[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 17 September 2008

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2008 14:29:12 -0500

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


Get this issue as an audio podcast:


Welcome to Handiham World!


Report from Texas - Damage from Ike extends far inland

 Map of south Texas showing a location 300 miles inland on I-20.

We got hit hard; 300 miles from coast, and still got clobbered.

About 80% power still out - some will be out up to 90 days. Running most
street light signals off generators or welding machines with power plants.
Mine's been running at home since Friday night. All EOC's on generators -
hospitals, too.

I rode around with the fire chief, I've never before seen power poles just
jerked out of the ground; even the steel ones were broken off at ground

It gets worse the further south you go. All power is out within 60 miles of
the coast.

Got to get back to work with the county police and fire so we don't run out
of people. 7 A.M. Saturday to 7 A.M. Sunday we ran fire, EMS, calls power
lines down -- you name it, it came in!


Thanks to Ken for that report. I purposely put his news up front to remind
those readers and listeners who were not in the path of the enormously
destructive storm called "Ike" just how bad and how extensive the damage
was... and still is!  In fact, damage from the storm extended well into the
Midwest, with flooding and power outages in places like Illinois and
Kentucky.  I heard from relatives in Louisville that they will be out of
power for days due to all of the storm damage. This morning I heard from a
handiham member in Houston, Texas, where power is still out.  She contacted
a mailing list of friends via the Internet, because her phone and DSL
service had come back to life.  Even so, if she had not been prepared with a
portable generator to run the computer equipment, she would not have been
able to send out her message.  She did lament how she wished that her ham
radio station had been better organized and prepared.

Last night I watched on the TV news and saw the long lines of cars clogging
the freeways of South Texas as people tried to return to the coast to assess
the damage to their homes and businesses.  I was somewhat surprised at this,
because my understanding is that there is so little infrastructure left in
places like Galveston that people are still trying to get out.  It is a
terrible situation that will take a very long time to straighten out.  It is
also a cautionary tale for amateur radio operators who have not really been
too careful about preparing "go kits" for their own personal use during such
emergencies.  Remember, a well-planned go kit can be useful for yourself and
your immediate family as well as for assisting in a public service
communications capacity.  Having a radio and extra batteries along with you
in the car or on the bus as you are evacuated from the danger zone could
come in very handy indeed.  We have all heard of situations where cars have
stalled or run out of fuel on the jammed interstate highways during an
emergency evacuation.

In an emergency, especially a widespread one like a hurricane, police, fire,
and medical response cannot be counted upon in the same way that we do in
normal times.  A radio and charged batteries will at least provide an
alternative means of communication that could be a life-saver.  Here in
Minnesota, we seldom have enormous weather events of such a destructive
nature, but we do get widespread blizzards and much more localized
destructive storms like tornadoes.  While the immediate response may be
different since evacuation from a huge metropolitan area is not likely for
those events, the go kit is still a vital part of our amateur radio
emergency planning.

Large-scale terrorist attacks are not out of the question.  While no major
world metropolitan area has yet experienced such an attack requiring a mass
evacuation, if such a thing did have to take place it would be vital to have
a working go kit so that you could use an alternative form of
communications.  As I have stated before, cellular phones cannot be counted
upon in wide-area emergencies.  The reason is that the cellular system is
designed with limited capacity that assumes not all users will try to make
calls at the same time.  In a wide-area emergency situation, people are
likely to pick up their phones to check in with relatives and friends.  Even
a relatively localized disaster here in the Twin Cities area, the Interstate
35 bridge collapse, caused significant congestion of the cellular phone
system.  Can you imagine what would happen to the cellular system in a much
bigger, more widespread disaster situation?  Your amateur radio equipment
might turn out to be the only practical way to communicate!

