[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 14 December 2011

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2011 15:33:32 -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. You
can listen to this news online.

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Welcome to Handiham World!

[image: Butternut vertical antenna covered with a wintery coat of fluffy,
white snow.]

Wow, it's hard to believe that we are only a week and a half until
Christmas and two and a half weeks until 2012.  My January 2012 QST arrived
in the mail the day before yesterday, and it is sure to provide some good
reading over the holidays. The theme of the issue is "DIY", or "Do It
Yourself", and big letters on the cover proclaim:  "Winter...  The perfect
time of year to build something!"

In case you have not been following the DIY movement, you will certainly
want to catch the article by Allen Pitts, W1AGP, on page 75.  "The DIY
Magic of Amateur Radio" gives an overview of what is going on in the world
of creative "makers" who enjoy the challenge of building projects from
scratch.  As Allen points out, there is nothing new about doing it yourself
in amateur radio.  Most of us will eventually build something for the ham
shack, even if it is a simple project.  Even the most impressive home-built
project had its roots in earlier simple projects that allowed for a
learn-as-you-go evolution of building skill and confidence.

There are different reasons that motivate builders.  If you don't have much
money in the ham radio budget, building your own antenna is a good way to
get on the air and enjoy the process of figuring out what you are going to
make, finding the parts, and learning to to make an antenna by actually
making an antenna.  For that second project money might not be an object,
and yet you might still decide to build your own project, because you can
recall the fun and satisfaction of that first project.  Yes, building your
own ham radio projects really does grow on you!

Since there is a growing "DIY" movement out there that is not necessarily
ham radio oriented, wouldn't it make sense to help those folks learn about
ham radio and its long history of building?  That's what Allen's article is
about, and it showcases a new 8-minute video available on December 27
through the ARRL's We  Do That Radio website.  I'll provide the link to the
ARRL website story at the break.

Kudos to ARRL for pursuing this line of marketing amateur radio.  There are
many misconceptions out there in the General Public, and it is important to
tell our story to set the record straight.  Finding new and creative ways
to get the word out is simply part of the new reality of sharing amateur
radio.  If you'll recall the post 9/11 days when emergency communication
became a hot topic, amateur radio stepped in as a flexible
volunteer-oriented way to augment existing public service communications.
Excitement grew around serving as emergency communicators, and there was a
lot of growth in the new ham population.  The EMCOMM system evolved, too.
We now have a well-trained cadre of communicators whose focus is on that
vital aspect of amateur radio.   Now it is time to move on to other
interest groups, and makers are prime candidates for the exciting world of
amateur radio building!

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

*ARRL web article announcing new DIY video:
Early Winter Reading: Becoming a Ham (Part 13)
[image: code key]

Becoming a Ham - Part 13

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

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 W3DD completes his story about his 70 years in ham radio.

*Experiment with crossed dipoles *

At my new house I had a 20 foot tower mounted on our flat roof and put a 20
meter dipole atop it. It worked like a charm, but since we were in a hollow
and the sun spots were not favorable, I had problems working DX. I often
wanted to work on 40 meters, so I needed a dipole for that band. I thought
perhaps I could make a dipole at a right angle to the 20 meter dipole. I
cut two lengths of flexible wire 33 feet long, put a large battery clip on
one end of each, fastened a weight to the other ends, clamped them either
side of the center of the 20 meter dipole and draped the wires over the
edge of the roof. This dipole is at a right angle to the 20 meter antenna.
My idea was that the center of the 20 meter dipole is low impedance while
that of the 40 meter dipole is high at 20 meters. The reverse is true at 40
meters. Therefore, they would not bother each other. It worked great! It
required very little adjustment of the tuner on switching bands. Perhaps
this is "old hat", but I had not heard of it. Beginning about this time,
1987, I contacted an amateur, a woman in Lakeland Florida, Esther Frost,
KA1IFF. Esther and I have a chat almost every morning between 8 and 8:30,
week days. Of course, there are lapses when one of us is away or fails to
get up on time or has other engagements. When she and her husband, Elmer,
often go on long trips in their RV, she has a portable setup so she can
keep in touch with her Ham friends. She learned the code as a naval
operator during WW2 but did not get her Ham ticket until 1979.

