[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 08 June 2011

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 8 Jun 2011 14:13:08 -0500

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham
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Welcome to Handiham World!  

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

Troubleshooting 101: Your toolkit

Description: Small tools and wire

Having the right tool for the repair at hand is important. Life being what
it is, you never know what you might be called upon to fix, and being an
amateur radio operator most definitely opens up possibilities that the
average homeowner will not encounter!  While a typical household toolkit
will include hand tools like a few sets of pliers, a hammer, perhaps a wood
saw and a hacksaw, screwdrivers and some wrenches among other simple tools,
the ham's toolkit will add a few tools related to electronics.

When I was growing up, my dad made a living by selling and repairing office
machines, particularly typewriters.  That work was mostly dealing with
mechanical devices, and dad had plenty of tools specific to the job.  There
were lots of screwdrivers, specialty pliers and other hand tools designed to
get at small parts in tight places.  Typewriters of the day were both
mechanical and electric. Mechanical calculators were such an amazing
conglomeration of cogs and tiny moving parts that I still stand in amazement
when I think of how the clattering devices could come up with solutions to
math problems!  Anyway, dad had collected and organized all of his tools and
his workspaces to complete diagnoses and repairs on these machines as
efficiently as possible. 

It takes time and experience to build a workshop and collect the right tools
for an activity like amateur radio. I started decades ago with some of my
own hand tools, like wrenches, which I needed to do antenna work.  I didn't
want to have to borrow my dad's tools.  Not having much to spend as a
teenager, I bought a set of "Globemaster" wrenches.  They were stamped "Made
in India" and I still have some of them today.  I couldn't even begin to
guess how many miles they have on them just going up and down towers!  Of
course I acquired a multimeter from Radio Shack when I felt that I could
really afford to splurge.  A cheap SWR bridge of the type used with CB
radios worked for my antenna needs, and dad helped me choose a soldering
pencil and showed me how to correctly heat and flow the solder over a clean
joint to make a solid connection.  Dad used a propane torch for some of his
parts soldering, so I learned how to use that to make outdoor connections,
soldering my antenna wires.

Over the years I have collected lots of tools.  I have a frequency counter,
an oscilloscope, a transistor tester, several multimeters - both analog and
digital, SWR meters, a logic probe, a frequency generator with selectable
waveforms, lots of hand and power tools, and those old Globemaster wrenches.
It's worth noting that most of these tools really are not what I call "core"
tools.  Using an oscilloscope is a rare thing for me, but the small hand
tools like side cutters and screwdrivers get used all the time. That's
partly because they have to do service in the repair of typical household
items.  You can get started building your tool collection logically by
getting a good set of screwdrivers, nut drivers, and pliers, including
needle nose pliers.  You will need a couple of side cutters, probably a
miniature pair and a larger pair for cutting and stripping wires. A
multimeter is a definite plus as an early purchase, because you will use it
for household repairs as well as for radio work. Many of them include an
audible continuity tester, something that really comes in handy when
checking coaxial cables for shorts and open circuits. Good quality
electrical tape, such as that made by 3M, is a useful item to have in your
toolbox.  And speaking of a toolbox, you might want to have several of those
as well. I like the smaller plastic ones with a couple of trays to help keep
things sorted out.  A bigger metal one may be the best bet for tools like
hammers, saws, and plumbing tools.

One thing you will learn by experience is which tools to put in a small
toolbox to take along on most of your projects. When you get good at doing
simple repairs, you likely have gotten the hang of grabbing the right tools
before setting out for the garage or back yard, or the Field Day site.  If
you have ever been working on a Field Day antenna and needed a wrench that
you forgot to bring, you know how frustrating a poorly-stocked toolbox can
be.  Going to Field Day?  Why not start a checklist so that you are sure
you'll have all the tools you need?

Don't forget about safety!  Whether you are working on projects around the
house or yard or at the Field Day site, you will still sometimes need gloves
or eye protection - and yes,  even if you are blind you do need eye
protection. Some basic safety gear to consider as you build your tool
collection might be:

.         Safety glasses or goggles - use for lots of stuff around the
house, and for antenna work or during soldering.

.         Gloves - great for hand protection while gardening or installing

.         Extension cords with third wire for ground - help to prevent
electric shock when using power tools.

.         Hearing protection - perfect for saving your hearing while
vacuuming the carpets or while using power tools.

.         Hard hat - protects your noggin while trimming trees or while
working on a tower project when someone drops a wrench from 30 feet up.

.         Ground fault interrupters - excellent shock protection!

Proceed logically with your tool collecting.  Acquire the usual household
tools and safety gear first, then add the meters and other less often used
gear later on.  If your capabilities in tool use are limited, start simple
and learn what works for you and what doesn't.  Asking for help through your
local radio club is usually an option, and actually makes a lot of sense for
anyone, because there will be times when you only need some esoteric and
expensive  tool once, so why not ask a fellow club member who owns one to
help you out?   Everyone should have at least one pair of hearing protectors
around the house, but it is perfectly understandable if you don't care to
own a chain saw or an oscilloscope. 

