[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 18 April 2012

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2012 13:28:09 -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.*

[image: drawing of transceiver]

*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.  This next simple exercise
is one that we will be practicing at this summer's Radio Camp.  You can do
it yourself once you learn a few basics.

*Troubleshooting 101*

[image: Cartoon guy with toolkit]

*Help! My HF radio is dead!*

One of the things we grow used to is turning on the radio and hearing
stations, even if they happen to be weak or off frequency.  We quickly
learn, as new operators, how to tune around and adjust the VFO to hear
stations clearly.  Sometimes we turn the radio on first thing in the
morning and hear nothing but static from far-off  thunderstorms, but that
is nothing new.  We know that we can tune across the band and find some
really strong stations.

But this morning is different.  You turn the transceiver on, but there is
nothing - no sound at all, at least any that is loud enough to detect
without headphones.  What could be wrong?

[image: transceiver with braille book]

Well, the best thing to do is to follow the advice in "The Hitchhiker's
Guide to the Galaxy" and don't panic.  Many of our Handiham members are
blind, so we will include some troubleshooting steps for them.  We are
going to check off everything without making assumptions.  Some of our
readers will think that this stuff is obvious, but in the grand scheme of
things we must allow for a wide range in the knowledge and experience of
amateur radio operators.  Some will be familiar with the "dead radio"
problem and others will be experiencing it for the first time.  Let's cover
all the bases.

