[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 26 October 2011

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2011 11:15:27 -0500

Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 26
October 2011

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: cartoon sun]

*Experiencing a CME*

Remember last week's praise of the 10 meter band and the great DX
conditions?  Well, it's way different this week as the HF communications
conditions have been tanked by a CME, or "Coronal Mass Ejection" from the

I subscribe to a service from Spaceweather.com that provides me with a
timely email about such solar events.  On Monday, the day of the solar
event, I was able to communicate on most of the HF bands quite well early in
the day, but by mid-afternoon it was clear that something was happening.
Sure enough, the email had arrived in my inbox, alerting me to the fact that
a CME event had occurred:

"A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetic field on Oct. 24th
around 1800 UT (2 pm EDT). The impact strongly compressed our planet's
magnetosphere and may have exposed geosynchronous satellites to solar wind
plasma. Mild to moderate geomagnetic storms are possible in the hours ahead
as Earth's magnetic field continues to reverberate from the hit."

Later in the evening on Monday I checked in with a group of friends on 1.902
MHz.  It was 20:00 Central Daylight Time, and after sunset.  Normally the
160 meter band would be really starting to open up that time of the evening,
but conditions were so bad that sky wave communications were almost
non-existent. Ground wave contacts were possible, and because several of us
live within the range of ground wave communications, we were able to carry
on a conversation. It was clear that not everyone knew what was happening,
but by this morning the news had hit the popular media, with stories about
the Northern Lights being observed even in the southern United States, a
rare occurrence.  Displays of the Northern Lights are common in the far
north, as you might expect, when matter and radiation are ejected from the
sun in the direction of Earth reach and disrupt the planet's magnetosphere.
CME events are actually quite common as the sunspot cycle climbs to maximum,
and there may be several each day.  However, not all of them are as strong
as this week's, nor are they all directed toward Earth. You can find out
much more about CME events on Wikipedia or Spaceweather.com, but for our
purposes we simply need to know that solar weather can bring a temporary
halt to effective sky wave propagation.

It is tempting for those of us who have experienced multiple solar cycles as
amateur radio operators to assume that most everyone will know why they turn
on their HF radios and find comparative silence. There may be odd swishing
sounds or hissing.  Tuning around can yield more "birdies" (mixer products
generated within the radio) than actual signals.  We now have lots of new
Technicians and Generals who have never been in this situation.  That
reminds me of the time when I was a new General and had never experienced
the effects of a CME.  It was a time of many sunspots, good DX, plenty of
activity on the bands, and contacts with low power were "easy pickings".
Imagine my thought processes when I switched on the receiver (we had
separate transmitters and receivers in the late 1960's unless we had lots of
money) and there was nothing but a gentle hiss.  I immediately assumed that
the antenna was disconnected - that's exactly what it sounded like, so it
was a reasonable thing to check.  When that idea fizzled, I actually took a
hike out into the back yard to look at the antenna.  It was till up there in
the air, feedline connected, looking fit as ever.

This was a real head-scratcher!

Back inside I went to sit down and puzzle it out.  RF gain, check.  Antenna
switch, check. All vacuum tubes in the receiver lit up, check. Broadcast
stations coming in on medium wave, check.  Eventually I must have talked
with a fellow radio club member and gotten the lowdown on solar weather
events like that one, but it always stuck with me that I felt that the
antenna must not have been connected - that's how bad it was.  You can well
imagine a new ham today experiencing the same thing with this week's solar
weather and thinking that they are either doing something wrong or they have
some kind of an equipment or antenna problem.

So what do you do about it?

This is simple, and the method preferred by lazy operators:  Just wait and
do nothing.  Band conditions will slowly improve, though it may take several
days.  You can have fun keeping an informal log of stations you hear on the
various bands, perhaps even charting the return to normal conditions band by
band, starting with 160 or 80 meters, where sky wave will return quickly,
often within 24 hours. It will probably take longer for activity to return
on bands like 10 meters.  By yesterday 75 meters had cleared up pretty well
and regional nets were back in operation.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

*References:  *

Space Weather News for Oct. 24, 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.  We are about 1/5 of the way toward our goal.  Since we
have hit a sort of plateau, I am going to mention the challenge in the year
end appeal, which will go out by mail.   That should help us out.

