[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 09 March 2011

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 9 Mar 2011 15:37:14 -0600

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

Description: Pat, WA0TDA in ham shack, holding hand microphone.

A couple of months ago my local radio club decided to bring back their
monthly newsletter. The newsletter had been absent as a club communications
tool for a few years, although there was a well-maintained website with
frequent updates by multiple contributors. At least part of the reason the
newsletter is returning to our club is that I suggested at one of the club
meetings that it do so and that I would help to edit the new publication. So
far, so good! There are two of us sharing editorial duties and several club
members have stepped up to the plate and contributed columns and stories so
that no one person is responsible for doing all of the work each month.
Working together as a team allows the newsletter crew to turn out a good
product that is an asset to the club.

But why is a newsletter still important in this age of constantly-available
information that bombards us from every direction?

It's hard to put one's finger on exactly why people prefer one news and
information source over another one. The obvious preference for a
traditional means of reading the club news, a print newsletter format that
has been successful for years, perhaps decades, is one consideration. If
your club is anything like mine, there are going to be several club members
who do not have computers and who feel left out without a monthly newsletter
that they can actually hold in their hands and perhaps even mark or take
notes on with a pencil. Although individual stories from a club website can
be printed up for members who do not use computers, it really isn't even
close to the same thing as an official club newsletter that pulls together
all of the information in one single publication. Then there will be the
other club members who have and use computers but who still prefer the
traditional print format. Even some people with advanced technical skills
find a print newsletter more compelling and relaxing to read, especially if
they sit in front of a computer screen all day long at the workplace. A
print newsletter can also be passed on to another family member or a friend.
A physical newsletter is not quite as easy to forget about as a web link
that someone might give to you. A print newsletter can be read without any
device or Internet access.

The last time I checked my calendar, it was 2011. With our feet firmly
planted in the 21st century, even a print newsletter for your radio club
must have a digital online edition. The reasons for this are pretty obvious;
there will be people who prefer to read everything online. It is important
that the club serve the newsletter up for these people on the website
because doing so will save printing and mailing costs, probably for the
majority of club members. In fact, our club seldom mails anything out these
days, much less newsletters. It makes more sense to produce the newsletter
in PDF, place it on the website as a download, and allow club members who
want to read a print newsletter to go ahead and download and print the
publication for themselves and for their friends. Several printed copies
will be available to distribute at club meetings to members without
computers. A few newsletters will be available to mail out to club members
who are out of State for the winter or who are unable to get to a club
meeting because of health or transportation issues. Furthermore, the PDF
version necessarily contains embedded text that can be read by blind members
who use screen reading technology.

So the club newsletter of 2011 is different from the club newsletter of 1991
or 2001. The differences are obvious even to club members who read the print
edition. The layout and color photos wouldn't be possible without modern
software like Microsoft Publisher. The content itself is available 24/7 on
the club website for club members to explore months or years after it was
first published. Articles are searchable by computer. Content is accessible
to blind computer users. Before all of this new technology came along, club
newsletters were pretty basic-looking monochrome publications that were
sometimes done on mimeograph machines. There is no doubt that the 21st
century amateur radio club newsletter can be a pretty impressive looking

However, the newsletter still serves the same basic purpose of communicating
to club members in a way that it always has. Monthly meeting announcements
and notes, things that are happening in the lives of radio club members,
amateur radio news of broader importance to everyone, club calendars,
regular columns by club members or officers, minutes from the previous
month's meeting, and all of the other timely news collected in a single
place each month make up the traditional content of a typical monthly issue.
The newsletter is fundamentally different from a website in that it
represents information that has been collected, edited, arranged, and
presented in a very specific way at a specific point in time by editors. The
monthly publication, once posted on the website, is the official newsletter
for that month. This may be seen as hopelessly outdated by some people who
cannot  understand why anyone would want to look at a news source that isn't
constantly updated,  but on the other hand may be seen as a huge asset by
others who don't care to devote the time and attention to a club website
where information overload can lead to missing important stories that might
not be near the top of the pile of information.

