Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 12 August 2009 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! Where to go with the equipment program? * Will I be able to keep the rig I have on loan? * Will anything still get loaned out in the future? * Will the new Technicians at Radio Camp still be issued radios? Where to go with the equipment program? CJ works on gear in teh shop. Photo: K0CJ, "CJ", works on a piece of donated equipment in the Handiham shop. We will be keeping part of the equipment program. Avery Finn, K0HLA, will be retiring from the Handiham staff at the end of September. Among Avery's many other duties, the Handiham equipment loan program has been one that has taken considerable time and effort. Without staff hours to support it, the equipment program will have to be scaled back, but exactly how far is still a question. Continue reading to find out why. To understand the equipment program, you need to look back a few years into its history. In the days of discrete electronic components like vacuum tubes and even individual transistors, ham radio equipment was much simpler. That meant that it could be repaired by our staff of shop volunteers. Equipment could be donated to the Handiham program, fixed up or modified for use by members with disabilities, and loaned indefinitely to get them on the air. Usually it was possible to get several helpers to install the equipment and make sure that it stayed on the air, and that included putting up and maintaining antennas. Today the situation is very different. The ham radio equipment of today is better and more reliable than ever, but it is complicated, jam-packed with surface-mount components, and cannot be repaired outside a well-equipped commercial shop, often one specializing in a particular brand. It was in the late 1990's that the Handiham shop had to reluctantly stop taking member rigs in for repair. Donations of used equipment were - and still are - accepted, but repairs are generally confined to the most basic fixes. Modifications are usually out of the question, and the equipment is either set aside for members if it is appropriate and in working condition, or sold to bring in money to support the entire Handiham program. Several years ago, Gary Gordon, K6KV, had a great idea: Provide new radios to our new Technician licensees who passed their exams at radio camp, and they would be off to a good start in ham radio. Gary began the program with funding to buy radios for those first campers, and we were able to send new hams home from radio camp with their radios - all they had to do was wait for their licenses to be processed by the FCC, and they could get on the air! That part of the equipment program had some rough spots, too. We found that training unlicensed Technician candidates on using the new handheld radios was difficult and time-consuming in the radio camp setting, especially since each of them required a control operator and they were already busy studying for their licenses and had little time to spare during the busy camp week. Nonetheless, this part of the equipment program is easy to administer, because now we simply order new radios after the camp is finished, and have them sent directly to the new licensees. It is one part of the equipment program that we can keep, even with Avery leaving the staff. The used equipment program is another story. Getting back to what has been happening in the recent past, the development of personal computers and the Internet have impacted the way ham radio operators buy and sell equipment. As anyone who has tried to run a hamfest will tell you, Internet sites like eBay have taken a great deal of the used equipment trade out of the local hamfest arena. This, of course, is simply change resulting from new technologies. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but it has really diminished gift-in-kind donations of good, working ham gear to our equipment program. Now we have much less donated gear coming in, fewer volunteers who understand how to work on it, and fewer staff hours to acknowledge the donations, record and track them, and pair them with members who need the equipment. Furthermore, storage space for equipment is limited. The logistics of dealing with it are challenging, too. Well-meaning donors have left us sitting with old computer equipment or electronic equipment that presents a disposal problem and can actually cost us money. Others have offered us towers and beam antennas - all we have to do is to take them down, which, of course we don't have the staff to do. Members have sold borrowed equipment and then asked for more. Others want equipment to be shipped to them but have no money to pay for shipping, no way to install the equipment themselves, and no antenna system. Some try to "order" specific gear, as if they are ordering from a retailer with a huge stock of radios. They get upset when they find out that we don't have exactly what they want - for free! A small number of members call day after day, asking about equipment, keeping Avery on the phone answering their same questions over and over. You can appreciate the patience Avery has to have to deal with all of this every day. So you can see our dilemma. We have loaned equipment out there, and want to continue this service. On the plus side, if you already have loaned gear, you can still keep it out on loan. Let me summarize what we will do for now: 1. The equipment currently on loan will stay on loan. 2. The new radio for new Technician licensees at Radio Camp part of the program will continue. 3. The Remote Base program will be continued and strengthened, allowing our members access to the TS-480 as a way to get on HF. We hope to add a second, higher-power TS-480 sometime in the coming year to help make up for the lack of loaner equipment. 4. We will continue to accept donations of used ham gear, but we are still trying to figure out how to handle this, including the storage and assessment. 5. While we restructure the program, we will not make any new loans of used gear. 6. Since we do not have the staff to maintain cataloging, packing, and shipping of used equipment, nor will we have time to answer phone questions about loaned equipment, we will instead provide the used equipment to our campers at Radio Camp if it is available. 