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

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2012 15:17:33 -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: Stylized computer network]

Remember last week's E-letter and podcast, when I mentioned that the number
one priority here at Handihams would be to fix the website? That time has
come, and here is the reason why:

Typically on Fridays I concentrate on producing new audio lectures for our
licensing classes. Fridays are also a good time to catch up on loose ends
that have collected during the week. Doing website updates is generally a
little bit easier on Fridays because I know that I will be logging into FTP
in order to put the audio I have produced onto the website anyway, so why
not do other web updates while I am at it?

Well, last Friday proved to be a bit unnerving. As I had mentioned before,
we had been having serious issues with the performance of the website
Handiham.org that had caused pages to either be unavailable or load so
slowly that many web browsers would simply timeout. Many of you could not
reach our files or would only be able to download a partial file. Needless
to say, this situation simply cannot go on. Not only is it bad service for
our members, but it can eat up a lot of my time as I try to work my way
through the many tech support complaints. Sometimes I have a way to work
around it and help the person get the files they need and other times I
don't. In any case, Friday was not a good day for Handiham.org because it
went down early in the morning and was off-line most of the day. I
contacted the hosting service and they began to work on the problem which
was on one particular machine in Utah.

Late on Friday the website did return to service. During the outage, it was
difficult for me to work since I had to do everything that I could off-line
and only later on plan to FTP the files to the website. Of course any
members who needed files during the day were out of luck. Since we have had
issues extending over months (though nothing quite this bad), we had
already procured server space with Network Solutions, a respected company
with which we already had a long-term relationship as our domain name
registrar. I decided to start putting some serious effort into building a
new beta website that would be the eventual replacement for the current
one, but I had to step this effort up several notches over this past

When something like this happens, you really have two choices. You can
either whine or complain about how awful things are and make excuses or you
can look on circumstances as an opportunity to make something better. It is
sort of like having your old fishing boat sink to the bottom of the lake.
Yes, you miss your old fishing boat with all its dents and barnacles. On
the other hand, you have an opportunity to get a new fishing boat and it
can be exactly the kind of boat you have always wanted. A website is like
that. We have had the old website for quite a few years now, and it has
served us pretty well. However, over the years it has become cluttered with
barnacles – too many links and just too much confusing stuff. It has become
a little bit too dated and clunky to be useful, especially to newcomers who
may be happening on it for the very first time.

Our opportunity is to build a new website that is easier to administer
using Drupal 7, and to incorporate some much-needed changes. One new
feature is the addition of a "Skip to Content" link near the top of the
page so that blind users who are reading the page with screen reading
software can skip listening to all of the menu links and go straight to the
main page content. Another feature is a more pleasing view for sighted
users without making the website inaccessible to blind users. And, of
course, we are simplifying the menu structure to make the site less

Our choice of Drupal for a content management system goes back quite a
number of years when it was originally suggested by long-time Handiham
volunteer Phil Temples, K9HI. We have been using Drupal 5.X and for the
past few years 6.X. Drupal 7 has been under development for a couple of
years and I have been testing it on my private website for quite a long
time, watching as it matured. I feel that the time has come to make the
change as long as we are redoing the website anyway. The new version of
Drupal incorporates many features that had to be manually added to the old
versions. Many administrative tasks are easier. We will eventually need to
redirect Handiham.org to the new site, and, because of what we experienced
last Friday, are going to try to do this as soon as possible.

As you might expect, there are going to be some problems. Any time you make
a big website migration like this, coupled with a major redesign, there are
going to be some things that might not work correctly or perhaps will be
missing or not work at all. This will all take time to iron out. One thing
that will have to be done is that we will have to re--register all of our
users. I know this will be a major inconvenience for everyone, but it is
really the only way to update the database on the new server with a clean
installation. I think the strategy needs to be developed on exactly how we
will do this, and I welcome user suggestions. I do have a data dump with
e-mail addresses and usernames, so we could send out a blanket e-mail when
the new site is ready. However, one concern I have about that strategy is
that we may get an overwhelming number of hits on the new website as users
try to create their new accounts. It may be better to use a targeted
strategy of mailing perhaps 25 users at a time to even out the load. Anyone
who has Drupal experience or who has administered a website is welcome to
contact me directly with their comments.

The old website will still sit on the old server in Utah, but once the name
Handiham.org is redirected, it will become unreachable. I will then take
steps to reactivate our other Handiham domain name, Handiham.net. The old
site would be available there for some period of time.

