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: MP3 audio stream: http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u Download the 40 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player: http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3 Get this podcast in iTunes: <http://www.itunes.com/podcast?id=372422406> Description: Subscribe in iTunes RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software: http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham _____ Welcome to Handiham World! Take a video tour of the KA0PQW ham shack Description: Matt with hand microphone, refected in the shiny roof of Gordon West's car. Taken at a CA radio camp. Larry, WD0AKX, paid a visit this week to Matt Arthur's ham shack to help with some equipment maintenance. He brought along his HD video camera and a handheld microphone, and he and Matt did a video tour of the KA0PQW station. The last scene shows the antennas. Look for Matt's Courage North sweatshirt and listen for a mention of Courage Center's Handiham program. The tour, available in both YouTube video and in MP3 audio from the Handiham website, lasts about nine minutes. Matt describes all of the equipment in his ham shack, which also has some audio equipment for his radio show, which is done on a non-amateur radio feed. The impressive setup includes a repeater! Matt knows the layout of the shack very well, and is of the opinion (which I share) that we should all know enough about our operating area to use the equipment independently. Furthermore, a system of "a place for everything and everything in its place" serves the efficient amateur radio operator well, because when things are where you expect them to be you can grab that first spot in the DX pileup or quickly silence a radio when the phone rings. In an emergency, you certainly want to concentrate on communicating, not on trying to find a microphone or an accessory in a pile of clutter. Since Matt is blind, he needed to develop his own system of knowing where things are in the ham shack. Being organized in this way is a discipline that we can all use to be better amateur radio operators. Visible in the video, but not mentioned in the audio, is the electrical breaker box in one corner of the room. There is also a basement window, which lets in some natural light. The repeater rests on some 2 by 4 boards, lifting it above the basement floor. Ready for a tour? Those of you listening to the audio podcast can just keep listening, because we will go right to the audio tour. If you are reading the HTML version, you can follow the link to the story on Handiham.org, which has embedded video. Link to the video version: http://www.handiham.org/node/1038 Link to the audio version: <http://handiham.org/audio/ka0pqw_shack_tour_audio.mp3> http://handiham.org/audio/ka0pqw_shack_tour_audio.mp3 Patrick Tice, WA0TDA Handiham System Manager <mailto:wa0tda@xxxxxxxx> wa0tda@xxxxxxxx _____ Update! Solar activity increases MAJOR FLARE: Earth-orbiting satellites have detected the strongest solar flare in more than four years. At 0156 UT on Feb. 15th, giant sunspot 1158 unleashed an X2-class eruption. X-flares are the strongest type of x-ray flare, and this is the first such eruption of new Solar Cycle 24. The explosion that produced the flare also sent a solar tsunami rippling through the sun's atmosphere and, more importantly, hurled a coronal mass ejection toward Earth. This raises the possibility of geomagnetic storms in the days ahead. Visit http://spaceweather.com for images and updates. The CME is expected to reach Earth tomorrow, on February 17. (Information from Spaceweather.com) _____ Troubleshooting 101: No audio from radio speaker Description: Small tools and wire The sound of silence is something we don't want to hear when we are expecting to make a contact on the ham bands! It will probably happen to you at some time in your ham radio career. You turn on the radio and hear... Nothing! Even cranking up the audio gain control does nothing. There is perfect silence. What do you do now? Call the nearest repair facility? Call Handihams? Give up and buy a new radio? No, you don't do any of those things. It is probably something really simple. The very first thing to do is to make sure the radio is powered on. Don't laugh! Some equipment, such as basic QRP single-band transceivers, don't have lighted frequency displays, and maybe no frequency displays at all. Blind users may not be able to see any frequency display anyway. Sometimes a relay click or other audible indication will give away whether the rig is turned on or off. If you are satisfied that the power is on, the next thing to check is the squelch control. Most radios have this control, often in a concentric potentiometer arrangement shared with the audio gain control. When the squelch control is set too high, it may take a great deal of signal to "break squelch", so no sound comes out of the speaker. In HF operation, the squelch should be turned way back so that you can hear the faintest signals. If turning down the squelch solves the problem, you are good to go. If there is still no sound, are you sure you unplugged any headphones that might have been plugged into the "phones" jack? On most radios, plugging anything into that jack will mute the speaker. Are you really certain there is no sound? What about a faint