[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 20 February 2013

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2013 14:41:30 -0600

*Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday,
20 February 2013*

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center
Handiham System <http://handiham.org/>. 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.

MP3 audio stream:
http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u

Download the 40 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player:
http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3

Get this podcast in iTunes:
<http://www.itunes.com/podcast?id=372422406>
http://www.itunes.com/podcast?id=372422406

RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham
------------------------------
*Welcome to Handiham World.*Remote Base Report

[image: Screenshot of w4mq IRB client software version 6.10242]

We lead off this week with a report on what is happening with the Internet
Remote Base project.  This is because we have made really good progress
with the software, and also because we have to explain why this whole
process is not as straightforward as you might think.

First, a summary of what it is.  The Handiham System operates two
internet-enabled high-frequency amateur radio stations, W0EQO and W0ZSW.
These club stations consist of Kenwood TS-480 transceivers interfaced to
computers that are always running and connected to the internet. Approved
users can log into either of the stations and control the radios, both for
transmit and receive, and get on the air.  This remote control operation
allows users who cannot get on the air with their own stations, perhaps
because they have no room for antennas, to enjoy HF amateur radio operating
from a real HF station.

The rig control software is available from the Handiham website, but that
wasn't always the case.  It was kindly shared with us by Stan, W4MQ, the
software author, because he wanted to see that it would be updated and
continue to be available free of charge to amateur radio operators
everywhere even though he would no longer be doing the updating. Bob,
N2JEU, had taken over this task before we came on board - but sadly, Bob
became a silent key before he could reach his goal.  It was shortly after
that when we approached Stan for permission to work directly with the
software.  A long time has passed, but we have made solid progress and have
released our first update this past January.  A software development team
led by programmer Jose Tamayo, KK4JZX, is responsible for managing the
software.

When the January software release was made available, it solved several
serious problems, including delays in the software's response to commands.
That delay could be very annoying when operating on the air. Unfortunately
we did not realize that we had broken the CW filter system, leaving our CW
users with only a very narrow 50 Hz filter, effectively killing Morse code
operation!  That will be fixed in the next release, as will a number of
other things on our task list. I mention this because it is always hard to
work with something as complicated as software.  Even commercial software
developers hit bumps in the road and have to send fixes and updates to
their customers.  We appreciate hearing from you whenever you find
something wrong or if you have a suggestion to make something better.

But the software, although it is our major effort right now, is only a part
of the remote base picture.  The hardware - the stations themselves - are
themselves complex installations that sometimes require intervention.  The
usual tasks are editing the station configuration files to add new users or
to change something about how the station operates, rebooting the W4MQ host
software, updating other software - including Windows - and just making
sure that everything is still working.  Outdoors, the stations have
antennas that must stay up and in good condition in spite of snow, ice,
wind, rain and whatever else the weatherman throws our way!  One recent
improvement was the mitigation of RFI from a nearby plasma TV set at the
W0ZSW location. When you are responsible for stations like these, there is
always something going on.  It is not a "set it and forget it" type of
operation, and we depend on users to tell us when something is not working
right.

Another important but sometimes overlooked part of the Internet Remote Base
project is the website support pages.  Since we are a small team, we have
little time to work closely with individual users who need tech support.
That is where the website can help to answer user questions and guide them
in everything from installation and setup to problem-solving later on.
Here is a partial diagram of how the oldest part of the website support
pages are organized.

[image: Partial diagram of how the IRB webpages are arranged.]

