[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 21 August 2013

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2013 14:18:01 -0500

*Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 21
August 2013*

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Kenny Handiham
System <http://handiham.org/>. 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.

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*Welcome to Handiham World.*
Hey, Pat - Did you ever do something really stupid while practicing the art
and science of ham radio?

[image: Pat gets grabbed by huge (stuffed) alligator.]

Funny you should ask.

The fact that I can type this story out on a keyboard is due only to the
sheer luck of good timing.  In my early days as a young and clueless guy
in  my 20's, I had rented a house with a yard and put up a used tower to
support my 2-element Gotham quad antenna.  The antenna had been on a tower
at my parents' house, and I had managed to disassemble it and get it down
to the new location. As most of us know, when you have just started out on
your own you have a very tight budget, and at that time I felt pretty lucky
to be able to have a multiband transceiver and an antenna. At that stage of
life there is no alternative but to watch every penny. I'd built the radio,
a Heath HW-101, from a kit. The Gotham quad was just plain downright cheap,
made with the lightest, cheapest aluminum alloy, wooden dowels, and cheesy
plastic standoffs for the thin single-conductor aluminum wire elements. It
covered 10, 15, and 20 meters, though - three bands that I liked using
almost every day.  (This was pre-internet, of course.)

It was not practical to transport a tower, so I set about finding a used
one and settled on a well-used TV tower with a crank-up section.   Not only
would it be easy to mount the tower next to the house so I could stabilize
it without pouring a big concrete pad, but it would also allow me to mount
the antenna on the top with a TV rotor and do any tuning that might be
necessary while the tower was telescoped down and the antenna was reachable
from the roof of the house. The tower was pretty old, and it needed a new
steel cable.  Not having any money to spare, I replaced the old cable with
steel guy wire.  It worked, and the beam performed beautifully since the
house was on a small hill and it was a clear shot from the top of the tower
to lots of DX locations.

One day I decided to climb up on the roof for something or other - maybe to
tighten a guy wire or some other minor maintenance. That job completed
successfully, I climbed back down the tower and stepped off into the back
yard. It was exactly at that point - and I mean EXACTLY - that the steel
guy wire I'd used in the antenna crank-up snapped and the top section came
telescoping down through the outer base section like a guillotine that
would have sheared off my fingers and toes had I been on the tower only a
few seconds longer!

Where do you even start when you list all of the stupid things that led up
to that near-disaster? A well-worn used tower?  I should have known it was
never going to be safe for climbing. Even so, it should have been locked
with a steel bar through the supports so that it could not collapse if the
steel cable broke or the ratchet on the winch failed. The fact that I still
have fingers to type right now is due only to lucky timing.  Now, with over
four decades of ham radio behind me, I definitely pay more attention to

Let's face it - There are few leisure activities that offer the breadth and
scope of ham radio.  You can build your own equipment, design and install
your own antennas, communicate while driving, biking, flying, walking, or
boating, and serve your community as a public service communications
volunteer. You can operate from unusual and far-flung locations.  You can
be competitive or just make friends. It's a big tent.
Risk and Amateur Radio

But with that amazing galaxy of activities with ham radio there are also


   We are always working with electricity, which can injure or kill.

   Putting up antennas and supporting structures is inherently risky;
   falls, electrocution, injuries from power tools - all are possibilities
   when you are working with projects like these.

   Public service can be dangerous, too. As Rick Palm, K1CE, reminds us in
   the ARES E-Letter this week, there is a "Hams at Hazard" article in the
   September 2013 QST, showing a monument to amateur radio operators who died
   in service to their communities during public service communications.
   Weather spotters deploying to observation points during a weather emergency
   carries risk. Disaster scenes can serve up hazardous chemicals, dangerous
   fires and explosions, biohazards, and more.

   Less often considered as a ham radio hazard is distracted driving, but
   it is real and ever-present any time you set aside your main task - driving
   the car - for some other task that takes your eyes off the road or saps too
   much brain power so that you cannot react quickly to the world outside your
   vehicle. My old Elmer once admitted to me that when he got into an
   interesting exchange on a repeater while driving, he inevitably failed to
   watch his speed and had gotten several citations.  He decided on his own
   that he had to leave the microphone alone and concentrate on driving, but
   could use the radio when his wife took over as driver.  He made a choice
   that allowed him to still get on the air while staying safe. While most of
   us have no problem using a mobile radio, each of us does have to know our
   capabilities.  If you, as my Elmer did, find your mind wandering instead of
   concentrating on driving, then you should back off on mobile operating
   while you drive.  When I was learning to fly, my instructor told me that my
   first job was always to fly the plane.  The radio could wait.  Fly the
   plane!  That is good advice no matter what kind of vehicle you are
   piloting, whether on land, water, or in the air.

