[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 22 January 2014

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 15:18:18 -0600

Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health

Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 22
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.

A guy studying from a Technician book

Shortcut to licensing with cram courses - Do they work?  

Recently I have been following a volunteer examiner mailing list and the
topic has been centered around those so-called "cram courses" for the
Technician license.  

As you might expect, the discussion is lively.  While it would not be
appropriate to repeat anything specific, I do want to mention the topic

When you get a bunch of volunteer examiners together, you will get plenty of
opinions informed by experience in working with examinees, amateur radio
clubs, and ham radio instructors.  These are people who care deeply about
Amateur Radio.  They want to help keep the Amateur Service healthy and work
to ensure its integrity.  I trust and respect their ideas and analysis.
Here are some of the basic thoughts:

.         Is there a danger that one-day cram courses will leave newly
licensed Technicians with a fresh, new license but little practical
knowledge?  Might they be left to fend for themselves to learn how to
operate on the air?  

.         Do cram classes result in new hams who soon lose interest in
Amateur Radio?

.         Does the convenience of cram sessions serve people better than
weeks of scheduled classes that may provide more in-depth learning but be
harder for people to fit into their busy schedules?

.         After all is said and done, do the longer in-depth courses make
for better, more engaged operators?

Following this discussion has been fascinating.  I've tried to keep an open
mind about it, even though I have always taught more traditional classes and
have never participated in a cram class, either as a student or a teacher.
I've been in ham radio a long time - since 1967 - and I have to admit that
most of what I now know has been learned along the way by practical
experience and by reading Amateur Radio publications, not by taking classes.
Even though I like to teach ham radio classes with some depth, the folks on
the discussion list who teach the cram classes do report good results and
continued interest and growth in ham radio among their graduates.  They
point out that a ham ticket is really a "learner's permit" because one will
do most of one's learning by getting on the air, making a few mistakes, and
ultimately growing in knowledge and confidence on the path to becoming
accomplished operators.

There is a lot to that argument, and I'm inclined to agree.  It is obvious
that you cannot teach everything about all the available modes of operation,
the many different operating practices, the unwritten nuances of how to
behave on the air, and the in-depth electronic theory behind the front panel
of that radio.  In fact, as an amateur radio instructor, you have to teach
in a manner that engages different types of learners, keeping their interest
while making sure that they know enough about the basics to get out there
and fly on their own, so to speak.

People will choose different paths in Amateur Radio.  Some will be drawn to
the electronics and circuit design.  Others may choose public service
communication, contesting, or DXing.  Some will stick to VHF/UHF operation
while others will explore HF or satellite operation.  The beginner course in
Amateur Radio should acknowledge that there is a galaxy of choices and
directions that any of us might take after we get that first license. That
means that a beginner class should probably focus on what the essentials
are, avoiding an undue focus on specific modes or activities.

Don't get me wrong - I think it's fine to touch on different modes and
activities during your course.  On the other hand, instructors should save
the long-winded war stories for the club picnic and instead concentrate on
the most important rules and regs, safety procedures, and operating
guidelines.  If you can cover these important topics in your cram course, go
for it!  And for those of us who teach the traditional classes, I'd like to
make it clear that we need to stick to the point and offer classes that are
relevant to the material in the exam.  Excessive detail and wanderings down
memory lane really don't add to the course's value.  Your students have
taken the time to attend - and all of them have busy lives these days.  Make
each class session count by maintaining a balance between making the content
detailed and taking more time than is necessary.  

Some of the comments in the VE discussion group pointed toward success with
both kinds of ham radio classes.  Remember that when you get your first
license, the real learning begins.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator



Cartoon rabbit running with mail

New TV show about a Guide Dog Foundation Grad

.         The Guide Dog Foundation is very excited to share the following
announcement - This new NBC prime time show is based on a GDF grad getting
his first guide dog and the impact it made on his family. It's officially
official! Watch our special preview during the Olympics on Sunday, February
23 at 10:30/9:30c before we settle into our regular time period on Tuesday,
February 25 at 9:30/8:30c! The NBC Website about the show:  

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.  Update:  Several beta testers are
reviewing our DAISY version now. 