 Station in go kit as displayed at SATERN booth, Hamvention
<http://handiham.org/images/2005_saturn_box.jpg> Emergency responders learn
something very important in their training: how to deal with complacency.
While some of us are better at learning than others, everyone is affected by
complacency.  A perfect example of how we become complacent is that we go
along happily for many years without having to deal with a disaster, in the
meantime failing to keep our radio equipment in good working order, failing
to keep our go kits up to date, failing to have a family plan for dealing
with emergencies, failing to stock extra water and batteries, and so on.  It
is really hard work to fight complacency.  Things have gone well for so long
that we simply assume the rest of today, tomorrow, the next day, and the
next week will all go just as perfectly well.

That may not be the case.  I'm not telling you to worry all the time, but I
am telling you that you need to be prepared.  And the best way amateur radio
operators can be prepared is to follow the basic philosophy of having
equipment that is ready to go, even in an emergency and even on short

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager


Avery's QTH

 Avery sending code <http://handiham.org/images/avery_key2.jpg> 

Welcome once again to my Humble QTH:

As I tell new hams, "If you have something private or something you don't
wish others to know: "DON'T SAY IT" over the air. Don't even bring it up.
The whole world is listening, or can be." 

It is much like the old time party line with all the neighbors listening.

Once some time ago, it was mentioned over a net about the time and place of
a silent key's funeral. Well, some enterprising thieves looked up the
person's call, found the address, and paid a visit to the QTH and cleaned it
out while everyone was at the funeral. Don't put information like this on
the air without permission from the relatives. People are listening.

The same holds true with many other subjects as well. For example: Don't
mention ahead of time that you will be out of the area on vacation for a
couple of months either. Same results could happen when you are away and you
also find your place to be cleaned out. Instead, wait until after you get
back and then talk about all the fun you had doing this or that in Paris, or
where ever you happened to have traveled. You are now home and it is too
late for the thieves.

It's not a very good idea to talk about other people on the air without
their permission either, for much the same reasons. The person you are
talking about just may be listening or one of the person's friends may just
be on frequency as well. If there is a problem of some sort with a person
that is amateur radio related, use the telephone. Keep it off the air. If it
concerns something they should have or should not have done, give them a
call on the phone and in a calm voice resolve the problem. On, or off, the
air is no place for heated arguments to take place.

Club or repeater group business should be kept very private and off the air
as well. That what the meetings are for.

It used to be that something more sensitive could be done on CW as not so
many people would be able to copy it. Now with computers and code readers
that is not as private as it once used to be, However, if it is something
like a phone number and you switch to code very fast give the information
(phone number) and switch back to voice, many times it will be a done deal
before they can get their equipment turned on and ready to copy. With all
the reverse phone directories around it is very easy for someone to get your
address just from your phone number. Some people feel it is a good idea to
have a post office box for an address for this same reason.

Well, I hope you will take this very seriously as it is meant to help you
protect yourself.

Until next time,

73 & DX de K0HLA Avery

You can reach me at:


My Direct Phone # 763-520-0515


This week at Headquarters

*       Pat, WA0TDA, and Lyle, K0LR, make a trip to Camp Courage North
Thursday of this week to complete the installation of the remote base
station.  One problem uncovered during the beta testing was the fact that
the radio did not speak the frequency and other settings as you would expect
it to for a blind user.  The reason is that the voice module output only
works through the speaker line, not the data line that we are currently
using to port the audio into our VoIP application, Skype.  We will be
correcting this by doing a little rewiring so that blind users can expect
the radio to work with the voice output as they would expect.  We will also
be installing a battery backup power supply and a surge protector for the
computer system, which has to remain on all the time.  While we haven't had
a problem with voltage spikes or power outages so far, it is inevitable that
they will occur and we want to be ready.  The radio itself will not be
protected with a battery backup as the computer is, but when power is
restored after an outage the computer can be used to turn the radio back on.
Surge protection will be provided for the radio's power supply.  As always,
we will continue to report on what our beta testers find as we continue to
develop this project and get it ready for members. 

