[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 11 May 2011

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 11 May 2011 14:14:52 -0500

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham
System. Our contact information is at the end
<unsaved://Untitled_1.htm#Contact> , or simply email
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Welcome to Handiham World!  

Description: Happy cartoon clock. 

What time is it?  Think about that awhile and we'll come back to it shortly.

This morning while having my coffee and listening to the radio - NPR - I
heard some guy who's a technology specialist talking about how standalone
devices are becoming obsolete because they are being replaced by smart
phones and tablet computers that do all kinds of stuff for us. I thought it
was strange that he forgot to mention the standalone camera, at least the
non-professional snapshot or low-quality video camera, which is certainly
being superseded by the built-in cameras in smart phones. He was on the mark
when he mentioned that paper address books are becoming obsolete. Most
people who carry cell phones these days probably have their contacts in the
phone's address book. Smart phones and tablet computers might just win the
day over standalone e-readers, too. Standalone music players are taking a
hit as smart phones become more convenient for playing everything from audio
podcasts to audio books. Accessibility features on these multifunction
devices are getting better and better, and it is my belief that it is only a
matter of time before most accessibility features are simply built in to
every consumer smart phone or tablet right off the shelf.

Now where was I? Oh yes; we were talking about how many different things
these new smart devices do. They are book readers, take pictures, take notes
in both text and audio, record videos, surf the web, handle e-mail and
texting with aplomb, make telephone calls (yes, some of us still do use the
telephone), and those are only the mainstream common functions of such
devices. Applications are being developed at such a rapid pace that it would
be a full-time job just to do an overview of all of the specialized
functions and tools that are becoming available daily.

Anyway, the point of the story on the radio was that these multifunction
smart devices are making other standalone devices obsolete. As an amateur
radio operator, I have grown used to self-styled technology pundits
predicting the imminent demise of ham radio at the hands of new technology.
Of course ham radio is stronger and more popular than ever, and because of
its propensity to attract a certain number of techie geeky people to its
ranks, it has been able to shoot out some tendrils into the new technologies
that the pundits thought would bring about its demise. Take, for example,
the smart phone. Both the Android and the iPhone platforms are ham radio
friendly thanks to the availability of the EchoLink application. While I may
be interested in carrying a handheld radio if it is small and convenient
enough, I know that I can access a huge interconnected world-wide resource
of repeater systems through my smart phone. Thus, ham radio will come along
with me and be available more times and in more places than it ever has been
before. Sure, my preference might be to use the handheld radio if I am
taking a walk in the park and can access my local repeater. On the other
hand, that same handheld radio might be nearly useless on a road trip where
repeater resources are more distant and when one has to constantly fiddle
around trying to find the right frequency and tone combinations. The smart
phone EchoLink application eliminates those problems and allows me to stay
connected with my friends on my preferred local repeater.

Here is a test that shows how the sands of technology are shifting under our
feet. Ask the simple question "what time is it?"

You might be surprised at the answer, because it depends a lot on how people
use and perceive technology. If the person you ask wears a watch and looks
at it to find out the time, you are probably dealing with an older guy like
me. If the person pulls out a smartphone and looks at that to determine the
time, you probably are dealing with a younger person - probably someone in
their 20's or younger. You know who was ahead of the curve on this one?
Avery, K0HLA! I remember Avery telling me several years ago when we were
both working at the old Handiham headquarters office at Courage Center about
how he just used his cell phone when he needed to find out the time and how
he thus did not need to wear a watch. There are probably lots of amateur
radio operators who are following that very trend line in spite of their,
shall we say "advanced years". Remember that to a teenager even those who
are past their mid-20s are geezers! Ham radio operators do like technology
and many of us enjoy being early adopters who like to learn new things and
try new things. I have to confess that since I traded in my old clunky cell
phone with its tiny hard to read screen even I have found myself checking
the phone to get the correct time. I don't think I'm quite ready to give up
either my wristwatch or my handheld radio, though.

Description: Avery operating CW at Handiham station.
Photo:  Trendsetter Avery, K0HLA, operates CW at Handiham headquarters.
Notice that neither arm has a wristwatch!

If I might be so bold as to suggest how you should live your life, try to be
open-minded and non-judgmental about some of these new technologies. That
kind of mental attitude opens the road to using new technologies in ways
that can really enhance your amateur radio experience.  Now all I have to do
is catch up with Avery on telling time!

Pat Tice


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

Troubleshooting 101: A quick diode check.

Description: Small tools and wire

This week we use a multimeter for a quick and easy check of a power diode.

