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 You can also listen to the content online: MP3 audio stream: http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u Download the 64 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player: http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3 Get this issue as an audio podcast: http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham _____ Welcome to Handiham World! This week has been a challenging one for the Handiham Echolink net. Jim, WB4LBM, a regular net control station, is in the process of moving and is not available to take several net sessions per week as he sometimes does. Of course this has left the net control duties to a small group of stations, and I have heard some grumbling about how the net is run and how the few net control stations really could use some more help. We have attempted to schedule regular net control stations for given days, but that has not worked. Howard, KE7KNN, our net manager has been willing to assist operators who need help learning their net control basics, but he has not been able to recruit enough qualified stations to fill net control positions through the week. Believe me, I have also gotten plenty of advice about how the net should be run. Since the net is a Handiham Radio Club activity, I think it is reasonable for club members to weigh in at the next club meeting, which will be at radio camp in May. Until then, my advice would be to "lead by example", by which I mean that if you have specific ideas about how the net should be run, you should feel free to contact Howard and arrange to take a net day, even if it is not every week. Perhaps you would like to simply be available from time to time to fill in as a net control station, which is certainly helpful. In fact, operators who are flexible like this can be very valuable to any regular net. After all, we never know when a scheduled net control station will be unable to take his or her regular session due to other commitments, equipment failure, illness, or emergency. Every net has this need for flexible operators who can step in. If you do so, you have an opportunity to showcase your ideas on how the net control station should run the net. We have few rules, which makes stepping in to run the net relatively easy. It helps to have a preamble describing what the net is about and what your expectations as net control station are. One of the best preambles I have heard is from net control station Paul, KD0IUA. When you hear him taking the net, listen to his clear, concise preamble. When you have heard it, you certainly know which net is on the air, who is the net control station, and what the net control station expects of you as you check in. These are preamble basics that you can use to help set the tone of the net. As I said, you may have your own ideas about how to run a net and your specific preamble can reflect those ideas. Some people will find it necessary to write their preamble down so that they don't forget anything. Others will be able to rattle off their preamble from memory. The key is to figure out what works for you. Perhaps we should consider simply having fewer net sessions each week. Yes, I know this has been brought up before and it has not been resolved. One concern that I heard is that the regular daily net format is a social gathering that is now well-established and has its own momentum. Having fewer net sessions would break that momentum and make it difficult for our members to remember to check in. When something happens every day, it just seems to be easier to maintain a regular schedule, doesn't it? One thought that I had was that we might abandon the daytime net schedule and instead have a daily evening schedule. Matt, KA0PQW, pointed out that the repeater schedule is pretty well booked up in the evenings, so we would not be able to have a daily net at all unless we stick to the daytime schedule. The Wednesday evening net time is very good from the standpoint of working people, many of whom cannot take time from their jobs or be close to their stations during the daytime net. The Wednesday evening net allows North American stations whose operators work regular jobs to have an opportunity to check in weekly with us. For example, our 7:30 pm Wednesday net plays out around the world at these times: Eastern: 8:30 pm Central: 7:30 pm Mountain: 6:30 pm Pacific: 5:30 pm Hawaii: 3:30 pm GMT: 01:30 am the next day Tokyo: 10:30 am the next day Middle East: 4:30 am the next day (Qatar) Australia: 12:30 pm the next day (New South Wales) You can see from this schedule that the Wednesday evening net offers completely different opportunities for stations around the world and here in North America to check in and share their comments. I like the idea of offering the evening net on Wednesday, which appears to be the only practical day from the standpoint of available repeater time here in the Twin Cities. We need to put our best foot forward with experienced and dedicated, preferably scheduled, net control operators on the Wednesday evening shift. This is the net that is going to earn the most listeners and participants around the world. It won't do to have a newbie running this net and making mistakes. Let's save the daily daytime net for those stations who need a little bit more practice. Yes, this will be a change from our previous philosophy of having training going on on Wednesday evenings. The way I look at it, we have the potential for many listeners in North America on various repeater systems able to tune in because they are home from work. If we have our most tightly-run net sessions on Wednesday evenings, we will earn a good reputation for ourselves. Does this make sense? The daily daytime net happens at a time that does not really earn it a "prime time" following. Therefore, why not schedule net control operators who are newer to the hobby for daytime sessions to help us fill all of the available sessions? Furthermore, if a net control station cannot be found, why not simply start a QSO on the net frequency and make it a completely informal roundtable of Handiham Radio Club members and anyone else who simply wants to join in? Suppose, for example, it is a Thursday and time for the daily net, but there is