[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 11 February 2015

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2015 15:18:19 -0600

Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the 
week of Wednesday, 11 February 2015

This is a free weekly news & information update from the  <http://handiham.org> 
Courage Kenny Handiham System, serving people with disabilities in Amateur 
Radio since 1967.  

Our contact information is at the end. 

Listen here:

Get this podcast in iTunes:
 <http://www.itunes.com/podcast?id=372422406> Subscribe to our audio podcast in 

RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:
 <http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham> http://feeds.feedBurner.com/handiham


Welcome to Handiham World.

In this edition:  

·         Ice Station W0JH Special Event begins this week!

·         Safer Internet Day.

·         This week's question! 

·         Check into our daily nets.

·         Take a dip in the pool.

·         A wire antenna that fits your needs AND your yard.

·         QST antenna issue is out. 

·         The Remote Base HF report and a handy operating tip.

·         ...And more!

Red Ice Station W0JH tent in snow-covered frozen lake.

Time to get on the air!  Make your plans to contact W0JH on President's Day 
weekend.  It's like a polar vortex without YOU having to step outside.

Members from the Stillwater, Minnesota Amateur Radio Association (SARA) 
<http://www.radioham.org/>  will set up and operate a portable station on a 
frozen lake from inside a portable ice fishing tent-type shelter.  Notice the 
deep snow and the path that had to be dug through from the lake shore to the 
operating position in last year's photo, which we have included to give you an 
idea how the setup looks!  A portable propane heater will keep operators warm. 
Rig power will be provided from sealed lead-acid storage batteries. A 
center-fed Zepp antenna system (130 foot long antenna, 35 feet high, 50 feet of 
450 ohm ladder line, and a 4:1 current balun) will be used for all contacts. 
The Courage Kenny Handiham Program <https://handiham.org>  and Radio City 
<http://www.radioinc.com>  assist the event by helping with radio gear and 

The reason we support events like this is to promote the one thing that keeps 
Amateur Radio healthy:  Getting on the air.  There is nothing like actually 
using your station equipment to make contacts.  It is where the rubber meets 
the road, so to speak, because you are putting your own radio on the air and 
putting your own skills to the test.  A special event offers the challenge of 
making a contact with the event station and getting a certificate.  If you are 
new to Amateur Radio, this kind of event contact can be a nice way to get used 
to an environment a little bit like DXing, but with less competition and a more 
relaxed format - depending on the event, of course!

The Ice Station W0JH event is an annual one, usually happening right around 
President's Day weekend.  In Minnesota, that pretty much guarantees the "ice" 
part of the event.  Last year we had lots of snow and that made setting up on 
the frozen lake more difficult for the station crew because there was a lot of 
snow to clear at set up time.  This year we have had less than our average 
snowfall, so set up will hopefully be a bit easier.  In an event like this you 
never know what the weather will bring.  Extreme cold and wind would probably 
be much worse than more snow.  On the other hand, if you really, really want to 
get away from all kinds of RFI-generating household gadgets and noisy power 
lines, there is nothing quite like setting up your HF gear in an isolated 
location.  All that effort to pack the station and antennas along with the tent 
and antenna supports pays off with nice quiet bands - that will hopefully be 
"open" for good skywave propagation.   There's not a lot we can do about solar 
weather, after all.  

Want to work Ice Station W0JH?  I know I do, and I'd like you to as well, so 
here are the details:

Operating Schedule, Frequencies & Mode 

Saturday, 2/14: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm (Central Standard Time)
Sunday, 2/15: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Monday, 2/16: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Frequencies: 3.860, 7.260, 14.260, 21.360, 28.360 MHz (Tune +/– 20 KHz if QRM)
SSB is standard mode

Minnesota County: Washington
Grid Square: EN35og
Latitude: 45°16’01.7″ N
Longitude: 92°48’47.5″ W

W0JH QSL Info: 

·         IMPORTANT: QSLs will ONLY be sent via e-mail!

·         Send e-mail request to: IceStationW0JH2015@xxxxxxxxxxxx 

·         Send required (standard) QSL info: Callsign, Date, Time (UTC), 
Band/Frequency, Mode, Report (RST)

Support the W0JH crew out on the ice by making contact with them and proving 
that Handiham members are on the air!

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


Safer Internet Day!

Drawing of a computer

Yesterday, February 10, 2015, was "Safer Internet Day 
<http://www.saferinternet.org/safer-internet-day> ", which I learned about 
because it was promoted on Google's main page.  The idea is to promote safe 
internet usage, especially among young people.  While I wouldn't exactly 
qualify as a young person, it did remind me that all of us need to practice 
safe computing in so many ways:  Keeping backups of important files, avoiding 
bad practices like opening email attachments that arrive unexpectedly, and 
using the same passwords for everything.  Passwords are a challenge for many 
users, and as a result people often pick unsecure ones simply because they are 
easy to remember.  If you have children or provide "tech support" for elderly 
parents, you have an opportunity to help them practice safe computing and learn 
best practices for using the internet. 