Doing the website work is my job, and others contribute some of the text.
Since our first station came on line in 2009, the website has been around
in one form or another to help users get started.  The problem is that as
our remote base operations changed and grew, we kept adding to the old
website.  Now that website has outdated information, and worse still, it is
difficult to navigate and find what you want. This was brought home to me
recently when I went to look for some information myself and had a hard
time figuring out where to go.  This means that it is time to bring the
Remote Base website up to a higher standard.  We will be working to move
all of the information from a static directory on Handiham.org to a
database-enabled Wordpress site at http://handiham.org/remotebase/.  This
will make it easier to manage the information we put on the site and keep
it up to date.  In the current system we have too many things to manage,
and sometimes information appears in two different places.  Whenever that
happens, there is always the danger that one page will say something
different than the other.  Having everything in one place will add much
more reliability to the site and an additional bonus will be a search field
that will help users find what they want more quickly.

So to sum up, we are working in three major areas:

   1.

   Software development, maintenance, and testing
   2.

   Hardware and station maintenance
   3.

   Support and website services

This is not a trivial amount of effort!  And when you consider that none of
it even existed prior to 2008, when planning began, it is all the more
impressive to see what our team has accomplished. As we move forward, we
must manage our resources - business talk for not biting off more than we
can chew.  This will mean limiting the user base to being primarily a
Handiham service, even though we do regularly get requests for Remote Base
access from nonmembers.  This will have to extend to tech support as well.
It makes sense to ration our time helping members rather than someone who
is not a member.  On the other hand, since we do honor the spirit of
Amateur Radio in helping each other whenever possible, we might consider
some more interactive support solution such as a Yahoo Group for the remote
base, which was suggested by Eliot, KE0N.  Such a support group would be a
place to post questions and solutions about remote base operation so that
users would have a place to go for help no matter where they live and
whether or not they are Handiham members.  Of course we will also have
the Remote
Base website <http://handiham.org/remotebase>, which will be available to
anyone for information and support.

Next, you see a photo of the W0ZSW remote base station itself, showing the
TS-480HX transceiver, two Samlex SEC switching power supplies, the Systemax
rig control computer, and the LDG AT-200PRO automatic antenna tuner. Both
of our stations use RIGblaster
interfaces<http://www.westmountainradio.com/content.php?page=RIGblaster>to
connect the radios to the computers.

[image: W0ZSW remote base station showing TS480HX, power supplies, tuner,
and computer] <http://www.handiham.org/drupal2/remote>

You may be wondering why there are two of the SEC 1235M power
supplies<http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/hamps/1235.html>instead
of just one, as you would find in a typical station.  Each supply
can deliver 30 amps, but the Kenwood
TS-480HX<http://www.kenwood.com/i/products/info/amateur/ts_480/>radio
requires more current when operating at full power.  The usual
solution is to use two "regular" power supplies as we have done, but you
can also use a single supply if it is capable of delivering over 40 amps.
One of the changes coming with the newest software upgrade will be 200 watt
operation on several bands.  We had only been able to use the TS-480HX at
100 watts because that is the highest power level setting in the old
version of the rig control software.

Antenna tuning is a potential problem with any club station, where you are
going to have a number of different operators with different skill levels
and different goals in where and how they want to operate. One person will
want to operate 40 meter CW.  Another will try snagging new contacts on 6
meter SSB. The antenna at the W0ZSW station is a 200 foot long "W0OXB
Special", which is a type of double extended zepp wire antenna fed in the
center with 450 ohm ladder line running to a current balun and then to 50
ohm coax and an antenna tuner. The tuner must be retuned every time the
station's frequency is changed substantially, and you can't depend on every
user to be able to do that consistently and accurately.  That's why we
chose an automatic antenna tuner, the LDG AT-200
Pro<http://www.ldgelectronics.com/c/252/products/17/3/1>,
to put in the coaxial line between the TS-480HX and the current balun. This
excellent and reliable tuner tunes itself automatically when RF is applied
at transmit.  No other user intervention is required, making it about as
foolproof as we can manage. It is worth mentioning here that the radio does
not even have its own internal antenna tuner as some do.  The TS-480HX
(High Power) model gives up the internal antenna tuner available in the 100
watt TS-480SAT in order to fit in the larger amplifier components. In the
future, we may make antenna improvements or add a second antenna, which is
supported by the software.  W0ZSW is located in Woodbury, Minnesota, east
of the Twin Cities metropolitan area and not far from the Wisconsin border.
Its grid square is EN34mv.

