Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health
Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for
the week of Wednesday, 08 April 2015
This is a free weekly news & information update from the Courage Kenny
Handiham System <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:
. W0ZSW has begun TS-590S testing. We consider HF competency!
. The week's question answered: A great idea for an indoor loop
. Check into our daily nets.
. Take a dip in the pool: Two questions about operating near band
. The Remote Base HF report: Thunderstorm season begins!
. April audio is on line.
. NLS cartridges should go out Thursday if all goes well.
. ...And more!
But first, let's update you on the current status of W0ZSW.
As we mentioned last week, we are in the process of upgrading Handiham HF
remote base station W0ZSW from the old W4MQ software to the new Kenwood
ARCP-590 software. At the same time, the radio has been upgraded to a
Kenwood TS-590S equipped with the excellent VGS1 Voice Guide module. We made
the switcheroo on Monday, April 6. This is a traditionally "low usage" time
of year, so we figured that we would inconvenience the fewest W0ZSW users by
proceeding with our beta testing now.
We are not opening the TS-590S to all of the existing W0ZSW user list. The
reason is that we are now in a testing phase and need experienced "power
users" to make sure that the radio and software are working correctly. After
the testing phase is complete, we will announce the operating schedule and
open user requests. We will not be simply adding users of the old system to
the new one, though. There is a good reason for this: The ARCP-590
software allows complete control of the TS-590S, and that means users will
have to really know what they are doing!
This brings me to an awkward subject. How are we to know who is capable of
operating the TS-590S and who is not? Bear in mind that we do not expect
every user to be a "power user" once we finish beta testing. But we do
absolutely expect our users to be able to learn the radio and the software
more or less independently. While we will try to do what we can to help by
building some support pages and hopefully even audio and video tutorials, we
don't have the staff to do a lot of hand-holding. And of course it will
take us a while to get a knowledge base built up, so in a sense, the early
users will be like the western pioneer settlers in that they will have to be
The awkward part of this situation is that we know that some users are not
going to make the cut. They are welcome to join the new station as users if
and when they improve their operating skills, but for now, we will have to
insist that they confine their operations to the W4MQ software, which has
fewer ways for users to make mistakes. One cannot assume that anyone with
an Extra Class license will be capable of running the more advanced radio
and figuring out the software. I know that this is not the case because I
know from years of experience interacting with ham radio operators that
there is a huge difference between passing a multiple choice exam and
actually knowing what one is doing! What I call "real life" experiential
skills are built up over months and years of doing things, figuring things
out, operating under different conditions, and generally learning how to
figure out answers to problems on one's own.
It has been said that a university degree is just a license to begin your
real learning. The same is true of your Amateur Radio license! Walking out
of the VE session with a CSCE in hand doesn't make you an expert - even if
you have just passed the Extra. I think most of us understand this, at
least in some sense - but we must not fall into the trap of believing that
our learning is complete. Far from it. Every day of your ham radio life
you will be learning as technology changes, new voices show up on the air,
rules and modes change, and conditions offer up new challenges.
We think the HF remotes are a learning opportunity. They offer us a way to
get on the air, perhaps on bands for which we don't have room for antennas.
The technology is available and can be learned. But as with any technology
that gives access to a licensed and regulated activity, there must be a way
to qualify as an operator. As a society, we expect this for many other
technologies: Amateur Radio itself, with licensing exams, driving a car by
passing both written and skills exams, flying an airplane by passing
written, skills, and medical exams, and so on.
As we move forward, we will have to vet our HF remote base candidates.
Obviously we cannot accept users who do not have sufficient computer skills
to learn new software without one on one help or those who have a history of
tying up the radios by leaving a Skype call connected or failing to log off
the rig control software properly. We are not going to accept users who do
not know the limitations (band edges) conferred by their license classes.
Right now I'm not exactly sure how we will make this process work, but I am
open to suggestions. At the very least we are going to have to set up some
tutorials and maybe an operating skills test to qualify candidates. How
that will work is something to figure out! One of the problems people have
is that they are not self-aware enough to know that they have gaps on their
knowledge and skills. All of us suffer from this to some extent, so it can
be true that "we don't know what we don't know", and it can be a jarring
experience to find that out. That's the awkward part.
(For Handiham World, this is Pat Tice, WA0TDA.)
Drawing of a computer
Last week's question was: Will you do any antenna work now that we've
kicked March out the door?
