[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 29 September 2010

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2010 12:47:38 -0500

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!  

Pat, WA0TDA, on 1.902 MHz with IC-706

At this time of year I am always taken by surprise at how quickly the
daylight hours fade every day here in the northern hemisphere. That means
more hours of darkness and more HF radio fun in the evenings, as we
mentioned last week when we extolled the virtues of 160, 80, and 40 m for
long-distance communications. Things are also looking up in the daytime
communications department, because my Windows sidebar gadget, "Full Sun 2.1"
by John Stephen, shows me the face of the sun becoming more regularly dotted
with sunspots. More sunspot activity means that the shorter wavelength HF
bands like 10 and 15 meters will soon become much more reliable for very
long distance daytime contacts.

If you have a Technician Class license, now is the time to consider an
upgrade to General Class so that you can really use and appreciate all of
these HF bands at a time when conditions favor some really great operating.

What makes me think about this upgrade business today of all days, when I am
busy with your weekly E-letter and podcast is that tonight I will be
teaching a two hour General Class course on rules and regulations. The
course is open to anyone, but of course Technician Class license holders
would probably be the most interested since they have already completed
their first license and are familiar with ham radio terminology and
operations, at least on the VHF and UHF bands. While some HF frequencies are
open to Technician Class licensees, pretty much everyone realizes that an
upgrade to General is a necessity if one is really going to enjoy shortwave

One advantage that I feel that I have in teaching rules and regulations is
that those who have passed the Technician are already familiar with the fact
that we are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission and that the
section of the rules governing the Amateur Radio Service are called Part 97.
Anyone with a license should already know about frequency charts and about
how the various levels of license allow for operation in different band
segments. Everyone is already familiar with the fact that transmit power
levels are regulated and that examinations are given by a VE team. Starting
with this foundation of basic knowledge makes the General Class study
regimen that much easier. I always start out the course by assuring my
students that the examination for General Class will be 35 multiple-choice
questions without any Morse code testing. Yes, I know that the code
requirement has been gone for quite awhile now, but I still encounter
students who either don't quite believe it or simply haven't gotten the
news. One thing I have learned over years and years of teaching is that one
cannot assume that the students know all of these basics on the first day of

Although I am very familiar with teaching into a microphone for our blind
Handiham students, these courses taught in front of a class of students from
the general public will only occasionally have a blind participant. This is
going to sound a little bit odd, but I have to remind myself that I will now
be expected to provide some visual learning cues as I speak and answer
questions. For a traditional teacher of amateur radio at a typical radio
club course the situation is reversed and that teacher may have considerable
difficulty working with blind students. It all serves to remind me that the
first time I meet my students I am going to have to assess them to find out
how they learn and be flexible enough to adapt my teaching style
accordingly. In teaching amateur radio courses, flexibility is the key. Your
students will help guide you if you are open-minded enough to listen to them
- just as we always tell new operators to listen on the bands before

When I see a classroom full of students who are interested in amateur radio,
I know that they are motivated to learn. After all, amateur radio classes
are completely voluntary and these people could be doing something else
instead of sitting in a ham radio class. This is a tremendous advantage and
opportunity for me - and you - as teachers in amateur radio. Our students
want to learn. We need to make sure that we are prepared to teach by having
our teaching materials and any audiovisual equipment ready to go at the
beginning of class so that we can move right into the topic at hand and make
sure that we use the time as efficiently as possible.

Today we have the Internet and all of its amateur radio resources as study
aids for post-class reinforcement of each week's classroom topic. Since I am
teaching rules and regulations and the radio club has chosen the ARRL
General Class License Manual as the official study guide, I will be
referring my students to the section of the ARRL website that provides
further information about that particular book, including extra study
material, any corrections that might need to be made in the text, and - most
importantly - a question pool organized to follow the book. Not everyone
knows about this special question pool, so I never assume that my students
have discovered it on their own. Believe me, it makes quite a difference to
be able to follow the question pool in the same order as the chapters in
your textbook. I also freely recommend other amateur radio websites that
might help with either studying or practice examinations.

One disadvantage of having to teach the chapter about rules and regulations
is that it is not considered a "fun" topic. When one thinks about rules and
regulations, it brings to mind memorizing really dull legal-sounding rules
and lots of frequency limits. I won't deny that there is some of that, but
your job as an instructor is to help the students learn how to learn. That
might mean pulling out the US Amateur Radio Bands frequency chart and
helping the students to make sense of a page full of data that might
otherwise seem overwhelming. One trick is to divide the frequency bands into
the ones where there are no special General Class subsections and those that
do have subsections. Breaking the frequency chart down in this manner can
help your students remember which bands they may get questions on regarding
frequency limits. Of course there is going to be some memory work no matter
what you do in the classroom to help the students organize their thinking. I
tell my students in no uncertain terms that they will have to sit down and
do some memorization and that they will do it as homework. My volunteer
instructors at Handiham Radio Camp have told me for years that studying at
home is vital to ultimately passing the examination during the VE session at
camp. Fortunately most radio club classes meet weekly for 8 to 10 weeks,
giving your students much more time to study at home. Just be sure that they
understand what to study and help them develop good study habits.