Know your limitations.  If you cannot see to use some power tools safely,
you can concentrate on building a collection of hand tools that you can use
independently. If you are unable to lift and climb, you are not going to
need a climbing harness.  This is not rocket science, but it does bear
mentioning because we don't always know our own limitations without trying
something first. This is a very individual thing, so I recommend keeping an
open mind and trying new things - but with someone experienced in operating
that new power tool or doing soldering. Having a spotter available during a
project like using a table saw or climbing a tower is essential.  I recall
one of my ham radio friends who severed his fingers with a power saw.
Thankfully there was help nearby!  Using tools when you are tired or not
feeling well, or - heaven forbid - when you have been drinking alcohol, is a
prescription for disaster.

Having a good, basic set of tools that you are comfortable using should be
your goal.  Now, let's get out there and fix something!

Send your ideas about troubleshooting for possible inclusion in this column

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager



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

Looking for a TS-480SAT? Here's your chance!

Description: Kenwood TS-480SAT transceiver

Tom Behler, KB8TYJ, writes:

I think I'm just about ready here to take the plunge and order a Kenwood
TS-590S HF transceiver. Before doing so, however, I am going to have to sell
one of my TS480's. You know: It's the old "radio in, radio out" principle.

So, here's what I've got, and what I'm proposing:

TS-480 SAT, which includes the mobile mounting bracket and all original
accessories plus the VGS1 voice guide, and a 500 HZ CW filter. I also have a
number of Braille and electronic documentation files on the radio, including
the manual, a key-chart, menu list, and other assorted goodies. I bought
this TS480 slightly used back in the Spring of 2008, and it has served me
well. It is in good working order, and I've never had a problem with it. 

I'm asking $900 for the entire package, and that will include shipping
within the USA. If the VGS1 is not needed, I'll take it out of the unit, and
drop the price down to $850. I would prefer payment in the form of either a
postal money order, or certified cashier's check. I have advertised the rig
in other places, but really would prefer it to go to a fellow blind ham, or
other Handiham member who could take full advantage of its great
accessibility. If you have questions, or want more specifics, please e-mail
me personally at: <mailto:tombehler@xxxxxxxxx> 

Blind users: Call for assistance with Elecraft K3 screenreader project

Description: Elecraft K3 transceiver on black background. Image courtesy

The Elecraft K3 has earned a reputation as an excellent, high-performance
160 through 6 meter rig. Wouldn't it be great if there was a software
program to collect data from the radio and return it in a blind-accessible
format? Well, listen to what Mike, NF4L, says:

Dear Handihams,

I'm Mike Reublin NF4L. I have written a program that collects the responses
that an Elecraft K3 can return, and puts it on the computer screen, so a
user's screen reader can say it. I'm in late testing, and it was suggested
that some of the Handiham members might be interested in helping me test.
And to use it when it's released.

If this is of interest to you, how can I make the request to the sight
impaired community?

This has the backing of Elecraft, and it's free.

73, Mike NF4L

Can you help Mike with this project? If so, he would like to hear from you.
Contact him via email at nf4l at nf4l dot com.

Please feel free to share this story with the blind ham community. Let's get
the word out to as many potential beta testers as we can!

The Elecraft website is:

June Events by N1YXU

Description: Events by N1YXU

Welcome (almost) to summer. I imagine that several of you are preparing for
Field Day later this month. Bruce and I will be operating with our local
club. We will be operating using the call W4UNC. Hope to work you!

As usual, there are several events this month. Be sure to look through the
list and mark your calendars.

Until next month..


Laurie Meier, N1YXU

Read Laurie's events column at:  <http://www.handiham.org/node/1145> 


How do VE Teams decide whether a candidate needs accommodation?

Description: Studying for license

I called the leader of the VE team I belong to so that I could ask him how
he decides. He says that the VE teams do have some discretion, and that the
person seeking accommodation may bring some proof of disability if they
wish, but if it is someone they know or the person seems on the up and up,
they will go ahead and test with a reader.

One thing that is very important is that contact should be made with the VE
team leader at least two weeks in advance to confirm this, and to let the VE
team know that accommodation will be needed so that they have time to

Some VE teams stock only a limited number of exams. Diagram-free exams may
be needed for an accommodated session in which a volunteer reads the exam to
the candidate and then marks the answer sheet as the candidate directs. We
recommend this kind of exam, as no explaining can be done to assist the
candidate in the case of exams with figures.

So be sure you get in touch with the VE team in plenty of time and explain
the situation so your friend can be accommodated. Remember that dyslexia is
considered a disability that qualifies the person for NLS services. There is
no reason a person with dyslexia cannot be accommodated with a volunteer
reader and diagram-free exam at a VE session.

Remember that the VE team members want you to be successful, so do your part
and study hard and be ready to test - and to get that license or upgrade!

Patrick Tice


A dip in the pool

Description: circuit board

As long as we are talking about tools, E4A04 from the Extra pool asks:
Which of the following test instruments is used to display spurious signals
from a radio transmitter?

