[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 19 February 2014

  • From: Pat Tice <Pat.Tice@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2014 19:17:21 +0000

[Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health]
Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the 
week of Wednesday, 19 February 2014

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Kenny Handiham 
System<http://handiham.org>. Our contact information is at the end, or simply 
email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> for changes 
in subscriptions or to comment. You can listen to this news online.

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Welcome to Handiham World.

[Pound Puppies pose with J-38 Morse Code key, courtesy N0SBU]
Photo:  Pound Puppies(tm) pose with J-38 Morse Code key, courtesy George, N0SBU.

To key or not to key?

That is a question for many new hams who have entered Amateur Radio via the 
no-code licensing structure.  Beginning with the Technician, there are 
automatic Morse Code privileges, since you can get on bands like 80 meters - 
bands that many new hams don't even associate with their class of license.  But 
check it out:  Technicians have CW privileges between 3.525 and 3.600 MHz, and 
can even use up to 200 watts!

New hams with fresh Tech licenses usually head straight for FM repeater 
operation, which is understandable.  They can get started in ham radio with a 
minimal outlay for equipment, and VHF/UHF antennas are much easier to install 
than HF antennas.  Mobile and portable operation is easier on VHF FM, too.  
Some will have entered the hobby because of an interest in public service 
communications.  Others will simply be interested in having a ready alternative 
means of portable communication.

These are all good things, but they represent only a small part of what one can 
accomplish with a Technician license.  I've come to believe that part of the 
problem lies in the mindset of us "old-timers", who still use phrases like, 
"When are you going to upgrade to your General license so that you can get on 

I've been guilty of that sort of thinking over the years.  In fact, it is 
pretty common following up on a successful VE session to suggest that newcomers 
watch for their callsigns to appear in the FCC database and then to get on the 
local club's repeater.  There's nothing wrong with that.  After all, we want 
our new hams to be engaged with club resources and to get on the air.  
Virtually none of these newbies knows Morse code, so there doesn't seem to be 
much traction in suggesting that they get started with CW on 80 meters.  
Acquiring HF gear, learning the code, and putting up HF antennas for bands like 
80 meters - all of these seem to be further out on the horizon, so we don't 
really talk them up.

But we should.

The way we do so makes a big difference, too.  We don't want to present HF code 
operation as a tall cliff to be scaled.  Instead, we are better off visiting a 
bit with our new hams as we congratulate them at the VE session - the perfect 
time to broach the topic.  Mention that the club repeater is available, and 
answer their questions about ARRL and club membership. But don't forget to 
bring up HF operation and the availability of the 28.300 to 28.500 MHz segment 
of the 10 meter band, where Techs may use SSB phone and up to 200 watts of 
power.  Try to make the following points:

*         10 meter phone operation is within their reach!

*         Antennas for 10 meters are relatively compact and easily installed.

*         Almost all modern transceivers cover at least 160 through 10 meters.

*         DX contacts are common on 10 meters when the band is open.

It's now obvious that getting on HF is not that difficult at all!  In fact, you 
can (hopefully) mention that the club has several members who can give antenna 
advice and perhaps even assist with an installation.  Once a new ham gets 
active on 10 meters, it is now only a short journey to learning new modes like 
Morse operation and trying other frequency bands.  Furthermore, that taste of 
HF operation on 10 can whet the appetite for more privileges and point down the 
path to General Class.

Sometimes I hear from people who want individualized tutoring.  They might ask 
if we have anyone available to personally teach them what they need to get 
their first license or an upgrade.  Some of them live in isolated small towns 
while others live in urban areas.  While our small program doesn't have the 
resources to be everywhere in person, we do have our on line audio lectures for 
Tech, General, and Extra.  It's a way to study for a license with at least some 
personalized assistance no matter where one lives.  We always refer our 
students to local radio clubs, though.  It's essential to building a full ham 
radio life to be connected with the local people who share your interest in 
radio.  I mention this because one area of amateur radio study where it really 
does help to have local support, and perhaps even individualized or small group 
learning, is in learning the Morse code!  Might a code study group gain some 
traction in your radio club?  You don't really know until you ask - and you 
might be surprised!  You could even find Extra Class operators who want to 
learn code so that they won't have to bypass those CW DX spots on the 
reflector.  But the biggest benefit is to be had from Technicians and Generals 
who will be able to use significant parts of the radio spectrum that they have 
had to pass by because they didn't know Morse code.  We can only do 
individualized or small group Morse code training at our annual Radio Camp 
session, but local radio clubs can have study groups any time, all year long!

