[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 28 May 2014

  • From: <Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 28 May 2014 15:06:17 -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, 28 May 2014

This is a free weekly news & information update from  <http://handiham.org>
Courage Kenny Handiham System. 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
in iTunes

RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:
 <http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham> http://feeds.feedBurner.com/handiham


Welcome to Handiham World.

What do you do when the HF band conditions are lousy?

I can tell you what NOT to do:  Fret about it and moan and groan about how
hard it is to make HF contacts, and then keep trying to make HF contacts in
exactly the same way without much success.

One of my favorite daily activities is to check into 75 meter nets.  I'm
also not a very nocturnal creature, which means that I'm awake during the
daylight hours and asleep at night.  This has caused me to be pretty
unsuccessful at another of my interests, amateur astronomy.  Well, 75 meters
is subject to lots of D layer ionospheric absorption during daylight hours,
and there are LOTS of daylight hours in the summer.  A little over three
weeks from now we will have our longest day of the year here in the Northern
Hemisphere, and that means that 75 meter contacts will be really hard to
make - at least for guys like me who like to be active on the air during the

So what do I do to stay active in ham radio?  In a word, strategize.

My strategy is to stay active on 75 meters, but to do so early in the day
before the sun's power has energized the D layer enough to completely kill
regional HF propagation.  In high summer, by 10:00 AM you might as well
forget about it, but shortly after sunrise the band can still be alive with
stations.  After 75 meters closes up shop for the day, I can move to other
bands that remain open - higher frequency bands like 14 or 21 MHz.  Since my
Icom IC-7200 also covers the 6 meter band, I might also begin to get serious
about monitoring 50.125 MHz upper sideband. That is the 6 meter calling
frequency in the United States, and you could just hear a CQ from a station
hundreds of miles away, even though 50 MHz is considered VHF and we normally
think of VHF in terms of line of sight propagation as we use FM repeaters.  

The Icom IC-7200 tuned to 50.125 MHz
On Monday while I was tuning around on the IC-7200 after 75 meters had
croaked, I happened on a station from Idaho on 50.125 MHz.  June is
considered prime 6 meter season, so turn on the radio and start listening
there this afternoon.  

You never know when the band will open, and when it does, a dipole that is
less than 9-1/2 feet from tip to tip can do an amazing job of pulling in the
stations!  The ability of 6 meters to deliver has earned it the title of
"the magic band", and the delightful thing about it is that you can have a
lot of fun with ham radio while using a really small antenna during a time
of the year when other bands might not be so great.  Even if you don't have
a dedicated 6 meter antenna, try tuning your existing antenna to see if it
will match well enough to use on 50.125 MHz.  I found that my maypole
inverted vee system tunes easily with an LDG AT-200PRO automatic antenna

But what if you don't have a radio or antenna for 50 MHz?  

W4MQ software screenshot showing radio tuned to 50.125
Check out Handiham remote base station W0ZSW.  It's double extended Zepp
antenna will easily tune 50.125 MHz, allowing you to remote control the
speech-equipped Kenwood TS-480HX radio.

The six meter band <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6-meter_band>  (50 to 54
MHz here in the United States) is probably one of the least-understood bands
among the general population of Amateur Radio operators.  Like 160 meters,
it is included on most modern HF transceivers but is not a go-to band for
many (if not most) of us.  The 160 meter band requires long antennas - a 160
meter dipole stretches around 250 feet, and many people just don't even
consider dealing with it because of their limited available space. But even
though a 6 meter dipole is under 9-1/2 feet long, this band can also
languish unused in most ham shacks.  It's not antenna length, but it could
be that many of us have tried listening on six and have never heard
anything.  Admittedly, that can be discouraging, but don't give up.  There
are ways to know when the band opens up, where to listen, and which parts of
the band are used for which modes and operations.  

Now, for those of you listening to the audio podcast, we have Matt Arthur,
KA0PQW, introducing us to the "Magic Band" in his Operating Skills lecture
series.  The entire series will be available in DAISY on NLS cartridges
soon, as well as in the Friday audio notification for members. 

If you are reading instead of listening, we continue with the regular news
and information. 

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator



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

The Equipment Program will be at Radio Camp.  Campers will be able to take
home equipment, provided that the Equipment Program has it available.
Campers should let us know what they need to get on the air. Categories of
equipment that can be made available for you to take home from camp are:

VHF/UHF radios

HF radios

Accessories like speakers and tuners

Morse code accessories

Other accessories - Please let me know what you need.

