[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 16 June 2010

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2010 14:19:47 -0500

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

What coax should I use?

Feedline loss calculator screenshot from KC7HCX.us website


The repeaters I want to use are all just a bit too far away for me to work
with an indoor antenna or a handheld radio. I want to install an outdoor
antenna so that I can use several different VHF and UHF repeaters. I already
have a dual-band 2m/70cm vertical antenna, but what kind of coax should I
use? I am thinking about RG-58 or RG-8X, because they are cheaper and easy
to work with than the thicker RG-8 or RG-213. My cable run will be about 100


Since the repeaters you plan to work are probably located in different
compass directions, your choice of a vertical antenna is a good one, as long
as the repeaters are not so far away that you would need a directional
antenna with more gain. The directional antenna usually means

an extra investment in a rotator system, a considerable expense and an
additional accessory to maintain over the ensuing years.

One thing you will not want to skimp on is your feedline, especially if it
is to be used for VHF and UHF work, and when the feedline is going to be run
for a considerable distance. A short run of RG-8X, under 25 feet, is
probably acceptable for VHF work. The problem with these thin, cheaper
feedlines is that they lose quite a significant amount of signal - both on
receive and on transmit - and the savings in initial cost for the coax are
quickly offset by the poor performance they introduce to your otherwise
well-designed system. RG-58 is such thin, fragile coax that it is a poor
choice for anything but temporary use or short connecting cables used in
test situations. It is very lossy and should not be used over long runs,
even for HF operation. Its fragility means that it can easily break.

Let's take a look at the loss for a typical VHF frequency, 146.52 MHz for
three common types of coax, all assuming a 100 foot run.

RG-58: Power in = 100 Watts. Power out = 34 Watts. Total loss is 4.7 dB.
RG-8X: Power in = 100 Watts. Power out = 39 Watts. Total loss is 4.1 dB.
RG-213: Power in = 100 Watts. Power out = 55 Watts. Total loss is 2.6 dB.

As you can see, the unfortunate truth is that all of these cables have
significant loss, but the cheaper cables will end up turning most of your
signal into heat. Only the RG-213 comes close to being acceptable for VHF
use with a 100 foot run.

Now for something really scary, let's try a 70cm frequency, 446.0 MHz, with
the same cable run.

RG-58: Power in = 100 Watts. Power out = 13 Watts. Total loss is 8.9 dB.
Double Ouch!
RG-8X: Power in = 100 Watts. Power out = 15 Watts. Total loss is 8.2 dB.
Double Ouch!
RG-213: Power in = 100 Watts. Power out = 32 Watts. Total loss is 5 dB.


Even with the best of these three coax types, you are still getting less
than one third of your signal to the antenna. Remember that it works the
same way on receive. And why would you even bother with RG-58 or RG-8X for
UHF work, when 100 Watts turns into only 15 Watts or less? Long runs of
cheap, lossy cable might as well just be dummy loads!

As you can see from the results we have listed, the loss per distance unit
of feedline goes up when the frequency goes up. Therefore, a cheaper grade
of feedline might be acceptable for use on 3.9 MHz, but far too lossy for
use at VHF or UHF. Another consideration is that if one intends to use even
higher transmit power levels, cheaper coax must not be used because it may
arc over and fail. It is generally acceptable only for lower power levels.

The results we listed are for SWR readings that are virtually perfect, 1:1.
Since no antenna installation is perfect and minor mismatches occur in even
a carefully-designed system, the actual loss will be even higher than what
we listed. This makes using good feedline even more important.

To summarize, you will have several important choices to make when you plan
your VHF/UHF antenna system. You will want to decide which repeaters you
want to work, their compass directions from your station, and whether you
will need to choose a directional antenna or a vertical antenna. The
supporting structure will add height, which is generally a good thing for
effective VHF/UHF work, but also add to the length of a feedline, and longer
feedline runs mean more loss. If you want to try weak-signal work on VHF and
UHF, you will need a rotator and a horizontally-polarized directional
antenna. Unlike repeater operation, weak signal work on SSB and CW
absolutely demands good quality feedline for the lowest loss possible. FM
repeater operation is less demanding, and will require vertical
polarization. You may be able make your horizontally-polarized system work
for repeaters, but your vertically-polarized antenna will not be effective
for weak signal work on SSB and CW.

