[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 01 October 2014

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 1 Oct 2014 12:55:55 -0500

Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health


Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for
the week of Wednesday, 01 October 2014


This is a free weekly news & information update from  <http://handiham.org>
Courage Kenny Handiham System. Our contact information is at the end. 

Listen here:
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  _____  


Welcome to Handiham World.


Cartoon world with radio tower


What do you do when no one shows up for your class?

 

That's the situation I found myself in last week. I'd prepared to teach my
assigned part of the General Class course and no one showed up. It was the
second scheduled class, and the first instructor had reported the same thing
the previous week, so I wasn't really that surprised.  It isn't the end of
the world.  When I studied for my Novice license as a teen, it was all
strictly do-it-yourself.  Once I passed Novice, I had to pump up my Morse
code speed to 13 words per minute and also learn enough from my ARRL license
manual to pass the exam given at the FCC office in St. Paul, MN, which was
almost two hours' drive from my home town.  And that was the days before the
internet and on line question pools!  Most of us back then studied alone,
working our way through the material and practicing code as best we could.
Having a class to go to would have been helpful, but it wasn't absolutely
necessary.  I practiced my code on the air with my buddy Karl, WA0TFC, who
is now a silent key.  Karl and I were both in the same radio club, and as
you can tell from our pretty close callsign assignments, (TDA & TFC), we
were licensed as Novices about the same time. Back then, on the air practice
was expected - it was the purpose of having the Novice license, which was
only good for a single year.  During that year, one was expected to study
and pass the General or go off the air.  

 

Have you thought about how best to offer Amateur Radio classes through your
radio club?  My local club - and just about every club I have ever belonged
to - offers at least a beginner level licensing class.  For years we have
been following a proven successful strategy:  coupling a weather-watcher
class with a Technician course that begins the week after the Skywarn class.
The idea is to draw people in when the risk of severe weather creates
interest in public service.  When participants in Skywarn see what ham radio
can do in reporting weather events, they start thinking about getting the
Tech license!

 

Our classes have been successful for many years now, and we have also
offered a General Class course in the Fall each year.  Our thinking is that
by autumn people are through with most weather-watching events and might be
interested in gaining more HF privileges.  The General course has also been
popular, until this year when we could not attract enough students to offer
it.  

 

Naturally we are wondering if we are doing anything wrong.  Several of our
new Techs quickly passed the General, sometimes at the same Spring VE
session.  I guess you can't argue with that kind of success!  On the other
hand, perhaps there is more that could be done for the Autumn General course
- better marketing, change of time and venue, the usual basic stuff.  After
all, you have to offer your classes when and where people can take them.
These things should be considered, but you can do more.  

 

When people have busy schedules it is probably going to be that licensing
upgrade class that has to be crossed off the "to-do list".  Weekends are
precious and get booked quickly.  Weekday evenings are hectic times for
many, filled with homework and sports for the kids and household chores for
the adults.  It is getting harder and harder to fit in a licensing class,
especially one that requires travel in rush hour traffic.

 

Here's the thing:  When schedules are hectic, the problem is not necessarily
that there is no time to study for General.  It is more likely that the time
people have available is not the same time frame in which you choose to
offer your classroom upgrade course.  Why not support your students with
online resources?  This approach will probably not work for everyone, but it
should be considered as at least one alternative learning option.  A few
years ago I probably would not have been quite so sure about this approach,
but high-speed internet access has become common enough as to be accepted as
a utility like indoor plumbing and electricity. Since the internet is more
available than ever, it can be a great platform for learning, and it has the
advantage of being there all day, every day.  And that even includes all
night!  People can study on their own terms.

 

What can your club do to promote alternative study?  Here are a few ideas:

*       Use your club's website to provide a list of links to already
existing online resources.  Practice exam sites like QRZ.com
<http://www.qrz.com/>  and AA9PW.com <http://aa9pw.com/>  are obvious links.
Ham Test Online <https://www.hamradiolicenseexam.com/>  is a pay-for guided
practice site that also provides study materials, a significant additional
study aid.  
*       Provide links to ARRL resources.  The ARRL website has instructor
resources to be sure, but it also has excellent study aids like the question
pools arranged to follow the presentation order in the ARRL License Manuals.