A dip in the pool

It's time for a dip in the Extra Class pool.  E9F01 asks, "What is the
velocity factor of a transmission line?"

Possible answers are:

A. The ratio of the characteristic impedance of the line to the terminating
B. The index of shielding for coaxial cable
C. The velocity of the wave in the transmission line multiplied by the
velocity of light in a vacuum
D. The velocity of the wave in the transmission line divided by the velocity
of light in a vacuum

It's no accident that we are spending some time dipping our toes into the
part of the pool related to antennas and feedlines. It's nice outdoors here
in Minnesota, and good weather means that it time to plan and build antenna
projects.  But any project - antenna or otherwise - is built from the ground
up on a foundation of solid knowledge about how things work.  Since
transmission lines are part of your antenna system, you need to know some of
their basic characteristics.

That brings me to an embarrassing admission.  When I was a teenager and a
newly-licensed Amateur Radio operator, I didn't have a clue about
transmission lines or antennas.  I sure wasted a lot of time with
cut-and-try antenna projects when I could have been making lots of contacts
on the air.  It was only years later that I got more serious about learning
more about transmission lines, even though they were used in every single
antenna system I ever built!

The correct answer is D: The velocity of the wave in the transmission line
divided by the velocity of light in a vacuum.  Because of Einstein's famous
equation E=MC squared where C is a constant, which is the speed of light, I
used to think - as many people do - that the speed of light never varies,
since it is a "constant".  By extrapolation, since radio transmissions
travel at the speed of light, they too must constant in their speed.


It turns out that the medium through which the radio waves travel makes a
difference.  The speed of radio waves in a vacuum is one thing, but through
a piece of coaxial cable, it is slowed down.  That's right:  The speed of
radio waves is not so constant after all!  This phenomenon is described for
practical use as "velocity factor".   The velocity factor of a piece of
coaxial cable can be found in the specifications supplied by the
manufacturer.  In an antenna project, if you want to cut a piece of cable to
1/4 wavelength for a given frequency, this means that you have to know how
far the electromagnetic waves will travel in that particular cable type to
make a "quarter wave".  The result is what we call the "electrical length".
This is always shorter than the length of a quarter-wave in a vacuum.  A
typical velocity factor is .66, which means that the signal is traveling
only 2/3 as fast in coax as in a free space vacuum.  

You can figure out the true free space for one whole wavelength by the
formula length in meters = 300 divided by the frequency in MHz.  Then
multiply that by the velocity factor of .66 and you have the length of the
coax that makes a wavelength.  It will end up being about 2/3 as long as the
true wavelength in a vacuum.  

There are lots of uses for this knowledge, among them using a piece of
coaxial cable as a transformer to better match impedances.  If you have ever
used a Butternut HF9V vertical antenna, you have also used such a coaxial
transformer.  It is an 11 foot 4 inch length of 72 Ohm cable at the base of
the antenna.  You can use an on line calculator that allows you to choose
either meters or feet to find electrical quarter wave lengths of coax,
providing you know the cable's VF. <http://www.qsl.net/w4sat/velfact.htm>  

Happy cabling! 


Practical Radio

pliers and wire

Heads up, dude!

Since many of you will be heading to Field Day next month, or maybe working
on your own antenna projects at home or with friends from your radio club, I
just want to take a moment to make sure that you stay safe.  In particular,
I want you to get in the habit of assessing your environment before you take
on an antenna project.  Look up, look around, look down - make sure that the
entire area is clear of hazards like underground utilities, overhead wires,
and anything else that could pose a danger to yourself or others.  This
should be done in advance of the actual setup.  An antenna assessment
includes measuring to make sure the antenna will fit, estimating the
materials you will need, and always checking for hazards.  When a potential
hazard is invisible - like underground utilities - it may be necessary to
call a special phone number to schedule a utility worker to come to the site
and mark underground lines with temporary spray paint.  If you are blind or
have low vision, don't depend on a non-ham to recognize hazards for you.
Contact your local radio club for help with your antenna assessment.  

This is practical radio - Let's be safe this summer! 


Handiham Nets are on the air daily. 


Summertime is a busy season for everyone, and that means our net control
volunteers as well.  If we cannot fill a net control position this summer,
please feel free to just start a roundtable conversation.  

