[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 16 July 2014

  • From: <Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:54:44 -0500

Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for
the week of Wednesday, 16 July 2014

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

Listen here:

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Welcome to Handiham World.

Planning for that next phase in life

View of condo apartments with balconies and lawn with trees and light

Right now I'm looking at a photo of my mother-in-law's assisted living condo
building and grounds.  There are balconies outside the second floor units
and patios outside the ground floor units. A spacious lawn falls away gently
to the right, punctuated by light standards and trees.  

She isn't a ham radio operator, but I am, and when she moved to assisted
living recently I couldn't help thinking about what I would do to stay on
the air if I decided to make a move to an apartment or condo.  Would I have
to give up my ham radio hobby, or be content with VHF/UHF FM operation on
local repeaters?  Only this morning I talked on Echolink with a fellow ham
who was shopping around for an assisted living condo.  

Let's face it - The time will come for most of us when something will cause
us to make a move to something other than a single-family home with a yard
for HF antennas.  What options will we have to continue talking to our
friends on the HF bands?  What if the local FM repeater is not within range?
What if the condo association says "no" to antennas?

Well, here's the thing:  You have to make the best of your options.  When I
talked with my friend this morning, we both knew that he was shopping around
for condos, which meant that he was in the driver's seat and had some
choices.  If you know you are going to make a move in the near future, do
some homework and look for a ham radio friendly environment.  Time is your
ally when you have enough of it, but can be your worst enemy when you find
yourself needing to move almost immediately.  No one relishes a move, but
sometimes job, family, or a health condition may require it, sometimes on
short notice.  

Depending on the circumstances, a change in housing may be transitional and
therefore temporary.  If you know your "stay" is going to be only a few
weeks, you may want to just stick with the relatively simple VHF/UHF HT or a
mobile rig and power supply with an indoor mag mount antenna or an indoor
J-Pole.  Since internet access is usually available these days, you can stay
in touch with friends on Echolink or some other VoIP-enabled system.  It may
even be possible to operate an HF remote base station like W0ZSW.  

In the longer term, you will want more choices.  

If you are lucky enough to find (or land in) a housing arrangement that
allows for outside antennas, you can consider wire antennas, like an end-fed
Marconi design tuned against ground, or maybe even a vertical antenna.  If
you don't see any other outside antennas, you can still ask!  One assisted
living campus near us has allowed at least three separate instances of
outdoor wire HF antennas that I know about.  One antenna was an end-fed that
had to be over 100 feet long!  We cannot always get exactly what we want,
but sometimes we can get something that is good enough.  

If you absolutely have no outdoor antenna options, what then?

There is no way to sugar-coat the reality of a "no antennas" apartment or
condo.  Sure, you can try indoor antennas for HF, but I have stopped
recommending them altogether.  The reasons are several:

.         Noise from lighting, appliances, and switching power supplies is
just plain awful when you place your antenna indoors.  There are switching
supplies everywhere in great numbers these days.  

.         Indoor antennas increase RF exposure and can fall outside FCC
guidelines for safety.

.         Indoor antennas are necessarily very short and need antenna tuners
with a lot of range.  Their feedpoint impedance is very low and they have
virtually "single frequency" bandwidth for a given antenna tuner setting.

.         Indoor antennas can cause RFI for your own electronic gadgets or
those of your neighbors.  That means you can only operate at low power

.         Indoor antennas just plain don't work very well.

A cautionary tale

If you think you are going to be the one smart guy who makes his indoor
antenna system work, think again.  The odds are not only stacked against
you, but they are piled up so high that the pile fell over on top of you!  I
remember one guy who had to move from his house to an apartment.  A
volunteer from a radio club helped him put a wire antenna along the top of
the roof.  The volunteer then helped this older fellow set up his station
equipment at the operating desk, but the linear amplifier was boxed up and
placed in the closet.

"You can only operate with your transceiver", the volunteer told him.
"There is no way you can use high power, so I have packed the linear
amplifier away for you."

After a week or two, the poor fellow had some bad news.  He was banned from
operating at all in his apartment and would have to take the antenna down.
The reason was that he had hooked up the amplifier and transmitted with high
power, setting off all the building's fire alarms. 

