[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 12 February 2014

  • From: Pat Tice <Pat.Tice@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2014 16:25:27 +0000

[Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health]
Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 12 
February 2014

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<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> for changes 
in subscriptions or to comment. You can listen to this news online.

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Welcome to Handiham World.

[145.45 MHz in the display of an IC-706M2G transceiver]

In praise of reliability

Today I want to give a shout out to a very special class of people: those in 
the amateur radio community who provide services for the rest of us to use and 
who do so consistently and reliably year after year after year. These are the 
people who operate repeater systems that the rest of us use. Think about it; 
how many times have you used your mobile radio or handheld radio without much 
of a thought as to the technology that supports it: the repeater system? That's 
the reason for the photo of the ICOM IC 706 Mark 2G showing the 145.45 MHz 
frequency on the display. Don Rice, N0BVE, operates the wide-area N0BVE 
repeater system on that frequency here in the Twin Cities that is one of our 
best resources for consistent, reliable VHF communications year in and year 
out. Don volunteers with us and supports the VoIP connectivity that makes the 
daily Handiham net possible. More to the point, Don keeps his equipment in good 
working order so that it does remain in service and is ready to use when any of 
us pushes that push to talk button on the microphone. That's why I think we 
need to give Don and repeater owners like him a big thank you. You guys are 
keeping us connected!

Of course there are plenty of other people maintaining amateur radio 
infrastructure. These days, we are talking about the Internet connectivity we 
enjoy through Echolink, IRLP, WIRES, and other VoIP systems. Often times the 
effort and resources that go into maintaining such services may go unnoticed 
and unheralded, simply because their seamless integration into the 
interconnected repeater systems lies somewhat beneath the surface. Nonetheless, 
behind all of this stuff there are dedicated amateur radio operators working 
tirelessly to advance the science and art of Amateur Radio. Be assured that we 
appreciate and thank all of you!

Make the best use of your repeater system

One of the things that we can do to promote best practices in amateur radio is 
to lead by showing good example. There are few areas of operating that are more 
public than using our local repeater systems. Anyone who might be listening on 
frequency will hear us when we key up the repeater, so think about how 
important it is to operate correctly. These days, with repeater systems 
interconnected through systems like Echolink and IRLP, that line from 
Shakespeare, "all the world's a stage", certainly does ring true. When you say 
something on a local repeater system, you might actually be heard worldwide, 
thanks to VoIP over the Internet. Doesn't it make sense to be the best operator 
one can be when you have what is potentially a really big audience?

I think so. One of the best ways to ensure that when we step onto that world 
stage of interconnected repeater systems that we put in a good performance is 
to build good operating habits. If you are a fan of Shakespeare, you know that 
the phrase "All the world's a stage" comes from the play As You like It, in 
which the character Jaques is comparing the entire world to a big stage and 
life itself to a play. He talks about the seven ages in a man's life from 
infant to old age. I'll bet we could find seven good operating habits to 
promote so that we are ready when we step out on that world stage of 
interconnected repeater systems.

The Seven Good Operating Habits

  *   Always listen before talking.
  *   Identify your station using your callsign.
  *   Allow enough time for stations that might be connected through the 
Internet to come back to your call.
  *   When in conversation on a repeater system, keep transmissions well within 
the allowed timer limit so that you don't time out the repeater.
  *   Pause before keying the transmitter to allow interconnected systems to 
handshake with each other.
  *   If there is a net control station, listen for and follow the instructions 
you are given.
  *   Give up the repeater system immediately if there is an emergency call.

Of course there are always going to be other good operating practices that we 
can recommend, but these seven are really pretty basic. If any of them are 
ignored on an interconnected VoIP repeater system, chaos can result. The thing 
about good operating practice is that it does take practice. When you do things 
correctly over and over again you build neural pathways in your brain, commonly 
referred to as "good habits". When something is a good habit, you can more or 
less operate on autopilot and still do things correctly. Alas, if you have 
allowed yourself to develop bad habits associated with sloppy operating 
technique, it is going to be just as easy to get on the air and mess up a net 
or make a fool of yourself on the repeater system before you even realize what 
you have done!

