This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham System. Please do not reply to this message. Use the contact information at the end, or simply email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx You can also listen to the content online: MP3 audio stream: <http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u> http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u Download the 64 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player: <http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3> http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3 Get this issue as an audio podcast: <http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham> http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham _____ Welcome to Handiham World! All about ham radio cartoon. Recently I had a nice visit with another operator, and what do you think we talked about? That's right - we talked about our stations! The conversation took a turn to receiver performance, and he mentioned that one of his radios has a much more sensitive but quieter receiver than the other. I wondered how he knew that, and he said that he had performed an "A-B" test. That's what today's essay is about - not receiver performance. When we compare two pieces of equipment, we want to know which one performs the best. How many times have you heard someone make a claim on the air for one rig's superiority over another one? Or that one antenna works better than another? Whenever I hear such claims, I wonder if they are really backed up by testing. I know that most of us will never have a test lab full of instrumentation to run tests the way they are done at the ARRL product review lab, but that doesn't mean that we have no way to perform simple, but more meaningful testing. Imagine these situations: Scenario 1: I have two HF antennas in my back yard. One is a vertical and one is a dipole. The dipole is connected to my Icom IC-706M2G and the vertical is connected to my Icom IC-7200. I decide to see which antenna works best for DX, so I listen on 20 meters and I hear a European on 14.060 MHz. The station is easy to copy on the vertical antenna, and the S-meter reading shows S9. I listen on the dipole and the same station on 14.060 is only S5. Do I conclude that the vertical works better? Scenario 2: I have two HF antennas in my back yard. One is a vertical and one is a dipole. I have both of them connected to an antenna switch, so that I can switch from the vertical to the dipole by turning the antenna switch. The antenna switch is connected to my Icom IC-7200 transceiver. I start my test by listening on the vertical. I hear a station on 14.060 MHz, and the S-meter reading is S9. Then, without changing anything on the radio, I flip the antenna switch to the dipole. I now have an S-meter reading of S9 + 10 dB. I quickly change the antenna switch back to the vertical and the signal drops back down to S9 again. Changing the switch once more to the dipole brings the signal back up. Do I conclude that the dipole works better? In both situations, I was listening on one antenna and then the other, but the results in scenario 2 were different than those in scenario 1. What could have caused the difference? Here is a basic rule about comparing two things: You must try to eliminate as many "variables" as possible so that you are really only comparing the two things you want to compare. This is how scientists and engineers perform tests related to theoretical concepts or engineering projects. To make this as simple as possible, let's make up a very basic example. Let's say we have a family argument about which sibling is taller. One brother says that he is growing faster and is taller than his brother. Of course as a parent you can easily make the two kids stand side by side and then you can easily see which one is taller. But what if one stands on his tiptoes? Or if one wears shoes and the other is barefooted? Or if one wears a hat and the other doesn't? As a parent who needs to be fair about deciding, you will have to insist that the variables of shoes, hats, and standing flat-footed are all eliminated so that the one variable you really want to measure, which kid is tallest, will not be affected by those other things. Getting back to our scenarios about the antennas, we see that in the first situation we are using two different antennas, which is the variable we want to test, but we are also using two different radios. The difference between one radio and the other is a variable that we are not controlling, and that could account for the results we are getting instead of the choice of antenna. Perhaps the attenuator was turned on for one radio and not for the other. Maybe the antenna tuner was not activated for one radio. It could be that the run of coax between an antenna and one of the radios was defective. Do you see all these variables? In scenario 2, we use only one radio, and we have an "A-B" antenna switch to make it easy to change from one antenna to the other, and to do so very quickly to eliminate changing band conditions or radio settings and radio performance as variables. Furthermore, we can change the switch back and forth several times to confirm our tests. Now we have performed a more scientific test, because we have eliminated as many variables as we could, at least the easy ones, so that we could really compare just the antennas. I am convinced that there are a lot of folks out there who are simply talking baloney when they brag about how one piece of equipment is so much better than another one. As often as not, they have never performed a real A-B test and are relying on their impressions rather than empirical evidence. Building up a habit of eliminating variables and focusing on only the thing you really want to test is at the core of successful troubleshooting when you are trying to find a problem. It is essential to making sense of how things work in ham radio, as well as in so many other parts of life. So think to yourself, "When I test my equipment, am I really testing