[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 15 October 2008

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2008 13:07:23 -0500

Courage Center's Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 15 October

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

Listen to an MP3 audio stream:
Download the MP3 audio to your portable player:
Get this issue as an audio podcast:


Welcome to Handiham World!

Under Pat's Hat

Under Pat's Hat - WA0TDA wearing two straw hats.

What's under Pat's hat today? How about: Sound off!

No, this isn't what you think it is -- it's not an editorial of some kind
where I am sounding off about some contentious ham radio issue. It is about
sound, specifically computer sound. Let me elaborate.

One of the things computer manufacturers and operating system designers have
decided to do for us, the hapless users, is to provide us with all sorts of
ways our computer systems can let us know that things are happening. I
happen to run Windows Vista, but it could be some other operating system and
most of the things that I say in this article will still apply. Virtually
every computer made these days, unless it is for some highly specific
esoteric use, has a built-in sound system. Software engineers have decided
that it would be wonderful to use this sound system as a notification
whenever the computer completes a specific task, such as receiving an e-mail
message. In the Windows operating system "sound schemes" are a built-in
feature but can be customized by the user. If, for example, I wanted the
computer to make a pleasant chiming sound whenever an e-mail message came
in, I could choose that feature in the sound scheme settings and henceforth
every time a message came in, the chime would sound. On my computer, since I
can see the screen and do not have to use screen reading software, there is
also a visual notification in the system tray when an e-mail message comes
in. It's a tiny little envelope. Aw, how cute!

If I want a custom sound, I can either find it somewhere on the Internet or
even record my own wave file. I simply open the sound schemes settings and
browse to the file I have created, which could be music or spoken word or
even a synthesized sound. After that, the sound would signal me whenever the
computer did whatever event triggered it.

Now, here's the thing with sound schemes. Turn them off. No, seriously, I
mean it.

Unless you really have a need for your computer to signal you with specific
sounds, you may find that having your computer make all of these audible
signals is more trouble than it's worth. One of the things that I do with my
computer is to record audio. If I am recording an audio lecture, the last
thing I need is for an e-mail message to come in and have the computer alert
me with a sound that interferes with my recording session. But wait,
folks... that's not all! Suppose you are an amateur radio operator, using
your sound card for some amateur radio purpose, such as EchoLink audio. You
are talking with another station and an e-mail arrives at your computer.
Ding-ding. You've got Mail. And now the other station to whom you're talking
and anyone else connected to that EchoLink node also knows that you have
mail. Even worse, if your computer is set to play a musical passage when the
e-mail arrives, you would be transmitting music in violation of FCC rules.

Some amateur radio operators have solved this problem by having dedicated
ham shack computers that only operate digital modes or EchoLink or do signal
processing or whatever it is that needs to be done in the ham shack without
interference from other computer duties, such as receiving e-mail. Most of
us, however, ask our computers to multitask. The same computer will be used
for creating documents, printing the family photos, sending and receiving
e-mail, listening to streaming Internet radio, viewing online video, playing
music, and yes, ham radio applications. It has become easier than ever to
get confused by these multiple applications and send out unwanted audio on
the air. What to do?

If you can't set up a dedicated ham shack application computer, it is
possible to still tame your sound system and keep unwanted audio off the
airwaves. Here are three basics that will save you some aggravation and

1. Go into the Windows control panel, locate the sound schemes, and select
the "no sounds" option. Your computer will still be able to produce sound if
you want to play a CD in it, listen to a streaming radio station, or listen
to an MP3 file. The only thing that happens when you turn off the sounds in
the sound scheme settings is that you won't get audible alerts when
something happens, such as an e-mail message delivery. This will help you to
keep these unexpected noises out of your EchoLink transmissions.

2. Consider purchasing a USB microphone headset. These handy devices can be
used to bypass the sound card altogether, and you can set up EchoLink to
prefer the USB headset over the sound card, keeping those other unwanted
sounds completely confined to the sound card. This can be especially useful
when the computer is used by a number of different family members for
different purposes.

