[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 04 September 2013

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 4 Sep 2013 14:20:44 -0500

*Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 04
September 2013*

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Kenny Handiham
System <http://handiham.org/>. Our contact information is at the end, or
simply email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for changes in subscriptions or to
comment. You can listen to this news online.

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*Welcome to Handiham World.*You touched it - you own it.  Really?

[image: Ken Williams, W0JKM, and Rex Kiser, W0GLU - both now silent keys -
pictured in the Handiham shop.]

*Photo: Ken Williams, W0JKM, and Rex Kiser, W0GLU - both now silent keys -
pictured in the Handiham shop, with bench and shelf full of test equipment.*

Long ago I had a part-time job fixing consumer electronics at a small,
independent retail store.  Bill, the store's owner, did a big business in
TV sets and appliances like washing machines and refrigerators.  In those
days, TV sets were 100% analog and were failure-prone because of the less
sophisticated design and assembly processes of the day, the use of
high-voltage at the CRT (picture tube), and the limitations of vacuum tube
and semiconductors of the day.  So Bill pretty much had to have a "service
department" to repair the TV sets that he sold as well as sets that he
hadn't sold but that might need repair or (hopefully) replacement with a
new set.

Bill took me aside one day and mentioned what he considered to be pretty
much a fact of life in the world of customer service:  "If you touch it,
you own it", he said.

And it was true.  There were lots of people out there in consumer TV-land
who insisted that the antenna you installed six months ago had caused the
channel selector knob to fall off.  After all, you had worked on something
related to their TV set, and now - only six months later - look at what
happened!  That knob had been perfect before you installed that confounded

"If you touch it, you own it."

Of course what is going on in this kind of situation is a serious case of
"unreasonable expectations".  The customer has come to a convenient
conclusion based on a lack of knowledge about how TV works, on their hope
of avoiding having to pay for a service call and a new knob, and a belief
that since they have been so magnanimous as to write you a check for some
product or service in the past, you should be willing to keep them - the
customer - happy by keeping that product and everything within a mile of it
in tip-top like new condition forever.

This is an unreasonable expectation.  Bill was running a business and could
only go so far in mollifying customers who had outrageous demands. Most
business owners of the day would handle the situation much as today's
businesses do - by offering a discount on a service or replacement part.

But this is the 21st Century, not the 20th.  Things are different.  Yes,
customers still have unreasonable demands, and companies still have some
sorts of policies to respond to them.  We now have an enormous world-wide
database (the Internet) to help us solve problems without calling for
service.  We have electronics - even cheap consumer-grade circuits - that
are so reliable that most will never need service and are more likely to be
retired by obsolescence than by a failure to function. Consumers are
becoming used to electronic devices with built-in operating guides and if
there is even a printed manual at all, it likely is a "quick start" guide
that references a website for detailed operation.
What about amateur radio?

Back in the day - let's say the middle of the 20th Century - amateur radio
operators often built or modified their own equipment, a practical response
to the availability of military surplus gear, tight family budgets for
those trying to buy a house in that post-WW2 era, and technology that lent
itself to making things out of individual electronic parts - which were
also readily available. It was not unusual for amateurs to have a solid
working knowledge of electronics. After the war, many hams followed
technical career paths in electronics. Of course hams would help other hams
with projects, but it was unusual for anyone who held a callsign to be
unable to at least get their equipment on the air.
Today that is different for a number of reasons.


   For one thing, the technology has changed. Equipment is no longer
   "user-repairable" in the sense that one cannot diagnose problems without
   specialized equipment, and even if one could do so there would be virtually
   no hope of finding parts or doing the repairs economically.

   Then there is the knowledge and experience level of the typical ham. The
   older ops who have not kept up with technology are functionally in the same
   spot as the newbies who have little or no hands-on electronics experience.
   Yes, some amateur operators still work in technical careers and have a deep
   understanding of how their equipment works - but most do not.

