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Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for
the week of Wednesday, 22 April 2015
This is a free weekly news & information update from the Courage Kenny
Handiham Program <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:
. Daylight changes the bands. Is that good or bad?
. The week's question answered: Do you take an HT along with you
. Check into our daily nets.
. Take a dip in the pool: We look at statistics.
. The Remote Base HF report: W0ZSW scheduling comes up.
. May audio is in production and April audio is on line.
. There's some stuff on our radar screen this week, including a
privacy issue the FCC is asking about.
. ...And more!
But first, we are really starting to notice the longer hours of daylight
here in North America. How does that affect our on the air activity?
It seems like just yesterday it was dark when I woke up in the morning and
dark right after our evening meal. Believe me, I pay attention to this
because I have two dogs to walk. Anyone who has a dog knows that they need
to go out when they wake up in the morning, throughout the day at
strategically planned times, and finally for an evening stroll. You tend to
notice when it is dark outside because you may need to take a light to see
and be seen while walking along the park paths or in the street. During the
winter, when the nights are really long and there are few hours of daylight,
you have no choice but to hitch up the dogs and head out into the dark.
Doggies cannot wait extra hours for daylight.
Anyway, that pretty much assures that I know that there is more than enough
night to go around all winter long. Nights in the winter are primo for
great, reliable skywave communication on bands like 160, 80, and 40 meters.
But once we cross the line into the Spring equinox, the change begins.
Subtle at first, you notice a few extra minutes of daylight creeping in,
mostly at the edges. According to a really interesting article on the
unequal equinoxes on the Time and Date website, refraction in the Earth's
atmosphere adds about six minutes of
daylight to the day-night equation, effectively making the "day" longer than
the "night". It isn't long before the doggies and I are enjoying our
evening stroll in the daylight. Here we are only a month and two days
post-equinox and we have lovely evening light. Today the sun rose at 6:16
AM here in the Twin Cities and it will set at 8:07 PM.
That additional daylight comes at a price for HF operation on 160 through 40
meters. As the Earth's ionosphere <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ionosphere>
is energized by that additional sunlight, the D layer
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ionosphere#D_layer> "damps", or absorbs, HF
radio signals on those wavelengths and makes long-distance skywave
communication difficult or impossible during the middle of the day. As if
that weren't bad enough, all that sunlight hitting the ground heats up the
air above it and the rising air creates instability and drives
thunderstorms. The radio frequency spectrum is awash with the crashes and
crackles from lightning discharges. Again, the longer wavelengths are most
affected. It's not much fun to try to make contacts on 160 or 80 meters in
the middle of a summer day, that's for sure.
But in high summer the sun is beating down and the dogs and I like staying
cool. The basement ham shack beckons, but some of my favorite bands are out
to lunch until at least Autumn, when the days start getting shorter and
conditions improve. What's to be done?
There are always the higher frequency, shorter wavelength bands like 20, 17,
15, 12, 10, and 6 meters. These are also available on the typical modern HF
rig, and if you haven't explored them, you have some serious fun ahead. The
6 meter band can behave in surprising ways when summer band conditions
change to allow long-distance contacts, especially during the month of June.
If you haven't already done so, check out the KA0PQW 6 meter lecture series
in the Handiham.org Members Section under Operating Skills. The handy on
line "Amateur Dipole Antenna Calculator
<http://www.csgnetwork.com/antennaedcalc.html> " tells us that a 6 meter
dipole tuned to 50.125 MHz is only 9 feet and 4-1/16 inches long (2.846
meters). That is an antenna you can make yourself and fit in just about any
space in a small yard.
The 20 meter band stays open year-round and throughout the 11 year solar
cycle, making it one of our most valuable resources. It is also very
crowded! If you would like to try a band with similar characteristics but
with a bit more elbow room, consider the 17 meter band this summer. A
dipole centered on 18.144 MHz checks out as 25 feet 9 and 17/32 inches from
tip to tip, fed in the center. That's not terribly large, and it's also
going to fit in most back yards quite easily.
The 15 and 12 meter bands each have shorter antenna lengths still, at 21
feet 11 inches and 18 feet 9 inches respectively. These bands are less
likely to be open during sunspot minimum, but when they are open they are
often really open for great contacts, especially north-south.
The 10 meter band is also easy to match with a dipole length of only 16 feet
six inches. It's like 15 and 12 meters in that it's open most often during
sunspot maximum and only catch-as-catch-can at other times. 10 meter
signals can travel long distances when reflected off the F2 layer of the
ionosphere during daylight hours.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10-meter_band> Technician and Novice Class
operators have 200 watt SSB privileges between 28.300 and 28.500 MHz, and
that has created some fine opportunities for phone contacts in that segment
of the 10 meter band.
To find out if the 10 meter band is open, listen for beacon stations. There
is an excellent, very well maintained list of 10 meter beacon stations on
line at QSL.net. <http://www.qsl.net/wj5o/bcn.htm> I suggest that you
commit several beacon frequencies to your radio's memories so that you can
do quick checks of band conditions by simply clicking through them.
In short, don't give up on HF operation during the coming summer months.
There is plenty of fun to be had on the bands, and if you and your doggies
are escaping to the ham shack during the high summer heat of the day, give
20 through 6 meters a try.
(For Handiham World, this is Pat Tice, WA0TDA.)
