[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 17 August 2011

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 17 Aug 2011 19:17:17 -0500

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. 

Welcome to Handiham World!

Important notice:  Web hosting problems mean that we must release this issue
without pictures and audio. We apologize for the inconvenience.  Please keep
reading for more about our website problems later on in the e-letter.

Whew!  What a week it was at Camp Courage.  Although we had a session that
was two days shorter than last year, we still managed to eke out passes for
four of our seven Technician class candidates.  That means there will be
three new hams.

Say what?  Three?

I know what you're thinking - that I must not be good at simple math.  The
trick to this equation is that 4 passes = 3 new hams when one of the passes
already had her Novice ticket.  That was Lucy, KE6QNX, who had held her
Novice for a long time and had kept it current over the years.  Yes, there
are Novice license holders out there, and it's a wonderful thing when they
decide to upgrade to Technician and start getting really active once again.
Lucy will certainly enjoy using the many repeaters in Southern California,
as well as the EchoLink and IRLP systems.  Congratulations to Lucy and our
other successful Tech candidates.  Each of them was sent home with a
brand-new Wouxun HT, thanks to the generosity of Handiham supporter John
Glass, NU6P.  John had helped us at several California Radio Camp sessions
when we were at Camp Costanoan in Cupertino.  He operated and made available
an excellent VHF repeater system, which Matt, KA0PQW, was able to access
with his Kenwood TH-F6A.  

Although we accomplished a lot, we did have Internet and networking problems
during camp week. Don, N0BVE, and I spent considerable time tracing and
fixing the various issues.  One problem that proved intractable was getting
the IRLP node through the DSL modem's firewall.  I'm not sure why any modem
needs a firewall that is not user configurable, but that modem had one.  On
the plus side, the failure of a router serving the remote base station W0ZSW
and the W0EQO repeater was diagnosed by Don, and he replaced it with a new
D-Link router.  That solved our problem and we are now up and running again
at both the repeater and the remote base HF station.

Looking back on the week...

Matt, KA0PQW, says:  I was busy helping people with learning radios and even
fixing one radio with the help of Lucinda, AB8WF.  I also spent time
demonstrating HF to someone who was kind of new to it. He got to hear his
first real CW QSO. Of course I also spent time playing music around the
campfire for all to enjoy. 

Ken, KB3LLA, says:  The Courage Handiham ARC held an exciting meeting. We
added new members and reconnected with old friends. Plans were started for
another exciting year of club activities, including training and use of the
two Handiham remote bases, rig accessibility, and planning for next year's
radio camp. The following officers were elected: Ken Silberman (KB3LLA),
President; Linda Reeder (N7HVF), Vice President; Wayne Rumley (WA5YNE),
Secretary; and Pat Tice (WA0TDA), Treasurer.

Pat, WA0TDA, says:  Ha, ha, that's a funny one since we have no dues and no
treasury.  Sounds like just about the right level of responsibility for me.

For Handiham World, I'm...
Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

But first - Help us win the Dr. Dave Challenge!

Thanks to Luella KE0RF, John KC0HSB,   Miriam Kiser, in memory of Rex Kiser,
W0GLU who was a long-time Handiham volunteer and who managed our Handiham
repair shop, and Dr. Ken W0ZQJ, a long-time volunteer and Handiham
supporter, for your help this past week. We appreciate your support.  

If you have sent me an email and I have not noted it here, send it again to
wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx  I have hundreds of messages and have not gotten to them
all, so please note in the message that it is a re-send.  Please, only
re-send messages of higher importance.  I am working to get through them but
it is pretty overwhelming. 

