[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 19 October 2011

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2011 14:38:06 -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: IC-7200 transceiver tuned to DX station on 28.397 MHz.]*

*The 10 meter band is back!*

We are starting to hear excited reports from amateurs on the regular VHF and
HF nets about how the 10 m band is really hot, and that stations from all
over the place are being heard really well. You know there is something
going on when you start hearing people sing the praises of 10 m while they
are checked into a 75 m phone net. Most of us have gotten out of the habit
of tuning around 10 m unless there happens to be a local HF net that meets
there, operating in a small geographic area by the use of ground wave
propagation. We have had such nets here in the Twin Cities area off and on
for many years. During a sunspot minimum there is very little activity on 10
m most of the time because the ionosphere is not sufficiently energized to
allow for worldwide propagation conditions. As the sunspot maximum
approaches, conditions change and long distance contacts on 10 m are not
only possible, they are very common and can be completed with simple
antennas and low power.

This creates a a wonderful opportunity for amateur radio operators who have
never experienced a sunspot maximum and the excellent band conditions that
come along with it. Technician class operators now have lots of privileges
on the 10 m band, and this is a perfect time to start using HF, especially
for those operators who have never tried single side band or who have never
operated anything but FM repeaters. This is a whole new ballgame!

Consider these facts about 10 m operation:


   Novice and Technician licensees may operate using single side band:
   between 28.300 and 28.500 MHz using up to 200 W.

   When the 10 m band is open as it is lately, high power is not necessary.
   Excellent contacts can be made even using very low power. Many stations will
   be using 100 W or less – in fact, I will amend that to say that MOST
   stations will be using 100 W or less. High power is simply not necessary,
   which puts Novice and Technician operators on a level playing field with
   other operators. Experience tells those of us who have been in amateur radio
   a long time that we are not going to bother turning on a linear amplifier to
   operate on the 10 m band.

   10 m antennas are small and almost everyone can fit this kind of antenna
   into the space that they have available.  Using our formula for a half wave
   dipole, 468 divided by 28.4 MHz (the middle of the Novice/Tech segment of
   the band), yields an antenna about 16 and one half feet long.  That is a
   pretty manageable length! You would make each leg of a dipole 8 feet three
   inches long and feed it with 50 Ohm coax, such as RG-8X low loss if you must
   use a thinner cable or the standard size cable RG-213.  Keep the coax run as
   short as possible in any case, because loss in the feedline increases as the
   operating frequency goes up.  There is more loss per foot on 10 meters than
   on 75 meters.  A quarter wave vertical antenna for 10 m is only a little
   over 8 feet high.  If you want to construct a quad or Yagi antenna for 10 m,
   they are much smaller than 20 m directional antennas and thus have a smaller
   turning radius.  A 10 m antenna is lighter and easier to handle, too.

   For our Technician Class Handiham members who have already purchased HF
   transceivers but who have never used them for anything but receiving, this
   is your chance to press that push to talk switch and enjoy operating SSB.
   Yes, I know that you have CW privileges on other HF bands, but this is
   PHONE, and conditions are so good that it is easy to make contacts.  Of
   course Morse code contacts are easier and better during good band
   conditions, but the window for SSB is open right now.

   RF safety is a concern if you use indoor antennas on the 10 m band.  Be
   sure to perform an RF safety evaluation and locate the antenna as far away
   from people as possible. Adjust the power level to achieve compliance. For
   more on how to do this, visit the ARRL website and check the TIS, or
   Technical Information Service.  If you are a Technician Class operator who
   is studying for General, there is information both in your study materials
   and in the question pool.

Okay, so that brings us up to speed on 10 meters.  There is another
important thing that I would like to discuss with our readers and listeners:
Access to the Handiham Internet Remote Base stations.  In general (and
that's not meant as a pun), we have restricted the access to our stations to
General, Advanced, and Extra Class licensees.  However, now that the 10
meter band is open, perhaps it is time to consider opening the stations to
our Novice and Technician licensees as well.  There is no need to worry
about RF safety, antennas, or transceivers since all of that equipment
resides far from the control point, your computer. There are pros and cons
to this idea.

