[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 15 January 2014

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2014 14:26:01 -0600

Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health

Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 15
January 2014

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

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Welcome to Handiham World.

Ham station at WA0TDA. IC-7200, LDG tuner, IC-706M2G, monitor showing IRB

Photo:  Here's my station.  Sure, it doesn't look like much, but there's a
lot "under the hood".  

What do you have in your ham shack?

Or, perhaps we should ask, "Do you even have a room or corner of a room,
spot in the basement or garage, or any more or less permanent location where
your radio equipment can be found?"

The reason I'm thinking about this today is that the pace of change is
accelerating and it's easy to assume that the way things were yesterday are
the way they are today.  Then, when confronted with reality of a new
situation, we are surprised.

Thanks to the web, we can browse issues of QST from the early days of
Amateur Radio.  It's easy to pick out the huge differences in technology of
the early 20th Century and today's modern stations, but a common theme for
many, many years was the physical quality of the ham shack:  a specific
location for the station equipment to be installed and operated.  Although
the technology changed over the decades, people still liked having a ham

When you think about it, it's easy to see why.  At the outset, all antennas
were big and located outdoors. Feedlines had to be run to the equipment
inside the house or garage, or sometimes even a real standalone building
that really was a "radio shack".  The equipment was big and bulky, and
functions were not integrated as they are today - receivers were receivers
and transmitters were transmitters. You might have had a standalone VFO to
change transmitting frequencies, along with amplifiers and tuners of various
shapes and sizes.  Needless to say, a collection of stuff like that would
not be up to the aesthetic standard of being on public display in the
parlor, at least not in most households.  Thus, the ham shack ended up in a
corner of the basement or the back of the garage.  There wasn't any need to
think about moving anything once it was in place. 

For people like me who have cut their teeth on HF operation, the fixed ham
shack is still a big deal, and for many of the same reasons.  The feedlines
have to come into the house and go to the equipment.  You have to decide
where and then build the station from there.  The station gear, though
integrated and much smaller, still needs a more or less quiet room to allow
for sending and receiving without disturbing other family members, and all
of us - admit it now - still like to collect more equipment than we probably
really need, and it has to go somewhere.  This is why we still have
dedicated ham shacks. 

Mine is near the base of the basement stairs, sandwiched between the
stairway and the furnace.  That sounds awful - but it isn't, because the
space is finished with drywall and a drop ceiling and even carpet. It's the
longest-running space I've ever had for a ham shack, having been chosen as
the radio room early on when we built our home in 1992.  I built the
basement walls myself, which allowed me to provide a server room adjacent to
the shack, with wiring ports through the wall.  This allows me to keep
computers at bay - they are on the other side of a wall, but still serving
the ham shack.  The mess of routers, peripherals, and even some of the radio
equipment that connects to the computers can thus be located outside the ham
shack, on equipment shelves that allow easy access to everything from the
next room.  Keyboards, mice, and monitors are in the ham shack where I need
them.  A wire chase - a plastic conduit - extends from near the shack
ceiling to the attic of our two story house, which allows me to run coax up
to two VHF/UHF attic antennas. The ham radio gear is clustered on a built in
desk and shelf beneath it just on the other side of the wall from the
computer room. At first glance, it doesn't look there's much of a station
there.  One time I showed a photo of my shack to an old timer who
volunteered with us when we had a Handiham equipment repair shop, and he
asked me where all the radio equipment was!

Nonetheless, it is a station with some pretty good capabilities.  It covers
160 meters through 70 cm with all mode capability.  Several radios can
operate at once.  It far exceeds the functionality of any other station I've
had in my ham radio career, but it's still a fixed position ham shack in the
most traditional sense.

Are we on the cusp of a paradigm shift here?  One where a traditional ham
shack is no longer the norm?  

Maybe it's already happened, and I just haven't realized it!  After all, new
hams enter Amateur Radio via the Technician license and VHF/UHF operation
almost exclusively, even though they have access to the HF bands.  Few of
them will bother to put up HF antennas and run feedlines to a fixed station.
Nearly all will buy VHF/UHF portable and mobile radios that do not
necessarily need a fixed place within a home.  Perhaps the traditional ham
shack has to wait until the upgrade to General Class. But even then, what
happens?  HF mobile operation?  Or will there be outdoor antennas and that
traditional setup in a special room in the house? 

