[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 11 April 2012

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2012 15:23:29 -0500

*Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday,
11 April 2012*

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

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*Welcome to Handiham World.*

[image: drawing of transceiver]

You can do it!

Today we are going to begin with Troubleshooting 101 as part of our
initiative to help new ham radio operators (and even some of us older ones)
learn how to do some basic troubleshooting for ourselves. Yes, it can be
tempting to ask someone else to do things for us.  This can become a bad
habit when it keeps us from learning new things, especially things that we
could - with a bit of practice - learn to do for ourselves.  Knowing these
basic things can serve us well in the future when no help is available.
This next simple exercise is one that we will be practicing at this
summer's Radio Camp.  You can do it yourself once you learn a few basics.

*Troubleshooting 101*

[image: Cartoon guy with toolkit]

*Checking continuity*

There is no doubt in my mind that having a simple way of checking
continuity is one of the troubleshooting basics.  Continuity, as we talk
about it here, means that a path supporting electrical current flow exists
between two or more conductors. That is not to say that a current is
actually flowing - it just means that if and when we want a current to
flow, it can do so.

Let's take the example of a piece of coaxial cable.  At Handiham
headquarters we have lots of long and short coaxial cables.  Some are
jumper cables that are typically used to connect radios with accessories,
such as a transceiver to antenna tuner or SWR meter, or maybe both with a
couple of short coaxial jumpers.  Then there are the longer runs of coaxial
cable that carry the signal out through the wall to a lightning arrestor
and then to the antenna, depending on the installation. The proper
operation of the station depends on conductivity between the radio and the
accessories and antenna. Each link in the chain represents a possible
failure point.

If I pull a coaxial cable jumper out of the junk box at Handiham
headquarters, I always take a moment to check it out for continuity.
Knowing that donated coaxial jumper cables have come in from a wide variety
of sources, I know better than to trust that they will be good!  There are
two steps to checking a cable.  The first is to see if the center conductor
is soldered into the center pin on each connector.  Then unscrew the outer
part of the PL-259 plug so that you can see if the coax braid has been
properly soldered.  If the coax braid is not properly soldered, loose
strands may be poking out of the solder holes or the solder may be lumpy
and not properly flowed into the holes and onto the body of the connector.
It's usually pretty easy to tell if there is a problem connector if the
PL-259 plug moves freely when you twist it while holding onto the cable
itself.  A loose plug means that you should set that jumper aside for

The second test is for continuity.  Even if a coaxial jumper looks perfect
and the PL-259 connectors are solid, the cable may still be bad.  The
possible conditions that may be revealed by your continuity test are these

   1. The cable is good and ready for use.
   2. The cable is open through the outer shield.
   3. The cable is open through the center conductor.
   4. The center conductor is shorted to the shield.
   5. An intermittent condition exists that causes a short or open when the
   cable is flexed.

[image: Digital multimeter, coaxial jumper to be tested, and clip lead.]
*Photo:  Simple test gear for a continuity check includes a clip lead and a
multimeter with a continuity buzzer. *

Your test gear is pretty basic.  You need a simple continuity checker,
which could light a lamp or sound a tone when the connection is made.  Some
multimeters have a continuity setting that sounds a tone, but you can also
just use the resistance setting.  While resistance is not the same as
continuity, the idea is to test for extremely low resistance, which
indicates that there is a connection between conductors.  If you have a
multimeter with a continuity setting, use that.  If your meter only has a
selection of resistance ranges, just start with R times 100.  Touch the
meter probes together to either hear the continuity tone or watch the meter
reading.  If you are watching the meter display it should indicate very low
or no resistance when the probes are touched together.

The other thing you need is a clip lead with alligator clips on each end.
Depending on your dexterity and the length of the cable to be checked, this
little clip lead can prove very handy indeed.

Now we are ready to do the testing.  Be sure you are working only with
completely disconnected coax.  Both ends must be free.

