This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham System <http://handiham.org> . Please do not reply to this message. Use the contact information at the end, or simply email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx You can also listen to the content online: Listen to an MP3 audio stream: <http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u> http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u Download the 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! Matt in the bucket truck lift Image: Matt, KA0PQW, and the bucket truck lift operator, Jeff, KC0UOW, ride the bucket up to do some antenna work. Photo courtesy Don Rice, N0BVE, taken during Matt's antenna work in October. Don had just completed some work on Matt's 220 MHz antennas, and Matt was headed up to do the final inspection. It's always a good idea to get your antenna work done before winter, especially if you live in Minnesota, as Matt, KA0PQW does. One may be blind, but that doesn't mean you can't do antenna work. Matt directs and does hands-on work on his antenna projects, and has some great helpers. I have always recommended having at least one helper available for any antenna project that involves working on an elevated antenna system, whether it is on a roof or high on a tower. The reason, of course, is safety - if something goes wrong, the second person can provide assistance or call for help. Besides, most of these projects really do require at least one more set of hands - and eyes. You can use a spotter to check for hazards like power lines and buried pipes or cables. This goes for any ham radio operator, whether they are blind or sighted. I shudder to think of all the times I have not followed my own advice, but in my defense I was young and stupid. As a teenager, I navigated our family home's rooftop like a monkey - stringing antennas, hurrying down to test for SWR, then running back up the ladder to the roof to make adjustments - all without anyone else around. When I bought a used tower, I was up and down that thing dozens and dozens of times. I did buy a Klein lineman's belt but even so, I worked alone all too often. The closest call I ever had was on an old telescoping mast. I had just finished my antenna work and stepped onto the ground when the steel cable holding the top section snapped and the tower telescoped back down. A few seconds delay in getting off would have meant amputated fingers and toes! Worse yet, I did not have a helper around. Well, I have learned a lot since then. I ask for help, so that I have someone there to do antenna work as well as to help us both stay safe. I plan to stay safe - and you know what? Staying safe means more happy years of ham radio fun! For Handiham World, I'm... Patrick Tice, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx Handiham Manager _____ Computer access & an accessible logging program By Damian, SP9QLO xlog screenshot courtesy xlog website Image: Xlog screenshot courtesy Xlog website. In response to your question last week about accessible logging programs, the most accessible for blind users is an application called Xlog. 1. It is free. 2. It requires Linux to be installed on the user's computer. 3. It allows full control over many modern transceivers. 4. You can configure it to work with Logbook of the World and an internet system of QSL certificates. If a blind user wants to use it, the steps to get started are as follows: 1. Download and install Vinux (an accessible Linux which is available at http://www.vinux.org.uk. This can be installed with Braille and speech support out of the box. 2. After installing and learning a bit about moving around the new Vinux environment, one needs to install the Xlog software. There are several apps to be installed to create a blind-friendly environment. First is Xlog, then we need to install an additional module named Grig - this for controlling our rig. And to complete the job, something called Xdx, which is an accessible client for the DX cluster. All can be configured so that in daily practice you simply open your logbook and all functions are simply available. I tried Ham Radio Deluxe and other Windows alternatives. None of them is as accessible and easy to use. I am totally blind, so you can believe that I know how it is to work without seeing a computer monitor. However, if one doesn't want to play with a new operating system like Vinux, I would recommend the N3EQF logging software or the VQLog. Both of them are tested under Window-Eyes and JAWS. They are not free applications, but I have to say that they are accessible enough. Other resources related to this story: * There is an Xlog review page on eHam: <http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/2173> http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/2173 * Xlog, a logging program for Amateur Radio Operators: <http://www.nongnu.org/xlog/> http://www.nongnu.org/xlog/ * The Vinux operating system provides a screen-reader, full screen magnification and support for Braille displays out of the box. It can be run from the Live CD without making any changes to your hard drive. If you like it you can install it to a USB thumb drive or to your hard drive either alongside Windows or as a complete replacement for it. There is also a virtual version available which can run Vinux as a guest operating system using VMWare Player on Windows. The main screen-reader/magnifier is called Orca and the Braille display is supported by