Suppose you have a simple power supply with discrete diodes. For the
uninitiated who have never built a small power supply, discrete diodes are
not diodes that can keep a secret. A discrete diode is a single component
solid-state device, often times a small plastic cylinder similar in form
factor to a resistor with two wire leads, one coming out of each and of the
small plastic cylinder. The diode is marked with some kind of polarity
marking to indicate which lead belongs to the anode side and which belongs
to the cathode. If a power supply fails and the fuse blows or the breaker
trips within the power supply, this indicates a condition where too much
current is being drawn and a prime suspect is one of the diodes. Often times
you can check power supply diodes without taking them out of the circuit.
All you have to do is use your multimeter to run a few simple tests.

Of course before you do anything with the power supply that you are going to
be working on, what do you have to do? Unplug it and be darned sure that it
is not powered up or connected to any other piece of equipment, that's what!
In addition, any power supply with large filter capacitors might require the
discharge of those capacitors to ground in order to make the supply safe to
work on. If memory serves me right we have talked about discharging filter
capacitors before. In small power supplies I use a metal screwdriver with a
clip lead attached between it and the chassis ground to discharge filter
capacitors. Working on this stuff is something best done with someone who
has a bit of experience if you are entirely new to troubleshooting power
supplies. Anyway, assuming everything is unplugged, disconnected, and
discharged, you can go ahead and locate the power diodes. If they are
discrete diodes, you can run a simple test with your multimeter's ohmmeter

Put the multimeter into the ohms times one position. This is generally the
best setting to do simple tests with solid-state devices. Remember that
everything must be powered off and discharged not only to prevent electric
shock but to protect your multimeter. We want absolutely no voltages to be
present in the circuitry under test. With the multimeter in the ohms times
one position, place one lead on the cathode side of the diode and the other
lead on the anode side. Note the reading, then reverse the two leads. If the
diode is good, there should be a significant difference in the reading
between the two tests. If the diode measures about the same in both tests,
it is probably shorted. You cannot always assume that something else in the
circuitry is not causing these readings, so it may be necessary to
disconnect one lead of the diode from the circuitry and run the tests again.
A good way to practice the ohmmeter test for diodes is to just use spare
diodes from the junk box. That way you can test each diode in your parts
drawer without having to worry about any interference to the readings from
other components that might be in parallel with the diode under test. A good
diode will read maybe three-quarter scale or so in one direction and then
when you reverse the multimeter leads you will get almost no reading in the
other direction. A shorted diode will read almost full-scale in both
directions. I recommend practicing on some diodes selected from a
knowledgeable radio club member's junk box with some help getting the
multimeter set up right and learning to hold the leads in place or learning
to work with clip leads.

I have used a multimeter many times over the years to perform simple tests
to figure out if transistors - usually power transistors of some type - or
power supply diodes were good or shorted. Of course these days discrete
components are getting somewhat more difficult to find because transistors
and diodes may be part of an integrated circuit. The simple ohmmeter test is
only effective for discrete components, and if you suspect a bad power
supply integrated circuit your only recourse may be to test by direct
replacement or, if the circuit breaker in the equipment under test does not
keep tripping, by testing voltages at the different pins on the integrated
circuit. I have to admit that this is something I would probably not look
forward to because these types of components tend to be small and subject to
damage if you slip with a multimeter probe and short something out while
using the voltmeter section of your multimeter and testing the circuit while
it is powered up. Needless to say, all sorts of things can go wrong when you
are testing a circuit under power. Not only can you damage the circuit even
further, but you can potentially damage your multimeter if you forget to set
the right mode and range for the circuit under test, or of course you could
get an electric shock!

An interesting radio club "show and tell" project might be how to use a
multimeter for some of these simple tests like the diode test. Remember, we
are only testing the bigger diodes, not the tiny small signal diodes because
you may damage them by trying to test them with an ohmmeter.

Send your ideas about troubleshooting to wa0tda@xxxxxxxx for possible
inclusion in next week's edition of your weekly e-letter.



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

WA0CAF sent us a helpful link to a GW Micro "how to": 

This helpful web story tells you how to block audio ads and pop-ups on
SendSpace and similar websites with Internet Explorer. The idea is to keep
these annoying pop-ups from taking over the sound card on your computer,
which can drown out your screenreader.  Even if you are not blind and using
a screenreader, sound-enabled pop-up ads can be startling to the computer
user and a disturbance to others in the work environment if you happen to be
in an office.  I won't even tell you how bad and embarrassing they can be if
you are in a library!  GW Micro has done a great mini-tutorial on how to set
up IE to avoid this annoyance.  Find it here:



A dip in the pool

Description: circuit board

This week we take our question from the old General Class pool, which is
replaced by a new pool on July 1, 2011.

G9A03 asks us:  What is the characteristic impedance of flat ribbon TV type
twin lead? 