just one thing?" If you can answer yes, you are well on the way to solving all of your ham radio mysteries! For Handiham World, I'm... Patrick Tice, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx _____ Avery's QTH: The Finns visit the Pavek Museum. http://handiham.org/images/finn_family_pavek.jpg Photo: Left to right - The Finn bothers, Hank, Avery, and Jim pose at a quiz show setup at the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting in St. Louis Park, MN. Welcome once again to my humble QTH: A couple months ago my brother who lives in Santa Monica, California, just a few miles from where the first Courage Handiham California Radio Camp was, came to visit my other brother and myself here in Minnesota. Most of his life was spent in Kansas, Arizona, and Texas. He attended Texas A&M. Anyway, he wanted to see some of the sights in and around the Twin City metro area. One of the places we decided to show him was the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting in St. Louis Park, not too far from my QTH. The Pavek Museum was started in the basement of Joe Pavek's paint store in downtown Minneapolis. Joe was a long time Amateur with the call W0OEP. I first met Joe through a ham club. We would go to dinner with Joe and then go to his museum in the basement of his paint store. We would arrive around 6:00 pm and Joe would start showing us around describing everything down to every detail. He had refurbished everything to like-new condition. He would use parts off of one or two non-working units to get a third functioning. He had this "thing" to make everything as close to original as possible and still get it functioning. Next thing we knew, it was 11:00 pm and we had to leave. Luckily we were invited back several times so we got to see everything. Sad, but now Joe is a silent key. Before Joe died, he had found a group to take over his collection. That group had it moved to its present location in a large one-floor building with plenty of free parking. I met my brothers at the Pavek Museum and we started the tour. I have to admit that many new items were there since the last time I visited. We shared the place with another tour consisting of school kids. We would be in one part of the building and they in another. OH! some of the neat stuff they have there, like a complete operating Collins ham station just like the one we had at our 40th anniversary radio camp. Also, they have a complete working old time AM/FM commercial radio and TV station. There was a whole shelf full of old Atwater Kent radios, one of each model they manufactured and many other brands of similar radios. One shelf contains some radios made in the Twin Cities area. One area of the building has a wall rack containing many 4 pin tubes from years ago. It is fun to note that some of them were legal and licensed while others were pirates and copies, much like what has happened today with some of the DVDs, fake watches, and so on. Another part of the building has telegraph keys of some of the more famous CW operators. Still another area had some old-time crystal sets. We were there for about 4 hours and still did not see everything. Our tour guide operated a very rare wax cylinder player/recorder for us. It was in use long before vinyl LP records and is still working just like new. Also, she showed us an old-time device used to press records and it is also functional. It was fun to watch as she repeated the demonstration a couple times. Last but not least, we were shown a 10KW rotary spark gap transmitter similar to but smaller than ones used aboard ships of the day. Lights in the building were turned off, the two knife switched were flipped on, and the rotor started to spin at a very high speed throwing sparks all over the place. Then dit dit dit dah dah dah dit dit dit was sent sounding more like buzz buzz. snap snap, as the telegraph key was closed and opened. If you ever wondered why that disk is on some of the keys just below the knob it is to protect the operator from getting a high voltage shock. My California brother lost his camera on the trip here, so just before going to the Pavek Museum he purchased an new one and with permission from the museum's staff took some pictures and a video clip of the spark gap transmitter which I have included so you will be able to experience some of what we did. So for now, 73 & DX de K0HLA, Avery The spark gap transmitter and loop antenna Photo: The spark gap transmitter at the Pavek Museum. A large loop antenna sits against the wall in back of the transmitting equipment. A Titanic poster is on the wall next to the loop antenna. This is a working spark transmitter that is demonstrated for museum guests. Editor's note: Avery's video clip will be posted at a later time. _____ George poses next to the monument marking the starting point of the Mississippi. George, N0SBU, at the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River. In this photo, Handiham volunteer George LaValle, N0SBU, poses next to the monument marking the starting point of the Mississippi River. Lake Itasca. The visit to Itasca State Park was a highlight of many Minnesota Radio Camps over the decades. At the point where the Mississippi flows out of the lake to begin its long journey to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico, the river is so tiny that you can walk across it on the rocks. Those rocks are slippery, and more than one tourist has taken an unexpected bath! George says, "I think I'll hold off trying to cross, because I'd rather have a hot shower back in the cabin than a cold bath in the river." Thanks to Avery Finn, K0HLA, for this photo, which was taken in 2007. _____ Software hunter looking through giant magnifying glass, maybe for the perfect software Your Handiham World software hunter is on the lookout for interesting amateur radio-related software or any software that is potentially useful in the ham shack. You can help us hunt down applications that you have located, tried, or haven't tried but you wish someone would. Send suggestions to