[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 03 March 2010

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 3 Mar 2010 13:42:52 -0600

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham
System. Please do not reply to this message. Use the contact information at
the end, or simply email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Welcome to Handiham World!

SOHO solar image from 2 March 2010 showing 4 spot groups.

As we head into the longer daylight hours here in the Northern Hemisphere,
band conditions will begin to favor the higher frequencies of the
High-frequency (HF) spectrum and thunderstorm static and absorption will get
worse with more hours of solar energy hitting the "D" layer of the
ionosphere. HF radio waves are not reflected by the D layer but do lose
energy as they pass through. 

As explained by Wikipedia, "This is the main reason for absorption of HF
radio waves, particularly at 10 MHz and below, with progressively smaller
absorption as the frequency gets higher. The absorption is small at night
and greatest about midday. The layer reduces greatly after sunset, a small
rest remains due to galactic cosmic rays. A common example of the D layer in
action is the disappearance of distant AM broadcast band stations in the

This, of course, means that amateur radio operators will have to stay up
late into the night to make contacts on bands like 160 and 80 meters once
the long days make those bands difficult to use for all but a few hours out
of 24.  That same solar energy heats the ground, causing convection and
building thunderstorms that make those same bands crackle with noise all
summer long. On the plus side, the conditions are still acceptable on 160
and 80, so you still have some time to collect some DX contacts.  Don't wait
too long though, because the days are getting longer by a few minutes each
day. (Exactly how many minutes depends on your location.)

Fortunately, 20 meters is coming back to life and will improve with the
upcoming season. Sunspot numbers are up.  Today, we see four groups: 1045,
1051, 1052, and 1053. Higher sunspot numbers are associated with better long
distance propagation conditions on the higher frequencies of the HF
spectrum. 20 can be a crowded band, but soon 17, 15, 12, and 10 will open up
for DX and the fun will really begin for a lot of our newly-licensed
Generals. These operators have never experienced the fun of a solar maximum!

When conditions are good on 14 MHz and above, you can work great distances
with low power and surprisingly simple antennas. Even that plain vanilla
wire antenna that never seemed to hear much of anything on 10 meters can
come to life with DX. Mobile antennas can be used to work the world. QRP, or
low power operation, becomes practical for daily use. Furthermore, because
the length of an antenna like a vertical or dipole is inversely proportional
to the frequency at which it will be used, the return of the higher
frequencies means that you can perhaps finally fit a shorter, but highly
effective, antenna into limited space.  A dipole for use on 3.925 MHz is
around 120 feet (37m) long, whereas a dipole for use on 28.310 MHz is only
about 16 and a half feet (5m). This makes balcony and attic antennas

As conditions begin to pick up on the 10 meter band, Handiham members who
hold Novice or Technician licenses can take advantage of SSB phone operation
between 28.300 and 28.500 MHz.  Since most will be Technicians whose only
experience on the air will have been with 2 meter FM repeaters, it will be a
fantastic change for them - and a lot of fun! Imagine not having to depend
on a repeater to talk to other stations far from your own location. Imagine
not having to wait for drive time to be over before you can use a repeater.
Imagine being able to tune with your VFO up and down the band instead of
being stuck on a single repeater frequency. Imagine making new friends
around the world and collecting QSL contacts for Worked All States and DXCC.

With the additional fun comes new responsibilities. Working the HF bands is
different than repeater operation in other ways that newcomers might not
realize. For example, while a repeater is silent for a period of time, that
means that the repeater is not in use and you can usually just throw out
your callsign to look for a contact. On HF, just because you don't hear
anything on a given frequency does not automatically mean that the frequency
is clear. In HF operation, you may not be able to hear both sides of a QSO
because of propagation conditions. If you just grab the frequency and start
calling CQ, you may be informed that the frequency is already in use! On HF
you have to listen even more than usual, and once you are fairly sure the
frequency is probably clear, it may be prudent to ask, "Is this frequency in
use?", after which you give your callsign.

