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! Description: W0ZSW remote station set up on a round table for beta testing. Photo: The beta test setup for the W0ZSW remote base. Pictured are the TigerDirect SYX Windows XP computer and a spare LCD display I keep for test purposes, dual SEC metered switching power supplies, the TS-480HX, a RIGblaster Nomic on top of the LDG AT-200PRO autotuner, and an old Creative USB external "sound card" that sits atop the computer. The Creative sound device proved to be a necessary addition because the Realtek audio on board the SYX computer could not handle Echolink and Skype audio properly. The Skype audio sounded "thready", as if it were coming over the North pole from a DX station. Lyle, K0LR, recalled encountering this sound problem on another remote base installation with the same internal audio system, and he solved it by adding the external USB sound card. When he told me about it, I could hardly believe my own good luck to have a Creative external sound card in my junk drawer already! Stuff like that hardly ever happens - usually I have some odd piece of outdated hardware with the wrong connectors that is missing the software drivers and has no power cube. In this case, it was plug and play - I just plugged the external sound card into a free USB port and the computer recognized everything and it all worked perfectly the first time. Murphy must be out to lunch! I hope he takes his time and doesn't come back anytime soon. Last week was pretty busy and included a painful and inconvenient fall on the ice, so I was really late with the usual Technician Class audio lecture, which finally came out yesterday. We have only the final safety lecture to finish this week, then the Tech class is completed, aside from some possible review lectures. Lyle, K0LR, and I have been working on the remote base station. As we reported earlier, the W0ZSW remote went silent at Camp Courage when a router failed. The Echolink system continued to work, but the W4MQ remote control interface did not. I have been intending to put a new station into service anyway, and had done the preliminary setup at Camp Courage. The old TS-570 station did not support audio frequency announcements for our blind members, and the old computer was sometimes a bit sluggish. The new station features a Kenwood TS-480HX with the VGS1 voice chip and a Systemax computer from TigerDirect that is well-resourced and speedy. An LDG AT-200 Pro autotuner does the job of matching, and twin SEC 1235M switching supplies power the 200 Watt station. The rig to computer sound interface is a RIGblaster Nomic. Those of you who have compared the two Kenwood radios know that the HX model runs 200 watts but does not include the internal automatic antenna tuner. The HX model also requires a much larger power supply than does the 100 watt SAT model. In this case, we are using two switching power supplies, as is recommended in the manual. Only one of these supplies would have been required for the 100 watt radio. There definitely are some choices to make when deciding to buy one radio or the other. Operation and rig control through software is otherwise pretty much identical whether one uses the HX or the SAT models. Outside the shack, you have to make sure that your feedline, any baluns or other matching devices and accessories, and your antenna can all handle the higher power. Lyle and I began putting the project together months ago, but it stalled after I did a preliminary setup on Nancy's desk at Handiham headquarters. The idea was to set the new station equipment up in parallel to the old station, which would allow us to initially do testing with little or no interruption to the existing station. The problem was that I got really busy, making it difficult to devote time to testing the new station and getting the equipment to work the way we wanted. Every time I went to the office, something new would come up. The project sat and sat. Then a router failed at the main camp Internet distribution point. The station was inaccessible via the Internet, so we shut it down and I got serious about testing the new equipment, which I packed up and brought to our secret, undisclosed testing location. (Hint: It's really close to my QTH.) Last weekend proved to be pretty productive, and Lyle and I made some good progress. The station is now up and running during daylight hours (approximately 7:00 to 22:00 hours USA Central Time.) Users must visit the W0ZSW setup pages again and re-enter the IP address information for W0ZSW only. We would appreciate feedback from users. You will notice immediately upon connecting that the VGS1 voice module is now enabled and providing voice frequency readout. The antenna currently in use is a crummy Windom that doesn't tune on all bands. Checking into PICONET on 3.925 MHz is pretty easy, though. Transmit is disabled on 160 m, where the antenna cannot tune. All of this will be fixed once the station is moved back to its regular location at Camp Courage when the router out there is replaced. Remote base users who are already registered but who need a link to the W0ZSW setup pages may email me. (The links are available in the members section of the website.) Use of the stations is a member service that is not open to the public. One other consideration: W0ZSW Echolink receive, which is open to any licensed amateur, is working intermittently due to a port forwarding issue. The W0EQO-L Echolink control is working well and should be used instead. Oh, and be careful on the ice. The combination of a low coefficient of friction and gravity almost did me in, but I'm feeling great now, thank you very much. Spring can come anytime, though. Patrick Tice, WA0TDA Handiham System Manager <mailto:wa0tda@xxxxxxxx> wa0tda@xxxxxxxx _____ Skywarn Description: Building cumulus clouds. Skywarn class season is fast approaching, even though there is still snow on the ground in the northern part of the country. Severe weather is already rearing its ugly head in the southern states, and the conditions that bring