[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 31 December 2014

  • From: <Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2014 12:52:08 -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, 31 December 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.


Happy New Year

We will close on Wednesday afternoon, New Year's Eve for a long New Year's
Day holiday.  We reopen on Monday, January 5, 2015.  

The traditional welcome to the New Year is ARRL Straight Key Night
<http://www.arrl.org/straight-key-night> .  I'd planned to acquire a
straight key, but don't have one yet.  If you have trouble sending CW, it
can be so frustrating to work a paddle and keyer that you might be tempted
to just pick up a microphone instead.  A straight key can be the answer for
anyone, really.  Whether you have a disability that makes using fancy keyers
and paddles problematic or you just plain prefer to form the dots and dashes
of the Morse Code yourself, it doesn't hurt to have a straight key in your
station.  If you are a newbie to the code, the straight key is an essential
practice tool.  It can always serve as a teaching tool later on if you help
someone else learn code, and it can always be dusted off for service on
Straight Key Night!

If you are not planning to get on CW, there may be some folks welcoming the
New Year on IRLP and Echolink.  This sort of thing is usually a free-for-all
without any direction; just a gathering of whoever wants to show up with no
particular topic, time, or net control.  

Two things we have come to expect at this time of year are year-end
retrospectives and New Year resolutions.  We will spare you a long list of
happenings about things that you already knew about anyway and we will not
badger you about stuff you should do in the upcoming year...  except for one
thing, and it is this:

Please check your ham shack for safety!  Today we will talk about preventing

What got me thinking about safety was the sound of the emergency vehicles
rounding the corner in front of our house, heading for a residential fire.
This was a few weeks ago, and no one was hurt in the fire, but the damage
was profound, between the part of the house that burned and the terrible
water damage from the firefighting process. 

We work with electricity every day, especially in the ham shack.  Fires are
rare, but they do happen - usually because something was done wrong and has
failed as a result. The basics are to avoid overloading circuits, fuse 12
VDC equipment power cables with the recommended fuse sizes, dress cables
carefully, away from sharp metal edges and so that they are not a tripping
hazard, keep equipment cabinets in place (especially if they contain high
voltage), and make sure that everything is adequately ventilated.  

Most of us know all too well that there are never enough AC outlets for all
of our gadgets and radio equipment.  Yes, you can solve this problem with a
few power strips and extension cords, but be careful what you plug into

Hard to read lable on typical cheap power strip. 15 A is circled.

A typical "power strip" can supposedly handle 15 amps, but you would not
figure this out by just a casual look.  In one I pulled off the shelf in my
workshop, its capacity was not stated on the box, and it was only after
carefully examining the device itself that I finally located the 15 amp
figure in tiny molded plastic text on the back.  It was extremely difficult
to read since the text was the same color as the background.  In any case I
would NOT trust any cheap power strip to handle the maximum rated current.
It is best to take these ratings with a grain of salt, so to speak - I feel
comfortable plugging smaller accessories into power strips, but they are no
place to plug in electric heaters or linear amplifiers.  

Extension cord safety label

The same goes for traditional extension cords.  Checking the label on one
that I found on the shelf in my shop, I found that the information was easy
to read - it was a paper label printed in black and red on white paper, then
laminated in plastic and attached near the plug.  I saw no maximum current
rating.  Instead, there was a warning to "plug no more than the specified
number of watts into this cord", even though that so-called specified number
was nowhere to be found.  There was useful information about not using an
indoor-rated cord outdoors and not running it through doorways or connecting
a three hole cord to a two hole cord. Even so, it is up to the user to
decide what can safely be plugged in and what cannot.

When it comes to extension cords or power strips, you can usually assume
that plugging in large appliances, electric heaters, or high-current amateur
radio power supplies or amplifiers will not be a good idea.  Some of these
devices will also warn you not to daisy-chain them by plugging one power
strip into another.  This can be hard to avoid if you are trying to set up
your kid's college dorm room - trust me, I've been through it - but it is
good advice because there will be a voltage drop over a long run of cords.
In addition, cords plugged into cords can increase the chance of overloading
the extensions.  