At first it can be a very deliberate process to operate correctly. The reason 
for this is that you have not developed habits yet and you have to actually 
think about what you are doing and whether it is good operating practice or 
not. The whole idea behind practicing for anything is that we want to build 
those neural pathways in our brains and train our muscles - which are connected 
to our brains after all - to respond correctly when we are getting on the air. 
It is pretty much the same when building any skill. You start out more slowly 
at first and with practice get better and better and better. Eventually you 
come to a point where getting on the air and operating correctly, following 
best practices in virtually every case, is effortless. You really don't have to 
waste too much time thinking about how to identify your station or leave pauses 
between transmissions because you have developed good operating skills through 

Have you ever wondered how poor operators got that way? One of the grandmas in 
our family had a saying about child rearing. She observed that you never had to 
teach a child to be naughty because that seemed to come naturally! None of us 
is immune from at least a little bit of selfishness and that can lead to some 
rather childish behaviors that sometimes mess things up on a repeater system. 
For example, a childish behavior is to shout out and not want to take turns. 
All of us have heard this kind of behavior on the air, and we know that it 
certainly doesn't do anything to improve communication on a repeater system. 
Just as we learn as children to behave in ways that promote polite conversation 
and respectful listening, we learn early on in our radio careers that we need 
to apply the same politeness and respect when getting on the air. If a person 
does not have good communication skills that include politeness and respect 
before they get an amateur radio license, it is pretty likely that they will 
not suddenly develop such skills when getting on the repeater. For them, it 
will be a learning process. We can lead by giving good example. If you happen 
to be in the exalted position of being a net control station and having to 
manage the flow of the net while juggling operators with different skill 
levels, it may fall to you to patiently explain what is expected. To pull this 
off effectively you need to have plenty of tact and patience, and since every 
situation is different you will need to be able to think on your feet. It can 
be very satisfying to move a newcomer with some poor operating habits into the 
realm of good, confident, efficient communications by helping them to develop 
good habits. Keep things simple and straightforward and respectful. Be patient. 
Always lead by giving good example and developing good operating skills habits 

Repeater owners everywhere appreciate good operating practices on their 
systems!  And let me leave you with this final thought on the subject:  In an 
emergency, things can happen quickly and you can get stressed out trying to 
figure out what to do.  Good operating habits, drilled into your subconscious 
so deeply that they come to you without a thought, will carry you through 
emergency communications.  That is why emergency responders practice so often.  
They want to be able to save lives without having to stop and think about what 
to do when time is short and lives hang in the balance.  As potential emergency 
communicators ourselves we should also be ready, with good communications 
habits already wired right into our very beings!

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator

Valentine's Day suggestion hits the mark

*         Here in the USA, February 14 is "St. Valentine's Day", a day when 
people trade "Valentines", usually greeting cards or flowers, with someone they 
like, or REALLY like.  Anyway, I thought I'd mention a helpful email message 
that Amazon sent me, headlined "Valentine's Day Gifts".  It was really 
surprising to open the message and see that it was all about Baofeng handheld 
radios and accessories.  Aw, gee, Amazon... I didn't know you cared!

Ice station W0JH active this weekend, Feb. 15-17 2014

[Ice fishing house with antennas on frozen, snow-cover lake]
Image: Ice station operated by SARA a number of years ago on a frozen Minnesota 
lake.  Two vehicles are visible, as are two antenna supports, through the haze 
and blowing snow.  Talk about embracing winter!

*         W0JH is the callsign of our affiliated club SARA, the Stillwater (MN) 
Amateur Radio Association. This coming weekend a group of hardy club members 
will be taking to the airwaves from the surface of a frozen lake here in 
Minnesota, operating HF from a specially-designed ice fishing tent.  The object 
will be to make lots of contacts on multiple HF bands, and to have lots of fun 
while doing so. There are no special rules, so extended QSOs and not 
discouraged in favor of quick exchanges, although we do request that the usual 
QSO information be exchanged..  The Courage Kenny Handiham Program is supplying 
some of the station equipment and we hope that our Handiham members everywhere 
will listen for W0JH and make a contact or two or three with the "Ice Station" 
on several HF bands.  As in past years, W0JH will ONLY plan to fulfill QSL 
requests via e-mail.

Operation over the 3-day period will run from ~10:00 am until ~4:00 pm CST.

