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

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2011 15:37:28 -0500

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham
System. Our contact information is at the end
<unsaved://Untitled_1.htm#Contact> , 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!  

Description: Butternut vertical covered with snow.

The power of ice combined with wind is evident once again!  As those of us
whose antennas have had to weather many winters can tell you, there is
little worse for an antenna system than ice combined with wind.  I was
reminded of this earlier today when I opened my email and found a message
from AA9BB in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.  It had a link to a story about the 2,000
foot WEAU TV transmitting tower that collapsed near Fairchild, WI during the
ice and wind storm that moved through last night.  We are still having a
pretty terrible Spring blizzard from the same weather system here in the
Twin Cities. Fortunately no one was hurt in the tower collapse, which was
only discovered when the station engineer paid a call to the transmitter
site to determine why the station had gone off the air. While there will
obviously need to be an investigation into exactly why this tall tower fell,
my money would be on the wind and ice combination causing the design limits
to be exceeded. 

When the wind blows, most amateur radio antennas will not be damaged.  Wire
antennas have little wind loading area, and beam antennas are made to flex
in the wind.  The problem comes when weather conditions are just exactly
right to allow freezing rain to fall and turn to ice upon hitting the ground
or your ham radio antenna.  The extra weight of the ice can be several times
the weight of the antenna itself, putting considerable strain on the
supporting system components like insulators, guy wires, masts, and towers.
This is bad enough, but then suppose that the wind picks up.  As storm
fronts move through, the weather conditions will change.  There can be
periods of regular rain followed by freezing rain as the temperature
plummets, and then the wind can shift and pick up as the freezing rain picks
up or turns to snow. Imagine the terrible wind load and strain on the
supports as the antenna whips in the wind, pushed all the more by the
greater wind loading due to the coating of ice. When the design limits are
reached, the antenna or its supporting structure will fail.  

What can you do about ice and wind?  My feeling is that moving to someplace
with a better climate might be the only sure-fire answer.  Some places are
more prone to ice storms than others, though, and about all you can do is
build your wire antennas to withstand greater loads by using
compression-style insulators instead of the "dog bone" style. Compression
insulators are much less likely to break because more pull on the wires
actually compresses the insulators instead of pulling them apart. Better
quality wire can help, too, as can good, heavy-duty hardware at all
supporting points. Antenna towers that telescope down during high wind
conditions can help protect your antenna investment.  At least the antenna
will be closer to the ground where the wind may be less, and the entire
structure presents less of a wind load when telescoped in the down position.

My wire antennas are not that great.  One is a commercial Windom about 125
feet long and the other is an end-fed wire, also about 125 feet.  Neither
one was mounted with heavy-duty hardware, so if they come down in an ice
storm with lots of wind, I wouldn't be surprised.  What I am doing is sort
of playing the odds, since we don't get those conditions together too often
here.  My Butternut vertical can pretty much take care of itself because it
has almost no horizontal surfaces to collect heavy ice.  Flexing in the wind
just breaks the ice off and it falls harmlessly to the ground around the
base. It is really the horizontal surfaces that you have to protect the most
from icing.  How much is an airline ticket to Florida?  Can't afford that?
Try getting some compression insulators - they're a lot cheaper.

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

Outside resource - Link to the WEAU website with audio and video of tower
collapse story:



W0ZSW Remote Base update scheduled for Friday

Description: Kenwood TS-480 transceiver

Plans are being made to update the W0ZSW Remote Base station on Friday 25
March 2011. The planned update will be to take the TS-570 station out of
service and replace it with the new TS-480HX station. This is a major
upgrade and while we hope there will be no problems, this change will
involve an entirely new computer and networking settings, so there will be
ample opportunity for good old "Murphy" to pay us a visit! We do ask that
remote base users avoid logging on to W0ZSW after 5:00 PM USA CDT on Friday
25 March.

When the new station is up and running, we will report its availability on


Troubleshooting 101: "My antenna is generating electricity and giving me

Description: Small tools and wire

We are going back in time to when I worked at an antenna company, a job that
often involved talking directly to customers on the phone.  I would answer
questions and make suggestions about installation and troubleshooting.  One
fine day we got a call from a fellow who had installed one of our vertical
antennas.  He had ground mounted it, carefully following the instructions in
the manual.  This antenna came with an aluminum mounting post that was dug
into the ground and usually secured with a bag of do-it-yourself concrete
mix. A fiberglass dowel in the exposed end of the mounting post served as an
insulator and supported the vertical element of the antenna.  The center
conductor of an included length of a matching section of 75 Ohm coaxial
cable was connected with a stainless steel bolt to the main radiating
element and the braid was connected to another stainless bolt on the
grounded mounting post as well as to a ground rod within inches of the
antenna base.   The customer had to supply the remaining run of 50 Ohm coax
from the ham shack out to the antenna and connect it to the already
installed matching section with a barrel connector. When the customer called
us, he complained that his antenna was generating electricity and giving him
shocks.  He noticed this as he was trying to connect the two pieces of coax

Can you guess what was wrong and suggest what questions I might have asked
the customer to verify my theory?  For bonus points, what did I have to tell
him to resolve the problem? 

Send your answer to wa0tda@xxxxxxxx and I'll share your brilliance in
troubleshooting with our readers and listeners!


Kinect Video game controller acts as sensor in mobility system for blind

The Microsoft Kinect (TM) video game controller is everywhere. I saw a kid
playing a video game with one at Sam's club yesterday, and was impressed at
how the avatar on the screen followed the kid's movements as he stood in
front of the Kinect console. Obviously this nifty device is inspiring some
new ideas, because a grad student project at Universität Konstanz in Germany
has turned out a really cool wearable navigation system for the blind. The
Kinect sits atop a hard-hat (extra dorky looking, but it's good because it
gets the sensor up high and out of the way.) It is connected to a fabric
belt with several vibrators that are probably used to indicate proximity to
a wall or solid object, and there is an audible voice indicating
navigational moves. It's sort of complicated to explain but the YouTube
video shows it pretty well and the Slashgear article link I'm including does
an even better job.

