Accessory antennas are available from any ham radio dealer,
but be sure that you get the right connector. If you can, pack a high gain
antenna for each style of radio that you typically take to a public service
communications event.  They are typically small and light, and can really
extend battery life.

But back to that guy on the plane and his iPad.  Even a few years ago,
streaming video on a portable device would have caused it to croak in short
order as the older battery technology was just not up to the task. Today we
enjoy much, much better batteries, and they are getting even better by the
day.  I have heard some ham radio operators sharing their amazement at the
life of some of the batteries in the new handheld radios.  I am looking
forward to my local radio club's April meeting when my ARRL Section
Manager, Skip, KS0J, will present a program on batteries.

Before we move on to the next item, I want to ask you to guess when the
NiCd battery was invented.  You can look it up of course, but just think to
yourself about it and take a guess without cheating.  I'll let you know
before we sign off today, so keep reading and listening.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager

[image: cartoon robot with pencil]
Jose, KK4JZX, writes to ask for reports on the IRB software:

   - To All Handiham Members and volunteers,

   We are preparing for an upcoming release of the web transceiver client.
   We are planning some minor updates which will make managing the remote
   stations much simpler. One of the target milestones of the remote base
   client development project is to make the system simpler to manage in
   addition to improving usability and accessibility. We are achieving the
   milestones in manageable stages. With the first few releases of Web
   transceiver, we wanted to improve performance and usability and we achieved
   that goal. We wanted to begin making the internals much more manageable and
   we also achieved that milestone and continue it as a work in progress. Some
   major issues have been fixed which have added stability to the remote base
   client. We recognize that there is much yet to be done but we also
   recognize that it takes time and effort to have a solution that is simpler
   to use every time we release a client version. We are focused on fixing
   major bugs first and introducing new features as a secondary effort. We
   have come a long way in achieving the goals that we set forth initially.
   Now, we see that there is much more that can be done to improve and enhance
   the client software. Hang in there folks, we are working diligently to get
   your needs met. Hang in there because Web Transceiver is getting better
   with each release. If you have often found the station in a state where it
   appears there is just dead air, We are resetting RF gain back to defaults,
   we are fixing that with this release. We are setting the stations back to
   simplex mode every time a remote client logs out. We are also fixing some
   other minor annoyances and will continue to do so as we move forward. Enjoy
   the new versions of web transceiver and let us know if you find anything
   that needs fixing. Remember, we can’t fix it if you don’t report it.

   73: KK4JZX

NASA Science News has interesting messages each week, and sometimes even
more often:

   - The March 8 report mentioned "Using data from an aging NASA
   spacecraft, researchers have found signs of an energy source in the solar
   wind that has caught the attention of fusion researchers."


   - NASA Science News for March 10, 2013 reports that vegetation growth at
   Earth's northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the
   south, according to a NASA-funded study. "It's like Winnipeg, Manitoba,
   moving to Minneapolis-Saint Paul in only 30 years," says one of the lead


While you may wonder what either of these stories has to do with ham radio,
all I can say is that we need to keep our minds open to all the
possibilities. Who knows what will come of new power sources?  What about
climate change that increases thunderstorm activity and atmospheric ducting
at higher latitudes?  It's exciting to speculate on fantastic new
technologies and opportunities that will necessarily affect ham radio!  And
I'm glad that the aging NASA spacecraft had enough battery life to send us
even more data.

Handiham Nets are on on the air.

*Did you make the trip along with the rest of us net checker-inners to
Daylight Time? *

[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.  *

*We maintain our nets at 11:00 hours daily relative to Minnesota time.
Daylight Time began this week at 02:00 Sunday morning, 10 March. Since the
nets remain true to Minnesota time, the difference between Minnesota time
and GMT is -5 hours.  The net is on the air at 16:00 hours GMT.  This is
one hour earlier than usual if you are on GMT, as compared with USA
standard time. *

*The official and most current net news may be found at:
http://www.handiham.org/nets *
*A dip in the pool*

[image: Pat shows off his new Plantronics USB headset!]

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

*Let's go to the Extra Class pool and look at a question about batteries:*

E4E07 asks, "How can you determine if line noise interference is being
generated within your home?"