hiss? If that is the case, the radio's RF or IF gain controls may have been turned down. Check both to make sure that they are in their normal position settings. As silly as it sounds, sometimes a disconnected antenna can be the problem. Generally you can still hear some background hiss, however. Make sure that any antenna switches you have are set to the right positions. Still no audio? Now you have to assume something else might be wrong. A problem that sometimes occurs in older radios is that the headphone jack becomes dirty or defective and when the headphones are unplugged, the spring-loaded internal "switch" inside the connector does not make contact, rendering the radio silent. Sometimes plugging the headphones in and out several times fixes the problem. If you can hear audio only in the headphones and not in the speaker, the jack may be defective and might need to be replaced. It is not impossible that the speaker itself has failed, though this is quite rare. If you can hear audio in the headphones but not the speaker, it could be that the fine wire in the speaker coil has broken. Again, replacement is the only real fix. Other problems that might be considered at this point, especially if no sound is heard from either the speaker or the headphones, is a failure in the rig's final audio amplifier. Some radios - most, in fact these days, have a jack on the back to take audio out to accessories. Generally this audio is at a set level - in other words, before the final audio amplifier, since it is not affected by the volume control. You can check this audio, possibly by plugging in a set of amplified computer speakers. Start at a low volume level on the amplified speakers and work your way up. Some newer radios have USB connections and can port audio to computers. Checking audio level by that means is complicated unless you are already set up to operate that way. I'm going to guess that you probably solved your audio problem with one of the simple fixes, but if you do have to send your radio in, it isn't the end of the world. Generally audio problems are straightforward and easily traced. _____ 2011 ARRL DX Contest - It's this coming weekend! Looking for some winter fun that doesn't involve anything like boots, mittens, parkas, emergency rations, helicopter rescues, wolves, trips to the emergency room, or hot chocolate to thaw yourself out? Well, then - It's time to get ready for the 2011 ARRL DX Contest! It begins with CW: Third full weekend in February (February 19-20, 2011). Then, once your radio gear has had a chance to cool down, it is time for the phone contest! * Phone: First full weekend in March (March 5-6, 2011). * Contest Period: 48 hours each mode (separate contests). * Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday. * Rules and more available here: http://www.arrl.org/arrl-dx We hope to hear lots of Handiham members on the air! _____ Avery's trivia quiz Description: Avery with a Collins station in the Handiham shop. Avery, K0HLA, has issued a trivia challenge! You won't win anything, but you will be noted and celebrated in this very publication as a winner if you can answer the Trivia Handiham many part question, which is: A) Who ran the record-breaking Handiham net with the most check-ins? B) Who was/were the net control(s)? C) How many check-ins did that net have? D) What frequency / repeater was used? E ) From what QTH or QTHs was/were the operation(s)? F ) What very prestigious organization refused the record and why? The first one with the most correct parts of the trivia question wins. Answers are accepted by email only. No phone calls, please. <mailto:k0hla@xxxxxxxx?subject=Trivia%20Question> Email your answers to: k0hla@xxxxxxxx, and be sure to put "Trivia Question" in the subject line. The correct answer will appear at a later date in your weekly e-letter and podcast. _____ A dip in the pool Description: circuit board Today's dip into the question pool is from the current General pool. We head for the electrical principles section for these two related questions: G5A01 asks, "What is impedance?" Possible answers are: A. The electric charge stored by a capacitor B. The inverse of resistance C. The opposition to the flow of current in an AC circuit D. The force of repulsion between two similar electric fields Next, question G5A02 asks, "What is reactance?" Possible answers are: A. Opposition to the flow of direct current caused by resistance B. Opposition to the flow of alternating current caused by capacitance or inductance C. A property of ideal resistors in AC circuits D. A large spark produced at switch contacts when an inductor is deenergized Are you confident that you know the difference between impedance and reactance? Most of us are not electrical engineers, so how can we keep these two concepts straight? * The answer to question one, which asks about impedance, is C: The opposition to the flow of current in an AC circuit. * The answer to question two, which asks about reactance, is B: Opposition to the flow of alternating current caused by capacitance or inductance. Don't impedance and reactance seem pretty similar? They are both characteristics of AC circuits. In DC circuits, we have resistance only, but not impedance or reactance. I think of impedance as "AC resistance" because it takes into account a circuit's "regular" resistance, and