[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 23 May 2012

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 23 May 2012 11:02:27 -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.*

*You can do it!  *

Today, just as we did last week,  we are going to begin with
Troubleshooting 101 as part of our initiative to help new ham radio
operators (and even some of us older ones) learn how to do some basic
troubleshooting for ourselves. Yes, it can be tempting to ask someone else
to do things for us.  This can become a bad habit when it keeps us from
learning new things, especially things that we could - with a bit of
practice - learn to do for ourselves.  Knowing these basic things can serve
us well in the future when no help is available.
*Troubleshooting 101*

Let's get to today's troubleshooting question:

*Question: This question has to do with my workshop. Let me explain; over
the years I have collected quite a few electronic parts and lots of
hardware used in electronics and computers. While I have built some
projects in the past and have done some repairs on various pieces of
equipment, it seems like I seldom use many of these parts that I have saved
up. My wife told me that the basement is getting to be kind of a mess and
that I should clean out some of the "extra junk" from my shop. My question
is, "How does one decide what to keep and what to throw away?"*

Interestingly enough, I was just thinking about this very problem recently.
It seems like whenever I have to work on something in my own shop, almost
invariably I will have to go out and buy something to complete the repair
or project. I am almost never able to pick something out of my junk box and
make it work. Since I have been an amateur radio operator for decades, I
have saved up a collection of really good stuff that I am possibly going to
use some day – for something. The problem is that I have stuff that has
been in the same place in the shop for 20 years and has never been touched.
Now, you may be thinking that my workshop is such a mess that I just can't
find anything. That is not the case. I pretty much know where things are,
but I just don't seem to ever need them for a project or repair even though
that is the reason I am keeping them.

Does any of this sound familiar?

I'll bet it does; just about every other amateur radio operator does
exactly the same thing. We might find an interesting treasure at a hamfest
or swap meet, but we really don't know what we would do with it other than
use it for a project that never seems to materialize. So to answer the
question, you need to come to terms with the reality of the situation.
Let's lay it out and be as honest as possible:

   - *Technology advancement: *Technology has marched on, but your junk box
   collection has not. The fact of the matter is that most of the stuff you
   have collected might have been good for fixing electronic equipment that
   was in vogue 20 years ago or more. Today's electronics use different kinds
   of parts and sometimes are not even user-repairable. Those vacuum tubes and
   wire wound resistors in that box underneath the workbench are probably not
   going to be much good to anyone but a person who restores old radios. If
   you are not such a person, then it is time to get rid of those kinds of
   parts. I could go on about other parts for radios and computers, but you
   get the general idea. If it is not likely to be used in current technology,
   get rid of it.
   - *Time is limited: *Be honest about your time. You do not have
   unlimited time. You're busy, perhaps busier than you have ever been,
   especially if you are still in your working years and are raising a family.
   Do you really have time to work on projects that will take many hours or
   even weeks or months to complete? It may be better to pare down your
   collection of project parts and keep only the most essential. Your reward
   for doing this is a tidier shop and less clutter. This will make it easier
   to do the projects that you do actually have time to complete.
   - *Your interests have changed: *At one time you were interested in
   packet radio and by gosh, you still have that old terminal node controller
   on the shelf. Along with that, there is an old computer that used to run
   DOS and that would be "perfect" for your packet station. After seeing a
   club program about rhombic antennas, you decided to start collecting wire
   to make that rhombic antenna someday. Of course, you are also interested in
   getting several of those old computers you have saved back into service.
   Maybe you can put Linux on them. Well, guess what? If you haven't done
   anything with these items for several years, your interests have probably
   changed and you are not likely to get around to any of these projects –
   ever. Give as much of this stuff away as possible and recycle the rest.
   Most counties and municipalities have some kind of recycling program for
   computers and electronics.

Just how honest can you be with yourself? After years of collecting all
this junk, it can be difficult to admit that you are never going to get
around to using any of it and that you are better off just getting the
workshop cleaned out and tidied up so that you will have more space to work
and less clutter.

Over the years I have seen some real junk collections. A few of them have
been jaw-droppingly amazingly enormous collections worthy of being a swap
meet in and of themselves. I could never imagine how anyone could have
deluded themselves to the point that they actually believed all of this
stuff would someday be useful! It would've been impossible for the person
to use half of this stuff in two lifetimes, let alone one lifetime. One
guy, an elderly gentleman, had a basement full of shelves arranged in rows,
all stacked with equipment and parts at least 30 years old. Another had a
basement and an additional storage building with row upon row of shelves
holding old parts and radio gear. It is not as uncommon as you might think.