One of the problems club websites have is simply that they must compete with
hundreds of other websites for our attention every day every month every
year every hour. Although at the time dropping a regular monthly newsletter
seemed like a good idea, having the newsletter as a single point of
collected information each month now seems like it is a little bit too
important to give up just yet. That is the reason that I volunteered to help
edit my club's newsletter. Yes, it is another thing to do in my already busy
life, but I know that I have the ability and desire to help my radio club in
this activity and I realize that making a radio club a successful endeavor
is something that requires all of us to roll up our sleeves and pitch in. I
would like you to think about how you are helping your local radio club to
be the best possible organization it can be. You may not be able or
interested in editing a club newsletter, but you may have time to write an
article or a monthly column about one of your amateur radio interests. You
may have time to write an occasional column, perhaps promoting Handihams or
the Handiham nets to your local club via the club newsletter or website. If
you are simply not a writer, there are still plenty of other opportunities
to participate in your club's activities. Although showing up for meetings
is important, your radio club will be better off and you will have more fun
if you sometimes raise your hand to volunteer to help put together the
club's field day activities or the club picnic. Monthly meetings are
generally divided into the business part of the meeting and some kind of
club program. If you have a special interest in amateur radio and would like
to put on a program for your club, I'd be willing to bet just about anything
that you would be welcomed with open arms. Most clubs are eager to find
presenters for the club program, instructors for their licensing classes,
and volunteer examiners for their VE teams.

I guess my point is that you can't be afraid to step forward and do
something for your local radio club, whether it is working on the newsletter
or some other club project or on the air activity like the net or the
repeater. Every active organization will have volunteer opportunities. I
hope you will step up to the plate. You will have more fun and your club
will be the better for it!

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham System Manager <mailto:wa0tda@xxxxxxxx> 


FCC issues three accessibility-related NPRMs - Handiham members might want
to comment!

Description: FCC round logo

Washington, D.C. - As part of its ongoing efforts to implement the
"Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010"
(CVAA), the Federal Communications Commission issued three Notices of
Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs). The CVAA is considered the most significant
piece of accessibility legislation since the passage of the Americans with
Disabilities Act in 1990.

Read more at:


FCC amends Part 97 to facilitate spread spectrum communications on ham bands

The FCC today amended Part 97 to facilitate use of spread spectrum in the
amateur radio bands. The change eliminates the requirement that an amateur
station use automatic power control (APC) to reduce transmitter power when
the station transmits a SS emission, and reduces the maximum allowed
transmitter output power for an amateur station transmitting a SS emission.

We have changed the order into accessible HTML for the reading convenience
of our blind Handiham members and others who appreciate enhanced document
navigation. In our version, reading flows more smoothly because the
footnotes are at the end of the document.

The text of Report & Order WT Docket No. 10-62 may be read in accessible
HTML at:  <http://www.handiham.org/node/1054> 


NASA Science News: Researchers Crack the Mystery of the Missing Sunspots

Description: soho_sun.gif

March 2, 2011: In 2008-2009, sunspots almost completely disappeared for two
years. Solar activity dropped to hundred-year lows; Earth's upper atmosphere
cooled and collapsed; the sun's magnetic field weakened, allowing cosmic
rays to penetrate the Solar System in record numbers. It was a big event,
and solar physicists openly wondered, where have all the sunspots gone?

Hint: It's probably not what you thought. The answer lies deep within the
sun and includes several mechanisms that can be computer modeled.

Read more on the Science at NASA website:


Troubleshooting 101: SWR reading jumps around

Description: Small tools and wire

March winds bring April showers.  Remember that old saying?  File it away in
your memory bank for a few minutes and we'll get back to it.  Now that it's
March, we might have some springtime topics to consider. 

