Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health
Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for
the week of Wednesday, 07 October 2015
This is a free weekly news & information update from the Courage Kenny
Handiham Program <https://handiham.org> , serving people with disabilities
in Amateur Radio since 1967.
Our contact information is at the end.
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Welcome to Handiham World.
In this edition:
. Check coax with your multimeter.
. W0ZSW and W0EQO back on the air via Remotehams.
. Update! Looking for an easy way to get a practice exam?
. Check into our nets.
. Dip in the Pool returns with a question about SWR from the NEW
General Class pool.
. Awful HF conditions today.
. ...And more!
Troubleshooting 101: Check a coaxial cable with an ohmmeter.
Guy working on antenna tower.
It's time to get your antennas shipshape before winter weather makes working
outdoors really awful. We've had a long summer jam-crammed with activities,
which has made it easy to delay antenna work. Now, with the prospect of
winter weather just around the corner, it seems like a good idea to check
the antenna systems to make sure they are working. Although we are going to
concentrate on the feedline today, there are a few other things to check
1. Does the antenna seem to be working at all? We've had plenty
of bad band conditions over the past summer, including some really bad
stretches of near-blackout propagation conditions. Don't be fooled by an
antenna that seems dead when the HF band conditions are the culprit. Check
the HF propagation report, and if you find that conditions are bad, check
your reception again a day or two later. Meanwhile, eliminate other
possible causes of weak or absent signals, such as disconnected coax -
perhaps you did this prior to a thunderstorm to protect your radio, then
forgot to reconnect it. Maybe a switch is in the wrong position, or the RF
gain control on the radio is incorrectly set.
2. Check the SWR reading. If it seems to have changed and is far
out of bounds, this can indicate a problem with the antenna or feedline. Do
a visual inspection of as much of your feedline and antenna system as you
can. Make sure connectors are tightened and there are no obvious failures
like one leg of your dipole antenna lying on the ground or the feedline
broken at the center insulator.
3. If the antenna looks okay, it is probably time to roll up your
sleeves and check the coaxial feedline and other coax connecting jumpers
that you have between your radio and the antenna.
There is no doubt in my mind that having a simple way of checking continuity
is one of the troubleshooting basics. Continuity, as we talk about it here,
means that a path supporting electrical current flow exists between two or
more conductors. That is not to say that a current is actually flowing - it
just means that if and when we want a current to flow, it can do so.
Let's take the example of a piece of coaxial cable. At Handiham
headquarters we have lots of long and short coaxial cables. Some are jumper
cables that are typically used to connect radios with accessories, such as a
transceiver to antenna tuner or SWR meter, or maybe both with a couple of
short coaxial jumpers. Then there are the longer runs of coaxial cable that
carry the signal out through the wall to a lightning arrestor and then to
the antenna, depending on the installation. The proper operation of the
station depends on conductivity between the radio and the accessories and
antenna. Each link in the chain represents a possible failure point.
If I pull a coaxial cable jumper out of the junk box at Handiham
headquarters, I always take a moment to check it out for continuity.
Knowing that donated coaxial jumper cables have come in from a wide variety
of sources, I know better than to trust that they will be good! There are
two steps to checking a cable. The first is to see if the center conductor
is soldered into the center pin on each connector. Then unscrew the outer
part of the PL-259 plug so that you can see if the coax braid has been
properly soldered. If the coax braid is not properly soldered, loose
strands may be poking out of the solder holes or the solder may be lumpy and
not properly flowed into the holes and onto the body of the connector. It's
usually pretty easy to tell if there is a problem connector if the PL-259
plug moves freely when you twist it while holding onto the cable itself. A
loose plug means that you should set that jumper aside for repair.
The second test is for continuity. Even if a coaxial jumper looks perfect
and the PL-259 connectors are solid, the cable may still be bad. The
possible conditions that may be revealed by your continuity test are these
1. The cable is good and ready for use.
2. The cable is open through the outer shield.
3. The cable is open through the center conductor.
4. The center conductor is shorted to the shield.
5. An intermittent condition exists that causes a short or open when the
cable is flexed.
Digital multimeter, coaxial jumper to be tested, and clip lead.
Photo: Simple test gear for a continuity check includes a clip lead and a
multimeter with a continuity buzzer.
