[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 28 November 2012

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2012 15:31:06 -0600

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

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center
Handiham System. Our contact information is at the end, or simply email
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for changes in subscriptions or to comment. You
can listen to this news online.

MP3 audio stream:

Download the 40 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player:

Get this podcast in iTunes:

RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:
*Welcome to Handiham World.*What do you know about the HF bands?

[image: Icom IC-706M2G tuned to 1.902 MHz]
It's starting to look like newly-licensed amateur radio operators need some
help understanding which band to use and when.

Back in the day, I entered amateur radio by earning a Novice license that
was valid for one year.  In that year, I was expected to get on the HF
bands and increase my Morse code speed so that I could pass my General exam
and use phone and more HF frequencies. In that year, I learned to use 80
meters in the nighttime hours for long-distance contacts and during the
daylight hours for more local contacts here in Minnesota.  15 meters would
prove useful in the daylight hours for worldwide communications, provided
the band was "open" - and one learned that when it was not open, no amount
of calling CQ would ever yield a contact.  There was no getting on the air
without an antenna, and for a teenager with almost no budget for ham radio,
that meant building my own antennas.  That's a good way to learn that an
antenna for the 80 meter band takes up a lot of real estate while one for
the 15 meter band will fit in nearly any yard.

Once I passed my General under the keen eye of an FCC examiner in St. Paul,
MN I was ready to take advantage of all the HF bands. That meant more
antenna building, which in turn taught me more about the relationship of
conductor length and spacing to wavelength. Since directional antennas were
said to pull in more DX, I had to build a beam antenna.  I was on the roof
of my parent's house putting the final touches on a three element 15 meter
beam when a kid rode up on a bike and called up to me to ask if I was a ham
radio operator. We both ended up enjoying amateur radio as lifelong
activities. One of the things we both liked was participating in our local
radio club's ARRL Field Day, another prime learning activity. At the Field
Day site one could put up antennas for various bands and learn the physical
characteristics of antennas designed for different frequencies. Even
better, there were seasoned operators at the Field Day site to teach the
newbies like us when the bands were open and which bands would yield the
most contacts at any given time of day. Since Field Day usually includes
different modes and power levels, we were able to learn first-hand which
was most effective for a given type of communication considering band
conditions and the competition.

There's no point in suggesting that "the good old days" were better than
today.  I would never do that, because we enjoy such a wide range of
opportunities in amateur radio right now!

But...  We do have to acknowledge that people enter amateur radio through a
different license these days.  The Technician license is most often
considered a portal to the VHF and UHF bands even though it does confer
some limited HF privileges. The typical Technician operator will gravitate
toward FM repeater operation and will not consider HF operation until
passing General. With the General Class CSCE in hand after the VE session,
the new General operator now has really serious HF privileges and virtually
no HF experience.

*Now, let's look at what this means.  *


   Since I administer the remote base HF stations, I notice what bands and
   modes people are trying to use at different times of the day and night.  I
   observe connections via Echolink for the receive function, too.  Users are
   often connected and listening to what must sound rather odd since they are
   using the wrong sideband for a given HF band. Others are listening or
   trying to make contacts at a time of day when a band is almost certainly

   In my work I often hear from new General Class licensees who are eager
   to get on the air but who have no idea that HF antennas are much, much
   larger than the VHF antennas they are used to. They also have not
   considered the kind of HF operation they really want to try. They are
   blissfully unaware of the problems they will encounter with RF
   interference.  Some live in apartments with no access to outdoor space for
   antennas. I know I am going to have to manage expectations for folks who
   have already sunk a bundle into a new HF station without considering the
   lack of space for an outside antenna system. Others have plenty of space
   for antennas but no help to put them up.

   Once on the air, the new General operator has no experience with the
   different operating practices found on HF.  Typically the new General will
   not have been a short-wave listener and will not have much (if any)
   exposure to how a typical contact is made on the HF bands.  Even then, he
   or she will be unaware of the difference between contest operating and
   casual contacts and what expectations there are for each.

