[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 09/22/09

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 22 Sep 2009 15:59:37 -0500

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham
System <http://handiham.org> . Please do not reply to this message. Use the
contact information at the end, or simply email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

You can also listen to the content online:

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Welcome to Handiham World!

Good news!  Linda, N7HVF, is donating a recorder to replace our broken
4-track machine.  Thank you to everyone who offered to help. We are also
looking into mastering the monthly digest audio via computer, which we think
will help us to provide better audio quality. 

An APH recorder, shown here in a ham shack

Photo: A typical APH 4-track recorder.

While we're on a good news roll, I'm happy to see that Spaceweather.com
<http://spaceweather.com/>  is reporting not one, but two sunspots are now

"Sunspot 1026 emerged yesterday to break a string of 19 consecutive spotless
days. It's about as wide as Earth, which makes it an easy target for
backyard solar telescopes."  

Spaceweather.com also reminds us that it's the equinox, which means "equal

"Today, Sept. 22nd at 2118 UT (5:18 pm EDT), the sun crosses the celestial
equator. This event marks the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere
and spring in the southern hemisphere."

As usual, you can find all the news about solar weather on
http://www.spaceweather.com, one of my favorite websites. If you have never
experienced a solar maximum while operating the HF bands, you are in for a
real treat as the ionosphere becomes more likely to serve up really exciting
long distance (DX) contacts.  At a solar maximum, when sunspot numbers are
relatively high, it is often possible to talk to stations around the world
with just a few Watts of power - sometimes even less than a Watt!  The 10
meter band will wake up from its long slumber during the solar minimum to
once again be an excellent place for operators with HF privileges to collect
DX QSL cards from many countries.  You might even consider trying for your
DXCC, or DX Century Club, award, by collecting QSL cards from 100 different

DXCC can be pretty challenging during sunspot minimum. Interest in ham radio
can even fall off when band conditions are bad, as often happens when there
are no sunspots for extended periods. Although the current sunspot minimum
has been pretty stubborn and seems to be hanging on longer than usual, that
does not mean that you should not start collecting QSL cards for awards like
DXCC or WAS, Worked All States.  In fact, you may want to start making some
contacts on bands like 40 meters, where you can collect many USA contacts
and make excellent progress toward WAS, even in sunspot minimum conditions.
If you collect a few DX contacts while you are at it, so much the better. 

A basic antenna system, such as a dipole or vertical, will make the job
harder, but you can still achieve great things with simple antennas and low
power. While anyone can make more contacts with a beam antenna on a tall
tower and a big amplifier, it takes skill and patience to make those DX
contacts without them.  You will have the satisfaction of a real
accomplishment when you start making contacts and collecting QSL cards. You
will be gaining experience, too. By building up a collection of cards
starting now, you will be poised to fill in the blanks for those countries
and states you need when band conditions improve.   And when the sunspots
really start to get numerous, conditions will be such that even low power
and simple antennas will be on a more even par with bigger, higher power

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx 
Handiham Manager


Good press alert

Ken at the AMSAT booth, Dayton 2009

Image: Ken Silberman, KB3LLA, examines a satellite antenna controller at the
AMSAT booth, Hamvention, 2009.

Congratulations to Handiham Radio Club President Ken Silberman, KB3LLA on
the publication of his article " Reflections on My First Dayton Hamvention",
which appears this week on the ARRL website.  Of course Ken helped us out at
the Handiham booth, but he had to check things out far and wide throughout
the HamventionR.  After all, when you are at your first ham radio trade show
of this size, it is much more than just a local hamfest. As big as
Hamvention is, Ken still met people he knew.  You can always find a friend
in a group of ham radio operators!

Read Ken's article on ARRLweb:

 <http://tinyurl.com/kumtz8> http://tinyurl.com/kumtz8




John West, N1IWT, TIPSnet Program & Publicity Manager, reminds us that you
can find this interesting discussion net on Tuesdays. Tonight's net is open
topic, but  you will want to mark your calendar for the September 29 net,
when the guest will be Hap Holly, KC9RP, producer of the R.A.I.N. Report.

TIPSnet meets every Tuesday 7:30pm to 8:30pm local time (EDT) / 2330-0030z
on several repeaters throughout New England, including our hub, the SPARC
Repeater System, West haven and Durham, CT. Multiple repeaters are linked
Nationally and Internationally via VoIP on the New England Gateway -
EchoLink Conference *NEW-ENG* (node # 9123) and IRLP Reflector 912, Channel
3 (node # 9123).

