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> Subscribe in iTunes RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software: http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham _____ 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. 73, Patrick Tice, WA0TDA Handiham Manager <mailto:wa0tda@xxxxxxxx> 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: http://www.bandplans.com/ 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 apply! _____ First ARDF World Championship 2010 for the Blind, Croatia Matt, KA0PQW, with a directional antenna at radio camp during an ARDF exercise. 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 report: "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: <http://spaceweather.com> http://spaceweather.com _____ Education 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: <http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-s-annual-donor-reception-welcomes-record-crow d> http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-s-annual-donor-reception-welcomes-record-crowd _____ 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 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. 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 us. _____ 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 <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 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 _____ 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.