[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 27 July 2011

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2011 16:33:50 -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. 

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Welcome to Handiham World!

Description: Pat holding microphone in the ham shack.

It is less than two weeks to Handiham Radio Camp, which begins on Monday, 8
August.  As you might imagine, Nancy and I have been busy with last minute
paperwork and communications from everyone who is planning to be at camp. We
have made considerable progress, but lots of work still needs to be done as
we get the equipment ready and answer questions while still trying to
provide services to our Handiham members who will not be at camp. Last week
I got my son Will, KC0LJL, sent off to Japan, where he will be teaching
English for a year. Needless to say, I have not been bored for lack of
things to keep me busy!

Today the Internet went down here at my home office and I'm slowly bringing
it back on line.  Yesterday Don, N0BVE, went out to camp and got our
Internet connection working there, and also got the W0EQO repeater back on
Echolink. Last night and today Lyle, K0LR, and I have been working on the
W0ZSW remote base, bringing it back on line after the camp Internet outage.
The camp Internet failed during a severe thunderstorm last Saturday.

All of this makes me wonder if good old  Murphy has us in his sights for
Internet problems!  The long and short of it is that it does serve to remind
us that as useful as the Internet can be, especially with VoIP connectivity
for our repeaters and nets, it is still brittle and can suffer outages.  All
the time the Internet was out here at home, guess what was still working?
Yup, you've got it: My VHF and HF radios, right here next to me in the ham

Now, don't conclude that I am about to sing the praises of trusty,
time-proven RF while I go on a rant about how unreliable the Internet is and
how we amateurs should avoid using it in favor of RF only.  I think the
thing we should conclude is that we need redundancy in our communications,
and that means the ability to use RF while still having Internet-enabled
methods of communications enabled and ready to use.  After all, the
Internet-enabled systems we have built to enhance our radio networks have
generally been reliable. If disaster strikes, we need to be ready to use
whatever works.  Keep an open mind when it comes to this stuff, folks.  

One consideration is to try using digital modes on HF.  Some of these, such
as PSK-31, are more reliable than SSB communications and can work well at
lower power levels and with less elaborate antenna systems.  I just got an
email from our ARRL Division Director K0GW, who mentioned that ARRL has
approved a new way to pick up your DXCC;  there will be a new "Digital"
DXCC.  This will include RTTY as well as the many other digital modes. No
matter what you think of chasing awards like DXCC, I think this is a very
good move on the part of the League.  It will ramp up on the air activity,
stimulate interest in digital modes, and help to build up a cadre of digital
operators.  That will ultimately be good for emergency operations, as more
of us will become proficient in digital modes.  Remember, PSK-31 does not
need the Internet to get through!

In other thoughts:

.         Wouldn't it be nice to get QST in digital format?  That just could
be an option in the future.  A plan for the next steps in providing QST
digitally (in addition to the print edition) was approved at the recent ARRL
Board meeting. The change in accessibility brought about by the personal
computer and digital reading devices is simply enormous. Worldradio Magazine
has led the way with an entirely digital version, which allows blind
computer users to access the articles with screenreading software at
virtually the same time they are available to everyone else. 

.         Curious about Morse code?  Coming to Radio Camp? Keep reading for
news about learning code. 

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager


But first - Help us win the Dr. Dave Challenge!

We need your help. 

Description: Dr. Dave, KN0S, climbs the antenna tower at Radio Camp.

Money is tight these days and we desperately need your support.  Now, thanks
to a generous challenge grant by Dr. Dave Justis, KN0S, we have a chance to
help fill the budget gap.  Dr. Dave will donate $5,000 to the Handiham
System if we can raise a matching amount.  That means we need to really put
the fund-raising into high gear!  If you can help, designate a donation to
Handihams, stating that it is for the "Dr. Dave Challenge".  We will keep
you posted in our weekly e-letter as to the progress of the fund. 

Nancy can take credit card donations via the toll-free number,
1-866-426-3442, or accept checks sent to our Courage Center Handiham

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

Be sure to put a note saying "Dr. Dave Challenge" somewhere in the envelope
or on the note line of the check.  If you donate online as detailed toward
the end of your weekly e-letter, be sure to designate to Handihams and then
send me an email letting me know you donated to the Dr. Dave fund:

Thank you so much for your support!



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

John, NU6P, writes and includes a newer copy of the Buddy Brannon Eyes-Free
guide to the Wouxun handheld radio.  

Pat says: I will get this posted as soon as time permits, the Internet
willing and the creek don't rise.  Thanks, John! 

