[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 17 September 2014

  • From: <Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:20:36 -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, 17 September 2014

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

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Welcome to Handiham World.

Screenshot of HRD tuned to 3.730 MHz. 

Picture: The IC-7200 is tuned to 3.730MHz AM, and this is a screenshot of
the rig control software, Ham Radio Deluxe
<http://www.ham-radio-deluxe.com/> . In the latest release, 6.272, there are
some new features that even includes a friendly "Welcome to Ham Radio
Deluxe" audio message if you have the voice feature enabled.  

It's important to keep software up to date, and I've got a subscription to
the Ham Radio Deluxe updates for a full year following my purchase of
version 6 this past spring at Dayton.  As time goes on, all rig control
software programs age - some of them more gracefully than others.  I've been
using HRD for years and years, and have grown to like it.  Now that it has
become a pay-for software package, Ham Radio Deluxe is updated frequently.
One of the most exciting new features is the addition of a sound control
system that hopefully will eventually replace third-party software use for
porting the transmit and receive audio while remoting the rig on the
internet. At this stage of its development, it allows users of supported
radios to listen to their radios through the computer's sound system and to
use a computer microphone for transmit.  For some Handiham members, this
could be a nice accommodation that would allow the user to don a lightweight
computer headset, allowing for more consistent audio levels while
transmitting on SSB.  If the radio supports VHF/UHF operation, it could even
allow you to use a computer headset on those bands.  

The reason I keep coming back to this topic periodically is that remote
operation is now a thing.  Really!  The October 2014 issue of QST has a
review of pay-for WebDX Remote Station System
<http://www.remotehamradio.com/> .  The website Remotehams.com
<http://www.remotehams.com/>  has a simple, free remoting system that lets
you put your station on line and use other stations from the community of
users.  And of course we still have the Handiham Remote Base
<http://handiham.org/remotebase/>  system available to Handiham members.

Think about your choices for getting on the air.  Almost everyone can have a
"shack on a belt", which refers to a simple VHF/UHF handheld radio that
clips onto a belt or slips easily into a backpack or purse.  This can enable
the user to access local repeater systems, and sometimes worldwide VoIP
linked systems.  Since the entry-level Technician Class license has
virtually full VHF/UHF privileges, most beginners start with this kind of
radio, even though they also have some really great HF privileges that
include SSB phone operation on a segment of the 10 meter band. 

The problem with HF operation is the antennas that are required.  Even a
simple 10 meter dipole
<http://www.hamuniverse.com/10metertechniciandipole.html>  is about 17 feet
from end to end, and really should be mounted outdoors as high as possible.
While some newbies can manage to get an antenna like this up onto the roof
or strung between a couple of trees in the back yard, it still shapes up to
be quite a bit of work.  This sort of thing was just something that "went
with the territory" back in the days when the beginner license was the
Novice Class and everyone was required to get on the HF bands using Morse

Today things are different.  Between restrictive homeowner association
covenants that prohibit antennas to the simple lack of space or a concern
for aesthetics, getting an HF antenna up is more difficult than ever.
Remember last week how we asked you to write a letter to your congressional
representative on H.R. 4969
<https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/4969> , the
Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014?  While we certainly hope there is action
on that front, the reality today is that HF operation from your home just
might not be practical.  If you live in an apartment or condo, there may be
no way at all to put up any kind of outside antenna, and indoor HF antennas
are not really practical.  To operate from an apartment, a better choice for
you is available and that is HF remote operation via the internet.  We'll go
over some other options in just a bit, but first let's talk about how remote
base operation works.

If you have ever controlled your radio with your computer, you already have
a sense of how internet remote operation will work.  In fact, chances are
that the software you use for "local" control of your radio will most likely
also work for internet remoting.  Now, we do need to clarify what I'm
talking about here.  Most of us will not have the resources (as in lots of
extra money) to have a dedicated private remote base HF station at a
location that is removed from our home.  I knew one guy who was able to
lease space on a mountain to build such a private remote station, but that
is not the kind of remote station most of us will be using.  If you can
afford to buy or lease a remote location and get all of the utilities and
hardware installed, that is an excellent way to go.  Otherwise you will
probably be interested in using an HF remote station that is a "shared
resource", such as a club station.  

A club station, like the Handiham Remote Base station W0ZSW, does not
require the user to build the station or maintain it.  The club takes care
of club station maintenance, so if your radio club has one, club members can
enjoy operating on the club's HF remote station even if they retire and
downsize their own homes or travel south for the winter.  If you use a
community station like the Remotehams.com <http://www.remotehams.com/>
system, you can do pretty much the same thing, and this may be a good choice
if you don't belong to a club with a club remote base station, but you do
have to join the Remotehams.com community.  