Individualized tutoring can help when learning code, but what if you live at 
the end of the road, far from any club resources?  Hopefully you have internet 
access, because there are some good on line code learning resources.  We like 
AA9PW.com, which offers lots of ham radio licensing resources.  It's a great 
free practice exam website that also offers Morse code training and practice, 
including an audio podcast dedicated to code learning. Find it at:

While checking out that website, also take a look at the AA9PW HamMorse app for 
iPhone<https://itunes.apple.com/app/ham-morse/id315980140?mt=8>.  It provides 
an inexpensive portable way to use your iPhone to learn the code and then build 
code speed. The cost is $4.99 from the iTunes Store.  AA9PW tells you about the 
features here.<http://aa9pw.com/hammorse/> There are plenty of other code 
resources, but I feel safe recommending AA9PW.com, which has always offered 
good accessibility to our blind Handiham members.  If you live in the Android 
world, you may want to check out the free Morse Code Trainer by Todd Anderson 
in the Google Play 

Be sure to encourage your new hams to check out HF, and especially to follow up 
by learning Morse code.  They will thank you when they begin enjoying the CW 
portions of the HF bands and the opportunity to work DX!

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator

Where can I find the ARRL Band Plan?

*         Glad you asked!  It's at:

Is there a list of common simplex frequencies for 29 MHz and above?

*         Sure thing.  Let's go to the Minnesota Repeater Council and check it 

More info on DX Clusters:

*         Hi Pat and All,

Just reading the Handiham newsletter, and Pat's info on accessible clusters, 
and I thought I'd pass on the clusters I use.

Firstly, AC Log.  Even if you don't use the log, I believe the cluster area can 
still be used.  The area is entered with Ctrl+Z, and the Up and Down arrows 
move you through the list.  New spots are added to the top of the list, but the 
focus remains in the  same place.  If you have rig control setup, just hit 
Enter, and the radio goes to the Spot frequency.

AC Log also has a Watch List.  I read the Daily DX bulletin, and any callsigns 
that interest me are entered into the Watch List.  A beep is then sounded when 
the callsign comes up on to the cluster.  A line containing the callsign is 
also shown, and I have Window-Eyes monitor this line and automatically read it 

Finally, I use http://dxfor.me.  This shows a table of cluster spots, but you 
can enter a particular callsign or callsigns.  You can set an audio alert, and 
the bands and modes you want to be alerted about.  If the big DXpedition is 
FT5ZM, I check the audio alert, each band and mode I'm interested in, and enter 
the callsign.  I then save this for future use.
Each day I come into the shack, I enter the callsign, and all the check boxes 
are set as per my previous settings.  If I work FT5ZM on 20m CW and 15m SSB, I 
uncheck these, and now the audio alert will not be sounded for the bands I've 
worked.  Over the several weeks of the expedition, hopefully, most of the bands 
and modes will be unchecked, and the audio alert will only sound for the slots 
you need!

Best wishes, Kelvin Marsh - M0AID

Working to improve accessibility for radio amateurs with disabilities


2014 Radio Camp Operating Skills (Saturday, August 16 through Saturday August 
23, 2014)

*         Our study guide for 2014 Handiham Radio Camp Operating Skills will be 
the ARRL Public Service Handbook First 
Edition<http://www.arrl.org/shop/Amateur-Radio-Public-Service-Handbook>.  It is 
available from your favorite ham radio dealer or directly from ARRL.  Blind 
Handiham members should contact us for the DAISY version.  We will be happy to 
place it on your NLS DAISY cartridge for you.

*         Update:  NLS DAISY cartridges have arrived at Handiham HQ. Cost is 
$15.50 for cartridge and mailer, MN residents add sales tax.

Dip in the pool dives into the Extra Class:

*         Today we are going to dip our toes into the Extra pool.

Lately we are hearing quite regularly about how we can expect to see aurora on 
dark nights in locations away from bright city lights - following some solar 
event or other.  What does the Question Pool think about this phenom?  Here's a 
question that might turn up on your exam, so pay attention and you'll be one 
question closer to acing that test:

E3C01 asks:  "Which of the following effects does Aurora activity have on radio 

Possible answers are:

A. SSB signals are raspy
B. Signals propagating through the Aurora are fluttery
C. CW signals appear to be modulated by white noise
D. All of these choices are correct

This is one of those sneaky "All of these choices are correct" answers.  
Working HF & VHF can get pretty weird-sounding during auroral activity.  It 
sounds like nothing else, and you may run across it when beaming a signal over 
the poles.  Don't believe me?  Hey, check out this audio clip of a VHF CW QSO 

Space Weather News for Feb. 19, 2014 at http://spaceweather.com is reporting a 
CME IMPACT: A minor geomagnetic storm was already in progress during the early 
hours of Feb. 19th when a CME struck Earth's magnetic field. The impact 
revved-up the storm and sent Northern Lights spilling across the Canadian 
border into the United States.
Visit http://spaceweather.com for updates and images of the display.
Avery asks a question!  "What time is it?"