Kinect is a trademark of Microsoft.  <mailto:wa0tda@xxxxxxxx> 

Link to Slashgear article:



Description: Dog barking at mailman. Jasper loves our mail carrier - she
gives him a treat when she stops by!

Hi Pat,

Here is an item you may want to include in next week's e-letter.

John, NU6P

This appeared on the Blind-Hams mailing list last week:

Date: Friday, Mar 18, 2011 02:11:28 PM
Subject: [Elecraft] Software testers wanted

As some of you know, I've had an Elecraft K3 for nearly a year now. The
performance is superb but it doesn't have the accessibility of the Kenwood
rigs. To that end, I've been lobbying the Elecraft folks for 
some means of accessing the menu system in the K3 and it seems those efforts
might have finally borne fruit. If you have a K3 or K2, please see below and
consider becoming a field tester. 


And here is what came from Mike, NF4L, on this topic:

In response to a post here a few days ago, I'm writing a Windows program for
the K3 (and maybe the K2 - I don't have one) that reads the radio and
displays on the computer screen as text for a screen 
reader to say. The program is in the very early stage of development, and
there may be crashes and other less serious errors. If you're visually
impaired, and want to be a lab rat, drop me a note, preferably off list. I'd
like to know what rig you have, (if it's a K3, if it has a sub receiver),
your operating system, and what screen reader you use..

73, Mike NF4L

If any of our readers want to contact Mike, please email me at
wa0tda@xxxxxxxx and I'll give you his address, which I am not including here
in order to protect him from junk email. Thanks to John, NU6P, for sharing
this post and helping us to get the word out about making the Elecraft rigs


Held over by popular demand: Website makes letter writing regarding HR-607

Richard Haltermon, KD4PYR, has created a website that makes it very easy to
develop a letter for your Congressional representative regarding HR-607 (the
bill that would sell off 420-440 MHz). This is as easy as it gets folks!
Just enter your callsign and it does the rest.

Bill Morine, N2COP, writes:

"...we used Jim Weaver's software http://www.kd4pyr.net/hamletter.htm to
generate HR-607 letters this past weekend at the Charlotte Hamfest, and it
worked wonderfully."

Please get this info out to clubs and groups.


Send then to: 

John Chwat 
Chwat & Co. 
625 Slaters Lane 
Suite 103 
Alexandria, VA 22314


A dip in the pool

Description: circuit board

Today we are going to look at a couple of questions from the Extra Class
pool in order to acquaint you with the concept of "mental math".  This is
the process of working out approximate answers in your head rather than
relying on a calculator. 

E8B05 asks: "What is the deviation ratio of an FM-phone signal having a
maximum frequency swing of plus-or-minus 5 kHz and accepting a maximum
modulation rate of 3 kHz?"

Possible answers are:

A. 60
B. 0.167
C. 0.6
D. 1.67

E8B06 asks: "What is the deviation ratio of an FM-phone signal having a
maximum frequency swing of plus or minus 7.5 kHz and accepting a maximum
modulation frequency of 3.5 kHz?"

Possible answers are:

A. 2.14
B. 0.214
C. 0.47
D. 47

The trick to getting the right answer here is to know that deviation ratio
is the maximum frequency swing divided by the maximum modulation rate or
frequency. Thus, for the first question, 5 kHz divided by 3 kHz = 1.67, or
answer D.  In the second question, 7.5 kHz divided by 3.5 kHz = 2.14, or
answer A.  Of course you can whip out your calculator during the exam
session and work these out, but simple mental math leads you to the right
answers even more quickly.  Notice how the four choices always seem to
include two answers that are wrong but might be picked if you divided the
modulation frequency by the maximum frequency swing instead of the other way
around?  Often these math problems will be like that.  Knowing which number
goes in the numerator and which in the denominator is important!  Then the
third wrong answer is similar to the correct answer but the decimal is in
the wrong place.  Knowing mental math can help you there, too, because you
will be able to guess at about what the correct answer should be and errors
with decimal points, as you might make when punching the wrong calculator
key, are less likely.  

The way I do mental math here is to take a quick look at the numbers, making
sure I have the right one to divide into. "7.5 kHz is a little more than
twice 3.5 kHz", I think to myself.  I then think, "I am going to look and
see if one of the answers is a bit more than 2."  

Sure enough, answer A is 2.14 and none of the other choices is even close.
I put "A" down and move on to the next question. That's mental math, and I
didn't even need my calculator!


Remote Base Health Report for 23 March 2011

Description: Remote Base Update

The W0EQO Handiham Remote Base HF station is functioning normally.

W0ZSW is out of service for the time being due to a networking glitch.  

*       IRB Sound has been disabled, but Echolink and Skype sound are
functioning normally. We do not recommend the use of IRB sound for either

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'.  W0EQO location information has been added:

W0ZSW is located at Camp Courage on Cedar Lake about an hour west of
Minneapolis, MN. W0ZSW location information has been added:

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

*       QST digest audio for April is ready for our blind members. There is
about an hour and a half of audio.
*       George, N0SBU, reports that the March digest will be mailed along
with the April digest for our blind members who do not have computers.  
*       The Handiham System will have a table at Midwinter Madness® 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 & Worldradio digest audio for March 2011 is available to our
blind members. 

·         Tonight is EchoLink net night.  The Wednesday evening EchoLink net
is at 19:30 United States Central time, which translates to +5 hours, or
00:30 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

*       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.

Courage Center Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422




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