[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 14 August 2013

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 14 Aug 2013 14:07:27 -0500

*Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 14
August 2013*

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Kenny Handiham
System <http://handiham.org/>. Our contact information is at the end, or
simply email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for changes in subscriptions or to
comment. You can listen to this news online.

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*Welcome to Handiham World.*

Midway through August already.  Where has the summer gone?

[image: Pat gets grabbed by huge (stuffed) alligator.]

If your schedule is off-the-charts busy during summer you are not alone!
Radio clubs are stirring, awakening to a new season of meetings - and there
is a sudden realization that it's only TWO WEEKS UNTIL SEPTEMBER!  The
newsletter isn't started! No one arranged for a club program, either.  The
meeting room wasn't reserved.  What to do?  Where to start? Who does what?

My local radio club has board meetings prior to the regular membership
meeting. You wouldn't believe the emails flying around as organizers try to
herd a quorum into a late August meeting on a weekday evening. It seems
clear that people are out of town taking a last fling at summer fun with
the family, busy with work or projects at home, or just plain overwhelmed
with getting the kiddos ready for the impending school year.  Couple that
with the (sad) fact that the HF bands have ranged from hideously bad to
moderately awful and you get people who have just not bothered getting on
the air for months and are not overly excited about radio right now.

Nonetheless, the show must go on.  The bands will improve, the days will
get shorter as the nights of autumn and winter take over, and we will once
again gain respite from thunderstorm static and solar absorption.  Bands
like 160, 80, and 40 meters will become usable again.  Eventually the
club's program manager will get a list of interesting topics and sign up a
few speakers to get the meeting season underway.  Up here in Minnesota the
winter weather will make visiting the ham shack more attractive than
freezing outdoors while shoveling snow.

To get ready for the upcoming ham radio season - which I've always
considered to start in the late summer - you will want to plan to attend
your club's September meeting. If there is a club newsletter, read it. As
an editor of newsletters myself, I can only shake my head at those who
never seem to be in the loop on ham radio news and events.  It's pretty
clear that they never read or listen to the amateur radio news.  If you
have been out of the loop, it's not too late to be in the know. Read,
listen, and participate.

A perennial problem with clubs - organizations of any kind, really - is the
natural concentration of tasks among just a few members.  Enthusiastic club
members take on tasks that they like to do or are particularly good at, and
then the rest of the club members sit back in their chairs and let those
poor guys or gals do those jobs forever.  If your club has had the same
leadership team for years, things can get stale. I'm not saying that the
newsletter editor and the program director are doing bad work, but if they
have had the jobs for years, maybe they are feeling burned out and need a
change.  The new club meeting season might be just the time for you to put
your hat in the ring and run for office or volunteer to run a club activity.

If you are out of ideas for club programs, consider some of these topics to
jump-start the new meeting season:


   Invite your local ARRL officials to present an update on League news and
   initiatives. One example is whether the FCC should continue to oversee the
   certification of equipment for use on the ham bands. The League recently
   filed comments.

   Review the summer ham radio activities, starting with Field Day.
   Usually that's good for a presentation and a lively discussion about which
   radios and antennas worked best, whether the CW tent bested the SSB team,
   who made the best meal, and whether the site should be changed next year.
   Find out who put up new antennas over the summer and who took ham radio on
   their summer trips.

   Make one program just about finding out what kind of operating events
   members like, what has worked for other clubs, and what kind of operating
   event your club members would participate in. For this one it is best to
   book a speaker who has experience with something like a backpacking trip
   with QRP ham radio operation, a lighthouse on the air event, a
   commemorative special event operation, and so on. Operating events can get
   the whole club involved since even club members who don't travel to the
   event site can still work the event station on the air.

   Show and tell time!  This is an opportunity for the club member who has
   built an Elecraft kit, put together their own ham shack computer from
   scratch, set up an IRLP micronode or Echolink node, built a radio or
   accessory, or made some other interesting ham radio related project to tell
   the rest of the club just how they went about it, and why it was

   Public Service:  Engage a speaker who can tell the members about a
   public service event and how communications were managed. Follow up with a
   tabletop exercise to be offered in a group session at another time.
   (Perhaps in an ARES meeting.)  You might also want a program that is a
   review of good public service operating practices.