3. When it is time to operate EchoLink or digital modes with your computer,
shut down other applications that may also call for the use of the sound
card. That way, you will avoid conflicts and keep unwanted audio off the

How does it work? Well, it works great for me in my ham shack, where I have
a dedicated ham radio computer that can run an EchoLink node at the same
time that I am using a USB headset to communicate via Skype and the Handiham
remote base station. If I wanted to, I could also watch a television program
on the same computer, since the TV sound is hardware-specific to the PCI TV
receiver card. Good grief! How much sound do I need? I guess the correct
answer to that question is "just about as much as I need to get the job
done", because I could be conceivably using all three of those sound systems
on a single computer with no interference between any of them if my EchoLink
node were running and at the same time I was checked into an HF net using
the remote base while at the same time watching the television feed of the
National Weather Service radar. Don't laugh; it could happen!

For your Handiham World, I'm...

Pat Tice


Avery's QTH

Avery's QTH - Avery with puff & sip keyer.

Welcome once again to my Humble QTH:

The mystique of all those dots and dashes in Morse code is going away. Code
is being replaced with newer electronic technology. Kids are no longer
intrigued with being able to write out or whistle Morse code so that others
in the group have no idea what was being said. Now they are more inclined to
be text messaging each other as they are walking to school or going to some
after school event. Hand one of those kids a computer and they will quickly
be doing things with them adults never even thought about when they were
that age. They were doing all right if they could figure out how a slide
rule worked. A couple of things about a slide rule though. They never
crashed. They never lost power. They never got a virus.

In the old days kids were building crystal sets and learning about radio
communication that way. Now kids going off to college often times buy the
component parts and assemble their own computer. They design it to be the
most efficient at the subjects they are planning to major in. Chances are
they will be doing a considerable amount of research on various subjects and
they need something that will do the most the fastest.

The best way to get these kids interested in the Amateur Radio of today is
to show them the marriage of computers and radio. Show them how computers
are used to log stations worked during contests and to prevent duplications.
Show them how EchoLink is used. And, if you really want to grab their
attention use a software package and operate a remote radio from miles away.
Take your laptop around to schools, or other locations, and operate your
home station from where ever you are. Really! You can do everything from a
remote location that you can do if you were sitting right in front of the
radio. If you happen to be lucky enough to be on during a contest you might
be able to work some of the more rare stations around the globe. Places,
maybe, they have never heard of. If you are really lucky perhaps the space
station is over head and you can make contact with it. Ah! Yes! Now they
have just made contact with people out in space, have them try that on their
cell phone!

Many areas of the USA feature amateur radio repeaters that rebroadcast the
control center at Houston. We have one here in Minneapolis and can listen to
the actual conversations before the news media broadcasts them. Also, we
hear many things the media cuts out for time restrictions and other reasons.
About this time, maybe make mention of the fact that the people up in that
space station are also amateur radio operators and are on the cutting edge
of technology with all the experiments they are working on.

The mystique of communications is still there, only it is now in a different
form. That "BUG" that gets individuals involved in amateur radio today will
inspire the scientists of tomorrow, and who knows what wonders that next
generation will develop? We are getting ever closer to the "Beam me up
Scotty" and the Spaceship Enterprise turning from fiction into fact!

So until next time.

73 es DX de K0HLA Avery

You can reach me at:



Awesome solar photos

 <http://www.handiham.org/node/210> Blank Sun

The Boston.com <http://www.boston.com>  website has posted some of the most
awesome solar photos! Even if the sun doesn't seem to be cooperating with
spot formation all that much lately, at least we can take a look at some
phenomenal pictures from NASA!

Find them at:


Is ham radio good brain food?

I'll bet that question got your attention! It's one that was asked as a
discussion topic on the popular website eHam. An article by Dennis Kippa,
N5DPK, posted on September 30, 2008, speculates whether a regular dose of
amateur radio could possibly prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's
disease. More specifically, "Can the brain be exercised by the act of
sending and receiving CW to the point that Alzheimer's or any other brain
deterioration is stopped or delayed?" 

It is an interesting question, isn't it? When you finish reading all our
good stuff, I suggest you check it out.  