Our recommendation is to use good quality feedline for every installation,
avoiding higher loss coax except for short connectors and temporary use in
sort runs.


Are you wondering how we calculated the loss for examples we used in this
article? It was easy with the online calculator we found at the KC7HXC

You can find it at:


For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice


Testing for Technician license? Better hurry!

Happy cartoon clock

If you are studying for your Technician Class amateur radio license, you had
better hurry and find a testing session. You have less than two weeks before
the new Technician question pool goes into effect on July 1, 2010.

Once the new question pool is in effect, the test will be all new, and the
old pool questions you may have been using for review will no longer be used
in the actual exam. If you feel that you are ready to test, please find a VE
session right away.

Finding a VE session is not difficult under ordinary circumstances, but
summer isn't always the easiest time, since so many potential volunteers are
on vacation. Go online and look for a session, then use the session contact
information to make sure that all of the listed information is correct. If
you have a disability and require accommodation, please do this right away -

Two online resources are the ARRL and W5YI websites:





You should also contact your local radio club for information on their VE
sessions. Some clubs offer special VE sessions immediately before question
pool changes.


Find an ARRL Field Day near you!


Of course you have heard of ARRL Field Day, right? It's the single most fun
operating event of the year for many of us, and we would like YOU to join in
the fun. There is an easy to use online tool on the new ARRL website that
can help you locate a Field Day event near you.

Check this new resource out:


Once you are on the site, head for the "List By State/Province" link. Then
use the pull-down menu to choose your State or Province. The stations at
public locations are listed.

Note: We are looking for feedback on how accessible the system of locating
public Field Day sites is to our blind members. While the site does feature
an interactive map as its primary feature, the "List By State/Province" link
may be a useful alternative way to locate the relevant information.

Blind users please send your comments about using this page to Pat,


Found: Bootable USB Drives - there's a free utility for that

There are times that you wish you had the right tool for the job, as when
you have a flat-bladed screwdriver and the screw is a hex head. Those of us
who work with computers a lot know that once in a while a cranky machine
just won't boot up. The cause can be a defective sector on the machine's
hard drive or a failed update to the operating system or some other such
thing. In this case, the right tool would be a USB drive from which you can
boot an operating system that would allow you to get the machine up and
running so that you can fix the original problem. Thanks to Dick, WA0CAF,
who found a free utility that creates bootable USB drives, we can pass the
link to you and you can download the free utility and add it to your
computer toolkit. The utility is called "Unetbootin".  You can find it on
the open-source website www.sourceforge.net. 

Download link: http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

Download size: 4.36 MB (Windows version)

System requirements: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7, or Linux

Before you go ahead and download Unetbootin, you should read the article
that explains the reason the utility was created and what its limitations
might be.
You can find it at techsupportalert.com by searching for Unetbootin, or just
follow this link.


Out there

Perhaps you have been following the saga of a 10 year old Wisconsin kid
whose neighbors are petitioning to get his ham radio tower removed. Curious?
Find out more at:

Notice! If the link doesn't work, check to be sure it has not word-wrapped.
Sometimes the long links spill over into the next line of email messages,
and then don't work unless you know that you have to add the cut off tail of
the web address to the main part of the URL. 



cartoon dog barking at postal carrier

Too cold or too hot:

After reading last week's antenna article, Travis, KE7EUL, pointed out that
summer may be a great time for antenna work in Minnesota, but it is too hot
- even dangerously so - for such work in some other places, like Arizona.   