With Amateur Radio and the Internet so closely joined together in today's 
modern ham shack, we can't afford to ignore safety basics.  Sure, you probably 
have a cloud service storing your precious family photos because you sure 
wouldn't want to lose them in a hard drive crash, right?  Well, what about your 
log files - the logbook entries you produce as you are operating your station 
and collecting contacts for DXCC or WAS?  It would be a shame to lose those 
files and have to start over again.  If you have set up a rig control 
application, it will have all kinds of personal customized settings.  These are 
also something to back up should the worst happen, because they can take a long 
time to build up again from scratch. 

Modern web browsers are more secure than ever.  If you are using an old version 
of Internet Explorer or some other browser, run, don't walk, to the browser's 
update pages and ditch the old version for the latest one that will work on 
your device.  Another perk of having an up to date web browser is that it is 
capable of saving your bookmarks.  I have a "Ham" folder in my bookmarks on all 
my browsers.  Modern browsers allow you to sync bookmarks for the same browser 
no matter which device you use, so if I keep my ham radio links bookmarked and 
synced they can always be found again, even if my main computer is destroyed.  

Speaking of internet security, let's take a look at...

This week's question:

·         If you have a smartphone, you likely have the Echolink app on it.  
How would you assure that an unlicensed person who picks up your phone could 
not start Echolink and start transmitting?  

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.  


Answer to last week's question

Last week's question was posed by Avery, K0HLA:  "Why is it that commercial FCC 
licenses are good for life but Amateur Radio licenses are renewed every 10 
years?  I would think Ham licenses would be good for life also.   73 es DX de 
K0HLA Avery."

·         At least one reader wrote and suggested that there is a difference 
between a station license and an operator's license.  For example, commercial 
broadcast stations do renew their licenses, as do business stations.  
Operators, on the other hand, might be holders of commercial FCC licenses like 
the "General Radiotelephone Operator License".  This is a license earned by 
passing an FCC commercial examination to determine proficiencies such as might 
be called for in using and maintaining commercial radio equipment and broadcast 
station transmitters. This license is not to be confused with the Amateur Radio 
General Class License.  The FCC has seen fit to allow the operator's license to 
be good for life, while station licenses must be renewed.

·         Now, back to the Amateur Radio License.  It combines both an 
operator's license and a station license into one document.  It's because of 
the station license part that renewals are required at ten year intervals.  
Since the operator and station parts cannot be separated, the single license 
needs to be renewed.  (At least that's our best guess!)


Check into our Handiham nets... Everyone is welcome!

Our daily Echolink net continues to operate for anyone and everyone who wishes 
to participate at 11:00 hours CST (Noon Eastern and 09:00 Pacific), as well as 
Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 19:00 hours CST (7 PM).  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, VE6UE, 
who takes the Thursday evening Technical Net session.


Does my wire antenna need to be installed running a certain direction, say NE 
to SW?  

I know it's the middle of winter and you probably aren't stringing up wire 
antennas for at least two months yet, but if you are studying for General Class 
and are thinking ahead for HF operation on some new bands, this question might 
be in the back of your mind.  After all, in your studies you have learned that 
half-wave dipole antennas radiate (and receive) their strongest signals 
broadside to the antenna.  If you were intent on working 40 meter stations to 
the east and west of your location, you would then want to mount your dipole 
antenna with the wire running north-south, making the antenna favor stations to 
the east and west.  

Alas, the trees in your back yard are not in the right places.  And besides, 
your lot would not be wide enough to accommodate the 40 meter dipole running 
north-south anyway.  Does this mean that you are out of luck and won't be able 
to install that 40 meter dipole?  

The inverted vee antenna system at WA0TDA QTH

Not at all!  In fact, you might even be better off with an inverted vee dipole 
than with a traditional flat-top.  With this antenna, you put up a single 
center support pole to hold up the coaxial feedline and a center insulator.  
The two legs of your dipole run from either side of the center insulator down 
at an angle to a couple of shorter supports that you can locate wherever they 
conveniently fit in the yard.  They can even come close to the ground as long 
as they are out of the way and not a tripping hazard for people who might be in 
the yard. The end insulators should be clear of grass or other vegetation. 
Since the inverted vee takes up less space by forming two sides of a triangle, 
it can be easier to fit the 40 meter dipole into your yard, even if it isn't 
quite wide enough for a regular flat top dipole.  A lightweight but strong 
fiberglass pole can form the center support, and if you install a second 
inverted vee for another band, say 20 meters, in parallel with the 40 meter 
antenna you can run the second antenna's legs out at 90 degrees in the other 
directions to form a system of built-in guy wires that will hold the support 
pole firmly in place.  It's like two antennas for the price of one!  Better 
yet, you only need one feedline, and because the 40 meter antenna will be 
resonant on 15 meters, you can work at least three bands with this beauty!