[Avery operating CW]

*         Hi, Pat - Do you happen to know how they measure time on the 
International Space Station and the Mars Rover?  ISS crosses so many times 
zones so quickly and Mars Rover is on a completely different planet.   If a 
person on Earth, Mars, and ISS wanted to meet at a certain universal time what 
would it be? How would they figure it?

All timed out...
73, Avery, K0HLA
*         That is a good question, Avery.  Since I didn't know the answer 
myself, I posed it to a NASA professional, Dr. Ken Silberman,  KB3LLA.  Here is 
his response, which is the most concise reply I have ever received from a 
government official:


Thanks, Ken, and there you go, Avery.  It makes sense to use GMT so everyone 
works on a common schedule in a situation that includes participants from 
around the planet and beyond.
FEMA App for Android or iPhone allows you to submit disaster photos

  *   I first found out about this in the ARRL ARES E-letter.  It's a 
smartphone app that FEMA has released to allow citizens to submit photos from 
disaster sites.  The description on the Google Play 

"The FEMA App contains preparedness information for different types of 
disasters, an interactive checklist for emergency kits, a section to plan 
emergency meeting locations, information on how to stay safe and recover after 
a disaster, a map with FEMA Disaster Recovery Center locations (one-stop 
centers where disaster survivors can access key relief services) and Shelters, 
general ways the public can get involved before and after a disaster, and the 
FEMA blog."

The app is available for free from the Play Store (Android) or for iOS (The 
iTunes Store.)  Just search for FEMA in apps. I plan to install it on my Nexus 
4 phone this afternoon.

Practical Radio

[pliers and wire]

Updates:  Install them or else.  Or else what?

Updates have become a part of our digital lives.  It seems like everything in 
the house has some kind of computer processor in it these days, and the 
software to run these processors sometimes requires updating to newer versions. 
 Manufacturers release things like "firmware upgrades" to resolve problems of 
one kind or another in the original version of the software that controls the 
device.  Amateur radio transceivers sometimes need these updates, but the more 
common experience is for our ham shack computers to get update notices - often 
every week!

These can be a hassle to install, because they take time and bandwidth to 
install, and some of them require user intervention at a fairly high level as 
well as a reboot of the computer or device.  No one likes being interrupted by 
software updates when they are using their computer for something else.

But can you safely ignore updates?

That depends.  If the update is a firmware upgrade on a radio, you can usually 
visit the manufacturer's website to find out what issues the update resolves.  
If they are not important ones, you can probably either ignore the update or do 
it at a later date when it is more convenient. On the other hand, if the update 
addresses an issue that is critical, you will want to take care of it before 
there is damage to the hardware.  What if the radio's cooling fan did not come 
on when it was supposed to and that issue was addressed in an update?  I'd say 
that you should do the update as soon as possible!

Computer updates are labeled as critical or important, or sometimes only 
"optional".  What should you do?  The thing to remember here is that 
internet-connected computers are at risk if they are not kept updated.  Hackers 
and malware can ruin your computer, messing up your files and stealing your 
personal information. This, in my opinion, creates a high risk and high risks 
need to be avoided as a priority matter.  That means that I have turned on 
"automatic updates" in my Windows computer here in the ham shack. I accept the 
inconvenience of being stopped or slowed in my work from time to time because I 
know that the updates must be done to lower the risk of losing my data.

You may have a reason for not doing automatic updates, but if you go down that 
path you must accept more risk.  Sometimes a middle path can work, such as 
manually installing updates once a week when you have set aside a time for that 
job and it won't disturb any other work on your computer.

Software programs are also set to check for updates and sometimes how often and 
when they do so can be user-configured.  For example, Ham Radio Deluxe will 
check for updates and bring up a message about them. This can be set for a day, 
week, or month check.  I don't consider updates to HRD to be critical to my 
operation, so I don't need to check very often.  On the other hand, software 
like Java should be updated soon after a notification about an available update 
is released.  This is because of security issues that can be introduced by a 
widely-used software process, and is much more critical to your computer's 

So should you update?  Yes, when the risk of not doing so is real.  Yes, if you 
have noncritical updates that will resolve issues for you.  Maybe - it can be 
your choice -  if there is no risk and the update does not address your needs.

This is practical radio, so use what works for you.

Handiham Nets are on the air daily.


Listen for Doug, N6NFF, tonight and try to answer the 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.

