[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 1 October 2008

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 1 Oct 2008 10:51:43 -0500


This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center's
Handiham System <http://handiham.org/> . Please do not reply to this
message. Use the contact information at the end, or simply email
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxx Listen in MP3 audio:
http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u or get this issue as an audio


Welcome to Handiham World!

Blank Sun continues - "Blankest sun of the space age" - frustrates ham radio

 Blank Sun

Image credit: SOHO/MDI

After a brief "tease" of a small sunspot appearance last week, the sun is
once again completely blank as we end the month of September. Ham radio
operators around the world have eagerly anticipated the start of the next
solar cycle after what has seemed like a really, really long solar minimum.
There was hope aplenty back on 4 January 2008, when the first sunspot of new
cycle 24 appeared.

Although seasoned radio operators will know all of this, a visit to
Wikipedia gives the new ham some background on why the 11 year solar cycle
is important to amateur radio:

"Solar flares also create a wide spectrum of radio noise; at VHF (and under
unusual conditions at HF) this noise may interfere directly with a wanted
signal. The frequency with which a radio operator experiences solar flare
effects will vary with the approximately 11-year sunspot cycle; more effects
occur during solar maximum (when flare occurrence is high) than during solar
minimum (when flare occurrence is very low). A radio operator can experience
great difficulty in transmitting or receiving signals during solar flares
due to more noise and different propagation patterns. However, sunspots can
greatly increase the distances achieved on certain bands, and so are useful
to radio amateurs. This is because the sunspots strengthens the ionosphere,
and cause less radio waves to pass through and therefore increases

As we can see from the preceding quote, the appearance of more sunspots and
the buildup of solar flare activity go hand in hand. While this may seem
like a mixed blessing to a ham radio newbie who has never experienced a
solar maximum, those of us who have operated through one will never forget
the extraordinary benefits:

The 10 meter band comes alive, making it possible to work worldwide DX with
low power, sometimes only a few Watts and very simple antennas.

The other high frequency bands are open, too, sometimes into the evening. 15
meters is a joy, because there is plenty of spectrum and a great north-south
DX path. We could even start using 17 meters again, reviving the non-net
Handiham get-together started during the last solar maximum by Alan Davis,
K2WS, who has a big signal from Long Island.

And because there is more usable spectrum during solar maximum, some of the
DX pressure comes off the often-crowded 20 meter band. 75 and 40 meters
remain useful throughout the solar cycle, but some operators who usually
hang out on those bands will move up in frequency to 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10
meter bands. There may even be somewhat of a migration from two meters and
the EchoLink system as hams rush to get on the world-wide DX bands.

That is the kind of excitement and fun a solar maximum can deliver. So if
you are new ham wondering what the old timers are waiting for with long
faces while we experience a blank sun, now you know! There will never be a
better time to take on challenges like WAS (Worked All States), DXCC, and
multiband DXCC. C'mon sun!

Update! NASA Science News for September 30, 2008 reported that astronomers
who count sunspots have announced that 2008 has become the "blankest year"
of the Space Age. Sunspot counts are at a 50-year low, signifying a deep
minimum in the 11-year cycle of solar activity.



Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager


Avery's QTH

 Avery's QTH

Welcome once again to my humble QTH:

I was showing a relatively new ham how to operate on the air and the proper
procedures to handle a net and even how to be a net control. Some time has
passed and I just received an email from that person stating how much fun I
seemed to have while on the air. They couldn't get over the fact that I
seemed to learn most of the calls and names so quickly. As it turned out
many of the people checking into this particular net were people I have
known for many years, so it was just second nature for me to be able to put
the right calls with the appropriate person. This was nothing very special.
It is much like a group of old friends getting together and everyone knows
everyone's first and last name, only in this case it was first name and call

For the newer amateur radio operators this must seem a bit unusual though.
For the old timers this is just normal. At Dayton Hamvention one year I was
walking across a part of the huge parking lot where many people were setting
up in the flea market part of the event. All of a sudden I hear someone
yelling out my name. I turned and looked but didn't recognize anyone in the
immediate area. Then I heard it again and one of the people started toward
me. It was a ham I had talked to on the air and he had noticed my call
letters on my hat. Well, we had become friends over the air and now we had
the opportunity to meet in person. There was plenty to talk about now that
we had all those on the air conversations to continue. Neither of us had
known the other was going to be at Dayton.

Every now and again someone will contact me and say, "I remember those call

Then we begin where we left off several years ago. A couple times someone
mentioned how I helped them get into ham radio and it was so long ago I am
embarrassed that I don't remember them.

As it seems to me no matter where in the world you go and you meet another
ham almost with out fail you have made a friend. And, as I have said in the
past, amateur radio is like one big huge sorority / fraternity all rolled
into one. Someone once called amateur radio the "KING" of hobbies, and truly
it is because of all the different things that can be done with the hobby.
In the event of an emergency when all else fails amateur radio gets the
communications through. It also has some very practical uses as well. All
that fun and practice comes in very handy when it really counts in a natural

I hope that several years from now those new hams of today will be showing
the next generation of new hams all the ins and outs of the world we call
Amateur Radio.

