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

  • From: <Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:14:40 -0600

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 November 2014

This is a free weekly news & information update from  <http://handiham.org>
Courage Kenny Handiham System. Our contact information is at the end. 

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Welcome to Handiham World.

Cartoon world with radio tower

Horn of plenty with fruit and Yaesu HT.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

The Handiham office will be closed for the 2014 United States Thanksgiving
holiday <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving_(United_States)>  on
Thursday and Friday, November 27-28.  We will reopen on Monday morning,
December 1.  There will be no weekly new audio notification on Thursday or

Handiham nets continue on their usual schedule, though if there is no net
control station available the net will be a simple roundtable. In past years
people have discussed things for which they are thankful. 

Internet Remote Base stations W0ZSW & W0EQO will be available for your use.

Other closings:  ARRL Headquarters will be closed for the Thanksgiving
holiday on Thursday and Friday, November 27-28. There will be no ARRL Letter
or Audio News.  

Testing at W0ZSW has begun on the Flex 5000 software-defined radio provided
by a generous donor.  The existing station remains in operation using the
W4MQ software to control the TS-480HX, but there are short periods of time
when the antenna will be needed for the Flex station and during those times
W0ZSW will show up offline or else under "local" control.  Our thanks to
volunteer engineer Lyle Koehler, K0LR, for his help with this project.  

Flex radio set up for testing at W0ZSW

Photo:  The Flex 5000 set up for testing at station W0ZSW.  Sure, it's a bit
of a confabulated mess, but sometimes science is messy!  The MFJ-989C tuner
is in place because it has a built-in dummy load so that we can test the
transmitter off the air and without disturbing the TS-480 station.  

So far we have managed to get the Flex connected to its host computer and
that computer connected to the internet.  Ports have been assigned in the
network router for rig control via Ham Radio Deluxe.  Lyle has determined
that the W4MQ software will not control the Flex, even with TS-2000
emulation mode.  We have configured Ham Radio Deluxe to handshake with the
Flex's own software interface, PowerSDR®, which provides rig control.  Skype
was installed for the purpose of porting audio.  The radio was then
successfully controlled using Ham Radio Deluxe over the internet in short
proof of concept tests. 

Much work remains to be done.  Neither Lyle or I have experience with Flex
radios and we could use some advice from experienced Flex owners.  We also
welcome input from blind and low vision ops who are familiar with Ham Radio
Deluxe and/or Flex's PowerSDR®.  

There is a good reason for examining rig control software as we move forward
to a more extensive network of internet remote base HF stations to serve
Handiham members.  We want the stations to be available to as many users as
possible, so accessibility is important.  We want software that provides a
higher level of control and configurability for our more advanced users.
And it's important that the software be readily available and
well-documented.  It is always helpful to have a sizable user base for any
product, and with software it is even more so.  Users can then discuss any
issues they might have with the software in internet forums, which helps
everyone and adds to the knowledge base of any product or service.  

Of course there are limitations with any software.  When we set up the
flagship Handiham remote base HF station, W0EQO, at Camp Courage North
almost six years ago we planned to use the excellent, highly accessible
native Kenwood software.  Things were going well until we discovered that
the software had a limit of only 10 users.  Obviously an internet remote
station would have a much larger user base, so that was pretty much a deal
killer.  That's when we discovered the W4MQ software, and have used it
successfully ever since.  

The existing W4MQ software that we are now using for W0EQO and W0ZSW has
many excellent features, but we have to face the fact that it has reached
the end of its development life.  It can only use all of its features on a
few Kenwood radios, and even then the feature set available to users is
quite limited.  Only basic functions are supported, which means that many
settings must remain fixed and only accessible from the radio itself.  

It is time for a change.  The best thing would be to find software that can
control a variety of different radios and that is in active development.  We
hope to move forward with this goal in 2015, and that includes bringing new
resources on line.  Wouldn't it be nice to have another Handiham station on
the East Coast?  Or in California or in the mountain states of the West?
Wouldn't it be nice to be able to control more features on each of the
radios than we can now?  And, when switching between stations with different
radios at the host sites, to be able to more or less still understand the
rig control software interface?  

As we approach the new year, we just can't help thinking about these kinds
of things.  Tearing the last page off the calendar reminds us that time
marches on and that it's a new world out there.  Amateur Radio is better
than ever and we have more ways to get on the air and have fun. 


·         FlexRadio Systems <http://www.flexradio.com/> ® Home Page.

·         FlexRadio PowerSDR
<http://www.hamradioandvision.com/flex-radio-powersdr-visibility/> ®
reviewed on the Ham Radio and Vision website.

·         FlexRadio Knowledge Base. <http://kc.flexradio.com/>  

·         Ham Radio Deluxe rig control software latest version from HRD
Software, LLC. <http://www.ham-radio-deluxe.com/> 

·         Ham Radio Deluxe free legacy versions from Simone, IW5EDI.