Pat, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx along with your comments and reviews. Last week we told you about SKYPE, the internet VoIP application that is used to port audio in remote base stations like the Handiham Remote Base. The software is free to download and install, and free to use for SKYPE to SKYPE calls. The remote base station at Courage North Photo: The Handiham Remote Base station at Courage North. This week we introduce you to the rig control software written by Stan Schretter, W4MQ. First, we have to travel back in time to November, 2002. That's when an article entitled "A Ham Radio Public Utility HF Station" by Stan Schretter, W4MQ, Brad Wyatt, K6WR, and Keith Lamonica, W7DXX, appeared in QST. The article discussed the authors’ experiences in putting several Internet Remote Base stations on the air, but more importantly, it introduced the concept of remote operation for the rest of us - we who are not necessarily highly technically proficient. Stan supported the W4MQ software on his website for years, but decided to move on to other projects. You can read the original QST article in text-accessible PDF here: http://www.w4mq.com/qstnov2002.pdf Bob Arnold, N2JEU, has taken over the further development of the popular remote base software written by Stan Schretter, W4MQ. The Handiham Remote Base, W0EQO, uses the W4MQ software. Stan does not have the time to continue supporting the W4MQ software and was open to another qualified person taking on this task. Bob, N2JEU, has extensive experience in remote control of radios. He has been running the "N2JEU's Web Controlled Shortwave Receivers" website, with which many of us are already familiar. When we installed the remote base at first, we used the Kenwood software to control the TS-480SAT at the Handiham Remote Base station. We found the interface to be clean and quite accessible. Unfortunately, the software will only accept up to a total of 10 permanent users, and our remote base station needs to be open to many more users than that. We found the W4MQ software a capable alternative, and it had no such user limits. In addition, it had some real advantages - the transmit access could be limited by license class, helping to keep newbie users from transmitting out of their band limits. However, there are some problems with the W4MQ software. It is not a straightforward setup for a blind operator using a screenreader, though it can be done. The speech module is set for blind frequency readout, and this feature cannot be turned off through the W4MQ interface. Users who are not blind may find it distracting. The remote base audio is ported via SKYPE, as we mentioned before. As with any software, issues will arise if it is not updated, which means that the news of N2JEU's willingness to take over the development project is good news indeed. Resources: Home for the Internet Remote Base Project: <http://www.n2jeu.net/node> http://www.n2jeu.net/node N2JEU's Web Controlled Shortwave Receivers: <http://www.ralabs.com/webradio/> http://www.ralabs.com/webradio/ One last note: If you are a Handiham member and have a General Class or higher license and would like access to the Handiham HF Remote Base station W0EQO, you may email me at wa0tda@xxxxxxxx and include your callsign and SKYPE name. Next week: Echolink for the iPhone. _____ Remote Base News The Remote Base is experiencing high SWR conditions today. We ask that users hold off from transmitting until we determine the cause. We apologize for the inconvenience. _____ HumanWare Launches Victor Reader Stream CD Edition HumanWare is releasing a new model of the Victor Reader Stream portable DAISY, MP3 player and voice recorder. Victor Reader Stream CD Edition combines the worldwide renowned VR Stream and a special CD player accessory. This unit is for people who do not have a personal computer. It is the easiest way to transfer a DAISY book on CD onto one single, portable audio playback device without the use of a computer. For more information visit: <http://www.humanware.com/streamcd> http://www.humanware.com/streamcd _____ Out there: Ken checks out the AMSAT booth at Hamvention. Ken Silberman, KB3LLA, has a new toy, or as he puts it, "A new toy for Radio Camp: Just bought the Sendero GPS in the HTC S743 cell phone." I hadn't heard of this particular system, so I inquired: "Tell me a few things this can do. Can you use it to get walking directions? I'd like to get this in the e-letter!" Ken replies: "Yes. It is a software solution for Windows Mobile and Smart Phone platforms. It has both pedestrian and vehicle modes. You have to have the screen-reader application and the GPS software. It works on numerous phones. Oh, yes, you can make a call, too. <http://www.senderogroup.com/products/shopmspeak.htm> http://www.senderogroup.com/products/shopmspeak.htm <http://www.senderogroup.com/products/shopmgeo.htm> http://www.senderogroup.com/products/shopmgeo.htm Well, that sure sounds like a useful product to me. Best of all, Ken will be packing this beauty and bringing it to Minnesota Radio Camp. We will have a chance to put the accessible HTC-S743 cell phone through its paces, and use the Sendero software coupled with the GPS to test the unit as a pedestrian mobility device. I love the way folks tote their new technology to camp so that we can all learn about new ways to communicate! _____ This week @ HQ * Pat will be out of the office Thursday morning. * We are beginning to plan for antenna installations at Radio Camp. The snow is melting here in Minnesota, so antenna season will soon be upon us! * New this week: Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the March 2010 CQ audio digest for our blind members. * Bob has also completed the March 2010 Worldradio audio digest for our blind members. * We have also finished reading the March, 2010 QST audio digest for our blind members. Handiham members who use adapted audio can log in to members only for the digest. If you qualify for National Library Service audio books, you can get the entire issue of QST, once the issue