   A-V club:  Remember those times at school when you had some kind of
   movie or video during class?  Some of them were fun and a nice break from
   regular class.  Maybe you were the nerd who ran the projector!  You can
   make a club program out of a video presentation.  The topic can vary
   depending on your club's interests.  DXpedition videos are almost always
   well-received, but organizations like ARRL have videos on specific skills
   topics like fox hunting (hidden transmitter hunting with direction-finding
   gear). A presentation on transmitter hunting can lead to the club
   scheduling an actual hunting event! Consider building a club video library
   that contains materials on a variety of topics.  In the event of a program
   snafu (such as when the scheduled speaker cannot attend) the video library
   can come to your rescue as a substitute.

   Technical presentations:  You would be surprised how many of your club
   members have avoided a potentially fun and interesting aspect of amateur
   radio simply because they found the topic too daunting! From digital modes
   to Raspberry Pi there is something someone is wondering about, and you can
   usually find an enthusiast who is willing to share their experiences with
   the club.  Ham radio should be a strong contender in the "maker" community.
   Figure out who likes to build circuits or antennas and get them to talk
   about it!

   Plan a group project or resource.  Last year I gave a talk to a radio
   club about remote base HF operation.  That club was interested in putting
   together a remote base club station. Club stations come back to life when
   they are internet-connected, offering a resource to members who travel
   south for the winter, move to condos or apartments, or who travel for
   business.  A club program laying out new initiatives like this can help
   build support for upgrading the club station.

I'll leave it to you to add your own ideas to the list.  Hopefully this one
will at least get you started thinking about how much fun the new ham radio
club season will be!

 *Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator
Practical radio

[image: pliers and wire]
Are indoor HF antennas really worthwhile?

Wow, talk about an open-ended question!

Let's start by saying that you should never consider an HF antenna indoors
unless it is the absolute last resort and everything - and I mean
EVERYTHING - else has been investigated.  Oh, yes, I know that some
operators have made contacts, even good contacts, using indoor antennas.
Good for them.  You can always find someone who gets lucky and works DX
during a band opening with a piece of wet string and a homemade radio built
from paper clips and the contents of a junk box. But what we are talking
about here is whether an indoor antenna will actually work well enough for
you.  You probably don't want to only work stations during the most
fantastic super-great band openings.  No, you want to be able to operate
your radio and hear and work stations more or less regularly, not only
during infrequent band openings.

This is a problem with indoor antennas.  They pretty much pick up noise
from every switching power supply and appliance in the building and suffer
from attenuated reception of the signals you really want to hear, thanks to
metal siding, wiring and plumbing in the walls, and a host of other
conductors.  When you transmit, indoor antennas are very good at coupling
RF energy into everything from your fire alarm system to the neighbor's


Yes, neighbors!  Usually the reason for considering an indoor antenna is
because you live in some kind of apartment or condo complex and you can't
put up an outdoor antenna.  And that means that your neighbor's space might
be only a few inches from yours - separated by a single wall.  RF energy
from your indoor dipole will have no trouble penetrating both the wall and
your neighbor's body if he happens to be sitting in a recliner just on the
other side of the wall.  So you not only mess up the TV set he is watching,
but you are also exposing him to RF energy at close range.  Like to gamble
and go for broke? If you also manage to set off the building's fire alarm,
you have a trifecta of indoor antenna awfulness!

By now you may think that there is no way I'd ever suggest any kind of HF
operation using an indoor antenna.  It is possible to operate with certain
types of indoor antennas, but their use is very limited.  One such antenna
is an attic antenna.  This can be something like a coax-fed dipole in an
attic space, perhaps a half-wave antenna for a band like 20 meters.  Since
the antenna will be around 33 feet (10 meters) long, you need quite a lot
of attic space.  The ends can be bent or you can add inductance to shorten
the overall physical length while maintaining the electrical length. A
couple of those inexpensive mobile stick antennas mounted back to back can
form a dipole. This loaded 20 meter dipole will have quite a narrow
bandwidth, so try to get it tuned to the frequency you will use the most.
I am going to suggest 14.070 MHz, since that is where PSK-31 users hang

Oh, did I forget to mention that PSK-31 is one of the few modes where you
stand a chance of success with indoor antennas?

Well, it is - because PSK-31 can (and should) be a low-power mode.  It will
get through when even CW cannot, and since you are running low power, you
minimize the harmful effects of RF.  That means fewer (or no) complaints
from family members or neighbors about interference to other devices and
minimal RF exposure to you and other residents.  You can actually succeed
at making contacts instead of calling CQ into a microphone and setting off
the fire alarm. A simple and easily-learned free software program for
PSK-31 is the tried and true DigiPan.

Of course you can also consider QRP CW, but it is not as effective as
PSK-31.  For decades CW held the "gets through when nothing else will" top
standing, but PSK really is better.