Brltty: <http://www.vinux.org.uk/> http://www.vinux.org.uk/ * GRIG, a free Ham Radio Control Application: <http://groundstation.sourceforge.net/grig/> http://groundstation.sourceforge.net/grig/ * Xdx, a GTK+ 2.0 tcp/ip DX-cluster and ON4KST chat client: <http://www.qsl.net/pg4i/linux/xdx.html> http://www.qsl.net/pg4i/linux/xdx.html * The commercial Log-EQF logging program for Windows by N3EQF: http://www.eqf-software.com/ * VQLog commercial logging software: <http://www.vhfdx.net/vqlog.html> http://www.vhfdx.net/vqlog.html * KD5NSO reports that Ham Radio Deluxe is accessible via JAWS. <http://www.vhfdx.net/vqlog.html> _____ More Echolink tutorials on the way We expect to add some additional Echolink training to our website. I have heard from some of our members who are willing to help investigate how to get on Echolink and how to get things set up for the first time. Echolink remains a challenge for beginners, especially those who are not computer-savvy. The additional requirements of registration and license verification can be a little bit tricky. Then there is the problem of configuring firewalls and routers. We hope to be able to add at least some dimension to the already-existing material on the Echolink website. Finally, there is the personalization of Echolink. This may involve changing some settings to ensure that the application will work for you. There is also a need to teach proper Echolink techniques. Common mistakes like tying up a net with a locked push to talk switch can be avoided if you know how. New users often make the mistake of joining an Echolink-enabled conversation, whether it is on a repeater or through a computer, and forgetting to allow enough delay time when switching between transmit and receive and vice versa. Experienced users know that the Echolink system has some latency, which means that it takes longer than one might expect for data to travel across the Internet through the network of nodes and repeaters. When an inexperienced user keys up too quickly, it can result in confusion, repeater timeouts, and frustration for other users. Some of the other Echolink problems are not really confined to Echolink, because they are mistakes made by users, regardless of whether they are on Echolink or just a local repeater system. Among them are failure to identify properly with one's callsign, a basic mistake that very new users often make when they assume that their friends on the net already know them. Our training will continue to emphasize proper operating procedures, especially proper identification and how to listen effectively before transmitting. Of course newcomers to amateur radio will make some mistakes. We have all made mistakes, but we want to make the best of our experience by learning from the mistakes so that we don't make them over and over again, right? It is almost painful to hear an old-timer on the air making some of these same mistakes after many years of operation. Perhaps they simply never learned the correct procedures early on in their amateur radio careers. Our aim is to help all of our Handiham members become better operators, whether they have been on the air for one week or 50 years. Some of us have been licensed for decades, and we are continuing to learn new things about amateur radio and its ever-changing technology. The important thing to remember about any activity, but especially a communications technology activity like amateur radio, is that we have to keep our minds open to learning. A person who gets a license and learns how to get on the air during the first year but then never learns anything else and develops bad habits over the years really does not have that much experience, even if they have been licensed for 20 years. A wise old ham radio operator once told me, "Those guys don't have 20 years of experience -- they have one year of experience 20 times." _____ That old antenna bucket vertical antenna, ground mounted in back yard, with inverted plastic tub at base Well, okay, it isn't really a bucket. This picture from Dr. Dave Justis, KN0S, shows a vertical antenna with an inverted plastic tub at the base. The plastic tub serves as weather protection for tuning circuitry and the coaxial connection at the base of the antenna, which is ground mounted on a large lawn. There are plenty of trees in the picture, but no large ones really close to the antenna. Dr. Dave sent me the picture following the recent heavy rains on the United States Eastern Seaboard. He lives in Wicomico, Virginia, not far from the Atlantic Ocean. He writes, "Made it through the storm but had a few trees and limbs down -- and way too much rain for awhile!" Curiously enough, Dr. Dave was at an already-scheduled emergency training seminar when the storm struck. Tropical storm Ida brought heavy rains and flooding to parts of the United States East Coast. We are certainly happy to hear that Dr. Dave says that all of his antennas survived the wind and rain. Curiously enough, my first contact with Dave was when he was checking out the Butternut vertical antenna that Don Newcomb, W0DN, and I had just started to build way back in the mid-1970s. Dr. Dave is quite an antenna expert, so I know there is a sound reason for that protective plastic tub at the base of the antenna. While many commercial products for the antenna market are nominally designed to be weatherproof, there is no substitute for an extra level of protection. Amateur radio operators sometimes underestimate the