[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 26 August 2009

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2009 14:23:22 -0500

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:
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Welcome to Handiham World!

Big news: Radio Camp moving to Camp Courage

By Patrick Tice, Handiham Manager 

Tom, KB0FWQ, addresses campers at Courage North
Image: Tom Fogarty, KB0FWQ, Director of Courage Camps, addresses the
gathering of campers and volunteers as we prepare to move to a new location,
Camp Courage.

Handiham Radio Camp 2009 is a wrap. Campers departed on Sunday, 23 August
2009 after a week of fun on the air, studying for licenses or upgrades, and
catching up with their friends who return to the annual Minnesota camp at
Courage North.

Courage Center's Camping Department has hosted the Radio Camp at the
northern location for 20 years, so it was difficult to say goodbye to
Courage North, our camp near the headwaters of the Mississippi, deep in the
lake country of northern Minnesota.

Sometimes it is necessary to make a move, though.

Over the years, it has become more difficult and expensive to get our
Handiham members and volunteers up to Courage North, which is about four
hours by road from the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Campers used
to be able to take a bus from the metro area, but bus service has been cut
back in recent years until there is no longer daily service. While air
transportation is available, it has grown steadily more expensive, and the
leg of a camper's flight from Minneapolis to Bemidji, near camp, costs more
than the longer flight from most major cities across North America to
Minneapolis. Making the trip north was thus either hard to schedule by bus
or would more than double the cost of travel by air. Even worse, AMTRAK
service is not even available.

While Courage North is really a beautiful spot and really just the right
size camp for us, you have to be able to get your campers there. We feel
that the time has finally come when this is no longer feasible. The number
one complaint we hear about Radio Camp is the cost of getting there.
Sometimes (actually pretty often) campers will plead with me to give them
the camp week for free because airfare costs so much. While I could
sometimes find money in our budget for that in the past, you know as well as
I do that the economic recession has really squeezed our budget, and we have
to bring in more revenue in camp fees as well as in donations. The camp fees
do not cover the true cost of camp, but our donors are understanding and
generous, and continue to help us, though not as much as they could before
the recession.

Cutting the travel costs for campers is the obvious thing to do, but we have
to move the location of our camp session to do so. Fortunately, Courage
Center's Camping Department, headed up by Camp Director Tom Fogarty, KB0FWQ,
owns another camp property, Camp Courage, which is where we will be in 2010.

Camp Courage was established in 1955, and was Courage Center's first camp.
Roughly three times larger than Courage North, it offers excellent
infrastructure, lakeside activities, and new camper cabins with wonderful
common areas for classroom space. Camp Courage is really two camps: Lakeside
and Woodland. We will be on the Woodland side of camp, which is nestled in a
forest of tall hardwood trees, but still with a view of the lake. Camp
Courage offers pontoon boat access, so we will continue our maritime mobile
HF operation. There is high speed internet access, a permanent computer lab,
a tower with a tri-band beam antenna, and a radio cabinet exactly like the
one we left behind at Courage North.

Yes, we know that there will be challenges as we tackle a move to a
different camp, but remember that we are also moving the Handiham
headquarters to its official new offices, which will also be at Camp
Courage. The Handiham program is part of Courage Center Camping, so this
makes sense. It also allows us to serve campers better than ever during the
actual Radio Camp session. We have already started the move, with George,
N0SBU, and I transporting the equipment from Courage North to Camp Courage
on our way back to the Twin Cities. During the coming month, we will be
moving the main Handiham office out of Courage Center's Golden Valley
location. I will give you more updates here on Handiham.org, but I can tell
you in advance that we will likely have to close for a period of days while
things get sorted out. In due course we will have further information about
how to contact us by phone, how to get to Camp Courage, and all of the
information you will need to access Handiham services. The website, with its
audio lectures and news, will continue to work as it always does. We will
have no changes in our email addresses. Email will be the most reliable way
to stay in touch during our moving process. I answer email day and night,
including weekends, so don't be shy about contacting us. Please be patient,
though, as the volume of email can get pretty large. We are temporarily
suspending the equipment loan program during the Fall quarter, as staff will
not be available to run it during our move.