Be creative

The fact of the matter is that you are going to have to be more creative to
stay on the air.  You can go HF mobile if you own a car.  You can join a
radio club with a club station.  You can operate remote base HF via the
internet.  You can use an indoor antenna and run QRP with PSK-31.  You can
make arrangements with a friend to periodically visit and use the friend's

None of this is like having a 75 foot tower with stacked Yagi antennas and
acres of real estate for full-sized dipole antennas, but you do what you
have to do. If you have time to do your homework ahead of choosing new digs,
by all means check out housing covenants and condo or apartment
restrictions.  Check out the policy at assisted living facilities.  It is
always best to plan ahead as much as you can, which will give you a better
chance of staying on the air. 

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator



Your Handiham membership qualifies you for membership in the FISTS CW Club.

Thanks to our good friends at the FISTS CW Club <http://fistsna.org/> , you
can use your Handiham membership certificate to join FISTS at no extra
charge.  Morse is a long-standing tradition in Amateur Radio, but it is also
a robust mode of operation with a large following, and remains the best tool
in your toolkit to collect DX contacts.  Next week we will be detailing this
new program, so watch this space!  

Another good story - from W1RX

J-38 code key

I was reading the story of a person in 1931 taking his code test and I
thought of my experience in taking the English 12 WPM code test.    

I was in Penzance, Cornwall for several months in 1993 and went to the local
Ham Radio meeting.  It was announced that in a couple of weeks a code test
would be administered by what I would call VE's.  You need to receive an
entire QSO with only the possibility of a few errors and then transmit
perfectly with no errors, but if you did send incorrectly you had to send a
series of dits and then start over on that word.   

The test began. I received the code as G3MYN de EA8bzh and the rest.  One VE
transmitted while the other took down my words.  They then corrected it then
went on to my transmitting with a straight key.    

One read what was to be sent while the other copied.  

"EA8hbz de G3MYN."

 I said,  "Excuse me, but is this a QSO between the two stations I first

"Yes, why?"

"Well, the EA8 station call is different in the transmitting part of the

They had to go back and check out the first part and never before had they
had a student correct the test!  I passed with no problems and when we go
over to Britain we meet the VE and he still remembers my correcting the
transmitting test.  I don't know how, unless they honored my USA Extra Class
license, but a few months later without my taking their theory test I got my
full English license, M0CHG.  

In 1999 I visited the Poldue club located right next to Marconi's plot of
land where he first transmitted from in 1901
<http://www.hamradio.piatt.com/poldhu.htm>  with the radio club's antennas
over the national landmark property with the Nissen hut
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissen_hut>  just outside the property.  I've
got a certificate for working stations from this Marconi site.    

73,   Have a great day,   

Paul, W1RX

Deadline is this week - 2014 Radio Camp (Saturday, August 16 through
Saturday August 23, 2014)

Minnesota Radio Camp registration is now closed.  If you have camp paperwork
and have not yet sent all of it in, please do so quickly so that we can
complete our planning for the camp session.  We look forward to seeing you
at Camp Courage in Maple Lake, Minnesota next month. 

Reminder: Monday is the day for Part 97 changes: Get an expired license

This month will see some significant changes for those who hope to get back
long-expired ham licenses. ARRL reminds us that the FCC's recently announced
revisions to the Part 97 Amateur Radio rules governing exam credit to former
licensees, test administration, and emission types will go into effect on
Monday, July 21. 

Read the entire story on ARRL.org.

FCC moves on web video closed captioning:

The Federal Communications Commission has approved new rules that will
require closed captioning of video clips that are posted online. The new
rules further the purpose of the Twenty-First Century Communications and
Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) by helping to ensure equal access to
all forms of programming by individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing when
they watch video content online. Read more in the FCC daily releases.

August QST is out:

The August 2014 QST digital and print editions are out for ARRL members.  A
notable article is one by Joel Hallas, W1ZR, and Martin Ewing, AA6G,
entitled "Noise - Dealing with the Buzz".  The title tells it all - and who
among us doesn't have some RF noise to either suffer through, locate and
remove, or somehow mitigate through digital processing or some other means?
Want to hear what different types of noise sound like?  Check out the
"Sounds of RFI <http://www.arrl.org/sounds-of-rfi> " on ARRL.org.


