[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 14 October 2009

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 14 Oct 2009 16:12:33 -0500

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham
System <http://handiham.org> . Please do not reply to this message. Use the
contact information at the end, or simply email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

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Welcome to Handiham World!

Pat, WA0TDA, points to a hole in the ground.
Photo: Here I am pointing to the spot we had to excavate for repairs after
putting a ground rod directly through an irrigation system pipe during Field
Day one year.

A story you will be hearing about in the weekly amateur radio news is a
tragic one. ARRL and commercial media are reporting the deaths of three
family members by electrocution during an antenna project.  Says ARRL, "At
approximately 8:40 PM on Monday, October 12, a man, woman and their 15 year
old son were killed while trying to erect a 50 foot vertical antenna at the
home of the man's mother, Barbara Tenn, KJ4KFF, in Palm Bay, Florida. The
deceased were not licensed amateurs." 

You can read the rest of the story on the ARRL site, and you should, because
one of the best ways to follow up on a serious accident like this one is to
take a look at the facts and begin a serious discussion about what went
wrong and how to prevent another accident in the future. I will let you read
the ARRL story and watch the TV news report for the details, but this story
did serve to remind me of the days long ago, when Don, W0DN, now a silent
key, and I started the little antenna company in Butternut Township, Blue
earth County, Minnesota. Don lived in an old, rural schoolhouse, and the
property was actually pretty good for an antenna business because even back
in the mid-1970's it was served by underground power lines. There was no
chance at all to inadvertently swing a piece of aluminum tubing up into a
power line while you were busy thinking about running another SWR check and
trying to be as quick about it as possible so as to get as many tests in as
possible.  Of course there were always other things to be careful about, but
the "work area" was clear of overhead hazards, and it needed to be, because
in the day in, day out routine of putting up antennas, complacency would
inevitably set in and one would lift a vertical antenna up without looking
skyward first. 

Complacency. It's a phenomenon that is well understood and respected by
trainers in aviation, driving, firearms, law enforcement... The list is
endless. The way it works is that you learn about procedures that ensure the
highest level of safety in whatever endeavor in which you engage, and you
follow these "best practices" faithfully many times until they become
routine. Nothing bad has ever happened, so you become a bit complacent -
maybe you don't really need to go through that checklist each time.  After
all, you have never had an accident, and you know what you are doing.

Then, without warning, it happens. An "accident" that causes property
damage, injury, or even death.  In firearms training, it is the time even an
experienced range instructor, a fellow who had given me instruction,  leaves
a loaded weapon within reach of a toddler - I will never forget the tragedy
that his family had to live through when distracted, he left for only a
moment, and one of his twins picked up a pistol and shot the other twin. In
ham radio, it happens when someone works on powered up equipment or rushes
to put up an antenna without looking for wires. 

I doubt that it is even possible to buy a commercial antenna designed to be
installed outdoors that does not carry a hazard warning about looking up and
avoiding powerlines. We put them on our products way back then, but
manufacturers cannot control the installation of their antennas.  Amateur
antennas are certainly safe enough to install and use, but they are likely
to be put up in places that are full of compromises. Unlike commercial
antenna installations, amateur antennas are usually not at a site designed
for antennas. There might be a need to mount the antenna on a residential
roof.  There could be power lines running along one side of the property and
a "drop" from the power pole to the house. Neighboring houses might be
relatively close by.  There may be vegetation or trees.  All of these things
are potential hazards that must be considered before you even decide what
kind of antenna to install. 

Starting with a plan is a good idea. If you cannot see the proposed
installation yourself because you are blind or cannot access the site for
some other reason, you need to get some help from your radio club.  I like
to take a look at a proposed site and sketch a rough drawing that includes
the house, the dimensions of the property, the locations of overhead
powerlines and underground utilities, and any trees, other buildings, or
possible obstructions. Although there is usually a "one call" service that a
homeowner can phone to get a free location assessment of underground
powerlines, water pipes, and natural gas lines, you are still on your own
when it comes to underground lawn sprinkler systems. Since those will not be
located by the "one call" service, you will likely not have them on your
sketch and will have to dig carefully.

