[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 27 March 2013

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2013 15:12:29 -0500

*Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday,
27 March 2013*

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center
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.

MP3 audio stream:

Download the 40 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player:

Get this podcast in iTunes:

RSS feed for the audio podcast if you use other podcasting software:
*Welcome to Handiham World.*NTS Icon Silent Key at age 99

ARRL reports that National Traffic System Developer George Hart, W1NJM, is
a silent key at the age of 99.  This prompts us to think about traffic
handling and how it has evolved over the decades.  When you consider the
changes in technology that George saw over his long lifetime, you have to
wonder how often he must have thought about how communications technology
must change but how the clear and efficient transfer of information is
always a primary goal. As ARRL points out, he wrote almost 1,000 articles
for QST, so if you want to go through the online archives available to ARRL
members, you can read - and read - and read some more!

W1NJM first announced the National Traffic System in the September 1949
issue of QST. Long-distance phone calls were expensive and telephones were
not even a "given" in every home as they are today. Telegraphs were still
common. Mobile phones were still decades off in the future. The Post Office
handled mail, and mail was the ONLY mail - there was no email.  There were
no transatlantic phone cables, either.  The first cable, TAT-1, wouldn't go
into service between Newfoundland and the United Kingdom until 1956. HF
communication was the bulwark of ham radio's network of stations.

How different things are today!  The Apollo transatlantic cable went into
service in 2002 and carries 3.2 Tbit/s with a latency of under 100ms over
its fiber optic length. Mobile phones are everywhere - and many are
smartphones with internet connectivity. Messages in multiple formats -
text, audio, and video among them - fly around the planet.  How can message
traffic sent through amateur radio possibly remain viable in such a
connected environment?

You may have come across the "Is ham radio still around?" and "Do they
still do that?" questions yourself when discussing amateur radio with
non-hams.  The typical assumption underlying such questions is that
technology has evolved such obviously common and effective tools that no
one would have a need for ham radio and traffic handling - whatever THAT is!

*The reality is that the typical non-ham is placing a lot of trust in
technology that works well most of the time.  All of us have experienced
dropped cellular calls - but the overall service is generally reliable. The
internet is much more likely to be working day in and day out, a huge
improvement from a decade ago.  The Post Office has lost much of its
business to the ubiquity of email and amateur radio message traffic has
also declined in volume for many of the same reasons. Communication has
also morphed into social network features with Facebook and Twitter.
Instant texts from smartphones consume little bandwidth and they are, well,
instant.  Consumers have gotten used to this stuff being always on, always
working, and always available - in a pocket, car, office, home - or (alas)
in restaurants and theaters. *

But think about all of the technology that must work in tandem - perfectly
- for a cell phone to function:


   There must be enough signal.

   The battery must hold enough charge.

   The cell site must have power and connectivity to the network.

   The network must be working.

   Since cell service is a shared system, there must not be too many users
   trying to get on the system at the same time.

So given all of the above, what could possibly go wrong with this
highly-complex technology?


   Your cell phone battery will go dead.  It happens to everyone.  If it
   happens when you need to order pizza, that's no biggie.  But if it happens
   during an emergency where there is widespread damage or during an
   evacuation or other high-profile emergency, you are out of luck.

   You may not have signal. This can happen for so many different reasons
   that we cannot possibly list them all, but rest assured that all cellular
   customers will experience "no signal" conditions from time to time.

   Since you are depending on your connection to a cellular site, that site
   must also have power.  Backup power may fail in a long power outage
   situation, especially during severe weather when repair crews cannot be
   fielded because doing so would put them at risk.  A dead cell tower is the
   result - and all the customers that it serves are out of luck.  Too bad
   that communications needs increase in a disaster, at a time when
   highly-interconnected (and thus brittle) technology is also likely to
   collapse like a house of cards.

   In a disaster, networks become overloaded and unresponsive. People
   making calls to family members have just as much priority and others who
   may need to call for emergency assistance in a life and death situation may
   not be able to get through.  Sometimes networks, which are
   computer-controlled, can go down even when the hardware is still intact.

In amateur radio we have a system of communicators (you and I) who have
independently designed and operated communications facilities - our ham
radio stations - and we can be on the air without depending on anyone
else's wired or wireless network or computers.  We know enough to keep
extra charged batteries around for our radio gear, and many of us have
independent power sources that include batteries and solar or backup
generators.  There is no small advantage to this system of amateur radio
operators, because if one station goes down, others are independent - and
available.  George Hart's NTS - National Traffic System - still has
relevance today because it remains a structured way for hams to communicate
in emergencies.  The biggest challenge now is to get ourselves trained, and
the ARRL's ARESĀ® program is a good place to begin.  On line classes are
available, too.  There are plenty of resources for someone who wants to
design a plan to stay on the air without commercial power, and nothing
beats the hands-on experience you will gain during ARRL Field Day, when you
actually put stations on the air from scratch, often trying multiple
independent power sources and efficient modes of operation.

