[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 19 September 2012

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2012 11:48:23 -0500

*Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday,
19 September 2012*

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: ARRL diamond logo]

*The Handiham Radio Club is an ARRL affiliate, listed on ARRL.org. Are YOU
an ARRL member? *

*It's hard to believe that the October QST has arrived already in my
mailbox and on line at the ARRL website. The hard to believe part is not
really the arrival of the magazine in mid-September.  The thing that
surprises me is that October is just over the horizon.  October!  The
entire ham radio dynamic changes in October, because the seasons are
changing, and here in North America we are about ready to jump up and down
in anticipation of some really excellent HF band conditions.  *

Here's the thing.  By the time October rolls around, the northern
hemisphere days are seriously shorter.  Shorter days mean less daylight
which also means less solar heating and less convective thunderstorm
activity. Fewer thunderstorms mean less radio interference, so we can start
using the lower frequency HF bands for even long-distance contacts, even
DX.  Every HF band benefits by less thunderstorm-generated interference,

If you want to talk DX, the higher frequency HF bands will really be
hopping.  The solar cycle is nearing peak, which may happen next year, and
that make the coming Autumn and Winter months prime time for DX.  You will
have a chance to work stations you have never heard before on bands like 15
meters and 10 meters that may have seemed mostly dead for as long as you
can remember. If you are a new ham and have not experienced the fun of DX
during a sunspot maximum, you are really in for a treat. When the
conditions get really good the bands open up for clear communications with
very little power. Even if you have a very modest station with a dipole or
vertical antenna and no linear amplifier you can still work DX. A solar
maximum levels the playing field and opens up the bands!

There are some special considerations to working DX.  The first rule is to
listen, listen, listen.  It is easier to call a DX station than to expect
to be called by a DX station, at least if your goal is to work DX. Another
reason to listen carefully is that a DX station may be calling on a
frequency that is not available to USA stations but listening on another
frequency. This kind of split operation is fairly common in working DX.
Learn how to use the split function on your radio ahead of time.  You will
also want to listen for whether the DX station is calling for any
particular type of station or whether they are calling only for stations in
a specific geographic location.  You will not want to return a call to a DX
station if that station is calling for contacts in South America but you
live in North America, for example.

You can call  for DX yourself if you want.  The way to do it is to call "CQ
DX" several times, give your callsign, then listen and tune around a bit.
If you are lucky enough to have a beam antenna, point it in the direction
of the DX you would like to work. If you are new to the DXing game, you
might want to acquaint yourself with beam headings for various parts of the
world. It can be confusing if you have learned about the world from flat
maps printed on paper instead of with a globe of the world. What appears to
be "west" of your station in the USA might really be northwest, along what
is called a "great circle" route. That fuzzy notion of where other
countries are located comes from way back in your days in elementary
school, and it might not be even close to correct. We want to point our
antennas toward the DX.  Here's a fun fact:  We are here in Minnesota, and
Minnesota is a northern state, sharing a border with Canada.  Did you know
that Paris is about as far north in latitude as that Minnesota-Canadian
border?  If I fly from Minneapolis to Paris, I will head northeast, over
Canada and over the North Atlantic.  If I fly from Minneapolis to Tokyo, I
will fly northwest, and my path will be over Alaska!

Knowing great circle routes is a good DXing skill. You will also want to
pay attention to band conditions that change as daylight and nighttime make
their way around the globe. At the edge of the daylight, where day and
night meet, there is sometimes an open pathway for DX. Being aware of
alternate paths, even long path openings 180 degrees from the way you would
expect to point your antenna, will help you rack up the DX contacts.

You will also need to be aware of time differences around the world. There
are certain times of day when it may be more likely to hear stations from
Europe. As you might expect, when people get off work and are relaxing
during the evening hours they will probably have more time to get on the
radio. Your opportunity to work European stations will come at a different
time of day than when you are likely to hear Asian stations.

Third-party traffic is prohibited in many countries around the world. It is
worth reviewing the list of countries with which the USA has third-party
agreements if you are contemplating DX operation. The ARRL has a list,
which you can locate using the excellent search function at ARRL.org. Just
put third party into the search field.

