[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 26 February 2014

  • From: Pat Tice <Pat.Tice@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2014 18:20:31 +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, 26 February 2014

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Kenny Handiham 
System<http://handiham.org>. Our contact information is at the end, or simply 
email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> for changes 
in subscriptions or to comment. You can listen to this news online.

MP3 audio:

Get this podcast in iTunes:
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RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:

Welcome to Handiham World.
Safety Last... But only in the Question Pool

[Worker on tower fixing triband beam antenna]

Photo:  Volunteer K0CJ does work on the Handiham tower a number of years ago.  
"CJ" is decked out with a hard hat and a safety belt.

[The fiberglas antenna, destroyed by being blown apart in a lightning strike.]

Photo:  This is what CJ was replacing - a fiberglass antenna literally blown 
apart in a lightning strike.

I am almost finished preparing the Extra Class lecture series.  It's been a 
long haul to be sure.  When we finally tie the ribbons on the series, it will 
be over 60 audio lectures, some of them well over an hour long. Next week we 
begin the final study topic, which is on safety.  Maybe it's a good thing this 
subject comes last, because if people saw all of the different ways one could 
get injured working with radio, they might think twice about it and take up 
stamp collecting!  Of course there is no guarantee of safety in any endeavor. 
Even a stamp collector might suffer a paper cut or an allergic reaction from 
glue on the back of a stamp. Amateur Radio is actually quite a safe pastime, 
made even safer by understanding the rules and following best practices.  While 
I have heard of some serious accidents suffered by ham operators, I am 
hard-pressed to recall any that happened to anyone I know personally, and I've 
been doing ham radio since 1967!

The reason for such a good record is that most of us put safety first.  The 
only place it comes last is in the question pool.  Let's face it - Good safety 
is a way of life bolstered by good habits practiced every single day.  The 
thing about safety is that we need to approach most things in life while on 
autopilot.  For example, you have taken thousands of car trips and perhaps even 
hundreds of airplane trips.  You have used your seat belt every time, and have 
never needed it because there was never an accident.  When you sit down in the 
car or airplane seat, you fasten your seat belt.  In a sense, your brain is on 
autopilot because you don't even have to think about using this important piece 
of safety equipment.

Well, things happen, don't they?

You never know when something is going to happen.  The serious injury accidents 
like falling off of a tower or being electrocuted can happen with startling 
immediacy and with deadly consequences.  We are generally pretty good about 
following best practices to avoid them.  In case you have forgotten where 
lightning, electrical safety, and tower safety were first covered in your 
studies, it was in the Technician and General Class question pools.

But the final section of the Extra Class question pool is not about these kinds 
of safety risks.  It concentrates on much more subtle dangers - those that lurk 
in unseen RF energy and seemingly innocuous materials that are used in 
electronics.  These are things that won't knock you for a loop right now, but 
exposure to them can still cause serious injury that shows up later on, 
sometimes in an elevated risk for cancer.  Substances like lead-based solder 
are still commonly found around ham radio workbenches and in radio equipment. 
Lead can damage the central nervous system, but is not going to get into your 
body unless you ingest it. You may think that it is far-fetched to do so, but 
if you work on a kit-building project with lead-based solder and then pop 
potato chips  into your mouth without thoroughly washing your hands, residual 
lead will be entering your digestive system.

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer when it is given off by a Field Day 
generator or fossil-fuel heater used in an enclosed, poorly-ventilated space.  
PCBs - polychlorinated biphenyls - are found in old transformers, capacitors, 
and old oil-filled dummy loads, and contain carcinogens. Beryllium dust is 
toxic and must not be inhaled.  It is found in some electronic parts, and these 
must not be cut or ground down in unventilated areas.

RF exposure is a big topic area in the Extra Class question pool.  It is one of 
the least-understood and most likely to be ignored in actual practice, too.  
It's a more or less natural reaction to something that we can't see or feel.  
In most cases, you need instrumentation to even know that RF energy is present 
around you!

