[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 15 August 2012

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2012 09:21:40 -0500

*Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday,
15 August 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:
http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u

Download the 40 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player:
http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3

Get this podcast in iTunes:
<http://www.itunes.com/podcast?id=372422406>
http://www.itunes.com/podcast?id=372422406

RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham
------------------------------
*Welcome to Handiham World.*

Changing times, changing Radio Camp

*Radio Camp has been a core part of the Handiham program, but it has not
always been the same over the years. How can it change with the times? How
is ham radio changing?*

For the two decades plus that I have worked for Courage Center, the
Handiham Radio Camps have been changing, but they have always included
licensing classes and have been around a week long. I think the shortest
was five full days; most were seven or even eight if you counted the two
halves of the travel days. We offered a California camp and a Minnesota
camp each year. The last California session was in 2008, just as the Great
Recession was peeking above the horizon. Little did we know at that time
how devastating that recession would be and how it would cause us to pull
back some of our services. California camp was an early casualty, but we
have managed to keep the Minnesota camp intact. Now, with the June 2012
camp session behind us, we must consider what we can do to make Radio Camp
successful in 2013.

Before I tell you my ideas, I'd like to take a look at some trends in ham
radio and life in general, so bear with me. Remember that what constitutes
a "trend" isn't always easy to define. Sometimes things change gradually
over a long period of time - many years or decades, even centuries or
millennia - while others change over a matter of months or a few years. It
can be hard to tell when something is a short term trend or whether it is
"permanent" for all practical purposes. Here are some trends that I have
noticed:

   1. It is harder than ever to get people to commit to club meetings and
   organized group activities.
   2. The city parks and playgrounds are often nearly empty on a nice
   summer day.
   3. There are many two meter amateur radio repeaters with almost no
   activity.
   4. It seems as if every driver I see is talking on a cell phone.
   5. Two things that are getting hard to find are cassette tapes and
   photographic film.
   6. "LOL" has entered the vernacular.
   7. There is a lot of gray hair at ham club meetings.
   8. There is a lot of gray hair at lots of non-ham meetings.
   9. Most of us throw stuff out rather than getting it fixed.
   10. Social networks like Facebook are growing.

So what do I make of this and how does any of it relate to ham radio today
and Radio Camp in particular?

*Community:*

Consider this: Ham Radio *is* a social network, and it predates Facebook by
nearly a hundred years. It has many of the elements that web-based social
networks do, including making friends and communicating with them on a
regular basis, sharing news and information about other interests, and
building technology. The "Amateur's Code" was originally written by Paul M.
Segal, W9EEA. in 1928. One of its main tenets is that the amateur is
"BALANCED... Radio is a hobby never interfering with duties owed to his
family, job, school or community." Even in the early days of Amateur radio,
it was observed that one could go overboard and miss out on real life by
becoming too engaged in radio. Perhaps this wisdom should be applied to the
digital distractions that empty out the city parks and playgrounds, and
drain away participation from civic engagement. People are really, really
connected these days. They cannot even drive around the block without
making a phone call. Children have cell phones, and they communicate
through interactive features in video games.

*Computers:*

Digital technology has married portability with computing. And NOTHING has
escaped the long reach of the computer. It has gobbled up technologies like
cassette tapes and photographic film and replaced them with digital audio
and digital photography. It has transformed most areas of human endeavor.
It has even changed our language to accommodate the compactness of texting.
And with digital cellular service, all of this is available to nearly
everyone near urban areas (which is most of us), at any hour of the day or
night.

*Overload!*

Yes, we are digitized and connected. We can stay in touch with our circle
of friends without ever being in the same place.

*Is that good?*

Well, yes, to a point. But the problem is that we are so connected that we
get overloaded. No wonder we don't look forward to a club meeting or a
night out to dinner with friends. No wonder the playground is empty when
the kiddos are thumbing away at their video game controllers in the family
room. And no wonder the age of amateur radio operators is on the rise -
there is lots of competition for engagement by other social networks and
our ever-connected culture. Other clubs - not just radio clubs - have also
seen their average age go up and up as young people just don't engage as
much as they once did in a pre-digital era.

*How has ham radio changed?*

[image: An APRS tracking station shows the position of the pontoon boat on
Lake George at Camp Courage North.]

Ham radio is still a social network, but it is augmented by web-based
social networks. Every ham radio operator on Facebook or Google Plus
eventually uses these networks to discuss ham radio. Computing has
transformed ham radio, with rig control, VoIP communications linking
repeaters and computer users with smartphone users, and much more - too
much to mention here. Digital technology has also made things cheap enough
to replace rather than repair - and sometimes even to replace just because
the new gear is magnitudes better, even though nothing is wrong with the
old rig! All in all, while digital technology has been good *to* ham radio,
it has sometimes been bad *for *ham radio in that it has buried everyone in
constant connectivity that saps our will to participate in yet more
communications. This gives us dead repeaters and sometimes poorly-attended
meetings and events.