is read and cataloged. I appreciate the ARRL and all of its services, but one thing I look for with special interest is the Annual Antenna Issue of QST. The March issue is that very one, devoted to antennas and antenna topics. Those of you who are ARRL members and who get QST will find an article that I recommend on page 30: "An Experimental Look at Ground Systems for HF Verticals" by Rudy Severns, N6LF. Among the most comment questions we get at Handihams are ones related to vertical antennas and ground radial systems. Rudy's excellent article will answer those questions for you. · I have completed a new Extra Class lecture this week. It is number 61 and continues our discussion on digital modes. Members sign in to the member section and browse to the Extra Class lecture series. · Radio Camp applications are out in the mail. It will be much easier and cheaper to travel to camp, since our new location at Camp Courage will allow you to travel by air, Greyhound or Jefferson Lines bus, or AMTRAK, and there will not be an expensive final leg of the journey to Bemidji as in past years. · Shipping address for Handihams: Our shipping address is different than our mailing address, though we can still get packages and mail at either address. The thing is, it is much, much easier if packages, such as equipment donations, are sent directly to our headquarters office. This is the same address where Radio Camp will be held. Camp Courage Handiham System 8046 83rd Street Northwest Maple Lake, MN 55358-2454 The phone at the main Camp Courage office for all departments is (320) 963-3121. However, we do not always get phone messages left at that number in a timely manner, so if you wish to leave a phone message, be sure to call: Pat: 763-520-0511 Nancy: 763-520-0512 We are on Twitter! Look for us on Twitter by searching for "handiham". We invite you to follow us. Handiham web page posts are now "tweeted" automatically! Minnesota Radio Camp dates for 2010, Camp Courage: Arrive Friday, May 21. Class days: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. VE Exam Day: Thursday. Volunteer Examiners arrive in the morning to visit with campers and eat breakfast together with campers, volunteers, and staff. Depart Friday, May 28. Cost of Radio Camp: The cost of Radio Camp depends on your ability to pay, so anyone can afford to attend. Ask for an application. · Camp Courage is west of Minneapolis. The address is 8046 83rd St NW, Maple Lake, MN 55358. · The phone number of the Camp Courage office is (320) 963-3121. · If you want to receive a Camp Courage summer camp schedule, you may call for one. · The camp schedule includes information about Handiham Radio Camp. · If you need specific information about the radio camp or want to be on the radio camp mailing list, you may call Nancy in the Handiham office at 1-866-426-3442. Volunteers: VOLLI is now in service. It stands for VOLunteer Log In, and is a way for our Handiham volunteers to register and then enter their volunteer hours without having to fool around with paper records. We encourage volunteers to create a user name and password, then submit their hours spent recording audio, doing club presentations for us, and so on. Volunteer hours are important, because United Way funding depends in part on volunteer hours. If you are a volunteer and need a link to VOLLI, please email me at wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx Our special thanks to my son Will, KC0LJL, who wrote the Java code for VOLLI. Volunteers, get your hours in through VOLLI. You may also submit volunteer hours to Nancy at <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Stay in touch! Be sure to send Nancy your change 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 us. Echolink net news Wednesday evenings the Handiham Echolink net is on the air. Please join us and check in or simply listen in, as you see fit. We are on the air Wednesday evenings at 19:30 hours Minnesota time (7:30 PM) or GMT: Thursday morning at 01:30 Z. Daily except Sunday at 11:00 hours Minnesota time (17:00 GMT) Where: · 145.450 MHz N0BVE repeater (Minneapolis-St. Paul) · *HANDIHAM* Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.) · Node 89680 (Echolink worldwide) · IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector) · WIRES system number 1427 Everyone is welcome. You do not need to be a member, and the net is relaxed, friendly, and informal. By the way, our Net Manager Howard, KE7KNN, reminds us that we need net control stations for the Wednesday evening net and for the Monday through Saturday morning net. If you are in the Twin Cities, all you need is a radio that can get on the 145.45 N0BVE repeater, and if you live outside the RF area, you can still be net control via Echolink, IRLP, or WIRES. Supporting Handihams 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 <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 2010. Thank you from the Members, Volunteers, and Staff of the Handiham System Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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 activities. · 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 Nancy at: 1-866-426-3442 or email: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at <http://www.handiham.org/> www.handiham.org: · Beginner · General · Extra · Operating Skills That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System! Pat, WA0TDA Manager, Courage Handiham System Reach me by email at: patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx _____ 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. · By wa0tda at 03/10/2010 - 20:45 · Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/720> version · Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/720> to friend _____ Courage Center Handiham System 3915 Golden Valley Road Golden Valley, MN 55422 E-Mail: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Toll-Free telephone: 1-866-HANDIHAM (1-866-426-3442) FAX:(763) 520-0577 Be sure to put "Handihams" in the FAX address! We look forward to hearing from you soon.