Your test gear is pretty basic. You need a simple continuity checker, which
could light a lamp or sound a tone when the connection is made. Some
multimeters have a continuity setting that sounds a tone, but you can also
just use the resistance setting. While resistance is not the same as
continuity, the idea is to test for extremely low resistance, which
indicates that there is a connection between conductors. If you have a
multimeter with a continuity setting, use that. If your meter only has a
selection of resistance ranges, just start with R times 100. Touch the
meter probes together to either hear the continuity tone or watch the meter
reading. If you are watching the meter display it should indicate very low
or no resistance when the probes are touched together.
The other thing you need is a clip lead with alligator clips on each end.
Depending on your dexterity and the length of the cable to be checked, this
little clip lead can prove very handy indeed.
Now we are ready to do the testing. Be sure you are working only with
completely disconnected coax. Both ends must be free.
1. Take one end of the disconnected coax. Remember, we are NOT able to
test continuity with the coax connected to any equipment or antennas. Touch
one multimeter lead to the center pin of the PL-259 plug and the other to
the outer metal part of the plug. You should hear nothing, indicating that
the cable is not shorted. This is always the first test, because we must
eliminate the possibility of shorts before we can make any assumptions about
the center conductors or the shield.
2. Next, take the clip lead and use it to short the coax at one end by
connecting the center pin of one of the PL-259 connectors (it doesn't matter
which one) to the shield side of that same connector. Take the free end of
the coax and touch one multimeter probe to the center pin and the other to
the metal shield of that PL-259. You should now hear the buzzer that
3. You have now completed the basic tests, because you have determined
that the cable is not shorted and by passing a current through the entire
length of the center conductor and back through the shield, you have
determined that both the center conductor and shield are intact. The final
test is to flex the cable and wiggle the connectors while performing both of
these tests again. If it helps, you can add two additional clip leads to
connect the multimeter probes so that you don't have to try to hold them in
contact with the PL connectors. This will help determine if the cable is
4. If the cable fails any of the tests, feel free to test the shield to
shield and center pin to center pin connections separately. Never use a
cable that is suspect, because it could cause damage to your equipment.
5. Last but not to be missed is a final check along the length of the
cable for any obvious bad spots, such as a break in the outer jacket or any
suspicious bends or bumps in the cable.
If you are testing a long length of coax that goes through a wall, you will
still need access to both free ends with the connectors. In this case, you
are going to have to do some legwork, so if you are starting outdoors, clip
the clip lead onto the PL-259, shorting the center pin to the shield. Go
back indoors with the multimeter and check across the inside PL-259, where
you should get the sound of the continuity buzzer. Grab the multimeter and
head back outdoors, then remove the outdoor clip lead and take a reading
across the PL-259, center pin to shield. There should be no continuity.
This is about the easiest way to check a long feedline.
Working on antennas and feedlines? Do it safely: Always have a spotter - a
helper in case you get into trouble. Never climb without a spotter. Check
for overhead power lines and buried utilities. Disconnect all equipment from
the power source before starting to avoid shock hazards. Use safety gear
appropriate to the job. Ask for help if you don't have experience or don't
understand how to do something. There will usually be knowledgeable helpers
available in your local radio club.
Email me at <mailto:Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx> Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx with
your questions & comments.
(For Handiham World, this is Pat Tice, WA0TDA.)
Remote Base HF Update: W0ZSW and W0EQO both go on line with Remotehams.com
TS-480HX with RigBlaster Nomic and LDG tuner.
Image: The Kenwood TS-480HX station.
W0ZSW and W0EQO are both on the air today as our testing continues. Station
setup at the W0EQO station is in a temporary location in northern Minnesota,
where it is being prepared for setup at a Scout camp near its former home,
Camp Courage North. If you use the Remotehams.com RCForb client, you can
search for W0ZSW and W0EQO and listen to the stations. You will hear the
Kenwood TS-480HX at W0ZSW or the TS-480SAT at W0EQO and be able to control
the frequency if no one else is using the radios.
In addition, stations K0LR and WA0TDA are also available on the
Remotehams.com system. That is FOUR HF remote stations for you to check
out! There is also a web page that lists all online HF remotes using the
RCForb software at any given time:
To search for any specific station on that webpage, simply visit the webpage
then use the usual Control-F keystroke combo to bring up the search box,
type in the callsign, and press enter (if necessary.)