   1. Yes, I know this is obvious, but did the radio really turn on when
   you flipped the switch?  Did the radio make a telltale sound when switched
   on?  Even if I could not see the lighted display of my IC-7200, when it is
   powered up I hear a click as a relay energizes in the connected autotuner
   and my computer makes a connected sound to tell me that a USB device is now
   on line.  Keying the PTT in SSB mode and not talking should trip the
   transmit relay without sending any RF, so you can hear the click of the
   relay.   Have you checked the power supply switch?
   2. Make sure that you have not left headphones plugged into the PHONES
   jack. Doing so on most radios will mute the speaker.
   3. Check the AF gain (volume) control.  Maybe you turned it all the way
   down the last time you used the radio.  Don't laugh - I often do this if I
   am in the radio room and get a phone call or start listening to something
   else.  Turn up the volume and if you can hear stations, you have solved the
   4. Check the RF gain control.  Sometimes this gets turned down by
   accident, or perhaps you turned it down in a previous session because you
   were dealing with a very strong signal.  Turn it back up and try tuning
   around again.  Incidentally, I often find that users of the Handiham remote
   base stations leave the RF gain turned down on the TS-480 radios.  No
   wonder the bands seem dead!
   5. Okay, so now we have power to the radio, the RF and AF gains are
   adjusted, and there is still no sound.  Many radios have squelch controls,
   and this little feature can cause all but the very strongest signals to be
   completely muted.  Perversely, this control is sometimes a concentric one
   that shares the same spot as the volume control.  It is easy to misadjust,
   by which I mean setting it to anything but completely off!  With the volume
   turned up to mid-range turn the squelch all the way down.  Note that you
   don't want the volume cranked up to max when you do this, as the sound may
   be startlingly loud!
   6. Don't forget the other adjustments your radio may have to tailor the
   sound.  Filter settings and pass band tuning might be set incorrectly.  If
   they have detents, return them to "normal".
   7. Still nothing at all?  Retrace your steps to make sure there is power
   to the radio.  Check the power supply and connection to the radio. Check
   the fuses and breakers at the station equipment and at your home's breaker
   box. Make sure everything is connected as usual.
   8. Assuming that you do actually have power and that the radio is
   powered on, you could have a problem with the radio itself.  Sometimes
   oxidation occurs on the mechanical connection in the headphone jack.  Push
   a headphone plug in and out to clear it.  Don't forget to listen via the
   headphones to eliminate the unlikely possibility that the speaker coil has
   opened.  If any of  this resolves the condition, you are good to go.  If
   not, take further steps to have the radio checked.  Ask for help from your
   local radio club before assuming that the radio has failed. There are
   probably club members who are experienced with that radio and who can help
   you determine what is wrong and whether it needs service.
   9. Let's say that you do actually hear a gentle hiss from the radio but
   that you can't tune in any stations.  Check to see if you have locked the
   main tuning dial by mistake.  If the tuning is locked, you can twirl the
   dial all day long and the frequency will not change!
   10. Now you have tuned across the band and there are no signals.  Try
   another band and check again.  Still nothing?  Check to make sure that the
   antenna's feedline is connected.  If you have an antenna switch, make sure
   that it is in the correct position.  Don't forget the radio's antenna
   selector if your transceiver has one!
   11. Try WWV on 5 and 10 MHz.  Both put out awesomely strong signals. If
   you hear a weak or warbling signal, conditions may be poor.
   12. Next, tune your radio to a local commercial AM radio frequency.  You
   may not be used to doing this, so be aware that to direct enter such a
   frequency you may need to key in something like <enter> zero dot eight
   three <enter> via the direct entry on your keypad to get "830" on the AM
   radio dial as I do here for local station WCCO.  Of course you will choose
   your own local station if you don't live here in the Twin Cities. If you
   can hear a local AM station it is likely that the radio is fine and that HF
   sky wave band conditions are just extremely poor.  By tuning the local
   commercial AM station, you can hear a ground wave signal that does not
   depend on sky wave propagation.
   13. If the local commercial station comes in fine, try checking the SWR
   on your antenna system.  If that passes muster, it is likely that your
   station is intact and functioning normally and that HF band conditions are
   just really, really poor following a solar event.  If the SWR is terrible,
   perhaps the feedline or antenna have failed.  That is a separate
   troubleshooting issue.
   14. If the HF conditions are indeed so bad that you cannot hear sky wave
   stations, you can confirm this by checking various solar weather and
   propagation websites. It is generally a matter of waiting a few days for
   conditions to return to normal.  When I was a young lad and had only
   recently gotten my General license, I ran into just this situation. I even
   went out side to check to see if my antenna was still up in the air!  It
   was the first time I had experienced what amounted to a radio blackout of
   sky wave propagation caused by a solar event.  Today we can confirm our
   suspicions about solar weather via the Internet, but back then it was a
   very puzzling thing.  Eventually I did learn more about solar weather and
   HF propagation so that the next solar storm did not catch me by surprise
   and make me think my antenna had fallen down!

Email me at handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.
Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

*Last call for comments - due no later than April 25!*

*[image: running cartoon rabbit carrying letters]*

*The following call for comments was adapted from a letter to us here in
the ARRL Dakota Division from Division Director Greg Widin, K0GW.  It
applies to all USA amateurs.  Please take the time to comment if you have a
story related to limitations placed on your operations by covenants or deed
restrictions. *

To All Amateurs,

Many of you are already aware that a recently enacted law requires the FCC
to study impediments to Amateur Radio’s role in emergency and disaster
communications. The ARRL is putting together a response on behalf of US
amateurs, and has asked for input from all hams.

The areas of concern here are the limitations that are placed on a property
when it is purchased, either as part of the deed of sale or by restrictions
imposed by the neighborhood/homeowner's association. A web site has been
set up specifically to accept your information on:


Note that a respondent need not be a League member.

There is a very short time period in which to respond. You are requested to
respond no later than April 25, 2012. This short deadline is the result of
the timeline imposed by FCC in response to the deadline in the new law.

*A dip in the pool*

[image: cartoon kid doing math problems]

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 Extra Class pool:

E2D04 asks: "What is the purpose of digital store-and-forward functions on
an Amateur Radio satellite?"