We are devoting our space on this one to an excellent story we received
from Catherine, KE4LAM, who writes about a successful indoor antenna
project, which we call:
An Easy Quad Loop for Low-Power Indoor Operation
I now live in an apartment in Pittsburgh. I don't have the option of putting
up an HF antenna outside, so I decided to try something from the ARRL's
Antenna Book and put up an indoor quad loop antenna for 20 meters. Being
totally blind, my biggest challenge was going to be doing this myself
without sighted assistance. But I did it.
First the feedline: Soldering is not an option for me without help. So just
as an experiment, I took an old piece of coax that already had a PL259
connecter on it. I knew I didn't need much coax for the feedline, so I could
get away with using RG58. RG58 is pretty lossy if you're running a feedline
of any length. But since I only needed about four feet of feedline, this
wasn't a problem. I stripped the last two inches at the end of the coax,
exposing the braid. Then I carefully separated the braid from the center
conductor by slowly unraveling it. I needed about two inches of separated
braid and center conductor to connect to the antenna later.
Now to the antenna. I bought a nice spool of 14-gauge copper wire at Home
Depot. I like this gauge because it's flexible enough to work with but stiff
enough to keep its form and not bend too easily. I measured the length of
the wall that has a window in my living room and also measured the ceiling
height. My plan was to make a rectangle, with the antenna wire running along
the floor, going up the walls at both corners, and running across the top of
the window near the ceiling. Given the length of my wall and height of the
ceiling, I decided I just barely had enough space to make a 20-meter loop.
This turns out to be 65 feet, seven inches. My ceiling is eight feet tall,
and that wall, which actually runs through the living and dining room, is
about 25 feet long. Add up the two long sides along the floor and ceiling,
plus the short sides running up the corners from floor to ceiling, and it's
66 feet. The antenna book says the loop works best if it's more of a square
than a rectangle, but I couldn't make my ceiling any taller, so I decided to
give it a shot with the dimensions I have. Important: If making a quad loop
antenna, you really need a full-wave for best resonance. So if you have a
smaller space and can't fit a full wave length worth of loop for 20 meters,
try seventeen, fifteen, or ten.
I measured my wire using a good old fashioned ruler. I don't have an
accessible tape measure, so I had to do it with the ruler. I measured three
times just to make sure I was accurate. So now I have my 65 feet of wire,
ready to put up. I just had to strip a couple inches of the insulation off
of each end so I could connect it to the feedline later. I took my hammer
and little picture hanging nails, and off I went to put it up. I knew the
loop would need to close at the feedline, with one end of the wire attached
to the coax braid, and the other attached to the center conductor. So I
started laying my antenna wire on the floor right below my ham radio table,
right where the feedline would come down from the radio. I ran it along the
floor and then used a picture hanger nail to keep it in place as I started
running it vertically up the wall. I didn't nail through the wire of course
but rather placed the nail beside the wire and then, once pounded into the
wall, bent the nail over top of the wire to hold it in place. I ran the wire
up the wall and then across the ceiling. I used the picture hanger nails to
hold it in place up there, too so it didn't fall down. Then I ran it
vertically down the other corner and back to the floor, then back along the
floor to the feed point.
My system for attaching the coax to the antenna wire is very basic, and I
would never do this for outside use where water or wind could damage the
connection. But all I had to do was twist one end of the antenna wire around
the center conductor and the other end around the braid. Voila, antenna
I have an MFJ antenna tuner, plus my radio has an automatic tuner. Between
the two, I can tune it on almost any band, but it performs best on 20 and 17
meters. I decided to only run about twenty watts since it's an indoor
set-up. But I have had a lot of success with it despite it being indoors and
using fairly low power. Shortly after I got it set up I talked to Cuba and
the Czech Republic on 17 meters. What I like about this antenna is that even
for a totally blind person who is definitely not an antenna expert, this was
fairly easy to set up. I would encourage any ham who wants to do HF but has
ruled it out because they live in an apartment to give this indoor quad loop
a try. I think anyone who tries this antenna will be very pleased with the
Next week's question: How do you check your audio on Echolink and IRLP?
<mailto:Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx?subject=The%20weekly%20question> Think you
have an answer? Email me and let me know. Also tell me if it's okay to
mention your callsign in the e-letter and podcast.
