This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham System. Our contact information is at the end, or simply email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for changes in subscriptions or to comment. You can listen to this news online: MP3 audio stream: http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u Download the 40 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player: http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3 Get this podcast in iTunes: <http://www.itunes.com/podcast?id=372422406> Description: Subscribe in iTunes RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software: http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham _____ Welcome to Handiham World! Squawk! Polly want a cracker! Description: Cartoon parrot on tree branch, holding microphone. That's what a parrot says, at least in the cartoons, right? Parrots are great imitators when it comes to hearing something and quickly learning to repeat it. That's why we say someone is "parroting" when they simply repeat what they have heard. Believe me, if someone is accused of parroting when they are speaking, it is not a compliment. It means that the speaker is repeating what was heard without really thinking about what they are saying. I hear plenty of parroting on the air. My pet peeve is one I heard again this week: "Of course EchoLink isn't real ham radio." Excuse me? Do the people who keep repeating this over and over again like parrots really know what they are saying? Have they thought it through? I submit that they haven't, and would like to back up the bus a bit here and ask them to answer these simple questions: . Is an amateur radio license required for the legal use of EchoLink? . Could you get into trouble because you violated FCC rules when using EchoLink? . Does a voice transmission on EchoLink use the public airwaves? Yes, yes, and yes. Oh, sure, it is possible to have a computer to computer conversation on EchoLink, but it can quickly segue into an on the air conversation when another station joins on a connected repeater or simplex node. But those are the easy questions. Now, here's a hard one that I want to ask the "EchoLink isn't real ham radio" parrots: . Why isn't EchoLink "real" ham radio? Take your time, EchoLink detractors. Think about it. I'm pretty sure there isn't a really simple answer to parrot back to THAT one. If the answer is that you don't actually go on the air with EchoLink, well, that's not true. You can, and do. If it's because a computer is involved, does that mean that SSTV and RTTY are not real radio? Those modes use computers as integral parts of the station. If it's because EchoLink doesn't fit a narrow, preconceived notion of what constitutes ham radio, well, THAT I would believe. Which brings me to the next question, also not an easy one: . So what IS "real" ham radio? This is not easy to answer. If you say that it is only about sitting in front of an HF radio connected to a beam antenna and working DX without using a computer or the Internet, you are going to get objections from operators who control their radios with Ham Radio Deluxe and who check that application's built-in DX spotting feature. If you try to limit real ham radio to a particular mode, you will certainly hear from others who have enjoyed radio for years and who never used that mode. Anyone who operates a radio at a distant location by the use of an Internet remote base control point would also beg to differ. The way I look at it, ham radio is like a big tent where there is room for lots of different interests and ways to have fun. In fact, I would suggest that even builders and experimenters who prefer designing and building their own gear are "real" radio amateurs even if they seldom get on the air. There is really no point in telling someone else who enjoys a different activity that what they like doing is somehow less valid or real than what someone else does. That's why I try really, really hard to think about what I say before I say it. Remember, once it goes out over the air, it is impossible to keep others from hearing it! Besides, thinking before you speak could actually make you seem pretty wise. I think I'll leave the mindless repetition to the parrots and just get on the air and encourage others to enjoy ham radio in its many different facets. Get on, have fun. Patrick Tice, WA0TDA Handiham System Manager <mailto:wa0tda@xxxxxxxx> wa0tda@xxxxxxxx _____ Skype study hall Last week we mentioned that we have an ongoing need for some kind of forum in which technical assistance or study assistance can be offered to our members. One idea that crossed my mind was to run a Skype conference with up to 10 participants. This would allow a number of people to discuss some topic of interest in a small group setting in a more private forum than one could find on EchoLink, for example. I have completed a page in the members only section of the Handiham website to guide users. It is found by going to the member section, then the "Audio this week" link, and then the "Handiham Skype Conference" link. _____ Running out of entertaining club projects? Description: Small tools and wire Did you drive your mom nuts when you were a kid and the weather outside was rotten and you were bored? "MOM, there's NOTHING to do." Yeah, me too. It might have been a rainy day or maybe the snow was piling up outside but it was too windy or cold to actually go out to play in it. Good old Mom could always think of something to distract us brats. Games and projects were high on her list. Well, one great idea that my local ham radio club is trying this week is a group activity where participants diagnose malfunctioning amateur radio gear. On the "test bench" (which will really just be a table in the public library meeting room) will be not one, but two - TWO - malfunctioning manual antenna tuners. There will be a few small hand tools and test instruments available to help diagnose and (hopefully) repair the two "patients". This kind of activity would really be fun at Radio Camp this summer, wouldn't it? I would love to get this kind of activity set up in a small group environment so that we could put our heads together