So, until next time 73 es DX
from K0HLA, Avery

You can contact me at:

 <mailto:Avery.finn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> Avery.finn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx



Handiham Office Hours

 Handiham Office Hours

We are changing our office hours this week. In order to save energy, we are
going to a four day work week at the Handiham office. Courage Center will be
open as usual, but the Handiham offices will be closed each Friday.

Our regular office days will be Monday through Thursday. The office is
generally open between the hours of 8:30 AM and 2:00 PM on those days, so if
you are planning a visit or a phone call, mornings are best.

If you would like to visit in person, we suggest making an appointment by
calling Nancy at 763-520-0512, or emailing her at
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Sometime our schedules vary and an appointment
assures that you will be able to enjoy your visit.

Training at the radio and computer stations does require an appointment with
a staff member. One on one training is available for EchoLink net operation,
HF station operation, and Handiham Remote Base operation. The daily EchoLink
net begins at 11:00 CT each morning. If you are licensed and wish to be net
control at the headquarters station, please contact Nancy so that we can
make sure the station is available.

Your email questions to Handiham Manager Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, will be
answered through the week, including Fridays and usually on the weekends as
well. For tech support problems with the website, you may contact Pat at

Friday is online audio lecture day. If you are studying through one of our
online audio lecture courses, new lectures are generally posted on Fridays,
typically by 3:00 PM CT.


Media Hits: PICONET Get-Together Gets Press Coverage

 <http://www.handiham.org/node/171> Media Hits 

The PICONET get-together, an annual informal luncheon and meeting, provides
an opportunity for members of the Midwestern regional HF net known as
"PICONET" to actually network in person instead of on the radio. This
long-running net was started almost 40 years ago, and participants have come
and gone, with many aging gracefully, still connected with their friends in
the world of ham radio. As the article points out, newcomers to the net
include teenagers, about to embark on what will become a lifelong learning
experience - and a lifelong community of friends.

The Courage Center Handiham System provided the after lunch program, with
Handiham Manager Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, speaking and answering questions
about Courage Center, Courage Camps, and the Handiham System.

Read the article on the Park Rapids Enterprise website:

 <http://www.parkrapidsenterprise.com/> http://www.parkrapidsenterprise.com

Look for the story entitled: "Ham radio operators world-wide talkers".


 cartoon guy shaking fist at computer

Comcast enforces new policy on Internet usage starting today, October 1. 

Comcast Internet users recently received the following notice by email:

On October 1, 2008, we will post an updated Acceptable Use Policy that will
go into effect at that time. In the updated AUP, we clarify that monthly
data (or bandwidth) usage of more than 250 Gigabytes (GB) is the specific
threshold that defines excessive use of our service. We have an excessive
use policy because a fraction of one percent of our customers use such a
disproportionate amount of bandwidth every month that they may degrade the
online experience of other customers.

I received one of these myself, since I am a Comcast customer. The service
has been fast, reliable, and - until now - unlimited. However, as Comcast
points out, 250 GB is an extraordinary amount of data, so I guess we will
see what happens. I know that many of our Handiham members also use Comcast
as their Internet provider. User comments are welcome, especially if you are
a heavy user and get a notice that you are at or over the 250 GB limit. 

In the for-what-it's-worth department, even those of us who run EchoLink
nodes, stream Internet audio, and play online games should have no problem
staying well within the new limit. I expect the major concern will be for
the few users who use so-called "torrents", or file sharing systems often
used to share large files, such as video files.

So rest easy, Comcast customers.  The Handiham remote base and the EchoLink
net won't break your digital bank!



 QCWA Logo <http://www.handiham.org/images/qcwa.gif> 

Dear Handihams,

I am sending an invitation to anyone who was interested to check in to the
QCWA Golden Triangle Chapter 173 net every Tuesday at 7:30 PM Eastern time.
On Tuesday, Oct. 7, we will be moving the net to 8:00 PM Eastern Time. It
will be followed by a newly sponsored QCWA trader's net at 8:30 PM. All
amateurs are welcome. You need not be a QCWA member to participate. The
Echolink node number is 360259.

73 from KB4NXE, Clermont, FL.



 ARRL </p />
<p>diamond logo <http://www.handiham.org/images/arrllogo.gif> 

Dear Handihams, 

This Surfin': Playing Safe column by Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, looks good. It
might be something for the newsletter!


73 from N0SBU, George, The Second Base Umpire

We say: George, you are right!  Stan's collection of safety links is not to
be missed. Included are antenna and tower safety, RF safety, electrical
safety, lightning safety, and much more. Don't assume you never need to
think about a safety review, because all of us get complacent and sometimes
make mistakes - errors that can get us into trouble. Do your reading and
remind yourself of safety basics.