On the air this week:
SSTV fans, listen up! ARRL reports, "Amateur Radio on the International
Space Station (ARISS) has announced that slow-scan television (SSTV)
transmissions are planned for Cosmonautics Day, Saturday, April 11 from
RS0ISS in the ISS Russian sector. Cosmonautics Day celebrates space pioneer
Yuri Gagarin's April 12, 1961, as the first human to reach space."
april-11> You can find the complete story on the ARRL website.
We don't often have SWL news to report, but here's some: Amateur Radio
Roundtable, is a live weekly ham radio webcast that can be seen at W5KUB,
http://w5kub.com <http://w5kub.com/> every Tuesday night at 8:00 PM CDT
(0100 UTC Wednesday). Tom, W5KUB, writes: "Exciting news - This week we
are expanding our show and will be simulcasting our webcast on shortwave
radio station, WTWW on 9930 KHz on Tuesday from 8:00 - 9:00 CDT (0100 -0200
UTC Wednesday). The show changes frequencies from 9930 to 5085 KHz at 9:00
CDT (0200 UTC Wednesday). This is a powerful shortwave station (100
Kilowatts) and is heard in many countries. Shortwave listeners will also
have to option to go to w5kub.com and join in on the video webcast and chat
room." (If you miss anything, there is an archive.)
Don't forget PICONET on 3.925 MHz. It is on daily except Sundays, and you
will find HF-savvy Handiham members checking in. You can find out more
about PICONET on the PICONET website, http://www.piconet3925.com.
Check into our Handiham nets... Everyone is welcome!
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 and Thursday 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.
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.
One operating note: The IRLP reflector 9008 is not connected at this time.
A dip in the pool
It's time to take a dip in the pool - the NCVEC Amateur Radio Question Pool,
not the swimming pool. Looking forward to the new 2015 General Pool that
comes into effect on July 1, we sample the following two questions. Let's
see if you can get the answers!
G4D10 asks, "How close to the lower edge of the 40-meter General Class phone
segment should your displayed carrier frequency be when using 3 kHz wide
Possible answers are:
A. At least 3 kHz above the edge of the segment
B. At least 3 kHz below the edge of the segment
C. Your displayed carrier frequency may be set at the edge of the segment
D. At least 1 kHz above the edge of the segment
G4D11 asks, "How close to the upper edge of the 20-meter General Class band
should your displayed carrier frequency be when using 3 kHz wide USB?"
Possible answers are:
A. At least 3 kHz above the edge of the band
B. At least 3 kHz below the edge of the band
C. Your displayed carrier frequency may be set at the edge of the band
D. At least 1 kHz below the edge of the segment
Did you pick answer A and then answer B? Those would be correct, because
you need to be at least 3 kHz above the edge of the segment if you are
operating LSB (Lower Sideband) near the lower edge of the 40-meter General
Class phone segment, AND at least 3 kHz below the edge of the 20 meter phone
band if you are operating USB (Upper Sideband).
The reason I'm mentioning band edges is that it's one of those headaches
that can be a serious issue for HF remote base sysops. If our users do not
operate carefully within their allotted band segments as defined by their
license classes, they - and we - are BOTH responsible for correcting the
problem! This will be a concern for users of the ARCP-590 software at
W0ZSW. While the W4MQ software allows us to restrict transmit by license
class, that feature is not available in the Kenwood ARCP-590 software. That
means we will expect - and demand - that our users know what they are doing
when operating the station.
Both Handiham HF remote base internet stations are up and running.
. The W0ZSW remote base station has begun beta testing the Kenwood
TS-590S and is only open to beta testers. The Kenwood TS-590S is now in
place at W0ZSW. The Kenwood ARCP-590 software really opens up the radio for
all sorts of customization by the users. We already have some supporting
material on our remote base website for the W4MQ software, but nothing for
the Kenwood software - so far.
. W0EQO is available as an alternative to registered users and does
feature a Kenwood TS-480SAT with speech frequency readout.
* Our two stations are W0EQO at Camp Courage North and W0ZSW in the
Twin Cities East Metro. Please visit the remote base website for more
information on the status of the stations, the W4MQ software downloads, and
installation instructions. Details at Remote Base website
<https://handiham.org/remotebase/> . We will eventually schedule "up time"
for the old W4MQ software at W0ZSW so that current users can access the
station from time to time. The schedule will be posted as it is developed.