Drawing of a computer
Last week's question was: Do you take an HT along with you regularly (or
have a mobile rig in your car) now that smartphones are so readily
KA0PQW writes: "Yes I always take an HT with me everywhere I go, even just
running around town. When traveling, I usually have at least two of them.
One is always in my backpack. A couple times I have been really glad I had a
radio with me. Once in South Dakota a friend and I were broke down in a
place where cell phones didn't work, but the radio worked and we were able
to get someone to call AAA to get a tow truck. So I think it's always a good
idea to have both a radio and cell phone with wherever you are."
W1MWB writes: "Although I have an iPhone and iPad both with Echolink
installed, I still bring my UV5R with me when I travel. I like checking out
different repeaters and chatting with the locals as well as using the
Echolink/IRLP service if available. I also have a mobile D-Star rig but have
not installed that in my friend's vehicle yet. Maybe next time we go to PA."
I have to confess that I carry my HT less than I should, but there are a
couple of reasons why that is so. The first is that I cannot hear any
Echolink-enabled repeater that would provide connectivity to the HANDIHAM
Conference. The second is that my local repeater, although easy to hear,
beacons an identification every 10 minutes and that interrupts my listening
on Minnesota Public Radio, even when there is no repeater traffic. When
traveling, I do like to take an HT along. I keep a copy of the ARRL
Repeater app on my smartphone in case I have to look up repeaters. I've
found that a mobile VHF/UHF FM radio is nearly useless if you don't have a
repeater directory along, and now that smartphone apps are available for
repeater lookup, they are great accessories whether you are mobile with a
mobile rig or with a handheld radio.
Next week's question: How does your ham radio operating change in the
<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:
If you are interested in working DX, check out the DX News website:
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,
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 take a look at changes in the Question Pool,
comparing the new pool to the old one.
To do this, we visit the excellent Hamstudy.org website and follow the link
comparing the pool released in 2011 to the new 2015 pool
<https://hamstudy.org/diff/E3_2011/E3_2015> . We find the following
. 39 questions that are in the old pool have been removed from the
. The new pool has 44 new questions.
. The total number of questions in the new pool is thus increased to
462 over the old pool's 456.
. We always expect some tweaking in Subelement G1, Commission's
Rules. In that section, 4 questions have been removed and there are 6 new
questions as well as 6 updated ones. The total is 60, and this is one
Subelement that you really need to pay attention to if you are studying for
your General ticket. Be sure, even if you use our current audio lecture
series, that you accompany it with the updated Question Pool audio if you
are planning to test after June 30, 2015.
. Subelement G2 covers Operating Procedures. Five questions have
been removed, 11 added, and 7 updated for a total of 59 questions.
. Subelement G3 covers Radio Wave Propagation. There is less change
in this section, with only 1 question removed, 1 new, and 8 updated, with a
. Subelement G4 is a large section and covers Amateur Radio
Practices. However, only 2 questions have been removed and two new added,
with 9 updated for a total of 65.
. Subelement G5 is often the most challenging for our students. It
covers Electrical Principles and has seen the removal of 3 old questions,
the addition of 5 new ones, 5 question updates, and a total of 44 questions.
. Subelement G6 covers Circuit Components. 11 old questions have
been taken out, 2 new added, and 3 updated for a total of 37.
. Subelement G7 is about Practical Circuits. This section has
almost no changes, with only 2 updated questions, none eliminated and none
added. There are 38 total.
. Subelement G8 is the section about Signals and Emissions. 4
questions are removed, 8 added, and 4 updated for a total of 33.
. Subelement G9 covers antennas and is also found to be a difficult
one for some of our students. 7 questions have been cut, 8 new ones added,
and 6 updated for a total of 58.
. Subelement G0 completes the pool with Electrical and RF Safety. It
has few changes this time with only 2 questions removed, 1 new one added,
and 3 updated for a total of 27.
If you are studying for your General, our recommendation is that you shift
into high gear and plan to take your exam under the old pool, testing on or
before June 30, 2015. If that is not possible, begin studying now with the
new pool. It will be some time before we can make a new set of audio
lectures as time is limited. Be sure your study materials, especially
practice exam websites, are up to date and you have chosen the correct
practice exam pool for whenever you plan to take the real test.
Also on our radar screen this week:
The FCC seeks comments on an NPRM proposing to make past Amateur Radio
address information private. This would affect only past, not current,
address information. Read the story on ARRL.org.
Norway is going to ditch FM broadcasting completely in a switch to digital
radio. NPR has the story about it
rst-country-to-eliminate-fm-radio> , as do a number of other news sources.
I think it is intriguing to us as Amateur Radio operators to follow
technology stories like this one. There is an active forum discussion about
it on the QRZ website.
NASA Science News for April 21, 2015 reports that "When NASA's New Horizons
spacecraft flies by Pluto this July, the spacecraft's high-resolution
cameras will spot many new landforms on the dwarf planet's unexplored
surface. They are all going to need names-and NASA wants you to help." Find
the complete story at NASA.gov.
Happy Earth Day! NASA Science News also reminds us that today, April 22nd,
at the end of a day devoted to Earth, people can look to the heavens for a
beautiful shower of Lyrid meteors
. If you work meteor scatter VHF, you might have some luck bouncingsignals off Lyrid burns