Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health
Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for
the week of Wednesday, 15 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:
. Fasten your seat belt - change is coming!
. The week's question answered: Checking VoIP audio quality.
. Check into our daily nets.
. Take a dip in the pool: A question for rookies.
. The Remote Base HF report: W0ZSW network gets a reboot.
. April audio is on line.
. We get an Icom IC-7200 for Radio Camp!
. ...And more!
But first, are you ready - mentally - to accept change?
I was browsing through my digital copy of the recently-released May QST, and
one of my first stops was the Eclectic Technology column by Steve Ford,
WB8IMY. Steve's topic is "State-of-the-Art Homebrewing", and he covers a
circuit simulation program, which allows designers to test a circuit in a
software simulation rather than by building a physical circuit. Simulators
have been around a long time for pilot and driver training, but for
electronic circuits? This sure wasn't on my radar screen, but when I think
about it, circuit simulation is as revolutionary a development as there is
for homebrewers - or "makers", as they are called today. I think I'd like
to retire the term "homebrewer" for ham radio parlance and leave it for use
by hobbyists who brew their own craft beers.
Another one of Steve's topics is home circuit board production, but not with
chemical etching. Oh, no - this is way different. It's about a $1,500
circuit board printer that "prints" two-layered printed circuit boards to
the specs you set forth in your circuit design software.
You can already get circuit board design software for free, and one point
five kilobucks isn't that much, either. You can bet that in a year or two
the technology will be even more capable and cheaper. 3D printing is now a
thing, and the ham radio maker community is on board. Look for replacement
parts and original designs to start gracing the ham shack in short order.
As if all this isn't enough change to pack into a single column, Steve
polishes off the page with news about new very rapid charging lithium-ion
batteries using titanium dioxide nanotube technology that can survive 10,000
Don't miss the Eclectic Technology column in QST. You'll be amazed at what
is happening in technology, and you can bet that it is coming to a ham shack
near you sometime sooner than you realize.
We've mused about change in past editions of your Handiham World. Most
recently we have brought our readers and listeners along for the ride as
VoIP remote base HF operation begins to show up everywhere. All you have to
do is to listen carefully around the bands and you'll find the topic pop up.
Individuals are setting up their own remotes and using them while traveling.
This was brought home to me when I was listening to a group of guys running
vintage AM gear on an early morning on the air get-together. You might
think the discussion would be confined to vacuum tubes and war stories, but
no, I have heard robust discussions of remote HF operation, Bluetooth
speakers, and non-ham services like Pandora. This month's program topic at
my local radio club was an update on software defined radio that included
adapting a TV USB stick to use as a software-defined radio.
Clearly some people are in tune with what is happening in technology. What
concerns me is those who are not.
I'm never quite sure what keeps some Amateur Radio operators from at least
knowing that new technologies exist, but rest assured that they are out
there, frozen in time like woolly mammoths in a block of ice, oblivious to
the change swirling around them. When they are finally thawed out, the
reaction is that "something happened", and the panorama of new technology
seems to stretch out in every direction, making them feel overwhelmed. The
reaction can be to withdraw into a safer low-tech corner of ham radio or to
simply drift away from it altogether.
What can be done about this?
Glad you asked! You can fight techno-fear by freely talking about new
technology on the air. Spread the word - don't be afraid to go beyond the
usual weather report and pleasantries when you are in a conversation with
your ham radio friends. You might be surprised to find out what others are
doing with developing technologies and how they are creatively applied to
Amateur Radio use. Another tactic is to make sure that several of your
radio club's programs throughout the year have a technology and "maker"
emphasis. I was surprised how digital modes have taken off in my club,
bolstered by occasional programs and local nets. One thing that can really
set your radio club apart is to keep new technology readily available. Make
sure it shows up on Field Day, at club special events, and as part of
regularly-scheduled learning groups. Some clubs have club-sponsored
projects where participants build electronic projects. Maintain a
connection between your radio club and local schools, too. The high school
physics class might be a good place to recruit for the club's upcoming
Technician course. Even middle school science classes can be a segue into
None of this can happen if you and your club members are not keeping up with
technology news. You should also read regularly, and if reading isn't
convenient, follow ham radio and technology podcasts and video shows.
Remember that you don't have to be an expert. All you have to do is know at
least something about new technologies and have the ability to use internet
resources to expand and focus your knowledge when you need to. Let's face
it; no one can claim to be an expert for very long anyway, because
technology changes so quickly that knowledge becomes dated and eventually
irrelevant. It is best to take a wide-angle picture of what is going on and
hone in on our specific interests as we see fit.
Who knows? You may become the go-to person in your radio club for your
technology expertise! But be warned that you won't be an expert for long
because something new is right around the corner. The trick is to be ready!
