[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 21 December 2011

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2011 07:37:15 -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: Pat reads from AMSAT newsletter.]

This is your last Handiham World for the year 2011, as we are closed next
week.  It has been a pretty good year overall, with lots of good ham radio
news.  The burgeoning sunspot cycle has helped make HF operating really fun
again, and the recent reports of record numbers of amateur radio licensees
have been heartening to those of us who are worried about the future of our
hobby. I have my Google News page set up to show ham radio stories, and I'm
always finding out about great, positive things our fellow amateurs are
doing in their communities.

This gets me to thinking about a recent post I came across on a ham radio
mailing list.  It was a response to a previous post, scolding the original
poster for not posting relevant material.  Actually, the original post was
a rather pleasant report about how several candidates had passed their
exams at a VE session.  You can guess that the original poster, feelings
hurt, felt pretty unwelcome.  It really doesn't matter who was right or
wrong about the relevance of the content. Most of the subscribers liked the
original post and asked the poster to please stay on the list.  One thing
for sure is that everyone felt a little less cheer after reading though all
of that stuff.  Sometimes the same thing happens on the air, though less
frequently, thank heaven.

Let's see what it takes to stay positive. Sometimes it is necessary to be a
bit more deliberate in what we do and say.  Will what we say to someone on
the air or on an Internet mailing list actually solve a problem?  Is the
problem so serious that it requires a comment?  Is there a tactful way to
say it?

Much of getting through one's day depends on knowing when to speak up and
when to keep your counsel. In the vernacular, you might say, "Don't sweat
the small stuff", or "Pick your battles."

It really makes very little sense to risk hurt feelings over who didn't
bring a dish to pass at the club picnic.  On the other hand, it is
definitely reasonable to call someone to task for illegal or unsafe
behavior. Learning this kind of diplomacy is not something one does without
some time and effort.  As a married man and a father, I have learned over
the years that teamwork is more important than determining who is right or
wrong in running a household. It doesn't matter who forgot to take the dog
out or left the garage door open.  It will do no good to take the attitude
that fixing blame for such things somehow earns points for you.  The
positive thing to do is to take the dog out and close the garage door
yourself.  If the problems persist, figure out a way to solve them, perhaps
with a reminder on your family smart phones or computers.

Let's practice!  Your club newsletter editor has made an error, listing the
date of the club's flea market wrong.  Do you:


   Get on the club Internet mailing list and immediately complain about the
   newsletter, the editor, and the overall lack of quality in "this day and


   Notify the newsletter editor politely about the error and offer to help
   get the word out about the correct date for the event?

Ha, ha, this isn't really all that difficult.  If you went with answer
number one, you are probably going to be appointed newsletter editor when
the other guys quits.  If you correctly chose the second answer, you are a
positive problem-solver.  As a bonus you are seen as a team player and
don't have to learn how to edit the newsletter on short notice!

We are on a roll here with positive news about ham radio every day.  Now
let's all try to be positive problem-solvers behind the scenes, making
amateur radio more fun than ever in 2012.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

[image: dog barking at cartoon mail carrier]

Bruce, KB8WNS, writes in response to unlikely tech support problems:

At my job, I take tech support calls and run into unlikely causes for
things with some degree of regularity but I can't think of any of those as
I write this note. What I DO remember was something that happened to me
personally. I am somewhat of a musician and I took my twelve string guitar
out last week for a caroling adventure. During one of the songs, I heard
the loud crack that accompanies a string breaking. Normally, when this
happens, the string is left hanging from one end or the other of the
guitar. I didn't find it there and when I looked more carefully, I saw that
it had broken at both ends at once. I asked someone to look around on the
floor for the missing string. At first they didn't find it. In fact,
someone said I must have broken it before I got there. Then someone found
it and was so intrigued with the idea that it broke at both ends, that he
asked if he could keep it. I could not explain that event. After all, once
the string breaks at one end, it should take the pressure off the other end
and thus it shouldn't break, but I couldn't argue with the facts. There was
the string and the two nubs where it broke off of the guitar.