Requests must be sent to: 
IceStationW0JH2014@xxxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:WhiteRock2012@xxxxxxxxxxxx> and include 
standard QSL info: Callsign, Date, Time (UTC), Band/Frequency, Mode and Report 

Info is posted on SARA web site:

2014 Radio Camp Operating Skills (Saturday, August 16 through Saturday August 
23, 2014)

*         Our study guide for 2014 Handiham Radio Camp Operating Skills will be 
the ARRL Public Service Handbook First 
Edition<http://www.arrl.org/shop/Amateur-Radio-Public-Service-Handbook>.  It is 
available from your favorite ham radio dealer or directly from ARRL.  Blind 
Handiham members should contact us for the DAISY version.  We will be happy to 
place it on your NLS DAISY cartridge for you.

*         Update:  NLS DAISY cartridges have arrived at Handiham HQ. Cost is 
$15.50 for cartridge and mailer, MN residents add sales tax.

Dip in the pool dives into the Extra Class:

*         Today we are going to dip our toes into the Extra pool.

E9B14 asks us: "What type of information can be obtained by submitting the 
details of a proposed new antenna to a modeling program?"

Possible answers are:

A. SWR vs. frequency charts
B. Polar plots of the far-field elevation and azimuth patterns
C. Antenna gain
D. All of these choices are correct

The right answer is D, because you can get all of that information from 
modeling software.  Incidentally, since the March QST - the annual antenna 
issue - is now out on the ARRL website, you are bound to read antenna articles 
that refer to modeling software.  Using software based on the "Numerical 
Electromagnetics Code", or NEC for short, is common now in antenna design. The 
software performs a complex analysis of the design you want to test by taking 
segments of equal current within the antenna design and comparing them.  Okay, 
that's a gross oversimplification, but suffice it to say that modeling software 
can prevent a lot of sweat and tears as you run back and forth, trying to 
perfect your antenna design with a wire cutter instead of a computer!  Why do 
all that "cut and try" when you can just model the antenna and work out most of 
the bugs before you even roll up your sleeves to put the real thing together?

Secure web connections are now available for your member section web surfing.

*         This means that you can type in "https" instead of "http" if you want 
to view the pages over a secure connection.

*         Example:  https://handiham.org

Practical Radio

[pliers and wire]

The amplifier vs. the antenna:  Why you should choose the antenna first.

It's a question we get at the Handiham office again and again: "What kind of 
amplifier should I get for my station?"

Sometimes the station turns out to be a VHF-FM mobile rig with plenty of RF 
punch already built in - usually at least 50 watts.  Other times the questioner 
owns a perfectly good 100 watt HF transceiver.

My answer is almost always the same:  Don't bother with an amplifier.  Instead, 
put up a better antenna.  It's just plain physics.  The antenna will get more 
of your signal where it needs to go, which is better for the RF environment 
because you are operating with relatively modest power levels that are unlikely 
to trigger the need for RF exposure mitigation or cause RF interference to 
other devices in the vicinity.  A directional antenna can also cut down 
interference to other amateur stations when you transmit.  The directional 
antenna does a better job of receiving, too. Not only will the station you are 
in contact with sound louder, but interference off the back and sides of your 
directional antenna will be diminished.

Amplifiers can have their place, but you really don't need one unless you are 
working under extremely difficult conditions.  An example would be if you are a 
net control station for a 75 meter daytime net.  Extra power can cut through 
the noise and absorption on that band under those conditions.

What are some disadvantages of amplifiers?

*         One is that they are expensive, and considering how they can only 
improve your transmitted signal and not your received signal the way an antenna 
can, you would be better off spending the money on a better antenna system.

*         Another is that they are thirsty for current - lots of it - and may 
require special consideration in how you supply them with it.  Large HF linear 
amplifiers may only operate well if you run an additional 220 volt circuit to 
the ham shack.  VHF-FM amplifiers are going to require some hefty power 
supplies, because FM is 100% duty cycle and will draw lot of current at full 

*         The switching can be an issue.  Amplifiers are not "plug & play" 
devices.  You need to make sure that your amplifier switches in tandem with 
your transceiver as you go from receive to transmit and back again. Levels must 
be considered, too.  You may have to make up special cabling or interface 
circuitry to match the two devices safely.

*         The entire antenna system must be capable of supporting high power.  
That means everything in the antenna circuit, including any metering, antenna 
tuners, the feedline, antenna switches, lightning arrestors, the balun, and the 
antenna itself.

