Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 09 October 2013 This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Kenny 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: http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3 Get this podcast in iTunes: <http://www.itunes.com/podcast?id=372422406> http://0345ed7.netsolhost.com/images/itunes_button_sm.jpg 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. End of an era: Last of the tape production equipment is taken out of service. George, N0SBU & dog PJ George, N0SBU & dog PJ pose next to SUV full of tape equipment and supplies once used in the Handiham Tape Program, where George was a volunteer for many years. The tape equipment is now in storage, since George has dismantled his tape production center. Visible in the SUV are two Telex high-speed tape duplicators, cardboard boxes used to ship multiple tapes, and plastic bins containing tape masters. NLS Digital Player The audio cassette tapes, once the standard for books in the 4-track adapted audio format used by our members who cannot read regular print, have been replaced by audio delivered via the Internet or by Library of Congress format digital cartridges. George, N0SBU George also volunteered at Camp Courage, when our office was at that location. In this photo he is replacing a two meter beam antenna on the shelf in the storeroom. Before that, he made tapes at Courage Center in our Golden Valley location and assisted us on many other volunteer tasks, including Radio Camp. He continues to volunteer with us and with the local food shelf. George recognizes that volunteerism is a central part of the Handiham program, but is also necessary to build a civil society in general. Our volunteers are - and always have been - the bedrock of the Handiham program. Thanks, George, for all of your years of service to your fellow ham radio operators and your community! Patrick Tice, WA0TDA Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator _____ Bulletins 4GB Digital Cartridges Available - Spend a buck more and double the capacity! Kitty, W8TDA, writes: "Thought this might be of interest to some Handihams. American Printing House for the Blind is now selling a 4GB blank digital cartridge for use with the DTB player for $13." * For more information: APH 4GB NLS Cartridge <https://shop.aph.org/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_Digital%20Talking%20 Book%20Cartridge,%204GB,%20Blank_1-02609-00P_10001_11051> Ham radio gets a plug - NPR story on National Quiet Zone Did you know that there is a "National Quiet Zone", a place where there is no cell phone or Wi-Fi service? It's in close proximity to sensitive receiving stations related to radio astronomy and other research in West Virginia. NPR did a five and a half minute story in their regular "All Tech Considered" segment on the National Quiet Zone, and sure enough - ham radio got a mention and we hear a snippet from a conversation on the air. * Listen to the story here. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/10/08/218976699/enter-the-q uiet-zone-where-cell-service-wi-fi-are-banned> W0BXR Hamfest & Computer Show Save the date - Sunday, November 3, 2013. It's the 42nd annual Davenport Radio Amateur Club Hamfest & Computer Show! Handihams will be there, thanks to volunteer John Hoenshell, N0BFJ. * Where: GPS Coordinates N 4134.1413 W 9034.197 - Davenport, Iowa. Clarion Hotel 563-391-1230 5202 N. Brady Street [former Davenport Holiday Inn] Just One Mile South of1-80 on U.S. Highway 61. * When: Sunday November 3, 2013 * Details: http://www.arcsupport.com/drac/2013festflyer.pdf * We invite you to attend this year's Annual D.R.A.C. Hamfest. On display will be commercial vendors, and everything from parts to complete stations computer systems, hardware, & software. Vendors will be from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, and much more. No tailgating, food or drinks may be sold All tables must be rented through the club, chairs and electricity provided. Hamfest talk in frequency of 146.28/88 requires a tone of 77 Hz. Alternate talk-infrequency 146.10/70. Saturday Setup Noon to 1700, pending availability of the room. Sunday Setup 0600. Hours are Sunday from 0800 to 1400. Main prize drawing will be held at 1300. * Tickets are $7.00 in advance with double prize stubs and $8.00 at the door with one prize stub. * FREE parking, handicapped parking provided. Attendees under 12 get in FREE. You need not be present to win main prizes. Everything on ground floor and flat for easy walking or wheelchair access!! Need tech support? Try the Microsoft Accessibility Team! If you have a disability and need help with a Microsoft product, rest assured that some really excellent tech support is ready and waiting for you to contact them. We heard this recently from a delighted Handiham member who got remote assistance with his email software. Contact Microsoft Accessibility, and you will find that there are friendly agents who provide assistance to either customers with disabilities or customers looking for support with accessibility features, such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, or speech recognition commands. * The Accessibility number is: 1-800-936-5900 * TTY: 1-800-892-5234 * Weekday hours of operation are: 5 A.M. - 9 P.M. (Pacific Time) * Weekend hours of operations are: 6 A.M. - 3 P.M. (Pacific Time) * If you are not a customer with a disability or you do not have a question about an accessibility feature please contact Microsoft Support at: 1-800-Microsoft (642-7676). * Microsoft agents are also available to assist you via e-mail <https://enable.microsoft.com/eform.aspx?productKey=enablefeedback> . * There is an accessibility website <http://support.microsoft.com/gp/contact-microsoft-accessibility> . * And an accessibility blog: (Recommended!) <http://blogs.msdn.com/b/accessibility/> Pierre, K9EYE, wonders: "When are we going to get the 18.165 net going again?" * Okay Handiham readers and listeners - what do you think? We never had a "net" per se on 17 meters since nets are frowned upon on that band, but we did have a "non-net get-together" that Alan Davis, K2WS, put together. It was a fun and mostly reliable way to touch base until the bottom fell out of HF propagation as the last solar cycle reached minimum. Now that the cycle has made 17 meters reliable again, should we go for it? What say? Bob, KC3FI, writes about "You and Your Dog's Visit To Your Butternut 9V": Thanks for another excellent Audio Weekly Newsletter. While reading it, I decided to share some information and a story. I do recall that you worked for Butternut for a while. Twenty years ago, I bought a GAP ground mounted antenna which was sold as a HF/2 meter/6 meter antenna. The 2 and 6 meter elements were at its bottom about 3 feet off of the ground. It certainly didn't work well on 2 and 6 and lasted only 5 or 6 months before winter winds claimed it. Replaced it with a 9V 18 years ago and except for failure of the cap between the 40 and 20 elements, it is still standing and performing. Added 160 coil and it even works okay on that band. The replacement CAP was expensive, about $35. Now for the abbreviated story . . . While in the local bank, I heard this conversation between a farmer and a bank officer which went something like this: Farmer, "I want to borrow 10 thousand to build a bathroom in my house." Bank Officer, "You look unfamiliar to me, where have you been doing your business?" Farmer, "In the woods behind my house." 73: Bob Martin KC3FI Good one, Bob! And it reminds us how times do change, as we have already discussed with radio. Electronics have evolved, as has plumbing! I am also reminded of a story about banking, which was that when I was a teen still living at home and having only part-time jobs, I went to my local bank and applied for a $200 loan to buy a Heathkit HW-100. I was turned down, which was pretty disappointing. That bank sure lost many years of my business through a lifetime that would eventually include a long career in ham radio! I did manage to save enough to eventually get the HW-100, and sold my old Knight-Kit T-60 transmitter and Lafayette receiver. Jo Anne, KG6POZ, shared: * I had a wonderful time at Camp Courage in Maple Lake, Minnesota. This was the beginning of a very nice story in CLIMB TIMES, a local California newsletter. Congrats to you, Jo Anne, for sharing your Handiham Radio Camp experience. The newsletter also included a photo of Jo Anne talking on the radio. Way to go! Tap, Tap, See App TapTapSee is described on the iTunes Store as a "Blind & Visually Impaired Camera", but it is really an app for iOS that uses the iPhone camera. To quote the text, it says: TapTapSee is designed to help the blind and visually impaired identify objects they encounter in their daily lives. Simply double tap the screen to take a photo of anything and hear the app speak the identification back to you. (Note: Spoken identification requires VoiceOver to be turned on.) * This is something a Handiham member recommended, and if you have an iPhone and want to find out more check out the TapTapSee website: http://www.taptapseeapp.com/ _____ ARRL offers online training for hams who want to participate in the Amateur Radio Emergency ServiceR: The time for training is before a disaster...not during one. Two courses make up the ARRL ARESR training program. Enroll Today! The former Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (AREC) series of three training courses has been reconfigured into two courses: An introductory course and a course for leaders and managers. * Introduction to Emergency Communication (#EC-001) Revised in 2011, this is an update of the former Level 1 course. It is designed to provide basic knowledge and tools for hams who want to serve as a Public Service volunteer. It provides an opportunity for non-hams who rely on communications in emergency situations to learn about Amateur Radio and its unique role in emergencies. The course is offered online using the Moodle learning platform. The Introduction to Emergency Communication course has six sections with 29 lesson topics and a 35 question final assessment. Participants should plan on completing the course in approximately 45 hours over a nine week period. This is a mentored course, in which you may work according to your own schedule. * Cost is $50 for ARRL members and $85 for non-members. * For start dates, registration deadlines and more visit: www.arrl.org/online-course-catalog * Now Accepting Enrollments for October and November Sessions. Register Today! _____ Practical radio pliers and wire How long should electronic equipment last? Last week we talked a little bit about how long we expect antenna systems to last. Allowing for the fact that antennas are usually outdoors and exposed to the weather, we had to conclude that "at least five years" was a pretty good and reasonable expectation. This week we are going indoors and we are going to consider other types of electrical gadgets and ponder just how long we expect them to perform adequately before they are replaced. I guess I probably qualify as a "vintage ham" given the fact that I was first licensed in 1967. Back in the middle of the 20th century most households had electrical and electronic appliances of various types, but for the most part you could probably count the total number of devices on two hands. Modern conveniences like refrigerators, electric ranges, vacuum cleaners, lighting, radios, television