Here is a picture of the W0EQO remote base station at Courage North, in
Northern Minnesota's pine forest and lake country, located in grid square
EN27me.  This is close to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The
station is a Kenwood TS-480SAT
<http://www.kenwood.com/i/products/info/amateur/ts_480/>transceiver, a
single Samlex power supply for 100 watt operation, an LDG AT-100 Pro
automatic antenna tuner<http://www.ldgelectronics.com/c/252/products/17/3/1>,
and the rig control computer. The station is in an unheated equipment room
in a region where outside temperatures can reach below minus 30 degrees
Fahrenheit (-34 C.)  Outdoors, the northern lights flash through the sky on
dark star-filled nights and bears and wolves roam the woods. Needless to
say, there is not a lot of urban RF interference here and the station is
considered to be in a quiet location.

[image: view of w0eqo setup, showing TS-480SAT station and computer]

The antenna at W0EQO is a 125 foot G5RV, which is strung between two tall
pine trees. Because the antenna will not tune on all bands, this station
cannot be used on 160 or 6 meters.  Neither station will transmit on 60
meters, although receiving is allowed anywhere the radio's frequency can be
set.  Although the radio does have an internal antenna tuner, this feature
is disabled and the antenna is tuned automatically by the external LDG
tuner as soon as RF is applied on transmit. The LDG matches a wider range
than the internal tuner and does not require any special operator
intervention.

The Remote Base health report for today is a good one: W0EQO and W0ZSW are
both on line and there are no scheduled outages.  Please join me in
thanking our remote base team volunteers for their wonderful effort!

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager
------------------------------
Correspondence:

[image: cartoon robot with pencil]
Jose, KK4JZX, writes:

To Handiham Members and Volunteers,

We are making progress and continuing to work on enhancing the remote base
client software.  The Remote Base Beta team has been working diligently in
testing some very exciting fixes and features that will be released soon.
If you have suggestions for improving the remote base client software, let
us know and we will add your suggestions to the list.  The sooner you get
your suggestion in, the sooner you might see it in a future update.  Want a
peek at what’s coming up?  Well, stay tuned as we continue to work to
release the next version which will include fixes for the default browser
issue and many more enhancements.

Thank you and enjoy.  73:  KK4JZX

Ken, KB3LLA, passes along an invitation to visit Sendero Group at CSUN:

Join Sendero at CSUN 2013 in San Diego, February 27 - March 1 when we
unveil what many of you have been eagerly awaiting!

What's new:

* Demonstrating the fully accessible turn-by-turn GPS iPhone application,
The Seeing Eye GPS, in the Sendero Suite and at the booth.

* Announcing Sendero PC GPS, now you can run Sendero GPS as well as the
virtual maps on your Windows laptop, ultrabook or tablet.

* Calling for testers, Sendero is conducting research on a People Finder
application made possible by a grant from the Department of Education.

* Releasing 2013 Maps for BrailleNote, Braille Sense and Mobile Geo.

Visit http://senderogroup.com/news/csunform.asp to sign up and join in the
fun!


Jim, KJ3P, writes about his volunteer recordings for the monthly DAISY
digest, enjoyed by our blind members:

As always, I welcome your feedback, especially regarding the number and
choice of articles.

73,
Jim Perry, KJ3P

Editor's Note:  You may email us at handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and we will
pass your comments on to Jim and to our other reading volunteers.
Avery, K0HLA, recalls the Postal Service's delivery schedule in the old
days:

[image: Avery sends CW at the club station.]

Seems to me that when I was a young lad:

1) Post cards were a penny

2) Letters were 3 cents

3) There was no postal delivery on Saturdays to non-business addresses.