*What about Radio Camp?*

Radio Camp is quite a commitment for the campers, who have to take a week
of their time at sometimes considerable expense if a lot of travel is
involved, to attend. The camp session is also expensive to host,
considering the preparation and camp rental along with a laundry list of
other costs. Volunteers also incur similar expenses.  Clearly this is a
high-stakes event, so we need to make sure we are understanding the trends
here. Is increased ever-connectedness growing and here to stay?  It seems
so. Is digital technology here to stay, along with increasing
miniaturization and consolidation of functions?  That seems a solid
long-term trend as well. Is the marriage between ham radio and computing
going to last?  I'd say yes to that one, too.  As I type this, I'm
listening to 2O12L special event station calling CQ. The signal is being
received by the Handiham TS-590S radio, remotely controlled via the
internet.

*Trending at Radio Camp...*

So what seems to be trending at Radio Camp?  For at least 10 years we have
seen interest in the Operating Skills courses grow while in recent years it
has become obvious that licensing courses are struggling. 2012 became a
year without anyone attending camp to earn the Extra Class license.
Operating Skills campers far outnumbered those who attended to study for a
first license or upgrade. Let's summarize and speculate on two camp trends:

   - It is harder to attract campers who are interested in the licensing
   courses. We have to be careful here because we can't assume that our
   Handiham members are no longer interested in licensing and upgrades to
   higher licenses, but they are less interested in doing so at a camp session
   and more likely to do it by using the on line audio lectures we offer at
   Handiham.org.
   - There is growing interest in Operating Skills. This is at least a 10
   to 15 year trend, and it may be driven by the new technologies and the
   desire to learn more about them as well as the need to simply meet other
   Handiham members in person and to have a week of fun. Camp has always been
   a place to meet old friends and make new ones, and our electronic
   connectivity can keep us connected after the camp session ends.  Campers
   understand the balance between the real and the virtual and know that
   virtual cannot be a substitute for the real-life experience of attending
   camp in person.  People are wanting to build real communities again!

*A possible response:*

*So what do we learn from these trends? *

Let's put it this way: "The customer is always right", as the old saying
goes. Smart businesses listen to their customers and give them more of what
they want. And what our campers want is more ham radio fun and less
studying for licenses. What I propose is this:

   - We continue to serve all of our Handiham members with our audio
   lectures for licensing or upgrades. Even those without computers can get
   our audio on Library of Congress digital player cartridges.
   - This frees us to build and expand Operating Skills in the camp
   sessions.
   - With more classrooms free because we don't offer licensing classes, we
   can get our op skills people into separate spaces in small groups that make
   it easier to use the radios or have a discussion.
   - Our instructors don't have to worry about cramming an entire licensing
   class into a week and can concentrate on teaching operating procedures.
   - We will have more time for traditional camp activities and the pontoon
   boat, plus field trips.
   - We can set up more stations so that people with different skill levels
   and interests can get on the air more without waiting so long for a seat at
   the operating position.
   - The Technician course would be replaced with a "Technician study
   group".  This would be a way to include a small number of unlicensed
   Handiham members in the week of Radio Camp, but it would only be a study
   group, not a complete course. There would be no more "Go to camp and get
   your license in a week."  Everyone there would have to be studying
   elsewhere prior to camp.
   - VE Session: Maybe we have one, maybe not. We will see how this idea
   develops, but dropping the VE session gives us more time on the last day of
   camp to do our regular activities. The low pass rates in recent years do
   show that our traditional model of licensing classes is not effective. It
   might be better to review at camp and send the Tech students home to finish
   their studies and take the exams from their local VE teams.
   - The emphasis will be on having fun through the week and being part of
   a community of friends. Learning can be fun, so we will learn about new
   things in Amateur Radio and learn how to be better radio operators.

Email me at handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.
Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager
------------------------------
Handiham remote base station report

[image: Status check screen showing w0zsw offline.]

*W0EQO at Courage North is in service. W0ZSW is out of service due to an
unknown failure that happened earlier this week.
http://handiham.org/remotebase/ *

*Kenwood TS-590S update: *The Kenwood TS-590S that was used at Handiham
Radio Camp early this summer is set up as a remote base and is in an early
testing phase. To date we have observed:

   - The ARCP-590 software does not seem to have a way to notify
   prospective users whether or not the station is already in use.
   - Skype has a popping sound that has something to do with the hardware
   here at WA0TDA, it seems. It is pretty minimal and does not prevent
   operations at the moment.
   - Port 50,000 may not need to be opened on the client side for it to
   work.
   - It is possible to turn up the radio's volume to a high level, even
   though the main audio control on the front of the radio is set at minimum.
   To prevent loud audio from suddenly blasting out in my office I have
   plugged in headphones at the radio front panel, thus muting the speaker.
   - Manually operating the radio's front panel control restores the audio
   control to proper operation.
   - Our beta testers have observed that the software does behave
   differently on different computers. We are learning more about the scope of
   this observation.

Please contact me directly at wa0tda@xxxxxxxx if you have a comment.