It is never a good idea to continue using a circuit that is overloaded to
the point where there is a voltage drop.  Symptoms may include the equipment
you have plugged in failing to work right or the wiring becoming warm or
even hot to the touch.  If you plug too many devices in, the total current
draw may exceed a safe number of amps. Many - in fact, most - of these cheap
extension cords and power strips do not have any kind of fuse or circuit
breaker.  Some of them can become dangerously hot before the main circuit
breaker in your residential power panel will trip.  

Even with the ham shack wired properly, the risk of fire does not completely
disappear.  A fault could show up suddenly in a piece of equipment or
wiring, or something else unexpected could happen.  If there was a fire in
the ham shack, how would you handle it?

One obvious thing to do is to assess the situation, and to do so quickly,
placing personal safety and the safety of your family and pets ahead of
saving any property.  If you can safely disconnect a power source, you can
do so.  If that halts the fire or smoke, great - but be on guard for
reignition.  You have to be sensible about this - I wouldn't waste time if
there are flames shooting out and catching the wall on fire!  That would be
a time to get out pronto.  Sometimes you can fight a fire, but you have to
be ready.  If you have not done so already, install several fire
extinguishers at strategic points around your home.  I have one that is
within a few feet of the ham shack and utility room in my basement, another
at the top of the stairway that serves the main floor, especially the
kitchen, and two more at separate entrances to the attached garage.  These
inexpensive pre-loaded extinguishers work to knock down a small fire as long
as you have them nearby and easily deployed.  Everything I have read about
using them indicates that you spray the base of the fire.  They should be
rated for electrical fires ("C-type" fires.)

Your best strategy is to avoid fire in the first place, so...

.         Don't overload circuits or misuse power strips and extension
cords.  Avoid running them through doorways where they could be pinched or
on the floor where they could cause tripping or be worn through by foot
traffic. Keep them out of the reach of pets.  I once had a dog that chewed
through an AC line cord and got shocked. Fortunately he was okay, but it
could have been much worse.

.         Do keep your ham shack tidy!  Clutter can make a fire worse and
even slow your escape.

.         Have a fire extinguisher nearby and check it periodically to make
sure it is pressurized and up to date.  Replace it if it is past its
projected service life.  Tip:  Outdated single-use extinguishers can be used
for practice outdoors in a safe spot.  This can help you and your family
members learn how to handle a fire extinguisher.  

.         Learn how to find and use fire extinguishers ahead of time.

.         Have a plan ahead of time, before you have a fire.  Everyone in
the household should know what to do.  Your plan should include: 

1.   Call the Fire Department

2.   Alert others

3.   Begin evacuation

4.   Use extinguisher if safe to do so.

.         Smoke and heat detectors won't prevent fires, but they will alert
you to a fire so that you will have more time to put your fire plan into
action.  If you use wired detectors, fine - but still test them
periodically.  If you have battery-operated detectors, change the batteries
when you change the clocks from daylight time to standard and vice-versa, or
set regular reminders on your calendar, say Winter and Summer solstices.  I
have a smoke detector in my ham shack.  I also have a planned escape route
up the basement stairs or through the utility room to a basement egress

No one is planning to have a fire.  Our neighbors down the street sure
didn't - but then it just happened!  As far as I know, it was caused by an
electrical fault in a car that was parked in the garage.  I have a car in my
garage right now, and there are other electrical devices plugged in all
around the house.  Tablets, computers, and smartphones have all burst into
flames at one time or another, usually because of a battery problem.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery>   While these devices are
very safe and failure rates are low, it can still happen.  Power cubes are
all over the house, running gadgets 24/7.  They are quite safe - but not
100% so.  We have had lightning strikes, too.  You just never know, so have
a plan and be safe.

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

Check into our Handiham nets... Everyone is welcome!

Bill, K9BV, teaches at radio camp.

Last time (two weeks ago) we mentioned regular Handiham Net checker-inner
Bill, K9BV, a long-time Handiham Radio Camp volunteer instructor.  We posed
a trivia hunt for you detectives out there.  It went thusly:

A famous fictional computer played a pivotal part in a movie.  The computer
was said to have been developed at a university not too far from the K9BV
QTH.  Can you guess the City, the name of the university, the name of the
movie, and what the computer was called?  For extra credit, what famous two
word plea did the computer utter?  The answer will be revealed in the last
E-letter of the year on New Year's Eve. 