7. We will not have the facilities to repair any equipment. If you have loaned gear and it breaks, you can send it to a commercial repair service at your own expense or else contact us for instructions on how to dispose of it. 8. Updates to this information will be on the Handiham website. Thankfully, Avery will continue with us as a volunteer and will be able to help with the changes to the equipment program and with other activities like helping our members work with the FCC on renewals and address changes. The equipment loan program can live on in a changed form, as described above, but times have changed and we must change, too. Patrick Tice, WA0TDA wa0tda@xxxxxxxx Handiham Manager _____ Office hours change this week Avery in the ham shack Avery is not in the office this Wednesday. Because we are getting ready for Radio Camp, he will instead be in the office Friday, when he will help George, N0SBU, pack equipment for camp. _____ Handiham History Project: W200ZSW Handiham History Project: W200ZSW The year was 1988, the bicentennial of the Constitution of the United States of America. To celebrate with a special event, the Handiham station was granted a special callsign: W200ZSW. A handsome certificate was available for making a contact with the station, and that document is pictured here, thanks to a scan by George, N0SBU, as he works on the History Project. The text reads: "The Courage Handi-Ham System joins the Nation and Minnesota in celebration of the bicentennial of the United States Constitution." The certificate goes on to explain a little about the Handiham System and gives the Golden Valley address. The border is decorated with a fancy gold design, and there is a drawing of the Minnesota State bird, the Loon, which looks sort of like a duck that floats low in the water and has spots on its back. It is signed by Bruce, K0HR. Accompanying the certificate, we take a look at a vintage QSL card from a ham radio operator who made contact with W200ZSW. Here is a QSL card that will bring back memories for many hams around the world. Marv Mahre, W0MGI, is a very active amateur radio operator. What you may not know about Marv is that for years he operated a QSL card printing business, and his beautiful designs are still tacked onto many ham shack walls. This particular card was printed on glossy white card stock in three colors plus black. The cartoon image, which really looks like him, shows a smiling, bespectacled Marv banging with his fist on a J-38 Morse code key. Logos for various organizations Marv belonged to at the time, including ARRL, QCWA, and the St. Paul, Minnesota Amateur Radio Club, as well as the Society of Wireless Pioneers logo, which is one I didn't even know about, are displayed prominently on the front of the card. w0mgi qsl front w0mgi qsl back The text of Marv's card is just as interesting. It states Marv's old German call, DL4HQ, from the time he was stationed in Europe in the early 1950's. He has always been interested in railroads, and the card says, "RAILFAN". Finally, at the bottom on the card's front face, are the words "Assistant Director - Dakota Division". The back of the card is arranged in the typical "post card" style, with a space on the right-hand side for postage and the recipient's address. The left side has a form for the details of the contact, which in this case was with special event station W200ZSW in May of 1988. The special callsign was also issued to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the USA Constitution. In his remarks, Marv says, "My mobile rig used in a hurry to make the contact." QSL cards are not as common as they once were, and that is kind of a shame. It was always fun to get a card like Marv's, even for a mobile contact. Hams proudly displayed their QSL card collections on bulletin boards, in special plastic QSL card holders, and simply tacked onto walls. Logbook of the World, which can be used to efficiently confirm contacts, is more practical these days, but it is just not quite the same, is it? High postage rates may keep us from sending lots of cards, but you may still want to confirm those special contacts in this most traditional of ways: with the good, old ham radio QSL card! Incidentally, Marv is a member of the Handiham affiliated Stillwater Amateur Radio Association. He seldom misses a meeting, even the informal Thursday evening eyeball QSO sessions in Stillwater, Minnesota. On the air daily, Marv is still among the most active operators in the club. We will bet that you have vintage QSL cards, too. If you can send a scan or photo of your vintage QSL cards, we will feature them here. What the heck - the HF bands are still pretty poor, so we might as well keep ourselves busy with vintage cards! Please send the images to wa0tda@xxxxxxxx along with a few words, if you wish, explaining the card or perhaps recalling those days when you were sending lots of these out. We will also feature your comments and callsign in the story. _____ Handiham Nets WA0TDA at the microphone Earlier this week, I spoke with a Handiham member from Texas. He was wondering if we had a 40 meter net. "Yes, we have two", I said. "One is a CW net and the other is a phone net." So I went on to explain about the CW net Paul, W8IRT, runs on Fridays, and about the Monday nets. I did have to admit that the HF nets have pretty much died, killed off by the interminably long sunspot minimum and by the horrible RF noise we have at Courage Center, which prevents us from hearing anything on the HF bands. In the days before all the RFI, we were able to pick up a net if there was no net control. Now we can't even hear anything on the band. If Handiham members themselves don't step up to the plate as net controls, the net does not run. Let's see what we can do about that! With the end of summer on the horizon, it is time to start thinking about HF operation again. Take a look at the Handiham Nets page and look for the information on the various times and frequencies. Monday is the day to remember, as that is the day we are supposed to run most of these HF nets. Take special note of the 40 meter SSB net: 7.272 MHz SSB, 14:30 - 15:00 United States Central Time Mondays: This frequency is a good bet in North America during the quiet atmospheric conditions of winter, but not so much in summer. During the summer months, the 7.272 net will begin at 20:30 GMT on Mondays. This would be a perfect time to start the 40 meter net again, since we will be at Radio Camp and the 3:30 PM time falls within our Operating Skills class time. Read the nets page for more information on all the nets: <http://www.handiham.org/node/537> http://www.handiham.org/node/537 _____ Wednesday Evening EchoLink Net Wednesday Evening EchoLink Net happy guy with headset It's Wednesday, and that means the Handiham EchoLink net is on the air tonight. 