Practical Radio

pliers and wire

Practical radio - The loop that might save your station

The IC-7200 went to the rig hospital last week, damaged by a lightning
strike.  One of the W0ZSW Astron RS-20A supplies was also shorted out, and I
had a replace the network router.  And that wasn't even a direct strike!
All of this got me thinking about what sorts of things one can do to prevent
lightning damage.  I recalled seeing an article on by the always fun to read
Kurt N. Sterba in CQ Plus <http://www.cq-amateur-radio.com/>  for June.
"Protecting Your Radio Gear from the Highly-Charged Vagaries of Nature"
(subscription required) suggested one thing that I could certainly try:  A
choke coil in the feedline at the base of the tower.  I have had these in
the past, and they are discussed at some length in various ham radio
discussion groups on line. 

Now, you would think that there is some easy-to-follow consensus design out
there in internet-land based on all this discussion, but that is not the
case.  Krusty old Kurt suggests a few turns of coax formed into a loop about
three feet in diameter.  The internet discussions on "lightning loops"
suggest "no smaller than a foot in diameter", ""two or three feet", "maybe a
foot in diameter", "a toroid core", and so on.  You get the idea:  It is not
an exact science!

Here is what I suggest:  Don't wind the coil of coax tightly around a coil
form.  Instead loop it with two or three turns, forming a ring about foot
and a half or two feet in diameter, then secure the loops with cable ties.
If you have a tower, the loop can be located near the base for convenience.
The best time to install a lightning choke made of coax is when you are
installing the antenna and feedline, and the end of the coax is free so that
you can form the loops easily.  You can install the loop at other convenient
locations as well, but it's best to keep it at least a bit out of the way
and protected.  You don't want it to be eaten by squirrels or the lawn
mower!  You can see an effective loop installed at commercial radio station
KEYL in Long Prairie, MN here.
It's a loop of about 2-1/2 turns of commercial hard line coax secured to the
wall of the transmitter building just under the roof overhang.  It's secured
with nylon cable ties to keep it in the loop configuration. 

Most of us will not be using hard line, so it will be much easier for us to
form loops from cable like RG-213.  Cable ties and coax exposed to the
elements and ultraviolet radiation from the sun will weather over time, so I
like the idea of getting the loop out of direct sun and weather if you can.
Even if you can't, at least get it up above the ground far enough to that it
is not resting directly on the soil.  

Now, what is the theory behind this easy to make loop?  It's not
complicated; we are simply forming an RF choke that acts to block current
created by a lightning strike.  Keep the current down and we limit the
likelihood of damage to the station equipment. The RF energy contained in a
lightning discharge is a current surge, so you might say that this is a
"surge protector".  

An RF choke loop is only one part of a lightning protection strategy,
though.  We can't neglect proper grounding!  

.         Tip:  Check out the Grounding FAQ at ARRL.org for some helpful
definitions and links <http://www.arrl.org/grounding> .

.         Tip:  Refer to section 26.4.7 in the ARRL Antenna Book 22nd
Edition or to the ARRL Handbook for a discussion of ground systems. 

.         Tip:  Remember that current flows between points that are at
different voltage potentials.  A goal in your ground system should be to get
everything to the same voltage potential so that everything rises and falls
in potential in unison, which then means that current will not be flowing
between the various station components.  

This is practical radio - Keep the sparks out of your ham shack!


Handiham Nets are on the air daily. 


Summer doldrums punctuated by weather emergencies can make daily scheduled
nets operated on FM repeater systems quite the challenge. On one hand, the
net control station may find almost no activity because people are just busy
with summer things and not inclined to get on the air.  On the other hand,
you can be running your net through a connected VoIP system and have
dangerous weather conditions in one or more repeater coverage areas.  Of
course those systems should always be able to disconnect the net for local
emergency traffic, and in the event of local emergency traffic when the net
is still connected and time is of the essence, the entire net may need to
stand down.  This is the dual challenge of summer - extreme boredom and low
participation that may quickly be overtaken by the demands of emergency

Screenshot of Emergency alert monthly test

You may want to consider enabling your smartphone to display emergency
alerts.  Here is a screenshot of the monthly alert test from my Android
phone.  When the alert screen is displayed, an audible warning tone is also
sent, followed by a voice explanation.  

Listen for the Handiham Wednesday evening net tonight and try to answer the
N6NFF trivia question during the first half hour.  Check in later just to
get in the log and say hello.  The trivia question answer is revealed
shortly after the first half hour.  If you are up to a challenge, see if you
can correctly answer this week's question.

