[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 09/30/09

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2009 14:39:17 -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:

Listen to an MP3 audio stream:
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Welcome to Handiham World!

Pat enjoys a cup of coffee from his Handiham mug.

Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November...  Yes, that's the
way I remember that September is one of those shorter months, and here we
are at the end of the summer season here in the northern hemisphere. There
have been a lot of changes in the works for the Handiham program, including
our plans for moving Radio Camp to Camp Courage, changing the date of the
camp session to the month of May, staffing cutbacks, and -- the one most
people have been asking about lately -- the office move. 

All of this change is not simply brought about by the current economic
recession, though some of it is definitely the result of having to work
within a tighter budget. While we would definitely prefer to keep all of our
staff on board, right now we simply cannot afford to do so. 

While I had hoped to have the office move completed by the end of September,
we are not quite there yet. Early October is the most likely time we will be
ready, but thanks to Avery and CJ (K0CJ) as well as George, N0SBU, and Mark,
WA0PYN, we have made excellent progress preparing for the move by getting
some of our equipment out of the way. The next step, coming in early
October, will be to move the storage cabinets out to Camp Courage so that we
have dry, dust-protected storage for donated equipment that will be used at
camp sessions and to move our file cabinets and other necessary office

Some of our members have not been keeping up with the news about the move
and have asked for equipment through the equipment loan program. Since Avery
operated the equipment loan program, that part of our services has been
suspended temporarily while we figure out how it is going to be handled in
the future. At least for the year 2010, we will be distributing equipment to
campers at radio camp. This compromise position on distributing equipment
allows us to continue to serve members with this part of the program while
avoiding the time-consuming and expensive packing and shipping associated
with the traditional equipment program. It will still get equipment into the
hands of members who need it. Those members who have already borrowed
equipment through the loan program will see no change at all, since they may
continue to keep the equipment on loan as long as they are using it and
keeping up with their Handiham membership obligations.

One of the common questions we are hearing is what our contact information
will be. The telephone numbers for Jerry Kloss and Avery Finn will be
discontinued. The numbers for Nancy and me will remain in service. E-mail to
Nancy and me will remain the same, but you should delete Courage Center
e-mail addresses for Avery and Jerry. If you have questions about e-mail
addresses, you may always contact me at my wa0tda@xxxxxxxx address. We must
not forget about where mail should be sent. It's pretty easy; any mail sent
to our current address, 3915 Golden Valley Road, will reach us as always. If
we make any changes in any of this contact information, you will hear about
it through your weekly e-mail newsletter and on the Handiham website, which,
of course, will remain at Handiham.org. 

Several of you have asked what the new headquarters station will be like. We
think the station will be much more functional because we will be located in
a rural area where there is little powerline interference or other
electrical noise. As many of you know from following our newsletters over
the past few years, electrical noise from the ventilation system at Courage
Center has been the bane of HF operation at W0ZSW. In fact, the electrical
noise is so severe that practical HF operation has come to a complete halt.
Energy-saving motor control systems are the culprit, and it is with much
relief that we can finally say goodbye to this terrible RF interference
problem. Camp Courage has most of its electrical wiring running underground,
making for a quiet RF environment. Our station will be located in the
basement of the camp reception center. Reception, in this case, refers to
the place where visitors to camp stop first to do business, register as
visitors, drop off packages or mail if they are making deliveries, and so
on. Ironically, "reception" can also refer to radio reception, which we will
finally be able to enjoy again on the HF bands. Don't let the fact that we
are in the basement cause you to assume that the station can only be reached
by going down a dark stairway, pushing aside the cobwebs, and making your
way to a dark corner behind the furnace. No, it is not like that at all. The
basement is a walk-out, so there are windows and a door directly out to the
parking area behind the building. Bright sunshine and no steps -- that's
what will greet you as you come into the new Handiham headquarters station
at Camp Courage. Wheelchair users will find the station area accessible.
Those of you who are familiar with the station at Courage North or the
station at Courage St. Croix will recognize the familiar cabinet housing the
station equipment. The carpeted floor helps to hold down noise and the
well-placed bright florescent lighting makes the area a good workplace.