tornadoes will migrate north, following the sun. Congratulations to Handiham Radio Club President Ken Silberman, KB3LLA, for completing the Skywarn Basics I class held at the University of Maryland last Saturday, February 19th. Ken reports that the class handout materials were not accessible, but the presentation from the Basics I class is available online at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/lwx/skywarn/presentations/ along with presentations for the advanced classes. You can also download a copy of the Basics Storm Spotter Guide from http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/brochures/basicspot.pdf . We checked this PDF and found that it does contain embedded text that can be read with a screenreader. If you have never had Skywarn training, or if you need a refresher course, now is the time to start looking around for classes. One strategy that is good both for the Skywarn program and for your local ham radio club is to help organize a venue for the Skywarn training. After the Skywarn training, club volunteers can announce the availability of a Technician Class amateur radio course to be held in subsequent weeks. It usually works best to have the ham radio course start within a week or two of the Skywarn course. You will have people who are interested in helping their communities attending the Skywarn class, and they are just the kind of folks who will make good amateur radio operators. The ability to communicate via ham radio is very useful in storm spotting activities, so you won't have to work too hard to sell the idea of amateur radio! _____ Troubleshooting 101: No audio from radio speaker (part 2) Description: Small tools and wire The sound of silence is something we don't want to hear when we are expecting to make a contact on the ham bands! It will probably happen to you at some time in your ham radio career. You turn on the radio and hear... Nothing! Even cranking up the audio gain control does nothing. There is perfect silence. What do you do now? Call the nearest repair facility? Call Handihams? Give up and buy a new radio? We covered this topic last week, but I got an excellent tip from Lyle, K0LR, about another common problem that can cause your receiver to go dead: Your rig might be in transmit mode! Lyle writes: "Here is an addendum to today's tips -- partly tongue in cheek, although it has happened at Radio Camp and even in my own shack where I can't blame anyone else but the cat. Another cause for "no received audio" is that the Transmit button is pushed in, or the push to talk bar on a desk mike is locked down. The worst part of this "failure" mode is that everyone on frequency can hear you cussing as you try to figure out what's wrong. On my IC-756PRO the Transmit button is right below the Power button and is easy to hit by mistake, especially if you have big thumbs or happen to be wearing mittens, as is sometimes necessary in Minnesota." How right you are, Lyle. I can't begin to tell you how often this has happened at Radio Camp, partly because the equipment is new to so many users. It can be easy to push a PTT bar down and accidentally lock it on some desk microphones. This is a problem waiting to happen in any ham shack that is equipped with such microphones, and is it embarrassing or what?! It is easy to be working at the desk and sometimes even in the process of moving something out of the way, the PTT can be locked on. The next time you turn the radio on, there will be silence because the radio is transmitting. There is a phrase to describe this condition: An "open microphone", or simply "open mike". Desk microphones can be easily locked into transmit, but some hand microphones will all too readily be happy to transmit when you place something like a purse or a gym bag on top of them while loading the car. We have also heard open mikes when users sat on a hand mike or when the built in microphone of a handheld radio gets keyed accidentally when the radio is in one's pocket. This is especially embarrassing because the owner of the radio may be unwittingly transmitting a conversation meant to be private, or playing music on the car radio, all of which goes out through the local repeater for everyone else to hear. You most definitely need to check the transmit button on the rig itself, too. It is possible to push the transmit button in when you mean to change some other function. Avoid open microphone syndrome by always keeping a handheld radio in a case that is designed to carry the radio safely and properly, rather than just putting it in a bag or a pocket. In the car, have a microphone hanger so that the handheld microphone is stowed safely out of the way where it can be easily reached but will never have anything placed on top of it or get sat upon! _____ 2011 ARRL Phone DX Contest Did you miss last week's CW DX Contest? Don't fret - You've got over a week to get ready for the 2011 ARRL Phone DX Contest in March. * Phone: First full weekend in March (March 5-6, 2011). * Contest Period: 48 hours. * Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday. * Rules and more available here: http://www.arrl.org/arrl-dx We hope to hear lots of Handiham members on the air! _____ Discovery's launch scheduled for Thursday The Mission Management Team is unanimous to go forward with space shuttle Discovery's launch tomorrow at 4:50 p.m. EST. The pre-launch news conference is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. on NASA Television. Watch the news conference live at: <http://www.nasa.gov/ntv> http://www.nasa.gov/ntv One little tidbit of information if you think you have a lot of miles on your old car's odometer: Discovery has already traveled 143 million miles! _____ Logbook of the World A Handiham member recently asked me about LoTW, or Logbook of the World, an ARRL service. I had to admit that I really don't know anything about the Logbook of the World and had to direct her to ARRL for help. That got me to thinking that I should really "get with the program" and make the move to LoTW myself. Like most people, I learn best