The last danger I want to address is really in a category of its own.  It
is actually related to all of the other hazards that could crop up in ham
radio and in any other activity in which there must be thoughtful attention
to safe practices.  Can you guess what it is?

Yes, complacency - getting so familiar and comfortable with doing something
that we tend to let our attention wander and our guard down when it comes
to following all the safety rules - That's one of the most dangerous states
of mind to be in when engaging in any activity that involves some level of
risk.  How many times have you been warned about checking for overhead
wires when putting up antennas?  It seems elementary, but when complacency
sets in, you can forget.  After all, you have put up many antennas in the
past, and you know how to do it, right?  And still we read about amateur
radio operators who get electrocuted because they didn't stick to the
rules.  It's easy to think to yourself that a quick trip up the tower is no
big deal, but it can turn into one if you slip or have a medical emergency
and you have no one spotting for you to call for help.  You may get so
comfortable and confident in your driving skills that you think nothing of
taking your eyes off the road to enter a repeater frequency and subaudible
tone into your radio - and that's exactly the prescription for a rear-end
collision with the vehicle in front of you.

One of the worst, most tragic cases of complacency I know about was what
happened to a colleague and friend who was our range officer when I was
doing police work. He was all about safety on the firing range, and I
always felt confident at target practice.  One day he was cleaning his
weapon at home when there was some distraction - a doorbell or phone call;
I don't remember which, but he got up to take care of it, and in that short
instant, because he was so familiar with firearms and used them every day,
he forgot about safety - and one of his twin toddlers picked up the gun and
shot the other one dead.  Some seasoned amateurs hefted an antenna into a
power line at a scout camp with fatal results.  Complacency kills - and
strikes when you least expect it, when you are feeling so comfortable with
what you are doing that you forget the rules.

For me ham radio has been an enjoyable part of both my play and working
lives.  But older is wiser, so I try harder to follow the rules.  That
doesn't mean I'll never slip up, but hopefully my mistakes will be minor
ones, caught early on by always following all of the safety rules, even if
it means taking a bit more time to complete a project or arranging for
someone to stop by to spot for me or help me out.

"Safety first" - It's not just a cute phrase.  You have to really think
about it.

 *Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator
Practical radio

[image: pliers and wire]
Is an uninterruptible power supply a worthy ham shack accessory?

Lots of amateur radio operators have discovered UPS's - uninterruptible
power supplies.  These battery-protected accessories are able to provide a
few minutes of AC power to the ham shack computer in the event of a power
outage. That is the function for which they are designed, but can they
serve to protect other devices?

That depends.  The typical UPS will not like protecting a 100 watt
transceiver and will likely suffer from premature battery failure well
before its projected end of life.  Usually a UPS will include a bank of AC
outlets that are battery-protected and a second bank of outlets that are
only surge-protected but not backup battery protected.  You should not plug
your rig's power supply into the battery backup outlets, but the surge
protected outlets may handle it okay.  Check the instructions with the UPS
to be sure.  The battery protected outlets are for computers and
accessories.  You have to pay attention to how many devices you plug into
these outlets and what their wattage rating is. Some UPS manufacturers say
you will void the warranty by plugging power strips into them, presumably
because it becomes much easier to overload the UPS. My suggestion is to use
several UPS devices if you have lots of accessories that need protection.

In my ham shack there are two tower-style computers and three LCD monitors.
There is also a multifunction scanner/copier/printer and a powered USB hub.
Considering that equipment, there is already a need for at least two UPS
units.  One choice I made was to not backup protect the multifunction
printer since it is not used every day and it is not a vital accessory.  On
the other hand, we have a VoIP phone system and a home computer network
with a wireless router and a LAN switch.  The internet is vital, and is
supplied through a cable modem.  I added those accessories - all with
relatively low power draw - to the backup protected sides of the UPS units,
distributing the load.