Radio Camp at the new location will also be a great improvement in many
ways. As much as we like Courage North, the newer cabins at Camp Courage
provide better, more accessible space for wheelchair users. The new cabins
are state-of-the-art and will make the Radio Camp experience much more
enjoyable for everyone. Since we are also on a lake at Camp Courage, we will
continue to have the same fun with waterfront activities like the pontoon
boat maritime mobile operation, sailing, and perhaps even a visit to an
island in the lake. The month of May should provide us with temperate
weather in late Spring, not too hot and not too cold. The setting of Camp
Courage, which is three times larger than the acreage at Courage North, is
in hardwood forest rather than pine forest, which will be a change -- but
not a bad one, because both locations are scenic and designed to be
accessible. Radio Camp first began at Camp Courage, and was held in the
month of May. At that time, it was considered a "convocation", more like a
meeting that extended over several days. Today's modern Radio Camp session
is a week long and includes much more amateur radio education and more

Yes, I know these are big changes and that some of them are more than a
little difficult. No one wants to say goodbye to regular staff members like
Avery and Jerry. One good thing about amateur radio is that it has always
been a helpful community of dedicated volunteers, whether hams helping other
hams through their local radio clubs, friends working together, or through
an organization like ARRL or the Handihams.  We know that both of these
friendly "Elmers" will continue to help other amateur radio operators in
every way that they can. As we move into the coming year, we are already
seeing signs of economic recovery around the world. Hopefully our volunteers
and supporters will continue to enjoy working with us and making sure that
we build even more financial stability into the Handiham program. The new
headquarters station will be really great, and we even hope to install a
second Handiham Remote Base to fill the needs of our members who cannot put
up regular antenna systems. Change, whatever inconvenience it may bring us,
also holds the promise of opportunity. We will be looking forward, building
on what we have and making sure that our core services continue to meet the
needs of Handiham members.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx 
Handiham Manager


Microsoft offers free security software

computer bug - beetle with screen

While browsing the MSNBC website, I saw  that this free security  software
was released on Tuesday, though it has been under beta test for some time.
Here is what the Microsoft website says:

Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC
that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free* download from Microsoft that is
simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be
assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It's easy to tell if
your PC is secure - when you're green, you're good. It's that simple.

*Your PC must run genuine Windows to install Microsoft Security Essentials.

I will be testing Microsoft Security Essentials on several machines. When
you go to the download site, you will be given a choice of 32 or 64 bit
versions, so be sure you know which version of Windows you are using. Here
is the link:


Frankly, I have been less than completely satisfied with the various
security software packages I have used over the years.  Some were huge and
bloated, and slowed the computer to a crawl.  Others nagged me about
everything or sent annoying renewal and update messages constantly. One
required reregistration over and over, even though it is supposed to be
free. The pay-for versions were no better, and sometimes even worse, because
they tried to do everything and had confusing interfaces or instructions. I
hope that the Microsoft Security Essentials leaves these problems behind,
but we will see. 

If you would like to read the MSNBC article, here is a link:

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

Remember, you must be running a valid, licensed copy of Microsoft Windows to
use this security software.


Beacon Award available to blind hams working PA QSO Party

Cartoon shows blind guy with white cane. He is petting a happy dog.

For the second year the Pennsylvania QSO Party will offer the "Beacon Award"
to the legally blind op with the most QSO's. The award is based on total
QSO's and not on score.

This year's party is October 10 - 11, 2009. Both in-state and out-of-state
hams are eligible for the award. There may be certificates awarded to
finishers other than first place. Rules and other info can be found at:


The sponsor had some web site problems which will be fixed tonight, updating
the rules for 2009. I was lucky enough to win the award last year with 614
QSO's. I've posted this info to both the blind-hams and blind-ham-ops lists.