It's hard to say.  HF antennas stick out like a sore thumb in neighborhoods
without a single TV antenna.  Nearly everyone uses cable or satellite for TV
these days, which means that antennas on single family homes are getting
pretty hard to find.  People are used to those clean rooflines, and a ham
antenna in such a neighborhood will really draw attention.  I use wire
antennas or ground-mounted verticals, which are decidedly low-profile.  From
the street in front of our house you would never know that there are HF
antennas on the property.  

But no one can deny that it's harder than ever to have that traditional
station. Neighborhood associations sometimes have antenna restrictions and
if you live in a condo or apartment, the building manager may turn a
jaundiced eye toward your antenna plans!  It's certainly easier to just have
a mobile station or a handheld radio and call it a day. What I'd like to
know is whether this is affecting how newcomers view and utilize ham radio.
The reason is that it will affect how we manage our Handiham services.
Here's what I'm seeing so far:

.         The daily Echolink net is thriving, even through the holiday
season when lots of people had other commitments.  My guess is that people
enjoy ham radio on the go, utilizing the connectivity and versatility that
comes with combining ham radio with the internet.  This fits into the
no-need-for-a-traditional-ham-shack model that I sense is evolving out
there.  While I love HF operation myself, I have also grown fond of being
able to access the daily net across many devices from wherever I happen to

.         The internet remote base stations get daily use, but not all
registered users log on.  This is kind of a head-scratcher for me, because I
would think people would want to work some HF with the band conditions being
about as good as they are going to get.  Are the true die-hard HF ops all
sitting at their own HF stations?  Do we need better internet remote base
station help files to get people on the air?  Are people too busy doing
other things to bother with HF?  I'm not sure!  I do think there is an ebb
and flow in HF operation, given the changing band conditions, the scheduling
of HF contests and events, and the weather.  I did hear one IRB user today
on the W0EQO station worrying aloud as he checked into a net about whether
he would tie up the station too long and prevent others from having their
chance at using it.  Rest assured that this is not yet a problem.  Sure,
there are times when both stations are busy at once, but they are relatively
rare.  If you want to use the stations, please do so, as long as you want.  

.         Clubs remain relevant and a pivotal part of the ham radio
experience.  Your local club can help you on the road to the traditional ham
shack with ideas and sometimes even hands-on help with antennas and station
setup.  Be part of your local club and volunteer to help your fellow club
members when you can.  Clubs can help you understand and cope with change in
ham radio and technology.  A good example of this is how my local club is
sponsoring regular nets to explore digital modes and even the new digital
voice.  The more you learn, the more options you have in ham radio.  

.         Operating events are confidence-builders and are also a lot of
fun.  In the coming weeks I'll be letting you know about "Ice Station W0JH",
which will be transmitting from a frozen lake location here in (where else)
Minnesota.  Seriously, such events, whether you participate at the event
station or whether you contact the event station and earn a QSL or
certificate, you are keeping the HF bands warmed up with RF and having fun
at the same time.   

I guess I don't know where HF and the traditional ham shack will end up, but
I'm keeping an open mind and having fun with ham radio! 

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator



Cartoon rabbit running with mail

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  <http://www.arrl.org/shop/Amateur-Radio-Public-Service-Handbook>
ARRL Public Service Handbook First Edition.  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.  

Looking for info on a Rig Blaster Advantage:

*       "I am trying to find anyone using the Rig Blaster Advantage", writes
a club member.  Do you know anyone who has been using one?  Please drop a
line to  <mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. 

Ken, KB3LLA, and others, passed along some news about Window-Eyes and
Microsoft Office:

.         Fort Wayne, Indiana (January 14, 2014) - GW Micro, Inc. (
<http://www.gwmicro.com> www.gwmicro.com) is proud to make a revolutionary
announcement. GW Micro and Microsoft Corp. have partnered to make
Window-Eyes available to users of Microsoft Office at no cost. Window-Eyes
is a screen reader that enables people who are blind, visually impaired, or
print disabled to have full access to Windows PCs and makes the computer
accessible via speech and/or Braille.  
To better deliver Window-Eyes to the people who need it most, GW Micro and
Microsoft have collaborated on this global initiative, available in over 15
languages, to enable anyone using Microsoft Office 2010 or later to also use
Window-Eyes for free.  Access to technology is critical to people who are
blind or visually impaired in order to have the same opportunity to compete
in the workplace. As such, this initiative between GW Micro and Microsoft
has the potential to reduce barriers for millions of people who are blind or
visually impaired around the world. 
As the population ages, technologies like Window-Eyes will become more and
more important as the number of people with age-related macular degeneration
and other retinal degenerative diseases increases. "This significant change
in the way we are doing business reflects the changing perception of
accessibility and also technology in general.  Rather than wait for the
world to change, Microsoft and GW Micro are leading the way," said Dan
Weirich, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for GW Micro.  Weirich
believes this technology can help millions of people gain access to their
PC, and that providing it free of charge will open a whole new world of
assistive technology to many people.
In light of the rapidly changing face of technology and specifically, the
changing face of assistive technology, the combined efforts of GW Micro and
Microsoft have the goal of providing accessibility to people who are blind
and visually impaired for the long term. 
Microsoft continues to take accessibility seriously.  "By partnering with GW
Micro in this endeavor we are demonstrating Microsoft's ongoing commitment
to provide all of our customers with the technology and tools to help each
person be productive in both their work and personal lives." said Rob
Sinclair, Chief Accessibility Officer for Microsoft. 
Eligible customers, using Microsoft Office 2010 or higher, will be able to
download a full version of Window-Eyes starting today at
<http://www.WindowEyesForOffice.com> www.WindowEyesForOffice.com.  The
website provides download instructions as well as additional details about
this offer.

Extra Class study group

 <http://www.radioham.org> The Stillwater Amateur Radio Association, a
Handiham-affiliated club, is pleased to announce that SARA will be
facilitating an Amateur Extra Class License Study Group beginning Thursday,
February 13th. The Study Group will meet at the Stillwater Minnesota Public
Library, 24 3rd St N, Stillwater, MN 55082 beginning at 6:00 PM. The group
will gather in the 3rd floor cafe area. Participants should purchase the
ARRL Extra Class License Manual, which will be the study guide.     

This study group will be a self-led discussion, with a participant serving
as facilitator to guide the discussion topic each week. This will not be a
classroom environment with a teacher out front each night, but rather a
group of people talking through any questions or talking points that each of
the participants may have. Additionally, the evening's topic may interest
others who already hold an Extra Class License but wish to share in the
discussion based upon their expertise or experience.     

The study group is open to all licensed Amateur Radio Operators wishing to
upgrade to Amateur Extra. Those who would like to participate in the study
group are asked to e-mail Joe, KC0OIO  <mailto:kc0oio@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
kc0oio@xxxxxxxxxxxx stating your interest in in the study group. Space may
be limited, so we need to get an idea as to the potential size of the study
group. Please have the license manual and have read through Chapters 2 and 3
as well as work through the pool questions relating to the topics of the


Practical Radio

pliers and wire

Making Echolink play nice

One of the most common questions I hear from new members is, "How do I make
Echolink work?"

If you know anything at all about Echolink, you know that is a pretty
open-ended question.  It's a question you don't even know how to answer
without backing up the bus and asking some questions of your own so that you
can find out more about the newbie's hardware and home network.  

It's sort of like calling the car dealership and asking, "How do I drive my

Here's what I do in such situations.  I find out whether the new user has an
internet connection and what devices they are using.  Have they downloaded
and registered Echolink?  (Echolink refers to the registration process as
"validation", which is what it is since they are checking to make sure that
you are a legitimate licensed ham radio operator.)

I know that if they have a smartphone, I can direct them to the Google Play
Store or the iTunes Store for the free Echolink app.  This is the happiest
of all outcomes, because the mobile app uses a "relay" system to connect to
the Echolink servers, and that does not require the user to change firewall
settings on their home router.  Best of all the relay option is the default
one in the mobile app, so I know that I won't have to walk the user through
the network settings.

When the user has a local Echolink or IRLP repeater, it's simply a matter of
finding out whether they can hit the repeater with a strong enough signal to
maintain solid contacts and then figuring out what CTCSS tones for them to
enter to access whatever they want.  