*Solar Activity Forecast from NOAA:*

3-day Solar-Geophysical Forecast issued Aug 14 22:00 UTC

Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is expected to be low with a slight
chance for an isolated M-class flare.

Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected to be
mostly quiet on day 1 (15 August). Quiet to unsettled levels with a slight
chance for active conditions are expected on Day 2 (16 August) due to
effects from the 13 August CME. Unsettled to active levels with a slight
chance for minor storm conditions are expected on Day 3 (17 August) due to
effects from the 14 August CME.
------------------------------
Avery's QTH - Summer rerun

[image: Avery with puff and sip keyer at Hamvention]

*Avery, K0HLA, remembers that the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting had its
humble beginning in Joe Pavek's basement. Listen to Avery's recollections
in the audio podcast.*

The Museum of Broadcasting houses one of the world's finest collections of
antique radio, television, and broadcast equipment.

Visit the Pavek Museum on line:
http://www.pavekmuseum.org/* *

*73, Kilo Zero Hotel Lima Alpha
Avery ~ CW Forever*
------------------------------
What has changed in the new Extra pool?

A comparison between the Amateur Extra (2012 - 2016) and Amateur Extra
(2008 - 2012) questions pools is available at the link below.  The link is
a PDF file, but it does contain embedded text for screenreaders.

http://ars.nc4fb.org/downloads/extra-comparison.pdf

Credit: NC4FB via the USVE list. http://nc4fb.org
------------------------------
*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 right to one of those seven new questions from the Extra Class
pool:

E8C04 asks:  What technique is used to minimize the bandwidth requirements
of a PSK31 signal?

Possible answers are:

A. Zero-sum character encoding

B. Reed-Solomon character encoding

C. Use of sinusoidal data pulses

D. Use of trapezoidal data pulses

Did you know that the correct answer is C: Use of sinusoidal data pulses?
You probably already know that audio square waves are likely to sound harsh
because of all the harmonics. Sine waves are less harshly noisy and more
pure-sounding. If you remember that, you can probably remember that a PSK31
signal, when shaped as a sine wave, will help to keep the signal corralled
into the available bandwidth.

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.* *
------------------------------
*This week @ HQ*

**

*We are closed the week of August 13 - 17, 2012. New audio lectures will be
added to the Extra Class 2012-2016 lecture series if time allows. *

*I am still looking for help with the Kenwood TS-590S! I know some of you
own these fine radios, and I'd really appreciate it if you could help us
with some audio tutorials on how to use it. *

*The August CQ audio has been recorded and is in DAISY format for our blind
members. We already have the Daisy version of August 2012 QST, Worldradio,
and QCWA Journal available in the Daisy section for our blind members.
Members using NLS digital cartridges may receive the digest by Free Matter
postal mail. George, N0SBU, has sent the 4-track tape version out for
August.  4-track tape service ends in December.  *

*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:
$2.50*

*Order Toll-Free: (800) 223-1839.*

*The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital
cartridges:
http://www.loc.gov/nls/cartridges/index.html *

*Get it all on line as an alternative:  Visit the DAISY section on the
Handiham website after logging in. *
------------------------------
*Wednesday is EchoLink net night.*

*No ham radio license? No radio? No problem! Listen to our net on line
using your computer or tablet/smartphone at 11:00 AM Central Time daily -
Everyone welcome! <http://www.radioreference.com/apps/audio/?feedId=9593>*

**

*The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is at 19:30 United States Central time,
which translates to 00:30 GMT Thursday morning.  *

*The 11:00 daily net will be heard at 16:00 GMT. *

*Please note that the camp repeater, W0EQO-R, is no longer available due to
the lack of an IP address. Our single IP has been assigned to W0ZSW-L,
which controls the HF remote station and which gets quite a lot of use. *

*The following EchoLink nodes are always connected to the Handiham
Conference:*

*HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)
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

More information about repeaters and nodes may be found at
http://www.handiham.info.*

*A big THANK YOU to all of our net volunteers who keep things running so
well. *
------------------------------
*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 at
763-520-0512.  If you need to use the toll-free number, call
1-866-426-3442. *

*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. *

*Answers to many questions about radios, Echolink, nets, and the Remote
Base stations are all at www.handiham.org. *

*Supporting Handihams - 2012. *

*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:
https://couragecenter.us/SSLPage.aspx?pid=294&srcid=344

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

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

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

Thank you from the Members, Volunteers, and Staff of the Handiham System.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx*

*Handiham Membership Dues*

*Benefits of membership:*

*www.handiham.org/membership*

*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
year.


Join for three years at $36.


Lifetime membership is $120.


If you can't afford the dues, request a 90 day non-renewable sponsored
membership.


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. -- 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:
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx*

*Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at
www.handiham.org:*


Beginner


General


Extra


Operating Skills

*That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System!
Pat, WA0TDA
Manager, Courage Handiham System
Reach me by email at:
patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Radio Camp email:
radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx*

*
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
763-520-0512
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  *

*

*

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 15 August 2012 - Patrick Tice