Final camp dates for 2010 will be announced shortly. The approximate dates
put the Radio Camp session around the week before Memorial Day. This is
around the last week in May, 2010. We are moving the Radio Camp back to its
original location, Camp Courage, and its original time on the calendar, May.
If you have been following our Handiham History Project, you know that the
"May Convocation" at Camp Courage was the original Radio Camp.

These are some big changes, but they will be good ones for our campers.
AMTRAK service is nearby, as is the Minneapolis-St. Paul International
Airport and the Twin Cities have excellent bus connections. The cost to
travel to camp, as well as the proximity to a major city, make Camp Courage,
which is only about 40 miles west of the metro, much more attractive.

We thank our good friends up north for all they have done over the decades
to make Courage North a welcoming place for us; the Courage North staff, the
ARRL VE team, the Paul Bunyan ARC, the volunteers and campers, our friends
living nearby, and everyone else who made the Minnesota Radio Camps so much
fun. We look forward to seeing some of the same volunteers and camp staff at
Camp Courage next May, along with even more campers!

Thank you, everyone.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager


Avery's QTH - Why Amateur Radio?

 <http://www.handiham.org/node/223> Avery's QTH - Avery with puff & sip

Welcome once again to my humble QTH:

Radio Camp is over and everyone has returned home with new Amateur Radio
Experiences. Some have upgraded their licenses. Others have learned new
radio skills. Now someone is going to ask "Why HAM Radio?" What about
Citizen Band, computers, and cell phones? So why do we need that Ham Radio

Well, you say, there are so many things that can be done with Amateur Radio
that cannot be done on the other communication systems as has been proven
many, many times.

Sure, CB radios are all right for short distances, but what if you have to
get a message 1/2 way around the world? Family Radio systems are the same.
Computers can work too, but what if the battery goes dead right in the
middle of a vital communication? Or what if the internet connection fails?
Cell phones are all right too, unless the cellular system gets overloaded or
the tower is blown down in a tornado or hurricane. Ah! Let's see you dial up
the International Space Station with your cell phone and talk to them in an
emergency. You can't unless you are patched in by another communications

The very nature of Amateur Radio is such that having to take that FCC test
makes Amateur Radio operators more knowledgeable in the world of
communications than the general public. Hams have a better idea as to why
and how things in communications happen and can make necessary adjustments
when and where necessary. It is not difficult to pull a battery from a
vehicle and use it to power a 100 watt all-band all-mode radio, then put it
back in the vehicle, start the engine to recharge it, and start the process
all over again to keep the communications link open.

Hams, Radio Amateurs, can change frequency bands if one is not good, or
change modes of operation if it is necessary to get a signal out. Over the
years this has been proven many times. When the world has a disaster, it is
the ham operators who get the information out first. Both 9-11 and Katrina
are more recent examples here in the USA.

Hams are SKYWARN spotters. They help save lives in many parts of the
country. They are not tied to wires and thus do not have to worry about
whether phones are working or not. The radio & TV media rely on the spotters
to determine if the radar is really showing a tornado or just the hook on
the radar screen.

You can tell the people you are talking to that Amateur Radio is not
dependent on just one method of communications but on many, and that by
taking an FCC examination you show you have the knowledge to be an Amateur
Radio operator and, as per the bill signed by President Bush, a part of
Homeland Security.

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

You can reach me Monday & Wednesday 9:00 am to 1:30 pm at
or email me at:


Matt, KA0PQW, rides the N0BVE ATV

Matt, KA0PQW, rides the N0BVE ATV

I didn't have time to write a letter from camp last Friday, so I posted this
photo of Matt Arthur, KA0PQW, posing atop Don Rice's all-terrain vehicle.
Don, N0BVE, brought the ATV to Courage North so that he could get around
camp as he worked on the internet infrastructure, fixed campers' computers,
and generally made life easier for the technologically-challenged! Matt is a
volunteer instructor at Radio Camp and has authored our blind help files for
radios like the Kenwood TH-F6A.

Thanks to both Don and Matt and all of our volunteers for their help at
Radio Camp.


 <http://www.handiham.org/node/541> FAR announces scholarships

 <http://www.handiham.org/node/541> On the air

FAR SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS 2009 have been announced! Congratulations to the
scholarship recipients, and the best of luck to you with your studies. You
are the future of amateur radio.