As promised, we now reveal the name of the computer.  It was the HAL-9000
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HAL_9000>  from HAL Laboratories in Urbana
Illinois (think University of Illinois) and of course the movie was 2001: A
Space Odyssey <http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2388329497/> , released

HAL said, "Please, Dave..." as his memory modules were being pulled out one
by one. (At least that's the way I remember it from that showing at the
Grand Theater in Mankato, MN in 1968.) 

For alpha geek fun in January, there is always International Talk Like HAL
Day.  It's on January 12, Hal's birthday (according to the screenplay).
Find out more at the Talk Like HAL website. <http://www.talklikehal.com/>  

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.
Sometimes the questions are real brain-busters and other times they are
softballs.  Even I can get some of them right, so you can too!

Note that nets may or may not be on the air during and around special
holidays like New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.  If the net does not
materialize, please feel free to start a round table discussion.   

Operating tips for any net:  

Please listen to the Net Control Station (NCS).  He or she will let you know
who is being called, how to check in, and how the net is to be conducted.
Most Net Control Station operators have broad discretion on how they will
accept stations checking in and will state their preference at the beginning
of the net and periodically through the session. 

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

Repeaterbook goes global!

From an announcement on QRZ.com <http://www.qrz.com>  comes this interesting
news:  Merry Christmas on behalf of all of us at Repeaterbook.com
<http://www.repeaterbook.com> . We just unwrapped a Christmas gift to all of
you right on our home page. Now, you can search for repeaters across the
whole world! Countries in blue are where we have repeaters listed. Stop by
and give it a try. Joy to the world, and happy new year!

Garrett, KD6KPC
Site Owner - Repeaterbook.com <http://www.repeaterbook.com> 

Speaking of getting on the air...

world with radio tower

Check out the New Year's Eve IRLP Around the World QSO Party, 10th edition.
This note was posted on Google Plus by Jeff Davis, KE9V.  

Continuing the holiday tradition across IRLPdom, everyone here is invited to
the TENTH annual New Year's Eve Around the World QSO party on IRLP Reflector
9200. The party gets started around 1030 UTC Wednesday, December 31 (yes
that is 0530 eastern time in North America) and continues until 1030 UTC
Thursday Jan 1, or until everyone drags themselves home. Stay as long as you

Yes it is hard to believe this is the tenth annual party. In prior years we
have had upwards of 300 repeaters participating sometime during the party.

But don't be late! Repeaters in New Zealand start the festivities at 1100
UTC (6:00 AM EST), following the time zones around the world until Hawaii
joins us in 2015 at 1000 UTC (05:00 AM EST).

I will be hijacking the audio stream normally used on Ref9201 for this
party. The stream itself will not be moved, but the audio will be switched
to channel 0 of the reflector. If you want to listen along, simply stick the
following URL into your favorite audio client http://live.irlp.net:8010/ 

Don't be quiet... If you don't hear anyone talking, just jump in and call
"CQ New Year!," there will be no net control. Have a GRAND time!.

This event is sponsored by IRLP.net, DREGS.us and the K9IP repeaters in
Indianapolis USA. Everyone is expected!

via Dave K9DC

ARRL RTTY Roundup is also this coming weekend:

Find out more at  <http://www.arrl.org/rtty-roundup> 

ARRL Kids Day is on Sunday:

If RTTY isn't your cup of tea, maybe you want to promote Amateur Radio to
young people.  ARRL web says, "Twice a year, ARRL offers an event designed
to promote Amateur Radio to our youth. Share the excitement with your kids
or grandkids, a Scout troop, a church or the general public!"  More about
this event, including ideas, at:  <http://www.arrl.org/kids-day> 

Taking stock:

Let's find out what else going on.  

XMLog is hanging in there - still a great logging program:

This free logging software for Windows is still an excellent choice for
blind hams or anyone who wants a simple interface for day to day logging of
your ham radio contacts.  When people ask me about a basic, blind-friendly
logging program, XMLog is the first one that comes to mind.  It supports
integration with QRZ.com (if you have a QRZ.com account) and can interface
with your radio if you wish.  However, it can stand alone and still do an
excellent job of basic record keeping for you.  Check it out at

Both TS-480 Handiham HF remote base internet stations are up and running,

Close up of TS-480HX keypad

Abuse of the GUEST account has been noted!