about new things when trying them for myself. I went to the ARRL website and easily located the LoTW link, which was right on the main page. If you follow the link, you will find out that you need a certificate to log in. However, there is a helpful instruction page: <http://www.arrl.org/instructions> http://www.arrl.org/instructions I took the plunge and followed the instructions to request my own certification through ARRL. It will arrive via a postcard, so there is nothing to do now but wait. I'll report more later. In the meantime, do any of you have experience with LoTW? Do you mind sharing your comments with our readers and listeners? Let me know: wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx _____ Video Description Survey 2011 - Text-to-Speech Preferences Editor's note: WGBH is conducting a survey that may be of importance to Handiham members who could use described video. Video description assists a blind person to know what is happening on the screen. Video Description Survey 2011 - Text-to-Speech Preferences <http://www.handiham.org/node/1045> Read more: <http://www.handiham.org/node/1045> http://www.handiham.org/node/1045 _____ Avery's trivia quiz answers Description: Avery with a Collins station in the Handiham shop. Avery, K0HLA, issued a trivia challenge and only George, N0SBU, was able to answer part of the "Trivia Handiham many part question", which is: A) Who ran the record breaking Handiham net with the most Check-ins? Answer: Courage Center Handiham HQ & MARA B) Who were the net control(s)? Answer: KA0NGO, K0HLA, N0HQC C) How many check-ins did that net have? Answer: 303 check-ins D) What frequency / Repeater was used? Answer: The 146.25/85 WD0HWT repeater. E ) From what QTHs) were the operation(s)? Answer: Avery, K0HLA was at Handiham Headquarter station W0ZSW ...John, KA0NGO and Eric, N0HQC were both at their home QTHs. F ) What very prestigious organization refused the record and why? Answer: Guinness Book of Records responded to our request several months later on a very nice letter head sheet of paper saying, "They were very sorry but they did not have a category for what we did and so we would not make it in their book." -- 73 es DX de K0HLA Avery Congratulations to George, N0SBU. He gets his boss's picture in the weekly e-letter! Description: George's dog PJ, wearing "I'm the boss" T-shirt. Photo of PJ wearing her fancy "I'm the boss" striped T-shirt was submitted by N0SBU. Thanks, George & PJ. _____ Boy Scouts & ARRL Team Up to Help Scouts Learn Communications Skills If your club is looking for an activity that will serve the community AND possibly bring in new members, here is a dandy idea: The ARRL recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Boy Scouts of America that designates Amateur Radio as the as the go-to source for Scouts interested in learning about and becoming involved in radio communication. You can read the complete announcement on the ARRL website at the following link: www.arrl.org/news/boy-scouts-of-america-and-arrl-team-up-to-help-scouts-lear n-communications-skills _____ A dip in the pool Description: circuit board Today's dip into the question pool is from the new General pool. We head for the electrical principles section, just as we did last week with the old General pool: G5A13 asks, "Which of the following devices can be used for impedance matching at radio frequencies?" Possible answers are: A. A transformer B. A Pi-network C. A length of transmission line D. All of these choices are correct Did you know that all of the choices are correct? There are numerous examples of matching impedances in creative ways, and you will discover them for yourself if you start building your own antennas! _____ Remote Base Health Report for 23 February 2011 Description: Remote Base Update The W0EQO Handiham Remote Base HF station is functioning normally. W0ZSW is in beta test mode with a new TS-480HX from Woodbury, MN. Receive via Echolink is working intermittently. Hours of operation are approximately 7:00 to 22:00 USA Central Time. When W0ZSW returns to Camp Courage, Maple Lake, MN it will be running 200W to a 300' extended "W0OXB Special" dipole up an average 45' in the air. W0EQO is at Camp Courage North, Lake George, MN, deep in the pines of northern Minnesota's lake country. Underground power lines and an isolated rural setting contribute to a quiet RF environment. The 100W station feeds a G5RV up about 35'. 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 * The W0ZSW remote base instruction pages have changed. Members who already have Remote Base credentials should either email me or log into members only to find out the new IP address for the station. This information must be entered into the W4MQ software before you can connect to W0ZSW. * We are changing our sponsored membership policy. Effective today, sponsored membership will have a six month term and not be renewable. We feel that our sponsored membership policy should encourage active participation, and that means making a serious effort toward advancing in amateur radio. It is reasonable, when a person gets something with as many perks as a Handiham membership for free, that they actually use the membership in a positive way and then pay their share if they want to continue in our program. It is unfair for members who pay their share and even donate beyond what is required, to pay the tab for people who stay on the membership roster but who don't get a license or upgrade and who keep asking for free stuff. * The Handiham System will have a table at Midwinter MadnessR on Saturday 26 March 2011. Stop by and say hello at this friendly hamfest sponsored by our friends at the Robbinsdale ARC. Hamfest details are at www.k0ltc.org. * Radio Camp will be from Monday 8 August to Saturday 13 August, 2011. * CQ, QST, & Worldradio digest audio for February 2011 is available to our blind members. March publications are in process. * A new Technician lecture will be ready on Friday. (If I don't fall down on the ice again!) . 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.