[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 09 October 2013

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 9 Oct 2013 13:21:46 -0500

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:

Get this podcast in iTunes:

RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:


Welcome to Handiham World.

End of an era:  Last of the tape production equipment is taken out of

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audio format used by our members who cannot read regular print, have been
replaced by audio delivered via the Internet or by Library of Congress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



4GB Digital Cartridges Available - Spend a buck more and double the

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

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.

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: 
*       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
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
*       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:
*       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!)

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

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: 


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:
*       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

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

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

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:


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

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment. 


This week @ HQ

Cartoon robot with pencil


*       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

.         Outages: Outages are reported on

*       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:
*       Read the tutorial in accessible HTML: 


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,

*       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.

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:

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> 

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:

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Kenny Handihams!
Coordinator, Courage Kenny Handiham Program
Reach me by email at:

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!

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.



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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 09 October 2013 - Patrick Tice