*The side swiper *

In about 1975 I contacted W3IM, Jay Gaul, from nearby Ardmore, PA, on 40
meter CW. We had a short QSO in which he indicated we had contacted before.
After signing off, I got my Braille log out and sure enough, he was there
on November 15, 1931. I found his call several times during the next couple
of years but then no more until 1975, when his fist sounded quite
different, very steady with excellent dot-dash characters. It sounded
mechanic. The next time I contacted him I asked what key he was using.

"Why, it's a side-swiper. You move the knob back and forth as with a bug.
The contact is held longer for a dash and a very short time for a dot. To
send W3IM the motion would be short left, long right, long left, short
right, short left, short right, long left, long right, etc. This can be
done very rapidly, as you can hear."

"Wow," I exclaimed. "It must take forever to get up to your speed!"

He replied, "I've been at it for 50 years or so and now it's the only way I
can send."

We chatted many times during the next ten years. I used a speed of 25 words
per minute most of the time and replied at the same speed. One day, to see
what would happen, right in the middle of a transmission I used my other
bug, which was set for 30 words per minute. He came back to me at 30 words
per minute with the same perfect fist. It was wonderful to hear and copy.

One day he appeared at my shack saying, "I've made you a side-swiper just
like mine. I want you to learn how to use it. You'll have fun with it."

We connected it to my rig, he gave me a demonstration and I played with it
for a few minutes without much success. "Don't be discouraged," he said.
"It will take time but you'll get it."

The next time we had a QSO I tried to use it, but made only a few
characters correctly. A year later I was able to send about 15 words per
minute, but it was a struggle. He seemed pleased with my progress, but I
felt so inferior to his performance that I was tempted to give up. However,
I stuck at it until my 15 words per minute was acceptable. This experience
prompted me to start gathering samples of all the methods of sending CW
signals that I could find. This resulted in many cassette recordings with
samples of side-swiper, Vibroplex (bug), straight key, keyboard, Bencher,
Morse code with sounder and CW, and even ICW, which sounds beautiful but is
illegal because it's a spectrum hog. There is one sample I have not been
able to get: the sound of a spark transmission. I heard it back in my early
days but had no way to record it. Hams have sent me imitations, but they
don't sound like the real thing. Even after 70 years of Ham operation I
still find new challenges and interests to keep me going.

The end.
Update!  The Handiham World Year-End Appeal Edition now in MP3 Audio!
[image: Screenshot of the 2011 Handiham World print edition, showing page

*Thanks to Bob Zeida, N1BLF*, we now have the year-end edition in MP3
audio.  Here is the link for a download:

The Handiham World is published in print once per year along with an
enclosed giving envelope. It is mailed to our regular subscribers and is
now available as a PDF download. The link to the PDF download, which
contains embedded text, is here:

The giving envelope is not available in the PDF version, but we will be
happy to send you one if you request it, either by emailing us at
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or calling toll-free at 1-866-426-3442. You can
donate online to support the Handiham System, too. The page with
instructions may be found at:

Be sure to read through the entire page for instructions on how to support
the Handiham program specifically.

You can get the weekly Handiham World by email or audio podcast, or you can
read or listen right here on Handiham.org:

To request an email subscription, please contact pat.tice@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
The weekly edition comes out each Wednesday.