and try to figure out some basic fixes for radios or accessories. Meanwhile, a great big "way to go" to the Stillwater, Minnesota Amateur Radio Association for coming up with this mid-winter project to keep us kiddies from being bored! More at the SARA website: <http://www.radioham.org> www.radioham.org _____ Letters: I send my Leo birthday QSL, Free software alert, and a lost HT finds its way home. Description: WA0TDA QSL card for W0GFQ, Leo - happy birthday wish Pat, WA0TDA, says: Here is my QSL card that is on the way to Leo, W0GFQ. What is it all about? Here's the original letter from... Bob, N0UF, who writes: Hi Everybody, On Feb 24th QCWA Chapter 154 in West Palm Springs is celebrating Leo Meyerson's 100th birthday. For those who don't remember, Leo owned and operated World Radio Laboratories in Council Bluffs, IA for many years. So here's the plan: take a QSL card, write 'Happy 100th Birthday Leo' on it and send it to: Leo Meyerson, W0GFQ 19 Park Lane Rancho Mirage, CA 92270 Gene Pentecost, President of Chapter 154 will make sure they get to the party so everyone who attends can enjoy them. One last thing, tell every ham you know to do the same thing, QCWA member or not. Spread the word, at every radio club meeting you attend, at every net you check into. I want Leo to get hundreds, maybe even thousands of cards. Thanks & 73, Bob Roske, N0UF President QCWA Lyle, K0LR, writes: Handiham member WA0CAF told me about this site: <http://tinyurl.com/free-security> http://tinyurl.com/free-security Editor's note: I checked the link and it points to a link page for free computer security software from all sorts of manufacturers. The site is "Gizmo's Freeware". Dick, WA0CAF, also sent me a link to the NVDA website, which is trying to raise some money to keep that free open source screenreader going. Find it at: <http://www.nvda-project.org/blog/NVDANeedsYou> www.nvda-project.org/blog/NVDANeedsYou Bob, W8ULM, writes: Having my call letters show up on the turn-on screen of my HT may have allowed me to get it back. About three weeks ago I lost my Kenwood TH-F6A HT while getting in to a pickup truck near the radio station where I work. I wasn't initially sure where it had been lost on a particularly busy day that involved several trips and stops within 15 miles of my home. I checked with local pawn shops and police lost and found folks, but no one had turned in anything looking like it. Today a local police officer stopped by with my Kenwood in hand. He said it had been found by a pedestrian a couple days ago. They couldn't find any identifying markings on it, but when they turned it on, my call W8ULM showed up on the screen. Since Ulm is my last name, they figured it might be mine. Amazingly, though it appears the Kenwood was outside in the snow for about two weeks, it is none the worse for wear and powered up and worked immediately. I also didn't have channel ID tags on the various police and security channels I have in the rig, which may have kept someone from thinking it might have value to them. Kenwood does make one heck of an HT and if I ever lose this one for good, I'll be getting another one, making sure to put my call letters on the screen again. Bob Ulm, W8ULM _____ Seen on the radio club reflector: Question: Are there any shop and swap nets that anyone knows of? (This question applies to 75 m in the Upper Midwest.) Answered by George, N0SBU: The Traders net on Sunday is at 08:30 CST on 3.908 MHz. There is a Shriners net just before the Traders net. _____ Audacity Description: Audacity screenshot showing audio. Years ago, when I first started using a computer to record audio, I found a great, easy to use, and reasonably-priced software program to use as my recording software. That company eventually sold out to someone else, and the software finally got out of date. I decided to look at open source software, and found Audacity. Audacity is a free, open-source audio recording program that runs on several different platforms. I use Windows, so I downloaded and installed the Windows version. As I said, this was years ago, and I've been delighted with Audacity ever since. In fact, I use it several times each week to record our podcasts and audio lectures, as well as the magazine digest. One question I have gotten from time to time is, "Will Audacity work for a blind user?" The answer is yes, and there is a special website for blind users. You can find a "Wiki" for blind Audacity users at: <http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Audacity_for_blind_users> http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Audacity_for_blind_users If you are looking for the software itself, you will want to visit the main Audacity page on Sourceforge.net: <http://audacity.sourceforge.net/> http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems, according to the website, which means that it is probably the most versatile cross-platform recording software that exists. _____ A dip in the pool Description: circuit board Today's dip into the question pool is not a question you will be asked on any of the exams. It is this: What is the current schedule for each of the three question pools to be valid? Whoa! I'll bet you weren't expecting that, were you? Do you know when each pool expires, and especially which one expires this summer? Here are the answers: Technician class (Element 2) Pool is effective July 1, 2010 and is valid until June 30, 2014. General class (Element 3) Pool is effective July 1, 2007 and is valid until June 30, 2011. (That means this pool will be replaced with a new one on July 1, 2011.) Extra class (Element 4) Pool is effective July 1, 2008 and is valid until June 30, 2012. _____ Remote base progress report: 2 February 2011 Description: Kenwood TS-570 Both stations are functional. Report problems to wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx Would you like to try the station right now? If you would like to connect to the station via EchoLink to listen to the radio, you can search for W0ZSW-L, node 524906, and connect. Entering a frequency and pressing the enter key will allow you to change the radio's receive frequency from the EchoLink text box. Enter U, L, or A for Upper