.         It is always a good idea to plan antenna work for a time when you
will have at least one "spotter" to help you out.  A spotter is a person who
does not necessarily climb towers or pull coax, but who will be there for
you if you have an accident and help needs to be summoned. 

.         Be sure you begin a big project early enough to assure that you
will have daylight to complete it. If Murphy intervenes and you fall behind
schedule, stop working before darkness falls and continue your project
another day. In the tragic story that opened this piece, the antenna crew
had run out of daylight and were working in the dark.

.         Be aware of the limitations your work crew might have. The people
helping with a project may be enthusiastic and well-intentioned, but they
may not know the safety basics.  In this case, the crew were family members
who were not licensed amateurs. 

There is a fine line between "Monday morning quarterbacking" and a
thoughtful discussion of what went wrong in the Florida story. One thing I
do have control over is what happens the next time I put up an antenna
myself. I can take charge of the project and have a plan. While that won't
necessarily ward off every possible accident, it will certainly make the
project safer - hopefully as safe as it can be. 

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx 
Handiham Manager

Resources for this story:

ARRL website <http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2009/10/13/11135/?nc=1>

WFTV News <http://www.wftv.com/news/21277976/detail.html> 


Mystery carrier shows up on 14 MHz

It started with a post by Hans, K0HB, to the Dakota-Hams mailing list on
<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dakota-ham/>  Yahoo Groups:

"I have a steady carrier, S-9, smack dab at 14.000. Seems to bear NW from my
house in Plymouth. Anyone else hearing this, or is it a local artifact?"

Well, that certainly brought the otherwise sedate Dakota-Hams discussion
list to life, as other stations checked in with their observations. You can
listen on 14 MHz yourself to see if you hear the unmodulated carrier, which
was the first thing I did.  Sure enough, there is was, and it's there this
morning as I write this. It varies from around S-3 to S-7 for me, listening
on a wire antenna. It's around S-9 on the Butternut vertical.

You might want to read the thread on
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dakota-ham/, or perhaps use the internet to do
some research into what this odd mystery carrier might be. It's not exactly
something that causes interference on the ham bands, but we are certainly
curious about any unexplained transmission.


Getting Windows Security Essentials

Earlier today I recommended Windows Security Essentials to a blind computer
user who had a problem with a traditional well-known security software that
did not play well with his screenreader. I've been using it since its
release on September 29. It works really well, and is not a system resources
hog like some of the other antivirus and security suites. It is also free,
which is definitely a plus in my book. Microsoft Security Essentials
provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses,
spyware, and other malicious software.

Problem is, it can be a little difficult to find out exactly where to get
this new, free security software. Here is a handy link to a Blind
oft.html>  Access Journal article to get you started:

 <http://tinyurl.com/yf5g74o> http://tinyurl.com/yf5g74o


This week at Headquarters:

 <http://www.handiham.org/node/476> We are on Twitter!

 <http://www.handiham.org/sites/default/files/images/ham_mobile.jpg> 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!

.         It is office moving week. We are closed the rest of the week.
Check Handiham.org for updates to this schedule.  Thank you for your
patience.  I'll take some photos of our new office and ham shack, then I'll
post them on line.

.         Our Contact information is the same:

Courage Center Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road 
Golden Valley, MN  55422
763-520-0512 (Nancy)
763-520-0511 (Pat)



.         Tentative MN Radio Camp dates for 2010, Camp Courage: 

Arrive Friday, May 21

Class days: Sa, Su, M, Tu, W

VE Exam Day: Th

Depart Friday, May 28


.         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 username 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. He is studying in Tokyo this semester and sends a big
"hello" to our readers and listeners.

