[Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 25 February 2015 This is a free weekly news & information update from the Courage Kenny Handiham System<http://handiham.org>, serving people with disabilities in Amateur Radio since 1967. Our contact information is at the end. Listen here: https://handiham.org/audio/handiham25FEB2015.mp3 Get this podcast in iTunes: [Subscribe to our audio podcast in iTunes]<http://www.itunes.com/podcast?id=372422406> RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software: http://feeds.feedBurner.com/handiham<http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham> ________________________________ Welcome to Handiham World. In this edition: * The lazy logger * The week's question! * Audio production delays blow in with March winds * A handy computer recovery tool meets an old wrench. * Check into our daily nets. * Take a dip in the pool: "Should" vs. "Must". * The Remote Base HF report: A new record comes out of last weekend's DX contest, the Luddite net, progress on the TS-590 testing setup. * ...And more! ________________________________ But first... The lazy logger - When you just don't care that much about keeping records. [Cartoon robot carring pencil] Do you log every contact you make on the air? I don't, and depending on the type of contact, I guess I'd have to say that it really doesn't matter. I'll bet you don't, either. Most of us have long ago conceded that it isn't worth the trouble to log casual contacts on FM repeaters. Many of those contacts will be mobile or portable, and let's face it - logging is a hassle and a distraction when you are driving. If you are out and about while using an HT, logging materials or technology are either not available or just really impractical. The ham shack is a different matter. On my operating desk - which is probably a lot like yours - I have internet access, lots of resources, and multiple radios connected to several different antennas for different bands and modes. Logging contacts is a lot easier, whether an entry is scratched in a paper logbook<http://www.arrl.org/shop/Amateur-Radio-Logbook/>, entered on QRZ<http://www.qrz.com/>, or logged via dedicated logging software. The problem for me is consistency. My logging isn't consistent. I've used several different software solutions, the most recent being HRD, Ham Radio Deluxe<http://www.ham-radio-deluxe.com/>. But even when I used HRD I've been far from careful about keeping good records. For one thing, the technology keeps changing. Through various upgrades of HRD and a parade of different ham shack computers, there has been no effort on my part to transfer log entries from an old system to a newer one. Of course there is a solution - cloud computing. Using the ARRL's Logbook of the World<http://www.arrl.org/logbook-of-the-world> (LoTW) is an excellent solution for secure cloud storage, but its user interface is clunky as a day to day logging interface, so most people use some other logging software and export their data periodically to LoTW. I don't use LoTW regularly, but do have an active account. Instead, I more or less log entries in HRD. The problem is that this is just the latest chapter in my inconsistent logging saga. This was brought home to me again this week when my main ham shack computer died. Yes, I'd been logging on that one for at least five years, and yes, of course I'd been doing regular backups. So eventually I will get the log file back, but wouldn't it be easier if this important file had been saved in a cloud folder, maybe OneDrive or Dropbox? I have Ham Radio Deluxe on several computers, including the one I'm using right now as a stand-in for my dead PC. It would have been really convenient if all of those versions of the logging software pointed to the exact same data file on a cloud drive. That is certainly one strategy I will be looking into when I rebuild my computer system in the upcoming weeks. It's clear that a combination of laziness, technology change, and system failure can contribute to inconsistent logging. Paper logs are still available, but no one seriously considers them in today's competitive world of radiosport, except under special circumstances. Even casual operators appreciate the way modern software can populate the mode and frequency fields along with the time in your choice of format. A callsign, once entered in the software, can be looked up for address information right within the logging interface. In a contest or special event, the software finds duplicates almost instantly. The software even tracks your progress toward specific awards. Thus, best practices for logging contacts becomes best practices in software setup and management! Look, I admit that I've been a lazy logger. Software won't solve that problem, but if it is easy to use across a variety of devices and I switch to saving logging data in the cloud, even a sometimes lazy logger like me can make those contacts add up! (For Handiham World, this is Pat Tice, WA0TDA.) ________________________________ [Drawing of a computer] Last week's question: Here's the scenario we threw out there to you. * You've just gotten your General Class license. Before this, a dual-band VHF/UHF vertical antenna served your needs well for FM repeater operation. But now, partly because you are interested in checking into regional and statewide HF nets on 40 and 75 meter SSB, you would like to put up a new HF antenna. Which would be better, a multiband vertical, or a wire antenna system? The first answer I got is quite a good one, and answers the question in a way I didn't expect: The simplest answer to "what antenna is best?" is "that one you can put up." We'll ignore that lucky few who have enough space and money for a real antenna farm - I never have had and never will. First, don't give up if you can only put up a low hanging inverted V, or a ground-mounted vertical with a couple short radials. These may not be "best" antennas for any mode or type of operating, but you can make contacts with anything beyond a light bulb and maybe even with a bulb. Put up whatever you can and practice operating with it. A full-sized vertical with a whole