Possible answers are:

A. By checking the power line voltage with a time domain reflectometer

B. By observing the AC power line waveform with an oscilloscope

C. By turning off the AC power line main circuit breaker and listening on a
battery operated radio

D. By observing the AC power line voltage with a spectrum analyzer

I'm pretty sure that all of you picked answer C, By turning off the AC
power line main circuit breaker and listening on a battery operated radio,
which was the correct one. I have had an old Sony portable radio for over
40 years, and it still works great for noise finding because it runs on
batteries and also tunes the AM broadcast band - a bonus is its long
internal ferrite bar antenna that makes direction-finding easy. It's one of
the few devices I have that takes C cells - four of them.  My stock of
alkaline and rechargeable C cells is not getting much more use than to
power this single radio, since all of our old flashlights have been
replaced with new LED lights that use three AAA cells to get enough voltage
to fire the LEDs (4.5 volts.)

*By the way, according to Wikipedia, the first NiCd battery was created by
Waldemar Jungner of Sweden in 1899.  I was surprised to learn that this
battery chemistry has been around for well over a century.  You can read
the Wikipedia article here:

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.
This week @ HQ**Some of our new audio for blind members:*

   - *An excellent resource is the article "First Steps in Radio",
   available in PDF to ARRL members in the QST archives<http://www.arrl.org/>,
   January 1985.  *Because of its age this article is a PDF image that does
   not contain embedded text for blind users, but Handiham members can listen
   to our audio recording by volunteer Jim Perry, KJ3P, available in
the members
   section at Handiham.org <http://handiham.org/drupal2/user>.  Our thanks
   to Jim for his help in making this available to our blind members.
   - Jose, KK4JZX, tells us about a new way being developed to make the Web
   Transceiver more blind-friendly. Includes JAWS and NVDA audio demo of new
   proposed enter logon information

*Watch for the next Remote Base software upgrade.  *

   - It will address issues caused by users who adjust the RF Gain, Split
   Mode Operation, and Squelch controls and then fail to return them to their
   default settings. This probably happens by accident, but nonetheless it is
   a real problem for both that user who stumbles into it by accident and the
   next person who logs into the station and has no idea what is going on.
   The RF Gain, Split, and Squelch all seem to be easy to mess up and hard to
   fix!  We will soon release an update that will return all of these controls
   to their default settings upon log off. This change and upgrade will be
   welcomed by me and other users. After the upgrade, even if you mess up and
   change these controls and can't figure out how to fix them, all you need to
   do is log off and then log back in and everything will be back to normal!
   We have been concerned about all of these controls because two of them, the
   RF Gain and Squelch, can cause the radio's receiver to be "dead", and the
   Split control can cause you to transmit on a different frequency than you
   listen on - a definite way to make an embarrassing mistake on the air by
   disturbing someone else's QSO. Watch for the upgrade release later this
   month. You can find out more about our progress anytime at:

*The DAISY <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DAISY_Digital_Talking_Book> digest
for our blind members is completed for March.  *

   - Our thanks to Bob, N1BLF, Jim, KJ3P, and Ken, W9MJY, for reading this
   month.  Look for these DAISY materials in the members section.

*The Handiham office opens for its regular schedule on Monday, 18 March.

   - Nancy returns to the office on Monday and can then process any
   membership renewals or changes of address you may have.  In the meantime, I
   can take care of Remote Base access issues, podcast and eletter issues, and
   most technical questions. (Please submit these by email, not telephone, if

Radio Camp application packets will be ready for mailing in late
March. Printing is now complete. *

**2013 camp dates call for arrival on July 28 and departure on August 2.
We have confirmed that we will offer our campers who pass Technician at
camp brand-new handheld radios. Radio camp will emphasize ham radio fun and
getting on the air.

We will feature:

   - Technician beginner small group class - Get your first license and get
   on the air!
   - General Class study group for those who need a quick review before
   taking the General exam.
   - Extra Class study group for those who need a quick review before
   taking the Extra exam.
   - VE session conducted by SARA, the Stillwater (MN) Amateur Radio
   Association, on Thursday, August 1, at 1:30 PM.
   - Operating Skills small group get on the air sessions and discussions
   - ARRL update - What's new at ARRL.
   - Extra Class seminar for those with Extra Class licenses who want to
   participate in more advanced technical projects and discussions
   - Several stations to operate, including maritime mobile on the camp
   pontoon boat with Cap'n Bill, N0CIC
   - Sailing with Skipper Bill, K9BV
   - Handiham Radio Club meeting and elections
   - Dining in the nearby newly-remodeled Woodland dining hall.
   - Fun in the sun during Minnesota's excellent summer season - at Camp
   Courage on beautiful Cedar Lake!

For a Radio Camp application, email Nancy at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or
call her at 763-520-0512.

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

*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 Handiham Weekly E-Letter in MP3
format <http://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3>
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.
Return to Handiham.org <http://handiham.org/>

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 13 March 2013 - Patrick Tice