4) There was delivery on Saturdays only to business and emergency
organizations like fire, police, hospitals, etc.

So, this NEW "no delivery on Saturdays" is not new. What is the big deal ?


73 & DX de K0HLA Avery
( CW Forever )

Mike, W1MWB, responds to the call for a new Worked All States challenge:

I think an IRB and conference-based WAS challenge would be a good thing.
For example, just the other day I heard a station in NH calling for the NH
QSO party. It was AF1T, whom I worked on 2 meter simplex. However, on 20
meters I could not get through the pileup as he was probably a bit too
close geographically. If I had been on one of the handiham IRBs I would
have most likely been able to make the contact, so I think utilizing the
IRBs would be a good thing, and as you said, using the *HANDIHAM* server
and associated systems would be good practice for new folks coming into the
hobby. I look forward to hearing more on this.

73 for now,
Mike, W1MWB

Tom, KB3HG, writes about how people need to listen more during contests:

Good Humor for the contest, but didn't MN just have a QSO party of late? I
tried to make contact;  have a Boy Scout with me. What a bunch of contest
alligators - all mouth and no ears, they never shut up. I'm a Delaware
station and wanted to give a few contacts away. Not a chance; not 5NN so no
returns. A mighty poor showing for a scout to see. If I get one scout
started it will go to five or more real quick. I have managed to generate
interest in the radio merit badges and now the new ribbon for the scouts.

Tom, KB3HG
FM29CQ
Newark, DE 19711

Editor's note:  How many times have we mentioned in this very publication
how important it is to listen?  It bites to realize you might have worked
Delaware had you only taken the time to listen carefully!
------------------------------
Handiham Nets are on on the air.

[image: TMV71A transceiver]

*We are on the air daily at 11:00 USA Central Time, plus Wednesday &
Thursday evenings at 19:00 USA Central Time.  *

*The official and most current net news may be found at:
http://www.handiham.org/nets *

*Daily sessions:*

   -

   *Monday through Saturday 11:00 AM social net with designated net control
   station. *Everyone is welcome to check in.
   -

   *Sunday morning 11:00 AM informal Roundtable with no net control station
   or designated topic. *Check in with your friends and enjoy a Sunday
   morning chat!

*Evening sessions:*

   -

   *Wednesday evening* *Handiham Radio Club Social Net with a trivia
   question.* This is a friendly, directed net with a net control station
   and the opportunity to answer a trivia question,  if you wish.
   -

   *Thursday evening Handiham Radio Club TechNet, a directed net with a net
   control station for the purpose of discussing technical topics in amateur
   radio. *If you have a question or a technical problem, check in and
   report it to the net. Perhaps you will find an answer in the ensuing
   discussion, or perhaps you will be able to answer someone else's question
   about a technical issue.

*EchoLink nodes:*

*Welcome to the NX0P repeater,  146.685 with a tone of 100Hz,  Echolink
node number 513917.  The NX0P machine is near Albert Lea in far southern
Minnesota, near the busy intersection of US Interstate highways 90 and 35. *

*HANDIHAM* conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity
node.)
*VAN-IRLP*, node 256919
KA0PQW-R, node 267582
KA0PQW-L, node 538131
N0BVE-R, node 89680

*On the 220 MHz band: *223.94 negative offset, Arden Hills, MN Tone 100 Hz
- KA0PQW (link)

*Other ways to connect:*

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)

WIRES system number 1427
------------------------------
*A dip in the pool*

[image: Pat shows off his new Plantronics USB headset!]

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

*Let's go to the Extra Class pool and look at a question about power
supplies:*

E7D17 asks, "What is the primary reason that a high-frequency inverter type
high-voltage power supply can be both less expensive and lighter in weight
than a conventional power supply?"

Possible choices are:

A. The inverter design does not require any output filtering.

B. It uses a diode bridge rectifier for increased output.

C. The high frequency inverter design uses much smaller transformers and
filter components for an equivalent power output.