A pay-for service like the WebDX Remote Station System
<http://www.remotehamradio.com/>  is well worth considering if you want to
use a top-notch system with an excellent selection of really great antennas.
If you are considering the WebDX Remote Station System
<http://www.remotehamradio.com/> , be sure to check out the QST review by
Tom Loughney, AJ4XM, in the Reviews column on page 53 of the October 2014
QST.  You can use an Elecraft K3 radio connected to the internet on your
end, even if you don't have your own antenna, a nice advantage of the WebDX
system.  It also allows you to operate from a computer running Google's
Chrome browser.  (Windows, Mac, Chromebook, or Linux will all work.)  To
join WebDX there is a one-time fee of $99 and a per minute usage fee that
varies from 15 cents to 49 cents.  See the QST article for details and
strategies on how to use WebDX economically.  You would most likely not like
to use the service for ragchewing because of the way the usage fees add up,
but it can be a way to work some DX on really excellent hardware!

So what are your other choices for getting on HF?

.         Some of the members of my own radio club have been getting on HF
by occasionally operating portable.  This involves getting a sort of HF
go-kit made up so that one can take a portable station anywhere and set
everything up like a Field Day installation.  Some radios even work on
battery power, but of course you will probably be running QRP if you do use
battery power, unless you are using option two, which is...

.         ...Operating HF portable/mobile.  This is a combo of using a
mobile radio installed in your vehicle and portable operation.  Here's how
it works:  You install your mobile radio in your car or truck, at least to
the point of being able to power it from the vehicle's battery.  It need not
be permanently mounted since it will not actually be in use while you drive,
but the 12VDC power system must be adequate and should be installed as if
you were operating mobile.  You pack your rig and antenna in the back, take
off for a good portable operating location like a park that is well away
from RF noise and that has enough room to deploy an antenna.  You use an
antenna launcher to string up a wire, and set up the rig in the passenger
seat, then get on the air using the wire antenna while you are safely parked
and don't have to pay attention to driving.  

.         You might also just do a permanent mobile installation, in which
case you mount the radio in the vehicle and also install a mobile antenna.
I still recommend parking while operating for maximum safety, and you can
also use this kind of installation with a field-deployed wire antenna if you
want more efficiency than the mobile antenna or if you want to operate on
bands that the mobile antenna doesn't cover.

.         If your club has a traditional club HF station, patronize it and
do your operating there.  Most clubs don't have them, but some do.  You
could always bring the topic up at your local club meeting!  One challenge
to the traditional club station is that the club's meeting space may not
allow for the installation of an antenna and station.  It is the rare club
these days that can have such a facility!

.         Temporary antennas at your home are another possibility.  A
landlord or facilities manager may be okay with you putting a temporary
antenna, such as a portable HF antenna
<http://www.eham.net/reviews/products/75> , up for a short while on a deck
or patio.

.         Indoor antennas are not out of the question, but only a few are
really worth considering.  These will be attic-mounted, such as an attic
dipole or a small high current loop.  Even then, I cannot really recommend
this as a very good choice.  First, indoor antennas are very, very good at
picking up all kinds of RF noise from every switching power supply and
appliance in the building.  Trying to hear anything on an indoor antenna is
truly an awful experience.  Second, indoor antennas are likely to aggravate
interference from your station to other devices in the building, such as
audio systems, radios and televisions, intercoms, smoke detectors, fire and
carbon monoxide alarms, and GFI protection devices.  Almost ANY other option
is a better choice than putting an HF antenna indoors, but there is also
another concern:  RF exposure.  Indoor antennas are more likely to be close
to others in the building.  You could easily exceed FCC RF exposure limits
with an indoor antenna!

To sum up, HF remote operation is evolving and getting really good.  More of
us have high-speed internet access and can use a remote system.  At the same
time, more of us are downsizing or moving to places where large HF antennas
are not practical.  Some of us may drive and can use HF mobile or go
portable, but for others that is not a practical choice.  Now may be the
time to give HF remote operation another look.

ARRL asks us to write a letter.  There is still time!

A very important piece of Amateur Radio related legislation is in the United
States House of Representatives, HR. 4969.

.         Constituent letters urging members of the US House of
Representatives to co-sponsor
<https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/4969> H.R. 4969,
the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014, need to arrive at your
representative's website or local office NOW!  The last legislative day for
the fall is September 19, and Congress will not be back in session again
until after the mid-term election.