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. _____ Playing with the HAARP I read plenty of other stuff aside from ham radio publications, but I have to confess a preference for science and technology related books and magazines. One article that I found of particular interest appears in the August 2009 issue of Wired, entitled "Sky Lab". It's about controlling the ionosphere by transmitting high levels of radio frequency energy straight up from a massive array of specially-designed antennas. The system, called "HAARP" is the "High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program", a facility for the study of ionospheric physics and radio science. It's located in Gakona, Alaska, which is more or less in the southeastern part of the state and not particularly close to any major population centers, unless you count Anchorage, which is 200 miles to the southwest. I hadn't known anything about this research until coming across the Wired Magazine article by Noah Shachtman, but I was certainly interested, because amateur radio HF propagation depends in large part on the ionosphere. If HAARP is pumping huge levels of RF into the ionosphere, enough to make auroras appear over the northern reaches of North America, wouldn't that affect HF propagation - and VHF auroral propagation - for amateur radio operators? I decided to head for the internet and search for more resources. A visit to the Wired website paid off with a list of HAARP articles. You can locate them yourself by going to the site and putting HAARP into the search box, but I suggest you start with this one: Inside Alaska's Answer to Area 51 I bet that got your attention, right? Find the article at: <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/08/haarp-2/> http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/08/haarp-2/ Okay, so some of it is secret stuff, but you know what? The HAARP project has its own website, which you can freely visit to see some great photos of the facility and the antenna arrays: <http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/haarp/index.html> http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/haarp/index.html When you visit the HAARP website, mind the warning about the website's use. Essentially, HAARP can create artificial northern lights. That has to have some impact on amateur radio propagation, and it would be interesting to know if hams have a role to play in getting on the air when artificial auroras appear. If anyone knows more about this kind of research, and if the material is not classified and can be freely discussed, let us know. It is certainly intriguing for those of us who use ionospheric propagation for radio waves every day! If you care to read the Wired article, you will find it on page 70 of the August 2009 issue or on the Wired website: <http://www.wired.com/politics/security/magazine/17-08/mf_haarp> http://www.wired.com/politics/security/magazine/17-08/mf_haarp _____ This week at Headquarters: . The Friday audio lectures return again this week. Audio will be posted on Friday, though I cannot promise any new Extra lectures, since Radio Camp preparation is taking all of my time. . Avery is in the office this Friday. He is not in the office today, Wednesday. Avery returns to normal office hours next week, while Radio Camp is in session. Pat will not be available at the office during Radio Camp week and part of the following week. . Next week Radio Camp at Courage North will be in session. I cannot promise that we will publish a weekly e-letter, since my camp duties take first priority. The same goes for the Friday lecture notification. We will be publishing some Radio Camp contact information, and we hope to catch you on the air! Radio camp will have a working EchoLink node. . The Remote Base at Courage North was offline for several hours again this past week, but has returned to service. Once again, it was determined that someone at camp shut down our remote base server application and was using our server computer to run Facebook. We are implementing new security restrictions to prevent this from happening in the future. . Speaking of Facebook, there is considerable interest among our operating skills participants in learning about Facebook. As it happens, there is a timely 73 minute audio lecture by Joan Becker that you can link to from our website. We will have an audio compact disk of this lecture available at Radio Camp, but you can also listen on line or download the MP3 yourself. Just go to the Tek Talk feed on the right side of the main handiham.org page, or use this handy link: <http://tinyurl.com/nf322c> http://tinyurl.com/nf322c . Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has recorded audio of the August CQ, QST, and Worldradio 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. * In Operating Skills: * Volunteer reader Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, reads the August "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. The QST, CQ, and Worldradio digests have been read by Bob Zeida, N1BLF. * 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. _____ 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 08/12/2009 - 19:00 . Login <http://www.handiham.org/user/login?destination=comment/reply/539%2523commen t-form> to post comments . Thumbnail <http://www.handiham.org/sites/default/files/images/hh_horizontal.thumbnail. JPG> . Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/539> version . Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/539> 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.