·         Using Ham Radio Deluxe with a Screen Reader - detailed article on
the Ham Radio and Vision website.

·         Using Ham Radio Deluxe with NVDA Screen Reader - detailed article
on the Ham Radio and Vision website.

·         W4MQ Internet Remote Base Software

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

Don't forget our nets...

·         Check in with Avery, K0HLA, as he conducts the Morse Code Practice
Net immediately following the Thursday evening Handiham Net on the Echolink
and IRLP-enabled network. The code net begins at approximately 8:00 PM
Central Time on *HANDIHAM*, Echolink node 494492, and on IRLP 9008.
Check-ins are taken both in CW and on phone!  Will he be on the air
Thanksgiving evening?  I guess we will have to wait to find out!

Avery, K0HLA, sends Morse code.

Happy Wednesday and Thanksgiving eve to you.  Our daily Echolink net
continues to operate for anyone and everyone who cares to check in 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 hour, so check in early if you want to take a
guess.   Note that nets may or may not be on the air during and around
special holidays.  Anytime the net does not materialize, please feel free to
start a round table discussion. 

·         Audio reminder:  Before we get on the air with Echolink, let's
check our audio level settings. If you use a computer for Echolink, the
settings have to be adjusted manually in the recording mixer in Windows.
Most smartphone users will not have to worry because the AGC built in will
control the levels quite well.  All the usual good microphone practices
should be followed when entering the system via RF.  Don't shout into the
mic, hold the mic correctly just a bit off to the side of your mouth, and
operate in a quiet environment when you can. Use the Echolink Test Server to
test your audio, or get independent reports from other stations. This is
especially important if you need to use your radio in an emergency.  Low or
high audio levels can result in errors when you communicate, either because
the other stations can't hear you or because your signal is so distorted as
to be difficult to decipher.  Imagine an emergency when you really need to
communicate vital information.  What kind of audio would you want?  I know
I'd like to have nice, clear audio with no distortion.  

·         A big THANK YOU to all of our net control stations and to our
Handiham Club Net Manager, Michael, VE6UE. 

Speaking of getting on the air...

·         Check out the MidCars net on 7.258 MHz <http://www.midcars.net/> .
MidCars stands for "Midwest Amateur Radio Service", and it's on the air
every day of the year from about 8:30 AM Eastern Time until around 2:00 PM.
Mobile stations are given priority and road and weather conditions are
discussed, but the net is actually open to other Amateur Radio and operating
skills topics.  The net is directed by a net control station, which is
referred to as "Service Control".  Check in by giving your callsign and wait
for acknowledgement.   You do not need to have any traffic for the net to
check in.  MidCars has been on the air since 1968!  

·         7.258 MHz is in the General Class portion of the band.  Remember
that lower sideband is used on 40 meter SSB.  

·         Both W0ZSW and W0EQO can easily be used to check into MidCars.
You can listen to MidCars via either station by using Echolink for receive
control.  The stations to look for in Echolink are W0ZSW-L and W0EQO-L.
Echolink always yields to a control operator logging into either station
with the rig control software, though. You cannot connect except through a
computer or smartphone using the Echolink app. 

·         40 meters is especially good for regional to long-distance
communication in central North America this time of year.  Depending on
where you live, you may be able to reach MidCars directly from your own HF
station.  The Service Control is usually in Ohio or adjacent states. 

·         Do you need a 40 meter antenna?  It's easy to make a 40 meter
dipole.  A half-wave cut for 7.258 MHz is about 64 and a half feet from end
to end.  Mount it as an inverted vee, and it takes even less room.  A bonus
is that it will resonate on the 15 meter band, too!  Feed a 40 meter
inverted vee in the center with 50 Ohm coaxial cable for a pretty good
impedance match and convenience of installation. 

What are YOU thankful for?

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, you knew I was going to bring this up,
didn't you?  Traditionally, we think of the holiday as celebrating a good
harvest and plenty of food.  But food is a metaphor for having what we need,
usually that which is important.  When you think about it, you can only
really appreciate food if you experience hunger now and again.  Nothing
focuses the mind like hunger - you think about your next meal.  Unimportant
things fall away.  

Other things in life are just as vital as food.  Our family and friends need
us and we need them.  We need a place to call home and other necessities of
life.  Good health is often taken for granted until we lose it, even

Think about these things tomorrow.  Be with your family and enjoy a feast if
such is your tradition.  Then remember and be thankful. 

·         Bonus tip for happy living:  Be thankful every day of the year! 

Taking stock:

Let's find out what's going on.  

