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

  • From: <Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2014 14:23:42 -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, 19 November 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.

Cartoon world with radio tower

Switching between antennas?  

Let's think about this a little.  Do you have more than one antenna and use
these antennas with a single radio?  If so, you are either using antenna
switches or connecting and disconnecting coaxial lines manually.  

two position antenna switch

Manually switching feedlines gets old quickly.  It's okay if you are running
a short test or some such thing, but if you have a need to change antennas
on a regular basis, you will want to have an antenna switch in place.  PL
connectors have a screw-on head, which makes them secure when properly
installed but a hassle to remove and reinstall.  What choices do you have to
switch antennas more conveniently?

Close up of TS-480HX showing antenna switch in upper left corner.

Look closely:  In this photo of a TS-480HX the antenna switch is in the
upper left corner.  "ANT 1/2" is its label. 

One possibility may be built right into your existing radio!  If you have an
antenna selection switch and two or more antenna connectors on the back of
your radio, you have the simplest solution possible - change antennas at the
touch of a button.  The radio's memory settings may even be capable of
storing the preferred antenna for each band.  But you may have a need for
antenna selections or you may have a radio that does not have a built in
antenna switch. In that case, you can add a manual antenna switch that
allows for two or more feedline selections.  The manual switch is installed
with a short feedline jumper between the antenna jack on the radio and the
common jack on the switch.  The various feedlines are then connected to the
switch, which may be switched manually as necessary, depending on the band
to be used.  This kind of switch may be necessary to select feedlines that
must carry higher power levels.  If you use an amplifier, built-in antenna
switches are not going to work.  The switch must be installed after the
amplifier and before the antennas to be selected. External dedicated antenna
switches can be selected to handle high power levels.  

Another possibility is to utilize an external antenna tuner with a built-in
antenna switch.  Such switches are a common feature of external tuners,
whether manual or automatic. A touch of a button can switch between antennas
connected to my LDG AT-200PRO Autotuner.

LDG AT-200 close up, pointing out ANT switch button

Manual tuners have built-in switches that function like external switches.
Their detents may prove a bit hard to handle for people whose disabilities
include weakness in the hands and arms.  Fortunately, the switches built
into autotuners like the LDG and into radios like most late-model Kenwoods
are easy to use and require almost no physical effort beyond a button press.

There may be a need to switch feedlines remotely, well away from the
operating position.  Fortunately, you can buy remote switches that you can
locate far from the operating position, potentially saving quite a bit of
feedline and allowing you to have a neat installation with only a single
feedline running through the outside wall to your ham shack.  The MFJ-4712
remote switch <http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-4712>
allows you to select either of two antennas remotely without having to
install a separate power or control cable.  The feedline itself carries the
DC power to toggle the switch.   Let's say that you have a tower out in the
back yard and a triband beam up top.  You also have a multiband dipole
antenna for the lower frequency bands and decide to hang it on the tower
below the beam, deploying it in inverted vee configuration.  Instead of
running a second feedline all the way up the tower, you could opt to install
the antenna switch (which even comes with a U-bolt to mount it to the tower)
and save a second run of feedline out to the yard and up the tower.  One
switched feedline would serve both antennas, when connected to the switch
and to two shorter lines, one to each antenna's feedpoint. Only a single gas
discharge lightning arrestor need be put into the single line, another
savings.  The single line can also be looped to prevent high current from
entering the ham shack. Only one drip loop need be installed at the entry
point, to keep water from flowing along the coax and into the wall of the

One thing you want to do when switching complicated arrangements of radios
and antennas is to take a few minutes to diagram the system, making sure
that you have thought out all of the wiring.  I know a fellow who made the
mistake of switching the output of a transmitter directly into the input of
a nearly-new transceiver.  Needless to say, the transceiver was damaged and
had to make a trip to the repair shop.  Carefully planning your switching
system can help you to avoid mistakes.  When you begin the actual wiring,
use labels or tags to mark the leads so that you don't get them mixed up.
What you think will always be obvious or easily remembered later on could
turn out to be a mysterious head-scratcher a couple of years later when
something needs maintenance.  Labels help to demystify the situation. If you
are blind, tactile labels work well.  Some switching options, like the LDG
AT-200PRO autotuner, have LED indicators when switching and are not blind
accessible.  However, you can usually hear the difference when switching
antennas so this may still work.  

One last thing you may want to switch in and out of your antenna line is a
dummy load.  This can be handy for testing, and is an accessory that is much
more likely to actually be used if you don't have to put it in the line
manually.  A switched in dummy antenna load is much more convenient.

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

Don't forget our nets...

·         Check in with Avery, K0HLA, as he conducts the Morse Code Practice
Net immediately following the Thursday evening Handiham Net on the Echolink
and IRLP-enabled network. The code net begins at approximately 8:00 PM
Central Time on *HANDIHAM*, Echolink node 494492, and on IRLP 9008.
Check-ins are taken both in CW and on phone!  

Avery, K0HLA, sends Morse code.

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

·         Before we get on the net tonight, let's check our audio level
settings.  I've noticed quite a lot of overdriving into distortion on
Echolink lately.  If you use a computer for Echolink, the settings have to
be adjusted manually in the recording mixer in Windows.  Most smartphone
users will not have to worry because the AGC built in will control the
levels quite well.  All the usual good microphone practices should be
followed when entering the system via RF.  Don't shout into the mic, hold
the mic correctly just a bit off to the side of your mouth, and operate in a
quiet environment when you can. Use the Echolink Test Server to test your
audio, or get independent reports from other stations. 

·         A big THANK YOU to all of our net control stations and to our
Handiham Club Net Manager, Michael, VE6UE. 