John, N0YR, delivered this traffic from Tom, KI6IET:

866 426 3442

(ARL SIXTY ONE = Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.)

Found on the blind-hams mailing list:


What it is:  HAM Nation is the new TWIT show about ham radio. Bob Heil,
with various co-hosts and guests will cover the excitement and importance
of ham radio - from tossing an antenna wire in a tree allowing you to talk
to the world, to the importance of ham radio operators in time of
disasters. HAM Nation airs live each Tuesday at 6:00 PT/ 9:00ET on

Troubleshooting 101: Squelch breaks on two meter rigs - a case of

[image: Pat and giant alligator]

Turning to the perennial problem of interference in the ham shack, I have
to share a story about another case right here at my home QTH this past

But it started early in the summer.  I had noticed some periodic
interference on the two meter band from time to time, but really didn't
think too much about it.  The symptom was that on some frequencies the
squelch would open up, and even cranking it up to the higher settings
wouldn't quiet the occasional bursts of noise.  Generally when we are
talking about this kind of interference it is an indication of a signal
source somewhere nearby.  It is not uncommon or surprising to find unwanted
signal generators around the house these days, given all the switching
power supplies and always-on circuits in various controllers and
appliances.  Anyway, the interference did not particularly bother me.  In
fact, it was almost unnoticed altogether because it didn't mess up any of
the usual repeater frequencies I monitor and because it started in the
summertime, I wasn't in the ham shack listening to the radio nearly as much
as I am in the colder months.  I did finally notice that there was
something going on when I tried changing to some other frequencies, but
didn't deem the problem serious enough for action.

That changed big time when I got a Wouxun KG-UV3D handheld radio to program
for one of our members.  That in itself is kind of a long story, but if you
have ever had to program one, you soon find out that the engineers who
designed it were not thinking along the same lines as most of the rest of
us!  That meant that I needed to sit here in the ham shack and do the
programming so as to be able to use my existing shack radios to make sure I
was transmitting and receiving on the correct frequencies with the
KG-UV3D.   As you would expect, the existing radios in my shack are fed
with coaxial cable to remote antennas, but the KG-UV3D had its rubber duck
antenna.  That meant that, unlike the existing radios, the KG-UV3D was a
prime candidate to pick up any interference right there in the ham shack -
and did it ever!

Almost any 2 meter frequency was fair game for interference. It was sure
aggravating to have the noise breaking through almost constantly as I was
trying to figure out the KG-UV3D's "unique" menu system.

Time for action!

Since the KG-UV3D had proven to receive the offending signal quite well, I
started moving it around the ham shack.  I went upstairs and walked around
the various rooms, then up to the second floor.  The noise was still there,
but it was difficult to pin it down.  Okay, so out in the garage I went,
and from there out into the yard. The noise did finally fade away about 35
feet from the house.  My original assumption that the problem was inside my
own QTH seemed likely, so I went back into the ham shack and started
shutting things down.  The other radios, the Samlex and Astron supplies,
and the computers were all down, but the noise was as strong as ever.  I
started probing around with the antenna of the KG-UV3D loosened up a bit -
an old hidden transmitter hunting trick.  Everything next to the main
computer seemed clean, as did the cable modem and the routers. This was
turning into a head-scratcher!

Then I had an idea: What about the uninterruptible power supplies?  I have
several of them, and they run all the time.  I had replaced one fairly

Sure enough:  The RFI was off the charts when I placed the KG-UV3D next to
the newest uninterruptible supply.  Clearly this was a likely candidate.
It was the last thing I wanted to shut down because it supplies the cable
modem, the routers, and our VoIP phone, but in the interest of science,
you've gotta do what you've gotta do.

