[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 25 February 2015

  • From: "Tice, Patrick W" <Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2015 19:29:32 +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, 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:

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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. 


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 

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 

[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 

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 

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 
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 


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 

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 


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 


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 

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! 


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 

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 

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 

*        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 



*        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   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 

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: 

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>

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 25 February 2015 - Tice, Patrick W