*       Collect email addresses when you run your beginner courses and
follow up later on with email messages promoting the General class resources
that your club has available for self-study.  
*       Take advantage of ARRL programs to get books into the hands of your
students from the outset, when you offer the Technician course.  This is
also a good time to make General Class study materials available.
*       At your club's VE session, offer a free first year club membership
to your new Technicians.  There should also be ARRL membership materials
available right there to engage new licensees. 
*       Use the club's repeater to offer a round-table weekly discussion
about General Class study topics.  If your club has weekly social
get-togethers, maybe you can even have an informal General Class study
group.   Some people stick to a plan best when they work in a group, as has
been shown to be the case in fitness programs.  Be creative in connecting
like-minded individuals with others who share the same goal of getting that
General ticket, whether it be face-to-face meetings in small study groups,
on the repeater, or through social media.  People may check Facebook more
often than the club website.  Post reminders about your study group there
and invite users to post questions if they run into something they don't
understand. 
*       There are excellent study materials available from the W5YI Group at
the Gordon West Radio School page
<http://www.gordonwestradioschool.com/main/page_w5yi_training_resources.html
> .  Some of our volunteer instructors prefer the concise Gordon West books
for Radio Camp review.  An advantage for our blind members is that these
courses are available on audio CD as an option. 
*       If you have prospective new hams with disabilities ask about
licensing, by all means give them information about the Handiham program,
and please feel free to ask us if you have questions about accommodating
them in your own local classes.  We love to help!

(For Handiham World, this is Pat Tice, WA0TDA.)


Don't forget our nets...


*       Avery, K0HLA, conducts the Morse Code Practice Net immediately
following the Thursday evening Handiham Net on the Echolink and IRLP-enabled
network.  Join Avery as he covers the very basic beginner introduction to
the Morse code.  The code net begins at approximately 8:00 PM Central Time
on *HANDIHAM*, Echolink node 494492, and on IRLP 9008.  Check-ins are taken
both in CW and on phone!  

Avery, K0HLA, sends Morse code.
*       Our daily Echolink net continues to operate for anyone and everyone
who cares to check in at 11:00 hours CDT (Noon Eastern and 09:00 Pacific),
as well as Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 19:00 hours CDT (7 PM).
Tonight N6NFF will pose a trivia question in the first half hour, so check
in early if you want to take a guess.
*       Is the net control station obligated to run an hour-long net each
day?  Not at all!  The NCS is in charge, and may decide to run a shorter net
if the activity slows down or if the repeater needs to be used for something
else.  This is true of almost all nets, not just ours.  For example, a
long-running HF net may be scheduled to run for a specified time, such as an
hour, but sometimes band conditions are so bad that it makes little sense to
continue.  No matter what the band or frequency, scheduled nets may have to
stand down for emergencies.  Sometimes schedules change for our volunteers
who run the nets.  Although it is always nice to have a replacement NCS
waiting to step in, it may not always be possible.  If that happens, please
feel free to just start a round-table conversation yourself. 
*       A big THANK YOU to all of our net control stations and to our
Handiham Club Net Manager, Michael, VE6UE. 
*       With 75 meters becoming more usable, consider checking into the
PICONET on 3.925 MHz, which has a long Handiham affiliation. It's on Monday
through Saturday mornings from 9 AM to 11 AM and Monday through Friday
afternoons from 3 PM to 5 PM Central Time.  Details and schedules are at:
www.piconet3925.com
*       Don't forget about our remote base station, W0ZSW, which is
available for your use. You can easily use it to check into PICONET on 75
meters or MIDCARS on 7.258 MHz.  The YL System net is happy to get your
check-in on 14.332 MHz.  You can find the YL System Net website at: 
http://www.ylsystem.org/
W0EQO is still unreachable due to a firewall issue, but W0ZSW is working
well and is available for your use.  


Taking stock:


Let's find out what's going on.  

