[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 18 September 2013

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2013 15:15:25 -0500

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.  

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Welcome to Handiham World.

Member services planning gets underway for 2014

Matt Arthur, KA0PQW, tests TS-590 station set up with computer running NVDA\
In this photo Matt Arthur, KA0PQW, checks out the Kenwood TS-590S as 2013
Radio Camp gets underway last July.  We had fun at camp, but now it's time
to plan for Handiham member services in the upcoming year.  After all, it's
September already!  Let's take a quick look at a few core Handiham services.

Was Radio Camp was too short this year?

We think so, and some of you do, too. We take surveys to find out what
people think, and one thing that came to the fore this year after the July
Radio Camp session was that although camp was fun and campers really enjoyed
the competitive get-on-the-air contest, there was just not enough time to
spend getting everything done. Some campers felt that the session needed to
be longer to make travel from out of state worthwhile.

With that in mind, we are already planning for the 2014 Handiham member
services, and are looking at camp dates of August 16 to August 23, 2014.
That is a Saturday arrival and Saturday departure, which is more in line
with our traditional camp week.  It is usually easiest to travel on a
weekend, so we like either Saturdays or Sundays.  The location was good, as
Camp Courage allows campers to fly in at a major airport hub, MSP in the
Twin Cities and then take inexpensive ground transportation. We liked the
modern Woodland cabins and the remodeled dining hall.  I thought the food
was great this year, and I heard others express the same opinion.  We'll
keep you posted on camp planning as things develop.

Remote Base HF stations - Do they need some updating?

Stations W0EQO and W0ZSW have remained popular this year in spite of a few
bumps in the road, the biggest of which was the move of 'ZSW back to the
Twin Cities.  The decision to move the station was based on several factors,
the major one being the destruction of the antenna system by a fallen tree.
W0ZSW is in place in its new location in grid square EN34mv, but the antenna
needs to be improved after even more storm damage at the new location.  It
has been quite a run of bad weather, at least where antennas are concerned.
At W0EQO, the problem is old age.  The host computer at EQO has been running
continuously and fairly reliably since 2009, and it's showing its age.  For
reasons that we have been unable to determine, the sound client IRB Sound
produces choppy transmit audio, which means that the station depends on
Skype for its audio. It is time to think about replacing the host computer
and fixing that problem.  For 2014 we would like a new antenna system at
W0ZSW and a new computer at W0EQO.  

There is more to the Remote Base Project than the hardware.  The software
team is working on the next release of the W4MQ software, which we want to
release for 2014.  It will be much easier to set up for all users, but
especially for screenreader users.  The Remote Base website support pages
also need a lot of revision.  They have been written over the years as the
project evolved, and they don't always flow logically for someone trying to
set the station software up for the first time.  We definitely need to put
some time in on that in 2014.

The audio lecture series - Could we make improvements there?

Of course!  There is - as the old saying goes - ALWAYS room for improvement.
Although the MP3 audio lecture format does work well for most users, some
have had problems finding their way on our website.  The audio lectures have
evolved like the Remote Base Project, and the website design grew in much
the same way.  It does need simplification and has to be intuitive.  One
change I have already made is to collect all the audio lectures for any
given license class on a single page for that course.  This has made it a
lot easier to find your way to the correct audio lecture.  In 2014 we will
be bringing in the wrecking ball and getting rid of a lot of website pages
that make the site overly complicated.  

Some of our audio lecture users have told me that the files they downloaded
to their MP3 players did not play at all.  We figured out the problem, which
was that parts of our website - for the older audio lectures in the series -
included two links for each lecture.  The first was a "streaming" link and
the second was a "download" link.  If the streaming link's target file was
downloaded by mistake, it would not work because it was just a small text
file I had written to direct older media players to stream the audio as soon
as there was enough in the buffer, without waiting for the entire file to
load.  New media players do this automatically, so we have been cleaning
those old "streaming" links off the site wherever we find them.  This leaves
only the desired links that point directly to the MP3 files themselves.

The website - Where are we?

Our website, handiham.org, has gone through more than a few revisions.  It
could be better, of course.  The goal in 2014 will be to make it simpler and
easier to use.  The manuals section might have outlived its usefulness, but
you can weigh in on that and let us know.  Most manufacturers provide PDF
copies of their instruction manuals on their own websites.  It hardly seems
necessary to provide manuals when the embedded text in these PDF manuals can
be searched for keywords and for the most part read by screenreading
software. Furthermore, there are other sources for manuals, like the
active-elements website <http://active-elements.org/>  and the
<http://www.icanworkthisthing.com/docs/amateur_radio/> "I can work this
thing" website. In 2014 we will continue to improve the website function,
and we will emphasize audio tutorials on equipment operation over the
recording of audio manuals.  Our thought is that what you really want to
learn is how to run your radio, and if you can get some help doing that from
an audio tutorial recorded by an actual user of that radio, you can save the
PDF manual for reference only.  

