[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 08 May 2013

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 8 May 2013 12:30:41 -0500

*Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday,
08 May 2013*

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center
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.

MP3 audio stream:

Download the 40 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player:

Get this podcast in iTunes:

RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:
http://feeds.feedBurner.com/handiham <http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham>
*Welcome to Handiham World.*Summer conditions - finally

[image: Butternut HF9V antenna covered with snow]*
Image: My Butternut HF9V vertical antenna was still covered with snow May
2nd. But that doesn't stop the ionosphere from acting more like it's summer!

The end of the very long winter seems to be at hand here in Minnesota.
Spring has been cold and snowy, and-believe it or not – there is still ice
on some of the lakes in northern Minnesota. Reports tell of 20 inch ice.
Today we are enjoying 77° weather with plenty of sunshine here in the Twin
Cities, which is in the southern part of the state. Of course the amount of
sunshine we get drives the change in seasons. We are getting more hours of
sunshine each day here in the northern hemisphere, and not only does that
bring warmer weather (eventually) to places like Minnesota, it also brings
summertime operating conditions on the HF bands.

I thought I had better write something about this because I had an e-mail
from a remote base user who had observed to me that he had encountered poor
band conditions on 75 m while using station W0ZSW, which is located here in
the Twin Cities. He pointed out that he had gotten much better results with
our station in northern Minnesota, W0EQO, when checking into the Upper
Midwest regional HF net called the PICONET. Our northern Minnesota station
is hundreds of miles north of the Twin Cities, but should that really make
all that much difference? Both stations use Kenwood TS-480 radios and both
have wire antennas. In fact, the station here in the Twin Cities has a
longer wire antenna than the one in northern Minnesota that he said worked

So just what is going on here?

Well, geography does play a role, even if it is just a few hundred miles
difference. We also have to take into account summer band conditions. W0ZSW
has been working very well on PICONET all winter long, but now that summer
is approaching with its longer daylight hours, the signals are not as
strong and there seems to be more noise on the band. PICONET is a daytime
net. Therefore, daytime band conditions will affect propagation
significantly during both the morning and afternoon sessions of this
popular net. As it happens, many of the net control stations are located in
the central and northern parts of the state. Summer propagation conditions
favor communications between those northern stations and our own far north
station W0EQO, which is located near the headwaters of the Mississippi
River at Camp Courage North. The North-South propagation path deteriorates
during the summertime with more daylight hours causing higher absorption of
signals in the ionosphere. This makes it more difficult for stations in the
southern part of the state to communicate well with stations in the
northern part of the state.

I decided to check into the PICONET myself today using W0ZSW here in the
Twin Cities. Sure enough, it was somewhat difficult copy to hear the net
control station, which was located in northern Minnesota. A mobile station
checked in from the interstate highway near Madison Wisconsin. The net
control station could not hear the mobile station at all and required a
relay. However, I was able to hear the mobile station five DB over S9 –
excellent copy – on my southern Minnesota station. It seemed pretty clear
that East-West propagation was pretty good and North-South propagation was

You can't really draw a quick conclusion about the band being open or
closed or propagation being "good" or "bad" when some propagation paths are
clearly open to very good communications while others are not. Geography
does make a difference, and so do summer band conditions.

But does this mean that you cannot use our Handiham remote base stations to
make North-South contacts on 75 m during the summertime?

Not at all! This morning, before sunrise, I decided to try both Handiham
remote base stations to see how they were working. I had excellent copy on
stations from the East Coast to Louisiana. One station in Louisiana was 15
DB over nine on single side band. The difference is that I was listening
during what is normally the quietest and best time for long-distance
contacts on 75 m during the summer. That time is just before sunrise
because absorption is very low, allowing your signals to skip very long
distances without being attenuated in the upper atmosphere. Another bonus
is that in the very early morning hours thunderstorm activity is at a
minimum, making for much quieter reception. Thunderstorms, of course, are
driven by sunshine and rising moist air. Those conditions are usually not
as likely to be present early in the morning before sunrise.

Success on the HF bands depends a lot on strategy. If you are trying to
work all states, you need to know how propagation works from night to day
and season to season. From here in Minnesota, you are near the center of
the North American continent. It doesn't matter where you actually live as
long as you are using one of the Handiham remote base stations. This can
provide a unique opportunity for you to make contacts at times of day and
parts of the year that you wouldn't be able to make otherwise. It is all
about learning how the bands work. 75 m is one of my favorites, but the 40
m opportunities are significant, especially with the 200 foot double
extended zepp antenna at W0ZSW. Sometimes you will want to take advantage
of band openings on 10 or 15 m, or good old reliable 20 m. Right now is an
exceptionally good time to become active in HF communication because the
solar cycle is nearing peak. Even with a Technician license, you can make
many long-distance contacts on 10 m SSB. You might want to try your hand at
6 m SSB using W0ZSW. (W0EQO does not support 6 m operation.) When winter
finally returns, you might want to check out the "top band", 160 m on

I guess the point I am trying to make here is that you cannot assume that
one station works better than another one in every circumstance. It's great
that we have two stations for the use of our remote base operators, because
that allows for choice based on the kind of operating that one wants to do.
It can also be fun to try one station and then the other to see how they
compare over a particular propagation path.