Identifying your station is a bit different, too.  You will want to
identify at both the beginning and end of a series of transmissions as well
as at 10 minute intervals. Many DX contacts are very short, and you will
not need to worry about 10 minute intervals. Identifying clearly, using
standard phonetics, is important. Non-standard phonetics have no place in
DX operation and will do nothing but confuse the other operator, whose
first language may not be the same as yours. Remember to identify your
station in English if you are speaking another language during the DX

Sending and receiving paper QSL cards is still a part of DX operating,
though less common than in decades past. Now that we have the Internet,
Logbook of the World may be your choice. Some radio clubs have active DX
managers who will collect your paper QSL cards and send them to the central
location of the ARRL QSL Service, or you may use that service yourself.
Awards are also available through ARRL and other groups. DXpeditions to
remote places around the planet offer unique opportunities to work stations
in really rare locations. DX news from ARRL, CQ, Worldradio, and a variety
of other resources can help you stay up to date on what is available.

But back to October and the October QST.  What reminded me about DX was
that the October theme is "Special DXing Issue". You will want to be on the
lookout for terms like "DX Spotting" and "Radiosport". "Zombie Bands" sure
seems intriguing, too.

Email me at handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.
Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager
Troubleshooting 101:  Using an SWR meter to tune an antenna

[image: Cartoon guy with hard hat and toolbag climbing tower]

As we prepare for the Autumn and Winter operating season, we turn our
attention to antennas. Let's not wait until the snow is three feet deep and
the wind is howling out of the north to get outdoors and make sure the
antennas are working right!

A simple SWR meter, even a really cheap and cheesy one, can be a really
helpful tool to help you diagnose antenna problems or to tune an antenna
after its initial installation. Instrument-grade meters are not necessary
here because we are really looking for relative readings and close is going
to be good enough.

Here's a question for you:  Which location is going to yield the most
accurate reading when you are sampling SWR for purposes of making
adjustments to the antenna?  Is it out in the yard, closer to the feedpoint
of the antenna, or is it in the ham shack with a long feedline attached
between the SWR meter and the antenna?

The answer is that the less feedline you have between the SWR meter and the
antenna, the more accurate the reading. But it is not always practical to
have a transmitter and SWR meter outdoors, is it?  Since we are really
looking for relative readings anyway, we can still tune the antenna for the
lowest SWR at the desired frequency of operation by taking readings with
the SWR meter indoors at the ham shack. We must realize that the actual SWR
may be somewhat different, but since we are tuning for relative minimum, so

The main problem with having the SWR meter indoors with the rig is that you
have to make lots of back and forth trips indoors and out, outdoors and
back in, as you trim or adjust the antenna then return to take the
readings. If you prefer to get less exercise, you can opt for one of those
"antenna analyzers" that allows you to generate a tiny low-level signal to
determine where the antenna is resonant without the need for a separate
transmitter and SWR bridge. These little gadgets are worth the money if you
like to experiment with antennas.  If you are an occasional antenna repair
enthusiast, you might be able to borrow one from someone in your local
club. It's a heck of a lot easier to tune an antenna in the field if you
don't have to keep running back indoors to check meter readings.

Suppose you have installed a dipole antenna in the back yard and you have
mounted it in an inverted vee configuration.  This kind of antenna is tuned
to roughly 1/2 wavelength on the frequency where it is to be used and fed
with coaxial cable in the center.  The feedpoint in the very center is
elevated to the highest point and the two "legs' of the dipole trail down
at an angle, each terminating at an end insulator and tied off high enough
above ground to be out of the way and not be a tripping hazard. The
inverted vee is nice for city lots because it only requires one really high
point for mounting and the ends can be easily reached for tuning the
antenna. It also takes up less space than a "flat-top" dipole antenna and
will fit into city lots quite nicely. Once you have gotten the antenna more
or less in place, you will find that it will likely not be resonant at the
frequency you expected. It doesn't matter that you followed a formula.  If
you cut the antenna wires as is typically recommended, you allowed for a
little extra wire on each leg of the antenna so that you would not come up
short.  Believe me, I have learned from experience that it is harder to
lengthen an antenna that is cut too short than to carefully trim down one
that is a little too long!