* Contact me if you are interested in hosting a Handiham Remote Base
station, either here in the Twin Cities or anywhere else in the USA!
. If you find that W0ZSW is unavailable, please consider using W0EQO
. If you are an experienced TS-590S and ARCP-590 user and are
interested in participating in these tests, please let me know.
Thunderstorm season is underway!
We can expect thunderstorms in southern Minnesota and the Twin Cities Metro
area any time now that warm, humid southern air collides with cool Canadian
air over the Upper Midwest. W0ZSW will be off line during thunderstorms and
remain offline until the danger is well past. In 2014 we had significant
lightning damage, something we don't want to experience this season!
When there are storms or when the TS-590S station is using the W0ZSW
antenna, the W4MQ software will show up as off line. PLEASE do not call to
let us know that the station is off line. Instead, refer to the Remote Base
website <http://handiham.org/remotebase/> or send an email message to let
us know about the problem
W0EQO is not expected to be offline unless there is an internet or power
Handiham office hours:
Mornings Monday through Thursday are the best time to contact us. Please
visit Handiham.org for updates and schedule changes. Our website will be
available 24/7 as always, and if there is an emergency notification or
remote base outage, the website will be updated accordingly no matter what
day it is. We are always closed Friday through Sunday.
April magazines are out and our volunteers have recorded audio for our blind
members. The DAISY books are ready for download this week for our blind
members. The April Doctor column has been recorded for our blind members by
Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, and is now available for listening, and will be on the
DAISY cartridge as well. Jim Perry, KJ3P, has recorded CQ Magazine digests
for March and April, and both are available as DAISY book downloads for our
blind members. Jim has also completed the QCWA Journal for April, and it is
available in the Handiham members section as well as through the link on
QCWA.org. Follow the "Journal on MP3" link. NLS cartridges should be in the
mail by Thursday afternoon and will include all of these audio books.
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:
Subscribe or change your subscription to the E-mail version here.
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.)
New DAISY download available for our blind members: We now have the DAISY
version of the entire Technician Class lecture series on line for download.
Some of you have asked about the 2015 General Lecture Series. The new
General Class License Manual has not been released yet. Usually this is
ready in print by HamventionR time in mid-May. The new General pool will be
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.
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:
Radio Camp News: We will once again be at the Woodland campus, Camp
Cabin 2, site of our ham radio stations and classes.
Photo: A Woodland Cabin with screen porch, fireplace, kitchen, laundry, and
comfortable great room.
Plan to work DX with the triband HF beam antenna. In addition, we will be
installing several wire antennas fed with 450 ohm ladder line for
high-efficiency operation on multiple bands. We will be able to check in to
the popular PICONET HF net on 3.925 MHz. Radios you can try at camp include
the remote base stations running the Kenwood TS-480, and get your hands on a
Kenwood TS-590S or TS-2000, both of which will be set up to operate. If you
have a special request for gear you would like to check out at camp, please
let us know.
Other activities at camp:
. Campers needing radio equipment or accessories to take home and
complete their stations should let us know what they need. Equipment will
be distributed at camp.
. We will have a Handiham Radio Club meeting that will include
election of club officers and planning for the upcoming year.
. The Icom IC-718 will once again be pressed into service on the
camp pontoon boat for HF operation from Cedar Lake. All aboard! QRMers
will walk the plank if caught.
. We'll have time for several operating skills discussions.
. Anyone interested in a hidden transmitter hunt on VHF?
If you want to get a first license or study for an upgrade, let us know.
<http://truefriends.org/camp/> Camp dates are now published in the True
Friends Camp Catalog. They are Tuesday, August 18 (arrival) through Monday,
August 24 (departure),
Please let Nancy know if you wish to receive a 2015 Radio Camp Application.
. 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. The lifetime membership
rate is $120.00.
MEMBERSHIP DUES PAYMENT LINK
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 We hope you will remember us in your 2015 giving plans. The Courage
Kenny Handiham program needs your help. Our small staff works with
volunteers, members, and donors to share the fun of Amateur Radio with
people who have disabilities or sensory impairments. We've been doing this
work since 1967, steadily adapting to the times and new technologies, but
the mission is still one of getting people on the air and helping them to be
part of the ham radio community. Confidence-building, lifelong learning,
making friends - it's all part of ham radio and the Handiham Program.
Begging cartoon doggie
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!
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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