[image: Cartoon guy shaking fist at dead computer. Ain't it the truth!]
Department of ARRGH!

Before we continue, I wanted to let you know that my computer experienced a
major failure this morning.  While I have recovery tools and backups, it is
not a good time to deal with it, given that Dayton is coming up next week
and that the Courage Center - Allina Sister Kenny merger is taking place in
only three weeks. It is an extraordinarily busy time here at Handihams.
This edition of the podcast and eletter almost didn't make it out the door
- and next week is even more problematic. The Extra Class lectures are
suspended for now, and I really do apologize for the delay as I know that
my students are studying hard and want to upgrade.  My main computer is
essential to managing the audio, from DAISY to online streaming. I won't
lose the files, but anyone who has dealt with major failures like this
knows that recovering the software is a lengthy process in the best of
times, and my time is so limited these days that the recovery period may be
pushed out to weeks.

Again, I am sorry for any delays in our audio service that you may
experience. Nothing in the remote base stations is affected and they are
operating normally.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager
May Events by N1YXU

[image: code key]

I hope each of you is doing well and finding time to get on the air and
operate. Contest season at our house is going to get into higher gear
toward the end of the month. We will have a full house for the weekend of
the CQ WW WPX CW contest. For those of you who are going to the Dayton
Hamfest, I hope you have a great time. That hamfest is on my “bucket list”
and will, perhaps, be a reality next year.

Take some time to look through the information for May. Also, be sure to
log onto the ARRL website to see the many Special Events that are scheduled
for May.

Until next month….

Regards, - Laurie Meier, N1YXU n1yxu@xxxxxxxx

Read the N1YXU Events column here:
What people are talking about:

[image: cartoon robot with pencil]
WA0CAF likes two articles:

   - Accessibility in Microsoft Office
   - Is Dragon the best option for Assistive

TapTapSee, a free "Blind and Visually Impaired Camera" app for iOS, was
discussed in the Active-Elements forum - Here's a link to TapTapSee:

   - http://www.taptapseeapp.com/

Matt, KA0PQW, writes about the start of the 6 meter season:

   - I can say the Sporadic-E season on six meters has started. At around
   17:15 UTC I started hearing stations in Florida and Georgia, grids EL99 and
   EM82.  I worked one station, K3XT in Florida. The ice melted on my 6 m beam
   just in time for an opening. Maybe that's a good sign of spring finally
   getting here.

   73 - Matt, KA0PQW

Rusty, NM1K, likes "Serial Repeater is a program designed to allow multiple
applications to access a single serial port":

   - http://www.vhfwiki.com/serial_repeater

George, KI4NNK, writes about a way to decode Morse code (CW) while using
the remote base stations:

It's George! I've got a way to make the CW work better where no code
knowledge is required. While using the W4MQ software in CW mode, you can
transmit without learning code.  (You simply use the computer keyboards and
the application generates the CW for you.)

I found  a CW decoder on the internet.  If you move your microphone by the
speaker it will decode CW to English - neat !!! Now I'm going to buy some
adapters to fit the audio out plug and the microphone plug that lets you
have two jacks for each connection. The audio out goes to the speaker and
microphone jack adapters and the microphone jack goes to microphone and the
audio out adapter.  It will add a new mode of ham radio for sighted people.
I also found that with the software CQ100 the waterfall saves me a lot of
time making contacts, but in this case you need to have at least low vision
to see the spikes sticking up.

73 -  George, KI4NNK

Editor's note:  George doesn't mention the CW decoder website, but one such
program that comes to mind is "CW Get" from DX Soft.  It is free to try and
$35 to buy.  Available through CNET downloads for Windows OS.
Handiham Nets are on on the air.

[image: TMV71A transceiver]

*We are 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? Will it be a question about surface mount devices? Or
about boat anchor radios?  I guess we'll just have to tune in and listen!*

*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 *
Handiham Booth at Dayton Hamvention®

[image: Hamvention arena showing forest of antennas aand crowd of people.]

