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

  • From: <Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:33:08 -0500

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 March 2015

This is a free weekly news & information update from the Courage Kenny
Handiham System <https://handiham.org> , serving people with disabilities in
Amateur Radio since 1967.  

Our contact information is at the end. 

Listen here:

Get this podcast in iTunes:
 <http://www.itunes.com/podcast?id=372422406> Subscribe to our audio podcast
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RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:
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Subscribe or change your subscription to the E-mail version here.


Welcome to Handiham World.

In this edition:  

.         10 steps to a more functional ham shack.

.         The week's question: We answer and we ask!

.         Check into our daily nets.  

.         Take a dip in the pool: Three timely questions for you on HF

.         The Remote Base HF report:  Minor outage at W0ZSW during
maintenance scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. 

.         The TS-590S testing resumes soon.

.         April audio is in production.

.         ...And more!


But first...  Make your ham shack easier to use with 10 simple mods!

Icom IC-7200 and Bencher CW paddle

Admit it;  you really haven't put all that much time and effort into
planning your ham radio station, have you?  Like most of us, you discovered
Amateur Radio when your life was busy with school, work, or raising a
family. The ham shack didn't exactly get top priority, so it pretty much
just got set up where it was out of the way and radios, feedlines, and
antennas were added catch as catch can.  Now it is what it is:  a mess.

Today you have a little more time to think about it or you wouldn't be
reading this, would you?  Maybe you can take a few minutes to plan a ham
shack upgrade that will make getting on the air easier and more fun.  

Here are 10 steps to get you on the path to a better ham shack:

1.      Assess!   Maybe you never had time to do this in the past, but now
you do - and it will be time well spent.  Take a wide-angle view of your
entire station, from antennas and feedlines to the operating location.
What's wrong?  Feedlines that are too long? Wires running across the floor
or in the yard where people walk?  Poor lighting?  Radio hidden under stacks
of old magazines?  Make a list and think about what needs to be fixed and

2.      Now that you have your list, it's time to get real.  Some of that
stuff is so daunting that you would rather join the French Foreign Legion
than tackle it anytime soon.  But there are a few things on the list that
are pretty simple to take up, so prioritize and begin with those.  Revise
the list accordingly.

3.      Sit in your operating chair in the main operating position.  Can you
reach the radio's controls and any accessories you will need in normal
operating?  If not, rearrange the gear on the desk to put what you use the
most front and center.  Make sure that you can reach everything you normally
use to be on the air without having to stretch or lean over.  

4.      If making these changes in the positioning of your station equipment
requires disconnecting and reconnecting things, you have another simple task
to get out of the way right now: tidying up the wiring.  Running short leads
between gear, connecting grounding cables, and using wiring organizers like
hook and loop cable ties to bundle cables can really make a difference in
the functionality and appearance of your station.  Of course you can use
plastic wire ties, but they will need to be cut off and replaced if you need
to move a cable later on.  I prefer "hook and loop cable ties", which you
can get in long rolls like electrical tape.  They come in multiple colors
and are easy to tear off the roll one at a time, wrap around a bundle of
cables, and remove and reuse as many times as you want. 

5.      As long as you're organizing your cables, take a minute to label
them on both ends.  This may a minor chore right now, but later on you will
save major time when you need to replace a piece of equipment and you can
tell which cable goes where by just reading the label.  

6.      Now that your radio gear is organized on the operating desk, sit
back down and take a look at your ham shack computer. Can you see the
monitor(s) without craning your neck or looking off to the side?  What about
the keyboard and mouse?  Can you use them without reaching or twisting your
torso? If not, it is time to consider good computer ergonomics!  The
keyboard and mouse should be positioned a bit lower than desk height for
comfortable use.  Both should be more or less in line with the LCD screen.
The most natural keyboarding position is one in which you will not find
yourself twisting, turning your head, or reaching.  Pull out keyboard
shelves drop the keyboard down to a comfortable height while reclaiming
desktop space.  LCD monitor support arms clamp onto the back of the desk (or
can be mounted in a variety of other ways) to get the monitor up where you
can see it while also giving you more usable desk space.  You'll be able to
fit another radio in there!

7.      Sometimes overlooked as a piece of ham shack gear is...  Are you
ready?  The chair!  Yes, your operating chair is one thing you are going to
use EVERY time you sit down to get on the air.  It doesn't make sense to
spend thousands of dollars on radio gear only to plant yourself on a creaky
old folding chair or an old kitchen chair that was relegated to the
basement.  Consider a mid-grade executive office chair with plenty of
adjustments, swivel, rollers, and armrests.  It should be set to the right
height to allow for comfortable long-term use and swivel easily to allow you
to get up without having to move the chair back and forth or to easily reach
secondary equipment off to the side of the main operating position.  Good
back support is important, too.  You'll appreciate the way good seating can
give you an edge in contesting and add comfort to a relaxing day of casual