D. It uses a large power-factor compensation capacitor to create “free
power” from the unused portion of the AC cycle.

The reason I chose this question is that it refers to what are commonly
called "switching" power supplies, or "switchers".  These are the supplies
we use at both Handiham Internet Remote Base installations.  The reason
these supplies can be so much smaller and lighter in weight than
conventional supplies is that they do not need huge, heavy transformers.
The correct answer is C: The high frequency inverter design uses much
smaller transformers and filter components for an equivalent power output.
Conventional designs operate at 60 Hz, the power line frequency, and their
components need to be enormous by comparison to operate at such a low
frequency.  One advantage of the conventional design is that it is not
likely to generate any interference in the HF range, as is common in
switching designs. Most modern switchers have RFI suppression built in, and
sometimes include a way to tune an interfering signal away from the ham
bands.

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.
*
------------------------------
This week @ HQ

[image: View of the great room in a typical camper cabin.]
*

Photo:  The great room in a typical wheelchair-accessible cabin at Radio
Camp. Each cabin sports a complete kitchen for snacks and a laundry.
**

*Radio Camp application packets will be ready for mailing soon. *2013 camp
dates call for arrival on July 28 and departure on August 2.  We have
confirmed that we will offer our campers who pass Technician at camp
brand-new handheld radios. Radio camp will emphasize ham radio fun and
getting on the air.

We will feature:

   - Technician beginner small group class - Get your first license and get
   on the air!
   - General Class study group for those who need a quick review before
   taking the General exam.
   - Extra Class study group for those who need a quick review before
   taking the Extra exam.
   - VE session conducted by SARA, the Stillwater (MN) Amateur Radio
   Association, on Thursday, August 1, at 1:30 PM.
   - Operating Skills small group get on the air sessions and discussions
   - Extra Class seminar for those with Extra Class licenses who want to
   participate in more advanced technical projects and discussions
   - Several stations to operate, including maritime mobile on the camp
   pontoon boat with Cap'n Bill, N0CIC
   - Sailing with Skipper Bill, K9BV
   - Handiham Radio Club meeting and elections
   - Dining in the nearby newly-remodeled Woodland dining hall.
   - Fun in the sun during Minnesota's excellent summer season - at Camp
   Courage on beautiful Cedar Lake!

For a Radio Camp application, email Nancy at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or
call her at 763-520-0512.

*Our Remote Base Health Report will move to its new home on the Wordpress
site this week. *If you have been in the habit of checking the daily remote
base report, you will soon find it at its new home.
**

*Our scheduled Extra Class lecture this week will cover digital logic and
will be available on Friday afternoon if all goes well.  Due to the lack of
time, I was unable to post this lecture last week.  *All courses, Tech
though Extra, are on line for your use whenever you want to study or
review. Teaching is done with thoughtful attention to descriptions for
those who are blind, and we promote understanding concepts rather than
simply memorizing the question pool.  If you would like to use this service
but do not understand how, please contact us.  We can also put the audio
lectures on your DAISY digital NLS cartridge if you prefer that method
instead of downloading or streaming audio from the website. Our latest
audio lectures cover concepts in the Extra Class course. Please join us in
whatever course you need, and also please let us know if you would like a
specific topic covered in our Operating Skills lecture series.
**

*Handiham net information and news: *The official and most current net news
may be found at:
http://www.handiham.org/nets

*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:
$2.50

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

The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital
cartridges:
http://www.loc.gov/nls/cartridges/index.html

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

[image: Cartoon robot with cordless phone]

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
1-866-426-3442.

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@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

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 Handiham Weekly E-Letter in MP3
format <http://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3>
Email us to subscribe:
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System!
Pat, WA0TDA
Manager, Courage Handiham System
Reach me by email at:
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


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.
Return to Handiham.org <http://handiham.org/>
*

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 20 February 2013 - Patrick Tice