power of water and thus trust these products, such as outdoor antenna tuners, to simply take care of themselves because they are rated for outdoor use. The problem is that water can be present for many days at a time, as it was in the case of this recent storm that passed through Dave's area. Furthermore, changes in temperature can result in different rates of expansion and contraction of the different parts of the device like an antenna tuner, which probably has both metal and plastic in its enclosure. Gaskets that were once perfect seals against the weather can loosen and allow moisture into the circuitry. When that happens, it is only a matter of time before there is a failure. A plastic bucket or storage container can be just the ticket to protect connections and remote antenna tuners that must be mounted outside in the weather. While they won't protect against humidity, they will keep rain and snow off of the components. A drain should always be provided unless the enclosure can be sealed completely, something that is pretty unlikely. Interestingly enough, I have found that there is less likelihood of antenna failure here in Minnesota during the winter, at least related to moisture. The reason is that it gets so cold that the water is all frozen, and it cannot penetrate or do damage until the Spring thaw. One notable exception is aluminum tubing in an antenna system, especially a vertical, that is telescoped in such a way that water can enter the antenna and run down on the inside of the aluminum tubing. If there is no way for water to drain out at the base, it can collect in the bottom-most tube of the antenna. When the temperature falls below freezing, that water will freeze and expand, splitting the aluminum tubing and ruining that section of the antenna. While commercial antenna manufacturers have figured this out and designed around it, those of us who build our own antennas should be aware of the problem and think about ways to keep water out of the antenna tubing. There is a new interest in multiband vertical antennas these days, and you can buy aluminum tubing to make your own. Just be aware that water is the enemy of your installation, and you have to make sure that it can drain away if it does get into any critical areas, and (better yet) antenna tuners and connections should be kept completely dry using Dr. Dave's "old antenna bucket" method. It's cheap, easy, and great insurance against water damage. _____ Camp Courage Map Camp Courage Map The Courage Center Handiham System is now located at Camp Courage. Our address is: Handiham System Camp Courage 8046 83rd St. NW Maple Lake, MN 55358 Mail sent to the Golden Valley address will still reach us. Please call for an appointment if you wish to visit. Our phone numbers are: 763-520-0512 - Main Office Extension, answered by Nancy Meydell. This number may also be reached via our toll-free number, which is 1-866-426-3442, if you are outside the Twin Cities calling area. If you are in the calling area or have free long distance with your own calling plan, we ask you to please call the 763-520-0512 number, as we have to pay extra for all of the calls that come in on the toll-free member line. If you like, you can contact us by email at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 763-520-0511 - Handiham Manager Patrick Tice, WA0TDA. Pat can answer your questions about technical topics and antennas. Pat also teaches the on line courses in Technician, General, and Extra, and can answer questions from our members who are enrolled in this courses. You may contact Pat by email at patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx How to get to Camp Courage: From St. Cloud via Interstate 94: Leave freeway at exit 178/Clearwater. Travel south toward Annandale on Highway 24 for nine miles. Turn left onto County Road 39 and follow for 1.5-2 miles. Turn right onto County Road 7 to gates to Camp on right. From the Twin Cities via Highway 55: Camp Courage is located one half mile west of the town of Maple Lake. A green Camp Courage sign will direct you north on County Road 7. Follow County Road 7 for 3.2 miles to gates to Camp on the left. Driving distances and times: 50 miles from downtown Minneapolis, or about 65 minutes. 65 miles from downtown St. Paul, or about 80 minutes. 25 miles from St. Cloud or about 30 minutes. _____ Elsewhere * American Printing House for the Blind Product: Turbo 6 Talking Battery Charger, found by Ken Silberman, KB3LLA: http://tinyurl.com/ykcrax6 _____ This week at Headquarters: Speaking of social networking, <http://www.handiham.org/node/476> we are on Twitter! <http://www.handiham.org/sites/default/files/images/ham_mobile.jpg> We are on Twitter! Look for us on Twitter by searching for "handiham". We invite you to follow us. Handiham web page posts are now "tweeted" automatically! · In Operating Skills: o Pat, WA0TDA, reads the December 2009 QST audio digest for our blind members. o Volunteer reader Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, reads the November "Doctor is in" column from QST for our blind members. o Volunteer reader Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the November Worldradio & CQ digests. o Login to the member section of the Handiham <http://handiham.org/user> website and find the magazine digests in the Library. o Volunteer George, N0SBU, has completed and mailed the 4-track cassette audio digest to our blind members. · Our Contact information is the same, but keep