sideband, Lower sideband, or AM, respectively. One thing to remember is that EchoLink control only works on receive, not transmit, and it is only available if there is no control operator logged in to the W4MQ remote base software. Don't forget about our station at Courage North, in far northern Minnesota's lake country. If you would like to connect to the station via EchoLink to listen to the radio, you can search for W0EQO-L, node 261171, and connect. Just as with the other station, entering a frequency and pressing the enter key will allow you to change the radio's receive frequency from the EchoLink text box. Enter U, L, or A for Upper sideband, Lower sideband, or AM, respectively. One thing to remember is that EchoLink control only works on receive, not transmit, and it is only available if there is no control operator logged in to the W4MQ remote base software. _____ This week @ HQ * Radio Camp will be from Monday 8 August to Saturday 13 August, 2011. * QST & Worldradio digest audio for February 2011 is available to our blind members. * A new Technician lecture on interference will be ready on Friday. * George, N0SBU, is working on the February digest. . Our nets have really been running well! I have to complement our net volunteers for doing such a great job, and our net participants for joining us on the air often and showing such good support for our on the air activities. A special thanks to pinch-hitters who have stepped in when the regular scheduled NCS could not make it. . Tonight is EchoLink net night. The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is at 19:30 United States Central time, which translates to +6 hours, or 01:30 GMT Thursday morning. o EchoLink nodes: * KA0PQW-R, node 267582 * N0BVE-R, node 89680 * HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.) o Other ways to connect: * IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector) WIRES system number 1427 * We need an Echolink, IRLP, or WIRES node in Rochester, MN so that Sister Alverna, WA0SGJ, can continue to check into the Handiham net. There is no one to take on this project at the moment. * Stay in touch! Be sure to send Nancy your changes of address, phone number changes, or email address changes so that we can continue to stay in touch with you. You may either email Nancy at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or call her toll-free at 1-866-426-3442. Mornings are the best time to contact us. _____ Supporting Handihams - 2011. Description: graphic showing figure using wheelchair holding hand of standing figure Now you can support the Handiham program by donating on line using Courage Center's secure website. It is easy, but one thing to remember is that you need to use the pull-down menu to designate your gift to the Handiham program. . Step one: Follow this link to the secure Courage Center Website: https://couragecenter.us/SSLPage.aspx?pid=294 <https://couragecenter.us/SSLPage.aspx?pid=294&srcid=344> &srcid=344 . Step two: Fill out the form, being careful to use the pull-down Designation menu to select "Handi-Hams". . Step three: Submit the form to complete your donation. If the gift is a tribute to someone, don't forget to fill out the tribute information. This would be a gift in memory of a silent key, for example. We really appreciate your help. As you know, we have cut expenses this year due to the difficult economic conditions. We are working hard to make sure that we are delivering the most services to our members for the money - and we plan to continue doing just that in 2011. _____ Thank you from the Members, Volunteers, and Staff of the Handiham System Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Handiham Membership Dues Reminder: Handiham renewals are on a monthly schedule - Please renew or join, as we need you to keep our program strong! You will have several choices when you renew: . Join at the usual $10 annual dues level for one year. Your renewal date is the anniversary of your last renewal, so your membership extends for one year. . Join for three years at $30. . Lifetime membership is $100. . If you can't afford the dues, request a sponsored membership for the year. . Donate an extra amount of your choice to help support our activities. . Discontinue your membership. Please return your renewal form as soon as possible. Your support is critical! Please help. The Courage Handiham System depends on the support of people like you, who want to share the fun and friendship of ham radio with others. Please help us provide services to people with disabilities. We would really appreciate it if you would remember us in your estate plans. If you need a planning kit, please call. If you are wondering whether a gift of stock can be given to Handihams, the answer is yes! Please call Walt Seibert at 763-520-0532 or email him at walt.seibert@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Ask for a free DVD about the Handiham System. It's perfect for your club program, too! The video tells your club about how we got started, the Radio Camps, and working with hams who have disabilities. Call 1-866-426-3442 toll-free.1-866-426-3442 toll-free -- Help us get new hams on the air. Get the Handiham E-Letter by email every Wednesday, and stay up-to-date with ham radio news. You may listen in audio to the E-Letter at www.handiham.org <http://www.handiham.org/> . Email us to subscribe: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at www.handiham.org <http://www.handiham.org/> : . Beginner . General . Extra . Operating Skills That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System! Pat, WA0TDA Manager, Courage Handiham System Reach me by email at: patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx _____ Description: ARRL Diamond logo ARRL is the premier organization supporting amateur radio worldwide. Please contact Handihams for help joining the ARRL. We will be happy to help you fill out the paperwork! The weekly e-letter is a compilation of software tips, operating information, and Handiham news. It is published on Wednesdays, and is available to everyone free of charge. Please email wa0tda@xxxxxxxx for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new address.