   1. Take one end of the disconnected coax.  Remember, we are NOT able to
   test continuity with the coax connected to any equipment or antennas. Touch
   one multimeter lead to the center pin of the PL-259 plug and the other to
   the outer metal part of the plug.  You should hear nothing, indicating that
   the cable is not shorted.  This is always the first test, because we must
   eliminate the possibility of shorts before we can make any assumptions
   about the center conductors or the shield.
   2. Next, take the clip lead and use it to short the coax at one end by
   connecting the center pin of one of the PL-259 connectors (it doesn't
   matter which one) to the shield side of that same connector.  Take the free
   end of the coax and touch one multimeter probe to the center pin and the
   other to the metal shield of that PL-259.  You should now hear the buzzer
   that indicates continuity.
   3. You have now completed the basic tests, because you have determined
   that the cable is not shorted and by passing a current through the entire
   length of the center conductor and back through the shield, you have
   determined that both the center conductor and shield are intact.  The final
   test is to flex the cable and wiggle the connectors while performing both
   of these tests again.  If it helps, you can add two additional clip leads
   to connect  the multimeter probes so that you don't have to try to hold
   them in contact with the PL connectors. This will help determine if the
   cable is intermittent.
   4. If the cable fails any of the tests, feel free to test the shield to
   shield and center pin to center pin connections separately.  Never use a
   cable that is suspect, because it could cause damage to your equipment.
   5. Last but not to be missed is a final check along the length of the
   cable for any obvious bad spots, such as a break in the outer jacket or any
   suspicious bends or bumps in the cable.

If you are testing a long length of coax that goes through a wall, you will
still need access to both free ends with the connectors.  In this case, you
are going to have to do some legwork, so if you are starting outdoors, clip
the clip lead onto the PL-259, shorting the center pin to the shield.  Go
back indoors with the multimeter and check across the inside PL-259, where
you should get the sound of the continuity buzzer.  Grab the multimeter and
head back outdoors, then remove the outdoor clip lead and take a reading
across the PL-259, center pin to shield.  There should be no continuity.
This is about the easiest way to check a long feedline.

Email me at handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.
Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

A call for comments

[image: running cartoon rabbit carrying letters]

The following call for comments was adapted from a letter to us here in the
ARRL Dakota Division from Division Director Greg Widin, K0GW.  It applies
to all USA amateurs.  Please take the time to comment if you have a story
related to limitations placed on your operations by covenants or deed

To All Amateurs,

Many of you are already aware that a recently enacted law requires the FCC
to study impediments to Amateur Radio’s role in emergency and disaster
communications. The ARRL is putting together a response on behalf of US
amateurs, and has asked for input from all hams.

The areas of concern here are the limitations that are placed on a property
when it is purchased, either as part of the deed of sale or by restrictions
imposed by the neighborhood/homeowner's association. A web site has been
set up specifically to accept your information on:


Note that a respondent need not be a League member.

There is a very short time period in which to respond. You are requested to
respond no later than April 25, 2012. This short deadline is the result of
the timeline imposed by FCC in response to the deadline in the new law.

*A dip in the pool*

[image: cartoon kid doing math problems]

It's time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the pool - the question
pool, that is!

Today we are taking a question from the General Class pool:

G2B12 asks, "When is an amateur station allowed to use any means at its
disposal to assist another station in distress?"

The possible answers are:

A. Only when transmitting in RACES
B. At any time when transmitting in an organized net
C. At any time during an actual emergency
D. Only on authorized HF frequencies

The correct answer is C; At any time during an actual emergency.  Remember
though, that what is an emergency may be open to interpretation.  It is not
an emergency if you have not received your correct order at the fast food
drive through window!  I remember seeing a story about someone who actually
called 911 because of this, thankfully not a ham radio operator!  However,
if you came upon a an emergency where life was in danger or there was an
accident or fire, you would want to get the word out in any practical way

*Handiham Net Schedule, Updated for Summer on April 3, 2012*

[image: desk microphone, headphones, and eyeglasses]

Join our worldwide EchoLink net every day, now including a special "trivia
net" on Sunday. All licensed operators are welcome. The net is controlled
but informal, and there is no need to be a Handiham member to participate.
Sometimes the net control station will throw out a discussion topic to
liven things up! Listen in a few times if you are shy, and then take the
plunge and throw out your callsign.

*Operating tip: Because so many different nodes and repeaters are connected
across the world, there can be a bit more delay between transmissions than
you might be used to. Be sure to allow a few seconds before keying after
the net control station calls for check-ins. This allows the nodes and
repeaters in the network to all get synchronized.*

Days: Monday through Saturday, and Sunday Trivia Net.

Times: 11:00 hours United States Central Time daily and a second Wednesday
session at 19:30 Central Time. (GMT: 17:00 daily & 01:30 Thursdays.)