One problem that I anticipate is that the Handiham mailing lists with the
Handiham.org domain name will cease to function. These two lists are the
Handiham Radio Club list and the Handiham Volunteer Instructors list. The
Wednesday E-letter list and the Friday New Audio Notification list will not
be affected because they are hosted at Freelists. I may be able to
reconfigure the club and volunteer lists with the.net address, but I would
also welcome suggestions on how we should proceed with these lists.

Some of our users may be concerned about how this will affect the two
Handiham Internet remote base stations. Neither station is connected in any
way with the web hosting service and both are separately hosted on their
own dedicated computers on Courage Center properties. Therefore, neither
station will be affected in any way. We do update the remote base station
status daily on the website, and this update will be continued on the new
website as well.

Another change that will be implemented is the availability of more
materials in DAISY format. This new format will replace some of the older
MP3 audio for our blind members. This advancement will allow for easier
navigation through the material for our blind Handiham members. This does
not mean that we are moving away from human readers, so please don't worry
that you will never hear a human voice again on Handiham.org! Some
materials, if they are available in computer text in the first place, are
most easily converted to DAISY format that incorporates a voice produced by
the computer software. Other materials are more properly and efficiently
read by a human reader and can be imported into DAISY by special software.
Our original production will still be done by Audacity so that we can more
easily edit the audio and still produce four track cassette recordings for
the Handiham members who need them during 2012. Of course Audacity remains
our editor of choice for the Friday audio lectures and for the Wednesday
podcast. As before, the free podcast will remain available to the general
public in the iTunes store.

We are hoping that the transition will go smoothly, but you know as well as
I do that a project like this is pretty complicated and there will always
be some unforeseen problems. In fact, to me it sort of feels like planning
for and setting up for Field Day. You always anticipate how much fun it is
going to be and you have participated in the planning process for past
years and like to think that you know you are not going to forget anything
this year. Naturally, when you arrive at the Field Day site and start
getting everything set up that is when you find out that no one packed
Styrofoam cups for the coffee and the power supply cables are still sitting
in one of the club member's basement. That is how it will be for any new
project and I am not going to be surprised when things don't work on the
website. What we can do is to work together to make the new website project
successful by helpful suggestions that include specific recommendations on
how to fix a problem whenever possible.

So, even though this is going to be a real
roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-work couple of weeks, I know that we are
doing the right thing. I am encouraged by the American Council of the Blind
website, which also uses Drupal 7 and the Bartik theme as its public
portal. I also want to thank Handiham Radio Club members and Handiham
volunteers who have visited the new beta website and given me suggestions
and feedback. I really appreciate your help!

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager

Website Build Status <http://www.handiham.org/node/1279>

We are in the process of building a new, more reliable website. Please
visit the beta site at the address below and let me know if you experience


Report problems to:


[image: dog barking at cartoon mail carrier]

Kitty, WB8TDA, writes:

Have you seen this?  I was shocked.  ...the Wikipedia community announced
its decision to black out the English-language Wikipedia for 24 hours,
worldwide, beginning at 05:00  UTC on Wednesday, January 18. The blackout
is a  protest against proposed legislation in the United States:  The Stop
Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the
PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate that, if passed, would seriously
damage  the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia.

We checked www.wikipedia.org and sure enough, there is a blackout page on
the English version.  We also noticed that Google has placed a black
rectangle over their own logo at www.google.com.  An explanation of what is
happening today is at: https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/sopa-pipa/.
As far as we know, there are no ham radio websites participating.

Avery, K0HLA, writes:

Did you see on the AOL home page a hamburger chain in South Africa called
Wimpy's is making hamburger buns with Braille using Sesame seeds so blind
patrons can read what they are eating?!!  They photographed several people
reading them before eating and all were very happy after.  I wonder if Hot
Dogs are next?

**Sure enough, we checked out that story and found that the story links to
a YouTube video that has a music track and no audio description.  To save
everyone time, I'll just say that it shows a baker with a tray of hamburger
buns and they are placing sesame seeds individually on the tops of the buns
with a tweezers-like tool.  And now the good news!  An audio-described
version has been posted as a reply on YouTube.  Here is the link:


Passed along by Gary, K6KV:  Ronson RT-88, Inexpensive HT with voice-prompts

Below is a link to the HT that I was telling you about. I haven't seen one,
except online, but because it claims to have voice-prompts and costs only
$42.50 with shipping, I thought that it might be of interest to Handihams.
It comes in VHF and UHF models, red and black.

