[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 16 May 2012

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 16 May 2012 12:22:34 -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.*

*You can do it!  *

Today, just as we did last week,  we are going to begin with
Troubleshooting 101 as part of our initiative to help new ham radio
operators (and even some of us older ones) learn how to do some basic
troubleshooting for ourselves. Yes, it can be tempting to ask someone else
to do things for us.  This can become a bad habit when it keeps us from
learning new things, especially things that we could - with a bit of
practice - learn to do for ourselves.  Knowing these basic things can serve
us well in the future when no help is available.
*Troubleshooting 101*

Let's get to today's troubleshooting question:

*I sometimes use my handheld radio in the car.  I can hear the repeater
just fine, but I have had complaints that other stations can't hear me.
What's going on here?  Is there something wrong with my HT?*

Yes, I'm afraid there is a problem with your radio. The problem is that it
has a terrible antenna.  Before you complain that the radio has always
worked quite well when you used it around the house, let me explain.

Handheld radios are meant to be portable so that they are easy to carry
around.  Haven't you noticed that people prefer smaller, lighter electronic
devices?  So what was once referred to as "a brick" - the venerable 2 meter
HT - has evolved to a multiband miniaturized wonder that fits in the palm
of your hand.  The antenna on the old brink was just about the same length
as the one on your new radio, though.  These flexible "rubber duck"
antennas are the ones that come as standard equipment with a new handheld
radio.  They have always been terrible antennas, but they are designed to
be flexible so that they can bend without breaking and generally survive
being dumped into a backpack, stuffed into a pocket, or crammed into a
purse.  A quarter-wave antenna for the 2 meter band should be around 19
inches long (48 cm), but the radio would hardly be portable with that big
antenna, would it? The rubber duck antenna is inductively loaded so that it
can be physically shorter but still act like an electrical quarter wave.

This seems like a great solution because now you have the equivalent of 19
inches of antenna in a tiny, convenient flexible stick.  Ha, ha, that is a
good one.  Most of these rubber antennas are more like a "dummy load on a
stick".  They are inefficient and lossy. A rubber antenna that came with
the HT is probably okay if you are in a good location and not far from the
repeater and are not moving around. The rubber antenna can receive okay but
is not going to win any awards, but transmitting efficiently is just plain
not a happening thing. When you move the antenna around, every slight
cancellation of signal from multipath reception becomes a near-dropout.  It
is even worse inside a car, where the body of the car can block part of the
signal and you are nearly always moving.  No wonder your friends are
complaining about your signal - because it is terrible!

[image: Yaesu HT and Larson quarter wave mag mount antenna side by side on
a shelf.]

I placed my tiny Yaesu VX5R HT with the somewhat bent from years of
carrying it in my pocket next to an old Larson 1/4 wavelength magnet mount
antenna.  The ACTUAL quarter wave mag mount towers over the HT with its
wimpy rubber antenna.  If only there were a way to use a quarter-wave
magnet mount antenna, or even a 5/8 wavelength mag mount antenna, with my
HT it would sure solve my transmitting problem and make the HT more useful
as a temporary mobile radio.

Of course there is a way; you just need to get the right adapter to mate
the mag mount antenna's connector to your HT and you are in business, right?

Well, no - it's not quite that easy.  For one thing, you might not have a
mag mount antenna.  And you may not be familiar with these kinds of
temporary antennas, especially if you are not a driver yourself and you
ride with a spouse or a friend.  Here are some things to consider:

   - If you are going to move the antenna around a lot, such as using it on
   a friend's car then removing it after you get where you are going, there
   are tiny, highly-portable miniature mag mount antennas with small diameter
   coax (RG-174U) with a connector to fit directly onto your HT.  Actually, I
   prefer these antennas over other mag mounts because the light, flexible
   coax will not put extra stress on your radio's SMA connector.  MFJ makes
   the MFJ-1722 dual-band mag mount antenna and it is only around $15 - an
   accessory to your HT that is well worth the money.
   - If you already have a more conventional larger mag mount with RG-58
   coax, I recommend an adapter with a short piece of RG-174U coax so that the
   flexibility of the cable allows for comfortably moving the HT about as you
   use it.  Stiff coax will put excessive pressure on the HT's antenna
   connector and may eventually break it.
   - If you are using an HT with an SMA connector, you may want to consider
   a special connector adaptor that seats against the body of the radio,
   taking pressure off the antenna connector.
   - Pay attention to the routing of the feedline out the door.  It may run
   through the gap between the door and the car's frame, but choose a spot
   where the rubber gasket around the door frame will close gently against the
   - Avoid sharp bends when running coax.
   - For longer term installations, test the water seal around the coax
   entry point with a garden hose.
   - Place the antenna on the roof of the vehicle or on the deck of the
   trunk lid if the cable is to be run through the back seat and out into the
   - Be sure the magnet has a serious grip on the metal car body!
   - Avoid long, flapping runs of wire across the roof or trunk.
   - If you have an antenna that screws onto a magnetic base, be sure it is
   screwed on tightly before traveling!
   - Consider a small, easy to remove antenna that is placed just outside
   and above a back door.  You can easily grab it off the roof and shove it on
   the back seat floor under a mat when you want to conceal the fact that you
   have a radio in the car or if you need the extra clearance to get into the
   garage. While you're at it, unhook the HT and put it in the glove box or
   take it with you.
   - If you are serious about using an HT in the car, you might also pop
   for the optional car charger.  All the HT manufacturers offer them, and
   they can be in the glove box with an extra rubber duck antenna when not in
   use. You will likely need high power while operating mobile, and that can
   run your battery down quickly.