The PC users will usually be the most difficult to help.  You have to find
out if they have downloaded, installed, and registered Echolink.  You have
to find out if they can contact the Echolink Test Server before you can
assess their audio hardware settings.  Since the computer application
requires open ports, you have to ask if they have forwarded ports on their
home router as directed on the Echolink website.  If they answer, "Huh?",
you know you are now working with someone who needs some local help.

I will direct them to the Echolink firewall pages at
http://echolink.org/firewall_solutions.htm and
http://echolink.org/firewall-friendly.htm and tell them to do their reading.
Although it is theoretically possible for someone to assist a person in
setting up a home router's firewall by telephone, I have found this approach
to be impractical and very, very time-consuming.  If they are comfortable
logging into their own home router, then they have probably already figured
out the firewall configuration on their own.  If they have never logged into
a home router, you don't want to go there.  There's too much that can go
awry, and they could end up messing up their internet connection.  It is
best to direct them to the able assistance of their local ham radio club,
which always has a number of alpha geeks who seem to be able to simply stare
a cranky router into compliance!

One thing you can do is to walk them through the steps to set up the public
proxy choice. I always explain that this is not an ideal or permanent
solution to firewall issues, but that it can get you by for now and it's
useful to know about when you travel with a laptop computer and have to get
through on a hotel internet connection, where of course you do not have
access to the firewall.

To set up the public proxy option:

Screenshot of Echolink application showing setup tab for proxy option

1.     Open Echolink.

2.     Press ALT-E to open the Setup menu.  (Or use the mouse to click the
little tools icon at the top.)

3.     The System Setup screen appears.  Navigate to the tab that says

4.     "Direct Connect" will be checked by default. Instead select "Choose
Public Proxy".

5.     Now you will need to use the "Refresh List" button to make sure you
have the latest list of available public proxies.  

6.     After the list is refreshed, use the pull down to view the available
proxies.  USA users should select a proxy with a USA callsign.  Highlight
the proxy you choose.

7.     Hit the "OK" button and the Echolink application will refresh itself
using the proxy you selected.

8.     If the refresh fails, try another proxy.  Repeat until you get a
successful connection.

9.     Test by connecting to the Echolink Test Server.  Explain that they
should select the "Station" menu, then "Connect to Test Server" from the
choices that appear. 

10.                        Be sure to remind a newbie that the space bar
toggles transmit/receive and that you don't have to hold it down while

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. 

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!  

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


*       Lecture 56, the beginning of our in-depth discussion of antennas in
Extra Class is now available.
*       Old audio podcasts have been purged from the server as part of our
housecleaning efforts.
*       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. 
*       Our limited digest version of QST for January 2014 in DAISY is now
available in the members section.
*       Worldradio Online for January 2014 has been completed by Bob Zeida,
N1BLF.  Thanks, Bob!

  It will be in the DAISY section by Friday this week. This is the FINAL
edition of Worldradio as a standalone publication, due to the upcoming
consolidation of several CQ publications. 

*       QCWA Digest for December 2013 is available in MP3 in the members
section and from  <http://www.QCWA.org> www.QCWA.org.  
*       CQ DAISY digest for November is now available after the print issue
arrived very late last month.  The December issue was released yesterday so
the reading for that DAISY book is also delayed.  
*       The National Library Service is back on schedule for the DAISY
*       Jim Perry, KJ3P, Bob Zeida, N1BLF, and Ken Padgitt, W9MJY have
kindly done the volunteer recording.  

Remote Base News

W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North.

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 to be Stocked at Handiham HQ in 2014:

A generous donor has afforded us seed money to stock a supply of NLS digital
cartridges and  mailers right at Handiham Headquarters.  That way we will be
able to more quickly serve members who want to get their Daisy book material
or our audio lectures on NLS cartridges for the Library of Congress players.
We will be stocking cartridges soon, and look forward to helping more of our
members get the audio that they need.

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.   <http://handiham.org/drupal2/user> 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  <http://www.aph.org> APH, the American Printing
House for the Blind, Inc. 

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  <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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
<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 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
<http://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3> Handiham Weekly E-Letter in MP3
Email us to subscribe:
 <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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:
 <mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:
 <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Courage Kenny Handiham Program <http://handiham.org> 
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422
 <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 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
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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 15 January 2014 - Patrick Tice