 LDG Talking Meter <http://www.handiham.org/images/TW1_sm.jpg> 

Dear Handihams,

A long time ago, I sent you my review of the TW-1 but I never sent you a
review of the TW-2. It has been a long time since I checked it out but I
believe I can confirm the inaccuracy on 6 meters. More important, I believe
it does a pretty good job with SWR. I bought one for a friend, WA2LTM, to
use in his mobile station. He notes that the power readings vary with
temperature. The bridge portion is etched on a piece of circuit board. I
guess that the circuit board material is responsible for the temperature
variations. Also, I do know that the circuit board does warm up at higher
power levels. I wish that the TW-2 had been designed for high power (at
least 1 KW) applications but I still have found plenty of use for the unit.
I own three of them. One is connected between the TS-2000 and the input of
my Commander-2 amp. With the amp in standby, I can quickly check the antenna
SWR. When tuning the amplifier, I can quickly tune the input for minimum SWR
which is the proper way to do it. I have the same setup for 432 mhz. I
didn't know that LDG had discontinued the TW-2 and I'm sorry to hear it. I
believe that every blind VHFer should own one. The bridge could have been
better but LDG did great work with the software. I keep wondering if the
readout portion could be adapted to work with the Bird watt meter. Maybe
some day I'll try it. 

73, Pete,  K1PXE


This week at Headquarters

 Our antenna and tower at Courage St. Croix

*       A FREE General Class Course is in progress at Courage Center St.
Croix in Stillwater, MN, continuing this Thursday evening, October 2. Class
begins at 7:00 PM. The class is free to everyone, and is held in a
completely wheelchair accessible environment. It is team-taught by members
of the Stillwater Amateur Radio Association, and since I'm a member, I'll be
teaching the Rules & Regulations portion of the course this Thursday
evening. The textbook is the ARRL General Class License Manual, 6th edition.
If you live in the eastern Twin Cities metro area or nearby western
Wisconsin and want to upgrade from Technician, this is a great opportunity!
Find out more at http://www.radioham.org <http://www.radioham.org/>  or
simply email me at wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx  

*       The October QST, QCWA Journal, & WORLDRADIO audio digests are
available for our members. Login to the member section of the
<http://handiham.org/user> Handiham website and find the magazine digests in
the Library. The October QST and Worldradio magazine digests have been read
by Bob, N1BLF.  We have added CQ Magazine digest in the September audio for
our members who do not use regular print and are waiting for the latest
(October) issue. 

*       We expect the audio tape digest to go out on Thursday. 

*       The Handiham office goes to a new schedule in October. We will be
closed on Fridays.  That means that the phones will not be answered, because
no one is in the office. However, the Friday audio lectures will be produced
as usual, and I will answer email to patt@xxxxxxxxxxx as usual. Regular
office days will be Monday through Thursday. Friday, October 3, is the first
day this new schedule has us out of the office. Courage Center is also
installing a new phone system. When I find out more about how this will
affect our members, I will let you know. Handiham staff will get an hour and
a half of training on the new system in mid-October. We are all curious
about how different the new system must be to require that much training.
It's a good thing we love learning technology and like new gadgets! Anyway,
it will help us serve you better and faster. 

*       The remote base beta test continues, and we invite potential beta
testers with Advanced licenses to email us at wa0tda@xxxxxxxx if you think
you can figure out how to run the station without too much tech support. As
one member correctly noted, Advanced class holders are likely to have the
experience necessary to operate the station, so they should be on a par with
Extra licensees! It's certainly true that Advanced ticket holders have
passed exams at least as difficult as Extras, and have done so long enough
ago to have garnered a fair amount of on the air operating experience. The
basic information on the remote base is available in the members only
section of the website. 

*       We have added an "audio this week" link at the top of the member
page once you log in. This is a good place to find out what audio is new on
our website each week, including magazine digests and audio lectures. This
page is updated on Fridays. 

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@xxxxxxxxxxx or call her
toll-free at 1-866-426-3442. Mornings are the best time to contact us. 


 Huge alligator grabbing Pat, WA0TDA
<http://handiham.org/images/alligator.jpg> Reminder:  Handiham renewals are
now on a monthly schedule - Please renew or join, as we need you to keep our
program strong!

Image: Meet our new dues collection agent! A huge alligator grabs Pat,
WA0TDA.  "Sure wish I'd renewed my Handiham dues sooner." 

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. There is a postage paid
envelope provided, and you won't get a visit from you-know-who.

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@xxxxxxxxxxx> 

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@xxxxxxxxxxx> 

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@xxxxxxxxxxx> 

*       Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxx

*       Jerry, N0VOE, Student Coordinator: jerry.kloss@xxxxxxxxxxx

*       Avery, K0HLA, Educational Coordinator: avery.finn@xxxxxxxxxxx 

*       Pat, WA0TDA, Manager, patt@xxxxxxxxxxx

*       Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxx 


 ARRL </p />
<p>diamond logo <http://www.handiham.org/images/arrllogo.gif> 

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.


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

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. 


World Time Now



Monday HF net 14.265 MHz at 15:30 UTC


Handiham HQ Time 

Echolink Net on node 89680 at 11:00 hours M-Sa

Lookup Services

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