Money is tight these days and we desperately need your support.  Now, thanks
to a generous challenge grant by Dr. Dave Justis, KN0S, we have a chance to
help fill the budget gap.  Dr. Dave will donate $5,000 to the Handiham
System if we can raise a matching amount.  That means we need to really put
the fund-raising into high gear!  If you can help, designate a donation to
Handihams, stating that it is for the "Dr. Dave Challenge".  We will keep
you posted in our weekly e-letter as to the progress of the fund.

Nancy can take credit card donations via the toll-free number,
1-866-426-3442, or accept checks sent to our Courage Center Handiham

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

Be sure to put a note saying "Dr. Dave Challenge" somewhere in the envelope
or on the note line of the check.  If you donate online as detailed toward
the end of your weekly e-letter, be sure to designate to Handihams and then
send me an email letting me know you donated to the Dr. Dave fund:

Thank you so much for your support!
Early Autumn Reading: Becoming a Ham (Part 7)
[image: code key]

Becoming a Ham - Part 7

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

To perk up the late summer/early autumn ham radio doldrums, the Handiham
System proudly presents its summer serial, a story about one man's
experiences in the field of radio, starting with the first commercial
station in the United States, KDKA in Pittsburgh. Tom Benham, now a silent
key but who most recently held callsign W3DD, was a ham radio pioneer, and
being blind didn't even slow him down! Join us now as Tom's narrative takes
us back in time to the mid-1940's, and a time when ham radio was a primary
means of contact while at sea.

The Kon-Tiki Expedition

One of the exciting events in which I participated with the single-dial
transmitter was the Kon-Tiki expedition which Thor Hyerdahl launched in the
Fall of 1946. That was the balsa raft experiment to prove that ocean
currents would carry him and his crew from Peru across the Pacific to the
western islands. He took along amateur equipment to keep in contact with
home. I was a small part of the group of Hams who listened for his
transmissions and carried his news to the rest of the world. My part was to
get up certain mornings at four a.m. to look for him on 14 megahertz,
(megacycles as it was called in those days). I had the pleasure of
contacting him the day he first sighted land. He didn't land, but allowed a
couple of his crew to set out in a small boat they had aboard to paddle
ashore. The two men got ashore all right and exchanged greetings with the
natives, who agreed to take them back to the raft in a canoe. By the time
things got organized, the raft had drifted to the west of the island and
there was a mad scramble to catch up and get the crew back aboard with very
much appreciated supplies. Hyerdahl sent me a summary of all this, which I
phoned into the local newspaper. A couple of days later I heard the landing
they made at the end of the trip, but conditions were not suitable for me to
contact them with my transmitter.

Transmitter Hunt

Another activity that was fun was looking for a hidden transmitter. A couple
of Hams hid a transmitter in some unknown place and sent short messages from
time to time. We had direction-finding equipment in perhaps ten cars,
starting from a specified location. In the cars, we had maps of the region.
Fixes would be taken on the transmissions and lines plotted on the maps.
From the junction of the lines, we had an idea where the transmitter was
located. When we got near the spot, we had to use much more sensitive
equipment called "Sniffers". The first to find the transmitter was the
winner. Then we had refreshments to celebrate. Of course, we usually all
arrived within a few minutes of each other. To make things more difficult,
the transmitter was moved sometime during the hunt, but only once. That had
to be done rather cleverly to avoid giving the hunters a clue when it was
being moved. One of the best hunters was W3EQ, Walter Deery, a friend of
mine from the very beginning of my Ham days. He was a retired electrical
engineer. By the time of these hunts, he must have been in his 80's. One
day, in about 1950, his wife came home from shopping to find him sitting in
his Ham chair with his hands folded behind his head. He had passed away in
this position, no doubt listening to some Ham sending him a signal.

The Liberian Venture

I had a student in the late '40's who was interested in religion and who had
a Ham ticket. After graduating in 1949, Hanson found that he was going to be
sent to Liberia for missionary work. Hearing this, I asked if he had thought
of taking a rig with him. "Gee, that would be a great idea! Can we get one
together?" We fixed a surplus receiver to operate on 20 meters and got a
surplus transmitter working that seemed suitable. But we needed a power
supply. We hunted through the surplus gear and, much to my surprise, found a
one KW gasoline generator with 120V AC output complete and ready to go. Then
there was the matter of an antenna. I suggested he should have a beam. Since
all this gear had to be shipped with him, we designed a three element Yagi
using #12 wire cut to length and neatly rolled. Not knowing what he would
have to work with over there, we prepared lengths of wooden rods that could
be lashed together to provide the necessary supports. There wasn't time to
assemble things for him, so he had to depend on his ability to get things
working on arrival. Of course, everything was tested as best we could.
Hanson was sent off in July and we set about getting ready to work him. I
threw together a 6V6 crystal oscillator for 14.050 MHz and a push-pull 813
amplifier with a 1500 volt supply. I always wanted a beam, so my students
and I built a Yagi using aluminum tubing. We had a surplus rotator and a 25
foot mast. These were mounted on the roof of the Physics building with the
beam atop. For a direction indicator that I could read, I used a pair of
selsyns, one turned by the rotor the other mounted in a panel on the
operating table in the basement. This had an 8-inch disk mounted on it with
tactile marks for direction. On about September 15, I heard LI9ER on the
assigned frequency. There he was, loud and clear. We had many excellent
contacts. The rest of the band sounded like a rain storm when we signed