Speaking of getting on the air...

·         The ARRL "Red Badges" will be out and about on Saturday, November
22nd, according to a story on ARRL.org.  Maybe you can make an on the air
november-22>   The event starts on Friday evening USA time. 

What are YOU reading?

Pat, WA0TDA, sitting in chair with doggie Jasper on his lap. Reading book by
Photo:  Pat, WA0TDA, reads to Jasper the dog.  The most excellent thriller
that is obviously captivating both is "The Winship Affair
_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416423197&sr=8-1&keywords=winship+affair> ", by long-time
Handiham volunteer Phil Temples, K9HI.  

Taking stock:

Let's find out what's going on.  

·         HF remote development project:

o    We think that the time has come to add more HF remote base capability
to our Handiham members.  All you have to do is look at the trends we see
today in our ham radio demographic.  Many younger people are opting for
smaller houses in urban areas or condo or apartment living in central
cities. Baby boomers are downsizing and moving to condos or traveling south
for the winter every year.  The standalone single-family home on a sizable
suburban lot that can accommodate HF antennas is getting less and less

o    People with disabilities are even less likely than the overall ham
radio population to be able to have and maintain HF antenna systems.
Furthermore, many don't drive or own vehicles, so HF mobile operation is not
an option. How are we going to help people who want to get on HF do so in
the coming years?

o    We think that HF remote base operation is an option whose time has
arrived.  We even see pay-for ham radio stations that are available for a
joining fee and a per minute usage charge becoming a popular option for
those who cannot set up their own stations with effective antennas.  More
and more operators are even remoting their own home stations so that they
can get on the air by controlling the transceiver in their home ham shack
remotely while they travel. What was once the purview of a few experimenters
has become mainstream.

o    The Handiham Program would like to set up another HF remote somewhere,
so we will be on the lookout for a club or individual with the right
situation to take on this project.  The ideal candidate would have plenty of
antenna space, be willing to share existing antenna facilities at least part
of the time with the remote station, have good internet service, and have
technical ability.  The ideal setup would be a club-supported project since
there would be enough tech support. 

o    New Handiham HF remotes will continue to be a free member service.  We
want you to get on the air and make use of that license you worked so hard
to earn!  

·         In the meantime, both existing Handiham HF remote base internet
stations are up and running:  W0EQO at Camp Courage North and W0ZSW in the
Twin Cities East Metro.   

o    Please remember that Skype is the preferred audio source for both
radios, but is REQUIRED for transmitting via W0EQO.  Users who try to make
do with IRB Sound on W0EQO will get reports of dropouts and intermittent
audio when transmitting.  

o    I see that there are some things that need updating in the remote base
support pages.  Please let me know if you run across things that are
confusing or incorrect.

·         Other remote base news:

o    Initial testing will begin soon on a Flex 5000 radio.  We are hoping to
remote this fine radio for the use of Handiham members. I will be working
with volunteers on this project. We will be exploring accessibility as we
look at the rig control software. 

·         New office hours: 

o    We are open Monday through Thursday.  Mornings are best for calls.  

§  There will no longer be a Friday New Audio Notification email from
handiham-notify. Instead, this message will be sent out on another day,
usually Thursdays.  

§  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.  

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

§  Our nets continue as usual.  

§  The telephone and email will not be answered on Fridays. 

·         Equipment Program hibernates!  

o    Due to the unexpectedly early arrival of winter I now have less access
to the offsite equipment storage. It is really cold here and I have to
shovel the snow away from the door to get in.  That puts the equipment
program in slow motion, so it is going into hibernation like a sleepy bear. 

New audio:  If you are a Handiham member and want a weekly reminder about
our new audio, let us know. (If you are already getting the Friday reminder,
don't do anything - It will come earlier in the week.) 

Thanks to our volunteer readers:

o    Bob, N1BLF 

o    Jim, KJ3P

o    Ken, W9MJY 

·         WA0CAF likes a story he found on the ACB website about tactile
It's a product evaluation of TactiPad with TactileView software in the
November AccessWorld <http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw151105> ®
magazine.  Check it out on the ACB website. 

·         Be a NASA Summer Intern!  Ken, KB3LLA, sends out a call to
students who are interested in STEM careers.

·         Looking for a free software DAISY player for your Windows

o    You should really try AMIS, the free, open-source DAISY player.  AMIS
is pronounced "ah-mee".  It is available directly from the DAISY Consortium
in multiple languages as it is a worldwide effort.  

o    AMIS screenshot showing Subelement G2
Here is a screenshot of AMIS, reading the General Class Question Pool.  For
sighted users who have reading disabilities, the text currently being voiced
is highlighted in bright yellow.  Blind users will enjoy the self-voicing
feature of AMIS, which can also be used easily with screenreading software.
You can navigate directly to the section of a book that you want. 

o    Here is the AMIS download page. <http://www.daisy.org/amis/download/>
The recommended system configuration is listed on this page.  Although
Windows 8 and 8.1 are not in the list, we can confirm that AMIS works well
on these new versions of Windows.  

·         Radio Camp News: We are considering Radio Camp dates for 2015.  In
play would be the time period from Tuesday, August 18 (arrival) through
Monday, August 24 (departure),  We think this will allow campers who travel
by air to get cheaper tickets.  Please note that camp planning is in its
early stages and we have not set the exact timing yet.   Please let Nancy
know if you wish to receive a 2015 Radio Camp Application.

Great room in cabin two.
Photo:  A Radio Camp cabin. 

·         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    It is almost year-end, and we hope you will remember us in your 2014
giving plans.  

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
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, 19 November 2014 - Patrick.Tice