.         The Friday audio lectures return  this week.  There will be new
lectures posted by early afternoon on Friday, and a notification will be
sent by email. Early birds can access their Friday Extra Class lecture,
which is on impedance matching, early this week, since I completed it in
anticipation of our busy moving days.

.         The Remote Base at Courage North is in service. Please feel free
to use this wonderful member resource.  

.         Remote Base users who try the built-in IRB sound feature instead
of SKYPE are encouraged to send us reports on how the audio worked.

.         Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has recorded audio of the October Worldradio and
CQ digests, so check out the audio page. The Friday notification email will
have a link. If you are a member and are not getting the Friday audio
lectures notification, let us know and we will get you on the list.

.         Our new volunteer reader for QST is Michael Gregg, KA5EXI. Michael
is now working on the November issue, and I think you will agree that he
does a great job with nice, clear diction and good technical quality.  As
always, check the audio page for the latest updates. I will note on the
audio page when November digest audio is available for our blind members.

.         In Operating Skills: 

o    Volunteer reader Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, reads the October "Doctor is in"
column from QST for our blind members.  

o     <http://handiham.org/user> Login to the member section of the Handiham
website and find the magazine digests in the Library. 

.         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. 




Computer resource

It's limited to parts of Minnesota, but if you live in the right area, this
outfit could help you get a computer. The mission of PCs for People
<http://www.pcsforpeople.com/index.htm>  is "to create new opportunities by
providing personal computers and education to people who have limited
experience with technology due to social, physical and/or economic

Of course those of us who use computers understand how this now-common home
appliance has become as essential as a telephone. But there are still
Handiham members out there who do not own computers, and they have many
reasons. The most common is that they are older folks who don't think they
can learn to use something so complicated as a personal computer. Others are
willing to give it a try, but can't afford it or don't know how to get

Most of us who have done computing for many years have outgrown many PC's
along the way. Donating those machines to a recycler where they can be
repurposed or taken apart for safe disposal is the right thing to do. If you
have a machine around that you are no longer using, you might consider
helping out a fellow member of your radio club, or perhaps an older relative
who needs a computer. A couple of weeks ago, I installed my old ham shack
computer in my wife's mom's house. She's delighted with her ability to read
the news online and stay in touch with her friends. 

At one time, the Handiham program had computers to give out, too. The
problem was that the machines were often too old to run the software that
most anyone would need to use, and thus were a disposal problem instead of a
real help to our members. Like many charities, we finally had to put an end
to accepting computer donations, because we were just not set up as a
recycling center. 

Of course we know that there are good computers out there just looking for a
new home. The best way to find them, if you or someone you know might be in
the market, is to check for local computer recycling and repurposing
programs like PCs for People.  Another alternative is your local radio club.
Hams are often upgrading their old equipment, and sometimes the ham shack
computer can enjoy a new life in someone else's shack!

Check out PCs for People:


Marine radio procedure

For anyone who is a Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) member and
interested in basic marine radio procedure, I recommend reading lesson
thirteen of "Boating Skills & Seamanship" 12th edition, available as a free
DAISY download or CD from RFB&D.



Handiham Radio Club President


Wednesday Evening EchoLink Net

Wednesday Evening EchoLink Net happy guy with headset

Today is Wednesday, and that means the Handiham EchoLink net will be on the
air. Please join us and check in or simply listen in, as you see fit:


Wednesday evenings at 19:30 hours Minnesota time (7:30 PM)
GMT: Thursday morning at 00:30 Z


145.450 MHz N0BVE repeater (Minneapolis-St. Paul) 
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. 


Reminder:  Handiham renewals are now 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.

.         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 Nancy at: 1-866-426-3442 or
email: <mailto: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

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

Free! 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:  <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 

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 Handi-ham System
Reach me by email at:  <mailto:patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 

.         Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

.         Pat, WA0TDA, Manager, patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

.         Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


ARRL </p />
<p>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 10/14/2009 - 20:58

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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.


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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 14 October 2009 - Patrick Tice