[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 16 November 2011

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2011 16:43:28 -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: Pat, wearing headset microphone and making audio recording of AMSAT
Journal article.]
*Image: Here I am recording AMSAT Journal. I find that using a USB headset
with boom microphone gives the most consistent audio quality because you
can maintain an exact distance between your mouth and the microphone. It is
also more comfortable and allows you to use both hands to hold any print
material you may be reading from or using as a reference. All recording is
done digitally using the open-source software Audacity, which runs on
Linux, Windows, and Mac.  For insight into recording digitally, see the
"With the Handihams" article in an upcoming issue of Worldradio Online.
The headset pictured here is a Plantronics brand, but I don't have the
model number.  It was one recommended for voice dictation by Nuance, the
makers of Dragon Naturally Speaking®.
This edition of your weekly e-letter is a little bit early because I must
be out of the office all day Wednesday for a meeting. I've noticed that the
ARRL Letter sometimes has to shift its schedule around a little bit and
occasionally there will be no audio version. Sometimes it is necessary for
staff to have days off or take care of other office duties, and recording a
newsletter is a specialized job only certain staff can complete.

Speaking of recording, I recently received my  AMSAT Journal, CQ Magazine,
and the December QST. Unfortunately, we have not been able to continue
digest articles from CQ for our blind members because of limited staff
time, but we do still hope to have some help from a volunteer. Bob, N1BLF,
has completed the November WorldRadio digest, but I cannot promise anything
from the November CQ, this week at least. I have started recording from the
AMSAT Journal and expect to have some audio available by the time we
release our audio notification on Friday. Since I must also prepare a new
General Class audio lecture from scratch on radio signals in various modes
of operation, which can be a complicated topic, it is doubtful that I will
be able to tackle QST until the following week.

We are always looking for volunteers who can read for us or assist in the
preparation of audio lectures on various operating skills topics and on how
to operate particular types of radio equipment. An example of how this is
done can be found by listening to the audio lectures done by Matt Arthur,
KA0PQW.  Matt has done operating skills lectures on VHF propagation and
produced several different audio tutorials on radios.  If you think that
you might like to try teaching into a microphone, please consider helping
your fellow Handiham members by sharing some of your knowledge about
specific radios or about a particular piece of software or some operating
technique. If you are sighted and subscribe to amateur radio print
publications, please consider becoming a volunteer reader to help out our
blind Handiham members.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager
Early Autumn Reading: Becoming a Ham (Part 9)
[image: code key]

Becoming a Ham - Part 9

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 recalls more about satellites and how he was surprised by his first
royalty check from Folkway Records.  Talk about making the big time!

*Voices of the Satellites*

One day in mid-1958 a friend suggested I make a tape recording of the
various signals and accompany them with a narrative to explain what they
were. I did so, producing a half-hour recording on a five-inch reel of tape
and I called it "Voices of the Satellites." We advertised the tape and sold
quite a lot. Later I got the idea we might do better if the recording were
on a disk since the tape recorder was not widely used at that time. RCA
agreed to make a run of 300 disks at a dollar each, so we had them made,
designed a jacket, and advertised them. This also was reasonably
successful, sufficiently so that we had more runs made. I still have about
50 of the disks left. I should acknowledge here the help that was provided
by Peter Arnow and Dan Clemson, two students who contributed the cost of
getting the jacket designed and printed. Then I contacted Folkway Records,
a company that put out unusual recordings. They wanted me to make a special
disk, which I did, and they signed a contract which went on for two or
three years. When I received the first royalty check, I thought, "Wow, my
first check from Folkways. Maybe I can take a trip. I've wanted to go to
California." When the amount was read to me I realized I'd have to settle
for Camden. The check was for $30.

*Help from Industry*

Note that all of the satellite activities to this point were from my little
shack in my house. This went on until about August, 1959, when a big change
was made. I owe a lot to an engineer from Gerald Electronics, Ken Simmons,
who heard of our activities and offered to help with equipment we needed.
When the US launched its first satellite in January of 1958, the frequency
that I had to use was 108 MHz which was a frequency I was not equipped to
receive. Ken brought me a unit he had built, helped me set up a suitable
three-element beam antenna on the telephone pole in our back yard and get
the control cable into the house, about 75 feet away. The cable had to go
under the drive behind the houses, which fortunately was a dirt road. I had
controls on my desk in the shack so I could keep track of which way the
beam was pointing and rotate it. Ken was also of considerable help later
when things became more formal and larger. I last heard from him in 1992.
After the US got going, I had help from Beltsville, Md., through Phil
Carbaugh of NASA. Corlies and I went to Beltsville in March of '58 and met
him. He agreed he would somehow let me know when a launching was to take
place. I would get a call from him saying something like, "There is going
to be a party at 5:30 tomorrow. I hope you can attend." "The birthday
candles are to be lit at 4 pm on Thursday. Please don't forget." We got a
kick out of the various ways he relayed the information. We were able to
listen for the launch of every satellite of a nonmilitary nature for
several years.

