[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 02 March 2011

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 2 Mar 2011 15:55:40 -0600

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham
System. Our contact information is at the end
<unsaved://Untitled_1.htm#Contact> , or simply email
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for changes in subscriptions or to comment. 

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Welcome to Handiham World!  

Lyle, K0LR, and I have made really good progress with the W0ZSW remote base
beta test, so this afternoon the station will go off the air as I prepare to
transport it to its new location at Camp Courage.  We still have a few
problems to iron out, so the old TS-570SAT will probably have to go back on
the air for a while.

When I get out to camp tomorrow, I will be working to get the network
problem repaired. After that, we can get the TS-570 back on line and into
service for our members. Now, you must be wondering what issues still remain
with the TS-480HX setup, right?  

Well, there are several:

.         The TS-480HX is, of course, the 200 Watt version of the popular
TS-480 series by Kenwood.  Most users opt for the SAT version, which runs
100 Watts. We figured that the 200 Watt version would add some extra punch
to the signal, and it would be especially useful in the summertime when
interference levels from summer thunderstorms around the country are higher.
The problem is that the W4MQ rig control software keeps dropping the power
level back to 100 Watts.  Of course this is not a deal-killer, since the 3
dB drop in signal strength is not going to be a problem most of the time. I
have posted the issue on the N2JEU remote base development website in hopes
of getting some help with this issue.

.         The receiver audio equalization always defaults to "high boost",
which makes the sound a little on the screechy side for my taste.  Those
with hearing deficits may prefer the high boost, though, so this is not
necessary a bad thing. To get a mellower sound you have to change the
receiver equalization to "normal" after logging in.  When you log out, it
returns to the default "high boost" setting. We would prefer that it worked
the other way around, where the normal audio setting would be the default. 

.         The radio is supposed to turn off shortly after the control
software on the host machine is disconnected from the W4MQ interface by the
control operator's log off. Instead, the radio may indeed turn off, but it
always turns itself back on after about a minute even though no one is using
it, whether through the W4MQ software or to listen to the receiver via
Echolink.  This is a bit of a headache, because we would rather the radio
were off when not being used. Left to its own devices, the radio will run
24/7.  This problem seems unique to our new beta test setup since we don't
have any problem with the W0EQO station or the old W0ZSW station using the

Those are the main concerns with the new system.  As you can tell, since the
radio and computer are actually working quite well otherwise, we could put
the station on the air any time.  Still, I'd rather try to get things
working just a little better and have the system the way it should be as we
"go live" so to speak.

If I am unsuccessful getting the network problem resolved, W0ZSW will be
offline for a while but hopefully the Echolink receive function will still
be enabled through a proxy server. 

I provide a short overview video of the W0ZSW remote base beta test on
YouTube.  Look for WA0TDA's channel.

Description: W0ZSW beta test setup at WA0TDA QTH

Photo:  The W0ZSW beta station as featured on YouTube. 

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham System Manager <mailto:wa0tda@xxxxxxxx> 

A direct link to the YouTube video is now ready:


Contacting us

At the suggestion of a Handiham member who said there is some confusion out
there about how to contact us, I decided to try to set things straight.

*       Our website domain is Handiham.org.  No other domain name represents
the Handiham System.
*       Our parent organization is Courage Center.  Courage Center has a
website, too: CourageCenter.org.
*       Our official company email addresses all end in CourageCenter.org.
For example, to send email to my company address, you would use
*       Older addresses that you might have for us end in Courage.org. That
domain name is still owned by Courage Center and our old email addresses
with the Courage.org ending still go through.  This may change in the near
future as we try to make our addressing consistent, so please check and make
sure you have the newest email addresses for us.
*       Our phone numbers are the same for Pat and Nancy.  You might think
that they would have changed since we moved out to Camp Courage, but that is
not the case. These days, it is possible to connect easily using digital
telephone systems.  Pat's number is 763-520-0511 and Nancy's is
763-520-0512.  What has changed is that the numbers for Avery and Jerry have
been discontinued. 
*       Although Nancy and I still have the same phone numbers, when you
leave a message and either of us calls you back the caller I.D. will display
a different number. That is because we are returning your call via a VoIP
system with a different outgoing number, a big savings for us in telephone
costs. However, some people don't answer our calls back because they think
they are not getting a call back from us, and perhaps fear that a
telemarketer is calling. For example, the number that appears when I call
back is 651-315-7806 instead of 763-520-0511.  
*       Email messages to Handiham headquarters should be short and to the
point. Please try to address just one issue per email message if possible.
Messages with a dozen different questions will inevitably be set aside for
answering at a much later date, if ever.  Usually I pick the most important
point out of such emails and ignore the rest.  I can't emphasize how
important it is to stick to the point and keep it short!  We get so many
emails that we need to go through them as efficiently as possible.  This
gives the email sender faster service, too!
*       Our mailing address is the same as always.  Nancy picks up the mail
at Courage Center the same as always.  The one address that has changed is
the one for mailing equipment donations to us. That can be found in the
"Donate" link on Handiham.org:  <http://www.handiham.org/node/37> 