The noise went away, to be replaced with blessed quiet!  The problem was
found - not solved, due to the essential nature of this piece of equipment,
but at least now I had an answer.  These supplies, called "UPS" for short,
have circuitry that monitors voltage and reports back to whatever computer
they are tied to with a USB cable, displaying voltage and battery status.
In the event of a voltage drop, the UPS kicks in and keeps the equipment
plugged into it running for a short time, perhaps 15 minutes, allowing for
a controlled shutdown of the main ham shack computer.  It is vital to
prevent data loss or the loss of the phone line during those mini-drops of
power that happen everywhere from time to time.  I will keep the UPS
running, but I think I will have to experiment with some ferrite chokes on
the lines.  It isn't vital to fix it immediately because it doesn't affect
the normal day to day operation of my radio equipment.  It could be an
issue if I decided to work weak signal 2 m SSB, however.  In that event,
the best thing to do would be to take the UPS out of service for the
duration of weak signal operations.  The important thing is that the
problem has been identified so that action can be taken when required.

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.

G4D05 asks: *How does an S meter reading of 20 dB over S-9 compare to an
S-9 signal, assuming a properly* *calibrated S meter?*

Your possible choices are:

A. It is 10 times weaker

B. It is 20 times weaker

C. It is 20 times stronger

D. It is 100 times stronger

I think most everyone would probably know that we can eliminate both
answers A and B because 20 dB over will mean the signal is not weaker, but
stronger.   That leaves answers C and D.  The right choice is D, It is 100
times stronger.  The reason is that the dB is logarithmic - every increase
of 3 dB DOUBLES the power.  How many times are you doubling the power if
you start with 1 Watt and have a 20 dB increase?  Well, doing some mental
math, there are 20 divided by 3 = almost 7 doublings of power.  Starting
with 1 Watt, one doubling gives you 2.  Doubling that gives you 4, and so
on.  Six doublings gets you to 64 Watts, and that represents 18 dB.
Another two dB gets you to around 100 Watts, since another 3 dB would
double the 64 to 128.  You've got to love mental math.  It can help you
make sense of these questions without even pulling out the calculator (or
your hair.)

SCARS connects!

South C.A.R.S. VoIP service is now connected to the HANDIHAM Echolink
conference on Saturdays and Sundays.  On Saturday, they connect at noon
Central Time, as our Handiham net is beginning to wind down.  Stay on board
and join the larger group!  On Sunday, they connect early, at 9:00 AM
Central Time and say on through the 11:00 Handiham trivia net.

SCARS invites our readers and listeners to visit their website:

Website outage at Handiham.org on Tuesday

[image: Cartoon man shaking fist at dead computer]

Handiham.org experienced a severe slowdown and finally an outage on Tuesday
afternoon, December 20. The website is hosted on a shared server at AN
Hosting in Utah.  We are trying to figure out the cause of the outage so as
to prevent it in the future. Although Handiham.org is up and running now,
during the outage it was actually still reachable via FTP.  The hosting
service tech support told me that it was an extremely high server load on
the particular machine hosting our files.  Our apologies to those who were
inconvenienced by this outage.  The two remote base stations remained in
service and were not affected.
Remote Base Health Report for 21 December 2011

An important note to users:  We have noticed that sometimes the RF gain
control is turned down on the radio.  This will result in a dead-sounding
band for the next user of the radio if they log on not knowing what to
expect. On occasion, the VFO split has sometimes been left on.  Needless to
say, this can also be confusing to a user who logs on and assumes the
transmit and receive frequencies are the same.  Although there are
automatic precautions taken to prevent out of band transmissions, the
situation can still cause the user to waste time figuring out what is

When you use the radios, please be sure to set these controls back to their
default settings. If you can't get the radio reset or if it is behaving
oddly, just drop me a line and I'll reset it: wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx We are happy
to help with this, so please ask.

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


   *W0ZSW is on line, but without Echolink support. *

   *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:
This week @ HQ

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

   - Pat, WA0TDA, is at Camp Courage this afternoon and away from the
   telephone or email. Nancy is in the office as usual.
   - The Handiham Office will be closed for the entire last week of
December between
   the holidays of Christmas and New Year's.  We reopen on Tuesday, January 3,
   - 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 - 2011.  [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.

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!

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


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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 21 December 2011 - Patrick Tice