Money is tight these days and we desperately need your support.  Now, thanks
to a generous challenge grant by Dr. Dave Justis, KN0S, we have a chance to
help fill the budget gap.  Dr. Dave will donate $5,000 to the Handiham
System if we can raise a matching amount.  That means we need to really put
the fund-raising into high gear!  If you can help, designate a donation to
Handihams, stating that it is for the "Dr. Dave Challenge".  We will keep
you posted in our weekly e-letter as to the progress of the fund. 
Nancy can take credit card donations via the toll-free number,
1-866-426-3442, or accept checks sent to our Courage Center Handiham

Courage Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422

Be sure to put a note saying "Dr. Dave Challenge" somewhere in the envelope
or on the note line of the check.  If you donate online as detailed toward
the end of your weekly e-letter, be sure to designate to Handihams and then
send me an email letting me know you donated to the Dr. Dave fund:

Thank you so much for your support!

Someday we will work DX from an asteroid, maybe.

NASA Science News reports that NASA is planning a daring new mission to
visit a near-Earth asteroid. The spacecraft, named OSIRIS-REx, will orbit
1999 RQ36 for a year before gathering samples for return to Earth. FULL
STORY at: 
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/16aug_osirisrex/ ;


Shel, N0DRX, writes with the Radio Camp VE Session Report:

The August 12, 2011 VE session at the Handiham radio camp is in the books. A
contingent of VEs from the Stillwater Amateur Radio Assn (SARA), were joined
by a great group who had worked with the campers and were fantastic
assisting with numerous adaptive exams.

In addition to the VEs, I want to thank all of the instructors as well as
the campers who took exams at this session. While it is painful when someone
does not pass their exam, it is also very rewarding when we see an examinee
succeed. I personally failed to pass my exam for my initial license multiple
times, but persistence and further study eventually got me over that hump.

Of the 11 examinees at this exam session, 5 succeeded in earning their
Technician license, and 1 earned an upgrade to Extra. One person who earned
a Tech license was a walk-in and the remaining examinees were all attending
Handiham Radio Camp. Most of our SARA sponsored exam session have been on
Thursdays, with paperwork in the mail on Friday and licenses issued either
the following Wed., or Thursday. Paperwork for this exam session got in the
mail on Saturday. I would expect the new licenses to be issued somewhere
between August 22nd and 26th.

I strongly suggest setting up a small file to keep a copy of the CSCE you
received at the exam session, as well as a copy of your new license and any
other info you receive relating to your ham radio license. Be sure to
include info on your ULS password, when you receive that. Whenever you need
to renew your license, or change your address, that password is going to be

At the recent exam session, we had 3 people who needed address changes. Two
of these people were also taking exams, so those should be taken care of.
There is 1 remaining where the individual was not taking an exam. I will be
attempting to process that address change on-line to avoid the processing
fee, but need to contact the ULS by phone during the week to try and get a

Renewing a license, or making address changes is a very simple process and I
am willing to process these, but your ULS password is needed. When you get
it, do not lose it!

73, Shel N0DRX

Thanks to Shel and the SARA VE team as well as the ARRL VEC for their help
this past week.  We really appreciate it. 

70 cm repeater was available to Handiham campers all week

Don, N0BVE, installed a 70 cm repeater for Handiham campers to use during
Radio Camp week. The repeater was on the same frequency as the 70 cm machine
at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, but with a very short
range, making it convenient as a talk around second repeater at camp, which
is far enough from the airport to not cause an interference problem. 

Sometimes it is just fun to spend a little time on the air when you have
gotten away from the gate and are in the main terminal and have time to
while away. If the campers arrived at MSP and set up their radios for that
repeater, they were already set up for the same frequencies at camp.  In
addition, Don hooked up a phone patch to the camp repeater, which was good
for training purposes. 

While the camp 70 cm repeater is now off the air following the end of the
camp session, the MSP International Airport machine will still welcome you
travelers at:
444.325 MHz + offset
131.8 Hz Tone

Website hosting issues dog handiham.org

Well, we might as well get to why there are few or no pictures in this
issue. And there might not be any audio, either. It looks to me like the DNS
(Domain Name Server) is not resolving addresses. 

