[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 06 April 2011

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2011 14:04:22 -0500

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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 <http://www.itunes.com/podcast?id=372422406> Description: Subscribe in

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Welcome to Handiham World!  

Description: Guy with his nose buried in a license manual.

It's been a busy week at Handiham headquarters with Nancy out of the office
and the phone ringing all day long, and on into the weekends and evenings.
When you run a program across time zones, that's the sort of thing that
happens.  There has been quite a lot of interest in amateur radio already
this Spring - I can't help thinking that the growing solar activity and
improved sunspot numbers have somehow toggled the "upgrade to General or
Extra" switch for many of our Technician operators who might have been
satisfied with repeater operations during the long dry spell of a seemingly
endless sunspot minimum.

For those hoping to upgrade to General, time is ticking on the old question
pool.  The pool is in effect until the stroke of midnight (presumably
Eastern Daylight Time) on July 1, 2011 - and that leaves (realistically)
only a couple of months to pass the exam.  While many VE teams will
undoubtedly schedule exam sessions in late June ahead of the big changeover,
can you really count on being able to attend one of these late sessions? 

Let's consider what could happen if you wait until the last minute to get to
a VE session:

1.      The session could be cancelled or the venue could be changed.
Sometimes this happens when a VE team member gets sick or has an emergency,
or if the exam meeting space becomes unavailable.

2.      You could get sick or have something important come up.

3.      Your transportation to the VE session might fall through, causing
you to miss the session.

4.      You might miss passing by only a question or two and wish you had
another opportunity to test again before the question pool changes.

So do you see what I'm getting at here?

Any of a number of things can come up to change our plans.  It has certainly
happened to me before; it's something I learned early on in life when my
parents insisted that I study for tests and complete homework projects well
ahead of time in case something might come up later on.  That has proven to
be a good life lesson and I hope I have passed it on to my son.  When
something is really important, you have to plan and pace yourself so that
you reach your goal.  

If you have been studying for General you really need to think about testing
soon, and that means getting ready to pass.  When you have completed your
studying through the ARRL license manual, Gordon West audio CDs, or Handiham
audio lectures, you should be taking practice exams.  We recommend the
AA9PW.com website for its ease of use by people who access it with
screenreaders and for its great selection of up-to-date content.  Taking
practice exams on a regular basis adds two important things to your studies:
First, it familiarizes you with the questions and reminds you of what you
have already studied. Educators call this "reinforcing" your learning.
Second, it teaches you how the test will be structured and allows you to
become comfortable with answering questions.  If you plan to take the exam
with the help of a volunteer reader, you might even want to have someone
read the practice exam to you and mark the answers down as you direct, just
as you will be doing at the actual exam. One useful feature of the AA9PW.com
website is the "practice exams by email" option that allows you to email an
exam with answers to yourself or your volunteer reader to print out and read
so as to simulate the actual test session.  If you are taking an exam that
will be read to you, be sure to practice using the "no figures" option.  The
practice exam that is generated will have no figures but will still have the
proper mix of questions from all topic areas in the question pool.  When you
are consistently passing practice exams, you know that it is time to take
the real exam at a VE session.  If you take practice exams and consistently
miss by many points, you should take stock of your study plans and hit the
books again, even if it means possibly having to take the exam under the new
question pool.  If you are missing only by a question or two on the practice
exams, you still have time to work on those problem areas in the question
pool that are giving you trouble. You can always email me if you are a
Handiham member taking our course and I will do my best to help you.

If you are studying for your Extra, you have plenty of time... Or do you?
The Extra pool changes next summer, on July 1, 2012.  If you have been
half-heartedly studying and thinking about how far away the test is, you
might want to look again at your study plan.  Unlike the Technician and the
General with their 35 question exams dealing largely with operating
procedures, rules, and basic electronics with simple math, the Extra exam is
a 50 question test with some no-nonsense engineering concepts and college
level math concepts.  You can learn this material and pass the exam, but it
will not be easy unless you apply yourself in regular study sessions and
learn where you are weakest so that you can concentrate on improvement where
it counts.  Again, start taking practice exams.  It does not make sense to
go to a VE session unless you are really ready, because all you will do is
waste time and money if you are still at the point of only getting half of
the answers correct.  Study, study, study!  For challenging material like
the Extra, you may want to check out your radio club to see if there are
others interested in upgrading at the same time so that you can form a small
study group.  If you meet regularly and help each other learn, it will not
only be more fun but you will be more motivated to be at each study session.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Pat Tice


All About Ham Radio: Does having the top license really make you a good

Description: Cartoon guy carrying "all about ham radio" books.