Check the handiham.org website for a list of recipients.

.        Read more on handiham.org. <http://www.handiham.org/node/541> 


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:


Wednesday evenings at 19:30 hours Minnesota time (7:30 PM)
GMT: Thursday morning at 00:30 Z


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. 


Time for a refurb

The WA0TDA shack from several years ago.

Photo: The WA0TDA shack from several years ago. Three big pieces of gear are
now gone, and more new stuff has collected. 

If you are like I am, you have a ham shack that has several transceivers, at
least a couple computers, some bookshelves, cabinets, and files, and not
nearly enough desk space. It doesn't seem like all that long ago that I
refurbished my ham shack, putting in new cabinets and reconfiguring the

Well, guess what?

It's time to do that again, because I have found that my needs have changed
over the past few years, and with changes in my station layout, some new
equipment replacing old equipment, and differences in the way I work, I have
found that I have finally gotten sick of putting up with the daily
annoyances of things not being quite the way they need to be. 

All I know at this point is that I want to make some changes. What those
changes will be is still unknown, because I need to think about the whole
thing logically and write myself some notes. You can do the same thing for
your ham shack.  I call it a "ham shack assessment", and these are some of
the main points you need to cover:

*       Ergonomics: Is your desk the right height for keyboarding if you use
a computer? How about ease of access to the radios and other commonly used
gear? You should never sit in an uncomfortable or unnatural position in
order to work at a desk that is the wrong height or in a chair that is wrong
for the purpose. You should not have to reach over your coffee mug or can of
soda to reach a control, because that is a recipe for a liquid spill on the
operating desk.
*       Light: Do you have the proper lighting? Is at least one light,
however small (even an LED) available for emergency lighting if the power
*       Temperature: Is there enough ventilation, and is the temperature
right for comfortable use of the room for long periods of time?
*       Noise: Is the room quiet, or at least quiet enough, to maintain good
operating practice by always having a clear audio signal? How about ambient
noise from fans or motors? How much can - or should - you tolerate?
*       Security: Is the equipment protected from use by unauthorized
*       Safety: Is the room wired for the demands placed on it by your
station? Is your radio and computing equipment up off the floor if the room
is in the basement and might be subject to wet floors?  If a water heater
breaks or if the washing machine overflows, water can creep past walls! Are
ground fault interrupters in use? How about grounding and lightning
protection? Is stuff piled on the floor where it can be a tripping hazard?
*       Flexible desktop workspace: Do you have enough desktop workspace
that can be cleared and used for a special project, such as addressing QSL
cards or sorting through a box of small parts? Or is every square centimeter
of space taken up by clutter?

Right off the top, I can say that I have too much noise in the shack. It's
not obnoxious noise that would be heard over the air, but there is just too
much fan noise from the HF rig. I don't really have as much space on the
desktop as I'd like, and I have wires hanging in front of a file cabinet,
making the drawers difficult to open. The lighting is good, as is the chair
and desk height. I do have another computer that is being tested with
Windows 7 and will ultimately replace my current "main" computer. I figure
that if I'm going to be digging around on my hands and knees stringing wires
for the computer, I might as well tidy up the entire ham shack. I'm not
exactly rushing into this project, but I will post a photo and some notes
about my experience when I'm finished.  If, that is, a ham shack can ever be
truly "finished".


This week at Headquarters:

.        The Friday audio lectures return again this week.  Audio will be
posted on Friday.

.        The Remote Base at Courage North is in service. Please feel free to
use this wonderful member resource.  

.        Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has recorded audio of the September 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.

.        Audio tape users will likely see a delay in production this month.
We encourage users of cassette audio to make the change to digital and
receive the clear, currently available audio from our website. 

*       In Operating Skills: 

*       Volunteer reader Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, reads the September "Doctor is
in" column from QST for our blind members.  
*       Login to the member <http://handiham.org/user>  section of the
Handiham website and find the magazine digests in the Library. 

*       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


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
*       Donate an extra amount of your choice to help support our
*       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> 

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@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!

Manager, Courage Handi-ham System
Reach me by email at:  <mailto: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.


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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.


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