no net control station. Anyone listening on that frequency would then be free to call "CQ Handiham roundtable" and simply start a conversation with anyone who wants to join them. In a roundtable situation the stations checking in don't have a net control station to report to. Instead, stations typically check in when they want to and then remember the order of the stations checking in and the conversation is simply passed around the circle from one station to another. So let's say that I am listening on frequency and there is obviously no net control station. I might decide to put out a call like this: "CQ Handiham roundtable". Jerry, N0VOE, comes back to me and we start talking. During a break in the conversation, Ken, KB3LLA, throws out his callsign. If Ken throws his callsign out just as I have finished speaking, Jerry might then acknowledge Ken and finish what he has to say before then turning the conversation over to Ken, KB3LLA, for his comments. Now we have established a three-station roundtable. The order is as follows: 1. Pat, WA0TDA 2. Jerry, N0VOE 3. Ken, KB3LLA When Ken, KB3LLA, finishes speaking, he turns the conversation over to me like this: "WA0TDA, this is KB3LLA". I then say what I want to say, which is probably going to be related to what Jerry has mentioned and any topic that Ken has brought up. When I am finished with my comments I am ready to turn the conversation over to Jerry by saying, "N0VOE this is WA0TDA". Jerry then takes his turn as the conversation develops on whatever topic is being discussed and he turns the conversation over to Ken when he is finished talking. Thus, the round table proceeds in this same order with three stations until someone else enters the conversation by giving their callsign during a break. The thing to remember in Echolink operations and repeater operations is that it will be necessary to leave enough time for more stations to join the roundtable. You may have to discipline yourself by counting mentally until you learn to leave enough break time in the conversation before you take your turn. If a fourth, fifth, and sixth station join the conversation you may think this can become confusing. Well, all you have to remember in the roundtable is the station that comes before you in the conversation and the station that comes after you. The station that comes before you should always turn the conversation over to you. The station that comes after you will expect you to turn the conversation over to them. So it really isn't rocket science, but it does take a little bit of practice. So I would like to propose the concept of a Handiham roundtable to take the place of the daily net when a net control station is not available. In some ways, a roundtable can be even more fun than a regular net session. In a roundtable, one thing that you have to expect is that it may take a while for the conversation to come around to a point where you can check in with the group. For stations with little time to spare during lunch hour, it may be difficult to wait around for the right time to get in. On the other hand, a short-time station can still check into a roundtable to say hello and state that they cannot remain in the group conversation. In those cases, the short time station simply checks in with the group and right back out again and does not take a place in the rotation. Some roundtables will run quite smoothly while others will be plagued by operators who can't keep the order straight or who talk far too long, monopolizing the conversation. Believe me, this goes with the territory and you simply have to expect a few bumps in the road like these when you participate in a roundtable. On the positive side, the roundtable situation is friendly, informal, and often more fun than a controlled net. A controlled net may be able to check in far more stations, but this is done at the expense of interesting and meaningful conversation. There is nothing wrong with this; it is simply a trade-off that we have to understand and learn to live with. So what do you think? For Handiham World, I'm... Patrick Tice, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx _____ Handiham Equipment Program update by Pat, WA0TDA: George, N0SBU, and Avery, K0HLA, work on configuring 2 meter radios for campers. In this photo, George, N0SBU, and Avery, K0HLA, configure handheld radios for campers at one of our radio camp sessions. The radios were Icom IC-V8's, and several open Icom boxes on the table in front make it look like George & Avery are on the Icom assembly line! George recalls, "Yes, it was my first year at Radio Camp. I was in the General class, but I also helped people with their handheld radios and taught a class to the incoming Technicians on how to operate the Icom IC-V8. Boy, did I ever jump into it the first year!" I brought this up because with the budget cuts that started in 2009 we have been unable to continue the equipment program as it always used to be. In fact, we no longer have any facilities space at all at our old Golden Valley location. All of the test instruments and tools that we had in our equipment shop have either been disposed of through various means or moved to the new headquarters location. No workbench space has been set up to assess or work with donated equipment at this point, though we do have some possibilities in mind. We do now have storage space for donated equipment and George has been able to help us out by getting the equipment sorted and moved to the new storage space. We do have a shortage of staff hours, at least paid staff hours, and cannot tend to the equipment program on a daily or weekly basis the way we once did. Furthermore, because our new location is about an hour west of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, it is considerably more difficult for volunteers from that area to travel to our headquarters to work on equipment. We still do get inquiries about donated equipment, and we still do accept donations. Our plan is to get together with several volunteers to assess and prepare equipment for members just before the upcoming radio camp session in late May. Some of the equipment will be distributed to our campers who need equipment to get on the air after passing their license exams. It may be possible, if I