sets, and perhaps an electromechanical alarm clock were typical for the day. Incandescent light bulbs probably had the shortest lifespan and might need to be replaced in under a year of regular use. Major appliances like stoves and refrigerators could easily last well over a decade. Something like a vacuum cleaner might need some maintenance along the way but also stood up to quite a few years of heavy use. The electronic devices, on the other hand - radios and TV sets - seemed to live in a world halfway between the unreliable incandescent light bulb and the long-lived but maintenance-hungry vacuum cleaner. The reason? Vacuum tubes! Every vintage ham radio operator remembers the days of vacuum tube electronic equipment. You would turn a radio on, wait for a period of time while the filaments in the vacuum tubes warmed up enough to allow the cathode of the tube to shed the electrons necessary for the process of detection, oscillation, or amplification, and then you would hear sound from the speaker. After the radio played for a half-hour or more, there would be considerable heat being expelled from the vent holes on the back or top of the instrument. Transmitters generated even more heat, sometimes requiring cooling fans - and don't even get me started about amplifiers capable of turning a small a.m. signal into a big one! One of the characteristics of vacuum tube equipment was that during the process of "warming up" it tended to drift in frequency. Circuitry had to be developed to sense and correct the drift, but none of it was 100% successful and for real stability crystal control was the norm. Variable frequency oscillators on some of the less expensive commercial ham radio equipment sometimes took you for a real voyage up and down the band before finally settling down more or less on the frequency you wanted. Heat, of course, was the culprit - and there was plenty of heat within the equipment enclosure thanks to the filaments in the vacuum tubes that formed the active parts of the circuit. Amateur radio operators of the day can recall the ARRL Handbook having pages of vacuum tube base diagrams as a regular reference in the back of the book. This was certainly no accident because replacing tubes and using tubes in construction projects was common and expected. Vacuum tubes, like unreliable incandescent light bulbs, had a filament that would eventually burn out. When that happened all you could do was replace the tube. Amateur radio operators as a group were knowledgeable about their equipment and usually were able to handle these repairs on their own. They could make a tube rig last a decade or more because they could maintain it. Nonetheless, it was still pretty common to acquire newer equipment even though the old equipment might remain on the operating desk as a second "backup" radio. Consumer-grade vacuum tube equipment was another story altogether. TV sets containing many vacuum tubes - including a large, heavy cathode ray tube, were notoriously unreliable and often required service. TV repair shops and TV repairmen were very common parts of the business community in every town across America. Adventurous homeowners might try taking the back off the TV set and pulling suspicious tubes out for testing at a drugstore or hardware store tube testing machine. This was a hit and miss proposition for most people, who didn't really know what they were doing. A simple meter on the machine would indicate if the tube was good, marginal, or bad. Excessive heat buildup is the enemy of longevity in electronics today as it was back then in the days of vacuum tubes. But vacuum tubes generated a LOT of heat and vacuum tube equipment tended to fail early and often as a result. Consumer items like TV sets had a typical lifespan of around 10 years. Sure, technology changed in 10 years and one might consider buying a new TV set because of that, but the basic design concept was still the same. You would probably replace the TV set less for the allure of new technology as the necessity of simply replacing something that was no longer worth repairing. Everyone knew that if the picture tube went bad, that was pretty much it. I did a lot of tinkering with electronics back then and pretty much came to the conclusion that consumer-grade electronics had a lifespan of 10 years. Today we are used to more efficient, cooler-running solid state electronics. They generate much less heat, which is easier to manage. Devices like radios last and last and last - often being replaced because of some quantum leap in technology rather than any inherent failure. We don't even know how long these newer devices will ultimately operate because we will replace them before they fail, since the new devices that replace the old ones are often better, faster, and even cheaper. We have shifted from device failure to obsolescence as the main driver of replacement in electronics today. That leaves us to scratch our heads and wonder exactly when it is time to replace a piece of equipment in the ham shack. Some of us have decades-old gear on the shelf, but in typical ham thinking, "It's just too good to throw away." I replace a piece of equipment - or perhaps more correctly, acquire a new piece of equipment - when there is a compelling reason to do so. It is not usually the case that the old equipment has worn out or is no longer useful, but it may very well be the case that new equipment has evolved better digital signal processing and interfacing capabilities, as a couple of examples. Sometimes our operating interests change, making a new piece of equipment more appropriate. Perhaps you prefer a rig with a built-in USB interface if you are planning to set up a remote station or operate digital modes. Sometimes the new