*       The September CQ, QST, & WORLDRADIO audio digests are available for
our members. Login to the member section of the Handiham
<http://handiham.org/user> website and find the magazine digests in the
Library. The September 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. 

*       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. 


 Cartoon guy with toolkit <http://handiham.org/images/bd06227_.gif> 


Elmer Blog - asking questions about EchoLink

A reader writes:

"Can you please answer my questions about setting up EchoLink?"

Elmer says:

You know, I wish I could, but there are so many individual differences in
routers and computer setups that I wouldn't be much help to you. What works
for me will probably not apply to your station and computer setup, because
you will likely have a different Internet service provider, a different
computer with unique software, and all sorts of other equipment that I don't

So what to do? How about making a trip to the EchoLink website support page?
Yes, there IS one, and you can find it here:

When you get there, here is what you will find:

"EchoLink is offered free of charge to the Amateur Radio community, and is
supported by a network of volunteers. Experience has shown that the majority
of questions about EchoLink are similar, and can be answered by reading the
Help documentation or one of the Frequently-Asked Questions sections. Most
likely, you'll find that your particular question or problem has already
been answered or addressed."

Frequently-asked questions are answered in the following areas:

General Topics
Installing the Software
Callsign Validation and Passwords
Problems Connecting to Other Stations
Problems Connecting to Servers
Basic Operation
Advanced Operation
Audio Issues
Firewall Solutions
EchoLink Proxy

Poor old Elmer can't give you service like that! So check out the EchoLink
site and do some reading. If you are still stuck, there is a form that you
can fill in, even if you use a screenreader, to ask a specific question. An
EchoLink volunteer (bless them!) will get back to you.

73 from Old Elmer

You can write to Elmer with your questions: <mailto:elmer@xxxxxxxxxxxx> 


Honors and milestones

 Ken wears huge Uncle Sam hat at radio camp

Congratulations to Ken, KB3LLA, who was sworn in as a member of the United
States Coast Guard Auxiliary on Sunday, September 14, 2008. Ken often checks
in on the Handiham Daily EchoLink net, at 11:00 hours United States Central
Time, 16:00 hours GMT.  I think in time as marked by "bells" aboard ship,
that would be "6 bells". Here is a grid supplied by the United States Navy


The official website of the Coast Guard Auxiliary is here: 


Maybe if you catch Ken on the air, you can ask him about his experience with
this excellent volunteer group.


 cartoon dog barking at mail carrier - bad dog!


From Larry in Hawaii: 

As long as I am writing, I will share a couple of pieces of news. The Force
12 flag pole antenna has worked marvelously for me here in Hawaii in a
neighborhood where we have restricted covenants. My nearest neighbors
undoubtedly know that the flag pole has served as a ham antenna for the past
five years, but no one cares as long as I don't produce RFI or TVI. I will
soon find out because the flag pole is being replaced by a SteppIR vertical.
We have very tall palm trees on our property, and hams tell me that the
green SteppIR pole will virtually disappear visually against the green
background and blue sky. I'll find out how accurate that is within a few
weeks, I'm sure. A second piece of news is that I mention Handihams in a
memoir I recently had published by Xlibris Book Publishing Company. The book
is basically my autobiography with lots of anecdotes from my years as a
scientist and later as a government executive and bureaucrat and from
international travels. Of course I have a chapter on recreation which
includes a couple of pages on my ham radio hobby. Below I am quoting one
paragraph for your information:

"There are thousands of us active in ham radio around the world. Today,
hundreds of us are in communication not only by radio, but also now through
the Internet. An outstanding organization in Minnesota called the Courage
Center works on innumerable disability issues. It also operates a program
called Handihams. Through this program, hams with disabilities can obtain
guidance from the organization's headquarters' staff. An Internet-based
network comprised of hams who are blind is another good resource for
information on the usability of new equipment. Often other hams need to
assist their colleagues who have disabilities set up a station-installing
antennas and connecting special transmitter tuning equipment-but hams
everywhere are ready to help solve these problems. For over fifty years now,
I found this to be true first as a teenager in Stockton, California, and
later as an adult in Marin County, California; Arlington, Virginia; and
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. I will always be grateful for their help and