Trippy, AC8S, writes about the summer ham radio doldrums:

There's nothing wrong with the bands for me. I'm having QSOs with all kinds
of hams on CQ100! I hear a whole bunch of stuff on HF here! Whether it's
virtual or not, it exists, and there's always someone to have a QSO with,
whether CW or phone. As far as clubs not meeting during the summer, that is
true, many don't, but some do. We have two clubs in our local area which
meet year around. As far as station and antenna projects go, I don't have
those problems. For 2 meters, I use a handheld with a telescopic antenna,
and for HF, I've got CQ100 on my laptop, and my antenna is the internet, so
no antennas to fix here! 

As far as those hams saying, "where is the net control?" Get in there and
run the net, and get your feet wet! After all, that's the way you get
experience, and that way, the net will be operating. 

As far as static crashes on HF, I don't have those problems on CQ100. If
there are thunderstorms in the region, I can still operate. Now if there are
thunderstorms in my neighborhood, I don't operate then, because modems can
be fried by a lightning strike.  I unplug the cable that goes from the modem
to my phone line. 

So folks, there are hams out there to talk with, if you're willing to use
EchoLink, IRLP, or CQ100, that's for sure! Also, Pat, what an inspection you
did! Thoroughly enjoyed it! What recorder were you using to do that? The
audio quality was incredible! You mentioned you have attic antennas, which
ones do you have? You probably use those when you can't use the outdoor
antennas, right? I'm with you, 100%, EchoLink IS ham radio, and as a matter
of fact, now with the EchoLink app available on the iPhone, you now have
available an iPhone HT, for worldwide use! And all I can say about the
squirrel, eating the lawn chair, he/she must have a heck of a case of
heartburn, with all that plastic! 

73, Trippy, ac8s

Pat, WA0TDA, answers:

The recorder I used was an iPod Touch with the matching ear bud headset and
inline microphone. You can use that same system to work Echolink or talk on
SKYPE. My attic antennas are a homemade 2-meter vertical and a homemade
4-element beam, vertically polarized, and fed with coax and a gamma match.
The squirrel never came back after that first luncheon of lawn chair. I
guess it didn't "sit well". (Groan!)


How to renew your license

Since we have had to cut staff hours, the Handiham System no longer offers
personalized assistance with license renewals.  This work was always done by
Avery Finn, K0HLA, and he is now retired. Avery asks that you please not
send him email related to his former Handiham office duties. He uses his
email to stay in touch with family and friends, including ham radio
operators he knows, but understandably does not need work-related email

So what are your alternatives for license renewal?

Here are four possibilities:

1.      You can use the FCC's ULS website to renew.  The best overview we
have seen on how to do this is on the excellent new ARRL website:
2.      ARRL members can request renewal assistance. We suggest visiting
for a concise overview of your options. There will be a link to
where you will find that you can download, fill out, and submit the NCVEC
Form 605 directly to the ARRL VEC, where it will be processed for free, as
long as you are an ARRL member. That assumes that you do not have a vanity
callsign, for which there is an additional small fee of $5 from the ARRL VEC
for processing and the FCC vanity fee of $13.40. If you do not have a vanity
callsign, the ARRL VEC renewal service is completely free to ARRL members.
3.      You can go to an ARRL VE session in your area, ask for help
renewing, and the VE team will assist you. There will be a fee unless you
are an ARRL member. 
4.      The W5YI Group offers an easy to use license renewal service for a
fee of $8:  <https://www.w5yi.org/ssl/ama_renew_form.php> 

Now, here is our quick overview of "do it yourself license renewal": 


To renew your license or change an address associated with a license, go to
the Universal Licensing System,
http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home, select Online Filing, and do
the following:

1. Login with your FRN and Password. Note: TINs (Tax Payer Identification
Numbers) may no longer be used for logging into ULS, effective December 14,
2. Choose Update from the Work on This License menu on the right hand side
of your License At A Glance screen.
Note: For additional help with this process, click on the Common Questions
that appear on most pages of ULS License Manager, or click the Help link at
the top right of each page.
3. Answer the questions on the Applicant Questions page. Then click
4. On the licensee page, update your licensee address and any other relevant
information by typing your information into the text boxes provided. When
ready, click Continue.
5. On the Summary page review the information you have entered. If you wish
to make additional changes, click the Edit button next to the section of
your application you wish to Edit. You will be able to return to that page
of the application. Make the desired change and select the Return to Summary
6. When ready to submit your update to the Commission, choose the Continue
to Certify button.
7. After reading the certification, enter your first and last names and
title if appropriate in the boxes at the bottom of the page. You MUST sign
the application. When finished choose the Submit Application button.
8. From the ULS Confirmation screen, we recommend you print a copy of your
application and/or the Confirmation screen itself from your web browser.