A symptom of an antenna that is cut too long is that the resonant point
will be too low, perhaps even below the bottom of the CW portion of the
band. This is a normal and expected thing to encounter when putting up a
wire antenna for the first time, since you have allowed a bit of extra wire
so that you could safely trim the antenna while doing the final tuning.
When you "trim", you don't actually have cut any wire. Experienced antenna
experimenters simply thread the end of each wire through one hole in the
end insulator and fold it back onto the main wire, twisting it loosely on
itself so that it can be undone and adjusted one way or the other after
each meter reading. You don't need to actually wrap the end wire tightly or
use wire clamps until you have satisfied yourself that the antenna is tuned
the way you want it to be, with your favorite frequency at the point of

Sometimes you want to be able to move around the band, perhaps operating CW
one day, then phone the next.  A half-wave dipole will sometimes be usable
with SWR readings of 2:1 or less across the entire band, and you may decide
that the best strategy is to pick a frequency near the center of the band
as you target a resonant frequency while you do your initial trimming.  If
you have an antenna tuner in your shack, you can lower the SWR enough  to
operate with your rig's full power even near the band edges.

The important thing to know about using an SWR meter or antenna analyzer is
how to interpret your measurements. The shorter the antenna, the higher in
frequency the resonant point will be.  The longer the antenna, the lower in
frequency the resonant point will be. When you take measurements at
intervals from the CW end of the band through the middle and up into the
phone band, you can plot a curve of SWR values. The bottom of the curve is
the resonant point.

If you do this and find out that the resonant point is at the low end of
the CW band and you are interested in operating SSB phone in the General
Class portion of the band, you should say to yourself, "The wire is too
long because the frequency of resonance is lower than it should be.
Therefore, I will need to trim the antenna and then take another set of

By the way, don't even THINK about only trimming one leg of the dipole.
Try your best to trim exactly the same amount on each leg, so as to avoid
ending up with the feedpoint off center, which will mess up the
tuning! (Remember that the predicted feedpoint impedance of a dipole is
only going to be what you expected if the feedpoint is in the center!)

When you have satisfied yourself that everything is properly tuned, you can
try hooking up the feedline to the rig in the ham shack and confirming your
readings from inside. If that goes okay, return to the antenna site and
finalize the installation, securing the ends and making sure everything is
out of the way of anyone walking through the yard and making sure the
entire antenna is solid enough to withstand those winter winds.

Happy DXing!
Handiham Net Update: The long-vacant position of Handiham Net Manager has
finally been filled.

[image: Matt Arthur, KA0PQW, (right) rides the bucket lift during an
antenna project.]

Photo:  Matt Arthur, KA0PQW, (right) rides the bucket lift during an
antenna project.

Congratulations and a big thank you to Handiham volunteer Matt Arthur,
KA0PQW, for accepting this position. Our Net Advisory Group and Club
President Ken, KB3LLA, agree that Matt will do a good job because he
understands the technical workings of the nets, repeater, links, and nodes
and has many years of experience that includes a wide variety of on the air
operations, emergency operations, nets, repeater ownership, and volunteer
work as an instructor at Handiham Radio Camps.

Matt is committed to working with our net control volunteers to keep the
nets on the air, maintaining good technical standards and keeping them a
place where we can check in and have fun talking with our friends. He likes
the idea of net controls being able to shape their net sessions and finding
their own ways of keeping the Handiham nets a welcoming experience for all
who want to join us for the hour. This will continue our openness to a
mostly informal and friendly net, but one with high standards that shows
the Handiham Radio Club in a good light. It also keeps the door open for us
to quickly respond to an emergency, should the frequency be needed.

Thank you, Matt for stepping up to the plate!
Don't miss the new Tech Net! This week is session three.

[image: TMV71A transceiver]

We have heard lots of positive comments about our new Handiham Tech Net, a
place to discuss technology related to amateur radio. The Tech Net is on
the air at 19:00 hours USA Central Time each Thursday. The regular Handiham
Radio Club Wednesday evening net is at the same 19:00 hour, just one day
earlier.  Daily nets are at 11:00 hours USA Central Time. New this week is
our audio archive, so if you missed the first two sessions, you can find
them here:

*Missed the weekly on the air Handiham Tech Net?  Listen to it

*Missed last week's Handiham Tech Net?  Go to the archive page.