Another difference between repeater operation and HF is that you can
generally count on being able to complete the contact on a repeater, because
the system is set up to maintain solid copy as long as both stations remain
in the repeater's coverage area. On HF you can begin a QSO with excellent
copy, only to find that changing band conditions suddenly cause you to lose
the other station or sometimes cause other stations to "skip in" from far
distances and cause QRM. Under such conditions, you have to be sure to trade
essential information about yourself and your station before conditions

Contests are another feature of HF operation that will be new to those who
have cut their teeth on repeaters. On contest weekends, the band can
literally fill with stations eager to rack up points, making it either
really hard to enjoy a long QSO with a friend or, to make the best of it, a
fun way to make a lot of contacts and improve your operating skills. You can
find out what contests are going on at any given time by visiting ARRL.org
and following the "Operating Activities" link. 

So to those of you who have not been on HF, let me extend a warm welcome to
a whole new kind of operating. We are going to have a lot of fun in solar
cycle 24!

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx




Mimi Fogarty

...to Mimi Fogarty, Manager of Camp Programs, on receiving the McDonald
Award last week.

The Bob and Yvonne MacDonald Distinguished Employee Awards recognize and
celebrate employees who demonstrate outstanding contributions, dedication
and commitment to Courage Center, its mission and clients. The MacDonald
Distinguished Employee Awards reward exemplary performance, results and
behaviors. These awards represent the highest level of formal recognition
for Courage Center employees.  


Many of our radio campers know Mimi, who has been at many Minnesota and
California sessions. Way to go, Mimi!


George, N0SBU, gets the shelves organized in the equipment storage area.

George, N0SBU, organizes storage area

In this photo, Handiham volunteer George LaValle, N0SBU, holds a 2 meter
antenna above his head as he tries to figure out how it will fit into the
storage room at our new headquarters. We are still working our way through
organizing and sorting following our move from the Golden Valley location,
where we were located for decades.  If you think you see hula hoops in the
picture, you would be right. Those are not part of the radio camp inventory,
but if any of our Handiham campers wants to try one, we can fix you right
up!  (We'll have our cameras ready, too.)


Software hunter

looking through giant magnifying glass, maybe for the perfect software

Your Handiham World software hunter is on the lookout for interesting
amateur radio-related software or any software that is potentially useful in
the ham shack. You can help us hunt down applications that you have located,
tried, or haven't tried but you wish someone would. Send suggestions to Pat,
wa0tda@xxxxxxxx along with your comments and reviews.

Last week we told you about a new free PDF reader from Nuance, the same
company that makes Dragon Naturally Speaking. We heard from Damian, SP9QLO,
who reported that initial testing in a user group shows that the Nuance PDF
Reader is not screenreader-accessible. 

We also heard from Hawaii: "Aloha Pat. I downloaded the free PDF Reader from
Nuance. The application did read the document well but in navigation through
the document using JAWS some of the key commands used in JAWS like "read
all" did not function. When I attempted to use other commands I found that
JAWS was locked up and the commands were unusable on other applications. The
cure was easy though, I unloaded JAWS and then restarted it. Each time I
went back into the document the same action occurred. One other
consideration was that the PDF Reader would only process the first 5 pages
of a longer document and I could not find an option to increase the number
of pages it would process. Hope this helps, Jamie, KH6KW."

We will be waiting for more reports, pro or con. You can find it at:

Today's featured find is SKYPE, the internet VoIP application that is used
to port audio in remote base stations like the Handiham Remote Base. The
software is free to download and install, and free to use for SKYPE to SKYPE
calls. In other words, you can talk as long as you want to other SKYPE users
no matter where they are in the world. That is the reason we use it for
remote base audio and why we need your SKYPE name when you are added as a
user to the Remote Base. You can set SKYPE privacy so that you will only
receive calls from people in your contact list. You can also send and
receive instant message texts via SKYPE, and setting your privacy to get
messages only from your contact list is a good idea. 

The SKYPE interface is blind-accessible, though it takes a bit of getting
used to whether you are blind or sighted. You can call regular phones with
SKYPE or receive phone calls at a SKYPE phone number that you set up, but
those features are not free and must be purchased with a credit card.
However, for ham radio purposes you do not need those features and the SKYPE
to SKYPE calls you will need for remote base use or to call other SKYPE
users are completely free. The free conference feature that allows up to 10
people at once. It could prove to be a good way for your ham club to conduct
committee meetings. This may be a way for the Handiham Radio Club to conduct
scheduled planning sessions, for example. 