   Resources - like the Handiham repair shop staffed by volunteers - no
   longer exist.  Most of the equipment cannot be repaired outside a
   specially-equipped repair facility staffed by professionals.

   Finally, this is the era of information overload.  The Internet has made
   enormous amounts of information available at the same time the technology
   used in Amateur Radio has become really complex.  Many of us have thrown in
   the towel when it comes to understanding how all of our equipment works
   because it just isn't possible to absorb that much information, let alone
   understand it. We end up having to pick and choose, seeking a more in-depth
   understanding of those parts of the hobby that are important to us.

This is the situation today.  Like it or not, most of us are "appliance
operators", driven by a concession to complex technology that is not
user-repairable and by the economic reality that it is expensive and
difficult to procure parts to create equipment from scratch. Although there
is not necessarily anything surprising about this, Amateur Radio is still
supposed to be a technical pursuit.  The licensing examinations still
include questions about basic electronics.  I expect licensed operators to
know at least something about how their equipment functions, and to be able
to roll up their sleeves and figure things out for themselves.
Remember Bill's "If you touch it, you own it" warning? We run into it all
too often in Amateur Radio.

People still have the quaint notion that they can phone me ask me how to
run their equipment. If they have acquired the equipment because of
something they have read on the Handiham website or through the equipment
program at Radio Camp, they may assume that I must be the go-to person to
tell them how to program their HT or interface it to a computer, and do
this over the course of a phone call, no less. They don't realize that I'm
as clueless as they come, especially if I don't own that particular model
radio myself.  I get calls all the time from people who are not even
Handiham members but who expect a multisession course on electronics over
the phone. I'm sure that ARRL and virtually every other Amateur Radio
organization gets the same kinds of calls.  The problem with answering such
questions is that because the equipment is now quite complex, there is no
way to give a simple answer over the phone. Reverting to email is usually
the fallback strategy, but no one has time to write a book about someone's
individual situation so I end up - as others do - by providing some
(hopefully) helpful links to on line resources.  If they have no computer
and thus no email, we're pretty much stuck with advising them to get help
at their local radio club.

Most of us in the ham community want to be helpful. We don't shrink from
helping a new ham get on the air. We try to do what we can to get anyone
with rig or antenna problems back on track. But there is a limit, and a
person who fixes a rig one time cannot "own" the job as tech support from
that time forward. Amateur Radio is still a technical pursuit, and as such
it does demand some elbow grease on that part of its participants.  All of
us have to be ready and willing to figure things out for ourselves.  We
will also help others with their problems, but only with the expectation
that those operators needing assistance will learn from that experience and
be able to proceed on their own the next time a problem crops up. No one
wants to help someone once and then find out that they are now going to be
called again and again by that person to answer every question, as if they
were full-time technical support!
You can solve problems for yourself, just as I can.

Reading the manual is always a good start, and after that going to support
pages on the web. Discussion groups can be helpful, but you have to be
careful to post on-topic and be specific about your questions by defining
the problem and providing enough information to allow others on the list to
figure out how to help. Before posting to any internet list, I check the
list archive to find out if the question I have has already been addressed
in a previous discussion.  I'm much more likely to use Google to search out
resources about a problem before I pick up the phone to ask someone about
it. There is no shame in not understanding how to do something when it
comes to understanding and operating complex radio equipment.  As we
explained, the technology is very complicated and no one can be expected to
have a handle on all of it.  But please - don't have unreasonable
expectations of others when you are able to learn the answers for yourself!
Yes, it is still a technical hobby - and I expect you to know something
about electricity and electronics.

Save your questions for those times when you have read the instructions,
used the web to hunt down solutions, and really, really tried to figure
things out for yourself, but for whatever reason you just cannot solve the
problem. Not only have I learned a lot for myself by taking that approach,
but I felt really good about it when I figured out how to solve a problem.

You can, too.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator
Practical radio

[image: pliers and wire]
Power supply heaven!