The new software for our remotes is the RCFORB client from Remotehams.com.
<http://www.remotehams.com> Did you know that with the new RCFORB
software, you can log on to and listen to stations as they both receive and
transmit? Furthermore, many of you can be logged in at once, since multiple
listeners are supported. This enables you to listen to an HF net and hear
everything, even when the station you are connected to transmits! There are
lots of potential uses for this feature, including helping newbies learn
about HF, listening on an emergency HF frequency during a practice or actual
emergency, and more!
Transmit access: You can use the Remotehams.com website to your advantage
by uploading a copy of your Amateur Radio license so that station owners can
check it if you request transmit privileges on their stations. The neat
thing about this procedure is that once you upload your license, the job is
done and you don't have to do it over and over for every new station you
want to use.
Tech support: The Remotehams.com website includes a robust user discussion
area divided into topics. There is also on line documentation. One thing
that can be frustrating about trying something new, such as remote HF
operation, is that there is a lot to learn about and new users might be
impatient about reading the forum posts and documentation. This is pretty
much true when we talk about VoIP enhanced systems like Echolink as well.
But hang in there and do some reading, then don't be afraid to try out the
software, learning by trial and error. "Learning by doing" is a time-tested,
proven way to learn and retain knowledge. Here are some useful links:
. Remotehams.com main page - (Start here.)
. Remotehams.com client software download page - (Be sure to
download the CLIENT software, not the host software.)
. Remotehams.com support forums page allows you to browse questions
by topic area. <http://www.remotehams.com/forums/>
. Remotehams.com RCForb rig control software manual
<http://www.remotehams.com/help.html> and other documentation page.
Update! Looking for an easy way to get a practice exam?
Free practice exams are yours simply by requesting them through a simple web
form at AA9PW.com. Go to:
Fill in the form with your email address (or the address of the person you
are helping with their studies), select the exam level from Technician,
General, or Extra, and if you wish, select the "No Figures" option. This is
recommended for blind test takers. An exam will arrive at the email address
you provided. The answers are at the end of the email message.
The update I have this week is that thanks to Bob, AC8DZ, we have found out
how to navigate to the sidebar and get the correct practice exam right on
the AA9PW website <http://www.aa9pw.com> while using Window-Eyes.
Insert-Tab, then Control-Shift F to find the keyword, let's say
"Technician", then Tab to "No Figures" and check the box, then "Take Exam".
Poor band conditions today due to solar WX:
Solar weather is not cooperating today, if working HF is your goal. The
N0NBH widget <http://www.hamqsl.com/solar.html> on QRZ.com
<https://www.qrz.com/index.html> tells the story: Poor band conditions
across the HF spectrum.
Visit our favorite solar weather site, http://spaceweather.com, for more
information and updates.
What are you waiting for? Check into our Handiham nets... Everyone is
How to find the Handiham Net:
1. The Handiham EchoLink conference is 494492. Connect via your iPhone,
Android phone, PC, or on a connected simplex node or repeater system in your
2. WIRES-2 system number 1427
3. WIRES-X digital number 11165
4. IRLP 9008
The Handiham Net will be on the air daily. If there is no net control
station on any scheduled net day, we will have a roundtable on the air
Cartoon multicolored stickman family holding hands, one wheelchair user
Our daily Echolink net continues to operate for anyone and everyone who
wishes to participate at 11:00 hours CDT (Noon Eastern and 09:00 Pacific),
as well as Wednesday evenings at 19:00 hours CDT (7 PM). If you calculate
GMT, the time difference is that GMT is five hours ahead of Minnesota time
during the summer. Note that we do not have a Thursday evening session at
Doug, N6NFF, poses a trivia question in the first half of the Wednesday
evening session, so check in early if you want to take a guess. The answer
to the trivia question is generally given shortly after the half-hour mark.
A big THANK YOU to all of our net control stations and to our Handiham Club
Net Manager, Michael, VE7KI.
A dip in the pool
Dip in the pool is back! Our question this week is from the General Class
question pool, number G9A11. It asks:
"What standing wave ratio will result when connecting a 50 ohm feed line to
a non-reactive load having 50 ohm impedance?"