[image: dog barking at cartoon mail carrier]

*Mike, KJ6CBW, writes:*

I learned that the Audible Transmitter Output Monitor (ATOM) I produce and
sell for $90 is shown on page 80 of the November QST in the New Products
section. This device gives an audible indication that an internal or
external antenna tuner has matched a 50-ohm load. For info, go to:

*Ken, KB3LLA, likes Handytech: *

*www.handytech.us *

*Dick, WA0CAF, likes Tech Support Alert: *

*www.techsupportalert.com *

Troubleshooting 101: Icom IC-706M2G update

[image: Pat and giant alligator]

*The ongoing discussion is about my Icom IC-706M2G transceiver,* which
started to behave a little strangely.  I noticed one morning that the radio
had simply turned off on its own.

[image: The IC-706M2G, operating well on 160 meters]

This week I am happy to report that the IC-706 is working perfectly.  I
have learned not to be too quick to decide that I have actually located the
problem, a lesson learned over the years as I have dealt with various kinds
of intermittent problems.  Any bench technician worth his or her salt will
tell you that intermittent problems have a sneaky way of returning after
you think they have been located and fixed.  It often turns out that what
you thought was the cause of the problem was really just a red herring -
you didn't really find the cause at all.  So with that proviso in mind, I
can report that I observed something that gave me a clue.

The way I have my shack set up includes two DC power supplies.  Both
supplies, a Samlex switcher and an Astron RS-20A, have two parallel sets of
Anderson Powerpole® connectors, which allows me to connect the radios and
accessories as I see fit to distribute the load.  There are three radios; a
Yaesu 2 meter mobile rig, the Icom IC-7200 HF rig, and the IC-706M2G.  No
two radios ever transmit at once, no matter how they are connected to the
power supplies, so the maximum current drawn would never exceed the supply
capabilities. Further, I often operate the radios, especially the ones
capable of FM, a 100% duty cycle mode, at much less than full power.  In
trying to diagnose the intermittent problem with the 706, I had switched
the power supplies around.  Last week, while attempting to check into the
PICONET HF net on 75 meters, the IC-7200 suddenly lost power on transmit.
I could get out a partial callsign, and the net control station was able to
understand who was calling.  Those net controls are good!

Anyway, thanks to the Powerpole connectors, I was able to quickly switch
power supplies and carry on normally.  Now I had additional information,
though, because another radio had suddenly lost power.  Might I be closer
to a solution?


After the QSO on PICONET, I checked the power supply leads again.  The
power had failed while the IC-7200 was connected to the Astron linear
supply, not to the Samlex switcher.  My next move was to connect the Yaesu
2 meter rig to the Astron and just let it run.  Remember, there are red
herrings everywhere when you are dealing with intermittent problems! As of
today, the IC-706 has behaved normally, which points more and more toward a
problem outside the radio - either the power supply or the associated
wiring.  Most of us who are a little long of tooth are of the opinion that
linear supplies are more reliable than the newer switching supplies.
However, as with any investigation, it is important to keep an open mind.
Preconceived notions can bias your thinking and lead you down the wrong
path.  Look at the facts, and remember that sometimes even the unlikely
still happens.

One of the best cases of the unlikely turning up in a troubleshooting case
was the mystery of the malfunctioning E. F. Johnson  transmitter in the
radio club shack at college.  One of the guys decided to take it on as a
real challenge, and his extraordinary attention to methodical, careful
troubleshooting led to the culprit:  A wire in the wiring harness below the
chassis had parted inside the insulation.  I have never forgotten that
lesson in troubleshooting.  The most reliable of parts, a simple wire,
failed even though it was part of a bundle of wires that never was touched
or flexed in normal use. Think of all the usual suspects: vacuum tubes,
switches that could get corroded, bad resistors that could crack or change
value with heat, leaky electrolytic capacitors, and on and on.  Who would
EVER guess that a wire would be the problem?  The point is that the unusual
and improbable can still happen.  It doesn't make sense to check for
improbable causes right off the bat, but as careful troubleshooters we also
must not rule them out as suspects.