Have you ever tried connecting a new radio or accessory to a 12 VDC power
supply and had to head for the toolkit a time or two to get the job done?
I'd say all of us have "been there, done that", so you know what I'm
talking about: Some power supplies have bolt terminals sticking out the
back, to which you secure the power cable positive and negative leads with
nuts that tighten the stripped ends of the wires between a couple of
washers.  Other supplies have small set screws that must be tightened with
a flat-blade screwdriver that cannot be too large or small for the job.  A
few power supplies have built-in cabling specific to the radio and plug
right in, but also have screw terminals for accessories.  Still others may
have Anderson Powerpole connectors <http://www.powerwerx.com/>.

One thing for sure is that it's a good bet you will need wrenches, a wire
stripper, possibly some electrical tape, a pliers, a set of screwdrivers,
and who-knows-what-else to get things going.  My philosophy is that it's
better to do the job once, so I like to see power supplies that are
equipped with Anderson Powerpoles®.  Once these handy connectors are
installed, you cannot plug them in the wrong way and you will not need to
make multiple trips to the toolkit.  You can find out more about these
connectors at http://www.powerwerx.com/ and even locate a list of emergency
service groups using these universal connectors.  When you are deploying to
an emergency communications situation, the last thing you want to deal with
is nonstandard connectors for something as basic as 12VDC power for radios
and accessories.  When everyone equips their radios to a known standard
like Powerpoles, it becomes easy to switch out radios and power supplies.
No one is going to connect the positive voltage to the negative wire or

[image: Pat holds up Powerpole extension cable with dual fuses.]
Here I am holding a Powerpole extension cable equipped with dual fuses -
each side of the line is fused. This kind of accessory cable is easy to
install in your ham shack or in the field during an emergency.  Our thanks
to Dave Glas, W0OXB, for making up this extension cable.

You can also construct (or purchase) multiple Powerpole outlets that allow
you to connect several accessories to 12VDC easily, simply by plugging them
in to a Powerpole receptacle. Forget about all those tools and hassle - get
compliant with emergency communicator best practices and equip your station
with Anderson Powerpoles!

Remember that this column is about "practical radio", which is figuring out
what works and making the most of it.  Use what works for you!
Handiham Nets are on on the air daily.

If there is no net control station during any scheduled net time, just go
right ahead and start a round table discussion.

[image: TMV71A transceiver]

*We are scheduled to be on the air daily at 11:00 USA Central Time, plus
Wednesday & Thursday evenings at 19:00 USA Central Time.  *A big THANK YOU
to all of our net control stations!  What will Doug, N6NFF, come up with
for his trivia question tonight?  I guess we'll just have to tune in and
listen!  Tune in and see how you do with the question this week, or just
check in to say hello.

*We maintain our nets at 11:00 hours daily relative to Minnesota time.
Since the nets remain true to Minnesota time, the difference between
Minnesota time and GMT is -5 hours.  The net is on the air at 16:00 hours
GMT.  *

*The official and most current net news may be found at:
http://www.handiham.org/nets *
*A dip in the pool*

[image: Pat shows off his new Plantronics USB headset!]

It's time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the pool - the Amateur
Radio question pool, that is!

*Let's go to the Technician Class pool and examine a question about voltage:

T0A01 asks: "Which is a commonly accepted value for the lowest voltage that
can cause a dangerous electric shock?"

Possible choices are:

A. 12 volts

B. 30 volts

C. 120 volts

D. 300 volts

This is an example of vital electrical theory that everyone is expected to
know.  It is also an example of knowledge that - if ignored or forgotten
right after passing the Technician exam - can result in serious electrical
shock and even death. As we already discussed, there are hams out there who
have not built up a knowledge of electrical principles building or
repairing their own equipment. They may not be familiar with the dangers
associated with older equipment that uses vacuum tubes and has high
operating voltages. Even if they are, they might not know that voltages as
low as 30 volts can cause a dangerous shock. Answer B, 30 volts, is the
correct one.  That question is included in the Technician pool because it
is really important: You can be killed by electrical shock, and Amateur
Radio is a technical pursuit that will expose you to electricity!