If you cannot (or don't want to) operate PSK-31, you can operate other
modes like SSB successfully via Remote Base internet stations like W0ZSW
and W0EQO.  You can opt for portable operation and set up a station at a
different location.  If you belong to a radio club with a club station, you
can use that.  If your family owns a car, you can go HF mobile.  There are
a few success stories out there from amateurs who have successfully used
indoor antennas for SSB.  What I'm suggesting is that the odds are stacked
against you and you really should consider other options.
Bulletin Board BARD gets QST out the door in record time - Handiham version
gets dropped

I saw an August 5th post on on the Blind-Hams list noting that BARD, the
National Library Service, had gotten QST in Daisy format completed and
ready for download.  The thing that makes it noteworthy is that this is the
August issue - done only five days into the month.  It was not that long
ago when BARD's QST was a month late - or even more.  We at the Handiham
program have been producing a monthly Daisy QST digest, allowing our blind
members to stay on top of the most recent QST on a par with sighted QST
subscribers.  Now, with several months of timely QST deliveries from BARD,
we have decided to drop the QST Daisy digest to avoid duplicating an
already available on-time magazine.  Remember that you can get the entire
contents via BARD, downloadable and playable on your NLS Daisy player.
There is simply no good reason to continue a digest as long as the BARD
delivery remains timely. Instead, volunteer reader Jim Perry, KJ3P, will
concentrate on the CQ Magazine Daisy digest, so that blind hams will have
access to that fine publication. Bob Zeida, N1BLF, had been reading CQ for
us but will now concentrate on Worldradio Online. Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, will
continue recording the QST "Doctor is IN" column, which we will offer in
the Daisy digest as a special service to our blind members who benefit by
this excellent help feature in QST.
In case you missed it: Radio Camp Handiham Club Election Results

Congratulations to new Handiham Radio Club President Lucinda Moody, AB8WF.
Lucinda takes the reins from retiring president Ken Silberman, KB3LLA.

We also congratulate vice-president Linda Reeder, N7HVF, and secretary Mike
Runholt,  KC0YFV.

Matt Arthur, KA0PQW, continues to serve as Net Manager.  Our thanks to all
who serve and help our club be an asset to Amateur Radio and a resource for
its members.

Handiham Nets are on on the air daily.

If there is no net control station during any scheduled net time, just go
right ahead and start a round table discussion.

[image: TMV71A transceiver]

*We are scheduled to be on the air daily at 11:00 USA Central Time, plus
Wednesday & Thursday evenings at 19:00 USA Central Time.  A big THANK YOU
to all of our net control stations!  What will Doug, N6NFF, come up with
for his trivia question tonight?  I guess we'll just have to tune in and
listen!  Tune in and see how you do with the question this week, or just
check in to say hello. *

*We maintain our nets at 11:00 hours daily relative to Minnesota time.
Since the nets remain true to Minnesota time, the difference between
Minnesota time and GMT is -5 hours.  The net is on the air at 16:00 hours
GMT.  *

*The official and most current net news may be found at:
http://www.handiham.org/nets *
*A dip in the pool*

[image: Pat shows off his new Plantronics USB headset!]

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

*Let's go to the Extra Class pool and examine a question about hazardous

E0A10 asks, "What material found in some electronic components such as
high-voltage capacitors and transformers is considered toxic?"

Possible answers are:

A. Polychlorinated biphenyls

B. Polyethylene

C. Polytetrafluroethylene

D. Polymorphic silicon

The correct answer is A,  Polychlorinated biphenyls.  Sometimes these
chemicals are called "PCB's" for short, and that is a term that was once
pretty common in the news, after it was discovered just how toxic this once
common electrical cooling oil really

Why does it matter to us as ham radio operators?

At one time transformer oil was used in devices like Heath Cantenna dummy
antenna loads.  In the 1960s and 1970s such devices were shipped as kits -
one of the easiest ones you could build - that used a gallon paint can as a
container for cooling oil.  A big resistor was mounted on the can's lid and
hung down into the can, allowing the oil to flow around it and carry off
heat.  Supposedly you could transmit high power (at least for a short time)
into this dummy load so that you test your equipment.  At the time you
could use regular (safe) mineral oil available from a drug store as a
coolant, or you could opt for the more expensive but more effective
transformer oil from an electrical supplier. No one knows how many hams
chose one or the other, but the upshot today is that if you run across the
Cantenna at a hamfest, you should be aware that it might contain oil with
PCB's - the transformer oil.  As far as we know, there is no way to tell
the two oils apart without testing them chemically, so you have to treat
any dummy load with oil in it as hazardous waste. That is why the Handiham
program has not accepted oil-filled components or equipment for decades. If
you have oil-filled components or dummy load, you should contact your local
(usually county) environmental resource center for advice on handling and

A PDF of the original Heathkit manual is available for free at
repeater-builder.com. Please be aware that the PDF is an image and cannot
be read with screen reading software.

