[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 22 September 2010

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2010 14:39:47 -0500

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham
System. Our contact information is at the end, or simply email
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for changes in subscriptions or to comment. 

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Welcome to Handiham World!  

Pat, WA0TDA, on 1.902 MHz with IC-706

Happy Autumn!

Now that autumn has returned and the equinox is upon us, conditions on the
amateur radio bands begin to favor some of the longer wavelength parts of
the HF spectrum like 160, 80, and 40 m. True, there is still a great deal of
interference from thunderstorms that pop up in the warmer climates, but the
interference isn't nearly so bad as it had been during the height of summer.
The longer nights also mean less ionospheric D-layer absorption on those
bands, which translates into more opportunities for long-distance contacts.
In short, from this point forward we will see rapidly changing conditions on
some of the bands where regional HF nets typically meet on a daily basis.
This, as you might expect, can lead to potential interference as skywave
propagation begins to move out from a few hundred miles to over 1000!

With more and more of our Handiham members earning their General Class
tickets and becoming more involved with HF operation, we now have an
opportunity to learn how the HF bands change from season to season. As
always, we recommend doing plenty of tuning around and listening on the
various bands to learn when there are band openings and how the more
experienced operators are taking advantage of them.

One of my favorite bands has always been the 75 m band, and I have made
plenty of random contacts but also enjoy checking into my favorite regional
net, PICONET, on 3.925 MHz Monday through Saturday. Interestingly enough,
this net has long been associated with Handihams -- way longer then I have
been with the Handiham program. Propagation on 3.925 MHz during the 9 AM to
11 AM central time "morning net" is generally the best, because during the
previous overnight hours thunderstorms have quieted down and the bands are
generally less noisy. As the day wears on, D-layer absorption increases and
signal levels drop. There is also an afternoon session, from 4 PM to 5 PM,
in the summer. In the winter, the PICONET expands its afternoon session to 3
PM to 5 PM, since conditions for sky wave propagation are better. But this
can pose a problem: Skywave is so good that a New York net on the same
frequency can now be heard in the Upper Midwest. No doubt the New York
stations are also hearing us. Generally this overlap of nets isn't a
problem, but sky wave can work against you when the band "goes long" and
stations from over 1000 miles away begin to sound as loud as the stations a
hundred miles away. This situation calls for flexibility on the parts of net
participants. If it is possible to use a directional antenna, a rarity on 75
m, interference can be mitigated by turning the antenna to favor only the
stations in your area. Switching between wire antennas that favor particular
directions might also help, as well as using a wire antenna instead of a
vertical antenna. The wire antenna will most likely have a higher angle of
radiation that will favor closer stations, while the vertical will have a
lower angle of radiation that will favor the stations over 1000 miles away.
Flexibility on the part of the net control stations is also called for. If
interference is a problem, a net control station should consider cutting the
net a little short or changing frequency just a bit. Of course this is not
always easy when you have a net running and if you, as the net control
station, want to change frequency everyone will have to understand the plan
and change with you. It can be a challenging job for a net control station
to herd everyone to another nearby frequency without having some strays!

160 m is especially useful over the winter months. While there are not as
many structured nets on that band, you can run into "regulars" -- stations
that often get together on the same frequency about the same time every
evening. In the summer 160 m is good for propagation in a regional area
during the nighttime hours. In the winter, like the 75 m band, 160 m
lengthens out and long-distance contacts are possible. If you are planning
to try to earn a certificate like Worked All States on 160 m, winter
conditions are your friend. Most evenings at 8 PM Central Time there is an
informal get-together on 1.902 MHz. Most net  participants are members of
the Handiham affiliated Stillwater Amateur Radio Association.

40 m is a good band summer and winter and during sunspot lows and sunspot
highs. It benefits by reduced thunderstorm interference during the winter
months. You can work DX on the 40 m band, and an advantage it has over 160 m
and 75 m is that a wire antenna for 40 m will be able to fit into most
suburban lots. Furthermore, a vertical antenna for 40 m can be quite
efficient and requires less inductive reactance to make it tune, as compared
to a 75 or 160 m vertical. As always, cutting ground losses through an
extensive radial system will yield good results.

Of course the sunspot cycle is on the way up and we can expect more DX to
appear on 14 MHz and higher frequencies, but please don't forget about 160
through 40 m. With winter conditions approaching here in the northern
hemisphere, opportunities for fun on these bands are not to be missed!

I hope to hear you on the air soon.


Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager  <mailto:wa0tda@xxxxxxxx> 


DX windows

Want to work some DX? Wondering where to operate a particular mode in a
band? You might want to check out this easy to use graphics-free website:


Be sure to pay attention to the disclaimers, because preferred frequencies
for DX change from region to region, and your own regulatory agency's rules


First  ARDF World Championship 2010 for the Blind, Croatia

Matt, KA0PQW, with a directional antenna at radio camp during an ARDF

ARDF is "Amateur Radio Direction Finding" and is also known as "hidden
transmitter hunting" and "fox hunting", depending on regional preferences.
ARDF is probably the closest to an official name for this activity, so
officially-sponsored events will generally have ARDF in the title. This past
week I got an e-mail from Gradimir Kragic, E73KG, representing Bosnia and
Herzegovina in the First ARDF World Championship 2010 for the Blind, held in
Croatia. There were several different categories, but all participants were
blind. The frequency used was on 80 meters, definitely a departure from the
2 m frequencies we are used to using at Handiham transmitter hunts. Looking
through the list, which I have posted on the Handiham website in searchable
PDF at http://handiham.org/files/Blind_ADRF.pdf, I see that our old friend
at Handiham California Radio Camp, Dennis Schwendtner, WB6OBB, was a
participant. Dennis had helped us several times with ARDF activities at Camp
Joan Mier in Ventura County during the Radio Camp sessions. Thanks to
Gradimir for sharing this ARDF news with us, and congratulations to all who
organized and participated in this first ARDF World Championship for the
Blind.  We hope there are many more to come!