Next week: More on satellites.

*To be continued...*

[image: dog barking at cartoon mail carrier]

[image: snow-covered lawn chairs]
*Image: Snow-covered lawn chairs herald the arrival of winter at the K0LR
QTH in rural Aitkin, MN. A bird feeder and round analog outdoor thermometer
are other "required" Minnesota lawn accessories visible in this snowy
scene.  Lyle says that all his antennas are ready for winter. (K0LR photo)*

*Lyle, K0LR, writes about the weather in Aitkin, MN:*

I don't think I'll try to get on EchoLink from the car this morning so I'll
send the weather report by email. The picture includes a pileated
woodpecker at the suet feeder, but it is almost invisible against the dark
background. Looks like it's almost time to put the lawn chairs away.

*John, KC0HSB, writes about last week's EAS test: *

Our ham club did nothing special for it in Columbia, MO. The test on the
radio was a bust. I listened to KFRU, 1400 AM, Columbia, MO, at 1:00 this
afternoon. The test tones worked fine, but the audio message itself
stuttered like a stuck CD for 2-3 seconds. Then it was echo-y and distorted
with what sounded like a dozen other messages and elongated tones going in
the background. I'd say there's a lot of work before the system works as

*Patrick, KJ4TRT, writes about that same test:*

I was listening to WKMJ, a radio station out of Hancock, MI over the
Internet at 2pm today.  I heard the initial alert tone, and what sounded
like some garbled speech for a few minutes before the station returned to
regular broadcasting.  Rather anti-climatic for me.  Also, haven't seen the
questions from the question pools recently in the newsletter.  I enjoyed
testing my knowledge on the Technician and General class pools, and reading
the strategy for figuring out the questions in the Extra class pool.

*Pat, WA0TDA, responds: *

I listened to Minnesota Public Radio here in the Twin Cities at 1:00 PM
Central Time last Wednesday.  Although the test did take place on time, the
audio was pretty distorted.  I was able to make it out though, so I would
say that John, Patrick, and I agree that some attention needs to be paid to
the technical quality of the audio in this alert system. I did not hear the
sirens here in Woodbury, but I was in my basement office so perhaps I
should have stepped outdoors.

Regarding Patrick's suggestion that we return to our "Dip in the pool"
feature, I think that's a good idea.  It will appear after Troubleshooting
101 in this edition.

*Ken, KB3LLA, passes on news from Serotek:*

Minneapolis, Minnesota - November 11, 2011 - More than 13% of veterans
returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered severe eye injuries that
result in blindness. In recognition of this year's Veteran's Day
celebration, Serotek Corporation is offering all blind veterans a lifetime
subscription to its popular System Access Mobile Network (SAMNet).  More at
the Serotek website:

Troubleshooting 101: No transmit audio on Echolink

[image: Pat and giant alligator]

Last week's troubleshooting tip had an error, which stated the CTRL-P
pastes text. You should use Control-V to paste the text in place. It was
corrected in all areas of the website and podcast shortly after alert
reader AA2VM spotted it and let me know.  The crazy thing is that I use
CTRL-V many times each day, but still typed the wrong text when I had to
actually think about it.  This reminds me of how hard it is to write Morse
code down on a piece of paper as dots and dashes, even though it is easy to
send with a code key.  Yes, the brain is a funny thing.

This week we take a look at a common problem, the failure of transmit audio
while using the Echolink application.  Let's say you have either installed
Echolink for the very first time and are using the Test Server to determine
what your audio sounds like.  You connect as expected to the server, and
hear the automated welcome greeting.  After that, you make sure that the
cursor is focused in the transmit section of Echolink, then toggle transmit
with the space bar. You make a short test, speaking in a normal voice into
your computer microphone.  You then toggle back to receive with another
press of the space bar, but nothing is heard.

So what could be wrong, and how do you go about troubleshooting the problem
logically? Bear in mind that several different things could cause this
problem.  It is a good thought exercise, because chances are you will one
day be helping someone set up Echolink or need to do it yourself on a new

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 new General Class pool, one that
will appear in this Friday's latest General Class audio lecture.

G8A01 asks us, "What is the name of the process that changes the envelope
of an RF wave to carry information?"

