[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 26 June 2013

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2013 16:07:12 -0500

*Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 26
June 2013*

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Kenny Handiham
System <http://handiham.org/>. 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.

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http://feeds.feedBurner.com/handiham <http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham>
*Welcome to Handiham World.*

[image: Allina Health Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute logo]
Since we are just finished with Field Day and into the summer ham radio
doldrums, I thought I might tie several things together with a common
theme: power - the stuff that makes our ham radio stations and households

[image: The handiham display board at Field day includes a QR code for
smartphones & literature.]
*Image: The Handiham posterboard display with literature for curious
visitors at the Field Day site.*

Let's begin with a typical day.  If your household is anything like ours,
you wake up in the morning - possibly to an alarm clock - and switch on a
light or two as you throw on a robe and head for the kitchen and the coffee
maker. The dog wants out, so it's through the back door, where the motion
sensor clicks the porch light on for us.  Back inside, the coffee maker has
dutifully brewed the wake-up nectar and cup in hand, I head for the ham
shack-home office.  I get up early, so everywhere there are lights to be
switched on at that hour of the day. In my office I have an overhead
florescent and a couple of desk lamps. The computers go on next, and the
day's work begins - all powered from the AC mains.

Once the computers are booted, it is time to check out both remote base
stations to find out if they are operating normally.  That done, I can
proceed with the usual work day.

But some days are not typical, are they?

This year - beginning in the winter of 2012-13 - the jet stream has brought
us a dreadful pattern of bad weather, over and over and over.  From winter
snow and ice taking down trees and powerlines in New England to disastrous
flooding in Alberta to destructive deluges of rain and blasts of high winds
here in Minnesota, the weather pattern has been anything but typical.
Fields normally green with corn and soybeans sit waterlogged and unusable.
Basements are wet and the electrical power grid has failed more times than
we can ever remember. There is nothing that gets your attention like power
failures happening so often that you start to wonder if it is worth
bothering to reset your digital clocks.

This sort of thing is something we try to plan for as amateur radio
operators, right?

Well, yes and no.  There is a difference between *intending* to be ready
for power outages and *actually* being ready. This spring was really cold
and wet, with lots of snow when we should have been getting mild weather
and rain. In March I thought I'd better check the generator that I keep as
part of my preparedness plan, and I found that I couldn't start it no
matter how hard and fast I pulled the starter cord. I finally gave up and
let it sit for later.  Meanwhile, the flashlights that we keep
strategically placed around the house in known locations hadn't been
checked lately. Some worked while others might not. It was the same with
the several handheld radios I keep at the ready - or not so ready, it
seems. The computers, cable modem, router, and switches are protected by
uninterruptible power supplies.

But there is nothing like a run of bad weather and power outages to reveal
the weaknesses that creep into your systems!

Our introduction to the bad weather weekend began innocently on a sunny
Thursday afternoon. At 3:31 PM, just after I finished my work day and was
thinking about shutting things down, the power went out.  As I mentioned in
a previous e-letter, I'd already replaced the batteries in my
uninterruptible power supplies, so the computers stayed up and running, and
so did one desk lamp that I run on a UPS-protected outlet. I learned early
on that failing to have at least one low-wattage CFL lamp protected would
cause the room to be plunged into darkness.  As it was, the alarms on the
UPS systems went off and I was able to shut the computers down after making
sure all of my work was saved. The desk lamp stayed lighted until I
completed the shut down and could safely turn it off.  That outage - coming
unexpectedly on a sunny afternoon - lasted two hours and (little did we
know) would be the opening act in a weekend of destructive weather and
multiple power outages.

Friday brought powerful thunderstorms in overnight with straight-line winds
felling many trees across the Twin Cities.  The double extended zepp
antenna at our remote base station W0ZSW was compromised when the large
olive tree anchoring one end went down, its roots unable to hold in the
waterlogged soil. Saturday brought the same kind of storms again, with more
trees going down.  We lost three in all, but the power mostly stayed on,
failing multiple times but only for sort micro-outages caused by lightning
tripping breakers somewhere in the grid.  When daylight came on Field Day
morning, over 600,000 customers were without power in the Twin Cities.  At
the Field Day site we swapped stories of downed trees across the roads and
food spoiling in warm freezers.