My strategy is to provide a system of battery protected backup for the
computers, so that I can save my work and shut down in an orderly manner in
the event of a power outage.  For momentary outages, the system will bridge
them nicely and I can avoid an interruption in my work. This strategy also
allows for 15 to 20 minutes of internet and phone service in a protracted
outage.  This will be sufficient to check the power company's outage map
and to report the outage through their automated phone system.

If you want to be able to operate your transceivers off the grid, you can
use dedicated batteries with much more capacity for that purpose.  The
typical UPS will not handle transceivers.

Finally, the day will come when the UPS will stop working.  Although it is
tempting to just recycle it and buy a new one, the fix is usually to
replace the battery.  Replacements are available from local outlets or from
vendors like Amazon.com. Unplug everything from the UPS, disconnect it from
the power mains, and remove the battery by opening the cover (usually on
the bottom and held in place by one small locking screw.)  The battery will
have spade terminals in most cases, so simply disconnect the positive and
negative spade connectors and remove the battery by lifting it out.  Be
careful not to short the terminals, even though the battery is probably
dead.  Check with a voltmeter to see for sure. If the UPS has been plugged
in up to the time you started working on it, then anything less than 12 VDC
means the battery is probably not capable of taking a charge.  Get the
battery type off the side of the old one and find a replacement.  Reverse
the procedure to install the replacement.

You'll find that with only a little care and feeding, you ham shack UPS
will give you great service!  By the way, don't miss the "Two Handy Mods
for Your UPS" article by Phil Karras, KE3FL, on page 32 of the September
2013 QST.
Bulletin Board Looking for Baofeng radio tips?

One of our members wrote and said, "I also had to talk a friend through
storing a memory on new UV-5R. Pointed him to www.miklor.com/uv5r - guess
people don't like to read manuals."

   - This is a great tip - the www.miklor.com website is a good place to
   find out lots of information about Baofeng radios and includes
   troubleshooting information for beginners, too.

Handiham Club News

We have added a couple of new moderators to the Radio Club mailing list
over the past week.  This will help to process posts to the list more
quickly.  All posts to the list are moderated to eliminate spam.

Your Handiham Radio Club officers are:

   - President: Lucinda Moody, AB8WF.
   - Vice-president Linda Reeder, N7HVF.
   - Secretary Mike Runholt,  KC0YFV.
   - Matt Arthur, KA0PQW, continues to serve as Net Manager.

Our thanks to all who serve and help our club be an asset to Amateur Radio
and a resource for its members.

Handiham Nets are on on the air daily.

If there is no net control station during any scheduled net time, just go
right ahead and start a round table discussion.

[image: TMV71A transceiver]

*We are scheduled to be on the air daily at 11:00 USA Central Time, plus
Wednesday & Thursday evenings at 19:00 USA Central Time.  *A big THANK YOU
to all of our net control stations!  What will Doug, N6NFF, come up with
for his trivia question tonight?  I guess we'll just have to tune in and
listen!  Tune in and see how you do with the question this week, or just
check in to say hello.  I got last week's question wrong, so I hope to do
better this week.

*We maintain our nets at 11:00 hours daily relative to Minnesota time.
Since the nets remain true to Minnesota time, the difference between
Minnesota time and GMT is -5 hours.  The net is on the air at 16:00 hours
GMT.  *

*The official and most current net news may be found at:
http://www.handiham.org/nets *
*A dip in the pool*

[image: Pat shows off his new Plantronics USB headset!]

It's time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the pool - the Amateur
Radio question pool, that is!

*Let's go to the Extra Class pool and examine a question about safety:*

E7D16 asks, "When several electrolytic filter capacitors are connected in
series to increase the operating voltage of a power supply filter circuit,
why should resistors be connected across each capacitor?"

