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 podcast: http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham _____ Welcome to Handiham World! Blank Sun continues - "Blankest sun of the space age" - frustrates ham radio operators Blank Sun <http://www.handiham.org/sites/default/files/images/blank_sun.gif> 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 propagation." 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. FULL STORY at: <http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/30sep_blankyear.htm?list6529> http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/30sep_blankyear.htm?list6529 Patrick Tice wa0tda@xxxxxxxx Handiham Manager _____ Avery's QTH Avery's QTH <http://www.handiham.org/sites/default/files/images/avery_round_0.jpg> 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 letters. 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 letters". 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 disaster. 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 763-520-0515 _____ Handiham Office Hours Handiham Office Hours <http://www.handiham.org/sites/default/files/images/handiham_system_logo_0.j pg> 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 patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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 <http://www.handiham.org/images/angry.gif> 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! _____ Letters 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! <http://www.arrl.org/news/features/2008/09/26/10352/?nc=1> http://www.arrl.org/news/features/2008/09/26/10352/?nc=1 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 <http://handiham.org/images/cscant.gif> * 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 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. 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> 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 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@xxxxxxxxxxx> 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! Pat, WA0TDA Manager, Courage Handi-ham System Reach me by email at: <mailto:patt@xxxxxxxxxxx> 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 GMT 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 <http://www.arrl.org/fcc/fcclook.php3> ARRL <http://www.artscipub.com/repeaters/> ArtSci Repeater Directory Buckmaster <http://www.buck.com/cgi-bin/do_hamcall> <http://www.fcc.gov/wtb/uls/> FCC ULS <http://www.qrz.com/> QRZ <http://www.rac.ca/callbook/> RAC <http://www.wm7d.net/fcc_uls/ulsquery.html> WM7D Poll The HF antenna I use most is a: Beam 0% Dipole 27% Vertical 45% Quad 0% Mobile 0% Other wire antenna 27% I don't get on the HF bands 0% Total votes: 11 * Older polls <http://www.handiham.org/poll> W3C CSS Compliant <http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/> Valid CSS!