·         But what about those stations you want to work to the east and to the 
west?  What if you can't run the vee broadside to them?  Will the antenna still 
be effective?  

For the answer to that question, we turn to the ARRL Antenna book.  It tells us 
that setting up a half wave dipole in inverted vee configuration affects its 
properties in the following ways:

1.   There is a small loss in peak gain.

2.   The radiation pattern is less directional.

3.   The resonant frequency decreases, and...

4.   The feedpoint impedance decreases.

This isn't a bad thing.  For one thing, modern transceivers prefer a 50 ohm 
feedline instead of a 75 ohm line.  A flat-top dipole - the traditional design 
- is typically a better match to 75 ohm coax than the 50 ohm coax that matches 
the radio.  Putting the dipole into inverted vee configuration lowers the 
antenna's feedpoint impedance for a better match to the preferred 50 ohm 
coaxial cable.  The inverted vee is also less directional.  That can increase 
your odds of working stations in other compass directions rather than just 
broadside to the dipole.  A final bonus for those with limited space is that 
the inverted vee dipole radiator is somewhat shorter, which helps fit the 
antenna in even better!

I've included a photo that I took last summer showing my own inverted vee 
system in my large back yard.  Because I have enough room, mine includes an 80 
meter dipole.  Other antennas run off in different directions for multiple band 
operation, all on the same center insulator.  The center support is a 
telescoping fiberglass pole.  The feedline is 50 ohm hard line running 
underground and then mating with a lightning arrestor at the base of the pole 
and continuing up inside the pole as RG-213 cable to the center insulator.  It 
tunes easily on 160 through 6 meters with a bit of impedance stretching help 
from an LDG AT-200PRO automatic antenna tuner.  

Throughout my ham radio career, which began in 1967, I have used these inverted 
vee antenna systems, sometimes as permanent antennas at my home station and 
other times at Field Day.  They have proven durable and reliable, even in 
Minnesota winters.  If you are new to HF operation, why not consider an 
inverted vee antenna?  It may very well fit your HF operating needs - and fit 
into your back yard!


A dip in the pool

circuit board

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 new question.  Let's see if you 
can get the answer!

G9A15 asks, "What is the effect of transmission line loss on SWR measured at 
the input to the line?"

A. The higher the transmission line loss, the more the SWR will read 
artificially low
B. The higher the transmission line loss, the more the SWR will read 
artificially high
C. The higher the transmission line loss, the more accurate the SWR measurement 
will be
D. Transmission line loss does not affect the SWR measurement

What do you think?  Does transmission line loss even have anything to do with 
the SWR reading?  

You bet it does!  In fact, answer A, The higher the transmission line loss, the 
more the SWR will read artificially low, is the correct one.  Loss in the 
antenna can do the same thing.  Obviously "loss" means that some of your signal 
is not being radiated and instead is being turned into useless heat due to some 
inefficiency in the system.  While you may think that loss is always a bad 
thing, it might not be worth worrying about.  It just depends on how much loss 
we are talking about.  Every antenna system has some loss.  The best indicator 
is probably how well the antenna works in real world use, day in and day out.  
If your antenna consistently sounds kind of dead and you have difficulty making 
contacts and get poor signal reports, there is definitely a problem, even if 
your SWR is 1 to 1.  On the other hand, if the SWR on your antenna system is 3 
to 1 on the CW end of a band like 80 meters and you can tune the antenna to 1 
to 1 with an antenna tuner, some loss will still be present but your 
transmitter will be happy with the good match and the antenna will actually 
work quite well.  Remember that SWR is only one measurement of your antenna 
system.  There are other principles of good design to consider to reduce loss, 
including choice of feedline, matching, and the antenna itself.  


March 2015 QST is out!

QST's annual antenna issue is released today in digital format.  That means the 
print edition will show up in a day or two in my mailbox if everything goes as 
usual.  One article that caught my attention right away is one by Andrew 
Woodfield, ZL2PD.  It's called "A Talking Frequency Counter" and details how to 
build the circuit, which is small enough to fit into a container the size of an 
Altoids tin.  The circuit uses an Atmel ATtiny85 microcontroller.  It speaks RF 
frequencies in plain English.  You will find the article on page 30 of the 
March 2015 QST.  