We have to face up to the fact that keeping things simple, actually
expedites project-building and troubleshooting. When you have too much
stuff, you waste time moving it around or digging through it to find some
little part you think you might have. This is usually not worth the time
and effort. You are better off buying a new part that will be exactly the
right one when you need it. Furthermore, too much junk and clutter can make
you prone to simply putting off a troubleshooting project because it is too
much effort to work in your shop. If that is the case, you REALLY need to
do some serious organizing.

At Radio Camp we will be talking about the essentials of a good, efficient
home workbench. We won't go into this lean and mean list of shop basics
right now, but I will reveal that it is surprising how little one needs to
have a really effective troubleshooting and project space.

Email me at handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.
Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager
*A dip in the pool*

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 Extra Class pool:

E4C09 asks: *"Which of the following is most likely to be the limiting
condition for sensitivity in a modern communications receiver operating at
14 MHz?"*

Possible answers are:

A. The noise figure of the RF amplifier

B. Mixer noise

C. Conversion noise

D. Atmospheric noise

Long ago, when receivers used vacuum tubes and discrete components and when
a VFO could drift like a rowboat in a hurricane, we reveled in the "good
old days" of radio.  Yes, these were the times when we sometimes listened
with our hand on the tuning knob, either to follow a drifting signal or to
try to find a sweet spot where we might hear a signal through all the
noise.  In retrospect, they were really "the bad old days", because our
equipment is so much better now.  Receivers are so good that they have
noise figures below noise that would occur naturally in the atmosphere and
stability that rivals crystal control. Thanks to these advances atmospheric
noise is now the biggest worry, so answer D is correct. In essence,
engineers have done everything possible to the receiver itself to eliminate
internally generated noise. It's hard to do much about atmospheric noise,
but now modes of operation have evolved to fight back against poor
conditions.  PSK-31, for example, is amazing - it works even on days when
you would be hard pressed to hear a CW signal. As far as receivers go, if
you are looking for the good old days, we are living in them right now!
CQ announces 2012 Hall of Fame inductees
[image: Pat with Handiham display at

*CQ magazine has announced its 2012 Hall of Fame inductees, celebrating the
45th anniversary of the CQ DX Hall of Fame with three new members, along
with two new inductees into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame and 16 new members
of the CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame. *

Handiham Manager Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, is among the new members.

Pat says: "Thank you so much for this wonderful honor. I do want to remind
our readers and listeners that the volunteers, supporters, other Handiham
staff, and the many Handiham members work together to make this program a
success. They too share in this honor because they have made it possible
for me to guide the program into the 21st Century."

*Read more:
*Remote Base Health Report for 23 May 2012*

We have a website for the remote base software. You may check it out at:

*W0ZSW is on line.  Echolink is out of service on W0ZSW, but is available
for transmit and receive via the W4MQ software.

W0EQO is on line. *

Please check the latest operating tips on the remote base pages:

The link to the daily status update pages:

Our thanks to volunteer engineer Lyle Koehler, K0LR, for his help
maintaining the station databases and updates.

*May 17: ALL Ham crew now on ISS* - This via the Dakota Ham reflector from

With the docking of Soyuz TMA-04M early this morning we now have Expedition
31 Crew (May 2012 - July 2012 ):

   - Commander: Oleg Kononenko RN3DX
   - Flight Engineer: André Kuipers PI9ISS
   - Flight Engineer: Don Pettit KD5MDT
   - Flight Engineer: Joe Acaba KE5DAR
   - Flight Engineer: Gennady Padalka RN3DT
   - Flight Engineer: Sergei Revin RN3BS

I think this is the first time the entire crew were hams.

You can listen in with just a hand held scanner or talk with them with a
ham 2m transceiver.

--Ben KA0PSQ
Ken, KB3LLA, passed on a press release: GWConnect 2.0 is Now Available!

Fort Wayne, IN (May 22, 2012) - Last December, GW Micro announced a free
gift to everyone in the form of GWConnect (formerly known as GWSkype).
GWConnect is an accessible program for your PC that is plugged into Skype™
and offers many great features including free voice calls and text chat. GW
Micro has been hard at work to add many of the features that you have been
asking for. Among its many new features and enhancements include the
ability to rename contacts, create custom contact groups, send SMS
messages, manage multiple live calls, set your voicemail greetings, and
even set your privacy settings from within GWConnect.