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!

We maintain our nets at 11:00 hours daily relative to Minnesota time.  Since 
the nets remain true to Minnesota time, the difference between Minnesota time 
and GMT is -6 hours.  The net is on the air at 17:00 hours GMT.

The two evening sessions are at 01:00 GMT Thursday and Friday.  Here in 
Minnesota that translates to 7:00 PM Wednesday and Thursday.

The official and most current net news may be found at:

This week @ HQ

[Cartoon robot with pencil]

Digests & Lectures

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

Secure, blind-friendly Handiham website login:

February 2014 QST Digest in Daisy format is now available.

CQ Magazine & CQ Plus February 2014 digests in DAISY format.  Log in and check 
out the new CQ!

QCWA Digest for February 2014 is available in MP3.

In Operating Skills: Joe Bogwist, N3AIN, opens his Radio in the Dark series 
with tutorials on how to use the new Kenwood TS-590S 160 - 6 m transceiver!

In the Extra Class audio lecture series we have recently covered antenna 
modeling and HF propagation.  Our latest lecture number is 60, and we are 
nearing the end of the series.

Worldradio Online for January 2014 has been recorded by Bob Zeida, N1BLF.  
Thanks, Bob!
  This is the FINAL edition of Worldradio as a standalone publication, due to 
the consolidation of several CQ publications.
Remote Base News

Both stations are operational. W0EQO was down quite a bit last week during a 
marathon session of updates!  W0ZSW had only a few minutes of down time during 

[W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North.]

[Kenwood TS-480HX transceiver with LDG autotuner]

Both Handiham Remote Base internet stations W0ZSW and W0EQO are on line for 
your use 24/7.

  *   If you use Skype for audio, please connect and disconnect the Skype call 
to the remote base manually.  The automatic calling and hang up is no longer 
supported in Skype.
  *   200 watt operation is restored on 160, 80, and 40 meters for Extra and 
Advanced Class users on W0ZSW.

*         Outages: Outages are reported on 

Operating tip:  Find out how to tell if the remote base station is already in 
use if you are using JAWS:

  *   Listen to the tutorial:
  *   Read the tutorial in accessible HTML:

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]

Don't care to download Handiham materials via computer? The NLS digital 
cartridge and mailer can bring you Handiham audio digests each month, plus we 
have room to put the audio lecture series or equipment tutorials on them, too!

Want to log in?  Let's go:

Secure, blind-friendly Handiham website login:

If you have trouble logging in, please let us know.

  *   All Daisy materials are in zip file format, so you simply download the 
zip file you need and unzip it so the Daisy book folder can be accessed or 
moved to your NLS or other Daisy player.
  *   Tip: When in the Daisy directory, it is easy to find the latest books by 
sorting the files by date. Be sure the latest date is at the top. The link to 
sort is called "Last Modified".
  *   You can also find what is on a web page by using CONTROL-F.  This brings 
up a search box and you can type a key word in, such as "September".  You may 
find more than one September, including 2012, but you will eventually come 
across what we have posted for September 2013.

Digital mailers are important: If you do mail a digital cartridge to us, please 
be sure that it is an approved free matter mailer. Otherwise it will quickly 
cost us several dollars to package and mail out, which is more than the cost of 
the mailer in the first place. We don't have a stock of cartridges or mailers 
and not including a mailer will result in a long delay getting your request 
back out to you.

DAISY audio digests are available for our blind members who do not have 
computers, playable in your Library of Congress digital player.  Handiham 
members who use these players and who would prefer to receive a copy of the 
monthly audio digests on the special Library of Congress digital cartridge 
should send a blank cartridge to us in a cartridge mailer (no envelopes, 
please), so that we can place the files on it and return it to you via free 
matter postal mail.  Your call sign should be on both the cartridge and the 
mailer so that we can make sure we know who it's from. Blank cartridges and 
mailers are available from APH, the American Printing House for the Blind, 

Digital Talking Book Cartridge, 4GB, Blank; Catalog Number: 1-02609-00, Price 

Digital Talking Book Cartridge Mailer Catalog Number: 1-02611-00, Price: $2.50

Order Toll-Free: (800) 223-1839.

The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital cartridges:

Get it all on line as an alternative:  Visit the DAISY section on the Handiham 
website after logging in.

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 
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> or call her at 
763-520-0512.  If you need to use the toll-free number, call 1-866-426-3442.

Handiham Program Coordinator Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, may be reached at 
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> or by phone at 

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 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:

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

Courage Kenny Handiham Program<http://handiham.org>
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 
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>  for changes of 
address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new address.

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

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 19 February 2014 - Pat Tice