Fortunately, we have plenty of learning resources.  The internet has many
HF resources that include descriptions of each HF band and its
characteristics. Radio clubs still enthusiastically participate in ARRL
Field Day, which remains one of the best places to get hands-on experience
putting up antennas for various bands and dealing with station layout, band
conditions, and interference. In fact, your local radio club is still an
excellent learning resource because club meetings will sometimes include
programs on HF operation and antennas and many of the attendees will have
extensive HF experience and be willing to share.  Some clubs have a "MAP",
or "Member Assistance Program", that can help you with station layout and
antenna installation. Experienced HF operators on the club's MAP team may
be willing to visit your home and take measurements of your lot in order to
recommend an effective HF antenna system.

If you are new to HF, it is normal to have many questions about how to get
on the air. You most likely have not been on HF before, even if you have
been a Tech for years. Don't be afraid to ask for help, and don't expect to
learn everything all at once. It will take time and patience for you to
learn which bands are best for whatever communications you want to try.
Since band conditions are variable and change radically by the hour, time
of day, with solar and terrestrial weather conditions, and seasonally, you
will have to plan to learn in the long term. Take advantage of club
programs and events. Do some reading - there are some great resources
available in print and on the web. Get into the ham shack and listen,
listen, listen!  Make contacts on different bands to learn more about RF
propagation and operating practices. Start with casual, informal contacts
or friendly regional HF nets and as you learn, try the more challenging
world of contesting.  Try collecting a few QSL cards. Make an HF schedule
with a friend.

If you are an experienced HF operator, answer a CQ on the air. Be patient
with our new HF licensees and help them to learn. Point them to a welcoming
HF net or suggest that they try a higher frequency band such as 15 meters
when you know it will be open to DX. Suggest working all states. Ask if the
new op has any questions.  You may be surprised at some of them - things
you  know might be entirely new concepts to someone else.

Let's get out there and enjoy HF!

Email me at handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.
Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager
Volunteer hours needed

[image: George, N0SBU, finds room for an antenna in the storeroom following
radio camp.]

Handiham volunteer George Lavallee, N0SBU, finds a place in the storeroom
for a two meter beam after a Handiham Radio Camp session. George has been a
volunteer for years and understands the value of helping to share ham radio
with others through the Handiham program.  His most recent volunteer work
has been with the audio cassette tape duplication for our blind members,
and he has helped us organize Handiham historical documents.  George
regularly reports his volunteer hours to our office by sending the total to
Nancy, who makes sure that the information is passed on to Courage Center's
Volunteer Department.
Why report hours?

Volunteer hours are a measure of a program's activity within Courage
Center. Our Handiham volunteer hours have dropped precipitously - not
because our volunteers are doing less, but because we no longer have
volunteers clocking in to a physical location like the old Handiham repair
shop that we used to have in Golden Valley. Those hours were easy to
collect and track because guys like Rex Kiser, W0GLU, who headed up our
shop team, could just go right to the Volunteer Office to sign his time
card each day that he worked in the shop.  Those day are gone, along with
the volunteers like Rex, who is a silent key.  Today's volunteers usually
work at home recording audio or assessing used radio equipment. Electronic
communications and transfers of recorded audio are now the norm, and there
is no need to physically travel to a volunteer office in Golden Valley to
sign a time card. The result is that these valuable volunteer hours are not
being recorded.  The stakes are higher than you might realize because some
funding from outside agencies can depend on volunteer activities taking
place in their geographic areas.

So don't just assume that you are reporting hours for recognition and
milestone awards from Courage Center.  It is much more than that - it
really helps our program to get those hours recorded!  I know you are not
in it for the recognition.  Our volunteers are dedicated to helping others
advance in amateur radio, learning new things and making friends on the
air.  We get that, and we really appreciate your work on our behalf.
Please send Nancy your hours soon, so that we can get them recorded before
the end of 2012.

It's easy!