Another feature of SKYPE calling is live video. If you have a web cam, as
virtually all new notebook and netbook computers do, then you can optionally
conduct a video call with another SKYPE user. The conference feature does
not support video, so it is only between two users. When my son Will,
KC0LJL, was in Japan last semester, we used the video conference feature
every week.  It was great to see and hear each other and do it for free
instead of having a huge long distance bill. 

You can also use the more advanced free features of SKYPE, such as desktop
sharing and file sending. It maintains a history of your calls and messages.
To assure privacy, you need to request that another user share contact
details before you can add them to your contact list. SKYPE is easy to set
up and users who have pulled their hair out trying to get Echolink to work
through their home routers will be delighted when they have no such problems
with SKYPE.

SKYPE is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is also available for
some mobile devices like the Blackberry® and Android™. Your computer must
have an internet connection, a sound card or USB microphone and headset, or
a built-in microphone and speakers. You can find it at:

One last note: If you are a Handiham member and have a General Class or
higher license and would like access to the Handiham HF Remote Base station
W0EQO, you may email me at wa0tda@xxxxxxxx  and include your callsign and
SKYPE name. 

Next week:  The W4MQ Remote Base rig control software.

Feedback: Reader Mike reports that Ham Radio Deluxe works with JAWS.


Remote Base News

The remote base station at Courage North
By Lyle Koehler, K0LR, Remote Base Administrator

Here is a remote base observation -- this one probably deserves a mention in
the e-letter. I got on the remote base computer to see if Windows wanted to
do any updates, and noticed that a station was connected on SKYPE but not
logged on as a control operator in the W4MQ software. Not a big thing,
except that the call duration was over 15 hours. Apparently this user had
connected on SKYPE and for whatever reason did not get logged on, so the
W4MQ software could not automatically dump him after 20 minutes of
inactivity. If the system screws up, or if the operator has connected to
SKYPE manually and forgets to disconnect (as I recall doing when we were
still using the Kenwood software), no one else can access the SKYPE audio
and it essentially locks up the remote base. This has happened before and
will undoubtedly happen again, since there's no way to set a connect time
limit in SKYPE. All we can do is ask the users to please make sure that they
log off when finished AND make sure that the SKYPE connection is dropped.


Free Ham Radio Classes from Handiham-affiliated Club

Studying the license manual.

The Stillwater Amateur Radio Association (SARA) is offering entry-level
Amateur Radio (Ham) instruction at the Stillwater Public Library, 224 Third
Street North, Stillwater, MN. Nine weekly sessions will be held Thursdays
from 6 to 8:00 p.m., beginning March 4. Classes are free for all ages and
knowledge of Morse code is not required. During emergencies, when cell and
conventional telephones are overloaded or won’t operate, Ham operators can
provide necessary communications and links with public safety departments.
Operating with auxiliary power, Hams can relay vital information across the
community and the country. Amateur Radio operators are licensed and
regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  For information
about the class or Amateur Radio, please email wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx I will be
personally teaching two of the lessons.

On the web:  <http://www.radioham.org> 


Out there:

Pat, WA0TDA, at his manly hobby of ham radio

·         Man, oh man.  Have you ever visited the "
<http://artofmanliness.com> Art of Manliness" website? 

It's a good place to learn how to do manly things like, say, use a
screwdriver or how to split firewood. The reason it's in your weekly
e-letter today is that I saw a reference to it in QST's "Media Hits" column.
Art of Manliness has compiled a list of 45 "manly" hobbies, and ham radio
comes in number 2, right after chess!  I doubt that this will make much of
an impression on the YL's in our ranks.  Anyway, you can judge for yourself:



This week @ HQ

*       New this week: Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the March 2010 CQ
audio digest for our blind members.  
*       Bob has also completed the March 2010 Worldradio audio digest for
our blind members.  
*       We have also finished reading the March, 2010 QST audio digest for
our blind members.  