Once you start using a "real" antenna mounted outside the vehicle, you will
wonder how you ever got by with an HT and the rubber antenna.

Email me at handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.
Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager
*A dip in the pool*

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:

G2B01 asks: Which of the following is true concerning access to frequencies?

Your possible answers are:

A. Nets always have priority
B. QSO’s in process always have priority
C. No one has priority access to frequencies, common courtesy should be a
D. Contest operations must always yield to non-contest use of frequencies

The correct answer is C: No one has priority access to frequencies, common
courtesy should be a guide.  We could get into lots of examples where net
users felt entitled to a frequency because they "always" meet there, people
yakking on a repeater who feel that they own the frequency for as long as
they want in spite of what other communications needs others may have -
even emergencies, and of course the ever-contentious contester use of the
bands during popular contests. Please let courtesy come to the fore here!
*Remote Base Health Report for 16 May 2012*

We have a website for the remote base software. You may check it out at:

*W0ZSW is on line.  Echolink is out of service on W0ZSW, but is available
for transmit and receive via the W4MQ software.

W0EQO is on line. *

Please check the latest operating tips on the remote base pages:

The link to the daily status update pages:

Our thanks to volunteer engineer Lyle Koehler, K0LR, for his help
maintaining the station databases and updates.


Letters will return next week.

*This week @ HQ*

*Getting ready for Dayton!*

Speaking of Hamvention®, guess what?  Yes, the Courage Center Handiham
System will be at Dayton again this year.  In fact, we will be Hap Holly's
next-door neighbor because the Handiham booth is at space 330 in the Silver
Arena!  Please plan to stop by to visit with us if you get to Hamvention.
We are doing our best to keep up with phone calls and emails, but please be
patient as we cannot answer every call and do have to depend on voice
mail.  I will be out of the office after noon on Wednesday 16 May and will
not be back in the office until Tuesday, 22 May.

*Dayton Hamvention® 2012
"Internationally Connected"
May 18-20 2012*

[image: The crowd at a previous Hamvention.]

*Last chance for Radio Camp - Call immediately!  *Camp is a better value
this year because it is one day longer than last year, the tuition is
cheaper, scholarships are available, and we will have our own dining
hall.  Camp is Saturday, June 2 through Friday, June 8 2012. Call
1-866-426-3442 to enroll.

*Equipment! * We also have a selection of donated radios available for
campers to take home. If you are registering for this camp session, please
be sure to let us know if you have an equipment request.

*Ideas wanted:  *If you have ideas about how to market or improve Radio
Camp, or if future camp sessions should be replaced with something else
that will better serve Handiham members, please let me know by email or
postal mail.  Please, no phone calls as I am creating a file to store
comments.  Email radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or write directly to Patrick
Tice, Handiham Manager at our Courage Center address.  If you prefer
changes to Radio Camp, tell me:


   Where it should be held.

   When it should be held.

   How long it should be.

   What it should cost for a camper to attend.

   What topics, courses, or activities should be included during the camp

   What should replace Radio Camp if you think it should no longer be held.

The May 2012  DAISY format audio digest is ready for our blind members.
Check it out in the members section.  Members using NLS digital cartridges
may receive the digest by Free Matter postal mail.

May QST and Worldradio audio digests are now also ready for our blind
members who do not have computers, also in DAISY format, 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.

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.

May QST audio digest is now also ready for our blind members in DAISY
format, as a digital download for your computer DAISY player or to place on
your digital cartridge or other portable DAISY player. Visit the DAISY
section on the website after logging in.

Members Only Website Update:

Handiham.org open enrollment is over, but Handiham members who do not have
log in credentials for the site may request them by emailing
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx This step was taken to curtail the hundreds of
account requests from spammers and other non-members each week.

*Tonight is EchoLink net night.*

*Notice:  W0EQO-R, node 309436 is back in service. *

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.

The following EchoLink nodes are always connected to the Handiham

HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)
NX0P-R, node 513917
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

A big THANK YOU to all of our net volunteers who keep things running so

*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

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

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 2012.

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

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager

Handiham Membership Dues

Benefits of 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

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

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:

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:
patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

Radio Camp email:

*ARRL is the premier organization supporting amateur radio worldwide.
Please contact Handihams for help joining the ARRL. We will be happy to
help you fill out the paperwork!*

The weekly e-letter is a compilation of software tips, operating
information, and Handiham news. It is published on Wednesdays, and is
available to everyone free of charge. Please email
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc.
Include your old email address and your new address.

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

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 16 May 2012 - Patrick Tice