DAISY books & cartridges - Good so far, but...

We really have made a lot of progress with DAISY book offerings.  Our
magazine digests are done that way, making them more accessible than ever to
our members who need technology to read print.  Most everything is done in
human voice spoken word audio as opposed to computerized text-to-speech.
I've upgraded our DAISY authoring tool, Obi, in the past year and will learn
to use it even better in 2014!  Our DAISY production is all in DAISY format
2.02 for maximum compliance with the most devices. Some materials are
downloadable from our website in zip file format.  One thing I am always
uneasy about is whether our users actually find this process easy enough to
follow or whether they think it is too cumbersome.  Sometimes I think people
are too polite to tell me when something doesn't work for them - so please
let me know!  I need to know if there are mistakes or problems in any of our
DAISY books or on the website. You will be doing me a favor to flag any

As far as the NLS digital cartridges go, we would like to have a stock of
them available for members to purchase directly from us at our cost.  We
don't want to make money; we just want to get the materials you need to you
faster!  Nancy and I have talked about the digital cartridges and we agree
that some people want materials via NLS cartridge but don't get around to
ordering the necessary cartridge and mailer and then sending it to us.  Our
thinking is that if we can simplify the process in 2014 we will pick up more
members who will use the NLS cartridge system.  Ideally, users will
ultimately be able to download the files directly from our website and place
them on their NLS players themselves, thus eliminating the cartridges and
mailers - but not everyone is computer-savvy or has high-speed internet

...and other services.

Some of our other services are in need of freshening up, too.  We still get
equipment loan requests in spite of the fact that the old equipment loan
program was terminated after Avery, K0HLA, who used to run it, retired and
we moved to Camp Courage where we did not have a working repair shop. While
we do still place equipment, most is to our radio campers who can take it
home directly from camp - usually new HTs for just-licensed Technicians.
Even so, I have gotten some gear out by mail to members who could not come
to camp, a process that is really, really hard.  I'll be working with
several members and volunteers to see if we can figure out a better way to
place equipment with members. My main stumbling block is time, since I don't
have enough of it and dealing with equipment can be time-consuming. 

Support for on the air activities is a dynamic process.  Our daily
VHF/UHF/Echolink/IRLP nets have been going well, but we have very little
presence on HF aside from the Friday CW net, and that doesn't even cover the
entire USA.  We could do better if someone out there would help us organize
more HF activity.  It wouldn't have to be a net; it could be an operating
event, an award, or a contest!  Let's face it - we are weak in the area of
organized HF activity and we could do more - much more. If not now, when?
The solar cycle is at its peak and that should give us some options.
Wouldn't 2014 be a good year for more HF operation?  Maybe a club could help
if not an individual.  

Field Day and other local Twin Cities operating events are supported by
clubs like SARA, the Stillwater, Minnesota Amateur Radio Association
<http://www.radioham.org> . An Eagle Scout project is underway right now to
help us organize our station equipment, making it safe to transport and
deploy at Radio Camp, Field Day, the annual Remembering the Edmund
Fitzgerald event at Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior, and more.  This
project will make the equipment database we use much more functional by

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator


Bulletins - No encryption of Amateur Communications

FCC round logo

Remember the petition to the FCC to change Part 97 to permit encryption?
Dismissed as noted in today's FCC email summary:

Dismissed the Amateur Encryption Rulemaking Petition filed by Don Rolph,
without prejudice. (Dkt No.  RM-11699 ). Action by:  Deputy Chief, Mobility
Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. Adopted:  09/17/2013 by ORDER.
(DA No. 13-1918).  WTB  

*       Word doc
*       PDF
*       Plain text


Practical radio

pliers and wire

Portable verticals to the rescue!

The 1/4 wave vertical antenna that we talked about last week was a permanent
installation, either ground-mounted with radial field installed or mounted
above ground on a tower or roof but with tuned radials replacing the radial
field.  If you put up a single band model for the 20 meter band, it will be
a little over 16 feet tall, or around 5 meters.  Remember, we are talking
about the 20 meter band, so naturally a quarter-wavelength antenna would be
1/4 of 20 meters, or 5 meters long.