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.
This week @ HQ

[image: Cartoon robot with pencil]
Important:  Take our on line survey <http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QZX6BN6>.
Download a plain text copy if you have trouble with the Survey Monkey

Help us to make the Handiham program as good as it can be.  Take a short
survey to let us know what you think.  Follow the link below:

   - http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QZX6BN6

Remote Base News

The remote base software team is gearing up again.  Stay tuned!

[image: W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North.]
*Both Handiham Remote Base internet stations W0ZSW and W0EQO are on
line. Outages:
We are not expecting any outages.  Outages are reported on

*Band conditions:* As of this writing, conditions on HF are good.  Check
http://handiham.org/remotebase/station-status/ for a current HF conditions
report from G4ILO.

*Operating tip: * Find out how to tell if the remote base station is
already in use if you are using JAWS:

   - Listen to the tutorial:
   - Read the tutorial in accessible HTML:



[image: Pat holding up NLS digital cartridge and mailer]
Don't care to download Handiham materials via computer? This digital
cartridge and mailer can bring you Handiham audio digests each month, plus
we have room to put the audio lecture series or equipment tutorials on
them, too!

   - If you have trouble logging in, please let us know.
   - All Daisy materials are in zip file format, so you simply download the
   zip file you need and unzip it so the Daisy book folder can be accessed or
   moved to your NLS or other Daisy player.
   - Tip: When in the Daisy directory, it is easy to find the latest books
   by sorting the files by date. Be sure the latest date is at the top. The
   link to sort is called "Last Modified".
   - You can also find what is on a web page by using CONTROL-F.  This
   brings up a search box and you can type a key word in, such as "July".  You
   may find more than one July, including 2012, but you will eventually come
   across what we have posted for July 2013.

   - CQ for July is now available for our blind members in the DAISY
   - Worldradio and QST Daisy for August are ready.
   - Our thanks to Bob, N1BLF, Jim, KJ3P, and Ken, W9MJY, for reading this
   month.  Look for these DAISY materials in the members section.

*Digital mailers are important: *If you do mail a digital cartridge to us,
please be sure that it is an approved free matter mailer. Otherwise it will
quickly cost us several dollars to package and mail out, which is more than
the cost of the mailer in the first place. We don't have a stock of
cartridges or mailers and not including a mailer will result in a long
delay getting your request back out to you.

*DAISY audio digests are available for our blind members who do not have
computers*, playable in your Library of Congress digital player.  Handiham
members who use these players and who would prefer to receive a copy of the
monthly audio digests on the special Library of Congress digital cartridge
should send a blank cartridge to us in a cartridge mailer (no envelopes,
please), so that we can place the files on it and return it to you via free
matter postal mail.  Your call sign should be on both the cartridge and the
mailer so that we can make sure we know who it's from. Blank cartridges and
mailers are available from APH, the American Printing House for the Blind,
Inc. <http://www.aph.org/>

Digital Talking Book Cartridge Catalog Number: 1-02610-00, Price: $12.00

Digital Talking Book Cartridge Mailer Catalog Number: 1-02611-00, Price:

Order Toll-Free: (800) 223-1839.

The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital

Get it all on line as an alternative:  Visit the DAISY section on the
Handiham website after logging in.
Stay in touch

[image: Cartoon robot with cordless phone]

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 at
763-520-0512.  If you need to use the toll-free number, call

Handiham Program Coordinator Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, may be reached at
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or by phone at 763-520-0511.

Mornings Monday through Thursday are the best time to contact us.

The Courage Kenny Handiham Program 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.

Call 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 Handiham Weekly E-Letter in MP3
format <http://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3>
Email us to subscribe:

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Kenny Handihams!
Coordinator, Courage Kenny Handiham Program
Reach me by email at:

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

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!

[image: ARRL diamond-shaped logo]

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
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc.
Include your old email address and your new address.

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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 04 September 2013 - Patrick Tice