73 and Thanks for your time,

Steve, KW3A


Avery's Spooky QTH:

Avery's spooky QTH - cartoon guy with HT & pumpkin

Welcome once again to my humble QTH:

Tomorrow it is October!

Pumpkins, October, Halloween and the Spook Patrol. Gosh! I can remember just
like it was yesterday. About 25 - 30 years ago I was living in a city with a
very small but active amateur radio club. Our meetings were in an old school
building that has long since been torn down. We had a meeting room and ham
station set up there. Many of the members were also in the local police
reserve unit and helped out the police with things like directing traffic
and crowd control at the Friday night Football games and other events.

Every Halloween a "Spook Patrol" was formed. The Police Reserve club members
(2 people per unit, one to drive and the other to work the radio, read
street signs, etc.) armed with official-looking magnetic signs placed on the
sides of their personal vehicles and E. F. Johnson 5-channel CB's converted
to the ten meter ham band installed were dispatched to different sections of
the town by the net control station.

One of the club members with a ten meter rig (the net control station) was
placed at the City Hall Police Station alongside the police dispatcher with
their radios, so there was direct communication between the Police Reserve
and the Police. The city had more hills and valleys than most, and there
were several spots where a mobile ten meter rig could not reach another one
which meant that sometimes a message had to be relayed from one car to
another before getting back to net control. Two meters and repeaters as we
know them today just did not exist back in those days. It was the function
of the Reserve to drive around the city and be additional eyes and ears for
the regular Police Officers who couldn't be everywhere all at once. If
anything was spotted that seemed wrong or out of the ordinary the reserve
person would call it in and a regular squad car was dispatched to check it

In the 4 or 5 years I took part in this operation not much very exciting
ever happened. Things were very quiet around town for a Halloween evening.
We all liked to think that all was quiet was a good thing and that it was
because of the "Spook Patrol". So, until next time...

73 es DX de K0HLA, Avery


Daily On The Air (DOTA)


By Patrick Tice, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx 

Since I see that people are emailing this vintage article from our website,
I've decided it's worth another run.

I've noticed that there isn't much activity on my local repeater. Perhaps
I'm just not listening at the right times, but I've sampled the repeater
throughout the day on different days of the week, and aside from some
scheduled net activity, users seem to be maintaining "radio silence"! I
don't think this is just true of my local repeater, either. Some repeaters
have always been more active than others, but the overall activity level
just seems to me to be down over the past few months. Every experienced ham
radio operator knows that there is an ebb and flow in ham radio interest and
activity, sometimes corresponding with the season. Here in North America,
during the winter, we are likely to be challenged by difficult driving
conditions that may spur an increase in repeater activity during commuter
"drive time". Ham radio is seen by some as a wintertime activity, so
repeater activity can pick up simply because people are stuck indoors. There
is a daily rhythm to the use of a typical repeater as well, with long-time
users sometimes appearing at the same time of day for a short exchange. But
getting back to my repeater, there are long, silent stretches of dead air
throughout most of the day. I know there are people out there either
listening at home or in their vehicles, but the repeater is still going
unused. What to do?

I decided that I'm going to try an experiment. I call it the "DOTA", or
"daily on the air". That way it rhymes with "GOTA", which, during Field Day,
stands for "get on the air". With DOTA I simply resolve to have a contact on
my local repeater every single day. It doesn't have to be long, nor does it
have to be at any particular time. It could be with a person I already know,
or it could be a random contact with a person I have never met on the air.