But Field Day setup went as planned, and our operations were powered by
batteries - also part of the plan. Ironically, the power did stay on at the
Field Day site anyway - so we could run a slow cooker for lunch in the park
pavilion. Today - Wednesday - fewer than 6,000 customers were still without
power after repair crews from 14 states assisted Xcel Energy in the
restoration.  It was a powerful reminder of why we prepare for disasters
and why it is important to check our preparations on a regular basis.  I've
revised my checklist as a result of this run of bad weather:


   Check generator monthly instead of waiting until it's needed.  Also
   check gas supply at the same time. (Remember that in a widespread outage
   gas stations will also be out of power and the pumps will not work.)

   Check flashlights monthly to make sure they work and have not wandered
   away from their appointed places. Also check supply of replacement
   batteries, making sure they are in a known designated location where they
   can be found easily.

   Test uninterruptible power supplies regularly.

   Make sure that computers are maintained with regular updates and plugged
   into UPS.

   Make sure at least one lamp will stay lighted in power outage.

   Charge and test handheld radios weekly.

   Monitor stores of necessities like fresh water and nonperishable food,
   including pet food if you have pets.

   Test weather alert radio. Ours worked, but needed a complete reboot and
   reprogramming as not all functions were working as expected.

   Keep enough fuel in at least one vehicle should it be needed for

   Make sure basement sump pump is working, and if power outage occurs
   supply it with emergency power as needed.

   Check extension cords to make sure they are in good condition and safe
   to use.

Handy items you may use in an emergency include some things you may not
think about.  A DC to AC power inverter can be used to convert the DC from
your car's electrical system to AC to provide at least one emergency power
source. Camping supplies can be used in emergencies, too. A multitool is
worth keeping in a spot where you can easily find it. Low power consumption
devices are important if you must run your home or ham shack on emergency
power.  CFL or LED lighting use little power and give off a lot of light.
The lamp I have on a UPS is a little spiral bulb that is low wattage.  A
ham rig can run a long time on a sealed high-capacity battery.  The ones we
used at Field Day were high-capacity sealed lead-acid 75Ah and could run
the HF rigs for quite a few hours with low duty cycle modes.

[image: UB12750 sealed battery used on Field Day]
Image: UB12750 battery ready for Field Day. Notice the circuit breaker that
we have added on the positive terminal. These sell for about $140 to $190.
These batteries can stand up to heavy use, and sometimes are used in
electric wheelchairs and scooters.

You will need a plan to use the available resources wisely.  Everyone in
the family should know the plan - things like where the flashlights are
kept, where to meet in an emergency, and how to communicate.  Everyone
should have a plan - and you can design your own with the help of resources
from the CDC:


   Gather Emergency

   Develop a Family Disaster Plan <http://www.bt.cdc.gov/preparedness/plan/>

ARRL also has excellent resources related to Amateur Radio in emergencies:



   Public Service Communications

We also recommend the ARRL public service training

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator
Special remote base update

[image: uprooted olive tree]
Image:  This sad-looking uprooted olive tree - a big one - lies on its side
at the W0ZSW location.  It held the far end of the W0OXB double extended
zepp antenna used by the Handiham remote base station W0ZSW.  The station
was off the air a short time while the antenna was repositioned and will
likely be off line much of Thursday as the tree is cut up for removal. This
will keep the wire, which has temporarily been tied off to another tree,
out of the way of the tree crew.  We apologize for the inconvenience.
Please use W0EQO instead.
Bulletin Board

[image: cartoon robot with pencil]
ARRL bulletin notes rules change sought to encrypt some emergency

Yesterday we received an ARRL bulletin noting that "...the FCC is inviting
public comments on a proposal from a Massachusetts ham to amend the Part 97
Amateur Service rules to permit the encryption of certain amateur
communications during emergency operations or related training exercises." The
entire story is available on the ARRL
is recommended reading for anyone in emergency communications and
public service.
Handiham Nets are on on the air.

[image: TMV71A transceiver]

*We are scheduled to be on the air daily at 11:00 USA Central Time, plus
Wednesday & Thursday evenings at 19:00 USA Central Time.  A big THANK YOU
to all of our net control stations!  What will Doug, N6NFF, come up with
for his trivia question tonight?  I guess we'll just have to tune in and
listen!  Tune in and see how you do with the question this week, or just
check in to say hello. *

*We maintain our nets at 11:00 hours daily relative to Minnesota time.
Since the nets remain true to Minnesota time, the difference between
Minnesota time and GMT is -5 hours.  The net is on the air at 16:00 hours
GMT.  *

*The official and most current net news may be found at:
http://www.handiham.org/nets *
*A dip in the pool*

[image: Pat shows off his new Plantronics USB headset!]

It's time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the pool - the AMATEUR
RADIO question pool, that is!