You can find the article and all of its comments on the eHam website:


A reminder about Technician HF privileges

Interestingly enough, some Technician license holders still do not realize
that they can use the HF bands. Technician license holders now have four
more bands on HF that they did not have before February 23, 2007. They can
transmit voice (SSB) on a portion of 10 meters and CW only on other bands. 

80 METERS 3525 - 3600 kHz CW only

40 METERS 7025 - 7125 kHz CW only

15 METERS 21,025 - 21,200 kHz CW only

10 METERS: 28,000 - 28,300 kHz CW, RTTY and Data 

28,300 - 28,500 kHz CW, SSB (VOICE)

The power limit is 200 Watts for Technician licensees.


Good enough for banks, good enough for us 

WA0CAF tells us that the popular remote control program Logmein
<https://secure.logmein.com/>  is highly secure, good enough for the banking
industry. Logmein is used to remotely control another computer via the
Internet. It can be used to provide technical support to a person who cannot
figure out a computer problem or, as we use it, to control the computer
running our handiham remote base software. After all, that computer is far
away from Handiham Headquarters, and we need some way to make sure that we
can access it easily. That is where software like Logmein comes in handy.
Dick, WA0CAF, tells us that this article appeared in the Thursday, October
9, 2008 issue of the New York Times in the "Personal Tech" section. Here is
a link:

Logmein may be found at:  <https://secure.logmein.com/> 

Logmein offers a free version, as well as several professional pay-for


Ham Radio Info Bar is blind-friendly

Some time ago you talked in the podcast about the ham info bar. I've
installed this and found it to be blind-friendly. All you have to do to make
it 100% accessible is to label some graphics just to know which one is to
open the radio stations menu or websites menu or the RSS menu. But even
without labeling those graphics, you can access all menus by using the
virtual mouse provided by Window-Eyes as well as by JAWS. I'm writing
because the older version conflicted with the screenreader, causing random
lockups, while the updated one does not show this misbehavior. 

Best regards,

SP9QLO, Damian

Editor's note:  You can find the Ham Info Bar at:


This week at Headquarters

Rustic Courage North sign

*       Minnesota Radio Camp dates are tentatively set at Sunday August 16
to Sunday August 22, 2009. Both Sundays are travel days. The change to an
earlier week in August will allow us to have the entire camp week before
schools and universities start classes. This will help us recruit camp staff
and school age campers. Another benefit is that travel to Bemidji, Minnesota
by economical scheduled bus service on Sunday is an option.  
*       We are not planning a California Camp in 2009, due to budget
*       Nancy reports that so far this year we have welcomed 69 Handiham
members into the Lifetime Membership ranks. Thanks to each and every one! 
*       QST, CQ, QCWA Journal, & WORLDRADIO audio digests are available for
our members. Login <http://handiham.org/user>  to the member section of the
Handiham website and find the magazine digests in the Library. The October
QST and Worldradio magazine digests have been read by Bob, N1BLF. He will
soon start the November digest. 
*       The remote base was offline this morning after Windows update
service installed new security updates and the computer rebooted itself.
Logmein was used to restart the remote base software. The station has now
returned to service and beta testing continues. 
*       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. 


This morning's media hits from Google News

tries/2008/10/14/lbj_students_to_talk_with_rich.html>  THE AUSTIN AMATEUR
Austin American-Statesman - 16 hours ago
On Sunday October 19th students of the LBJ High School ham radio club along
with members of the Austin Amateur Radio Club will be attempting a live
contact with the International Space Station. The students will be speaking
with Richard Garriott, ...

806',%20'n');> http://news.google.com/images/zippy_plus_sm.gifVideo:
806',%20'n');>  Raw Video: Russian Spacecraft Docks at ISS AssociatedPress

Richard <http://www.spaceref.com/calendar/calendar.html?pid=5171>  Garriott
Talks to Students via HAM Radio from the ...
Space Ref (press release) - 15 hours ago


Huge alligator grabbing Pat, WA0TDAReminder:  Handiham renewals are now on a
monthly schedule - Please renew or join, as we need you to keep our program

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

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.



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