I suspect that it uses the same 3.7v Li-ion battery as the similarly small
Boafeng UV-3R (the dual-band HT that I use), which would mean that extra
batteries and replacement batteries would only cost a few dollars. Anyway,
I don't know if it's any good, but I thought you should know about it.
-Jonathan (no callsign given)


Any interest in a 17 meter get-together? <http://www.handiham.org/node/1278>

18.164 MHz SSB, 16:00 United States Central Time Fridays (22:00 UTC): This
is the Handiham Informal Wide Area Get-Together, not a net! Everyone is
welcome! We don't have a net control, since Fridays are a good time to
relax and just talk with other stations without having someone tell you
what to do!

*Troubleshooting 101: BZZZZZZZ*

[image: Pat and giant alligator]

Mike, W1MWB, is our troubleshooter today:

I run my Echolink node on an old HTX-242 45 watt 2m mobile rig. Yesterday I
started hearing a loud buzz coming over the transmission when the link
would key up. I would make some adjustments in Windows XP but that didn’t
seem to solve it altogether. I double-checked the connections from the
radio to the Rigblaster and from it to the computer and they were fine. It
seemed to go away partially, and then this morning I turned on a rig to
listen to the link and it was back worse than ever. I connected to the link
with my other computer on user mode, and even though I was transmitting,
the buzz was bad and it was just barely breaking the squelch on my HT.

The Solution: I unplugged the coax from the radio and got it untangled from
the wires it was tangled in. (My desk area is a mess of wires). I plugged
it back in and voila! The link came back to normal. It sounds better than
it has in a while. My guess is that the coax cable was tangled in power
supply cables and caused a high SWR. Since the rig doesn’t have a built-in
meter, I would have never known except the loud buzzing noise. I look
forward to hearing your thoughts and those of others.

What do you think caused the problem?  Since it is working fine now, we
will have to speculate!

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. I'll bet you
don't know the answer to this one, even if you are a seasoned operator.

*G3A10 asks, What causes HF propagation conditions to vary periodically in
a 28-day cycle?*

*A. Long term oscillations in the upper atmosphere*

*B. Cyclic variation in the Earth’s radiation belts*

*C. The Sun’s rotation on its axis*

*D. The position of the Moon in its orbit*

See?  I told you this one would be a head-scratcher.  It is one of the new
questions in the pools, and actually a pretty important one because it
addresses a basic natural process in HF propagation.  The correct answer is
C, The Sun's rotation on its axis.  The Sun's rotation takes 28 Earth
days.  So think about it - if there is an active sunspot region observed on
the surface of the Sun, it will seem to move across the face of the Sun
when observed day to day.  Actually, it is staying in place as the Sun
rotates.  If that active region rotates toward Earth and creates
disturbances from solar weather on Earth, then rotates away from Earth, it
should not be surprising if it turns up again in 28 days when the Sun has
rotated back to present the same face to us here on Earth.

*John P. Walsh Lifetime Membership*

Joe Walsh, KB1KXU, received a Radio Camp scholarship (Steele Foundation)
that allowed him to attend the Handiham Malibu radio camp in 2004.  He was
able to obtain his Technician license at the camp and is grateful for that
opportunity. Now Joe would like to remember his brother John, who served
his country in the Armed Forces by awarding one lifetime membership to
Handihams. Because his brother was a disabled veteran, he would like the
scholarship to go to another disabled veteran. He would like to call it the
John P. Walsh Lifetime Scholarship. We are pleased to post this on our
website for the purpose of obtaining candidates for the scholarship. The
grant will be $120, the cost of the lifetime Handiham membership.

We know some disabled vets, and we bet you do too. These men and women have
served their country and many of them have limited means, but would enjoy
amateur radio.  Some may already be Handiham members but would be glad to
have a lifetime membership.  All too many retired vets live on very limited
budgets.  Now I have a favor to ask:  Please help us to find a candidate
for this award and help us and Joe to honor his brother John.  You may
email us at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or call the toll-free number

*Remote Base Health Report for 18 January 2012*

[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:

*ATOM transmitter power monitor on YouTube*

We have placed a short video introducing the ATOM audio tuning aid on


*This week @ HQ*

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

   - Audio update: Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed a beta version of QCWA
   Journal audio for the Winter 2011-12 edition.  It is awaiting final
   - No Extra 2012 pool as of today: We are still awaiting the public
   release of the new Extra pool.  A statement on the NCVEC website indicates
   that it was to be re-released the first week of January after being pulled
   back for the correction of errors. The projected release date was 3 January
   2012, but this date was missed and no further information has been
   released. We will keep watching the NCVEC site and download the new pool as
   soon as we can so that we can begin an audio recording.
   - 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 June.


   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.


*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:

   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

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 orgaization 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, 18 January 2012 - Patrick Tice