Larry KC7CKO, writes:

Do you have some instructions or a manual for a Bird Watt Meter? I am trying
to help my daughter to read one for me and she has no radio experience and
of course I cannot see the meter to explain it to her.

Pat says:  I don't have such instructions, but someone out there might.  Can
anyone help Larry?  Drop me an email at wa0tda@xxxxxxxx and I will pass it

Mike, W1MWB, writes to pass along this message from Chris,  KB1RXA:

Hi Mike,

I hope you had great success at the event today demonstrating ham radio. I
wanted to impart an opinion to you about the link that was operational
between Handihams and the Ireland conference today. Apparently, the link was
established through an EchoLink linking station in Canada. Now, that station
may have been linked to an IRLP node or Echoirlp node which in turn may have
been linked someplace else, etc. etc. I know you are as baffled as I am as
to how the connection was made. Ireland does not accept connections from
other "conferences". So, I hope you'll pass the word that surreptitious
bridging is not acceptable. I sincerely doubt this was coordinated by the
Ireland Conference administration. Like many hams, I go to Ireland to use it
as an international rag chew server, and I go to World Conference when I
want to participate in a net.

Anyway 73 - See you on the nets! Chris

George, N0SBU passed along a story about a deadly tower accident:


Chris, KG0BP, writes:

One weekend I was able to put some of the skills I've learned through ham
radio to use in a different way.  My father-in-law, who lives in a nice
RF-quiet location near Walker, MN,  wanted to put up a 20 foot aluminum
flagpole in time for the Fourth of July.  He wasn't sure how to go about it,
so I stepped in and used the skills I've learned installing several
ground-mounted verticals to help him out.  The installation went off without
a hitch.  Unfortunately,  I couldn't convince him that a field of 120 ground
radials was necessary, or that he should sand off the paint where the
flagpole sections connect together.  He was absolutely not convinced that we
needed to dig a trench and bury coax to his house.  Oh well, I guess I'll
still have to throw up a G5RV when I go to visit after all. 

Mike, WV2ZOW, writes:

Have you checked out the Novice Historical Society web site? Lots of Novice
stories. You should encourage those that send them to you to also send them
to the Society. 



Speaking of Novice stories...

Mike, W1MWB, writes: 

I got my Novice ticket in March of 1989 after taking the Novice written test
and 5 WPM code test. I had to wait 6 weeks to get the license before going
on the air, a lot slower process than it takes today. I took the test at an
ARRL convention in Portland Maine. My first radio I bought then was an Icom
IC-720A HF radio with all modes but FM. One of my first contacts was with
V31BB out of Belize whom I remember well because he always talked down MFJ
products and made fun of CB lingo being used on 10 meters.

Pat says:  Thanks, Mike!  Yes, I sure don't miss those bad old days of
having to wait 6 weeks for that first paper license to arrive.  And I think
we should tell that guy that MFJ makes lots of good stuff.  Maybe he has
already changed his mind!  Do you have a Novice story to share?  Sent it to
me: wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx 


Troubleshooting 101: Noise 3 revealed

Description: Small tools and wire

Last week we listened to a to a radio noise caused by, well, that's what you
will had to guess.  Joe, N3AIN, sent us a noise that was our challenge to
identify. If you are reading this instead of listening to the podcast,
follow this link to listen: <http://handiham.org/audio/noise3.mp3> 

We gave you a hint when we suggested that the noise is a  common one that
really did not exist to speak of before around the mid to late 1980's, and
one that I have run into myself:

We had several responses, and all got the correct answer.  Tom, WA6IVG,
Gerry, WB6IVF, and Mike, no callsign all said it was either a computer or
switching supply.  Congrats, guys!

Joe, N3AIN, our noisemeister, reveals the source of this awful noise:  He
says, "I really dug back in to the archives for this one. It was recorded
back in the Fall of 1996 from 75 meters.  It turned out to be noisy
computers from a cable company office just behind my house. The building is
now a doctor's office and there is no equipment there that causes


Pat, WA0TDA, says: Computers use switching power supplies, and some of the
earlier designs did not include adequate filtering and simply fell short of
good design standards. Even new supplies can still radiate some RF, so if
there is a raspy noise that seems to drift around on the bands, you may have
encountered this common problem without knowing what it was. I had a
computer once that I really liked, but its power supply was a real RFI
generator.  I tried everything, including putting toroid chokes on the lines
to the computer, using noise canceling filters for receive, DSP, and
anything else I could think of.  Nothing cured the problem except the final
solution - getting rid of the offending computer.  Of course you can change
a computer's power supply, but that was a hassle and by that time I needed a
new machine anyway.  My current computer is one I put together myself from
component parts, so I made sure to choose a nice, quiet power supply. Since
computers are everywhere these days, switching power supplies probably have
raised the background noise level in many locations. 