In the meantime, suppose you are operating your station and while
transmitting you notice that the SWR reading is unusually high but then
quickly drops back to the normal range. If you're like me, you probably
wonder if you really read the meter correctly, especially if you were
transmitting SSB phone or some other mode that makes the meter swing as the
rig is modulated. Transmitting FM is a different matter, of course since the
duty cycle is 100% when you press the push to talk button on the microphone.

Anyway, some observation is in order.  Watch the meter while transmitting,
but also listen carefully while receiving.  Does the received audio perhaps
betray a crackling or clicking sound that might indicate a similar fault on
receive? Does the S-meter jump around the way the SWR meter does?  Bear in
mind that sometimes it will not be as easy to notice faults in received
audio as in the transmitting SWR reading. 

How obvious is the jump in readings?  Is it subtle or really easy to notice?
The problem could be in the antenna system and anything in the feedline
between the radio and the antenna.

Try moving things around a bit.  I mean physically move the radio and the
accessories connected to it.  Sometimes doing so will betray a loose coaxial
cable connection, typically in the antenna circuit.  That could include
things like a standalone antenna tuner or Watt/SWR meter, antenna switches,
or amplifiers.  The linear amplifier may be too massive to move, but you can
flex the antenna connecting cables just enough to find out if they are
secure and not causing an intermittent connection. 

*       Sometimes manual tuners develop dirty or corroded contacts,
especially those that use roller inductors. Listen carefully to the received
signal while tuning the roller inductor.  If the signal level jumps
intermittently, you may have isolated the problem to a dirty contact in the
tuner.  The solution would be to remove it from service, inspect everything
inside, and clean all contact surfaces. 
*       If you have manual antenna switches in the feedline, click them
through their range several times to determine if the switch contacts might
be dirty or corroded. Sometimes this simple action will "fix" a misbehaving
switch and cure a jumping meter reading.
*       Notice that we haven't even gotten out of the ham shack yet?  I like
to try the simple indoor fixes before making an expedition to the back yard.
But now it's time to recall that old "March winds bring April showers"
saying. As the season changes and the cold of winter gives way to windy
March, faults in your feedline and antenna can show up.  The extreme
temperatures may have loosened hardware or caused other damage aggravated by
freezing and thawing. Intermittent connections can develop and present
themselves when the March winds blow and move the feedline around or flex
antenna elements. If you are truly lazy you can make note of when the
intermittent occurs.  If the problem only shows up on a windy day, the
problem must be outdoors, either in the feedline or the antenna, or where
the two are connected. After all, there is no wind indoors!
*       Once you are outside, check the easy stuff first. If there is an
interface such as a lightning protection device or a current balun within
easy reach, check those items to make sure everything is secure. 
*       Look along the length of the feedline for obvious faults.
*       A pair of binoculars may reveal a loose wire or loose antenna
hardware without a climb up the tower.
*       Tree branches or vegetation impinging on the antenna or feedline are
obvious possibilities for problems.  (That tree branch could have come down
in the March wind.)
*       With all other diagnostic options exhausted, you may have to take
the antenna down or do some climbing for a close inspection of the feedpoint
and antenna hardware. Look for broken connections, possible shorts,
corrosion, water damage, missing parts - you never know what else you'll
find that needs attention.
*       As with any antenna project that requires climbing or taking down
antennas, even wire antennas, watch for power lines and always have a
spotter - a person to help you - if you are doing any climbing at all, even
on a stepladder. 
*       Prevent future problems by carefully tightening hardware and sealing
all connections against water. Route feedlines so as to relieve stress that
might be caused by movement in the wind. 


2011 ARRL Phone DX Contest 

Anyone have DX contest stories to share with our readers and listeners?
Send 'em to wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx 


March Events by N1YXU

OK - I don't know about you - but, I am certainly ready for some warmer
weather. After all, in addition to working in the gardens and lawns outside,
we all may need to do a little maintenance work on the antennas and amateur
radio related equipment in our yards. Spring will officially start in a few

I hope you find some events this month that will pique your interest.