Next time: The Civil Defense Club.

*To be continued...*

[image: dog barking at cartoon mail carrier]

*Dick, WA0CAF, likes a link to time servers:

Dick also likes a unit & currency converter program from the same website:

*Ken, KB3LLA, passes on news of the latest JAWS® release.  *New features
include* **"Convenient OCR, a feature that performs Optical Character
Recognition on text that is displayed as an image, thereby enabling blind
computer users to read items that were previously inaccessible. Examples of
such screens include a PDF file, the setup screen of an application, or the
menu of selections on a DVD. JAWS now provides an opportunity to read and
interact with these screens, including locating and clicking on text which
may be required to activate a control."*

There is more about the JAWS screenreader on the Freedom Scientific
www.FreedomScientific.com <http://www.freedomscientific.com/>

Ken also likes free Windows 7 textbooks:
Troubleshooting 101: Great DX antenna but miss the calls

[image: Pat and giant alligator]

*Last week's strategy question was built around the following scenario:*

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

Well, I guess interest is waning in this segment because I got no thoughts
on the matter. (Or maybe I missed them in a blizzard of emails.)  The
strategy used by experienced contesters is to have a separate
omnidirectional receiving antenna.  That way, when you have your beam
antenna pointed away from a station, you are still able to hear that station
calling with the omnidirectional antenna. Sometimes a somewhat directional
antenna like a dipole will work for this purpose, but a vertical would be my
first choice.

"But", you say, "What about a noisy environment?  I could work the stations,
but I have noise that seems to cover up the weaker signals."

In that case, you may want to turn to a simple, inexpensive, and effective
receive-only antenna:  the "Beverage".  You need a fair amount of space to
run out a wire, but it's pretty easy to make one of these yourself. It is
named after its inventor, Harold Beverage.  It is a directional antenna, but
has a very, very low susceptibility to noise.  A strategy would be to
install it to favor a DX direction.  It's one of the few antennas you will
hear about that uses a resistor:

An omnidirectional alternative that is also useful for transmitting and is
low-noise is a horizontal full-wave loop:

The down side of the Beverage and the full-wave loop is their size.  These
are not antennas for the small city lot, that's for sure.

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

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

*WorldRadio Online November Issue Debuts*

[image: Screenshot of Worldradio cover]

The first of the pay-for WorldRadio Online magazines is up on the new Zinio™
server.  I am looking for some comments from users of this service as to
ease of installation, accessibility to blind users, functionality during
use, and any other impressions you may have.  Up until the October issue,
you simply visited http://www.worldradiomagazine.com and downloaded the
issue in PDF format for free.  The PDF contained embedded text that could be
read with screenreading software used by blind hams. While I have not had
time to really learn my way around the new reading system used by the
November issue, I did notice that the proprietary Zinio reading software
"Zinio Reader 4" does include a search function, and it can find individual
words in an article.  The font size is adjustable for low vision readers, as
we have come to expect these days. Annual subscriptions are available for
$9.95 on the CQ Store website:

If you are interested in reading the user guide for Zinio Reader, you will
find it here:

When I collect more information about this and other on line publications, I
will write an overview that includes some information about accessibility.
Remote Base Health Report for 26 October 2011

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

*Tech users: *The feedback has been positive to date regarding giving access
to our Technician Class Handiham members, so we are doing so. Because we
don't have time to do a lot of technical support, we do ask that users have
better than average computer skills.  Setup isn't that difficult, but it
would probably be a bit confusing for a person who doesn't have much
computer experience.  Feel free to visit the link to the station information
and setup and do some reading to get an idea about what is involved.  Both
stations are equipped with Kenwood VGS1 speech modules for blind
accessibility.  The W4MQ software is pretty good for accessibility because
it has many keyboard commands. The software runs on Windows® only, and has
been tested with XP and Windows 7, both 32 and 64 bit installations. The
Kenwood TS-480 radios are blind-friendly.  Joe, N3AIN, has done six MP3
audio tutorials:

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


   *W0ZSW is on line. *

   *W0EQO is on line. *

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

W0EQO is on line. W0ZSW is on line as of this publication date.  Users may
choose IRB Sound on the W0ZSW station if they prefer it over SKYPE. The
W0EQO station does require SKYPE, however.  IRB Sound on W0EQO has been
noticed to have dropouts on transmit.

You can view the status page at:
Audible Transmitter Output Monitor (ATOM) featured in QST November 2011 New
[image: atom-image.jpg]

*The Audible Transmitter Output Monitor (ATOM), an assistive tuning aid for
blind amateur radio operators, sells for $90 and is shown on page 80 of the
November QST in the New Products section.*

This device gives an audible indication that an internal or external antenna
tuner has matched a 50-ohm load. For info, go to

This week @ HQ

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

   - *Nancy will be in the office Monday through Thursday.
   - *Pat will be out of the office between Oct. 27 and Nov. 9.  There will
   be no e-letter or podcast during that time.  I will attempt to keep the
   Remote Base status page up to date.
   - *Dates for Radio Camp 2012 *are Saturday, June 2 - Friday, June 8,
   2012. This will be earlier than usual so that we can test for Extra under
   the existing question pool, which expires at the end of the last day of


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

   *EchoLink nodes:*
   - KA0PQW-R, node 267582
      - N0BVE-R, node 89680
      - *HANDIHAM* conference server Node *494492* (Our preferred
      high-capacity node.)

      Other ways to connect:
      - IRLP node *9008* (Vancouver BC reflector)
      - WIRES system number *1427*
      - Stay in touch! Be sure to send Nancy your changes of address, phone
   number changes, or email address changes so that we can continue to stay in
   touch with you. You may either email Nancy at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
   or call her toll-free at 1-866-426-3442. Mornings are the best time to
   contact us.

Supporting Handihams - 2011.

Now you can support the Handiham program by donating on line using Courage
Center's secure website.

It is easy, but one thing to remember is that you need to use the pull-down
menu to designate your gift to the Handiham program.


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

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

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

We really appreciate your help. As you know, we have cut expenses this year
due to the difficult economic conditions. We are working hard to make sure
that we are delivering the most services to our members for the money - and
we plan to continue doing just that in 2011.

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

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager

Handiham Membership Dues

Reminder: Handiham renewals are on a monthly schedule - Please renew or
join, as we need you to keep our program strong!

You will have several choices when you renew:


   Join at the usual $12 annual dues level for one year. Your renewal date
   is the anniversary of your last renewal, so your membership extends for one

   Join for three years at $36.

   Lifetime membership is $120.

   If you can't afford the dues, request a 90 day non-renewable sponsored

   Donate an extra amount of your choice to help support our activities.

   Discontinue your membership.

Please return your renewal form as soon as possible.

Your support is critical! Please help.

The Courage Handiham System depends on the support of people like you, who
want to share the fun and friendship of ham radio with others. Please help
us provide services to people with disabilities. We would really appreciate
it if you would remember us in your estate plans. If you need a planning
kit, please call. If you are wondering whether a gift of stock can be given
to Handihams, the answer is yes! Please call Walt Seibert at 763-520-0532 or
email him at walt.seibert@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Ask for a free DVD about the Handiham System. It's perfect for your club
program, too! The video tells your club about how we got started, the Radio
Camps, and working with hams who have disabilities.
Call 1-866-426-3442 toll-free.1-866-426-3442 toll-free -- Help us get new
hams on the air.

Get the Handiham E-Letter by email every Wednesday, and stay up-to-date with
ham radio news.

You may listen in audio to the E-Letter at www.handiham.org.

Email us to subscribe:

Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at





   Operating Skills

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System!


Manager, Courage Handiham System

Reach me by email at:

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

Radio Camp email:


[image: ARRL Diamond logo]

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

The weekly e-letter is a compilation of software tips, operating
information, and Handiham news. It is published on Wednesdays, and is
available to everyone free of charge. Please email wa0tda@xxxxxxxx for
changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and
your new address.

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

*hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  *

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 26 October 2011 - Patrick Tice