Your possible answers are:

A. Phase modulation

B. Frequency modulation

C. Spread spectrum modulation

D. Amplitude modulation

So, what do you think?  If you picked answer D, Amplitude modulation, you
were correct.  AM is the mode that changes the shape of the RF wave's
envelope as the power level varies following the waveform created by your
speech into a microphone.  Of course it is a wee bit more complicated than
that, but essentially correct.  Looking at the other choices, we see that
Phase and Frequency modulation are very similar, so much so that the terms
are often interchanged. In FM, the amplitude of the signal remains constant
while the frequency varies up and down from a nominal center frequency.
Spread spectrum is a very wideband form of low-level modulation whose
waveform is sort of hard to define.  As a bonus, if you can recall why AM
and FM have different duty cycles, you get extra points!

In our on line General Class lectures, we recently talked about test
instruments and the oscilloscope.  If you can see an oscilloscope display,
it clearly shows the waveform changing as an AM signal is tested.  This is
probably the least blind-accessible instrument in the ham shack, but some
of the questions in the pool still do refer to the oscilloscope and because
those questions do not specifically reference a diagram they are fair game
to show up on an exam. I wish there were some way to convey what the
display looks like, and perhaps that is possible with tactile diagrams.  Is
there such a thing as a refreshable real-time tactile display?

Tip for teachers:  If you need a really simple tactile display, use
cardboard as your tactile slate, and draw a diagram, such as a sine wave,
on the cardboard with a pencil.  Then use a hot glue gun to trace the
pencil drawing with a bead of hot glue.  When the glue cools and hardens,
you have a classroom tactile aid!

*Will short-wave someday provide communications on the moon?*

[image: Earth's ionosphere from space (Science at NASA)]
Image: Earth's ionosphere from space (Science at NASA)

NASA Science News has an interesting story about the ionosphere - on the

"Here on Earth, the ionosphere has a big impact on communications and
navigation. For instance, it reflects radio waves, allowing short-wave
radio operators to bounce transmissions over the horizon for long-range

Of course with no atmosphere on the moon, it is hard to imagine what would
make up an ionosphere!  This story, available in video with excellent
accompanying audio that completely explains the content, may also be read
directly from the NASA website:



*Does anyone know the difference between the Kenwood VS-3 and VGS-1 speech

This is an important question, because the VS-3 was fairly capable and
provided better blind access to Kenwood radios than ever before when it was
released.  It was used in the Kenwood TS-570 series, which is still popular
today.  The latest speech module, which Kenwood calls a "voice guide", is
the VGS-1, and it is found in the TS-480 series (the 160-6m radio used in
both Handiham remote base stations), the TMV-71A (the VHF/UHF FM mobile
rig), and the latest 160-6m rig, the TS-590S.

The good news is that there is an excellent point by point comparison of
the VS-3 and the VGS-1 on line.  You will find it at the Ham Radio and
Vision website:

Don't stop with the speech synthesizer page.  Go back to the main page and
check out this excellent, easy to navigate website's other offerings:

The Ham Radio and Vision website takes no ads and states that it has no
conflicts of interest. It is well-written, articulate, accessible and very
useful.  Highly recommended as an addition to your bookmarks.
Remote Base Health Report for 15 November 2011

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


   *W0ZSW is on line. *

   *W0EQO is on line. *

*W0ZSW has experienced some problems with Echolink connectivity, but has
returned to service. *

Registered 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.

*Tech users: *The feedback has been positive to date regarding giving
access to our Technician Class Handiham members, so we are doing so.
Because we don't have time to do a lot of technical support, we do ask that
users have better than average computer skills.  Setup isn't that
difficult, but it would probably be a bit confusing for a person who
doesn't have much computer experience.  Feel free to visit the link to the
station information and setup and do some reading to get an idea about what
is involved.  Both stations are equipped with Kenwood VGS1 speech modules
for blind accessibility.  The W4MQ software is pretty good for
accessibility because it has many keyboard commands. The software runs on
Windows® only, and has been tested with XP and Windows 7, both 32 and 64
bit installations. The Kenwood TS-480 radios are blind-friendly.  Joe,
N3AIN, has done six MP3 audio tutorials:

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

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

   - *Pat is out of the office all day Wednesday for meetings.  Nancy is in
   the office.*
   - *Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed Worldradio November digest for our
   blind members.  It is posted in the member section.  *
   - *Pat is  working on AMSAT Journal and expects to post some audio this
   - *George, N0SBU, reports that thanks to a donation of tapes, we now
   have a good supply: *Well over the weekend I put the new C-60 tapes away
   and I see that I have a box of new C-90 tapes. I think someone had sent
   these to camp for Handihams and when I was out there Pat gave them to me.
   Okay, so we have enough C-60 & C-90 tapes to last a long time!*
   - *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 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. [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 about 1/5 of the way toward our goal.  Since we
have hit a sort of plateau, I am going to mention the challenge in the year
end appeal, which will go out by mail.   That should help us out.

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  *

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 16 November 2011 - Patrick Tice