The brain thinks, "If I can't see, feel, taste, smell, or hear it, then it is 
not there."

A week seldom goes by that I don't hear from someone who would like to get on 
the air but who has the misfortune to live in an antenna-restricted situation.  
They invariably bring up the idea of indoor antennas.  Now, I want to be clear: 
 Antennas are used indoors all the time.  Receiving antennas don't emit RF 
energy in any great amount and are totally safe. Cellular phones are used 
indoors all the time, and their antennas both transmit and receive signals 
safely. Even ham radio handheld radios may be used indoors, as long as one is 
near a repeater.  But the idea of running directional VHF/UHF transmitting 
antennas indoors or stringing wire around the living room or bedroom to make an 
HF antenna - well, that gives me cause for concern.  A wire antenna running 
along a wall separating two apartments could put your neighbors in harm's way 
from excessive RF exposure.  You may have your wire antenna only inches from 
someone's head when they are relaxing in a reclining chair on the other side of 
that shared wall!  Furthermore, the restrictions are more stringent when you 
must protect the safety of others.  This is expressed in the concepts of 
"controlled" versus "uncontrolled" environments.  People in uncontrolled 
environments are not necessarily aware of the presence of RF energy and can 
therefore take no steps to minimize their own exposure.

What I would like to do is to start thinking "safety first" not only for the 
more obvious dangers associated with putting up towers or working on high 
voltage equipment, but also for our daily use of the parts of radio that pose 
more subtle risks:  hazardous substances and exposure to excessive RF energy.  
In the Extra Class pool, there is practical advice for avoiding injury from 
these sometimes overlooked dangers.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator

It's a go: 10 more years for ISS

NASA Science News reports:

With the International Space Station no longer "under construction," the 
world's most advanced orbital laboratory is open for business. The station has 
just received a 10-year extension from NASA, giving researchers the time they 
need to take full advantage of its unique capabilities.
Video on YouTube<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzjskjY4ihQ>
Full story on NASA 

2014 Radio Camp Operating Skills (Saturday, August 16 through Saturday August 
23, 2014)

*         Our study guide for 2014 Handiham Radio Camp Operating Skills will be 
the ARRL Public Service Handbook First 
Edition<http://www.arrl.org/shop/Amateur-Radio-Public-Service-Handbook>.  It is 
available from your favorite ham radio dealer or directly from ARRL.  Blind 
Handiham members should contact us for the DAISY version.  We will be happy to 
place it on your NLS DAISY cartridge for you.

*         Update:  NLS DAISY cartridges have arrived at Handiham HQ. Cost is 
$15.50 for cartridge and mailer, MN residents add sales tax.

Dip in the pool dives into the Extra Class:

*         Today we are going to dip our toes into the Extra pool.

Question E0A05 asks, "What is one of the potential hazards of using microwaves 
in the amateur radio bands?"

Possible answers are:

A. Microwaves are ionizing radiation
B. The high gain antennas commonly used can result in high exposure levels
C. Microwaves often travel long distances by ionospheric reflection
D. The extremely high frequency energy can damage the joints of antenna 

Since the great majority of us don't operate in the microwave bands (with the 
possible exception of heating our lunches) we may be unfamiliar with the danger 
posed by concentrated RF energy on the business end of a high gain microwave 
antenna.  Exposure is minimized by staying away from the front of the antenna 
when the transmitter is energized, and by making sure that others are not in 
the forward path of the signal. The correct answer is B: The high gain antennas 
commonly used can result in high exposure levels.

Extra Class lecture series will be available in DAISY format

  *   Our biggest single audio project, the Extra Class lecture series, is 
nearing completion.  The entire series will then be produced as a DAISY book, 
available in a zip file download or on NLS digital cartridge.  The projected 
date of availability is mid-March.  Before the book is produced, we welcome 
your feedback as to whether we should continue production in DAISY 2.02.  Our 
production tool is Obi, and Obi can produce digital talking books conforming to 
DAISY 3 and DAISY 2.02 standards. Since I personally do not own a DAISY player 
and only use AMIS for testing, perhaps our members can give me some advice on 
any advantage DAISY 3 has over 2.02.