Spaceweather News: Jupiter and radar echo - amateur radio ops, listen up! 

From our friends at Spaceweather.com:

Space Weather News for Sept. 20, 2010 reported that on Sept. 20-21 Earth and
Jupiter converged for their closest encounter in decades. The giant planet
will soar across the sky at midnight, outshining everything except the Moon
itself. Jupiter will remain close to Earth for weeks to come.

A second item of interest to radio amateurs is also listed in the same

"SPACE STATION RADAR ECHO: Over the weekend, the International Space Station
flew through the radar beam of the US Air Force Space Surveillance System in
Texas. The echo was strong enough to be heard by amateur radio operators
across the southern USA. A sample echo is highlighted on today's edition of:



Blackboard with A-B-C

We were pleased to hear that the "education season" for ham radio is
starting again with the end of summer. Handiham Radio Club President Ken
Silberman, KB3LLA, taught part of a course on operating this week on the
subject of "radio procedures training". Covered in the evening session were:

a.    Why we have procedures

b.    Calling and answering other stations

c.    Phonetic alphabet, numbers, and punctuation

d.    Controlled and uncontrolled nets

ARRL Diamond logo

At my own local club we are starting the autumn season with a General Class
course that is free and open to the public. I will be teaching the rules &
regs part, and am pleased to do so. Somewhat related to this educational
story is the essay by ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, in the October QST.
The theme of the essay is to "say yes" when you are asked to teach a class
or do something else for amateur radio. Don't miss Kay's thoughts on this
important topic when you read QST for October. 

Kay was following up on and further developing the theme of her speech at
Dayton Hamvention last May. A related story explaining the event is on the
ARRL website:





Remote base progress report: 22 September 2010 

Kenwood TS-570

At least one of our members has inquired about when frequency speech readout
will be available on the W0ZSW remote base. This is certainly a fair
question, since we are using a radio, the Kenwood TS-570, that is not only
capable of synthesized speech frequency readout but also is equipped with
the necessary VS3 speech module. What we have discovered is that the TS-570,
a temporary radio in this position, is not supported through the W4MQ remote
base interface software for the function of synthesized speech. We are in
the process of planning for a completely new radio, a Kenwood TS-480 HX,
which will be equipped with the new VGS1 speech module for better
compatibility with the remote base software. The existing W0EQO remote base
station at Courage North already uses a TS-480 SAT, the 100 W model equipped
with speech, and the blind accessibility has been excellent. Although we
briefly considered the new Kenwood TS-590, which is scheduled to be
available in October, Lyle, K0LR, and I decided that to minimize technical
support issues we should try to standardize the stations and use the TS-480
for both installations. Introducing a brand-new radio model would be fun,
and that the TS-590 supports a direct USB cable link between the radio and
the control computer, but standardization to the TS-480 would mean easier
maintenance and technical support in the long run.


Earlier this week I contacted our vendor to check on availability of the
various pieces of equipment that we will need. I expect to be able to place
the order for new equipment sometime in October. 


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


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. 

Finally, I got a report from Tom Fogarty, KB0FWQ, that one of the trees near
the W0EQO remote base antenna at Courage North seems to be dying.  This will
likely mean that we will take that station out of service for a period of
time when it is necessary to remove the dead tree, in order to make sure
that the antenna does not get in the way. I will be looking along the length
of the W0ZSW antenna system on Friday for similar problems. 


This week @ HQ

*       Nancy is on vacation this week. Call Pat at 763-520-0511 or email me
at patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx instead. Note, however, that I can't do anything
with membership dues or some of those other Nancy-specific office duties. 
*       A brief website outage at handiham.org was traced to excessive CPU
cycles on the host machine. Thanks to Phil, K9HI, and AN Hosting for helping
us to get this resolved. One change, at least for now, is that the search
field has been removed on the main public page. 
*       I plan to visit the remote base at W0ZSW on Friday. It will be a
routine maintenance check. Severe storms are forecast for Thursday, and this
will allow me a chance to inspect everything post-storm. 
*       Audio in production: The October magazine audio digest for our blind
members is in production. Check the audio pages in the member section of the
website for the latest. All September audio is up on the site for the use of
our blind members. 
*       A big thank you to our net control stations  for "saying yes"!  

Tonight is net night.  The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is at 19:30 United
States Central Daylight time, which translates to +5 hours, or 00:30 GMT
Thursday morning during North American Daylight Time. In the winter, the GMT
schedule is +6 hours. Connect from any Internet-enabled computer in the
world, and come out on Twin Cities repeater N0BVE on 145.450.  If there is
no designated Net Control, there will be a simple roundtable net. 

EchoLink nodes:

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

Other ways to connect:

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)
WIRES system number 1427

*       Stay in touch! Be sure to send Nancy your 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


Supporting Handihams - Year-end is a critical time. 

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&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

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

.         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:

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!


Manager, Courage Handiham System

Reach me by email at: 

Nancy, Handiham Secretary: 

Radio Camp email: 


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.



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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 22 September 2010 - Patrick Tice