Guest log in is for brief testing during setup only.  Although only receiver
use is allowed during GUEST log in, the station is effectively tied up when
a GUEST user logs in.  When the W4MQ software is first set up following
download, it defaults to W0ZSW with a GUEST account. This is done to help
first-time users set up the station. It is not intended for repeated
long-term use by visitors. It should not be necessary to use the GUEST
account for more than a few minutes while testing. After that, registered
users should populate a new account with their own callsigns and their
assigned passwords. One GUEST user recently tied up the station for over 10
hours in a single session. Another user has been listening to CB channel 19
for long periods of time. It should never be necessary to use the GUEST
account for more than five minutes. If you are a registered user and have
encountered GUEST users tying up the station, please let me know.  If this
continues to be a problem, GUEST login will be disabled. 

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.  The W0ZSW host computer was recently updated
with several software updates.  The station is usually not down for more
than a few minutes when this work is done.  If it is down for an extended
time, we will attempt to announce the outage on the Remote Base website
<https://handiham.org/remotebase/> .   

We are working to bring a third remote system online somewhere in the USA
Eastern Time Zone.  

Handiham office hours: 

We are open Monday through Wednesday this week.  Mornings are the best time
to contact us. Please visit Handiham.org during the holiday season for
updates and schedule changes.  We will be closed on New Year's Day, January
1, 2015.  We reopen on Monday, January 5. 

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 use.

Equipment Program:

If you have suggestions on how to make the equipment program work better,
email us a short paragraph.
(Please, no phone calls on this topic. I can sort and track the ideas by
email more easily.)

New audio: 

New audio will be limited during the holidays due to our shortened schedule.
If you are a Handiham member and want a weekly reminder about our new audio,
let us know. 

In case you missed it: Jim, KJ3P, has completed the QCWA Journal for
December.  Please find it in the new audio section of the Handiham member
website or on the QCWA website <http://qcwa.org/> . 

Any Handiham or QCWA member who cannot find the link to this month's QCWA
Journal may email us for assistance and a direct link. 

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

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

Thanks to our volunteer readers:

Bob, N1BLF 

Jim, KJ3P

Ken, W9MJY 

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

We have replaced the rotator on the tower at camp and plan to work DX with
the triband HF beam antenna.  Radios you can try at camp include the remote
base stations running the Kenwood TS-480's, Kenwood TS-590S, and TS-2000.
If you have a special request for gear you would like to check out at camp,
please let us know. 

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.

Cabin 2, site of our ham radio stations and classes.
Photo:  A Radio Camp cabin. 

Year-End Appeal

Pat with NLS cartridge and mailer 

Could I ask for just a moment of your time in these last few hours before
the end of the year? 

I am so grateful for your support of Courage Kenny Rehabilitation
Institute's Handiham program. Your participation is vital to the delivery of
amateur radio services by and for people living with disabilities. I'd like
to ask for your help in 2014 with a donation to the Handiham fund this

Courage Kenny's Handiham program brings people together from around the
world to connect and share experiences through amateur radio. The Handiham
program provides a forum for people with disabilities to build confidence,
set goals, develop friendships and volunteer in service to others.   Your
support allows us to stay current in technologies that help our members,
including  blind-friendly software and online audio lecture production.
Your donation will help to expand DAISY (Digital Accessible Information
System) cartridge services for our members without computers and maintain
member-only benefits like 24/7 access to the Handiham Remote Base HF
Stations for those who cannot put up antennas of their own, as well as
assistance from staff about assistive technology.   

From offering our accessible online licensing classes and tutorials, radio
camps and equipment assistance, to our high frequency (HF) remote base
stations, the Handiham program works hard to make the experience in amateur
radio the best it can be!  The Handiham program is one of Courage Kenny's
Community-Based Services, a resource for recreation, life-long learning, and
enduring friendships through ham radio.     

For forty-seven years, our Handiham program has relied heavily on
philanthropic support to stay current and available to as many people as
possible. We need your help this holiday season to keep the program strong.
Will you consider a gift today?   The Handiham program would not be what it
is today without your support. 

Thank you for considering a donation to the Handiham program this holiday

Sincerely, Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Program Coordinator 

.         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.  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
<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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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 31 December 2014 - Patrick.Tice