Listen for the Handiham Wednesday evening net tonight and try to answer the
N6NFF 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.  If you are up to a challenge, see if you
can correctly answer this week's question.

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
Daylight Saving time and GMT is -5 hours and the net is on the air at 16:00
hours GMT.   

The two evening sessions are at 00:00 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

Email has changed.

We have made changes in our email systems.  

Important!  Beginning May 9, our old email addresses that ended in either
"courage.org" or "couragecenter.org" no longer work.  Our new addresses are:

.         Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx

.         Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx

o    Also please note that although Nancy's voice mail is working properly,
mine is not.  If you left messages and I have not returned your call, that
is why. Please use email instead, or call Nancy for now. 

Digests & Lectures

A reminder:  You may hear the old contact information, including email
addresses and phone numbers, in previously recorded audio lectures or
digests.  Please disregard old contact information and use our new email
addresses and phone numbers.  Similarly, old audio podcasts and HTML
e-letters will have outdated information.  Disregard it and use the latest
email addresses and phone numbers. 

June 2014 production news: I've heard from several NLS cartridge users that
our May digest had a "cartridge error".  I'm still not sure of the cause,
but will go back to version 3.0 of our DAISY production tool OBI to see if
that helps.  If anyone has insight into this problem, please email me at

The June 2014 NLS cartridge will be produced entirely with Obi 3.0. 

June 2014 QST Digest in DAISY for our blind members has been completed by
Bob Zeida, N1BLF.  It is available in the members section as a downloadable
DAISY zip file.

Jim, KJ3P, has completed the May 2014 CQ digest this week for our blind
members.  This is the issue that will go out with the June NLS cartridge,
hopefully soon.  We are still waiting on QCWA Journal for June, which is
later than expected.  We hope to get it in the June mailing. 

Meanwhile, QCWA Digest for May 2014 and the Doctor column from QST are
available for our blind members in the Members section. 

The new Technician 2014 - 2018 Question Pool with only correct answers has
been read by Jim Perry, KJ3P.  Remember that this new pool is only for
testing on or after July 1, 2014.  

I have started a recording project for Operating Skills, based on the ARRL
book, "Internet Linking for Radio Amateurs" by K1RFD. The goal is to make
more information on VoIP available to our blind members.  

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

Secure, blind-friendly Handiham website login:  

.         We ask that you please log in securely if you are using any kind
of a public network or unsecured wireless.  

.         To the best of our knowledge, the Handiham website was not
compromised by the Heartbleed bug.

.         Test your own or other websites for Heartbleed at this website.

.         I also use a Chrome extension called Chromebleed to detect visited
sites that may be compromised.

Remote Base News

I would like to hear from blind Ham Radio Deluxe users!  If you are blind or
have another disability such as a motor impairment  and use HRD, I'd like to
hear how it is working for you.  We may consider HRD as a replacement for
the W4MQ software, so internet remote trials will eventually be scheduled if
we find interested testers. 

You can download the latest free version of Ham Radio Deluxe 5.2 on the
IW5EDI website.
<http://www.iw5edi.com/software/ham-radio-deluxe-5-download-links>   I
apologize for not including this link last week.  Thanks to Ken, KB3LLA, for
reminding me to post the link.  By the way, Ken also reports that so far as
his initial tests go the menu system in HRD version 5 is JAWS-accessible. 

W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North.

Handiham Remote Base internet station W0ZSW is on line for your use 24/7.
W0EQO has an internet firewall issue and can only be operated by
administrators at this time.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

*       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

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 

Want to log in instead?  Let's go:

Secure, blind-friendly Handiham website login: 


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 Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx or call her at
612-775-2291. If you need to use the toll-free number, call 1-866-426-3442.

Nancy Meydell, Handiham Secretary: 612-775-2291 (General information about
the Handiham program, membership renewals)

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA: 612-775-2290 (Program Coordinator, technical
questions, remote base requests, questions about licensing)

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
<http://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3> Handiham Weekly E-Letter in MP3
Email us to subscribe:
 <mailto:Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx> Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx

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:
 <mailto:Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx> Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:
 <mailto:Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx> Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx

 <http://handiham.org> Courage Kenny Handiham Program
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422
 <mailto:Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx> Nancy.Meydell@xxxxxxxxxx

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

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


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