So as we remember W1NJM, let's honor him and his lifelong commitment to
amateur radio and the NTS by getting on the air often to keep our operating
skills fresh, by saying "yes" to participating in nets, and to picking up
or originating a piece of traffic when asked to do so.



   ARRL story about George Hart,

   ARRL Emergency Communications

   ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency ServiceĀ® (ARES) <http://www.arrl.org/ares>

   Nice explanation of the fields on an ARRL message

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager

[image: cartoon robot with pencil]
George, N0SBU, sent us a photo from the Midwinter Madness Hamfest:

[image: George and a couple of customers at the huge display of connectors
that George retails at Hamfests.]

   - George says, *The connector guy at the hamfest. "Get connected by

   WOOF, too.)

Dick Garey, WA0CAF, likes an article from the UK - *Handling erratic
behavior with AT:*

   - Dealing with JAWS
   - He also likes an article about accessible publishing, *Exploring
   Accessible Publishing for the Print

Jose, KK4JZX, writes that he has produced some new audio tutorials:

   - I have two new audio tutorials, Remote Base client memory dialog and
   Remote Base client installation.

   *73, KK4JZX*

   *Editor's note:  Thanks, Jose!  We will be posting these new audio
   tutorials on the remote base website soon!*

Handiham Nets are on on the air.

[image: TMV71A transceiver]

*We are on the air daily at 11:00 USA Central Time, plus Wednesday &
Thursday evenings at 19:00 USA Central Time.  *

*We maintain our nets at 11:00 hours daily relative to Minnesota time.
Daylight Time began this week at 02:00 Sunday morning, 10 March. 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.  This is
one hour earlier than usual if you are on GMT, as compared with USA
standard time. *

*The official and most current net news may be found at:
http://www.handiham.org/nets *
We freshen up our iTunes look

[image: Screenshot of iTunes Store showing Handiham podcast with microphone

Recently a notice was sent out to podcasters using the iTunes Store.  Some
of the podcasters were not updating their content, had incorrect or missing
content ratings, and no artwork for the podcast.  Since Apple wants to
maintain high standards for their product interface, podcasters were asked
to provide acceptable artwork that would display along with the description
of their podcasts.  The Apple website had all of the necessary specs, and I
knew that I had to get busy because our iTunes artwork had mysteriously
disappeared when we changed our web hosting service. Of course we have no
problem keeping our content current - that is new each week with the
exception of radio camp week and holidays or vacations, but those are the
exceptions. It is a rare year that we don't do at least 45 podcasts, and we
are pleased that some of our listeners choose the iTunes Store to

What happened to our old artwork?

As near as I can figure, I simply didn't transfer it over to the new web
hosting service.  The iTunes Store doesn't actually keep the artwork on its
own server.  The art is referenced by a link to our own server.  Once I
figured out what happened, I created a new 300 by 300 pixel "cover art"
image as specified in the Apple Podcast Creator
so once I had that information I could easily pick out a suitable image,
crop and size it, and FTP it to our server in exactly the right JPG

Problem solved!  In a couple of days we were looking at our cover art in
the iTunes store.  You can find our podcast here:


Many of you prefer to simply enjoy the ease of automatic podcast downloads
provided by iTunes, which we recommend.

*Now, what does this fine podcast cost you? *

Nothing! Nada!  Zero!  It's free.
*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 question
pool, that is!

*Let's go to the General Class pool and examine a question about operating
with dual VFOs:*

G4A12 asks, *Which of the following is a common use for the dual VFO
feature on a transceiver?*

Possible answers are:

A. To allow transmitting on two frequencies at once

B. To permit full duplex operation, that is transmitting and receiving at
the same time

C. To permit ease of monitoring the transmit and receive frequencies when
they are not the same

D. To facilitate computer interface

Wouldn't the HF bands be an interesting place if we could use full duplex,
like the telephone?  But we can't - there's just not enough bandwidth for
that.  The HF bands are crowded already, so it would not do for us to take
up more for each QSO than what is actually needed. And think of the chaos
if we could transmit on two frequencies at once.  Heck, sometimes I have
trouble keeping track of just one frequency! Lots of rigs have dual VFO
capability and are used entirely independently of computers, so that is not
the right answer.

The correct choice is C; To permit ease of monitoring the transmit and
receive frequencies when they are not the same. This is most often used
when DX stations transmit in a part of the band where USA stations do not
have transmit privileges. The USA operator then listens on the DX station's
transmit frequency but replies (transmits) on another frequency.  Dual VFOs
make this easy, but beware of turning this feature on accidentally and
transmitting in a spot you don't intend. (This can be really embarrassing!)