For more information on all of the new features and enhancements to
GWConnect, visit

Skype™ is a trademark of Skype Technologies S.A.
Ken, KB3LLA, also likes a link: Best Buy, working with IAAIS
<http://iaais.org/index.html>has announced an accessible, talking, FM/HD
tabletop radio.

http://tinyurl.com/c3w6tkg* *
*This week @ HQ*

*I am back from a wonderful and productive Hamvention® 2012. *The weather
was perfect, the flea market was very well attended and stocked (bigger
than last year), and the inside exhibits were impressive as usual. Because
of time constants, I can't do a Hamvention report this week, but we will
have one in the near future. Phone messages and emails back up when I am
out of the office. Please be patient. Keep calls and emails to a minimum if
you want to help us through an extremely busy time of year.

*Nancy and I will both be in meetings at Camp Courage on Thursday. *The
phone is not likely to be answered, but please leave a voice mail telling
us the reason you are calling and your complete phone number with area
code. As we get ready for Radio Camp, we need to concentrate on camp
preparation. Requests for other services will be handled, but not given
priority due to our limited resources. I regret that I cannot respond to
all of the emails and phone calls in a more timely manner. If you have a
tech support question about the website or audio, please use email and not
the phone. Before contacting us, try to figure it out yourself by reading
the FAQ or Troubleshooting pages already provided.

*We are working on the June 2012  DAISY format audio digest for our blind
members.* Check out the May edition in the members section.  Members using
NLS digital cartridges may receive the digest by Free Matter postal mail.

*Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, has completed the Doctor is IN column for June, which
will be included in the June QST Daisy digest for our blind members.
Thanks, Ken!*

*Bob Zeida, N1BLF, will soon begin recording the June Worldradio & CQ audio
for our blind members. He will be "tracking" the audio starting with the
June digest, so that it will provide more navigational functionality in the
Library of Congress digital talking book player. Our thanks to Bob for all
his good work!*

*May QST and Worldradio audio digests* are now also ready for our blind
members who do not have computers, also in DAISY format, 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.

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

May QST audio digest is now also ready for our blind members in DAISY
format, as a digital download for your computer DAISY player or to place on
your digital cartridge or other portable DAISY player. Visit the DAISY
section on the website after logging in.
*Tonight is EchoLink net night.*

*No ham radio license? No radio? No problem! Listen to our net on line
using your computer or tablet/smartphone at 11:00 AM Central Time daily -
Everyone welcome!* <http://www.radioreference.com/apps/audio/?feedId=9593>

The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is at 19:30 United States Central time,
which translates to 00:30 GMT Thursday morning.

The 11:00 daily net will be heard at 16:00 GMT.

The following EchoLink nodes are always connected to the Handiham

HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)
NX0P-R, node 513917
KA0PQW-R, node 267582
KA0PQW-L, node 538131
N0BVE-R, node 89680
W0EQO-R, node 309436

Other ways to connect:

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)
WIRES system number 1427

More information about repeaters and nodes may be found at

A big THANK YOU to all of our net volunteers who keep things running so
*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.

Answers to many questions about radios, Echolink, nets, and the Remote Base
stations are all at www.handiham.org.

*Supporting Handihams - 2012. *

Now you can support the Handiham program by donating on line using Courage
Center's secure website. It is easy, but one thing to remember is that you
need to use the pull-down menu to designate your gift to the Handiham

Step one: Follow this link to the secure Courage Center Website:

Step two: Fill out the form, being careful to use the pull-down Designation
menu to select "Handi-Hams".

Step three: Submit the form to complete your donation. If the gift is a
tribute to someone, don't forget to fill out the tribute information. This
would be a gift in memory of a silent key, for example.

We really appreciate your help. As you know, we have cut expenses this year
due to the difficult economic conditions. We are working hard to make sure
that we are delivering the most services to our members for the money - and
we plan to continue doing just that in 2012.

Thank you from the Members, Volunteers, and Staff of the Handiham System.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager

Handiham Membership Dues

Benefits of membership:


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

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

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:

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:
patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

Radio Camp email:

*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, 23 May 2012 - Patrick Tice