Your possible answers are:

A. 50 ohms 

B. 75 ohms 

C. 100 ohms 

D. 300 ohms

So are you old enough to even remember what flat ribbon TV type twin lead
even looks like?  We talked before about technology going obsolete, and we
know that coaxial cable has been in use for decades and is definitely the
most common TV feedline.  I would be very surprised to find a TV set these
days that has a twin lead connector on the back.  Answer D, 300 ohms, is
correct.  Here's something interesting: This question has been preserved
exactly as-is, even down to the question number, in the new General class
pool.  This points out that even if you want to test in the old pool but
can't quite make it, the new pool will not seem entirely alien to you.  My
favorite quote from the Douglas Adams series "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the
Galaxy" is "Don't panic". 


NASA SETS NEW STS-134 Launch Date:

CAPE CANAVERAL -- NASA managers have set the liftoff of space shuttle
Endeavour for 8:56 a.m. EDT on Monday, May 16. Launch attempts are available
through May 26, except for May 21. The STS-134 mission to the International
Space Station is the penultimate shuttle flight and the final one for


Remote Base Report for 11 May 2011

Description: Remote Base Update

The W0EQO & W0ZSW Handiham Remote Base HF stations are functioning normally.
There was an outage on our DSL line at W0ZSW this morning, but the station
is back on line.  When our DSL line hiccups, the system IP address changes,
so this is a reminder to set the IP information in the W4MQ software to the
w0zsw.no-ip.org address instead of a traditional numerical IP address. Skype
and Echolink connectivity are not affected by the IP address change.  

Please report any problems to:  <mailto:wa0tda@xxxxxxxx> 


This week @ HQ

*       Ken, KB3LLA, and John, NU6P, have been giving me some advice on the
media requirements for the NLS digital player.  Recently we heard from a
member in California who asked whether we could supply the monthly audio
digests on a USB cartridge for the new NLS player.  He does not have a
computer.  The gist of it is that we can probably do so, but we will have to
experiment a bit first.  The NLS player will accept a USB stick that is not
in the form factor of the large cartridge that has been made to look and
feel like a cassette tape.  Presumably the NLS cartridges were so designed
as to preserve some familiarity to long-time 4-track tape users.  Standard
USB memory sticks will not plug into the cartridge slot but will plug into
the accessory USB port on the NLS player, if I understand it correctly. We
also believe that the files must be placed in a special folder on the USB
stick, namely "audio+podcasts" in order for the files to be navigable as
expected by the user. If there is anyone else out there who can add to this
conversation, please email me at wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx  I am looking for comments
from users who have experience with the two new NLS players, not with other
*       Radio Camp will be from Monday 8 August to Saturday 13 August, 2011.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


.         Tonight is EchoLink net night.  The Wednesday evening EchoLink net
is at 19:30 United States Central time, which translates to +5 hours, or
00:30 GMT Thursday morning. 

o    EchoLink nodes:

*       KA0PQW-R, node 267582
*       N0BVE-R, node 89680
*       HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity

o    Other ways to connect:

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

*       Stay in touch! Be sure to send Nancy your changes of address, phone
number changes, or email address changes so that we can continue to stay in
touch with you. You may either email Nancy at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  or
call her toll-free at 1-866-426-3442. Mornings are the best time to contact


Other stories from the website:

Microsoft to acquire Skype <http://www.handiham.org/node/1121> 

The tech news is abuzz with news about Microsoft's agreement to acquire
Skype, the VoIP sound system used in the Handiham Remote Base stations. We
expect no change in services, but will report any news relevant to our
operations here.

*       By wa0tda at 05/10/2011 - 16:12 
*       wa0tda's blog <http://www.handiham.org/blog/2> 

NPRM: FCC wants to increase fee for vanity callsigns

Description: FCC

Everyone is looking for a little more money to help balance the budget these
days, and the FCC is no exception. In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
released on 3 May 2011 the FCC proposes an increase from the current $13.30
for a 10 year term.

*       By wa0tda at 05/10/2011 - 15:55 
*       Read more <http://www.handiham.org/node/1120> 

May Events by N1YXU <http://www.handiham.org/node/1119> 

Description: Events by N1YXU

May Events
I hope that the warmer weather has arrived at your QTH! We are certainly
enjoying being able to take advantage of getting outside and working. My
husband, Bruce (N1LN), is busy "planting" more PVC conduit, coax, and other
materials to grow the antenna farm. That is his preferred type of gardening!
I am also enjoying the more traditional form of gardening.
Be sure to check out the May activities. There is quite a lot going on this
Until next month..
- Laurie Meier, N1YXU

*       By wa0tda at 05/07/2011 - 15:46 
*       Read more <http://www.handiham.org/node/1119> 

Handiham Nets - Save the URL on your smartphone

Description: QR Code leading to http://www.handiham.org/node/1

Use this QR code to go straight to the Handiham net page. 

*       By wa0tda at 05/06/2011 - 20:05



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, 11 May 2011 - Patrick Tice