It's easy to do.  Just go to the following ARRL page: 

Once you are there, read the concise summary of what this is all about, and
if you agree that accommodating ham radio antennas is important, go to the
HR. 4969 sample letter that ARRL has set up at the bookmark labeled "How can
I help to get HR 4969 passed?"  You will find a sample letter and a link to
your Congressional Representative.  Please note that you only need to make
up the letter that includes your name and address, make sure it is addressed
to your representative, sign it, and get it to your representative.   To
find your representative, look for the bookmark link "Who is my
Congressperson?" and to find out how and where to send it, look for the
bookmark link "Where should I send my letter to my Congressperson?"  All of
these bookmarks are on the page http://www.arrl.org/hr-4969.  

Because it is so late, consider phoning your representative's local office
to make your support of HR. 4969 heard.  Just say that you hope your
representative will sign on as a co-sponsor of the bill.

Take a few minutes to do this right now, today.  

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

And speaking of nets...

.         Our daily Echolink net continues to operate for anyone and
everyone who cares to check in 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).  Tonight N6NFF will pose a trivia question in the first half hour, so
check in early if you want to take a guess.

.         With 75 meters becoming more usable, consider checking into the
PICONET on 3.925 MHz, which has a long Handiham affiliation. It's on Monday
through Saturday mornings from 9 AM to 11 AM and Monday through Friday
afternoons from 3 PM to 5 PM Central Time.  Details and schedules are at:

.         Don't forget about our remote base station, W0ZSW, which is
available for your use. You can easily use it to check into PICONET on 75
meters or MIDCARS on 7.258 MHz.  The YL System net is happy to get your
check-in on 14.332 MHz.  You can find the YL System Net website at: 


Pat with NLS cartridge

Here I am in an old photo taken back when we first introduced the NLS
digital cartridges to replace audio tapes for our blind members.

By and large, the NLS cartridges have been a success.  They are easily
loaded with audio materials, hold many books, and are shippable through the
U.S. Postal Service the same way the old 4-track tapes were.  The cartridge
size has increased to 4GB, double the original capacity.  The cartridges are
mechanically more reliable than tapes, too.  The players are easy to use and
can drill through spoken word menus.

But there have been some bumps in the road as we moved our audio materials.
One that I never expected was what I'll call "the filename restriction".  It
turns out that the audio files that make up a DAISY book must not exceed 60
characters in length.  While that seems plenty long, you would be surprised
how lengthy descriptive file names can get when you are dealing with
technical topics.  To cut to the chase, we did produce some books with
really long file names in the content, and it turned out that those long
file names caused some of the NLS players to choke on the book and refuse to
go any further.  Recently I talked to a member whose old version of the
Extra Class audio lecture series had this problem.  Rather than assume that
the cartridge is defective, it should be returned for a replacement DAISY
book with "legal" file names.

You cannot imagine how frustrating this filename thing has been.  I couldn't
find it documented anywhere, either.  It is one of those examples of working
with a complex technical system where documentation has not evolved in
tandem with its technology.   Anyway, our DAISY cartridges seem to be
working fine now that I have learned how to truncate filenames automatically
while still retaining the audio file metadata with the complete naming

If you have a cartridge that doesn't work, please let us know.  If you
produce any cartridges yourself, mind the length of the filenames! 

And finally...

.         Last week we had an X-class solar flare and the HF bands were
stinko.  But one curious thing happened:  Six meters opened up and I copied
W1AW on 6 meter CW!  It's just a reminder that the six meter band can open
up when you least expect, so swing by 50 MHz once in a while to find out
what's happening.

.         You can find out more about the Handiham program, an educational
resource for people with disabilities, at our website, https://handiham.org.

.         Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, has completed his recording of the Doctor is
In column from the October QST.  It will be available for our blind members
by this Friday in the Handiham  members section. 

.         Speaking of QST, the October issue is the Annual DXing Issue.  If
you are interested in DXing, this is a must read for you.
<http://www.loc.gov/nls/reference/circulars/magazines.html>  If you are
blind or have a qualifying disability, QST in its entirety is available
through the NLS Bard system. 

.         Our phone and voicemail system suffered a serious problem the past
few days, resulting in no voicemail service and busy signals.  That problem
has been corrected and the phones are working again.  

.         W0EQO is still unreachable due to a firewall issue, but W0ZSW is
working well and available for your use.  

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
<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx  for changes of
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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 17 September 2014 - Patrick.Tice