Possible answers are:
While you're thinking about which answer might be the right one, let's try
to remember how we use SWR as an indication of a good match between one
component and another.
Did you decide which answer is the correct one? If you picked answer B,
1:1, you got this one right. In this case we see that there is an ideal
match of impedances between a 50 ohm feed line and a non-reactive load
having a 50 ohm impedance. SWR is used in the typical ham shack to indicate
whether impedances are matched. Several other possible questions ask about
mismatches, and usually simple mental math (division) will tell us that a
mismatch of 50 ohms to 200 ohms will result in a 4:1 SWR. Be careful -
remember that a mismatch leads to a HIGH SWR, not a low one. So if the
possible answers include 4:1 and 1:4, you know that you need to pick the one
with the high number first, 4:1.
New audio: The NLS cartridges for October are in production. October QST
has been published by ARRL and is available to ARRL members as the online
digital magazine and in print. Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has recorded the Handiham
digest version for our blind members, and it is available as a compressed
DAISY file for you to download and play on your NLS or other DAISY book
player. Find it in the Handiham members section.
. QCWA Journal for October has been recorded by Jim, KJ3P. QCWA
audio is released when the official Journal for the month is posted at
QCWA.org, so always watch for it at QCWA.org.
. CQ September 2015 has been recorded by Jim Perry, KJ3P - 58 MB
DAISY zip file. Find it in the members section.
. Joe, N3AIN, tells us how to install Windows without sighted help
by using a blind-accessible tool.
help.mp3> Anyone may follow this link and listen to or download the MP3
Other audio posted earlier:
* The Doctor is In column from October QST has been recorded for our
blind members by Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, and is available in the members
* QST for September in digital has been recorded by Bob, N1BLF, and is
ready. We have it in DAISY for our blind members.
* ARRL General Class License Manual: Jim Perry, KJ3P, has finished the
first three chapters of the new ARRL General Class License manual, recorded
for our blind members. The audio is processed into DAISY for our General
Podcast: If you would like to receive this audio newsletter as a podcast in
software other than iTunes, the RSS feed for the audio podcast is:
Email version: <http://www.freelists.org/list/handiham-world> Subscribe or
change your subscription to the E-mail version here.
Weekly audio reminder: If you are a Handiham member and want a weekly
reminder about our new audio, let us know. Watch for new audio Thursday
afternoons. (Some audio is available only to members.)
Beginner course DAISY download available for our blind members: We now have
the DAISY version of the entire Technician Class lecture series on line for
Some of you have asked about the 2015 General Lecture Series. The new
General pool is used for exams beginning on July 1, 2015. If you are
planning to study for General at Radio Camp in August, you will take your
exam based on the new General question pool. Jim, KJ3P, is helping us with
recordings from the new 2015 ARRL General License Manual.
But you can start studying using the new pool right now! Bob Zeida, N1BLF,
has finished the recording of the new 2015 General Class Question Pool and
it is in the General Class section in the Members part of the website.
Jim, KJ3P, has recorded the DXer's Handbook Second Edition by Bryce, K7UA,
for our blind members. If you are a Handiham member and need a link to the
DAISY download, please let me know.
Thanks to our volunteer readers:
. You can pay your Handiham dues and certain other program fees on
line. Simply follow the link to our secure payment site, then enter your
information and submit the payment. It's easy and secure!
o Handiham annual membership dues are $12.00.
o If you want to donate to the Handiham Program, please use our donation
website. The instructions are at the following link:
DONATION LINK <http://www.handiham.org/drupal2/node/8>
o The weekly audio podcast <https://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3> was
produced with the open-source audio editor Audacity
How to contact us
There are several ways to contact us.
Courage Kenny Handiham Program
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN 55422
E-Mail: <mailto:Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx> Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx
Preferred telephone: 1-612-775-2291
Toll-Free telephone: 1-866-HANDIHAM (1-866-426-3442)
Note: Mondays through Thursdays between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM United States
Central Time are the best times to contact us.
You may also call Handiham Program Coordinator Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, at:
FAX: 612-262-6718 Be sure to put "Handihams" in the FAX address! We look
forward to hearing from you soon.
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!
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