pasture full of buried radials would be grand for DX and a couple of sky high dipoles or wire beams could also be grand for the same purpose, but I've had great fun with random length long wires with single counterpoises and even a short loaded vertical with a single radial just above ground. Worrying about whether most hams use horizontal or vertical antennas is a waste of time, both polarizations are popular, so again... get something up and use it. You'll only find out what you really want by trying stuff. That from me who has been in my new (old) house for coming up on two years and can't even figure out how to get the coax from the proposed shack in the living room to the back deck without making a mess. Had I my absolute preference I'd love to have a full wave horizontal square loop up about 40 feet fed with open wire line to an autotuner but it won't fit on my 50/90 city lot. I'll get it figured out some time <GRIN> 73, Tom Fowle WA6IVG Tom is right. Very few of us have room for the antenna that we want. Therefore, we examine the situation and make antenna decisions based on what will fit the space and the budget. The "best" antenna therefore becomes the one that fits. Next, this observation: I live in an apartment, and have limited space, I have a multiband antenna, and currently work 10, 15. 20, 40, and 2m. The only reason I don't use a wire antenna, is the way this one was so easy to install, plus, my landlord liked the idea of my multibander, much, much better. Mike Gruteke-K3BRJ And this is actually what I was sort of thinking myself: For regional and statewide nets on 40 and 75, the wire definitely. I have a wire and a vertical and the vertical is great for DX, but I'm net manager on the first region NTS net on 75 meters and it's useless for more local communications like that. DX, it's great though so definitely the wire for regional and statewide. John N1UMJ Thanks to these contributors and to everyone who sent in an answer. There isn't really a single path to the "best" antenna, then - so put up as many of them as you can get away with! This week's question: Have you ever had a computer fail? If so, how did you recover your files? 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. <mailto:Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx?subject=The%20weekly%20question> ________________________________ Delays expected in audio production and distribution: Hey, there's a reason we are asking you about computer file recovery. When my main ham shack computer failed, I was certainly inconvenienced by not having my logbook data file and my rig control program. But I didn't mention that the same computer is the one I use to do all of my audio production, stuff like DAISY books, the audio lectures, even this podcast. Although everything was backed up daily, a replacement computer has still not been shipped and that means there will be a delay in our audio production for March. This doesn't affect my secure office computer of course, nor does it have any effect on our remote base hosting computers. If you are wondering how I managed this week's audio for the Handiham World, it's my ham shack backup computer - a spare that I keep around and updated regularly. It's the "belt & suspenders" theory of keeping my ham shack running! I do have some recovery hardware available. My toolkit includes a handy device, a power supply and SATA/USB hard drive interface. This thing allows you to take a hard drive out of a PC, plug it into the SATA to USB powered interface, and then plug the USB into a working computer for access to the data on the drive. This is appropriate as long as a failed hard drive is not the original problem. My PC has a main board or CPU failure, which I suspect was delayed damage caused by a summer lightning strike that actually took out part of the graphics card. These SATA/USB devices are fairly cheap - $20 or less. They are not for permanent installations, but can sure come in handy in your workshop. Isn't it fun to consider how the tools we need to keep a ham radio station up and running are different than those when many of us were first licensed? Tube testers are long gone, but some of us still have transistor checkers. And now we need all sorts of computer tools that include both hardware and software! The oldest tools in my shop are a three piece set of Globemaster wrenches. I had needed some tools as a newly-licensed ham, and could afford only cheap off-brand wrenches. These were made in the late 1960's or early 1970's in India. Who knew that they would survive decades of use that included a lot of tower work and 50 foot drops to the ground below? They still work great and would stand up well to the expensive brands. From old to new tools, you need them all if you like to fix things. Guys like collecting tools, but you knew that. [Globemaster 1/2 inch open end wrench and SATA to USB interface.] Photo: The old meets the new: The Globemaster 1/2 inch wrench and the SATA to USB computer hard drive interface tool. ________________________________ Check into our Handiham nets... Everyone is welcome! [Cartoon multicolored stickman family holding hands, one wheelchair user among them.] Our daily Echolink net continues to operate for anyone and everyone who wishes to participate 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). 