I have known quite a few amateur radio operators who have "gone mobile" with
their HF verticals mounted on their cars or trucks. They often operate on
the 20 meter band - very successfully, too - and they never seem to have
antennas that are 16 feet tall mounted on their vehicles.  That would be
crazy, since a tall antenna would fold right over with the wind loading
while the car was traveling down the road. A tall antenna would strike
highway overpasses and service station canopies.  And it would look pretty
goofy, too.

The vertical antennas used in HF mobile operation are much shorter and do
not impede the normal use of the vehicle. They can withstand the wind
loading even when the car is on the highway.  Yet they are a quarter-wave on
the desired band.  How is this accomplished?

The usual method is by adding inductance to increase the electrical length
without increasing the physical length. You can increase inductance by
adding a series coil to the circuit.  You may have seen short mobile "stick"
antennas that mount easily with a magnetic mounting base. These antennas are
electrically a quarter wave, but physically short enough to be a practical
antenna for mobile use.  Of course a FULL quarter wave would work better
since there is more "capture area", but if you cannot get a large antenna
up, you can try a loaded shorter vertical.  Another consideration with a
shortened antenna is bandwidth.  The bandwidth between 2 to 1 SWR points
will be narrower on an inductively loaded vertical. That means it will work
fine if you hang out on or near a single favorite frequency, but you may
need an antenna tuner to broaden the tuning.  Another problem can crop up
with matching, as the feedpoint impedance can drop when you shorten an
antenna. Like the full quarter wave, the loaded short vertical also needs an
effective ground plane.  In mobile use, the car body fills the bill.  For
shortened verticals used on bands like 75 and 40 meters, the car body is
obviously far from being a quarter wave grounding radial in any direction,
but capacitive coupling of the car's metal to the ground beneath will
suffice to provide enough RF grounding at those wavelengths. The trouble
usually starts when these shortened mobile antennas are mounted above
ground, say on a deck or balcony.  Like the full quarter wave vertical, the
short vertical still expects to see a ground plane within a few centimeters
of the feedpoint.  You cannot get good results running a grounding wire down
the side of a building to a ground rod.  The antenna will not tune at all
unless you have either a significant amount of horizontal metal (like a
metal roof) to feed it against, or - of course - tuned radials.  

One way around the radial problem is to mount two of the same loaded stick
antennas back-to-back in horizontal dipole configuration.  There is hardware
available to make this easy, usually found at bigger hamfests or from ham
radio dealers. 

How much do these "stick" antennas cost?

Glad you asked!  I checked for the MFJ brand of 20 meter stick antenna, and
it will set you back all of $15.95 from HRO.  The model number is MFJ-1620T,
and I'd expect most dealers to sell it for right around that price. 

Next week:  We go from tiny vertical antennas to big, tall ones! What about
those 43 foot verticals we've been hearing about? 

Remember that this column is about "practical radio", which is figuring out
what works and making the most of it.  Use 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 SSB:

E8D04 asks, "What is the PEP output of a transmitter that develops a peak
voltage of 30 volts into a 50-ohm load?"

Possible answers are:

A. 4.5 watts
B. 9 watts
C. 16 watts
D. 18 watts

This is one of those questions that you will have trouble answering unless
you know the formula for figuring PEP, or peak envelope power.  That term is
thrown around a lot in ham radio, but it's easier to say than understand! 

The formula is PEP equals (PEV times 0.707) quantity squared, and then the
whole thing is divided by the load resistance R sub load.  

Thus, we plug in PEV, or peak envelope voltage which is given as 30 volts,
into the numerator.  30 times 0.707 = 21.21.  Then we square that quantity,
which gives us 449.86.  Now we divide that by 50 ohms, so 50 into 449.86 =
8.997.  We can round that to 9 watts, which is answer B.  We will be
covering this material soon in the Extra Class audio lecture series in case
you are a bit fuzzy on this concept. 

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment. 


This week @ HQ

Cartoon robot with pencil

Important:  Take our on line survey <http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QZX6BN6>
.  Download a plain text copy if you have trouble with the Survey Monkey

Help us to make the Handiham program as good as it can be.  Take a short
survey to let us know what you think.  Follow the link below:

.         http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QZX6BN6 

Remote Base News

The remote base software team is gearing up again.  Stay tuned!

W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North.

Both Handiham Remote Base internet stations W0ZSW and W0EQO are on line. 

Outages: We are expecting minor outages on W0EQO today as we do updates.
Outages are reported on http://handiham.org/remotebase/station-status/. 

Band conditions: As of this writing, conditions on HF are good.  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 Catalog Number: 1-02610-00, Price: $12.00 

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

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

The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital
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, 18 September 2013 - Patrick Tice