Since this is the antenna issue, there are plenty of antenna-related articles.  
I especially liked the W1ZR article, "Easy Two-Band Ground Plane for Other Band 
Combinations" on page 41.  For those in restricted living situations like 
condos, "An Off Center End Fed Dipole for Portable Operation on 40 to 6 Meters" 
by KE4PT on page 44 might be just the ticket. It's a creative design using a 20 
foot fiberglass tent pole and a wire loosely drooped along the pole.  It's for 
temporary use, and is light enough to take on trips.  The "Doctor is In" column 
by QST regular W1ZR features a "sleeve dipole".  You'll find the good doctor on 
page 64. 

There's a lot more, too.  One other thing is really like about the annual 
antenna issue is that when it shows up, it means that Spring - and antenna 
season - is not far behind.  


Both TS-480 Handiham HF remote base internet stations are up and running.  

Close up of TS-480HX keypad

One outage occurred in the past week. Station W0ZSW went offline due to a cable 
internet network outage on Monday, February 9.  An IP address reassignment 
delayed our response a short time.  Everything is now back in order.  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/> .  

Operating tip:  If you get a "checking status" message when opening the W4MQ 
software, it could mean that the station you have selected, either W0ZSW or 
W0EQO, is off line.  Let's determine what is going on.  Suppose you get the 
"checking status" message with W0ZSW selected.  The first thing to do is to 
change the selection to W0EQO to see if that station is working.  If it is 
working, you can go ahead and use it since W0ZSW is off line.  However, if 
W0ZSW and W0EQO both show "checking status" messages, there are TWO 

1.   Both stations are off line at once, which is unlikely since they are 
located hundreds of miles apart and share no common infrastructure.

2.   Your own internet connection is down or there is some reason your computer 
running the client software is not connecting to the internet.  This is the 
more likely place to look for a problem.  Open a website and make sure that you 
are connected to the internet.  Sometimes Windows Update may cause this to 
happen.  Install the updates and reboot.  Everything should now work fine. 

We are working to bring a third remote system online somewhere in the USA 
Eastern Time Zone.  Contact me if you are interested in hosting a Handiham 
Remote Base station. 

We are also looking for a new home for station W0ZSW here in the Twin Cities.  
The ideal candidate would be a local radio club with room for antennas, and a 
cadre of volunteers to help with the station.  


Handiham office hours: 

We return to our usual Monday through Thursday schedule this week.  Mornings 
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 

The two HF remote base stations are also available every day for your use.   


Department of possibly useful stuff:

·         AES Milwaukee Superfest 2015 will be Saturday, March 21, 2015 from 
9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. <http://www.aesham.com/aes-superfest>   The Handiham 
Program plans to be there!  The location is Amateur Electronic Supply - 5710 W 
Good Hope Rd - Milwaukee, WI 53223.

·         Coming up on February 14:  Get on the air for the 
Handiham-cosponsored <http://www.radioham.org/news/ice-house-special-event/>  
Ice Station on the air event.

·         Avery, K0HLA, commented on the "paperless" Amateur Radio license 
story:  "A license hard copy might be of help if doing emergency work. Showing 
firefighters or police might get you into locations to help that you may not be 
able to otherwise. I know that was the case when I helped when the river 
flooded in Carver county. I was checked a couple of times. Having call letter 
license plates on my car helped also."


New audio: 

If you are a Handiham member and want a weekly reminder about our new audio, 
let us know.  Watch for new audio Thursday afternoons.

Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the February magazine audio digest for our 
blind members.  Also in the members section: The February 2015 Doctor is in 
column has been recorded by Ken Padgitt, W9MJY.

New this week are QCWA Journal for February <http://www.qcwa.org> , and CQ 
Magazine for November and December, recorded by Jim, KJ3P.   

Jim has also recorded the DXer's Handbook Second Edition by Bryce, K7UA, for 
our blind members.  

In the Technician Lecture Series, we most recently posted a review section.

 <https://handiham.org/daisy/open/General_Pool_2015-19_DAISY_Beta.zip> The new 
2015 through 2019 General Class Pool, machine-recorded in DAISY by the Handiham 
Program; Beta 1 version in downloadable zip file format. 

Thanks to our volunteer readers:

Bob, N1BLF 

Jim, KJ3P

Ken, W9MJY 


Radio Camp News:  We will once again be at the Woodland campus, Camp Courage. 

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 and an 
EMCOMM exercise.

·         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.

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 
<http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/> .  

How to contact us 

There are several ways to contact us. 

Postal Mail: 

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 available to everyone 
free of charge. Please email Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx  for changes of address, 
unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new address.

 <http://handiham.org> Return to Handiham.org


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