Your possible choices are:

A. A spectrum analyzer 

B. A wattmeter 

C. A logic analyzer 

D. A time-domain reflectometer

The correct answer is A: A spectrum analyzer.  How many of us have one of
those in our tool kits? I've never owned one aside from the little ones
featured in some transceivers.  If you are a serious builder and
experimenter, a spectrum analyzer might be on your shelf, but for the rest
of us there is that set of screwdrivers from Home Depot!


Remote Base Health Report for 08 June 2011 *UPDATE at 08:21 CDT*

Description: Remote Base Update

A Skype outage on 7 June had caused some connection problems for our users.
The Skype service is now up & running.

Remote Base health report: W0EQO is on line. W0ZSW is on line, now with
Echolink receive access. We have replaced the sound card and the station is
now ready for digital modes. You can read the complete status page at:


This week @ HQ

Handiham Audio Digest for June is in the Mail

Description: George, N0SBU, stacks some antenna gear on the shelves at
Handiham headquarters, Camp Courage.

Description: N0SBU reaches 1,000 hour volunteer milestone

George, N0SBU, reports that he has completed and mailed the June 2011
Handiham Audio Tape Digest for our blind members. The tapes should be
arriving later this week. George Lavallee, N0SBU, has duplicated tapes for
us as one of his volunteer activities for years. He has also picked up the
tape mastering duties in recent years, and does a great job for us. In the
accompanying photos, George is shown stacking some antenna gear on the
shelves in the storeroom at Handiham headquarters, Camp Courage. Another
photo shows George on the day he passed his General exam at Camp Courage
North, Lake George, MN. We are sure the lake was named in honor of that
occasion! George has accumulated well over 1000 hours of volunteer time.

Thanks to George and all of our wonderful volunteers. We appreciate what you

*       I will be at Camp Courage Thursday and Friday and will be away from
the phone as I do maintenance on our computer and station equipment, and
take part in staff training.  
*       Reminder: New General Pool: Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed his
recording of the new General Class Question Pool with only the correct
answers. It is available in the members only section and is divided into
subelements, with each subelement in MP3 format. The link page describes
what is covered in each subelement so that you can easily go to the sections
you want to hear by topic. 
*       The audio magazine digest:  Worldradio, QST, and AMSAT Journal audio
is available for our blind members.  
*       Handiham membership has gone up slightly from $10 to $12.  We have
not increased dues in many years. 
*       Radio Camp will be from Monday 8 August to Saturday 13 August, 2011.

*       Handiham Radio Camp to feature Wouxun radios for our new
Description: Wouxun HT
Come to Radio Camp, get your first license, and go home with a new radio. If
you are a Handiham member and are studying for your Technician level amateur
radio license, you should consider attending Handiham Radio Camp, which will
be a wonderful opportunity for you to review what you have studied and take
the exam in a completely accessible environment. Our campers who earn their
Technician Class Amateur Radio licenses at camp will be presented with
brand-new dual-band handheld radios, thanks to the support of a generous
donor. The radios are by Wouxun, and operate on the 2 m and 70 cm bands,
which are the most popular repeater bands. Since these radios also include
voice prompts in plain English, they are especially preferred by blind

Wouldn't it be wonderful to attend Radio Camp and then go home with a
brand-new radio? 

We sure think so! If you are not a Handiham member and are interested in
joining us, here is a link to request a membership application:

If you are already a Handiham member and would like a radio camp
application, call toll-free 1-866-426-3442 and request a camper application.
You may also download the application package or contact us by email to ask
a question or request a camper application:

*        <http://handiham.org/files/camp/mn_camp_2011_cover.pdf> Download
the camp cover letter in PDF 
*       Download a self-extracting zip file with the complete radio camp
application package <http://handiham.org/files/camp/mncamp2011.exe> , or 
*       Download a zip file with the complete radio camp application package
<http://handiham.org/files/camp/mncamp2011.zip> . 

*       If your email program does not display links, go to our website:
Although you may not live nearby Camp Courage, we do pick up campers at the
Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. Campers come from anywhere and
everywhere, so even if you live far from camp you will have the opportunity
to join us for this fun and unique session. All campus buildings are modern
- although we are a camp, no one sleeps in a tent or has to eat beans out of
a tin can! Our facilities are modern and include wireless Internet access
and modern construction. All facilities are wheelchair-accessible.

Handiham Radio Camp 2011 is at Camp Courage - Woodland Campus - August 8-13,
2011 and serves Handiham members ages 16 and older. 

Enjoy an experience of Ham radio fun and learning. Make new friends while
building an on-air community that continues after you leave Radio Camp. Get
a first Ham radio license or upgrade a current one, or learn new operating
skills. Keep abreast of the latest technology, including assistive
technology. Wireless internet access is available. Instructors are
experienced amateur radio operators from throughout the nation. Trained
staff members provide personal care assistance. And, we leave plenty of time
to take a break from studying and enjoy traditional camp activities.

.         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 $12 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 $36.

.         Lifetime membership is $120.

.         If you can't afford the dues, request a 90 day non-renewable
sponsored membership.

.         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




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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 08 June 2011 - Patrick Tice