Climate change and long-term radio trends

<http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/21jan_2013/> NASA
Science News for Jan. 21, 2014 reports: 

"NASA scientists say 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest
year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures.
With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record all
have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the warmest years on

What does this mean for Amateur Radio?  There will likely be more severe
weather events, which could mean more need for public service emergency
communications.  Warm weather can also enhance communications by ducting, so
perhaps we will see more of that summer phenomenon.  If thunderstorm
activity picks up, static crashes from lightning could extend longer into
the traditionally quiet winter months.  Since warm air holds more moisture
and can drive stronger storms, an increase in the frequency of such weather
events could force us to replace and reinforce antenna structures.  Ice on
antennas might be more frequent than in the past as climate zones creep
northward and southward from the equator toward the poles.  No one knows for
sure, and the incremental nature of the change makes it difficult to plan.
The right things to do are still the same:  

o    Be prepared to help in your local community.  

o    Keep your radio equipment in good shape and ready to go.  

o    Consider emergency power options for your home and your station.  

o    Prepare a go-kit.  

o    Build robust antenna systems and keep them in good shape.

o    Watch for more ducting and maybe even more activity on SSB and CW VHF!


Practical Radio

pliers and wire

Should you tune your antenna at low power or at high (operating) power?

That's one of the questions Joel Hallas, W1ZR, tackles this month in his
"Doctor is In" column in QST.  I already knew what my recommendation would
be, and I'm glad to see a column that addresses these basic questions for
new hams.  

When we talk about "tuning an antenna" we are most likely referring to
making adjustments to a standalone manual antenna tuner on the operating
desk, not the process of making adjustments to an antenna during initial
installation.  Internal automatic antenna tuners make the decision for us by
tuning at low power.  

I first learned about low power tuning from an accomplished operator, Don
Newcomb, W0DN, now a silent key.  At the time our college club station
needed a faculty advisor and Don was a professor and had a ham ticket, so I
stopped by to ask him if he would be interested.  He was, and we struck up a
friendship that lasted a lifetime.  Eventually Don and I founded a little
antenna company in Butternut Township, Blue Earth County, Minnesota.  When
we were testing antenna designs there were many, many times that SWR
readings had to be taken.  Don insisted that the most accurate readings
would be with low power - just enough to get a full forward power reading on
the meter.  

That, it turned out, is very good advice.  W1ZR confirms it in his column,
explaining that harmonics or equipment problems are more likely at high
power levels, and these can affect readings.  He also rightly points out
that tuning at high power can increase interference to others on the band.
I have always found it easier to use the lowest possible power to tune
manual antenna tuners.  Here's what I recommend:

1.     Dial the radio to the desired frequency.

2.     Switch the antenna tuner into the circuit and click though the
inductance settings while listening to the receiver.  Try to pick the
setting that makes the receiver sound the most lively.  

3.     Adjust the capacitance to peak the received audio.

4.     Go back to the inductor switch and try clicking up and down a click
to make sure you have the setting that makes the receiver most lively.
Readjust the capacitance, juggling the two settings a bit to get the best
received audio.

5.     Once you make sure the frequency is clear, use the lowest power
carrier on transmit that will produce a forward full scale SWR reading.  

6.     Check the reflected power, adjusting the inductance and capacitance
as necessary to get the lowest reflected reading for a full scale forward
reading.  Unkey as soon as possible.

7.     Remember to switch the SWR meter back to the high power setting (if
it has this feature), and identify your transmission.

By tuning for received audio before ever transmitting, you get the settings
approximately where they need to be.  That will help you to complete the
process more quickly, with less key down time.  For manual tuner users, make
note of the settings on the tuner so that you can return to those settings
again if you want to operate on that frequency.  

External autotuners like the LDG models that we use for the two HF remote
base stations can "memorize" settings once they are used on a frequency.  My
experience with these tuners is that they also will tune accurately at lower
power settings, once a threshold of necessary power is reached.  By the way,
if you tune in to the remote stations and the band sounds dead, it may
simply mean that the tuner has last been used on a different band and thus
is not tuned for the band on which you are now listening.  You may have to
find a clear spot and identify to allow the autotuner to snap back to the
correct settings.

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.

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 57, the second of our in-depth discussion of antennas in Extra Class
is now available.  This one is an impressive hour and a half long by the
time we go through the questions.  

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. 

Secure, blind-friendly Handiham website login:  

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!

  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 version. 

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

 <http://handiham.org> Courage Kenny Handiham Program
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
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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 22 January 2014 - Patrick Tice