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: Listen to an MP3 audio stream: <http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u> http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u Download the MP3 audio to your portable player: http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3 Get this issue as an audio podcast: http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham _____ 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 visible: "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 nights": "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 countries. 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 stations. 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 _____ TIPSnet transceiver 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> http://new-eng.com TIPSnet on the web: <http://www.tipsnet.org> http://www.tipsnet.org Email: <mailto:tipsnet@xxxxxxxxxxx> tipsnet@xxxxxxxxxxx _____ Avery's QTH is taking the week off. _____ Ramblings 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: When: Wednesday evenings at 19:30 hours Minnesota time (7:30 PM) GMT: Thursday morning at 00:30 Z Where: 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 us. _____ Elsewhere: 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: http://tinyurl.com/m25g7b Text to speech technology reaches an inflection point, discovered by Chris, KG0BP: "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: http://tinyurl.com/mhyuav _____ 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 year. * Donate an extra amount of your choice to help support our activities. * 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> 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 toll-free. DONATE USED HAM GEAR 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> 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! Pat, WA0TDA Manager, Courage Handi-ham System Reach me by email at: <mailto:patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 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 /> <p>diamond logo 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 . Login <http://www.handiham.org/user/login?destination=comment/reply/574%2523commen t-form> to post comments . Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/574> version . Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/574> to friend _____ 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.