Live streaming audio is available on the web at:  <http://new-eng.com> 

TIPSnet on the web:  <http://www.tipsnet.org> 

Email:  <mailto:tipsnet@xxxxxxxxxxx> 



Avery's QTH is taking the week off.



As long as Avery isn't writing this week, I'll grab the space and talk about
one of my favorite topics, making do with something cheap as opposed to
something fancy and expensive. Now, don't get me wrong.  I like fancy,
expensive ham radio gear, super-fast computers, and five star restaurants as
much as you probably do. But there are times when simply having something
that is good enough is all that I really need. The thing is, you hear about
people going bankrupt because they bought way too much stuff - much of it
things that they might have done without, especially if something simpler
and cheaper could have done the job. 

In the world of ham radio,  most of us hear from newly-licensed  operators,
who ask what kind of handheld radio they should buy. To help them answer
their own question, you need to ask them about their amateur radio goals.
After that, it is a matter of budget and choosing based on the feature set
that will meet the need. There is no point in simply heading for the store
and buying the most expensive radio, since that unit may have features that
the user will never need, and it may present a really tough learning
challenge with nested menus to run all of those fancy options. 

The single most-recommended radio in our office is (drum roll, please) the
fairly humble Kenwood TH-F6A. No, I don't own one myself, but I know plenty
of folks who do, and they like the modest price and the relative ease of
access to the menu system for blind users. Even cheaper radios can be had
for around $100, like the Icom IC-V8 Sport, and if you don't need easy blind
access and only want 2 meters, why spend more? 

There is good reason to be cautious with your ham radio station. That 70
foot tower anchored in yards of concrete may seem like a good idea when you
get the DX bug, but when the antenna way up at the top needs maintenance or
your employer transfers you and you have to sell the property, well, let's
just say that you might have been better off making do with a simpler,
cheaper, more manageable antenna system. A full-featured all-band
transceiver costing in excess of $10,000 is appropriate for some users, but
it seems absurd to connect it to a short wire antenna in a cramped back
yard. You have to make sensible choices, but I like to advise folks to
distill the radio down to its essence. Buy the gear you need, but to really
know what you need, you have to do your research. 


Wednesday Evening EchoLink Net

Wednesday Evening EchoLink Net happy guy with headset

Tomorrow is Wednesday, and that means the Handiham EchoLink net will be on
the air. Please join us and check in or simply listen in, as you see fit:


Wednesday evenings at 19:30 hours Minnesota time (7:30 PM)
GMT: Thursday morning at 00:30 Z


145.450 MHz N0BVE repeater (Minneapolis-St. Paul) 
Node 89680 (EchoLink worldwide) 
IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector) 
WIRES system number 1427

Everyone is welcome. You do not need to be a member, and the net is relaxed,
friendly, and informal. 

By the way, our Net Manager Howard, KE7KNN, reminds us that we need net
control stations for the Wednesday evening net and for the Monday through
Saturday morning net. If you are in the Twin Cities, all you need is a radio
that can get on the 145.45 N0BVE repeater, and if you live outside the RF
area, you can still be net control via EchoLink, IRLP, or WIRES. 


This week at Headquarters:

 <http://www.handiham.org/node/476> We are on Twitter!

 <http://www.handiham.org/sites/default/files/images/ham_mobile.jpg> We are
on Twitter!

Look for us on Twitter by searching for "handiham". We invite you to follow
us. Handiham web page posts are now "tweeted" automatically!

.         Tentative MN Radio Camp dates for 2010, Camp Courage: 

Arrive Friday, May 21

Class days: Sa, Su, M, Tu, W

VE Exam Day: Th

Depart Friday, May 28


.         VOLLI is now in service.  It stands for VOLunteer Log In, and is a
way for our Handiham volunteers to register and then enter their volunteer
hours without having to fool around with paper records.  We encourage
volunteers to create a username and password, then submit their hours spent
recording audio, doing club presentations for us, and so on. Volunteer hours
are important, because United Way funding depends in part on volunteer
hours. If you are a volunteer and need a link to VOLLI, please email me at
wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx Our special thanks to my son Will, KC0LJL, who wrote the
Java code for VOLLI. He is studying in Tokyo this semester and sends a big
"hello" to our readers and listeners.