have enough volunteers to help, to also ship some equipment out to members who are on a waiting list. I am maintaining a new waiting list, but I am certainly not making any promises about being able to deliver equipment, especially very specific equipment requests, because donations of equipment have been way down during the economic recession. It is simply a fact of economic life that the need is greatest at the very time when we have the tightest budget and the fewest donations. There just isn't a lot that we can do about that, and we ask for your understanding and patience as we all hope for the economy and the donation picture to improve over the coming years.. Because of the logistics of getting volunteers to headquarters, it is likely that the equipment program might operate on something like a twice-yearly schedule, with one volunteer session just before radio camp in May and another one after the end of the camping season, perhaps in September. It may be possible to move to a quarterly equipment program volunteer calendar if we get more equipment donations and enough volunteers and donations of money to run the program. I know this isn't a perfect solution, but it is the only thing I can think of right now. We really, really want to be able to help our members get on the air in any way that we possibly can. _____ Software hunter looking through giant magnifying glass, maybe for the perfect software Your Handiham World software hunter is on the lookout for interesting amateur radio-related software or any software that is potentially useful in the ham shack. You can help us hunt down applications that you have located, tried, or haven't tried but you wish someone would. Send suggestions to Pat, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx along with your comments and reviews. Today we will point you to the Swiss army knife of ham radio software suites, Ham Radio Deluxe <http://www.ham-radio-deluxe.com> . Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) is a suite of free Windows programs providing computer control for commonly used transceivers and receivers. HRD also includes mapping, satellite tracking and the digital mode program Digital Master 780 (DM780), which I have used myself. Here are some of my observations: * Ham Radio Deluxe is free for any licensed amateur to download and use. Simon Brown, HB9DRV, is the author and owner of the website. Donations to support this work are accepted through a link on http://www.ham-radio-deluxe.com, which is also where you download the program suite. * HRD runs on Windows and is not available for other operating systems. * HRD does require you to establish a physical connection between your radio and your computer. There is helpful information on the HRD website, and some radios are ready to connect with only the addition of a USB cable (Like my IC-7200) while others require some kind of interface, like a RIGblaster or a homebrew interface. * HRD will control more than one rig. In my shack, I can control both my IC-706M2G and my IC-7200 in one instance of HRD. Each rig appears in its own tab. There is no need to have two instances of HRD running if you have more than one rig. * The built-in logbook in HRD takes data from the radio and fills in some of the log fields. Thus, the radio's frequency will be filled in for you. The logbook takes the computer time for the date & time of the contact. * The logbook can be used to log a QSO from one radio, then the other. That way, you have only a single logbook to worry about. * HRD is a suite of programs, not just a rig controller. DM780 is a digital mode program that will run many digital modes, including PSK31. It also offers an excellent SSTV interface. DM780 is accessed through a link on the HRD interface and runs as a separate program alongside HRD. * If the rig control computer is connected to the Internet, HRD offers the option of a DX spotting window. Clicking on a DX spot automatically takes your rig to that frequency, which makes it easy to check if you can hear the DX station. * The satellite tracker is also started by a link from the main HRD interface, then runs as a separate program. It uses Google Earth in its file associations. This part of the HRD suite is very graphic and unlikely to be useful to hams who are blind and use screenreaders. * Speaking of accessibility, HRD is somewhat accessible. I have yet to hear from a blind "power user", but I sure would like to do so in order to learn more about the level of accessibility in the main HRD interface. * One built-in accessibility feature, especially useful to a low-vision user, might be the voicing of the frequency displayed on the HRD main window. This voicing feature can be turned on and off, but it speaks a very limited data set - frequency, frequency and mode, S-meter reading, and "tool tips". It does not matter if the radio being controlled has a voice chip. The software speaks the frequency independent of the radio's speech hardware. A radio that does not have a voice chip will still relay its frequency display data to the software and the voiced frequency readout will come out of your computer speakers. If the radio has a voice chip installed, you can still control that feature from the radio's front panel. * HRD is a very active project that undergoes continuous updates. You can find several different versions on the website. * There is a discussion forum. Simon, the author, cannot answer questions about installation and use of HRD because it would take all of his time! The discussion forums and help files can get you through most anything, but you have to be the kind of person who is willing to solve problems by doing some research and trying things out for yourself. * One feature that I have to mention in closing is that HRD can be used as a remote control program over the Internet. A remote base radio can be controlled through the same software that controls your own rig in your ham shack. Ham Radio Deluxe is a real workhorse in the ham shack. Simon is one of the shining stars among ham radio software authors for his efforts on the behalf of amateurs worldwide. Since he does have helpers, they are also due credit for their work on HRD. Find HRD at: http://www.ham-radio-deluxe.com _____ Time's up on the