Here is what is going on: 

In the late summer of 2010, when my wife and I were celebrating our
anniversary on a once in a lifetime vacation in Paris, I was horrified to
see that our Handiham website was down.  It took a panic call to Phil
Temples, K9HI, our volunteer who helps me with website issues, to help get
our hosting service straightened out.  This past week, Handiham.org has once
again been up and down, in and out of service. Just as when I was in Europe,
this is a terrible, terrible time for such a thing to happen. No one wants
to drop their vacation plans and try to deal with a hosting provider
long-distance from 8 time zones away.  This time I am not on vacation, but
it is really just as bad because I have hundreds of messages to answer and
am far behind on all my work because of Radio Camp week.  
What this means is that I am going to investigate a new web hosting
provider.  I don't really have time to do this, but it must be done.  I ask
your indulgence and patience because I am not going to be able to answer all
of your messages and calls until we right the ship on this one. Still, it
will be worth it, because many of our services are delivered via
Handiham.org.  We really cannot tolerate a dysfunctional web hosting
situation because it means that our members will not be served.

Here is what will be affected by the change, if and when it happens:

Usernames and passwords will be lost and will have to be reset.  I will not
have a list of the old passwords in some cases.
Much of the Drupal website content will go into the "bit bucket", which
means it will be gone forever.
All of the "members only" static website content is secure, because I have a
copy on my home computer and can restore it to the new site, but I will only
provide access to it for a period of time via the Friday audio update
mailing.  This is because the Drupal part of the website will be kaput and
members only login will no longer exist at all until it is rebuilt over many
The Handiham Radio Club and Handiham Volunteer Instructor mailing lists will
be closed down since they are hosted with our current web provider.
Photos and files referenced in the e-letter may not appear or be available
if they are on the old hosting server. 

Here is what will not be affected:

Both of the remote base stations will continue to function normally.
Neither one depends on our hosting service for their core functions. One
administrative email address is hosted through our hosting provider, but I
expect to be able to transfer that to the new provider.   In any case, the
stations will stay on the air.
The Echolink net will continue as usual, since it has nothing to do with the
hosting service.  The Echolink net informational website at
www.handiham.info will also stay on line as it is hosted on a different
server.  The *HANDIHAM* conference server will continue without
The email addresses for me and Nancy will continue to work. 
The e-letter and Friday notification lists will continue to work.
As you might expect, this is a huge undertaking and it will take quite a
long time to build up the site again.  The good news is that our audio
lectures and manuals can be made available rather quickly after the new
hosting service is set up. The bad news is that I am already stretched
pretty thin with my regular duties and will have to extend my schedule for
recording QST and making audio lectures.  As I said, this is a particularly
bad time for this website issue to come up.  If it is possible, I will try
to keep up the on line audio and stay current.  However, I could use some
help reading QST and producing Operating Skill audio lectures.  If you are
able to help, please email wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx 

ATOM transmitter power monitor

ATOM stands for Audible Transmitter Output Monitor. ATOM is a friendly
device that produces an audible pitch related to how much power your
transmitter is sending to your antenna.
Blind hams are always interested in audible devices that can help them
monitor station parameters and assess the performance of their equipment.
The ATOM is a small, affordable device that produces an audio tone relative
to transmitter RF output. It was featured in a "With the Handihams" article
in the April, 2011 Worldradio Magazine. The article is "An Audible
Transmitter Output Monitor with a Stealth Antenna" by Mike Keithly, KJ6CBW,
who can be contacted via the information on the ATOM product website:
http://blind-ham-products.com/atom/atom.htm ;

Troubleshooting 101: New noise revealed!

Last week I found a noise of my own to add to the list of common ham radio
annoyances.  Okay, actually it was two weeks ago, because I didn't have the
time to get out an issue last week due to the Radio Camp.  It's pretty funny
that every year I think I will have time to put out a weekly e-letter from
camp, then I always get too busy.  It seems like I forget how busy it is at
camp.  Oh, well, it is great to be optimistic!  Maybe next year we will put
an e-letter team together in advance of camp and make it one of our camp
activities to get an e-letter with audio podcast out. 