8.      Now we have you seated in front of your radios and monitors, feeling
pretty darned good about all you have accomplished.  The LCD screens are up
and out of the way, the radios are front and center where you can reach
everything you need for normal operating, and that new chair feels great.
Since things have been moved to their optimal spots and your seating has
been upgraded, it's time to assess your lighting.  Is the front panel of the
radio easy to see?  Are there reflections in the LCD screens or glare off
any shiny surfaces?  Is a bright light anywhere in your field of vision?  If
so, you need a lighting re-do.  Good lighting is usually produced by
multiple sources, none of which is positioned so as to glare into your face
or cause reflections in your LCD screens.  Overhead lighting can be improved
with diffusers to soften glare.  Some lamps like the drafting lights I use
are on adjustable arms and have metal shades that shield the direct glare of
the bulbs.  All are positioned to avoid being reflected in the three
computer screens that I have in my ham shack while still lighting the
equipment and desktop.  An overhead florescent fixture serves for general
lighting and its plastic diffusing lens cuts down glare and minimizes
shadows. I added a backlit keyboard for additional help, since I'm not the
best keyboarder and have to look at the keys once in a while.  Good
lighting, especially if it is adjustable for coverage and level of
intensity, can really add to your comfort during long operating sessions.  

9.      Hang in there; we are almost in ham shack Nirvana.  Next, we will be
managing paper.   Of all the potential ham shack cluttering things, paper is
just about the worst.  Fortunately these days the computer takes care of
logging, but there is still always some paper in the ham shack and in every
office.  My ham shack is both a home office and a home for my radios, so
paper management is a must.  Paper comes in as magazines, books, manuals,
letters, and whatever I scribble on a scratch pad. It goes out as recyclable
waste or it rests in wait for use, or perhaps it gets filed.  The one thing
it should not do is sit on the main operating desk!  Set up an "In" basket
or special spot for incoming paper that waits for your attention.  Designate
a special shelf for books and manuals that you use regularly as references
when operating.  Add a separate shelf or nook of some kind for current
publications that will spend no more than a month or two in the shack before
either being recycled or moved out to longer term shelving. Get in the habit
of dealing with paper as soon as it arrives, if that is possible.  Those
copies of CQ, QST, and other periodicals should be cycled through to keep
only the current and previous month editions on the ham shack shelf.  That
will keep them handy for reference if you run into a discussion on the air
that references something in a current publication.  Alternatively, use the
on line versions.  There's no sense having shelves of books you seldom use
within arm's reach.  Save that valuable shelf space for the manuals and
references you use often and keep the bulk of your library elsewhere.  When
you are finished with paper, get rid of it in the recycling.  Shred
sensitive documents and file important documents that you don't use
regularly but will need later on, such as licensing documentation,
warranties, and lesser-used instruction manuals. Nothing clutters like
paper, so don't let it cover your operating desk! 

10.  Yes, we have finally made it to the final final!  Just as in the
Amateur Radio Question Pools, there is a section about safety, which tops
off the pools near the end. Consider a list of emergency numbers posted near
a ham shack telephone.  A wall-mounted single-use fire extinguisher rated
Class ABC can be used against paper, liquid, and electrical fires.
-extinguishers>   You might also mount a smoke detector on the shack ceiling
or above the doorway.  

Now you are comfortable, happy, and safe!  Let's get on the air.

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


Drawing of a computer

Last week's question:  Have you ever spilled a liquid into a piece of radio
gear?  Did it survive its bath?  

This is a bad thing no matter what, I'll give you that.  Some spills are
worse than others, though.  If the radio is turned on at the time, there is
a possibility of electrical shorts being caused by liquids that contain ions
and that are at least somewhat conductive.  The resulting change in current
pathways and voltages can damage both passive components like resistors and
active ones like integrated circuits and transistors. A spill across high
voltage can be a fireworks-inducing experience... and it can present a
serious shock hazard as well. Older vacuum tube equipment in operation can
have hot glass tube envelopes shatter when they are contacted by liquids.
Any spill into AC-energized gear can result in a shock hazard, especially if
the outlet is not protected by a GFI - ground fault interrupter. 

A spill into a radio that is turned off is still serious, but not
necessarily going to cause permanent damage since there are no voltages
present and there may be time to drain the liquid away and dry the gear out.

In either case, you should disconnect the equipment from the power mains or
power source, doing so safely.  Assess the spill.  Plain water can be dried
out through various means, depending on the scope of the spill.  Check out
this eHam discussion about saving wet ham radio gear.
<http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php?topic=92116.0>   Other liquids
may not be so easily removed because they might contain sticky sugar,
conductive salt, or other ingredients that will coat the components and eat
away at the circuit board traces.  Cleaning with distilled water might be
necessary, but I wouldn't bet the farm on a good outcome.

Your best bet is to avoid spills in the first place.  Have a special spot
for your beverage container that is completely clear of radio gear.  Think
about what could happen in a spill.  If the coffee mug tips and the liquid
cascades like a waterfall onto an amplifier or power supply on the shelf
below it, you need to rethink things.  Desktop spills are annoying, but not
usually too much of a problem for the radio gear because the liquid quickly
flattens and spreads, and is not deep enough to damage the typical
transceiver, which is on rubber feet and a metal bale in the front, rising
above the desktop surface.   Even so, you can minimize them by always
keeping your beverage in a spill-proof cup, one with a snug-fitting top.  