*Nine days and counting!  We have some volunteers on board from the
Stillwater Amateur Radio Association.  I will plan to check into the
Handiham Daily Net from Hamvention, but I will most likely have to do this
from the flea market outdoors so that I can get an adequate data signal on
my Android phone.  *

It's not too early to remind our readers and listeners that we will be at
Dayton Hamvention® again this year, and we would like you to stop by and
visit us at booth 330 in the Silver Arena. The dates are May 17-19, 2013.
The theme at Dayton this year is "DX Hamvention®".  We always have a couple
of extra chairs at the Handiham booth, so you can sit down while you
visit.  We may put you to work telling others about Handihams!  If you use
a wheelchair or a scooter, there will be room for you to pull into the
booth area out of traffic in the aisle.  We always place our table back to
allow for a nice, open area that can accommodate our members and their
service dogs. See you there!  Learn more about the show:

*If you stop by to see us, we would appreciate your help at the booth.
Help us tell the Handiham story!*
*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 Extra Class pool and examine a question about AC noise:*

E4E13 asks: What might be the cause of a loud roaring or buzzing AC line
interference that comes and goes at intervals?

Possible choices are:

A. Arcing contacts in a thermostatically controlled device

B. A defective doorbell or doorbell transformer inside a nearby residence

C. A malfunctioning illuminated advertising display

D. All of these choices are correct

One thing I have noticed in my HF operations over the years is that noise
comes and goes, often getting really loud when the band is not open.  The
nature of the automatic gain circuits in receivers is that they will crank
up the gain when signals are weak, and that can also give a boost to those
unwelcome noisy interfering signals from electrical equipment around us.
Sometimes, though, the AC line interference is so loud and unmistakable
that we cannot ignore it or chalk it up to band conditions. Only the
strongest ham radio signals can be heard, so you have to track down the
source of the problem. Any of the choices given above could be the culprit,
so the correct answer is D: All of these choices are correct.  You have to
keep an open mind when search for interference.  You may find it where you
least expect it, since something like a doorbell transformer may fail
suddenly after decades of perfect operation. If you don't know how to find
interference, check out the ARRL
website<http://www.arrl.org/radio-frequency-interference-rfi>for some

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.
This week @ HQThe Handiham office is closed this Friday.  We reopen on
Monday morning at 9:00 CDT. The May
for our blind members is ready for use. More May audio has been
added this week. *

   - Our thanks to Bob, N1BLF, Jim, KJ3P, and Ken, W9MJY, for reading this
   month.  Look for these DAISY materials in the members section.
   - Members on the Friday Notify mailing list will receive the link.

*New! The Icom IC-706M2G manual read by volunteer Lyle Koehler, K0LR, is in
the manuals section in DAISY format. As with our other DAISY offerings, the
book is in a single zip file that may be downloaded and unzipped to your
computer for transfer to an NLS player or other compatible DAISY reading
device.  I have a report from a DAISY device user that the manual is very
good and easy to navigate.Radio Camp application packets are still
available.  *

*Some of you have asked if we changed locations for the radio camp this
year.  The answer is no, we are still at Camp Courage on Cedar Lake.  The
confusion came about because the camp's physical address is "Maple Lake,
MN", but the camp is not on Maple Lake.  It is on nearby Cedar Lake. There
are so many lakes in Minnesota that it is easy to get confused, but it is
also easy to find a nearby lake for water recreation!  *

2013 camp dates call for arrival on July 28 and departure on August 2.  We
have confirmed that we will offer our campers who pass Technician at camp
brand-new handheld radios. Radio camp will emphasize ham radio fun and
getting on the air.

We will feature:

   - Technician beginner small group class - Get your first license and get
   on the air!
   - General Class study group for those who need a quick review before
   taking the General exam.
   - Extra Class study group for those who need a quick review before
   taking the Extra exam.
   - VE session conducted by SARA, the Stillwater (MN) Amateur Radio
   Association, on Thursday, August 1, at 1:30 PM.
   - Operating Skills small group get on the air sessions and discussions
   - ARRL update - What's new at ARRL.
   - Extra Class seminar for those with Extra Class licenses who want to
   participate in more advanced technical projects and discussions
   - Several stations to operate, including maritime mobile on the camp
   pontoon boat with Cap'n Bill, N0CIC
   - Sailing with Skipper Bill, K9BV
   - Handiham Radio Club meeting and elections
   - Dining in the nearby newly-remodeled Woodland dining hall.
   - Fun in the sun during Minnesota's excellent summer season - at Camp
   Courage on beautiful Cedar Lake!

For a Radio Camp application, email Nancy at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or
call her at 763-520-0512.

*Handiham net information and news: *The official and most current net news
may be found at:

*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 callsign 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 Manager 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 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.

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 Handiham System!
Manager, Courage Handiham System
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!

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.
Return to Handiham.org <http://handiham.org/>

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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 08 May 2013 - Patrick Tice