Handiham members who use adapted audio can log in to members only for the
digest. If you qualify for National Library Service audio books, you can get
the entire issue of QST, once the issue is read and cataloged. I appreciate
the ARRL and all of its services, but one thing I look for with special
interest is the Annual Antenna Issue of QST.  The March issue is that very
one, devoted to antennas and antenna topics. Those of you who are ARRL
members and who get QST will find an article that I recommend on page 30:
"An Experimental Look at Ground Systems for HF Verticals" by Rudy Severns,
N6LF. Among the most comment questions we get at Handihams are ones related
to vertical antennas and ground radial systems.  Rudy's excellent article
will answer those questions for you. 

·         Nancy & I are in the HQ office at Camp Courage on Thursday, 4

·         I have completed a new Extra Class lecture this week. It is number
61 and continues our discussion on digital modes.  Members sign in to the
member section and browse to the Extra Class lecture series.

·         Radio Camp applications are out in the mail.  It will be much
easier and cheaper to travel to camp, since our new location at Camp Courage
will allow you to travel by air, Greyhound or Jefferson Lines bus, or
AMTRAK, and there will not be an expensive final leg of the journey to
Bemidji as in past years. 

·         Shipping address for Handihams: Our shipping address is different
than our mailing address, though we can still get packages and mail at
either address. The thing is, it is much, much easier if packages, such as
equipment donations, are sent directly to our headquarters office. This is
the same address where Radio Camp will be held. 

Camp Courage
Handiham System
8046 83rd Street Northwest
Maple Lake, MN 55358-2454 

The phone at the main Camp Courage office for all departments is (320)
963-3121. However, we do not always get phone messages left at that number
in a timely manner, so if you wish to leave a phone message, be sure to

Pat: 763-520-0511

Nancy: 763-520-0512 

We are on Twitter! Look for us on Twitter by searching for "handiham". We
invite you to follow us. Handiham web page posts are now "tweeted"

Minnesota Radio Camp dates for 2010, Camp Courage:

Arrive Friday, May 21. 
Class days: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
VE Exam Day: Thursday. Volunteer Examiners arrive in the morning to visit
with campers and eat breakfast together with campers, volunteers, and staff.
Depart Friday, May 28.

Cost of Radio Camp: The cost of Radio Camp depends on your ability to pay,
so anyone can afford to attend. Ask for an application.

·         Camp Courage is west of Minneapolis. The address is 8046 83rd St
NW, Maple Lake, MN‎ 55358.

·         The phone number of the Camp Courage office is (320) 963-3121‎.

·         If you want to receive a Camp Courage summer camp schedule, you
may call for one.

·         The camp schedule includes information about Handiham Radio Camp.

·         If you need specific information about the radio camp or want to
be on the radio camp mailing list, you may call Nancy in the Handiham office
at 1-866-426-3442.


VOLLI is now in service. It stands for VOLunteer Log In, and is a way for
our Handiham volunteers to register and then enter their volunteer hours
without having to fool around with paper records. We encourage volunteers to
create a user name and password, then submit their hours spent recording
audio, doing club presentations for us, and so on. Volunteer hours are
important, because United Way funding depends in part on volunteer hours. If
you are a volunteer and need a link to VOLLI, please email me at
wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx Our special thanks to my son Will, KC0LJL, who wrote the
Java code for VOLLI.

Volunteers, get your hours in through VOLLI. You may also submit volunteer
hours to Nancy at
 <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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. 

Echolink net news

Wednesday evenings the Handiham Echolink net is on the air. Please join us
and check in or simply listen in, as you see fit. We are on the air
Wednesday evenings at 19:30 hours Minnesota time (7:30 PM) or GMT: Thursday
morning at 01:30 Z.

Daily except Sunday at 11:00 hours Minnesota time (17:00 GMT)


·         145.450 MHz N0BVE repeater (Minneapolis-St. Paul)

·         *HANDIHAM* Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)

·         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.

Supporting Handihams

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 2010.

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 Nancy at: 1-866-426-3442 or
email: 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.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
<http://www.handiham.org/> 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: 



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.


·         By wa0tda at 03/03/2010 - 10:27 

·         Add new <http://www.handiham.org/comment/reply/717#comment-form>

·         Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/717>  version 

·         Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/717>  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.


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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 03 March 2010 - Patrick Tice