The most potential damage comes from above the radio.  Never put a coffee
cup or a can of pop ("soda" if you live in California or New England) on the
top of a radio!  Never!  When it spills into the rig, it's game over.  

My special coffee mug spot is to my far left, next to the wall on the
desktop, clear of anything that might be vulnerable below it.  

Next week's question:  Do you allow pets into the ham shack?  

 <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.  


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 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, 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 three related
questions.  Let's see if you can get the answers!

G3B08 asks, "What does MUF stand for?"

Possible choices are:

A. The Minimum Usable Frequency for communications between two points
B. The Maximum Usable Frequency for communications between two points
C. The Minimum Usable Frequency during a 24 hour period
D. The Maximum Usable Frequency during a 24 hour period

G3B11 asks, "What happens to HF propagation when the LUF exceeds the MUF?"

Possible choices are:

A. No HF radio frequency will support ordinary sky-wave communications over
the path
B. HF communications over the path are enhanced
C. Double hop propagation along the path is more common
D. Propagation over the path on all HF frequencies is enhanced

G3B12 asks, "What factor or factors affect the MUF?"

Possible choices are:

A. Path distance and location
B. Time of day and season
C. Solar radiation and ionospheric disturbances
D. All of these choices are correct

Did you mark down all your answers and get B-A-D?  If so, you are G-O-O-D!
MUF stands for "Maximum Usable Frequency" and LUF - as you might guess -
stands for "Lowest Usable Frequency".  When the LUF exceeds the MUF, you
won't hear a thing but noise on the HF bands, at least via sky wave.  You
could still hear stations nearby via ground wave, though.  MUF changes
constantly, and is dependent on the path distance & location, the time of
day and the season of the year, and solar conditions, including ionospheric

If you have been listening to the HF bands during the past week, you know
that we are finally emerging from a week of terrible HF band conditions
caused by solar weather.  A new ham checking out the HF bands for the first
time during that week might well have wondered why anyone would bother
getting on HF!  Fortunately conditions are returning to normal - whatever
THAT is on HF!


Both Handiham HF remote base internet stations are up and running.  

We had a minor outage at W0ZSW this morning, 25 March.  It was caused by two
momentary power outages. The UPS did not hold the power to the host computer
and the computer shut down.  We will need to shut the W0ZSW computer down
again this afternoon for Windows updates.  Obviously we will also need to
bypass the failed UPS.  Other outages will occur at intervals when the
extended double zepp antenna is in use by the TS-590S.  More about that in a

One operating note:  There is no speech frequency readout available at W0ZSW
with the substitute radio.  W0EQO does return speech frequency readout for
our blind users.

The IC-7200 in place of the TS-480HX at W0ZSW.
Photo:  An IC-7200 pinch hits at W0ZSW. 

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.

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.  

The TS-590S station using the Kenwood ARCP-590 software will go back on the
air using the W0ZSW antenna shortly.  The station is in its earliest stages
of testing and is not on the air often, but when it is, W0ZSW is not
available to regular users.  The W0ZSW IC-7200 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

If you are an experienced TS-590S and ARCP-590 user and are interested in
participating in these tests, please let me know.

When the TS-590S station is using the W0ZSW antenna, the W4MQ software will
scroll "In use by Local", or else simply show up as off line.  


Handiham office hours: 

Mornings Monday through Thursday 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.  


New audio: 

Recently we had a request from a podcast listener who did not have iTunes
and suggested that we set up an RSS feed.  However, do already have such a
feed.  The RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting
software is:
 <http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham> http://feeds.feedBurner.com/handiham

Subscribe or change your subscription to the E-mail version here.

If you are a Handiham member and want a weekly reminder about our new audio,
let us know.  Watch for new audio Thursday afternoons.

In the Technician Lecture Series, the big news is that the entire lecture
series is now complete.  We expect to have a DAISY version on line for
download shortly.  The new General Class License Manual has not been
released yet.  Usually this is ready in print by HamventionR time in

April 2015 QST has been released by ARRL, and Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has produced
audio for our blind members.  The DAISY book will be ready for download this

NLS cartridge production will begin soon, when more April materials arrive.

Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has finished the recording of the new 2015 General Class
Question Pool and it is in the General Class section in the Members part of
the website.  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. Regarding this topic, what do you think about the 75 meter phone
band starting at 3.6 MHz?  One of our members likes this as it is and would
not like to see digital modes there instead.  What thoughts do you have?
Phone or digital in this part of the band?  

Also in the members section: The March 2015 Doctor is in column has been
recorded by Ken Padgitt, W9MJY.

We also have QCWA Journal for March <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.  

Thanks to our volunteer readers:

Bob, N1BLF 

Jim, KJ3P

Ken, W9MJY 


Radio Camp News:  We will once again be at the Woodland campus, Camp

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.

.         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.  

 <http://truefriends.org/camp/> Camp dates are now published in the True
Friends Camp Catalog.  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.



.         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 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:  <mailto:Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx> 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
for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address
and your new address.

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



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