Anyway, to get back to the noise at hand, I don't own a sophisticated
noise-sniffing instrument of any kind, so I decided that my easy to carry
handheld radio would do the job.  I have a Yaesu VX-5R, which is a good rig
for this purpose because it can go down to the AM broadcast band.  I set the
squelch on that band to zero, so as to hear the normal background noise on a
clear frequency.  Then I turned on a device in our home that I had long
suspected of being a noisemaker.  If you are listening to the podcast, you
can hear it now, and if you are reading text, you can listen to an MP3 file
at the following link:
http://handiham.org/audio/noise4.mp3 ;

In that audio sample, you heard the background hiss, then the noise caused
by the device, then the background hiss again when I turned off the
offending device. Because of my clog of backed up emails, I may have missed
some of your guesses as to what this noise is.   

Matt, KA0PQW, said, "I bet that is either a computer power supply or your
plasma TV.  Boy, that is a bad noise for sure."

Mike, KJ6CBW, said: "Noise4.mp3 is a harmonic of a 15 KHz vertical sync from
a CRT monitor or old TV. The giveaway is at the end where you turn it
off--it keeps going and loses the 59 Hertz sync. I'd get a flat panel
display as I believe it's less noisy. Maybe the signal is getting into the
power line so using a RFI filter at the outlet where the device is connected
will reduce the noise." 

So what was that awful noise?  None other than my Panasonic Plasma TV!  It
came with at least a half-dozen ferrite chokes for the customer to place on
leads going in and out of the set, but I was lazy and never installed them.
Anyway, you were both right; it was a TV set.  

Now let's see... where are those chokes? 

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

A dip in the pool

Summer is antenna installation season. Today we are heading to the new
General Class pool for a question about antenna safety.

G0A12 asks: What precaution should you take whenever you make adjustments or
repairs to an antenna? 

Possible choices are: 

A. Ensure that you and the antenna structure are grounded 
B. Turn off the transmitter and disconnect the feed line 
C. Wear a radiation badge 
D. All of these choices are correct

The correct answer is B: Turn off the transmitter and disconnect the feed
line.  Having the feed line connected when you are working on an antenna is
never a good idea. Voltages can be introduced to the antenna via the feed
line, creating a shock hazard.  You could also be exposed to excessive RF if
the transmitter is keyed. 

Remote Base Health Report for 17 August 2011

Both stations are operational. 

W0EQO is on line. W0ZSW is on line as of this publication date.  Summer band
conditions: The Upper Midwest of the United States has  been experiencing
high temperatures and very humid air masses.  These conditions make for
frequent thunderstorms, which cause horrendous levels of static on the HF
bands.  This will make the remote bases a little hard to use at times.
Conditions may be best in the late night and early pre-dawn hours when
thunderstorms have quieted down a bit. 
At the same time, the daytime band conditions on 75 and 40 meters have been
rather poor due to absorption brought on by the long sunny days here in the
Northern Hemisphere. Trying to check into the PICONET on 3.925 MHz has been
a challenge! 

This week @ HQ

Nancy & I are catching up with correspondence and calls. 
Tonight is EchoLink net night.  The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is at
19:30 United States Central time, which translates to 00:30 GMT Thursday

EchoLink nodes:
KA0PQW-R, node 267582
N0BVE-R, node 89680
*HANDIHAM* conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)
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 us. 

Supporting Handihams - 2011. 

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:

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 $12 annual dues level for one year. Your renewal date is
the anniversary of your last renewal, so your membership extends for one
Join for three years at $36.
Lifetime membership is $120.
If you can't afford the dues, request a 90 day non-renewable sponsored
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.

Email us to subscribe:

Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at
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:

You can listen to this news online.  Notice for this week - audio is not
working due to hosting issues. 
MP3 audio stream:
Download the 40 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player:
Get this podcast in iTunes:
RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:

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, 17 August 2011 - Patrick Tice