On the pro side:


   It would be nice to extend these excellent Handiham resources to more
   members at a time when band conditions are so good.

   Getting a taste of HF operation would surely make Techs excited about
   earning their General tickets.

   The 10 m band is also a good place to learn more about HF operation
   because it is not as crowded and competitive a place to operate as bands
   like 20 m.

   We are now hosting the software downloads for the W4MQ software.

On the con side:


   The HF remote base stations do require some additional technical
   expertise to operate. Novice and Technician operators are usually the least
   experienced and need the most help getting things to work. Lyle, K0LR, and I
   don't do much, if any, "tech support" on these stations because we simply do
   not have the time and most of the problems are located at the user's own
   home computer anyway.  My biggest fear is opening up a floodgate of emails
   and phone calls about how to install the software and get it to work.  This
   is not an insignificant problem.  An installation requires opening a free
   Skype account, getting audio settings correct, and then installing the W4MQ
   software and a required W4MQ update.  After that, the software must be
   configured with the IP address of each station and the log in credentials.
   This is not a problem for a computer user with at least an intermediate
   skill level, but it is quite challenging for a user who does not know their
   way around a computer.

   Technician users may get frustrated by operating practices on HF, which
   are much different than what they have experienced on FM repeaters. Of
   course you have to learn somewhere, but are we really ready to do a "sink or
   swim" exercise here?  Maybe we need some training ahead of time, but we have
   none set up.

So what do you think?  Is this a topic for discussion on the Handiham Radio
Club list, or do we need a specialized list set up for Remote Base
discussions only?  When Bob, N2JEU, became a silent key last summer his
discussion board went away.  A discussion board on a website or a mailing
list might be the best way to provide a forum for users to get their
questions answered.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager
[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.  Thanks to Curtis, W5DTR. 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!
Early Autumn Reading: Becoming a Ham (Part 6)
[image: code key]

Becoming a Ham - Part 6

By T. A. Benham (SK - formerly W3DD, a callsign which has been reassigned.)

To perk up the late summer/early autumn ham radio doldrums, the Handiham
System proudly presents its summer serial, a story about one man's
experiences in the field of radio, starting with the first commercial
station in the United States, KDKA in Pittsburgh. 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 Tom's narrative takes
us back in time to the early 20th Century, and the WW2 era.

During & After World War 2

During World War II, Ham Radio operations were suspended and all efforts
were turned toward defeating the enemy. Early on I received a letter from
the Third Command asking me why I had not volunteered for Army duty. I wrote
back that I had several problems. First, I had a chronic stiff neck. Second,
because my knees were in very poor condition I couldn't march more than a
few hundred feet. Third, I was totally blind. Fourth, and perhaps most
compelling, my Seeing Eye Dog had flat feet. I never got a reply. I can only
hope someone got a laugh out of it. A bit later I got a letter ordering me
to report for a physical exam preparatory to being assigned to a unit. I
appeared with my dog and the letter at the assigned place, took my seat
beside several other men and waited. There was much snickering and
conjecturing amongst the others, but I said, "I have this letter and I don't
dare ignore it". After a while, a sergeant came in and called my name. I
stood and after a moment of stunned silence the sergeant said, "There's been
a mistake! Go back home and forget it!" We all got a chuckle, including the
sergeant. In the early years of the war I worked for RCA in Camden, New
Jersey, and in February, 1942, I began teaching at Haverford College. Many
of my Physics students were army personnel studying meteorology. It was the
beginning of a long and interesting career for me.