·         I meet a lot of interesting people!

o    Earlier this week I had a call from a guy living on a homestead in
Alaska, off the grid.  His ham gear was powered by electricity he got for
solar panels and storage batteries, or a diesel generator running on stove
oil when there was not enough sun.  Everything had to come in by all-terrain
vehicle, snow machine, or by air.  He had, as you might expect, plenty of
room for wire antennas.  

o    This puts me in mind of the many different ways we enjoy ham radio.
Yes, sometimes there are obstacles - like no electricity at our location or
bears in the woods - but we figure it out and get on the air anyway.  One of
the best things about our hobby is that it is so amazingly adaptable to our
circumstances.  Indeed, do you know what the greatest roadblock to
successful ham radio operating is?  The one thing that is most likely to
stop us in our tracks?  It's not the lack of electricity.  Not the small
size of an urban yard.  Not the cost of the equipment.  Not the neighbor who
complains about RFI.   Nope.  It's a belief inside us.  It's the notion that
you can't do it.  If you believe you cannot do something, you will never be
successful.  Those who are smart enough to figure this out and turn it
around so that they do believe they can accomplish their goals will
eventually reach them.

o    So think about the guy in Alaska.  No road, no power company, no
neighbors except the animals in the woods.  If he can do it, you can too.
Get on the air however you can and enjoy ham radio - the technology, the
friendships, the contests - discover what you like about our amazing hobby!

·         HF remote development project:

o    This week Lyle, K0LR, and I refined the FLEX radio setup that is under
test at W0ZSW.  The station is connected to a 300 Watt dummy load and not on
the air except for short tests so as not to interrupt the W0ZSW TS-480
station, which is used daily by Handiham members.  We have made significant
progress with software updates and internet connectivity.  When W0ZSW is not
available, users of the W4MQ software will see an "In use by Local" message
when W0ZSW is selected from the pull down menu. This means that the station
is not available for use by the public.  

o    New Handiham HF remotes will continue to be a free member service.  We
want you to get on the air and make use of that license you worked so hard
to earn!  

·         In the meantime, both existing TS-480 Handiham HF remote base
internet stations are up and running:  W0EQO at Camp Courage North and W0ZSW
in the Twin Cities East Metro.   

·         Thanksgiving week office hours: 

o    We are open Monday through Wednesday.  Mornings are best for calls.  

§  We are closed Thursday and Friday this week.

§  There will be no new audio lecture this week. 

§  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.  

§  The two HF remote base stations are also available every day for your

§  Our nets continue as usual.  

§  The telephone and email will not be answered during the Thanksgiving
holiday weekend. 

·         Equipment Program hibernates!  

o    Due to the unexpectedly early arrival of winter I now have less access
to the offsite equipment storage. It is really cold here and I have to
shovel the snow away from the door to get in.  That puts the equipment
program in slow motion, so it is going into hibernation like a sleepy bear.
(It looks like this edition of your weekly e-letter will come in as the one
with the most mentions of bears.)

New audio:  If you are a Handiham member and want a weekly reminder about
our new audio, let us know. (If you are already getting the Friday reminder,
don't do anything - It will come earlier in the week.) 

o    In the members section: Magazine Digest for December 2014 by Bob Zeida,
N1BLF - 25 MB DAISY zip file download.

o    In the members section: The December Doctor is in column has been
recorded by Ken Padgitt, W9MJY.

Thanks to our volunteer readers:

o    Bob, N1BLF 

o    Jim, KJ3P

o    Ken, W9MJY 

·         Correction:  WA0CAF likes a story he found on the AFB website
about tactile imaging. Last week the website was incorrectly attributed to
"ACB" instead of AFB, although the HTML link was correct. 
It's a product evaluation of TactiPad with TactileView software in the
November AccessWorld <http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw151105> ®
magazine.  Check it out on the AFB website. 

·         Still open!  Be a NASA Summer Intern:  Ken, KB3LLA, sends out a
call to students who are interested in STEM careers.

·         Ken, KB3LLA, sent me a link to Ai Squared releases Window-Eyes 9.0
Beta 1.  This version anticipates Windows 10 and will be ready with
preliminary support for the latest Microsoft operating system. The beta is
available for download now. <http://www.gwmicro.com/beta> 

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

Tentative dates are Tuesday, August 18 (arrival) through Monday, August 24
(departure),  We think this will allow campers who travel by air to get
cheaper tickets.  Please note that camp planning is in its early stages and
we have not set the exact timing yet.   Please let Nancy know if you wish to
receive a 2015 Radio Camp Application.

Great room in cabin two.
Photo:  A Radio Camp cabin. 

·         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    It is almost year-end, and we hope you will remember us in your 2014
giving plans.  
Begging cartoon doggie

o    This weekly letter and podcast was produced with Microsoft Expression
Web <http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=36179>  and the
open-source audio editor Audacity
<http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/> . No bears were harmed in its

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
<mailto:handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx  for changes of
address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new

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