watching this space for changes: Email addresses will not change. Courage Center Handiham System 3915 Golden Valley Road Golden Valley, MN 55422 763-520-0512 (Nancy) 763-520-0511 (Pat) · Pat's phone number goes directly to voice mail, due to a problem with our forwarding system. Leave a message with the best time to return your call. · Our email address (for Nancy's office) is <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx · Pat can be reached by email any time at <mailto:wa0tda@xxxxxxxx> wa0tda@xxxxxxxx or <mailto:patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx · The equipment loan program is on hold right now due to limited staff hours. o The Handiham equipment program still welcomes donations of good ham radio equipment. o We plan to distribute donated equipment to our radio campers at the next Radio Camp session. o Handiham members who already have equipment out on loan may continue to borrow that equipment. · Minnesota Radio Camp dates for 2010, Camp Courage: Arrive Friday, May 21 Class days: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday VE Exam Day: Thursday (VE team still needed.) Depart Friday, May 28 · Camp Courage is west of Minneapolis. The address is 8046 83rd St NW, Maple Lake, MN. o The phone number of the Camp Courage office is (320) 963-3121. o 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. o Here is an interactive Google map showing Camp Courage: <http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=embed&hl=en&geocode=&q=camp+courage+ maple+lake+mn&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=41.496446,93.076172&ie=UTF8&hq=cam p+courage&hnear=Maple+Lake,+MN&ll=45.271066,-94.056286&spn=0.084565,0.145912 &z=12> View Google Map · VOLLI is now in service. It stands for VOLunteer Log In, and is a way for our Handiham volunteers to register and then enter their volunteer hours without having to fool around with paper records. We encourage volunteers to create a username and password, then submit their hours spent recording audio, doing club presentations for us, and so on. Volunteer hours are important, because United Way funding depends in part on volunteer hours. If you are a volunteer and need a link to VOLLI, please email me at wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx Our special thanks to my son Will, KC0LJL, who wrote the Java code for VOLLI. He is studying in Tokyo this semester and sends a big "hello" to our readers and listeners. · Volunteers, get your October hours in through VOLLI - I'll be checking them soon! You may also submit volunteer hours to Nancy at <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx · The Friday audio lectures return this week. There will be new lectures posted by early afternoon on Friday, and a notification will be sent by email. · The Remote Base at Courage North is in service. Please feel free to use this wonderful member resource. · Remote Base users who try the built-in IRB sound feature instead of SKYPE are encouraged to send us reports on how the audio worked. · 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 Evening Echolink Net Wednesday Evening EchoLink Net happy guy with headset Wednesday evenings the Handiham Echolink net will be on the air. Please join us and check in or simply listen in, as you see fit: When: Wednesday evenings at 19:30 hours Minnesota time (7:30 PM) GMT: Thursday morning at 01:30 Z. Where: 145.450 MHz N0BVE repeater (Minneapolis-St. Paul) Node 89680 (Echolink worldwide) IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector) WIRES system number 1427 Everyone is welcome. You do not need to be a member, and the net is relaxed, friendly, and informal. By the way, our Net Manager Howard, KE7KNN, reminds us that we need net control stations for the Wednesday evening net and for the Monday through Saturday morning net. If you are in the Twin Cities, all you need is a radio that can get on the 145.45 N0BVE repeater, and if you live outside the RF area, you can still be net control via Echolink, IRLP, or WIRES. _____ Reminder: Handiham renewals are now on a monthly schedule - Please renew or join, as we need you to keep our program strong! You will have several choices when you renew: · Join at the usual $10 annual dues level for one year. · Join for three years at $30. · Lifetime membership is $100. · If you can't afford the dues, request a sponsored membership for the year. · Donate an extra amount of your choice to help support our 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: <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 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. Free! Get the Handiham E-Letter by email every Wednesday, and stay up-to-date with ham radio news. · You may listen in audio to the E-Letter at www.handiham.org <http://www.handiham.org/> . Email us to subscribe: <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 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: <mailto:patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx · Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx · Pat, WA0TDA, Manager, patt@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. · By wa0tda at 11/18/2009 - 21:59 · Login <http://www.handiham.org/user/login?destination=comment/reply/610%2523commen t-form> to post comments · Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/610> version · Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/610> to friend _____ 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.