*       The FCC's Universal Licensing System (ULS) / Antenna Structure
Registration (ASR) Systems will be down for maintenance. The Universal
Licensing System (including Application Search, License Search, License
Manager, Tower Construction Notification System and Ownership Information
Search) and Antenna Structure Registration will be down for scheduled
maintenance starting at 5:30 AM ET on Thursday, October 2, 2014 until 8:00
AM ET Thursday, October 2, 2014. During the down time, VECs, COLEMs, Land
Mobile, and Microwave batch filers can still send and retrieve files, but
the files will not be processed until maintenance is completed. Public
Access files will be posted after the maintenance is completed.  
*       The next date to think about is the one when we return to standard
time.  In Europe clocks go back 1 hour on Sunday, Oct 26, 2014. Here in the
United States and Canada that happens on Sunday, Nov 2, 2014.  As always,
Handiham nets remain true to Minnesota local time, which means who the heck
knows when the nets will be on for at least a couple of weeks until we all
manage to figure it out?  In the summer Minnesota is 5 hours behind GMT.  In
the winter Minnesota is 6 hours behind GMT.  Where do I get my date and time
information?  Check it out at http://www.timeanddate.com. 
*       We have been making progress organizing the equipment program.
Thanks to Dave, W0OXB, for helping me with shopping for plastic storage
boxes yesterday.  Although we do have potentially useful donated gear, we do
need to check it out, assessing its condition.  Progress there is slow and
deliberate, since it is all done by volunteers or by me on a time-available
basis.  We were able to place quite a lot of equipment at Radio Camp, and
now we need to spend more time in our storeroom, replacing the inadequate
storage boxes made of cardboard.  The plastic boxes will afford better
protection for the gear. 
*       It's not too early to announce our next operating event, the Split
Rock Lighthouse Event - October 31st - November 2nd.  It is sponsored by
SARA, the Stillwater (MN) Amateur Radio Association
<http://www.radioham.org/>  each year.  We'll have more about this as we
approach the end of October.  The event station callsign will be W0JH, the
callsign once held by Father George Metcalf, who served as chaplain to
General Patton
<http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1995-02-14/news/1995045017_1_george-metcal
f-patton-chaplain>  and who was an enthusiastic, long-time supporter of the
Handiham program.  SARA, a Handiham-affiliated club, now holds his callsign.

W0JH vintage QSL card showing contact with WA0SGJ.
Pictured:  This vintage QSL card is from Father George himself, and it shows
a "contact" with WA0SGJ labeled "1970 to 1990 at 1000 Hz with a 599 report
and mode of always".  Fr. George had a sense of humor!  He knew he always
could talk to the Handiham office if he called Sister Alverna, WA0SGJ, our
Education Coordinator at the time.
*       Are you waiting for Windows 9 to come out?  Don't hold your breath
because Microsoft has announced that the next release will skip the number 9
and go straight to
<http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2014/sep14/09-30futureofwindowspr
.aspx> "Windows 10".  If you are a blind Windows user and are presently
using Windows 8.1, drop us a line and let us know how it compares to Windows
7 and XP.  As far as we can tell, Windows 8.1 is the most accessible version
ever, but we would like more reports from the trenches, so to speak.  In the
newer versions of Windows, you will find accessibility features in the "Ease
of Access Center".  Simply type "ease of access" in a search query within
Windows and you'll get the link. One of the new choices is "Use the computer
without a display", which will "optimize for blindness". Another choice is
"Make the computer easier to see", which will optimize the visual display.
Within all of these options there are user-configurable choices.  
*       I have decided to replace an aging laptop computer in my home with a
Windows 8.1 tablet.  I'll let you know how that experience goes.  I chose
Windows because I want to run programs like the W4MQ client and Ham Radio
Deluxe. 
*       One of our members recommended a high-contrast keyboard and mouse
combo: two high-contrast large print USB keyboards and two optical mice for
under $10 at Amazon.
<http://www.amazon.com/Contrast-Large-Print-Keyboard-2-Pack/dp/B00CGZ0D5O/re
f=cm_sw_em_r_dp_CRyjub0EN0JQT_tt> 
*       A fun read from the April 1920 QST: The Old Man: Rotten Weather
Relays <http://www.arrl.org/news/the-old-man-rotten-weather-relays> .  Note
the reference to "all seven planets"! 

73, and I hope to hear you on the air soon!  

For Handiham World, this is Pat Tice, WA0TDA.  


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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