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.

* This week @ HQ

The Kenwood TS-590S will be tested by Joe Bogwist, N3AIN, who will produce
an audio tutorial for us. We expect this project to begin in early
September. If you are looking for an audio manual for the 590, please check
the active-elements.org website in the "manuals" section.

Our Eagle Scout project to revise and organize the equipment storage and
tracking is underway. More on this later, but a big thanks to our volunteer
crew for five and a half hours of hard work in the hot sun at the storage
unit last Saturday!  My wife Susie and I both headed for the ibuprofen when
we got home. Those old boxes were heavy. Thanks to our son Will, KC0LJL,

[image: W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North.]

Both Handiham Remote Base internet stations W0ZSW and W0EQO are on line. We
are not expecting any outages.



[image: Pat holding up NLS digital cartridge and mailer]
Don't care to download Handiham materials via computer? This digital
cartridge and mailer can bring you Handiham audio digests each month, plus
we have room to put the audio lecture series or equipment tutorials on
them, too!


   - If you have trouble logging in, please let us know.
   - All Daisy materials are in zip file format, so you simply download the
   zip file you need and unzip it so the Daisy book folder can be accessed or
   moved to your NLS or other Daisy player.
   - Tip: When in the Daisy directory, it is easy to find the latest books
   by sorting the files by date. Be sure the latest date is at the top. The
   link to sort is called "Last Modified".
   - You can also find what is on a web page by using CONTROL-F.  This
   brings up a search box and you can type a key word in, such as "July".  You
   may find more than one July, including 2012, but you will eventually come
   across what we have posted for July 2013.

   - CQ for July is now available for our blind members in the DAISY
   - Worldradio and QST Daisy for August are ready.
   - Our thanks to Bob, N1BLF, Jim, KJ3P, and Ken, W9MJY, for reading this
   month.  Look for these DAISY materials in the members section.

*Digital mailers are important: *If you do mail a digital cartridge to us,
please be sure that it is an approved free matter mailer. Otherwise it will
quickly cost us several dollars to package and mail out, which is more than
the cost of the mailer in the first place. We don't have a stock of
cartridges or mailers and not including a mailer will result in a long
delay getting your request back out to you.

*DAISY audio digests are available for our blind members who do not have
computers*, playable in your Library of Congress digital player.  Handiham
members who use these players and who would prefer to receive a copy of the
monthly audio digests on the special Library of Congress digital cartridge
should send a blank cartridge to us in a cartridge mailer (no envelopes,
please), so that we can place the files on it and return it to you via free
matter postal mail.  Your call sign should be on both the cartridge and the
mailer so that we can make sure we know who it's from. Blank cartridges and
mailers are available from APH, the American Printing House for the Blind,
Inc. <http://www.aph.org/>

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

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

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

The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital

Get it all on line as an alternative:  Visit the DAISY section on the
Handiham website after logging in.

Stay in touch

[image: Cartoon robot with cordless phone]

Be sure to send Nancy your changes of address, phone number changes, or
email address changes so that we can continue to stay in touch with you.
You may either email Nancy at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or call her at
763-520-0512.  If you need to use the toll-free number, call

Handiham Program Coordinator Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, may be reached at
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or by phone at 763-520-0511.

Mornings Monday through Thursday are the best time to contact us.

The Courage Kenny Handiham Program depends on the support of people like
you, who want to share the fun and friendship of ham radio with others.
Please help us provide services to people with disabilities.

Call 1-866-426-3442 toll-free. -- Help us get new hams on the air.

Get the Handiham E-Letter by email every Wednesday, and stay up-to-date
with ham radio news.

You may listen in audio to the E-Letter at Handiham Weekly E-Letter in MP3
format <http://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3>
Email us to subscribe:

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Kenny Handihams!
Coordinator, Courage Kenny Handiham Program
Reach me by email at:

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

ARRL is the premier organization supporting Amateur Radio worldwide. Please
contact Handihams for help joining the ARRL. We will be happy to help you
fill out the paperwork!

[image: ARRL diamond-shaped 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.

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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 14 August 2013 - Patrick Tice