War surplus donations

For three or four years beginning in 1946, I stuck pretty close to the
College, teaching and experimenting with various projects and reviewing the
vast amount of surplus materials given to us by the Government. During those
years, I met and worked with several exceptional students and friends. The
temptation is to tell it "day by day", but that would take a book in itself.
The College had a barn that wasn't much used, so it was turned over to me
and my crew of interested students for storing the materials as they came
in. A group of us would spend several afternoons sorting through the piles
of "stuff" deciding what was worth keeping and what to dispose of. By law,
we were not permitted to sell anything for a period of several years, but we
were permitted to dispose of anything we considered not worth saving. We
could junk it or give it away. I can assure you that anything we didn't keep
wasn't useful to anyone. We kept such things as receivers, transmitters,
motors, motor-control circuits, generators, tubes, and so on. Among these
piles of things I found equipment I had worked on at RCA in 1941-42. We also
found several receiver-transmitters (today called transceivers) that were
marked IFF, which we learned meant, "Identify, Friend or Foe." They looked
neat and seemed to offer the chance to make some interesting Ham equipment
out of them. Just as I was about to disassemble one to see what was inside,
we received a telegram from some branch of the Government: "CAUTION: Do not
open the IFF equipment marked BC-610 as it may contain an explosive charge
designed to destroy it if triggered!" The telegram went on to describe how
to tell whether there was a charge in a particular item or not. After
studying the models we had, we sent some to the Government demolition
center. Those we decided were safe we opened, with great trepidation! They
turned out to be very interesting, but not suitable for Ham use. I was
fascinated by the use of transmission lines as tuning circuits. It was the
first application I had seen since studying about them in graduate school.
Another piece was a complete autopilot with all the motors, gyroscopes and
control boxes. One of the boys working with me was a 16 year old high school
senior named Corlies Hastings. He was a truly exceptional person. He and I
worked on several projects during those years and I learned a great deal and
had a tremendous amount of enjoyment. It was a thrill and an education to
work with him. He did not have a great knowledge of electronics at the time,
but he had a wonderful mind, could look at a circuit and explain it to me
quickly and with understanding. He and I worked out a scheme for making the
autopilot demonstrate the principle of keeping a plane on course and on
level flight. We built a platform to represent the plane and mounted it on a
pedestal with a ball joint holding the center of the platform. It could tip
and rotate in any direction. We then mounted the elements of the autopilot
on the platform. The motors that controlled flight were fastened to the
system through flexible cables and an arrangement of pulleys. The
gyroscopes, of which there were three, controlled the motors to keep the
platform level and headed in the given direction. I used it as a classroom
demonstration for several years. After getting it set up, headed north, for
example, and level, I would give the platform a twist off course, and it
would come back to north. Then I would put a weight on one corner to throw
it off level and the system would level itself again. It was quite popular
and attracted a lot of attention. Corlies, of course, got full credit for
his contributions and received many compliments. We published an account of
the demonstration in a suitable magazine (I forget which one). Corlies
helped me build two electronic instruments that I needed for my own use.
They still exist today. One of them is a curiosity now because better ways
have come along for doing the same thing. This was an instrument for
detecting the fact that an electronic current had changed. The other
instrument was for the purpose of measuring the capacitance of small
capacitors. Until then, it was impossible for me to measure a capacitor
whose capacitance was 100 pf or less. This device and the current indicator
were also written up in one of the electronic magazines.

Single dial tuning transmitter

When the War was over and we were allowed to get back on the air with our
amateur equipment, I didn't have a transmitter, although I still had my
receiver. One of the problems with any of the transmitters of those days was
that they required a lot of adjustment and tuning. I had been thinking for a
long time about the possibility of building a transmitter that could be
operated from a single dial-knob. Also, I was used to the idea of operating
with a quartz crystal oscillator that allowed only one operating frequency.
To change frequency, a different crystal had to be plugged in and things
tuned again. I set about designing a variable-frequency oscillator, that
would allow operation anywhere in the legal bands, followed by the necessary
radio-frequency amplifiers, all tuned by one knob with the various stages of
amplification being ganged together by belts, pulleys and gears. This would
be quite a novel arrangement which would require much planning and design.
After about six months, I had a neat system contained in a cabinet about 18
by 8 by 10 inches which would produce 200 watts of power. Not only was it
tuned from a single knob, but it could be tuned remotely by a small motor
attached to the tuning shaft. It worked well and was used from early 1946 to
mid 1957, when we moved to a location where there was not a suitable spot
for the special antenna required for operation of the transmitter. While the
unit was new, I had an article published in the amateur magazine QST. The
idea was more of a novelty rather than a practical solution to the original
thought. These days, they are common and very widely used. Right after the
War my friend Sandy, who accompanied me to Germany in 1936, got his Ham
license, W1ILF. He was one of the first contacts I made with the new
transmitter. We had many QSO's during the next ten years or so.