Frequency in the local Minnesota repeater coverage zone: 145.45 FM,
negative offset with no tone in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul

EchoLink nodes:

HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)
KA0PQW-R, node 267582
KA0PQW-L, node 538131
N0BVE-R, node 89680
N9GMR-R 640860
W0EQO-R, node 309436

Other ways to connect:

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)

WIRES system number 1427

More information about repeaters and nodes may be found at

The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is at 19:30 United States Central
Standard time, which translates to +6 hours, or 01:30 GMT Thursday morning
during North American Standard Time. (In the North American summer during
DST, the GMT schedule is +5 hours.) Connect from any Internet-enabled
computer in the world, and come out on Twin Cities repeater N0BVE on
145.450. Remember that GMT is AHEAD of Minnesota time, so to translate to
GMT you need to add 5 hours in the summer and 6 hours in the winter to
Minneapolis time.

On the second Sunday of March in the United States, we move to Central
Daylight Time, at least in most places. That means that hours for our daily
nets are adjusted accordingly, beginning with the midday EchoLink net,
which is on at 11:00 Minnesota time. Since the local time has shifted ahead
one hour, you will now find the daily net at 11 + 5 = 16:00 GMT Monday
through Saturday.

A question we get every year at this time is, "Why do you change the net
times to follow Daylight Saving Time? Wouldn't it be easier to just stick
with GMT and not change the times?"

The answer is that we have tried staying with GMT in the past, but received
complaints from net members who liked staying on their local time
schedules. Also, we ran up against other nets using the same frequencies
unless we maintained the "local" times.

*HF Operations*

Here are some other nets and times:

*Friday CW Net:*

7.112 MHz CW, 09:00 - 12:00 ET, plus whatever time is needed to wrap up the
last contact: This is the Handiham Informal slow speed CW Net. Look for
Paul, W8IRT. You may e-mail Paul at w8irt@xxxxxxx with your ideas and
signal reports, or to find out about schedule changes for the CW net. Paul
advises us that the net remains true to local time, which means a one hour
shift when changing to or from Daylight time in the Spring and Autumn.

*The PICONET operates on a frequency of 3.925 MHz, Lower Side Band:  No
3:00 PM hour during summer. *

Monday - Saturday 0900 - 1100
Monday - Friday 1600 - 1700

Everyone is welcome. You do not need to be a member, and the net is
relaxed, friendly, and informal. The PICONET does have an assigned net
control station and will take NTS traffic. It has a long time association
with the Handihams. Handiham members can easily participate in PICONET via
the remote base stations W0EQO or W0ZSW.

If you have a correction in any part of the net schedule, please e-mail

*Remote Base Health Report for 11 April 2012*

[image: W4MQ software screenshot]

We have a website for the remote base software. You may check it out at:

* W0ZSW is on line.
W0EQO is on line. *

   - * The DSL modem has been replaced at Camp Courage after a string of
   outages over the past two weeks.  We believe this has resolved the problem,
   which had dogged the station at odd times, getting progressively worse over
   the weeks.  In its final stages, the problem would crop up after perhaps
   only an hour or two.  We had been over the entire system again and again,
   including re-entering all the router settings and checking all of the
   wiring.  Sometimes the only solution is to start replacing equipment, and
   we think this has been a success.  We apologize for the inconvenience
   caused by these outages.  The phone company that supplies our service is
   still stabilizing the DSL circuit today, so don't be surprised if the line
   drops during testing.
   - * To be on the safe side and to assure that RFI is not causing
   outages, we are operating the radio at a maximum of 50 Watts at W0ZSW.
   W0EQO continues to operate at the full 100 Watts. *

   Please check the latest operating tips on the remote base pages:

   The link to the daily status update pages:

   Our thanks to volunteer engineer Lyle Koehler, K0LR, for his help
   maintaining the station databases and updates.



[image: Cartoon dog barking at mail carrier]

Channel 1: This isn't exactly a letter, but I did get the link from the
Volunteer Examiners mailing list, and it's an interesting read, and easily
accessible to our blind members.  It's about the history of TV, and is
entitled "WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO CHANNEL 1?"  Has that gotten your
attention?  The link is here: *
*http://tinyurl.com/amxnk <http://tinyurl.com/amxnk>

KB3LLA likes a link:  Sign up and share the ride!  *
*http://bicyclingblind.org <http://bicyclingblind.org/>

KJ4TRT likes a pair of links on DX Commander:



WA0TDA likes this one on CNET, entitled "Google self-driving car chauffeurs
legally blind man": *
*http://tinyurl.com/7ru2ynx <http://tinyurl.com/7ru2ynx>

*Space Shuttle Discovery to Land in Virginia*

Thanks to Ken, KB3LLA, for this news on the now-retired shuttle Discovery
and how you can experience it for yourself!