.         The Friday audio lectures return  this week.  There will be new
lectures posted by early afternoon on Friday, and a notification will be
sent by email.

.         The Remote Base at Courage North is in service. Please feel free
to use this wonderful member resource.  

.         Remote Base users who try the built-in IRB sound feature instead
of SKYPE are encouraged to send us reports on how the audio worked.

.         Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has recorded audio of the October Worldradio
(posted today) and the September CQ & QST digests, so check out the audio
page. The Friday notification email will have a link. If you are a member
and are not getting the Friday audio lectures notification, let us know and
we will get you on the list.

.         Bob will be retiring from reading QST soon. I got his email
address wrong last week. Please email Bob and thank him for his wonderful
work so far: n1blf@xxxxxxxxxxxx 

 Bob Zeida, N1BLF, at his recording studio

*       In Operating Skills: 

*       Volunteer reader Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, reads the September "Doctor is
in" column from QST for our blind members.  
*       Login to the <http://handiham.org/user>  member section of the
Handiham website and find the magazine digests in the Library. 

*       Stay in touch!  Be sure to send Nancy your change 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 or
call her toll-free at 1-866-426-3442. Mornings are the best time to contact



RNIB PenFriend Voice Labeling System, discovered by Ken, KB3LLA:

"A new voice labeling system by RNIB that allows users to easily record, and
re-record, information onto self-adhesive labels. This small pen shaped
recorder provides easy recognition sound and just four buttons in a simple
identifiable pattern. Instantly play back the recordings - no computer
required. Use the PenFriend to label food items, including freezer food and
even add cooking instructions, film and music collections, organize
household paperwork, record shopping lists or leave audio messages."

We can see where this might be useful in the ham shack for labeling
accessories, cables, and the like. It's the first device of this kind that
has been brought to our attention and is somewhat unique. 

Read more on the Independent Living Aids website: 


Text to speech technology reaches an inflection point, discovered by Chris,

"People with speech-impairing conditions like A.L.S., autism, Down syndrome
and strokes have started to discover that general-purpose devices, equipped
with downloadable text-to-speech software, can in many cases help them
communicate better and more cheaply than the proprietary speech devices
covered by Medicare and private health insurance."

Read more of this article by Ashlee Vance on the New York Times website, in
the Technology section: 



Reminder:  Handiham renewals are now on a monthly schedule - Please renew or
join, as we need you to keep our program strong!

You will have several choices when you renew:

*       Join at the usual $10 annual dues level for one year.
*       Join for three years at $30.
*       Lifetime membership is $100.
*       If you can't afford the dues, request a sponsored membership for the
*       Donate an extra amount of your choice to help support our
*       Discontinue your membership.

Please return your renewal form as soon as possible. 

Your support is critical! Please help. 

The Courage Handiham System 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. We would really appreciate
it if you would remember us in your estate plans. If you need a planning
kit, please call. If you are wondering whether a gift of stock can be given
to Handihams, the answer is yes! Please call Nancy at: 1-866-426-3442 or
email: <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 

Ask for a free DVD about the Handiham System. It's perfect for your club
program, too! The video tells your club about how we got started, the Radio
Camps, and working with hams who have disabilities. Call 1-866-426-3442


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

FREE! 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 www.handiham.org
<http://www.handiham.org/> .  
Email us to subscribe:  <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 

Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at
www.handiham.org <http://www.handiham.org/> :

. Beginner 
. General 
. Extra 
. Operating Skills


That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System!

Manager, Courage Handi-ham System
Reach me by email at:  <mailto:patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 

*       Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
*       Jerry, N0VOE, Student Coordinator: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
*       Avery, K0HLA, Educational Coordinator: avery.finn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
*       Pat, WA0TDA, Manager, patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
*       Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


ARRL </p />
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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!

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 wa0tda@xxxxxxxx for
changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and
your new address.


.         By wa0tda at 09/22/2009 - 20:55

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Courage Center Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN 55422
E-Mail: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

Toll-Free telephone: 1-866-HANDIHAM (1-866-426-3442) 

FAX:(763) 520-0577 Be sure to put "Handihams" in the FAX address! 

We look forward to hearing from you soon.


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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 09/22/09 - Patrick Tice