Troubleshooting 101: The lights go out when you transmit

Description: Small tools and wire

You are not going to make your family members happy if your ham radio hobby
interferes with the basic systems in your home, in this case the lighting.
There are several scenarios to consider.

1.      When you transmit, the table lamp in, say, the living room turns on
and off over and over. 
2.      When you transmit, the lights go out in a section of the house, and
some of the electrical outlets don't work while others remain okay.
3.      When you transmit, the lights flicker but stay on.

Let's consider these one at a time.  

In scenario 1, there is only one lamp, such as a table lamp, affected.
Examine the lamp to determine how it turns on and off when it is being used
normally. If it is a so-called "touch" lamp, and does not have a regular
on-off switch, that means that the lamp is receiving RF from your station
and that RF energy is triggering the solid state switching circuit.
Solution: Unplug the lamp when you are transmitting, put the lamp on a
switched wall outlet so that you can flip the wall switch off when you
transmit, or rewire the lamp and replace the solid state switching circuit
with a conventional mechanical on-off switch.

In scenario 2, several lights are affected as well as some wall outlets.
You may have tripped a circuit breaker by drawing too much current.  If that
is the case, you will find the tripped breaker in the breaker box. Reset the
breaker and try again, because sometimes breakers just trip because some
other appliance, such as a fridge, started at the same time you keyed the
transmitter.  You may need to consider transferring some of the load from
your station to another circuit. An electrician can advise you on this.
Maybe that huge linear amplifier wasn't such a bright idea after all!
Another possibility is that you check the breaker box and there are no
tripped breakers but the lights and outlets still don't work.  So now what
do you look for?  The problem may be a tripped GFI, or ground fault
interrupter. Some houses (like mine) are wired with some of the outlets
downstream from a GFI that is located near a sink, such as in a bathroom.
GFI circuits save lives by cutting the power when an unexpected path to
ground is detected.  They can be susceptible to RF energy and trip when you
transmit on certain frequency bands.  I have one in my house that trips if I
am not careful to limit power on 160 meters. Resetting a GFI is easy; just
push the reset button. Fix the problem by replacing the GFI with one that is
less RFI-sensitive, by running a bit less power on the bands that cause
trouble, or by switching to a different antenna that is not so close to the

In scenario 3, you are probably drawing a little too much current, which
causes just enough voltage drop to dim the lights while not tripping the
circuit breaker. Again, the solution may be to consult an electrician to add
another circuit to the ham shack.  If you only notice the power fluctuation
when running a linear amplifier, you can limit use of the amplifier to times
when the lighting isn't critical, which means daylight hours.  Obviously it
is better to have adequate circuitry in the ham shack in the first place -
and that might even include multiple circuits if you have a large shack and
a lot of gear that operates at one time.

In general, you also want to make sure that your installation is properly
grounded and that RF is not present at high levels near the house. Get
antennas up and away as much as possible, since they also work better when
"in the clear". Never overload electrical circuits or take on wiring
projects yourself unless you know what you are doing and are willing you get
your work inspected by local authorities. This is essential for insurance
purposes anyway.  Better safe than sorry! 


2011 ARRL Phone DX Contest 

The 2011 ARRL Phone DX Contest is this coming weekend. 

*       Phone: First full weekend in March (March 5-6, 2011).
*       Contest Period: 48 hours.
*       Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday.
*       Rules and more available here:

We hope to hear lots of Handiham members on the air! 


A dip in the pool

Description: circuit board

Today I am running short of time, but this feature will return next week.


Remote Base Health Report for 2 March 2011

Description: Remote Base Update

The W0EQO Handiham Remote Base HF station is functioning normally.