Possible answers are:

A. To upload operational software for the transponder
B. To delay download of telemetry between satellites
C. To store digital messages in the satellite for later download by other
D. To relay messages between satellites

If you think about the nature of amateur satellites, you will get this one
easily.  We are used to the idea of receiving TV signals from satellites in
orbit, and perhaps we even subscribe to satellite radio stations so that we
can listen to a single station even while motoring across the country.
That is possible because the satellites carrying those transmissions are in
geosynchronous orbit.  That means that they are always in exactly the same
spot in the sky relative to our location here on the ground.  A simplified
explanation is that they orbit the Earth at the same speed the Earth
rotates on its axis, so to an observer on the ground they always appear to
be in the same spot in the sky.  Our amateur radio satellites are not in
geosynchronous orbit.  In fact, there is limited space in which commercial
satellites can fit into this special position, so we are talking about some
seriously expensive "real estate" - if space can even be called real
estate, that is.

Our amateur radio satellites instead follow much lower orbits and do not
travel in pace with the Earth's rotation.  A polar orbit might take them
across the North American Continent on one pass and then over Asia on
another.  They do not appear to stay in one spot in the sky, that's for

So the correct answer is C: To store digital messages in the satellite for
later download by other stations.  I might put a digital message in storage
on one pass and it could be retrieved hours or days later on another pass
over the receiving station's location. Unlike the geosynchronous TV
satellites, communication does not always occur in "real time", making this
storage feature necessary.

Incidentally, question E2D04 is one that carries over from the old pool
into the new exactly as it is.  Those of you studying for Extra can take
comfort in the fact that most of the new pool is the same or very similar
to the old pool.  The change takes place at the end of June 2012, so the
new pool is in effect on July 1.

*Digital Media Update*

[image: NLS player and cartridge]

The NLS digital cartridges now used by our blind Handiham members for study
materials and our monthly magazine digests can hold up to two gigabytes of
data.  This means that there is room for around 20 complete books!
Naturally we don't have that much data for you each month, but it does mean
that we will be including multiple books on each cartridge.  When the new
NLS player is in use, the folders on the cartridge are interpreted as
"books".  So, for example, if I place a DAISY book of CQ Magazine digest
audio in a folder on the cartridge called "CQ Magazine", the player will
interpret that folder as a "book".  Similar folders hold DAISY versions of
QST, Worldradio, and other materials for our blind members.  This is the
same system used by the Library of Congress, but you should be aware of one
possible issue, which is that you need to know how to navigate between
folders (books) that are on a single cartridge.  If you don't know how to
do this, you may miss out on all but the first book in queue on the

*But don't worry; it is easy to navigate between books once you know the
secret!  *

You must access the Bookshelf feature on your NLS Digital Book Player by
pressing and holding the Play/Stop key until it says “Bookshelf”.  Once you
are at Bookshelf, you can use the FF and RW keys to move forward and
backward between titles. When you reach the title you want, press Play.
That's all there is to it.  Once you master this feature, it is simple to
navigate between the multiple books on a single cartridge.  This is a skill
you can put to use on any NLS Cartridge that contains multiple folders.

*Dick Garey, WA0CAF, explains the "secret" feature in his own words in the
audio podcast.  *

Our thanks to WA0CAF for the preceding information and for locating another
source of NLS digital cartridges and mailers:

Perkins Products
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Phone: 617-972-7308

On the web:

*Handiham Net Echolink nodes updated for Summer 2012*

Minor changes have been made to the net schedule.

EchoLink nodes have been updated to:

HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)
KA0PQW-R, node 267582
KA0PQW-L, node 538131
N0BVE-R, node 89680
W0EQO-R, node 309436

IRLP and Wires information has not changed.

The current document may be reviewed on line:

*Remote Base Health Report for 18 April 2012*

[image: W4MQ software screenshot]

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

*W0ZSW is on line.
W0EQO is on line. *

   - *Power change: To be on the safe side and to assure that RFI is not
   causing outages, we are operating the radio at a maximum of 75 Watts at
   W0ZSW.  This is up from 50 Watts last week. W0EQO continues to operate at
   the full 100 Watts. *

   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.