*Let's go to the Extra Class pool and examine a question about emergency

E0A07 asks: "How may dangerous levels of carbon monoxide from an emergency
generator be detected?"

Possible answers are:

A. By the odor

B. Only with a carbon monoxide detector

C. Any ordinary smoke detector can be used

D. By the yellowish appearance of the gas

The correct answer is B: Only with a carbon monoxide detector.  CO gas is
odorless and colorless. You could be exposed to dangerous levels and never
smell a thing, so a CO detector is essential. Always run a gas powered
generator in a well-ventilated area!

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.
This week @ HQW0EQO & W0ZSW are on line.

[image: W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North.]

The remote base HF station at W0ZSW went off line for about two hours this
afternoon when - you guessed it - our power went off yet again, taking the
station down and delaying (but not stopping) your weekly e-letter.  The
emergency generator was pressed into service, running outdoors - in a
well-ventilated area!  W0ZSW will likely be down for maintenance on
Thursday for at least part of the day.

   - Remote Base operating tip:  If you are interested in working PICONET
   on 3.925 MHz, W0EQO often works best because of its northern Minnesota
   location.  In the summertime, there is a barrier between northern and
   southern Minnesota on 75 meters during the daytime.  Up here in Minnesota,
   we call this "the iron curtain" because it seems to really block the
   north-south propagation. Most of the PICONET net control stations seem to
   be up in the northern part of the state, so you will hear them best on
   W0EQO.  In the winter, with its shorter days, 75 meter propagation
   north-south returns to normal.

Merger news:

*Courage Center has merged with Allina Sister Kenny Rehabilitation
Institute.  The new organization is Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute,
which combines these two respected nonprofits. *

   - This week Nancy is out of the office.  She will return on Monday, July
   - Next week we are open Monday through Wednesday and closed on July 4
   and 5 for the United States Independence holiday.
   - Camp applications are due at the end of June.
   - Campers needing equipment for their stations should advise us by email
   at handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.  Then I can try to have it ready by camp
   time if it is available.

*The June 2013 
for our blind members is ready for use, and...

July QST will be ready in DAISY format for our blind members by this
Friday. (If the doggoned power stays on!)

Interested in the VE program and becoming a volunteer examiner? The new
ARRL VE Manual 2013 version is available in beta Daisy format with complete
text and 
Download 74 MB zip file and unzip to play on NLS digital player.

   - CQ for June is now available for our blind members in the DAISY
   - QCWA Journal for JUNE 2013 has been added today in MP3. QCWA members
   may also access this audio from the QCWA website <http://www.qcwa.org/>.
   Just follow the link in the page header.
   - Our thanks to Bob, N1BLF, Jim, KJ3P, and Ken, W9MJY, for reading this
   month.  Look for these DAISY materials in the members section.

*Digital mailers are important: *If you do mail a digital cartridge to us,
please be sure that it is an approved free matter mailer. Otherwise it will
quickly cost us several dollars to package and mail out, which is more than
the cost of the mailer in the first place. We don't have a stock of
cartridges or mailers and not including a mailer will result in a long
delay getting your request back out to you.

*DAISY audio digests are available for our blind members who do not have
computers*, playable in your Library of Congress digital player.  Handiham
members who use these players and who would prefer to receive a copy of the
monthly audio digests on the special Library of Congress digital cartridge
should send a blank cartridge to us in a cartridge mailer (no envelopes,
please), so that we can place the files on it and return it to you via free
matter postal mail.  Your callsign should be on both the cartridge and the
mailer so that we can make sure we know who it's from. Blank cartridges and
mailers are available from APH, the American Printing House for the Blind,
Inc. <http://www.aph.org/>

Digital Talking Book Cartridge Catalog Number: 1-02610-00, Price: $12.00

Digital Talking Book Cartridge Mailer Catalog Number: 1-02611-00, Price:

Order Toll-Free: (800) 223-1839.

The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital

Get it all on line as an alternative:  Visit the DAISY section on the
Handiham website after logging in.
Stay in touch

[image: Cartoon robot with cordless phone]

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 at
763-520-0512.  If you need to use the toll-free number, call

Handiham Program Coordinator Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, may be reached at
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or by phone at 763-520-0511.

Mornings Monday through Thursday are the best time to contact us.

The Courage Kenny Handiham Program 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.

Call 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
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That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Kenny Handihams!
Coordinator, Courage Kenny Handiham Program
Reach me by email at:

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

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!

[image: ARRL diamond-shaped logo]

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
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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 26 June 2013 - Patrick Tice