WA0CAF likes a story

  *   It's on Marco's Accessibility blog, and it's about a five-year Mac user, 
a self-described "enthusiastic Mac fan boy", switching back to...  Yes, Windows!
Find out why at Marco's Accessibility 

Practical Radio

[pliers and wire]

Mobile installations: Where do the fuses go?

[Under the hood in a vehicle equipped for ham radio.  Battery with several 
extra wires to power the radio gear.  Fuse holders in line.]

Photo:  Under the hood in a vehicle equipped for Amateur Radio.  Notice the 
direct connections to the vehicle's battery, with  both positive and negative 
lines fused within inches of the battery.

Mobile operation is popular among ham radio operators who spend lots of time 
behind the wheel.  It's a good way to pass time on a long drive, to provide 
reports in public service activities, or to make a contact in an emergency.  
Handheld radios don't work well in vehicles - you really need to install a 
dedicated mobile radio with an antenna affixed to the outside of the car or 
truck, and an adequate source of power - since the mobile radio will draw more 
current in order to operate at higher transmit power levels.

While you may be able to get by in a pinch with a plug for the car's accessory 
jack (the one that used to be called a cigarette lighter receptacle),  the fact 
of the matter is that your car's accessory jack is not fused or wired to handle 
high current draws.  A mobile rig used in this way must be used at the lower 
power setting, and that may not be convenient in a marginal reception area when 
high power is called for.

The best thing to do is to bring power in directly from the vehicle's battery 
to the radio.  That means stout wiring capable of meeting the current 
requirements (listed in the radio's instruction manual), running from the 
battery terminals through the firewall that separates the engine compartment 
from the passenger compartment to the radio.

But think about what might happen if the positive lead shorted to vehicle 
ground?  You would want a fuse in place to avoid damage to the equipment or a 
fire, wouldn't you?  Of course you would!  The problem is that the fuse must be 
properly placed in the line or it may not be effective.  Your mobile radio came 
straight from the manufacturer with fused leads.  If you run a pair of wires 
from the battery terminals through the firewall and to the rig's existing fused 
leads, will that be enough?

No!  Absolutely not.

Consider this:  You have wired the radio as we describe, with the fuses inside 
the passenger compartment.  A final output IC shorts in the transmitter, 
causing a high current draw.  The current through the fuse quickly exceeds the 
limit and the fuse blows, as it should.  The fuse must be exposed to high 
current draw in order to blow and open the circuit.  In our second scenario, 
the radio itself does not fail, but at the point where the 12VDC positive wire 
goes through the firewall, vibration of the wire against a metal clamp causes 
the insulation to erode and finally come into contact with vehicle ground. 
Immediately there is a huge amount of current being drawn through that wire via 
the short to ground.  The fuse, which is on the other side of the firewall, 
does not experience this flow of current because the short occurs before the 
current reaches the fuse.  The wire quickly heats red-hot, melting the 
insulation and starting a fire, which spreads to the fuel system and engulfs 
the vehicle.

Oops.  That would not have happened had the fuses been placed close to the 
battery!  When the fuses are close to the source of the power, they can still 
protect the radio itself, but they also protect all of the wiring beyond them, 
where any part of the wiring system could short out.  Proper fuse placement is 
vital to a good installation because the engine compartment is really a fairly 
hostile environment for wiring.  Exposed to fumes, road salt, extreme heat and 
biting cold, water thrown up from the road, and vibration - mile after mile, 
year after year.  Things can short out, and when they do, you want the fuses to 
blow quickly for any failure in the system, not just for internal failures 
within the radio itself!  It does not hurt to fuse the leads inside the 
passenger compartment as long as the leads are also fused inside the engine 
compartment close to the battery.