equipment is more rugged and portable than what you already have, or perhaps it can go mobile more readily than your old transceiver. Many amateur radio operators these days have multiple HF radios that they use for different types of operation or simply for backup. It seems to be the norm today to have multiple VHF and UHF radios, too. So how long should a piece of equipment last? The answer lies in how you plan to use it and whether it still works for you and is economically feasible to keep in operating condition. Remember, "Practical Radio" is what works for you! _____ Handiham Nets are on the air daily. If there is no net control station during any scheduled net time, just go right ahead and start a round table discussion. TMV71A transceiver We are scheduled to be on the air daily at 11:00 USA Central Time, plus Wednesday & Thursday evenings at 19:00 USA Central Time. A big THANK YOU to all of our net control stations! What will Doug, N6NFF, come up with for his trivia question tonight? I guess we'll just have to tune in and listen! Tune in and see how you do with the question this week, or just check in to say hello. We maintain our nets at 11:00 hours daily relative to Minnesota time. Since the nets remain true to Minnesota time, the difference between Minnesota time and GMT is -5 hours. The net is on the air at 16:00 hours GMT. The official and most current net news may be found at: <http://www.handiham.org/nets> http://www.handiham.org/nets _____ A dip in the pool Pat shows off his new Plantronics USB headset! It's time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the pool - the Amateur Radio question pool, that is! Let's go to the Extra Class pool and examine a question about contesting: E2C03 asks: "From which of the following bands is amateur radio contesting generally excluded?" Possible answers are: A. 30 meters B. 6 meters C. 2 meters D. 33 cm A little while ago we mentioned that nets were discouraged on the 17 meter band. As it happens, there are other conventions that discourage certain kinds of operation on other bands as well. A good example is the 30 meter band, where contesting is generally excluded, making answer A the correct one. Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment. _____ This week @ HQ Cartoon robot with pencil Digests * QCWA Journal audio for October has been added in the members section, and is also available from the QCWA website. * QST for October: A special DAISY digest version is available this month from Handihams because of the Library of Congress shutdown. To allow blind readers to bridge the gap in BARD service, Jim Perry, KJ3P, and Ken Padgitt, W9MJY have kindly done the recording. * Worldradio Online for October has been completed by Bob Zeida, N1BLF. Thanks, Bob! * October digests are ready for our blind members in the members section. Digital NLS cartridges are already out. (Ours, not the Library of Congress's since their services are shut down for now.) Remote Base News W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North. Both Handiham Remote Base internet stations W0ZSW and W0EQO are on line. W0ZSW still needs antenna and power supply work. 160 meter transmit is disabled for now. * Update: Antenna work at W0ZSW is scheduled for Friday, 11 October 2013. . Outages: Outages are reported on http://handiham.org/remotebase/station-status/. * Band conditions: As of this writing, conditions on HF are POOR with disturbed conditions predicted. Check http://handiham.org/remotebase/station-status/ for a current HF conditions report from G4ILO. Operating tip: Find out how to tell if the remote base station is already in use if you are using JAWS: * Listen to the tutorial: http://www.handiham.org/audio/remotebase/W4MQ_status_JAWS.mp3 * Read the tutorial in accessible HTML: http://handiham.org/remotebase/2013/03/05/check-station-status-with-jaws-13- or-14/ Pat holding up NLS digital cartridge and mailer Don't care to download Handiham materials via computer? This digital cartridge and mailer can bring you Handiham audio digests each month, plus we have room to put the audio lecture series or equipment tutorials on them, too! * If you have trouble logging in, please let us know. * All Daisy materials are in zip file format, so you simply download the zip file you need and unzip it so the Daisy book folder can be accessed or moved to your NLS or other Daisy player. * Tip: When in the Daisy directory, it is easy to find the latest books by sorting the files by date. Be sure the latest date is at the top. The link to sort is called "Last Modified". * You can also find what is on a web page by using CONTROL-F. This brings up a search box and you can type a key word in, such as "September". You may find more than one September, including 2012, but you will eventually come across what we have posted for September 2013. * Our thanks to Bob, N1BLF, Jim, KJ3P, and Ken, W9MJY, for reading this month. Look for these DAISY materials in the members section. <http://handiham.org/drupal2/user> 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 call sign 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, 4GB, Blank; Catalog Number: 1-02609-00, Price $13.00 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> 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 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 Program Coordinator 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 Kenny Handiham Program 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. 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 Kenny Handihams! Pat, WA0TDA Coordinator, Courage Kenny Handiham Program 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! ARRL diamond-shaped logo 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.