[image: Cartoon dog barking at mail carrier]

*Dick Garey, WA0CAF, reminds us of a Minnesota & Wisconsin Statewide
Tornado Drill:  *

Are you ready for the Statewide Tornado Drill on Thursday, April 19? As a
part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, April 16-20, a state wide tornado
drill will be held on Thursday April 19 at 1:45 p.m.  A second drill will
also take place on the same day at 6:55 p.m. in most Minnesota counties.
During the drills, the National Weather Service (NWS) will send out
simulated Tornado Warnings to emergency management officials across the
state.  Sirens will then sound across all counties and cities in Minnesota
and Wisconsin at that time. Be aware - the simulated messages and warnings
will also alert all NOAA weather Radios will simulated warnings.   This is
an excellent opportunity for people to check the status of their radios and
make sure they are ready.

These drills are conducted by the NWS in collaboration with local county
and city emergency management officials to allow residents, businesses,
schools and institutions to review and practice their severe weather plans
and procedures.

Why a second drill at 6:55 p.m.?

History shows that while tornadoes can occur any time of day or night, they
often happen in the late afternoon or early evening hours when people are
at or near home.  The second drill offers individuals and families an
additional opportunity to review their own emergency preparedness plans at

Please check your respective State Weather Service office for tests
scheduled in your area.

*SD QSO Party: W0ZQ/m*

[image: cartoon couple driving in car]
The South Dakota QSO party is this weekend, running from 1700 UTC on
Saturday April 21 to 1700 UTC on Sunday April 22. The contest exchange is
signal report and county or state/province. Full rules can be found at:


W0ZQ/m plans to be active in the following counties on Saturday: Deuel
(1700), Grant (1735), Codington (1810), Roberts (1930), Day (2005), Clark
(2210), Hamlin (2245), Kingsbury (2320) and Brookings (0035). On Sunday it
will be Moody (1240), Minnehaha (1315), Lake (1350), McCook (1445), Turner
(1555), and Lincoln (1630).

CW frequencies are 50 KHz up while phone is 3850, 7250, and 14270. I will
try to operate as close to these freq's as possible. I will be operating as
a solo SO, so times and operating parameters may vary. My primary bands
will be 20 and 40m, both CW and phone, and I may try some county line
operations. I will try to hit 80m CW at dusk, and depending on the weather
and how I hold up, I may try some 80m CW from Brookings Saturday evening.

73, Jon
(via Dakota-Ham reflector)

*CQ announces Riley Hollingsworth to become contributing editor*

Retired FCC amateur radio enforcement chief Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, has
been named a CQ magazine contributing editor, it was announced today by CQ
Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU. Hollingsworth will succeed "Washington Readout"
editor Fred Maia, W5YI, who recently became a Silent Key. Riley's first
column will appear in the July 2012 issue of CQ.

More at:

(CQ Newsroom)

*This week @ HQ*

[image: happy cartoon guy wearing earphones]

*Radio Camp enrollment is about 1/2 complete.  We still have plenty of
openings, so apply now!  *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.  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.

PICONET has returned to summer hours.  That means that this Upper
Midwestern HF net is no longer on for the 3:00 to 4:00 PM CDT hour.  All
other PICONET hours are still active.  More at Handiham Nets:

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

April QST audio digest is 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: $2.50

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

April 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.*

[image: Echolink screenshot]

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.

EchoLink nodes:

HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)
KA0PQW-R, node 267582
KA0PQW-L, node 538131
N0BVE-R, node 89680
W0EQO-R, node 309436

Other ways to connect:

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)
WIRES system number 1427

More information about repeaters and nodes may be found at

*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!*

[image: ARRL Diamond Logo]

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, 18 April 2012 - Patrick Tice