Frequency in the local Minnesota repeater coverage zone: 145.45 FM,
negative offset with no tone and 444.65 MHz with 114.8 Hz tone in the Twin
Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota. The UHF repeater will be
heard more easily in the Eastern Twin Cities.  You will find our daily net
on the air at 11:00 hours USA Central Time, with the Sunday session
featuring a special trivia question theme for a change of pace. A Wednesday
evening session at 19:00 hours USA Central Time also offers a chance to
take a guess at a trivia question and visit with your friends on the air.
Ideal for those who can't make the daily morning session! Then Thursday
evening at 19:00 hours return to the Tech net and learn something new!

*EchoLink nodes:*

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

*Other ways to connect:*

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)

WIRES system number 1427
*A dip in the pool*

It's time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the pool - the question
pool, that is!

Let's go to a question from the Extra Class pool:

E5D09 asks: What happens to reactive power in an AC circuit that has both
ideal inductors and ideal capacitors?

Possible answers are:

A. It is dissipated as heat in the circuit

B. It is repeatedly exchanged between the associated magnetic and electric
fields, but is not dissipated

C. It is dissipated as kinetic energy in the circuit

D. It is dissipated in the formation of inductive and capacitive fields

This is one of those "look at the wording closely" kind of questions!
Actually, it is good to ALWAYS read multiple choice questions carefully.
The way such questions are structured, they usually include key words that
make only a single answer exactly correct, but also allow room for the
incorrect distracters to seem plausible. Let's take this question apart and
identify the key words, which are "reactive power", "AC", and "ideal". You
know that in an alternating current circuit containing inductors and
capacitors that there will be reactive power. You will recall from your
studies that both capacitors and inductors have their own "brand" of
reactance, which is sort of like resistance, but for alternating current.
In real-life circuits, power is always lost, or dissipated, because of
resistance in components or other inefficiencies in the circuit.  This is
where the key word "ideal" should ring alarm bells for you!  That word
indicates that we are speaking about a theoretical concept, something that
exists in a "perfect" world, not the one in which we really live.  That
leads me to cross answer A off the list because power lost as heat is a
product of non-ideal real-world circuits. In fact, look at all the possible
answers here. Three of them say that the power is "dissipated", while only
one, answer B, says that it is "not dissipated".  Given that the key word
"ideal" probably means that power will not be lost at all, we choose answer
B, "It is repeatedly exchanged between the associated magnetic and electric
fields, but is not dissipated", which is correct.

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.
*Remote Base health report: W0EQO is on line. W0ZSW is on line.*

Notice to users of W0ZSW:  We have solved the problem of the sticking
transmitter by switching out a DSL modem that was not correctly passing all
of the necessary packets required for control of the radio. If problems
show up, please email wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx

*Solar Activity Forecast:* Solar activity is expected to be at low levels
with a slight chance for M-class events for the next three days (19-21

*Geophysical Activity Forecast:* The geomagnetic field is expected to
remain at quiet to unsettled levels for the next two days (19-20
September). A slight increase to quiet to unsettled levels with chance for
active periods is expected on day three (21 September) as a coronal hole
high speed stream moves into a geoeffective position.

Credit: NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
This week @ HQ

A new lecture in our Extra Class series will be released on Friday. Our
topic area is Electrical Principles, and we expect to have a new audio
lecture as we continue this topic. Last time we talked about RC
(capacitive) time constants and this time we will explore RL (inductive)
time constants.

The October QST has arrived and we will read selected articles for our
blind members.  We have the Daisy version of September 2012 QST. Worldradio
is also available for September in Daisy, and CQ will be posted by Friday
at the latest. (Thanks, Bob, N1BLF!)

Digital mailers are important! If you do mail a digital cartridge to us,
please be sure that it is an approved free matter mailer. Otherwise it will
quickly cost us several dollars to package and mail out, which is more than
the cost of the mailer in the first place. We don't have a stock of
cartridges or mailers and not including a mailer will result in a long
delay getting your request back out to you.

DAISY audio digests are available for our blind members who do not have
computers, 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. <http://www.aph.org/>

Digital Talking Book Cartridge Catalog Number: 1-02610-00, Price: $12.00

Digital Talking Book Cartridge Mailer Catalog Number: 1-02611-00, Price:

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

The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital

Get it all on line as an alternative:  Visit the DAISY section on the
Handiham website after logging in.
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.

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, KD0LPX, at
763-520-0532 or email him at walt.seibert@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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:

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:

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

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

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


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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 19 September 2012 - Patrick Tice