We are scheduled to be on the air daily at 11:00 USA Central Time, plus
Wednesday & Thursday evenings at 19:00 USA Central Time.  A big THANK YOU to
all of our net control stations!  

The two evening sessions are at 00:00 GMT Thursday and Friday.  Here in
Minnesota that translates to 7:00 PM Wednesday and Thursday.  


This week @ HQ

Cartoon robot with pencil

IRB station W0ZSW is on the air. <http://handiham.org/remotebase/>   W0EQO
remains restricted due to firewall issues.   We ask that users please don't
leave the radio in "split" mode or with the attenuator turned on.  Either
one of those can cause obvious problems for the next user! 

Reading online? You'll find the weekly e-letter online to be mobile-friendly
if you use the following link:


Email has changed.

Our new addresses are:

.         Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx

.         Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx

Toll-Free number is working:

We do ask that you call 612-775-2291 instead of the toll-free, which is
866-426-3442, if you possibly can, since we do have to pay charges on the
toll-free calls. 

Digests & Lectures

A reminder:  You may hear the old contact information, including email
addresses and phone numbers, in previously recorded audio lectures or
digests.  Please disregard old contact information and use our new email
addresses and phone numbers.  Similarly, old audio podcasts and HTML
e-letters will have outdated information.  Disregard it and use the latest
email addresses and phone numbers. 

July 2014 production news: 

The new Technician Lecture Series has begun with the introductory lesson.
There will be a second lesson this Friday in which we discuss radio signals
and explain things like the relationship between frequency and wavelength.
Log in to members only to take the Technician classes. The new Technician
2014 - 2018 Question Pool with only correct answers has been read by Jim
Perry, KJ3P.  Remember that this new pool is for all Technician Class
testing on or after July 1, 2014.  It is also available in the members

QCWA Journal for July is available.  Check the Handiham and QCWA websites
for the latest. 

The July 2014 QST Daisy digest by Bob, N1BLF, is ready for our members to
play on their NLS or other DAISY players. Jim, KJ3P, has completed the June
2014 CQ digest this week for our blind members, and Ken W9MJY, has completed
the Doctor column recording. 

We have some new recordings available this week. I have started a recording
project for Operating Skills, based on the ARRL book, "Internet Linking for
Radio Amateurs" by K1RFD. The goal is to make more information on VoIP
available to our blind members.  

Jim Perry, KJ3P, Bob Zeida, N1BLF, and Ken Padgitt, W9MJY do the volunteer
digest recording.  Thanks, guys!

Secure, blind-friendly Handiham website login:  

.         We ask that you please log in securely if you are using any kind
of a public network or unsecured wireless.  

Digital Cartridges now Stocked at Handiham HQ:  

Nancy now has the NLS 4GB digital cartridges and mailers available at our
cost.  She says: 

We now have a supply of digital Talking Book cartridges and mailers
available for purchase for our Handiham members.  The total cost for a set
is $15.50.  We will download any digital study materials from the Members
Only section of our website onto your cartridge at no additional cost.
Minnesota residents please add $1.13 MN Sales Tax.  

Pat holding up NLS digital cartridge and mailer 


Stay in touch

Cartoon robot with cordless phone

Be sure to send Nancy your changes of address, phone number changes, or
email address changes so that we can continue to stay in touch with you. You
may either email Nancy at  <mailto:Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx>
Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx or call her at 612-775-2291. If you need to use the
toll-free number, call 1-866-426-3442.  

Nancy Meydell, Handiham Secretary: 612-775-2291 (General information about
the Handiham program, membership renewals)

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA: 612-775-2290 (Program Coordinator, technical
questions, remote base requests, questions about licensing)

Mornings Monday through Thursday are the best time to contact us. 

The Courage Kenny Handiham Program depends on the support of people like
you, who want to share the fun and friendship of ham radio with others.
Please help us provide services to people with disabilities. 

Call 1-866-426-3442 toll-free. -- Help us get new hams on the air.

Get the Handiham E-Letter by email every Wednesday, and stay up-to-date with
ham radio news. 

You may listen in audio to the E-Letter at
<http://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3> Handiham Weekly E-Letter in MP3
Email us to subscribe:

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Kenny Handihams!
Coordinator, Courage Kenny Handiham Program
Reach me by email at:
 <mailto:Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx> Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

 <http://handiham.org> Courage Kenny Handiham Program
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422

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
<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx  for changes of
address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 16 July 2014 - Patrick.Tice