(For Handiham World, this is Pat Tice, WA0TDA.)
Drawing of a computer
Last week's question was: How do you check your audio on Echolink and
Most of the responses I got were to use the built-in audio check tools in
IRLP and Echolink. This is really good advice, but we cannot always assume
all users out there know about these tools.
IRLP: To access the IRLP test reflector, you must be able to use your radio
to reach an IRLP-enabled repeater or micronode on RF. I have been asked
many times about how an IRLP node may be accessed from a personal computer,
and the answer is that you cannot do it. You must use a radio to operate
IRLP. You are not going to be able to set up a Linux computer to use VoIP
the way you would with a Windows PC and the Echolink application. Step one:
Get on the IRLP repeater and after listening for repeater traffic, make sure
that you can bring it up with a decent signal. Identify your station and
announce that you are bringing up the IRLP test reflector. Use the touch
tone pad to key in 9990, which will connect you. The reflector will
announce that it is connected. Make a test transmission identifying your
station, then release the PTT. The reflector will repeat your test
transmission so that you can assess the quality of your audio. Use the
touch pad to disconnect with the numbers 73, and once again identify your
transmission with your callsign once the reflector has disconnected. Do not
run tests when there is likely to be repeater traffic, such as during drive
Echolink: You can access the Echolink test server in several ways. You can
do it via RF, using your radio to connect through a micronode or
Echolink-enabled repeater, similar to the way it is done via IRLP. The node
number is 9999 and the procedures are similar. Be mindful of repeater
traffic and choose a low usage time of day when there is not likely to be
repeater activity. Most of us will not, however, need to test audio that
way. It is PC users who are most likely to have audio issues, and they can
easily access the Echolink test server from the Echolink software itself.
Choose "Connect to Test Server" from the "Station" menu. <Alt-S> will bring
up the menu, then arrow down to the test server and press the <Enter> key.
The server will respond with a message. You may then transmit a test
message. Identify your station and do a test count if you wish, so that you
produce enough audio to assess the levels. End the transmission and listen
to the results. Make adjustments to your microphone position, your
recording mixer settings, and your voice as necessary to produce good
results. Use <ALT-D> to disconnect when you are done.
If you monitor Echolink activity, such as the Handiham net, you will no
doubt notice a wide range of audio settings from the different stations
checking in. The human ear and brain combo has tremendous dynamic range and
can compensate for quite a lot of variation, but some signals are way too
low and others may blast away at your poor eardrums with high volume and
distortion. The users with poor audio levels at these extremes are almost
always using PCs, not RF devices or smartphones. That is because RF systems
working through connected repeaters and smartphones generally have enough
automatic gain control to adequately level the signal and produce a
reasonable result, while PC-based systems depend on user intervention to
manually set incoming and outgoing audio levels. This means that it is easy
to mess up the audio if you use a PC! Furthermore, other applications that
run on the PC may also use the audio mixer and decide on their own to adjust
the audio settings.
So, PC users, I am talking to YOU! Please be sure you check your audio
settings and be careful about maintaining them within a normal range.
Here is a useful Echolink Audio FAQ. <http://www.echolink.org/faq_audio.htm>
Next week's question: Do you take an HT along with you regularly (or have a
mobile rig in your car) now that smartphones are so readily available?
<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:
SSB Rookie Roundup: ARRL reports that the next Rookie Roundup will be
Sunday, April 19, using SSB. You can find the complete story on the ARRL
website. <http://www.arrl.org/rookie-roundup> This event is for Amateurs
licensed three years or fewer. It runs for only six hours, but is held
three times per year. There will also be roundups in August and December.
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 ROOKIE question. Let's
see if you can get the answer!
G1A11 asks, "When General Class licensees are not permitted to use the
entire voice portion of a particular band, which portion of the voice
segment is generally available to them?
Possible answers are:
A. The lower frequency end
B. The upper frequency end
C. The lower frequency end on frequencies below 7.3 MHz and the upper end on
frequencies above 14.150 MHz
D. The upper frequency end on frequencies below 7.3 MHz and the lower end on
frequencies above 14.150 MHz
Did you pick answer B? That would be correct, because you would have the
upper part of the band available to you as a General, while the lower
frequency portion of voice segments are for Advanced and Extra Class
licensees. Since the FCC no longer issues Advanced Class licenses, your
only option for an upgrade to use all of the phone segments is to pass the
Extra Class exam.
Both Handiham HF remote base internet stations are up and running.
. We had an internet outage at W0ZSW today. It is resolved, but the
host IP address changed, so the No-IP client had to be updated. It should
be working normally now. W0EQO is available.
. 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:
. New! We have acquired an Icom IC-7200 to try out at camp. These
excellent rigs come with built in speech.
. 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
available to everyone free of charge. Please email Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx
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