Some people feel that earning their Extra makes them not only the big dog
but a good operator as well. 

It just doesn't work that way. You get to be a good operator by listening,
learning, and gaining experience on the air.  A good operator learns by his
or her mistakes and does not repeat them.  A good operator is aware of his
or her operating weaknesses and takes steps to gain more knowledge and
experience in those areas.  Good habits help, too.  You can start forming
good habits by starting at the beginning, when you earn your Technician
license.  Those good operating habits will carry on through your entire ham
radio career.  Bad habits work the same way, and they can become so much a
part of our operating that we don't even realize it!  Lately there is a
movement to eradicate the term "73's", which is an incorrect variant of the
proper term "73", used when signing off.  It's easy to get into the bad
habit of saying "73's" when you hear others doing so, but if you know that
the right expression is "73" and make it a habit to say it that way every
time, you will be cool and correct on the band!

Of course the way we say 73 isn't really that big a deal as far as good
habits are concerned.  The really important good habits have to do with
following the rules and operating safely.  Some examples of good habits:

.         Always use your full callsign to identify.

.         Always use standard phonetics, because in an emergency this good
habit will help you be understood.

.         When driving a car and operating mobile, make driving your first
job before doing anything with the radio.  There are times when driving is
so intense that you might need to simply tell the other station that you
will talk to them another time because you have to concentrate on driving.

.         The good habit of always putting the main task first before radio
will help to keep you and others safe.  If you are cooking something on the
stove or taking care of small children, stay on task and leave the radio
until later.  Don't risk burning dinner or having a toddler wander off
because you got involved in an interesting conversation on the radio.

.         When working in potentially dangerous situations such as on a
tower, always use safety equipment and have a spotter in case anything goes

.         Always follow safety procedures when working around electricity.  

I'm sure you can think of other good habits to make part of your radio life!


Strap on your tool belt! It's time for... 

Troubleshooting 101: I can't connect to the HANDIHAM conference on Echolink!

Description: Small tools and wire

Okay, here's one for you to figure out:  You've been using Echolink for
quite a while now, and you feel comfortable with operating through your
computer.  You have forwarded the ports and opened the firewall for the
Echolink application when you configured your wireless router.  It is
usually pretty easy to connect to the HANDIHAM conference server, node
494492, because you have saved it to your favorites in Echolink, and it
virtually always connects without a problem in one or two tries. You like
the HANDIHAM conference because the station list appears and you know that
most of the net participants are likely to be using the same conference, so
you can get a better idea of who is around listening or planning to check in
to the net.

Because you enjoy being on the go and taking ham radio along, you also take
your iPod, iPhone, or Android phone with you and have the free Echolink app
installed.  Whether you are at home using your own wireless router
connection to the internet or traveling and using the phone's data plan or a
Wi-Fi hotspot somewhere, it is easy to use Echolink when the net time rolls
around.  At first, you found that it was simple to connect to the HANDIHAM
conference server, but lately it seems as if it is becoming much more
difficult to make the connection.  Oddly enough, you can make a connection
to the Echolink test server and to one of your friends who agreed to help
you run a test, and when you use your computer to connect, there is no
problem at all. 

Can you suggest what might be wrong and what you could do about it?

Send your replies to wa0tda@xxxxxxxx for possible inclusion in next week's
edition of your weekly e-letter.


Review of the SPE Expert 1K-FA 1 KW Solid State Fully Automatic Linear
Amplifier for HF and 50Mhz


Recently I received an unexpected windfall and was able to purchase one of
these imported amps from Italy. This model is the third revision and is
quite reliable according to reviews and those with whom I have spoken who
use one. I would like to share my initial impressions with you concerning
its operation and especially from a blindness perspective. 

Read the entire review at: <http://handiham.org/manuals/Expert/> 

More from the SPE website: <http://www.linear-amplifier.com/> 


Thanks to the RARC and Midwinter Madness

 <http://handiham.org/node/1087> Description: Avery, K0HLA, Pat, WA0TDA, and
Jerry, N0VOE pose for photographer Susan Tice at the Handiham table,
Midwinter Madness Hamfest.

Photo: Avery, K0HLA, Pat, WA0TDA, and Jerry, N0VOE pose for photographer
Susan Tice at the Handiham table, Midwinter Madness Hamfest.

The Courage Center Handiham System was represented at the Midwinter Madness
Hamfest in Buffalo, Minnesota, near the Handiham Headquarters at Camp
Courage. Our thanks to the Robbinsdale Amateur Radio Club,
http://www.k0ltc.org for table space and for all of the hard work club
members did to make the show a great success.