Until next month.

- Laurie Meier, N1YXU

 Read Laurie's column at:  <http://www.handiham.org/node/1057> 



A dip in the pool

Description: circuit board

Later on this month I will be teaching "Communicating with other hams" as
part of my club's Technician ham radio course.  I thought I would take a
question out of that subject material for today's dip in the question pool.

T8C04 asks: Which of the following is good procedure when contacting another
station in a radio contest?
Possible answers are:
A. Be sure to sign only the last two letters of your call if there is a
pileup calling the station
B. Work the station twice to be sure that you are in his log
C. Send only the minimum information needed for proper identification and
the contest exchange
D. All of these choices are correct

The correct answer is "C", Send only the minimum information needed for
proper identification and the contest exchange. The key words in this answer
are "minimum", "proper identification", and "contest exchange". Identifying
your station without your full callsign, such as jumping in with only the
last two letters, is improper operation and not legal identification. Proper
identification is your entire callsign. The contest requires certain
information to be exchanged by all participants.  Let's say you check the
rules and the exchange is your state or province and signal report. When you
get on the air and join the contest, that is the only information you need
exchange other than proper station identification. That's where the word
"minimum" comes in.  You do not want to begin talking about other topics
like the weather or how you used to live in the other station's state, or
what you had for breakfast.  Contests are competitive and time is an
important factor.  Save your time and the other station's by keeping contest
contacts to the minimum. 


Remote Base Health Report for 9 March 2011

Description: Remote Base Update

The W0EQO Handiham Remote Base HF station is functioning normally.

W0ZSW has returned to service after a somewhat rocky week of on again off
again operation. The setup is the old TS-570SAT for now. 

*       IRB Sound has been disabled, but Echolink and Skype sound are
functioning normally. We do not recommend the use of IRB sound for either
*       Network problems have been fixed for now. 
*       Maintenance has been done on the control computer. 
*       Audio settings have been tweaked to fix a low modulation condition.
*       Thanks to Lyle, K0LR, John, KC0UHY, Justin, KD0IQV, and Mike, KD0KYA
for help with the station this week. 

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

*       Buddy Brannon's Wouxun HT Eyes-free guide has been updated again.  A
new DAISY version will soon be available on our website. Interested members
please email me for a link; wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx 
*       The Handiham System will have a table at Midwinter MadnessR on
Saturday 26 March 2011.  Stop by and say hello at this friendly hamfest
sponsored by our friends at the Robbinsdale ARC. Hamfest details are at
*       Radio Camp will be from Monday 8 August to Saturday 13 August, 2011.
*       CQ, QST, & Worldradio digest audio for March 2011 is available to
our blind members. CQ was just added this week. 
*       The Technician lecture series is now complete.  It may be downloaded
as individual files by our members with disabilities for their use only.
Because of the size of audio files, we cannot offer the entire series as a
single download.  I will consider an MP3 CD version if there is enough

.         Our nets conform to daylight time in the United States. This
shifts the nets one hour if you go by GMT.  In the summer, that means the
difference between Minnesota time and GMT is -5 hours.  If the net starts at
11:00 CDT, the time by GMT is 16:00. Daylight time for net purposes begins
at 02:00 Minnesota time Sunday morning 12 March.  

.         The Tuesday night TIPSnet is no longer carried on the HANDIHAM
conference, but is available through NEW-ENG or MN_CONF, node number 64260. 

Description: Screenshot of Echolink connected to MN_CONF. 

.         Tonight is EchoLink net night.  The Wednesday evening EchoLink net
is at 19:30 United States Central time, which translates to +6 hours, or
01:30 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

*       We need an Echolink, IRLP, or WIRES node in Rochester, MN so that
Sister Alverna, WA0SGJ, can continue to check into the Handiham net. There
is no one to take on this project at the moment.  
*       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




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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 09 March 2011 - Patrick Tice