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.
This week @ HQ*

   - We will be including a screenreader-friendly station configuration
   screen.  It will also work better for everyone, including sighted
   users! This has been a much-requested feature and we are getting really
   - Our goal is to make the now-difficult and confusing initial setup
   really easy and intuitive. Screenreader users have had to access the old
   interface with the JAWS cursor, a skill that is beyond some of our
   non-power users.  That is something we intend to change with this new
   interface that includes a screenreader-friendly tab order, everything
   properly labeled and easy to understand, updated features, and extra
   security, with encrypted passwords that do not show the "real" password but
   instead show a random string.
   - We are making the software behave more like other Windows software, so
   that users find it more intuitive. The original software was written over
   10 years ago, and time has marched on!
   - More audio tutorials will be added later this week! (Thanks, Jose!)

*I teach communicating with other hams on Thursday, 28 March at 6:00 PM.*

   - I'll be at the Stillwater, MN Public
Library<http://www.stillwaterlibrary.org/>teaching this topic for the
SARA group, the Stillwater Amateur Radio
   Association. The Thursday evening classes are free and open to those who
   are working on their Technician licenses. The address is 224 Third Street
   North. Look for us upstairs in the meeting rooms. We will have a VE session
   in April:

Exam Session
04/25/2013 | Oak Park Heights MN

*Sponsor:* Stillwater ARA
*Location:* Boutwells Landing
*Time:* 6:00 PM (Walk-ins allowed)
*Learn More at the ARRL VE Session Finder

*The DAISY <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DAISY_Digital_Talking_Book> digest
for our blind members is in production. April QST and WR Online will be
available to blind members by Friday, 22 March.  That means that we are
launching the content very shortly after sighted users get their magazines.

   - Our thanks to Bob, N1BLF, Jim, KJ3P, and Ken, W9MJY, for reading this
   month.  Look for these DAISY materials in the members section.
   - NEW audio is expected for April by this Friday.  Members on the Friday
   Notify mailing list will receive the link.

Accurate email addresses are important:

   - Recently we have received a number of application forms with bad email
   addresses.  This creates a real problem for us, because we take
   considerable time entering the WRONG information into the mailing lists,
   the website login, and our main database.  When the inevitable
   "undeliverable" comes back, we have to delete all of the previous work and
   start over again.  Please be sure that your information is correct the
   first time so that we can avoid delays in processing any forms and can
   offer you services more quickly.

*Radio Camp application packets have been mailed.  *

*Some of you have asked if we changed locations for the radio camp this
year.  The answer is no, we are still at Camp Courage on Cedar Lake.  The
confusion came about because the camp's physical address is "Maple Lake,
MN", but the camp is not on Maple Lake.  It is on nearby Cedar Lake. There
are so many lakes in Minnesota that it is easy to get confused, but it is
also easy to find a nearby lake for water recreation!  *

2013 camp dates call for arrival on July 28 and departure on August 2.  We
have confirmed that we will offer our campers who pass Technician at camp
brand-new handheld radios. Radio camp will emphasize ham radio fun and
getting on the air.

We will feature:

   - Technician beginner small group class - Get your first license and get
   on the air!
   - General Class study group for those who need a quick review before
   taking the General exam.
   - Extra Class study group for those who need a quick review before
   taking the Extra exam.
   - VE session conducted by SARA, the Stillwater (MN) Amateur Radio
   Association, on Thursday, August 1, at 1:30 PM.
   - Operating Skills small group get on the air sessions and discussions
   - ARRL update - What's new at ARRL.
   - Extra Class seminar for those with Extra Class licenses who want to
   participate in more advanced technical projects and discussions
   - Several stations to operate, including maritime mobile on the camp
   pontoon boat with Cap'n Bill, N0CIC
   - Sailing with Skipper Bill, K9BV
   - Handiham Radio Club meeting and elections
   - Dining in the nearby newly-remodeled Woodland dining hall.
   - Fun in the sun during Minnesota's excellent summer season - at Camp
   Courage on beautiful Cedar Lake!

For a Radio Camp application, email Nancy at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or
call her at 763-520-0512.

*Handiham net information and news: *The official and most current net news
may be found at:

*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 Manager 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 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, KD0LPX, at
763-520-0532 or email him at walt.seibert@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

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
with ham radio news.

You may listen in audio to the E-Letter at Handiham Weekly E-Letter in MP3
format <http://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3>
Email us to subscribe:

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:

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
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc.
Include your old email address and your new address.
Return to Handiham.org <http://handiham.org/>

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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 27 March 2013 - Patrick Tice