If I don't hear anyone, I will just say, "WA0TDA listening", and see if I
can shake someone loose! My DOTA plan went into effect this morning, and,
not hearing anyone on the repeater, I made a short call. Immediately,
another member of my radio club answered and we had a short conversation. He
told me about his new transceiver, and how he was planning to earn his HF
privileges. During the rest of the day, I think it might be a good idea to
listen to the repeater and see if I hear anyone calling. My QTH is only
about a mile south of interstate Highway 94, and I may be able to hear
stations new to the area as they operate mobile and check out the Twin
Cities repeaters. After all, if I were driving someplace and wanted to have
a QSO, I would want someone to answer me if I made a call on their repeater

My theory is that activity builds more activity. When a repeater is
perceived by the local ham radio community as one that is reasonably active,
it is more likely to get used. Try DOTA yourself and let me know if it works
for you.


Wednesday Evening EchoLink Net

Wednesday Evening EchoLink Net happy guy with headset

Today 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!

.         The members only website navigation structure was messed up by a
software error last Friday and was not rebuilt and reposted until Monday.
The new navigational structure is even easier to use and features no
graphics at all in the navigation bars. I apologize for this mess up, but in
the end it turned out all right because it forced me to remake the
navigation and bring it up to date.  In this case, old Murphy actually gave
us a hand!

.         Our Contact information is the same:

Courage Center Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road 
Golden Valley, MN  55422
763-520-0512 (Nancy)
763-520-0511 (Pat)



.         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 and
CQ 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.

.         Our new volunteer reader for QST is Michael Gregg, KA5EXI. Michael
is just completing his first digest of audio with the October issue, and I
think you will agree that he does a great job with nice, clear diction and
good technical quality.  As always, check the audio page for the latest
updates. One thing that I would like to have our blind members comment on is
the way we present the QST articles. Would it be useful to break up the
audio into distinct articles? Since this is the way Michael is recording
them, it might be practical to offer that option. Email me at
wa0tda@xxxxxxxx to comment.  

*       In Operating Skills: 

*       Volunteer reader Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, reads the October "Doctor is
in" column from QST for our blind members.  
*       Login to the member section of the <http://handiham.org/user>
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



Cheap radios that talk

Every so often someone lets me know about a Chinese-made handheld radio with
voice frequency output. Actually, there are very inexpensive Chinese radios
around, and a search on eHam produces some interesting links to reviews
containing statements like this one: "The annoyingly loud voice that speaks
English with bad Chinese accent can be muted with one simple command."

Well, the other things is that we don't know if these radios are
type-accepted for use in the United States, but we would love to hear from
someone who has tried one of the "Quansheng" radios. Good, bad, ugly...?
Give us the story!

One anecdote that I heard was that the radios are not particularly easy to
use, in spite of the voice frequency output. But that's a subjective thing,
and we would like to learn more. 

In the meantime, you may find these reviews amusing, if not completely


Here comes the virtual machine

You may not have heard of so-called "virtual machines" yet, but you will.
The concept allows an operating system with all of its installed software,
some of it perhaps too old to run on a newer operating system, to run within
your existing operating system.  The reason you will hear about virtual
machines is that when Windows 7 is released in about three weeks, one of its
features will be the ability to run the much-beloved, venerable Windows XP
within a virtual machine environment. Click on the virtual machine icon, and
you can run XP within a window, and that's pretty cool if you have older
software that only runs on XP. There is a bit more to getting this system to
work from Windows 7, such as having a processor that supports virtualization
and enabling this hardware feature in your computer's BIOS settings. On the
other hand, you can download XP free of charge to use within a virtual
machine if you own a legal copy of Windows 7.

There is, however, an interest in running other operating systems. That is
where open source software comes to the rescue. Check out VirtualBox from
Sun Microsystems:

"VirtualBox runs on Windows, Linux, Macintosh and OpenSolaris hosts and
supports a large number of guest operating
<http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Guest_OSes>  systems including but not
limited to Windows (NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista, Windows 7),
DOS/Windows 3.x, Linux (2.4 and 2.6), Solaris and OpenSolaris, and OpenBSD."

Read more here: 



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
*       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 09/30/2009 - 14:33

.         Add new comment

.         Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/576>  version

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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 09/30/09 - Patrick Tice