Possible answers are:

A. To equalize, as much as possible, the voltage drop across each capacitor

B. To provide a safety bleeder to discharge the capacitors when the supply
is off

C. To provide a minimum load current to reduce voltage excursions at light

D. All of these choices are correct

Answer D, all of these, is the correct choice.  For safety purposes,
though, I'll give you partial credit if you knew that answer B, "provide a
safety bleeder to discharge the capacitors when the supply is off " is
certainly true.  High voltage capacitors can store lethal voltages and if
you complete a circuit with your body between the capacitor's terminals you
can experience a serious, painful, and perhaps fatal shock! When working as
an engineer at a commercial broadcast station, I would carefully follow
procedure and use a shorting stick affixed to the transmitter cabinet to
discharge the capacitors before doing any work on the transmitter
electronics.  Better safe than sorry, because even though the transmitter
did have bleeder resistors, good practice dictates that you do not trust
them, since any component can fail.  Safety first - don't get complacent!

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.

* This week @ HQ

[image: Cartoon robot with pencil]

Important:  Take our on line survey <http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QZX6BN6>,
released today.

Help us to make the Handiham program as good as it can be.  Take a short
survey to let us know what you think.  Follow the link below:

   - http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QZX6BN6

[image: W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North.]

Both Handiham Remote Base internet stations W0ZSW and W0EQO are on
line. Outages:
We are not expecting any outages.  Outages are reported on

*Band conditions:* As of this writing, conditions on HF are poor.  Check
http://handiham.org/remotebase/station-status/ for a current HF conditions
report from G4ILO.

*Operating tip: * Find out how to tell if the remote base station is
already in use if you are using JAWS:

   - Listen to the tutorial:
   - Read the tutorial in accessible HTML:




[image: Pat holding up NLS digital cartridge and mailer]
Don't care to download Handiham materials via computer? This digital
cartridge and mailer can bring you Handiham audio digests each month, plus
we have room to put the audio lecture series or equipment tutorials on
them, too!


   - If you have trouble logging in, please let us know.
   - All Daisy materials are in zip file format, so you simply download the
   zip file you need and unzip it so the Daisy book folder can be accessed or
   moved to your NLS or other Daisy player.
   - Tip: When in the Daisy directory, it is easy to find the latest books
   by sorting the files by date. Be sure the latest date is at the top. The
   link to sort is called "Last Modified".
   - You can also find what is on a web page by using CONTROL-F.  This
   brings up a search box and you can type a key word in, such as "July".  You
   may find more than one July, including 2012, but you will eventually come
   across what we have posted for July 2013.

   - CQ for July is now available for our blind members in the DAISY
   - Worldradio and QST Daisy for August are ready.
   - Our thanks to Bob, N1BLF, Jim, KJ3P, and Ken, W9MJY, for reading this
   month.  Look for these DAISY materials in the members section.

*Digital mailers are important: *If you do mail a digital cartridge to us,
please be sure that it is an approved free matter mailer. Otherwise it will
quickly cost us several dollars to package and mail out, which is more than
the cost of the mailer in the first place. We don't have a stock of
cartridges or mailers and not including a mailer will result in a long
delay getting your request back out to you.

*DAISY audio digests are available for our blind members who do not have
computers*, playable in your Library of Congress digital player.  Handiham
members who use these players and who would prefer to receive a copy of the
monthly audio digests on the special Library of Congress digital cartridge
should send a blank cartridge to us in a cartridge mailer (no envelopes,
please), so that we can place the files on it and return it to you via free
matter postal mail.  Your call sign should be on both the cartridge and the
mailer so that we can make sure we know who it's from. Blank cartridges and
mailers are available from APH, the American Printing House for the Blind,
Inc. <http://www.aph.org/>

Digital Talking Book Cartridge Catalog Number: 1-02610-00, Price: $12.00

Digital Talking Book Cartridge Mailer Catalog Number: 1-02611-00, Price:

Order Toll-Free: (800) 223-1839.

The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital

Get it all on line as an alternative:  Visit the DAISY section on the
Handiham website after logging in.

Stay in touch

[image: Cartoon robot with cordless phone]

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 at
763-520-0512.  If you need to use the toll-free number, call

Handiham Program Coordinator Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, may be reached at
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or by phone at 763-520-0511.

Mornings Monday through Thursday are the best time to contact us.

The Courage Kenny Handiham Program 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.

Call 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 Handiham Weekly E-Letter in MP3
format <http://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3>
Email us to subscribe:

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Kenny Handihams!
Coordinator, Courage Kenny Handiham Program
Reach me by email at:

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

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!

[image: ARRL diamond-shaped logo]

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
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc.
Include your old email address and your new address.


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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 21 August 2013 - Patrick Tice