This practical radio.  It's easier to replace a shorted length of wiring and a 
blown fuse than to have to file a fire insurance claim and replace your whole 
car!  If you are a public service communicator, you want your equipment to be 
installed properly so that you are part of the solution, not part of the 

Handiham Nets are on the air daily.


Listen for Doug, N6NFF, tonight and try to answer the trivia question during 
the first half hour.  Check in later just to get in the log and say hello.  The 
trivia question answer is revealed shortly after the first half hour.

We are scheduled to be on the air daily at 11:00 USA Central Time, plus 
Wednesday & Thursday evenings at 19:00 USA Central Time.  A big THANK YOU to 
all of our net control stations!

We maintain our nets at 11:00 hours daily relative to Minnesota time.  Since 
the nets remain true to Minnesota time, the difference between Minnesota time 
and GMT is -6 hours.  The net is on the air at 17:00 hours GMT.

The two evening sessions are at 01:00 GMT Thursday and Friday.  Here in 
Minnesota that translates to 7:00 PM Wednesday and Thursday.

The official and most current net news may be found at:

This week @ HQ

[Cartoon robot with pencil]

Where was the Friday email notice and audio lecture last week?

Last Thursday and Friday the Twin Cities was hit with a severe blizzard.  The 
storm began on Thursday afternoon with rain and freezing rain, then turned to 
very heavy, wet snow that paralyzed travel in much of Minnesota, northern Iowa, 
and Wisconsin.  The heavy ice and snow put a terrible strain on the W0ZSW 
remote base antenna, and Thursday night yours truly was slogging through 
knee-deep snow with a long pole, knocking ice off the antenna wire.  The 
antenna survived and the station was available without any interruptions.  When 
Friday dawned, it was clear that no one was going anywhere on the ice and snow 
covered roads.  For the first time in recent memory Courage Kenny 
Rehabilitation Institute closed for most of its services on Friday February 21. 
Thus, there was no weekly lecture or notification from the Handiham office, 
which was closed until Monday morning.  It has been a long winter - and a very 
hard one, too.  We want to be especially careful to maintain the wire antennas, 
because if they fail, repairs will likely wait until the snow melts.  The long 
range forecast is looking like we will have a couple more weeks of below 
average temperatures.  Be sure to check Handiham.org<https://handiham.org> for 
announcements on station status, office closings, and other important service 

Phone & email changes coming March through May

We will be making some changes this Spring in our email and phone systems.  
Watch this newsletter and the Handiham website<https://handiham.org> for any 
changes in our contact information.

Digests & Lectures

*         Reminder:  If you use the NLS cartridges, please return them to us by 
the first week in the month so we can include your cartridge in the March 

In the Extra Class audio lecture series we are still working on propagation.  
Our latest lecture number is 61, in which we take a look at VHF propagation.

Jim Perry, KJ3P, Bob Zeida, N1BLF, and Ken Padgitt, W9MJY do the volunteer 
digest recording.  Thanks, guys!

February 2014 QST Digest in Daisy format is available.

CQ Magazine & CQ Plus February 2014 digests in DAISY format.  Log in and check 
out the new CQ!

QCWA Digest for February 2014 is available in MP3.

In Operating Skills: Joe Bogwist, N3AIN, opens his Radio in the Dark series 
with tutorials on how to use the new Kenwood TS-590S 160 - 6 m transceiver!

Secure, blind-friendly Handiham website login:
Remote Base News

Both stations are operational.

[W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North.]

[Kenwood TS-480HX transceiver with LDG autotuner]

Both Handiham Remote Base internet stations W0ZSW and W0EQO are on line for 
your use 24/7.

  *   If you use Skype for audio, please connect and disconnect the Skype call 
to the remote base manually.  The automatic calling and hang up is no longer 
supported in Skype.
  *   200 watt operation is restored on 160, 80, and 40 meters for Extra and 
Advanced Class users on W0ZSW.