The book title is "Surpassing Expectations: My Life without Sight". Xlibris
bought an internet domain name for me and posted a review if you want to
read more. It has links to the Xlibris site that contains a much longer
excerpt on The Enabling Power of Computer Technology and a link to a bio:

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

Aloha and 73, 

Larry Scadden - KH6LS

And we have this from Chris in Minnesota:

I just got through reading a blog post on handiham.org about the Force12
flagpole antenna. It is indeed a good option, and it even comes with the
rope and flag so it really is a complete flagpole solution.

I wanted to let you know, though, that the Hustler 4BTV sells for $114 from
DX Engineering, and many people have redressed it to be a flagpole. It also
has the advantage of being a trap vertical for 10, 15, 20, and 40 meters
which means that someone could use an inexpensive radio like the Icom 718
without a tuner if they had to.

MFJ also sells some single-band CW and sideband rigs that are quite cheap
and easily made to be accessible. They have very few knobs, and the tuning
knob has a small pointer on it that points to increment markings on the case
of the radio itself. It would be very simple to put glue dots or some other
tactile marks on a rig like that to make it accessible.

So someone who was willing to limit themselves to 20 meters, for example,
could use one of these rigs with the very inexpensive Hustler antenna and no
tuner and would no doubt have a lot of fun, especially if they had an
efficient ground system under the vertical, which Force12 also advises for
the flagpole.

I just bought a 4BTV for my back yard, and I'll try to write something up
about it as soon as I have it put up. I just opened the box last night and
it looks like it's a pretty well-built antenna, and I have enough wire to
lay down 40 to 50 radials to start with., but I'm shooting for 120 as time
and money permit. I think I'll probably get quite a bit of enjoyment out of
not only putting up this antenna, but also operating with it.


Chris, KG0BP


Ham radio software

George, N0SBU, found a CW decoding program by Alex, VE3NEA. It is shareware
and costs $75 to register, but it does have quite a few features for CW
operators, even if you can copy the code by ear.  The reason is that it
provides simultaneous decoding of ALL CW signals in the receiver pass band -
up to 700 signals can be decoded in parallel on a 3-GHz P4 if a wideband
receiver is used. Find it on Alex's website:

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


Technology news

Ken, KB3LLA, sent me this link about what's New in JAWS for Windows 10
Public Beta: <http://www.freedomsci.com/downloads/jaws/JAWS-public-beta.asp>


Matt, KA0PQW, reported serious inaccuracy in readings from the LDG TW-2
talking wattmeter. This meter is no longer available, but we are wondering
if there are other users who have noticed accuracy problems while taking VHF
power readings with a TW-2. 

Lyle, K0LR, commented on the report by Matt:

 TW-1 by LDG <http://handiham.org/images/TW1_sm.jpg> 

I haven't heard any other reports on the TW-2 wattmeter. Although it isn't a
precision instrument, I would expect the accuracy to be a lot better than
what Matt is getting. The specifications say that the accuracy is 5 per
cent, which would be more than adequate for most ham uses. Even if they're
talking about 5 per cent of full scale, that would be plus or minus 12.5
watts on the 250 watt range. ARRL did not do a review of the TW-2, but there
was a TW-1 review in the November 2005 QST, also available on the
members-only web site under their product reviews heading. Interestingly
enough, although the specified accuracy on 6 meters is 10 per cent, the unit
they tested said 62 watts with an actual input of 100 watts. Very close to
the error Matt is seeing on his TW-2! As far as I know, there isn't any
other product with an audible readout for VHF and UHF, and as LDG found, the
market is pretty small.


 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." 

For years Handiham membership renewals were done each July. This year, we
are going to a monthly system.  If you renew in March, your membership goes
until the following March, for example. 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.

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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 17 September 2008