[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 23 February 2011

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2011 15:12:40 -0600

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!  


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happens - usually I have some odd piece of outdated hardware with the wrong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> 



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

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:

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> 

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:


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:


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

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


73 es DX de K0HLA Avery

Congratulations to George, N0SBU.  He gets his boss's picture in the weekly

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


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

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
*       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
*       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

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


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&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

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:


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.



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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 23 February 2011 - Patrick Tice