*         Amplifiers can turn trivial problems into major headaches.  For 
example, there may be a bit of RF in the vicinity of your feedline, but 
ordinarily it goes unnoticed because of its low power level.  Add an amplifier 
and suddenly that RF is getting into ground fault interrupters, the neighbor's 
stereo system, and the smoke alarms.  Any distortion on your signal will be 
worse if you amplify it.  You may get complaints from other hams whose QSOs you 
have interfered with, even though you might barely hear them in your receiver. 
Using an HF amplifier can also cause a voltage drop in your house circuits that 
can cause the lights to dip when you modulate the rig.

Given the many potential problems with amplifiers, I seldom recommend them.  
Most of the newbies who ask about them have no idea of the extra requirements, 
and they have not even thought about how they will need expensive power 
supplies or big antenna tuners! Please consider putting your resources - time 
and money - into a better antenna system before you ever consider an amplifier. 
 Now, with the March QST annual antenna issue available, it is the right time 
to start planning a better antenna system.

This is practical radio, so use what works for you.

Handiham Nets are on the air daily.


Listen for Doug, N6NFF, tonight and try to answer the trivia question during 
the first half hour.  Check in later just to get in the log and say hello.  The 
trivia question answer is revealed shortly after the first half hour.

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!

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 -6 hours.  The net is on the air at 17:00 hours GMT.

The two evening sessions are at 01:00 GMT Thursday and Friday.  Here in 
Minnesota that translates to 7:00 PM Wednesday and Thursday.

The official and most current net news may be found at:

This week @ HQ

[Cartoon robot with pencil]

Digests & Lectures

Jim Perry, KJ3P, Bob Zeida, N1BLF, and Ken Padgitt, W9MJY do the volunteer 
recording.  Thanks, guys!

Secure, blind-friendly Handiham website login:

New this week: CQ Magazine & CQ Plus February 2014 digests in DAISY format.  
Log in and check out the new CQ!

QCWA Digest for February 2014 is available in MP3.

In Operating Skills: Joe Bogwist, N3AIN, opens his Radio in the Dark series 
with tutorials on how to use the new Kenwood TS-590S 160 - 6 m transceiver!

This week's upcoming Extra Class audio lecture will be on the subject of HF 
propagation.  In the meantime, in our 58th Extra Class audio lecture we 
continue our series on antennas by learning how to match feedlines to antennas, 
figuring out feedline loss, and more.  (24 MB - 1 hour and 24 minutes)

Our limited digest version of QST for January 2014 in DAISY is available in the 
members section.

Worldradio Online for January 2014 has been recorded by Bob Zeida, N1BLF.  
Thanks, Bob!
  This is the FINAL edition of Worldradio as a standalone publication, due to 
the consolidation of several CQ publications.
Remote Base News

[W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North.]

[Kenwood TS-480HX transceiver with LDG autotuner]

Both Handiham Remote Base internet stations W0ZSW and W0EQO are on line for 
your use 24/7.

  *   If you use Skype for audio, please connect and disconnect the Skype call 
to the remote base manually.  The automatic calling and hang up is no longer 
supported in Skype.
  *   200 watt operation is restored on 160, 80, and 40 meters for Extra and 
Advanced Class users on W0ZSW.

*         Outages: Outages are reported on 

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:

Digital Cartridges now Stocked at Handiham HQ:

Nancy now has the NLS 4GB digital cartridges and mailers available at our cost. 
 She says:

We now have a supply of digital Talking Book cartridges and mailers available 
for purchase for our Handiham members.  The total cost for a set is $15.50.  We 
will download any digital study materials from the Members Only section of our 
website onto your cartridge at no additional cost.  Minnesota residents please 
add $1.13 MN Sales Tax.

[Pat holding up NLS digital cartridge and mailer]

Don't care to download Handiham materials via computer? The NLS 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!

Want to log in?  Let's go:

Secure, blind-friendly Handiham website login:

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.

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, 

Digital Talking Book Cartridge, 4GB, Blank; Catalog Number: 1-02609-00, Price 

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:

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<mailto: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<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> or by phone at 

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 
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:

Courage Kenny Handiham Program<http://handiham.org>
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422

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<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>  for changes of 
address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new address.

Return to Handiham.org<http://handiham.org>

Courage Kenny Handiham Program<http://handiham.org>
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422

Contents copyright 2014 - All material for the use of Handiham members only.

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 12 February 2014 - Pat Tice