Windows 7 Release Candidate! If you have been testing the Windows 7 Release Candidate, which you had downloaded from Microsoft and installed for testing purposes, it's now time to upgrade from the Windows 7 Release Candidate to a regular version of Windows 7. While most people who tested Windows 7 have now moved to the final version, some are still running the Release Candidate. If you haven't moved yet, it's time to replace the RC. There is good reason to do so: Starting on March 1, 2010 your PC will begin shutting down every two hours. Your work will not be saved during the shutdown. The Windows 7 RC will fully expire on June 1, 2010. Your PC running the Windows 7 RC will continue shutting down every two hours and your files won't be saved during shutdown. In addition, your wallpaper will change to a solid black background with a persistent message on your desktop. You'll also get periodic notifications that Windows isn't genuine. That means your PC may no longer be able to obtain optional updates or downloads requiring genuine Windows validation. I downloaded and used the RC successfully to test the working of Echolink, Ham Radio Deluxe, the Handiham Remote Base, the Echolink proxy, and other software. It was great to know that these applications would work once users began using Windows 7. However, I replaced the RC with Windows 7 Professional as soon as the retail version shipped. If you have not already done so, time is short. You don't want to be stuck with a computer that is shutting down on its own. If you did not wish to migrate to Windows 7, you may be able to restore your old version of Windows, or else install a different operating system, such as Linux. Ubuntu is a popular choice, but all Linux releases require you to be somewhat of an adventurous tech-savvy user, so be warned! You can get Ubuntu for free at: http://www.ubuntu.com/ Ham radio programs for Linux resources: http://www.dxzone.com/catalog/Software/Linux/ Accessible article in PDF from ARRL: http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/pdf/0210033.pdf _____ This week @ HQ ARRL Diamond logo We have finished reading the March, 2010 QST audio digest for our blind members. 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. I appreciate the ARRL and all of its services, but one thing I look for with special interest is the Annual Antenna Issue of QST. The March issue is that very one, devoted to antennas and antenna topics. Those of you who are ARRL members and who get QST will find an article that I recommend on page 30: "An Experimental Look at Ground Systems for HF Verticals" by Rudy Severns, N6LF. Among the most comment questions we get at Handihams are ones related to vertical antennas and ground radial systems. Rudy's excellent article will answer those questions for you. · Nancy is out of the office until Wednesday, February 24th. I am overwhelmed with projects, so if you can keep the calls and emails to a minimum, I would really appreciate it. You may leave a message on my voice mail or on Nancy's, but if you possibly can, please just wait until she returns to the office. · I have completed a new Extra Class lecture this week. It is number 60 and discusses digital code and protocols. Members sign in to the member section and browse to the Extra Class lecture series. · Radio Camp applications are out in the mail. It will be much easier and cheaper to travel to camp, since our new location at Camp Courage will allow you to travel by air, Greyhound or Jefferson Lines bus, or AMTRAK, and there will not be an expensive final leg of the journey to Bemidji as in past years. · I have received very little input on the 20 meter net. If I don't get more interest, we are dropping it. 14.305 MHz will be our proposed 20 m net frequency. All stations are asked to monitor this frequency throughout the day preferably afternoon and evening, and suggest a time to run the net. Email me at wa0tda@xxxxxxxx and put "20 meter net" in the subject line. · 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 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 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! Minnesota Radio Camp dates for 2010, Camp Courage: Arrive Friday, May 21. Class days: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. VE Exam Day: Thursday. Volunteer Examiners arrive in the morning to visit with campers and eat breakfast together with campers, volunteers, and staff. Depart Friday, May 28. Cost of Radio Camp: The cost of Radio Camp depends on your ability to pay, so anyone can afford to attend. Ask for an application. · Camp Courage is west of Minneapolis. The address is 8046 83rd St NW, Maple Lake, MN 55358. · The phone number of the Camp Courage office is (320) 963-3121. · If you want to receive a Camp Courage summer camp schedule, you may call for one. · The camp schedule includes information about Handiham Radio Camp. · If you need specific information about the radio camp or want to be on the radio camp mailing list, you may call Nancy in the Handiham office at 1-866-426-3442. Volunteers: 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 user name 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. Volunteers, get your hours in through VOLLI. You may also submit volunteer hours to Nancy at <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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. Echolink net news 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 01:30 Z. Daily except Sunday at 11:00 hours Minnesota time (17:00 GMT) Where: · 145.450 MHz N0BVE repeater (Minneapolis-St. Paul) · *HANDIHAM* Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.) · 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. Supporting Handihams 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 2010. 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 Nancy at: 1-866-426-3442 or email: 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 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 <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! Pat, WA0TDA Manager, Courage Handiham System Reach me by email at: patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx _____ 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. 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.