The tentative date for 2012's Hamfest is Saturday March 31, 2012.



Description: Dog barking at mailman. Jasper loves our mail carrier - she
gives him a treat when she stops by!

PJ, George's dog, sends us this note:

I thought I would let you know that George has taken the March/April Digest
to the Post Office. I told him to copy the April tape yesterday so he can
get them in the mail.

This is PJ signing off and going QRT.

Description: PJ in her I'm the Boss shirt.


Held over by popular demand: Website makes letter writing regarding HR-607

Congress is supposedly busy trying to avoid a government shutdown this week,
but it is still not too late to auto-generate a letter stating the case
against the current wording of HR-607, which would sell off amateur radio
frequencies in the 70cm band. Use this link to generate your own letter:


Send then to: 

John Chwat 
Chwat & Co. 
625 Slaters Lane 
Suite 103 
Alexandria, VA 22314


Good stuff from ARRL

The weekly ARRL Audio News is a great way to keep yourself up to date in
amateur radio related news.  The ARRL Audio News web page not only offers
several ways to listen, it also tells you about the excellent and accessible
open-source audio editing software Audacity.  While I wouldn't necessarily
want to use Audacity to edit the audio news into smaller segments as the
ARRL page suggests, Audacity is an excellent audio editing program and we
recommend it and use it for the weekly e-letter.  Check out the ARRL Audio
News web page:

 <http://www.arrl.org/arrl-audio-news> http://www.arrl.org/arrl-audio-news


A dip in the pool

Description: circuit board

This week we turn to the Extra Class pool and a question about filter

E7D16 asks us: "When several electrolytic filter capacitors are connected in
series to increase the operating voltage of a power supply filter circuit,
why should resistors be connected across each capacitor?"

Possible answers are:

A. To equalize, as much as possible, the voltage drop across each capacitor
B. To provide a safety bleeder to discharge the capacitors when the supply
is off
C. To provide a minimum load current to reduce voltage excursions at light
D. All of these answers are correct

The right answer here is "D. All of these answers are correct." The reason I
chose this particular question is that it reminds me of a good safety habit
that I learned very early on in my amateur radio career.  When I first got
my General Class license as a teenager in the late 1960's, virtually all
amateur radio stations used vacuum tubes, and that technology always had
electrolytic capacitors in high voltage power supplies. You had to be
careful around these capacitors, because they can store quite a charge while
the circuit is in operation and then hold that charge even when the circuit
is turned off and the equipment is unplugged from the AC mains. Bleeder
resistors do bleed off this charge over a relatively short time - if they
are intact and working.  If not, it is possible to get a dangerous shock
from a capacitor that has not been discharged.  The good habit I learned was
to never assume that an electrolytic capacitor in a power supply was "safe"
until I grounded it and discharged it with a shorting lead, often a metal
screwdriver with a plastic handle for insulation.  


Remote Base Health Report for 06 April 2011

Description: Remote Base Update

The W0EQO Handiham Remote Base HF station is functioning normally.

W0ZSW is back in service.  The new radio, a TS-480HX, and new computer are
in place.  The system now returns frequency information for our blind users,
thanks to the VGS1 speech module. Lyle, K0LR, has updated the Realtek audio
drivers and I will be reconfiguring the station's audio hardware setup on
Thursday, time permitting. 

*       IRB Sound has been disabled, but Echolink and Skype sound are
functioning normally. We do not recommend the use of IRB sound for either

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'.  W0EQO location information has been added:

W0ZSW is located at Camp Courage on Cedar Lake about an hour west of
Minneapolis, MN. W0ZSW location information has been added:

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

*       Nancy is out of the office until April 11. I wish I could do
everything that she does with the database, orders, and applications, but I
can't.  I will do my best to keep up with as much as I can. 
*       I will be out of the office for meetings all day Thursday. I will
not be able to take or return phone calls, so please help by keeping phone
messages to a minimum. This also goes for Friday, when I will be in the
office but busy on a writing project. Instead of a phone call, a short email
will be appreciated. 
*       Digest audio for April is ready for our blind members. Just posted
today:  CQ Digest.  
*       George, N0SBU, reports that the April digest for our blind members
who do not have computers has been mailed. 
*       Radio Camp will be from Monday 8 August to Saturday 13 August, 2011.
Radio Camp queries should be saved until Nancy returns to the office. We
expect to mail applications for camp in mid to late April. 

.         Tonight is EchoLink net night.  The Wednesday evening EchoLink net
is at 19:30 United States Central time, which translates to +5 hours, or
00:30 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

*       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, 06 April 2011 - Patrick Tice