includes any reactance that might also contribute to the opposition to current flow in an AC circuit. Reactance, on the other hand, is only part of the picture when it comes to the opposition to the flow of current in an AC circuit. It does not include regular resistance, only opposition to the flow of current caused by capacitance and inductance in the AC circuit. To a non-technical person, the two might still seem similar but there is a world of difference, as you will find when you tackle your Extra Class studies! _____ Remote Base Health Report for 16 February 2011 as of 08:13 CST Description: Remote Base Update The W0EQO Handiham Remote Base HF station is functioning normally. W0ZSW is off-line for transmit control due to a router failure, but receive via Echolink is working. W0ZSW is located at Camp Courage, Maple Lake, MN. It is running 100W to a 300' extended "W0OXB Special" dipole up an average 45' in the air. W0EQO is at Camp Courage North, Lake George, MN, deep in the pines of northern Minnesota's lake country. Underground power lines and an isolated rural setting contribute to a quiet RF environment. The 100W station feeds a G5RV up about 35'. Would you like to try the station right now? If you would like to connect to the station via EchoLink to listen to the radio, you can search for W0ZSW-L, node 524906, and connect. Entering a frequency and pressing the enter key will allow you to change the radio's receive frequency from the EchoLink text box. Enter U, L, or A for Upper sideband, Lower sideband, or AM, respectively. One thing to remember is that EchoLink control only works on receive, not transmit, and it is only available if there is no control operator logged in to the W4MQ remote base software. Don't forget about our station at Courage North, in far northern Minnesota's lake country. If you would like to connect to the station via EchoLink to listen to the radio, you can search for W0EQO-L, node 261171, and connect. Just as with the other station, entering a frequency and pressing the enter key will allow you to change the radio's receive frequency from the EchoLink text box. Enter U, L, or A for Upper sideband, Lower sideband, or AM, respectively. One thing to remember is that EchoLink control only works on receive, not transmit, and it is only available if there is no control operator logged in to the W4MQ remote base software. _____ This week @ HQ * Handiham Manager Pat, WA0TDA, will be at meetings all day Thursday and will not be taking phone calls. * Radio Camp will be from Monday 8 August to Saturday 13 August, 2011. * CQ, QST, & Worldradio digest audio for February 2011 is available to our blind members. * A new Technician lecture will be ready on Friday. * George, N0SBU, has completed & mailed the February digest. Thanks, George & PJ! . Our nets have really been running well. I have to complement our net volunteers for doing such a great job, and our net participants for joining us on the air often and showing such good support for our on the air activities. A special thanks to pinch-hitters who have stepped in when the regular scheduled NCS could not make it. . Tonight is EchoLink net night. The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is at 19:30 United States Central time, which translates to +6 hours, or 01:30 GMT Thursday morning. o EchoLink nodes: * KA0PQW-R, node 267582 * N0BVE-R, node 89680 * HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.) o Other ways to connect: * IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector) WIRES system number 1427 * We need an Echolink, IRLP, or WIRES node in Rochester, MN so that Sister Alverna, WA0SGJ, can continue to check into the Handiham net. There is no one to take on this project at the moment. * 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 us. _____ 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 <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 patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Handiham Membership Dues Reminder: Handiham renewals are on a monthly schedule - Please renew or join, as we need you to keep our program strong! You will have several choices when you renew: . Join at the usual $10 annual dues level for one year. Your renewal date is the anniversary of your last renewal, so your membership extends for one year. . Join for three years at $30. . Lifetime membership is $100. . If you can't afford the dues, request a sponsored membership for the year. . Donate an extra amount of your choice to help support our activities. . Discontinue your membership. Please return your renewal form as soon as possible. Your support is critical! Please help. The Courage Handiham System depends on the support of people like you, who want to share the fun and friendship of ham radio with others. Please help us provide services to people with disabilities. We would really appreciate it if you would remember us in your estate plans. If you need a planning kit, please call. If you are wondering whether a gift of stock can be given to Handihams, the answer is yes! Please call 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: 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! Pat, WA0TDA Manager, Courage Handiham System Reach me by email at: patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx _____ 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.