Note: The address and contact information you have entered in CORES
registration will not be automatically associated with your licenses. To
change the address or other contact information on your license, you must
update your information in ULS or submit Form 605 manually.

Filing Manually:

You may alternatively submit a paper FCC Form 605 (edition date July 2005 or
later) to

1270 Fairfield Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325-7245

OR, you may deliver the form in person to:

1280 Fairfield Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325

You can request forms by calling (800) 418-FORM (3676), download the form or
call our Fax Information system at (202) 418-0177.

More FCC Contact Information:

Phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)
TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)
Fax: 1-866-418-0232
E-Mail: fccinfo@xxxxxxx 


This week @ HQ

*       Joe, N3AIN, has completed his long-awaited sixth and final
installment of the Kenwood TS-480SAT audio tutorial.  In this final audio
lecture, Joe tells us how to control the rig with a computer. If you have
not listened to Joe before, you should definitely give his audio lectures a
try. He not only does a good job of teaching, but his engaging style makes
it fun! Look in the Manuals section under Kenwood and TS-480. If you need
help finding it, email Pat, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx for the link. 
*       The latest Technician Class study materials are arriving at
Handihams. As you know, the Technician question pool changes on July 1, only
two weeks from now!  We are planning to teach the Technician course for our
members online, in audio lecture format tailored to our members with
disabilities. This Friday we will send out our final Technician audio
lecture notice with links to the old audio lectures. 
*       The ARRL Atlantic Division sponsored a free webinar about using the
new ARRL web site. The webinar was on Tuesday, June 15, and I signed up, so
now perhaps I can help more of our Handiham members with questions about
this new ARRL resource. - Pat, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx 
*       The Handiham Radio Club and Volunteers mailing lists are still
broken. I am investigating the outage and will let you know when the lists
are back up again.
*       Pat, WA0TDA, and Will, KC0LJL, will be at Camp Courage on Thursday.
*       Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the June 2010 CQ & Worldradio audio
digests for our blind members.  Thanks, Bob!
*       We have also finished reading the June, 2010 QST audio digest and
Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, has completed the June 2010 Doctor column from QST for
our blind members. Thanks, Ken! 
*       Handiham members who use adapted audio can log in to members only
for the digest. If you qualify for National Library Service audio books, you
can get the entire issue of QST, once the issue is read and cataloged. 

.         Shipping address for Handihams: Our shipping address is different
than our mailing address, though we can still get packages and mail at
either address. The thing is, it is much, much easier if packages, such as
equipment donations, are sent directly to our headquarters office. This is
the same address where Radio Camp will be held. 


Camp Courage
Handiham System
8046 83rd Street Northwest
Maple Lake, MN 55358-2454 

Please don't call the Camp Courage number to reach Handihams. The phone at
the main Camp Courage office for all departments is (320) 963-3121. However,
we do not always get phone messages left at that number in a timely manner,
so if you wish to leave a phone message, be sure to call:  

Pat: 763-520-0511

Nancy: 763-520-0512 

Nancy and I will get your calls or voicemails at those numbers no matter
where we are working. 

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"

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. 

Wednesday Echolink net news - Net time is new for GMT, now that we are on
Daylight Time.

Wednesday evenings the Handiham Echolink net is on the air. Please join us
and check in or simply listen in, as you see fit. We are on the air
Wednesday evenings at 19:30 hours Minnesota time (7:30 PM) or GMT: Thursday
morning at 00:30 Z.



Supporting Handihams

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 2010.



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
<http://www.handiham.org/> 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: 



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.


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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, 16 June 2010 - Patrick Tice