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, VE6UE. ________________________________ A dip in the pool [circuit board] 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 sample the following slightly-modified question. Let's see if you can get the answer! G0B15 asks, "Which of the following is true of an emergency generator installation?" Possible choices are: A. The generator should be located in a well-ventilated area B. The generator must be insulated from ground C. Fuel should be stored near the generator for rapid refueling in case of an emergency D. All of these choices are correct The correct answer is A, The generator should be located in a well-ventilated area, which I'm sure most of us know. But interestingly enough, the Question Pool Committee chose to change an incorrect answer, B, which first read: "The generator should be insulated from ground" to the new "The generator must be insulated from ground". This makes me wonder if some people thought the word "should" somehow made answer B more defensible under some circumstances. I don't see how, but in any case answer A will clearly stand out as the best choice because of the serious risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from an unventilated generator. If I were writing that question, I would have changed the "should" in answer A to "must". Just sayin'... ________________________________ Obi 3.5 goes on duty! [Screenshot of Obi 3.5 DAISY production tool.] Having been forced by computer calamity to replace my old software, I'm heading right straight to the latest release of Obi, the open-source DAISY production tool. This software enables me to create DAISY books, the worldwide standard accepted by the Library of Congress National Library Service, which provides digital audio players for blind users. Our DAISY digest supplements some of the Amateur Radio materials already available through the NLS. The experience with Obi 3.5 is a good one. Download and installation was easy, and the program does not require excessive system resources. The end result will be a DAISY-compliant navigable audio book for our blind members. If you are blind or have a reading disability, including low vision or dyslexia, you may qualify for a free digital player through your local public library. To find out more, go to the NLS BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website and check out the program, qualifications, and procedures.<https://nlsbard.loc.gov/login/NLS> ________________________________ Both TS-480 Handiham HF remote base internet stations are up and running. In remote base news, we see a story on the ARRL website entitled "No One in the Shack as Station Logs 4200+ Contacts in ARRL DX CW Contest<http://www.arrl.org/News/view/4560>". Check it out and find out how six operators running K3TN may have made Amateur Radio history by running the contest as a completely remote-controlled multioperator station. It is one more example of how remote operation is coming into its own as a mainstream activity. Which reminds me... A user of the Handiham remotes told me that he was definitely not welcomed to an HF net, the reason being that "they thought HF remote operation was the worst thing ever", and I'm rephrasing the whole thing for sharing here. Sadly, even though we are and always have been a technical activity and ham radio has often pushed the envelope in communications technology, there are always some who are closed-minded and afraid of change. I remember the same sort of thing when SSB replaced AM phone, when PC-driven digital modes began to take a foothold, and when used computers began showing up on hamfest flea market tables - prompting complaints like, "That hamfest isn't worth going to. All that's there is computer stuff." Well, duh. The PC is a core technology in modern Amateur Radio stations. Why wouldn't it show up at hamfests? Going back to our guy who got told off by the "Luddite net" for daring to operate HF remote, the bigger question is why would you not welcome a newcomer to your net? It doesn't make any sense to discourage people from getting on the air! This is not a failure of technology. It's a failure of basic civil behavior. [Close up of TS-480HX keypad] Our two stations are W0EQO at Camp Courage North and W0ZSW in the Twin Cities East Metro. Please visit the remote base website for more information on the status of the stations, the W4MQ software downloads, and installation instructions. Details at Remote Base website<https://handiham.org/remotebase/>. We are working to bring a third remote system online somewhere in the USA Eastern Time Zone. Contact me if you are interested in hosting a Handiham Remote Base station.<mailto:Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx?subject=Remote%20Base%20Hosting> We are also looking for a new home for station W0ZSW here in the Twin Cities. The ideal candidate would be a local radio club with room for antennas, and a cadre of volunteers to help with the station. A testing team has been formed for a TS-590S station using the Kenwood ARCP-590 software. The station is in its earliest stages of testing and is not open to any other users. This week a new computer was installed and configured to run the matching Kenwood ARHP-590 hosting software. The W0ZSW TS-480HX will be unavailable at times because its antenna will be used for testing the TS-590S. If you find that W0ZSW is unavailable, please consider using W0EQO instead. We will try to test during low usage times, but some disruptions to W0ZSW will be unavoidable. ________________________________ Handiham office hours: We are on our usual Monday through Thursday schedule this week. Mornings are the best time to contact us. Please visit Handiham.org for updates and schedule changes. 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. We are always closed Friday through Sunday. ________________________________ FCC likely to act on Net Neutrality this week. [FCC Round Logo] The big news this week at the FCC<http://www.fcc.gov/> is the upcoming vote of the Commission on Net Neutrality. By "Net", we are talking about the Internet, not ham radio nets. The vote takes place on Thursday, 26 February, 2015. From Wikipedia<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality>: "Net neutrality (also network neutrality, Internet neutrality, or net equality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication." Net neutrality is a complicated topic, but if I could boil it down to what it might mean for ham radio it would be that the websites supporting Amateur Radio topics and services do need adequate bandwidth to operate properly. None of them are major players in the media market, and thus could be squeezed by big corporate sites that would be allowed to buy bandwidth if there were no Net Neutrality to keep the playing field level for all users. Check out this article from Smithsonian Magazine for an interesting explanation of Net Neutrality and how today's discussion of that topic once played out over a much older medium: radio. Guess what? Amateur Radio is an important part of the article! <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/debate-over-net-neutrality-has-its-roots-fight-over-radio-freedom-180952774/?no-ist> ________________________________ New audio: If you are a Handiham member and want a weekly reminder about our new audio, let us know. Watch for new audio Thursday afternoons. New audio delivery production will be seriously affected by my computer crash. I hope to restore audio production as soon as possible, but even with access to all the files on my old hard drive, it is proving hard to find what I want and the substitute computer is old and slow, making it difficult to work with large files. We also expect a delay in NLS cartridge production during March. In the Technician Lecture Series, we most recently posted a new lecture on licensing and regulations. Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the March magazine audio digest for our blind members. Bob has begun the recording of the new 2015 General Class Question Pool this week. Don't miss Dave Sumner's article on Band Planning on page 9 of your March QST, or in audio in the DAISY QST from NLS or the digest from Handihams. Also in the members section: The February 2015 Doctor is in column has been recorded by Ken Padgitt, W9MJY. We also have QCWA Journal for February<http://www.qcwa.org>, and CQ Magazine for January/February (March release), recorded by Jim, KJ3P. Jim has also recorded the DXer's Handbook Second Edition by Bryce, K7UA, for our blind members. The new 2015 through 2019 General Class Pool, machine-recorded in DAISY by the Handiham Program; Beta 1 version in downloadable zip file format.<https://handiham.org/daisy/open/General_Pool_2015-19_DAISY_Beta.zip> Thanks to our volunteer readers: Bob, N1BLF Jim, KJ3P Ken, W9MJY ________________________________ Radio Camp News: We will once again be at the Woodland campus, Camp Courage. [Cabin 2, site of our ham radio stations and classes.] Photo: A Woodland Cabin with screen porch, fireplace, kitchen, laundry, and comfortable great room. Plan to work DX with the triband HF beam antenna. In addition, we will be installing several wire antennas fed with 450 ohm ladder line for high-efficiency operation on multiple bands. We will be able to check in to the popular PICONET HF net on 3.925 MHz. Radios you can try at camp include the remote base stations running the Kenwood TS-480, and get your hands on a Kenwood TS-590S or TS-2000, both of which will be set up to operate. If you have a special request for gear you would like to check out at camp, please let us know. Other activities at camp: * Campers needing radio equipment or accessories to take home and complete their stations should let us know what they need. Equipment will be distributed at camp. * We will have a Handiham Radio Club meeting that will include election of club officers and planning for the upcoming year. * The Icom IC-718 will once again be pressed into service on the camp pontoon boat for HF operation from Cedar Lake. All aboard! QRMers will walk the plank if caught. * We'll have time for several operating skills discussions and an EMCOMM exercise. * Anyone interested in a hidden transmitter hunt on VHF? If you want to get a first license or study for an upgrade, let us know. Camp dates are now published in the True Friends Camp Catalog.<http://truefriends.org/camp/> They are Tuesday, August 18 (arrival) through Monday, August 24 (departure), Please let Nancy know if you wish to receive a 2015 Radio Camp Application.<mailto:Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx?subject=2015%20Radio%20Camp%20Application%20Request> ________________________________ Membership * 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. MEMBERSHIP DUES PAYMENT LINK<https://pay.usbank.com/default.aspx?id=COURAGE_KENNY_HANDIHAMS> 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 We hope you will remember us in your 2015 giving plans. The Courage Kenny Handiham program needs your help. Our small staff works with volunteers, members, and donors to share the fun of Amateur Radio with people who have disabilities or sensory impairments. We've been doing this work since 1967, steadily adapting to the times and new technologies, but the mission is still one of getting people on the air and helping them to be part of the ham radio community. Confidence-building, lifelong learning, making friends - it's all part of ham radio and the Handiham Program. [Begging cartoon doggie] o The weekly audio podcast <https://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3> was produced with the open-source audio editor Audacity<http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/>. How to contact us There are several ways to contact us. Postal Mail: Courage Kenny Handiham Program 3915 Golden Valley Road Golden Valley, MN 55422 E-Mail: Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx <mailto:Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx> Preferred telephone: 1-612-775-2291 Toll-Free telephone: 1-866-HANDIHAM (1-866-426-3442) Note: Mondays through Thursdays between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM United States Central Time are the best times to contact us. You may also call Handiham Program Coordinator Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, at: 612-775-2290. FAX: 612-262-6718 Be sure to put "Handihams" in the FAX address! We look forward to hearing from you soon. 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 Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx<mailto:Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx> for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new address. Return to Handiham.org<http://handiham.org> This message contains information that is confidential and may be privileged. Unless you are the addressee (or authorized to receive for the addressee), you may not use, copy or disclose to anyone the message or any information contained in the message. If you have received the message in error, please advise the sender by reply e-mail and delete the message.