*We also heard from Tom, KB8TYJ, with progress on his 10 meter interference
problem:  *In case you are not familiar with the noise, you can listen

*Matt, KA0PQW, suggested shutting down the house power and searching the
neighborhood with a portable radio if the problem was not at the home QTH.*

*Tom writes:*  "Two ham friends and I tried to track down my annoying
interference problem on 10 meters, and here's what we found:  After
extensive investigation, we determined that the interference problem is not
in the home QTH. Nothing changed when all of the circuit breakers were
systematically turned on and off. However, when we took a walk outside with
a receiver and directional antenna, we were actually able to pinpoint the
interference to a house that is about half a block away from where I live.

Now Tom is wondering how to handle the situation diplomatically.  We
suggested one resource for ideas, the ARRL website:

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.

G8B04 asks, *"What is the name of the stage in a VHF FM transmitter that
generates a harmonic of a lower frequency signal to reach the desired
operating frequency?"*

You possible answers are:

A. Mixer
B. Reactance modulator
C. Pre-emphasis network
D. Multiplier

Before we give you the answer, I'll offer extra credit if you can tell us
why we should generate a harmonic of a lower frequency in a VHF-FM
transmitter instead of generating the operating frequency directly.

So...  What do you think?  Well, let's start with the correct answer, which
is D, Multiplier.  Doesn't it make sense that a circuit designed to up the
harmonic of a given starting frequency be called a multiplier?  I think so!

Now for the hard part, which is why this design is preferred in the first
place.  After all, it would seem to just add another transmitter stage when
we could generate the operating frequency directly.  The key to good
transmitter design is stability. We don't want our transmitter to drift or
be unstable.  Any variation on the frequency of the signal must only be as
a result of our modulating signal, which carries the speech information,
and not a result of oscillator instability.  It is easier to design stable
oscillators at lower frequencies than VHF, so the idea is to start with a
very stable lower frequency oscillator, then use a multiplier circuit to
bring it up into the VHF range.  That way we take advantage of a more
stable design but are still able to operate on VHF with that same

*Handiham appreciation day on SCARS a great success!*

On Sunday December 11 the South C.A.R.S. VoIP service showed their
appreciation for what the Handiham program does for the amateur radio
community.  The net, promoted in advance and timed to mesh flawlessly with
the usual Sunday Trivia Net operated by WA6DKS, was a moderated rag chew
featuring a weekly topic, and this time it was all about Handihams.

Southcars has been doing business for over 40 years with the digital side
celebrating the start of its 5th year this coming January the 5th. Their
total membership is close to 11,700 as of today, and they expect to reach
and exceed 12,000 sometime next month.

SCARS invites our readers and listeners to visit their website:

Thanks to Gordon, KY6V, for contributing to this story.
Remote Base Health Report for 14 December 2011

[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:
This week @ HQ

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

   - *Bob, N1BLF, *has completed the CQ audio digest for our blind
   members.  Check into members only.  Bob is also waiting for the new Extra
   Class pool to be released so that he can help us with the audio version.
   - *The Handiham Office will be closed for the entire last week of
   December* between the holidays of Christmas and New Year's.  We reopen
   on Tuesday, January 3, 2012.
   - *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.


*FCC says, "ENOUGH!" to loud TV commercials*

[image: FCC Round Seal]

Yes, I know it is not related to ham radio, but some things are just such
good news that they deserve a (dare I say it) shout out.

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today took a
major step toward eliminating one of the most persistent problems of the
television age – loud commercials. The Commission adopted a Report and
Order that implements the 2010 Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation
Act (the CALM Act), in which Congress gave the Commission, for the first
time, authority to address the problem of excessive commercial loudness.
The rules adopted today require that commercials have the same average
volume as the programs they accompany. The rules also establish simple,
practical ways for stations and MVPDs (Multichannel Video Programming
Distributors) to demonstrate their compliance with the rules. They carry
out Congress’ mandate to give viewers relief from overloud commercials
while avoiding unnecessary burdens on television stations and MVPDs.

Read the text of the FCC announcement:

Supporting Handihams - 2011. [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.

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 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  *

Other related posts:

  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 14 December 2011 - Patrick Tice