I don't have a noise number 4, because Joe only sent 3 samples.  Maybe we'll
get another noise to share from Joe or one of our listeners or readers.  I
think Joe should send us more noise. C'mon, Joe! Noise, noise, noise!


Thanks to all who participated.  

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager


A dip in the pool

Description: circuit board

Today we are heading to the new General Class pool, which came on line this

G7A08 asks: Which of the following is an advantage of a switch-mode power
supply as compared to a linear power supply?

Possible answers are:

A. Faster switching time makes higher output voltage possible

B. Fewer circuit components are required

C. High frequency operation allows the use of smaller components

D. All of these choices are correct

The correct answer is C: High frequency operation allows the use of smaller
components.  If you compare the relative sizes and weights of linear and
switching supplies, you will quickly conclude that the smaller, lighter
switching supplies must not require those big, heavy power transformers -
and you would be right.  Large transformers must be used if you are trying
to transform voltages at low frequencies, such as 60 Hz.  So why are these
big linear supplies with the heavy transformers still sold today?  Well, the
linear supplies are exceptionally "quiet", producing virtually no RFI as
might be produced by switching supplies.   I have both kinds of supplies in
my ham shack!


Second call for tutorial help on TS-590S

Description: TS-590S (Kenwood photo)

We would like to add the Kenwood TS-590S to our rigs for which audio
tutorials are available.  What we really need is for a blind user who owns
one of these new Kenwood radios to teach others how to use it.  If there is
anyone out there in e-letter land listening to the podcast or reading the
e-letter with a screen reader and who can help with this project, we want to
hear from you!

If anyone feels particularly flush with cash, we would gratefully accept the
donation of an actual TS-590, which would be put into service at our HQ
station.  In the "for what it's worth" department, the updated software for
the TS-590 is available from Kenwood and it supports a database of up to 100
users.  That means that in remote base service, we could give the software
interface a really good test.  Both Lyle, K0LR, and I have looked at the
software, which is free to download, and we expect it to be very
blind-friendly.  Sighted users will find the graphic interface intuitive and
easily learned. The radio itself has a clean, logically laid-out front
panel, making it easier to navigate whether you are blind or sighted. 

If you can help with audio tutorials on any piece of equipment you own,
please contact Pat at:



Remote Base Health Report for 27 July 2011

Description: Remote Base Update

Both stations are operational. 

W0EQO is on line. W0ZSW is on line as of this publication date.  As we
mentioned, repairs to W0ZSW have been undertaken and have been successful. 

*       Summer band conditions: The Upper Midwest of the United States has
been experiencing high temperatures and very humid air masses.  These
conditions make for frequent thunderstorms, which cause horrendous levels of
static on the HF bands.  This will make the remote bases a little hard to
use at times.  Conditions may be best in the late night and early pre-dawn
hours when thunderstorms have quieted down a bit.  
*       At the same time, the daytime band conditions on 75 and 40 meters
have been rather poor due to absorption brought on by the long sunny days
here in the Northern Hemisphere. Trying to check into the PICONET on 3.925
MHz has been a challenge! 

You can view the status page at:  <http://www.handiham.org/node/1005> 


This week @ HQ

*       I will be at camp Thursday July 28.   There will be a new Audio
Notice released on Friday. 
*       There is some interest in teaching basic Morse code at camp.  Drop
me an email if you are interested in either learning code or brushing up
your skills: wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx Bill, N6HBO and Ken, KB3LLA, as well as Avery,
K0HLA, would be willing to teach. Heldy, Bill's Guide Dog, will keep them
all in line. 
*       There has been a request to set up the Collins S-Line station
donated to us by the late Senator Barry Goldwater, K7UGA. I am passing this
request on to our volunteers, who may be able to get the station running
during radio camp week. It's a chance to get your hands on a real piece of
Description: Avery, K0HLA, at the Collins station.
*       The new General Audio lecture series is underway, and lecture four
is on line. Our lecture covers the rules & regs in a marathon 1-1/2 hour
*       The audio magazine digest:  Worldradio, CQ, QST, and AMSAT Journal
audio is available for our blind members.  August audio is  posted for
Worldradio, and QST.  
*       Radio Camp will be from Monday 8 August to Saturday 13 August, 2011.
Watch www.handiham.org and your weekly E-Letter for updates on what we are

.         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 node.)

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 $12 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 $36.

.         Lifetime membership is $120.

.         If you can't afford the dues, request a 90 day non-renewable
sponsored membership.

.         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, 27 July 2011 - Patrick Tice