   1. Make a short list of your volunteer activities if you need to remind
   yourself of what you did over the past year.  Here's an example:
      - Recorded for blind members each month.
      - Represented Handihams at a hamfest two times.
      - Gave a program about Handihams at my local club or service
      - Taught a class for Handihams (Radio Camp or other event)
      - Repaired a broken radio for the equipment program.
   2. Estimate the hours spent on each of these activities and add to get
   your total estimated annual hours. Include travel time to volunteer
   3. Send Nancy your hours via email or call her directly at
   1-763-520-0512.  Her email address is hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Now let's get back to George, N0SBU, for a moment.  We are featuring him in
this story because he is the only volunteer who is currently reporting his
hours!  Please don't assume that just because you were at Radio Camp or
have done some other activity that we automatically recorded your hours.
There is no way for us to know how long it took you to prepare for the
classes you taught or how much time you took to travel to camp or to an
event.  All we need is a simple estimate and a brief mention if you wish of
what activity it was that you did.  A quick email and you are done - and it
will really help us out!

Thanks again for all that you do!

[image: cartoon robot with pencil]
Dick, WA0CAF, likes a link to a blog article entitled "Windows 8 —
Disappointing Usability for Both Novice and Power Users":

Ken, KB3LLA, writes about NPR on the iPhone:

I got the "NPR News" app on my iPhone. Am very happy.

73, Ken

Editor's note:  Thanks for both of these notes about new media.  We think
that the jury's still out on Windows 8, but time will certainly tell us
whether the new operating system holds promise for people with disabilities
and for use in the ham shack. For now yours truly is sticking with Windows
7 Professional 64 bit. If you have decided to get a new computer that
features Windows 8, please share your experience with us. We are
particularly interested in compatibility with amateur radio applications
and screenreaders like NVDA.  As for the NPR app, we agree - it's awesome!
Ken also writes about an opportunity for students:

To Prospective NASA Student Interns with Disabilities,

*NASA is looking to increase the number of students with disabilities
pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers through
our internship programs.*

NASA has a two-percent hiring goal for employment of people with
disabilities and internships are a good way to get experience. Students can
apply for summer internships now! The deadline for submitting applications
is Friday, March 15, 2013, and we will begin extending offers to students
as early as February 2, 2013.

Read more on the Handiham website:
http://www.handiham.org/node/154 <http://www.handiham.org/drupal2/node/154>
Handiham Nets

[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.  *

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

*EchoLink nodes:*

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

*Other ways to connect:*

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)

WIRES system number 1427
*A dip in the pool*

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

Let's go to the General Class pool, and this time we are going to pick a
question for our HF newbies!

*G1B08 asks, "When choosing a transmitting frequency, what should you do to
comply with good amateur practice?"*

Possible answers are:

A. Review FCC Part 97 Rules regarding permitted frequencies and emissions

B. Follow generally accepted band plans agreed to by the Amateur Radio

C. Before transmitting, listen to avoid interfering with ongoing

D. All of these choices are correct

I hinted to you that this was one for our newcomers to the HF bands.
Answers A, B, and C are all good ideas, so the correct answer is D, all of
these choices are correct. Few of us need to consult Part 97 for much of
anything after we get a bit of experience on the air, but remember that new
hams will not have the experience that you and I do if we have been hams
for years.  Even so, I'm not embarrassed to admit that I keep a copy of my
ARRL "US Amateur Radio Bands" chart on the wall of the ham shack just in
case I need to make sure that I can operate a particular mode on a band
segment I don't often use. The Frequency Chart is not the same thing as the
band plan, which is much more detailed and largely voluntary. You can find
the band plan at http://www.arrl.org/band-plan. The idea behind the
voluntary band plan is to keep interference to a minimum while increasing
the likelihood of successful contacts among users of particular modes.  For
example, lower sideband is used by convention on 75 meters, even though the
FCC does not say that we must use lower sideband.  You could use upper
sideband, but your transmissions would possibly cause interference to
others on the band and would not be copied by anyone whose receiver was set
to lower sideband. Finally, it is always good to listen before transmitting
to make sure that the frequency is not already in use.