Space Shuttle Discovery to Land in Virginia In April, NASA's acclaimed
Space Shuttle Discovery will take its final flight aboard a modified Boeing
747 en route to its new home at the National Air and Space Museum's Stephen
F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. In celebration of Discovery's
arrival, the Smithsonian Institute, in collaboration with NASA, plans to
host a series of inspirational and educational events, exhibits, and
activities from Tuesday, April 17 through Sunday, April 22 at the
Udvar-Hazy Center.

The historic transfer of Discovery to the Smithsonian Institute is
scheduled to begin on Tuesday, April 17. The Boeing 747 and its cargo will
depart from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida the morning of April 17,
weather permitting, flying over parts of the Washington, D.C. area before
landing - at Washington-Dulles International Airport in Virginia. The exact
path of Discovery on its way to Dulles will not be publicized, but as
Discovery approaches, the National Air and Space Museum will update its Web
site http://discovery.si.edu  with Discovery's current location and will
provide that information to local radio stations.

On Thursday, April 19, the Udvar-Hazy Center will open to the public at
8:00 a.m. for the free "Welcome Discovery" event sponsored by Boeing and
Lockheed Martin. The event will take place in an outside area of the
Center. Visit the Museum's event Web site for details of the ceremony and
subsequent activities. Also access the Web site for information on the
additional activities that continue through Sunday, April 22.

After the week's activities, Discovery, NASA's longest-serving orbiter that
has flown more missions than any other shuttle, will continue to be on
permanent display at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Space Shuttle Enterprise,
currently on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center, is scheduled to be
transferred to the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum in New York City on
Monday, April 23, weather permitting.

   - Additional Information The primary resource for Discovery arrival
   activity information is at the National Air and Space Museum's special Web
   - For information on Space Shuttle Discovery, go to:
   - For information on the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy
   Center, check out:


*This week @ HQ*

[image: happy cartoon guy wearing earphones]

Radio Camp enrollment is about 1/3 complete.  We still have plenty of
openings, so apply now!  Camp is a better value this year because it is one
day longer than last year, the tuition is cheaper, scholarships are
available, and we will have our own dining hall.  We also have a selection
of donated radios available for campers to take home. If you are
registering for this camp session, please be sure to let us know if you
have an equipment request.

PICONET has returned to summer hours.  That means that this Upper
Midwestern HF net is no longer on for the 3:00 to 4:00 PM CDT hour.  All
other PICONET hours are still active.  More at Handiham Nets:

The April 2012  audio digest is ready for our blind members. Check it out
in the members section.  Members using NLS digital cartridges may receive
the digest by Free Matter postal mail.

April QST audio digest is now also ready for our blind members in DAISY
format, 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,


   Digital Talking Book Cartridge Catalog Number: 1-02610-00, Price: $12.00

   Digital Talking Book Cartridge: Mailer Catalog Number: 1-02611-00,
   Price: $2.50

Order Toll-Free: (800) 223-1839.

April QST audio digest is now also ready for our blind members in DAISY
format, as a digital download for your computer DAISY player or to place on
your digital cartridge or other portable DAISY player. Visit the DAISY
section on the website after logging in.

Members Only Website Update:

Handiham.org open enrollment is over, but Handiham members who do not have
log in credentials for the site may request them by emailing
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx This step was taken to curtail the hundreds of
account requests from spammers and other non-members each week.

*Tonight is EchoLink net night.*

[image: Echolink screenshot]

The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is at 19:30 United States Central time,
which translates to 00:30 GMT Thursday morning.

The 11:00 daily net will be heard at 16:00 GMT.

EchoLink nodes:

HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)
KA0PQW-R, node 267582
KA0PQW-L, node 538131
N0BVE-R, node 89680
N9GMR-R, node 640860
W0EQO-R, node 309436

Other ways to connect:

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)
WIRES system number 1427

More information about repeaters and nodes may be found at

*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 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.

Answers to many questions about radios, Echolink, nets, and the Remote Base
stations are all at www.handiham.org.

*Supporting Handihams - 2012. *

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

Step one: Follow this link to the secure Courage Center Website:

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 2012.

Thank you from the Members, Volunteers, and Staff of the Handiham System.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager

Handiham Membership Dues

Benefits of membership:


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


   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

   Join for three years at $36.

   Lifetime membership is $120.

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

   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 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

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 www.handiham.org.
Email us to subscribe:

Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at





   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:
patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

Radio Camp email:

*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!*

[image: ARRL Diamond Logo]

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.

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, 11 April 2012 - Patrick Tice