Next week: The Kon-Tiki expedition.

*To be continued...*

[image: dog barking at cartoon mail carrier]

*Ken, KB3LLA, and John, KC0HSB, shared two links about blind access on

   - http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/10/touchscreen-braille-writer/

*Tim, KD5URS, did a presentation about using the Handiham Remote Base.  He
writes: *Here is my web page with a summary of the presentation I did last
week to the radio club. This is a bit shorter, as I used some stuff that I
figured was fair use one time at a radio club but not on a web site:

*Patrick, KJ4TRT, writes: *I'm a few weeks behind on my newsletters so I
don't know if you've posted about this or not. I was digging through the
Icom web site a few weeks back to learn about the F5XX and F9XX series of
radios (2M fleet models), and came across the Icom IC-V8000, a 75W
mobile/base 2M rig. What caught my attention is that the radio can be
programmed through a connection to a PC. I am working on getting my hands on
the rig and software to see how accessible it is with Window Eyes, but
wanted to give you a head's up in the meantime. Also, GW Micro has an
article in their knowledge base about Window Eyes and Ham Radio Deluxe, I
plan on installing the software and trying it with an Icom 718, but time has
gotten away from me.

Thanks for the informative newsletters.

Patrick, KJ4TRT

*Matt, N0TNL, likes the October issue of Worldradio Online.  He writes: *You
will want to download and keep this for the accomplishments file of
Handihams. This made it onto the AERO reflector used for EMCOMM topics. The
October issue, the last one available for free download, is here:

*Jimmy, KC9XZ, writes:* A while back on the Handiham web site I saw that if
people took the IC100 course and passed you would like to know. Well I have
taken it and passed. I have also passed IC 200 as well as IC700.

*Pat says: Congratulations, Jimmy!  "Way to go" above and beyond with those
courses. *
Troubleshooting 101: Great DX antenna but miss the calls

[image: Pat and giant alligator]

*This is a strategy question. *

*You are running your new dream antenna, a tri-band HF beam on a 50 foot
tower.  The rotor makes it easy to turn the antenna right toward the DX, and
the antenna has obvious gain over the dipoles and verticals you've had in
the past.  Lately, though, you are frustrated because you seem to be missing
lots of opportunities to make contacts.  On the local rag chew net you hear
other ops in your club talking about the stations they worked, and you
realize that you were on the air about the same time but never heard those
stations.  Obviously you should have been hearing the same thing the guy
down the block was hearing, so what gives?  And what strategy could you use
to make more contacts?*

Email me at wa0tda@xxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager
Remote Base Health Report for 19 October 2011

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

*We are taking over the hosting and updates for the W4MQ software, thanks to
Stan, W4MQ, who has generously offered his software code and assistance.
Here is the updated page, which now has links to both the client side and
hosting side software:

*Please email me at wa0tda@xxxxxxxx if you need that link. We hope to add it
and more support information to our pages soon. *


   *W0ZSW is on line. *

   *W0EQO is on line. *

We attempt to post a current status report each day, but if you notice a
change in either station that makes it unusable, please email us immediately
so that we can update the status and look into the problem:
wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxx the best address to use.  Please do not call by
phone to report a station
outage unless it is an emergency. Email is checked more frequently than the
phone mail in any case.

W0EQO is on line. W0ZSW is on line as of this publication date.  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.

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

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

   - *Nancy will be out of the office until tomorrow, Thursday 20 October
   - *Pat is working on new audio to be posted on Friday.  Our office will
   be closed on Friday 21 October 2011.
   - *Pat will be out of the office between Oct. 27 and Nov. 9.  There will
   be no e-letter or podcast during that 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.

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, 19 October 2011 - Patrick Tice