*         Outages: Outages are reported on 

Operating tip:  Find out how to tell if the remote base station is already in 
use if you are using JAWS:

  *   Listen to the tutorial:
  *   Read the tutorial in accessible HTML:

Digital Cartridges now Stocked at Handiham HQ:

Nancy now has the NLS 4GB digital cartridges and mailers available at our cost. 
 She says:

We now have a supply of digital Talking Book cartridges and mailers available 
for purchase for our Handiham members.  The total cost for a set is $15.50.  We 
will download any digital study materials from the Members Only section of our 
website onto your cartridge at no additional cost.  Minnesota residents please 
add $1.13 MN Sales Tax.

[Pat holding up NLS digital cartridge and mailer]

Don't care to download Handiham materials via computer? The NLS digital 
cartridge and mailer can bring you Handiham audio digests each month, plus we 
have room to put the audio lecture series or equipment tutorials on them, too!

Want to log in?  Let's go:

Secure, blind-friendly Handiham website login:

If you have trouble logging in, please let us know.

  *   All Daisy materials are in zip file format, so you simply download the 
zip file you need and unzip it so the Daisy book folder can be accessed or 
moved to your NLS or other Daisy player.
  *   Tip: When in the Daisy directory, it is easy to find the latest books by 
sorting the files by date. Be sure the latest date is at the top. The link to 
sort is called "Last Modified".
  *   You can also find what is on a web page by using CONTROL-F.  This brings 
up a search box and you can type a key word in, such as "September".  You may 
find more than one September, including 2012, but you will eventually come 
across what we have posted for September 2013.

Digital mailers are important: If you do mail a digital cartridge to us, please 
be sure that it is an approved free matter mailer. Otherwise it will quickly 
cost us several dollars to package and mail out, which is more than the cost of 
the mailer in the first place. We don't have a stock of cartridges or mailers 
and not including a mailer will result in a long delay getting your request 
back out to you.

DAISY audio digests are available for our blind members who do not have 
computers, playable in your Library of Congress digital player.  Handiham 
members who use these players and who would prefer to receive a copy of the 
monthly audio digests on the special Library of Congress digital cartridge 
should send a blank cartridge to us in a cartridge mailer (no envelopes, 
please), so that we can place the files on it and return it to you via free 
matter postal mail.  Your call sign should be on both the cartridge and the 
mailer so that we can make sure we know who it's from. Blank cartridges and 
mailers are available from APH, the American Printing House for the Blind, 

Digital Talking Book Cartridge, 4GB, Blank; Catalog Number: 1-02609-00, Price 

Digital Talking Book Cartridge Mailer Catalog Number: 1-02611-00, Price: $2.50

Order Toll-Free: (800) 223-1839.

The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital cartridges:

Get it all on line as an alternative:  Visit the DAISY section on the Handiham 
website after logging in.

Stay in touch

[Cartoon robot with cordless phone]

Be sure to send Nancy your changes of address, phone number changes, or email 
address changes so that we can continue to stay in touch with you. You may 
either email Nancy at 
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> or call her at 
763-520-0512.  If you need to use the toll-free number, call 1-866-426-3442.

Handiham Program Coordinator Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, may be reached at 
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> or by phone at 

Mornings Monday through Thursday are the best time to contact us.

The Courage Kenny Handiham Program depends on the support of people like you, 
who want to share the fun and friendship of ham radio with others. Please help 
us provide services to people with disabilities.

Call 1-866-426-3442 toll-free. -- Help us get new hams on the air.

Get the Handiham E-Letter by email every Wednesday, and stay up-to-date with 
ham radio news.

You may listen in audio to the E-Letter at Handiham Weekly E-Letter in MP3 
Email us to subscribe:

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Kenny Handihams!
Coordinator, Courage Kenny Handiham Program
Reach me by email at:

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

Courage Kenny Handiham Program<http://handiham.org>
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422

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 
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>  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, 26 February 2014 - Pat Tice