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

[image: Image of TS-480SAT courtesy Universal Radio]

*Work continues on the remote base software.  Both stations are accessible
via Echolink for receive.  *Look for W0ZSW-L and W0EQO-L using the search
function in your Echolink application.  Please note that it is not allowed
to connect through RF to the two remote base Echolink nodes, you can only
use the Echolink application of a computer or smartphone.

   - *Echolink tip:  Control the HF receiver frequency by typing it into
   the text box.  *Example: Get focus in the text box, then type 10 and
   press the enter key. The receiver goes to WWV, 10 MHz. Type 14.3 and press
   enter to go to the maritime mobile net on 20m. If the band seems dead, it
   may be that someone else has used the radio on another band and the antenna
   has not been tuned to the band you want to listen to. The antenna is only
   tuned when a user logs in with the W4MQ software and transmits.  The LDG
   autotuner senses the RF and tunes.

If problems show up, please email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Keyboard commands list updated:

*Solar Activity Forecast:* Solar activity is expected to be at low to
moderate levels on days one, two, and three (28 Nov, 29 Nov, 30 Nov).

Credit: NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
This week @ HQ

Plan now to contact the Handiham office with your news or address changes,
stories to share, or anything else that needs to be completed before year's
end.  The Handiham office will close for the week of Christmas through the
end of the year and will reopen after New Year's Day.  That means that once
Nancy leaves the office at 2pm USA Central Time on December 20, any
business you have left until the last minute will have to wait for the
first week in January! Please plan ahead - it will not be possible to get
in touch with us during the last 10 days of the month!  During that time we
will keep the website up to date and assure that the remote base stations
are operational. The nets will continue on a regular schedule most days,
but family holidays are special and sessions may be simple open round
tables if no net control shows up.

*Change in address for equipment donations:  *Please contact Pat, WA0TDA,
before making any donation of equipment. My phone number is 763-520-0511
and my email address is pat.tice@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx The address is now the
same as our postal mailing address. This should simplify our contact

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

*Equipment change: *We no longer accept antennas, except small accessory
antennas for handheld radios. *We do not accept donations of cassette tapes
or tape equipment or used magazines. *
No more tape digests and manuals

*Please remember that the cassette tape digest ceases following the mailing
at the end of November!  After that all audio is in DAISY digital format or
on line through the members only section of handiham.org. The Library of
Congress 4-track tape system will no longer be supported in any form after
2012.  *

*George, N0SBU, reminds us that the final tape digest mailing is out and we
will no longer support cassette tapes. We do not accept donations of
cassette tapes or tape equipment. *

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

*DAISY audio digests are available for our blind members who do not have
computers*, playable in your Library of Congress digital player.  Handiham
members who use these players and who would prefer to receive a copy of the
monthly audio digests on the special Library of Congress digital cartridge
should send a blank cartridge to us in a cartridge mailer (no envelopes,
please), so that we can place the files on it and return it to you via free
matter postal mail.  Your callsign should be on both the cartridge and the
mailer so that we can make sure we know who it's from. Blank cartridges and
mailers are available from APH, the American Printing House for the Blind,
Inc. <http://www.aph.org/>

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

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

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

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

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

[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

Handiham Manager Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, may be reached at
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or by phone at 763-520-0511.

Mornings Monday through Thursday are the best time to contact us.

The Courage Handiham System depends on the support of people like you, who
want to share the fun and friendship of ham radio with others. Please help
us provide services to people with disabilities. We would really appreciate
it if you would remember us in your estate plans. If you need a planning
kit, please call. If you are wondering whether a gift of stock can be given
to Handihams, the answer is yes! Please call Walt Seibert, KD0LPX, at
763-520-0532 or email him at walt.seibert@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Call 1-866-426-3442 toll-free. -- Help us get new hams on the air.

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

You may listen in audio to the E-Letter at www.handiham.org.
Email us to subscribe:

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

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

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

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

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


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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 28 November 2012 - Patrick Tice