W0ZSW will be out of service starting early this evening.  

When W0ZSW returns to Camp Courage, Maple Lake, MN it will be placed back
into service with Echolink receive at the very least. 

W0EQO is at Camp Courage North, Lake George, MN, deep in the pines of
northern Minnesota's lake country. Underground power lines and an isolated
rural setting contribute to a quiet RF environment. The 100W station feeds a
G5RV up about 35'.

Would you like to try the station right now?

If you would like to connect to the station via EchoLink to listen to the
radio, you can search for W0ZSW-L, node 524906, and connect. Entering a
frequency and pressing the enter key will allow you to change the radio's
receive frequency from the EchoLink text box. Enter U, L, or A for Upper
sideband, Lower sideband, or AM, respectively. One thing to remember is that
EchoLink control only works on receive, not transmit, and it is only
available if there is no control operator logged in to the W4MQ remote base

Don't forget about our station at Courage North, in far northern Minnesota's
lake country. If you would like to connect to the station via EchoLink to
listen to the radio, you can search for W0EQO-L, node 261171, and connect.
Just as with the other station, entering a frequency and pressing the enter
key will allow you to change the radio's receive frequency from the EchoLink
text box. Enter U, L, or A for Upper sideband, Lower sideband, or AM,
respectively. One thing to remember is that EchoLink control only works on
receive, not transmit, and it is only available if there is no control
operator logged in to the W4MQ remote base software.


This week @ HQ

*       The Handiham System will have a table at Midwinter MadnessR on
Saturday 26 March 2011.  Stop by and say hello at this friendly hamfest
sponsored by our friends at the Robbinsdale ARC. Hamfest details are at
*       Radio Camp will be from Monday 8 August to Saturday 13 August, 2011.
*       QST & Worldradio digest audio for March 2011 is available to our
blind members. 
*       The Technician lecture series is now complete.  It may be downloaded
as individual files by our members with disabilities for their use only.
Because of the size of audio files, we cannot offer the entire series as a
single download.  I will consider a MP3 CD version if there is enough

.         Our nets have really been running well. I have to complement our
net volunteers for doing such a great job, and our net participants for
joining us on the air often and showing such good support for our on the air
activities.  A special thanks to pinch-hitters who have stepped in when the
regular scheduled NCS could not make it. 

.         Tonight is EchoLink net night.  The Wednesday evening EchoLink net
is at 19:30 United States Central time, which translates to +6 hours, or
01:30 GMT Thursday morning. 

o    EchoLink nodes:

*       KA0PQW-R, node 267582
*       N0BVE-R, node 89680
*       HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity

o    Other ways to connect:

*       IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)
WIRES system number 1427

*       We need an Echolink, IRLP, or WIRES node in Rochester, MN so that
Sister Alverna, WA0SGJ, can continue to check into the Handiham net. There
is no one to take on this project at the moment.  
*       Stay in touch! Be sure to send Nancy your changes 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


Supporting Handihams - 2011. 

Description: graphic showing figure using wheelchair holding hand of
standing figure

Now you can support the Handiham program by donating on line using Courage
Center's secure website.

It is easy, but one thing to remember is that you need to use the pull-down
menu to designate your gift to the Handiham program.

.         Step one: Follow this link to the secure Courage Center Website:
<https://couragecenter.us/SSLPage.aspx?pid=294&srcid=344> &srcid=344

.         Step two: Fill out the form, being careful to use the pull-down
Designation menu to select "Handi-Hams".

.         Step three: Submit the form to complete your donation. If the gift
is a tribute to someone, don't forget to fill out the tribute information.
This would be a gift in memory of a silent key, for example.

We really appreciate your help. As you know, we have cut expenses this year
due to the difficult economic conditions. We are working hard to make sure
that we are delivering the most services to our members for the money - and
we plan to continue doing just that in 2011.


Thank you from the Members, Volunteers, and Staff of the Handiham System

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager

Handiham Membership Dues

Reminder: Handiham renewals are 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. Your renewal
date is the anniversary of your last renewal, so your membership extends 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

.         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 Walt Seibert at 763-520-0532 or
email him at walt.seibert@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

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.1-866-426-3442 toll-free -- Help us get new
hams on the air.

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:

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 Handiham System

Reach me by email at:

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

Radio Camp email:


Description: ARRL 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.

Courage Center Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422

 <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  



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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 02 March 2011 - Patrick Tice