My classes are always interactive. I don't prefer to lecture from a podium
for an hour and then have a question-and-answer session. Most people learn
best if their questions are answered the instant they pop into their heads.
If you wait to have a question and answer session you will find that many of
your students have forgotten questions that might've come up during the
lecture. A better way to conduct the class will be as a discussion that can
be interrupted to answer questions. Time will be a factor, so a good teacher
learns to manage this kind of interactive classroom experience in order to
keep the class moving along while still allowing the students to participate
actively during the entire class period.

Since my class is going to be in a two hour time frame, I am going to plan
for a mid-class break. Your students will be more alert if they can attend
to personal needs and walk around a bit instead of having to sit for an
extended period of time.

Finally, when you are wrapping up your class, your students may feel
overwhelmed with all of the material that you have managed to cram into the
evening's session. Once they return home and think about what they have
learned, which may even take the rest of the week, they may have other
questions that they wish they had asked during the class. That's why I
always provide my e-mail address and invite my students to ask questions
whenever they think of them. My radio club teaches classes in Technician and
General, offering the first license in the spring of the year in conjunction
with an emergency weather spotter course. The upgrade class to General is
offered in the autumn. All of the classes are taught by a team of volunteer
instructors so that no one instructor will be tasked with many classes to
prepare for over the course of 8 to 10 weeks.

I hope your radio club is offering classes as well. Over the years I have
received the sad news from time to time that a radio club is dissolving and
distributing its assets to worthy causes like the Handiham System. While I
am always glad to receive support for our program, I really hate to see an
amateur radio club closing its doors. I suspect that one of the biggest
factors in the demise of these clubs was the absence of an education program
to teach amateur radio classes. A club without an educational program is a
club that is not building a base of new amateur radio operators in their
community. This is a recipe for an aging club membership that will
eventually diminish to a few members and eventually the plug will be pulled
on the club. Don't let that happen to your club. Volunteer to help with an
education program. If you have never been an amateur radio instructor, you
may want to sit in on a class taught by one of your other club members or
even a neighboring radio club's class. The idea is to learn how to teach and
then get out there and do it. Rest assured that your efforts will be
rewarded by the new members you will bring into the amateur radio community.
You will have more members in your club, and these new members will have new
ideas. Eventually they will become instructors themselves and they will also
serve in leadership positions and provide new club programs. They will be
the ones who will take up the mantle of "Elmers" who will be able to keep
amateur radio healthy and growing into the future.

I always feel honored when I am asked to teach one of our classes. I hope
you will feel that way, too.

I hope to hear you on the air soon.


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


cartoon hippo in a pool of water

A dip in the pool

No one told you there was going to be a quiz, right? I thought it would be
fun to pick a question out of the question pool and see how many of us can
remember the right answer. Ready? Here we go:

G1A01 [97.301(d)]

On which of the following bands is a General Class license holder granted
all amateur frequency privileges?

A. 20, 17, and 12 meters

B. 160, 80, 40, and 10 meters

C. 160, 30, 17, 12, and 10 meters

D. 160, 30, 17, 15, 12, and 10 meters

Do see how sneaky I can be? In my opening remarks I specifically referred to
teaching my students about dividing the frequency chart into bands where
General Class licensees have full privileges and bands that have frequency
restrictions. Think about which one of these is the correct answer and we
will provide it at the end of this newsletter and podcast.


A wheelchair with outdoor - and by that we mean outdoorsman - capability.

Every so often I learn something really unique and exciting while
participating in a net. It was on the HF PICONET that I heard a station
describing a device (I'm not sure you could really even call it a
wheelchair) that would allow an outdoorsman, sports enthusiast, nature
lover, or anyone who uses a wheelchair but would like to be able to get off
pavement and travel freely over natural ground that cannot ordinarily be
traversed with a standard manual or electric wheelchair or scooter. When I
heard this thing described, I couldn't even imagine what it looked like.
Then one of our net participants sent me a letter with a brochure and
description of the "Action Trackchair", which overcomes the problem of
uneven ground by operating with tracks like the ones on a bulldozer or a
tank rather than wheels. Believe me, this thing looks like it can do some
serious outdoor off-road moving! I was also pleased to see that it is
manufactured here in Minnesota, USA. Some of the accessories listed are
headlights, gun scabbard, armrest pads, attendant control, and carrier. It
doesn't take too much imagination to add some way to mount a ham radio
transceiver and a small antenna. From the pictures in the brochure it looked
like there were versions for both adults and kids. This kind of outdoor
capability won't be everyone's cup of tea, but for those Handiham members
who might miss getting into the real outdoors because they now must use a
wheelchair it could be just the ticket. The range is said to be up to 10
miles on two 12 V wheelchair batteries. The manufacturer is Action
Manufacturing,  1103 Canoga Park Dr., Marshall, MN 56258. The website is
http://www.actiontrackchair.com and the phone number is 507-829-5940.

See? You can always learn by listening on the air.


Remote base progress report: 29 September 2010 

Kenwood TS-570

An order has been placed this past week for new equipment and we expect to
be on track for a complete station upgrade at W0ZSW this autumn. The new rig
control computer should be arriving any day now, and we expect it to make
the station more responsive. I had observed the old computer chugging away
and causing significant delays in processing rig control commands. The
computer will come with Windows XP Pro installed and a Windows 7 upgrade
disk. Our plan is to proceed with XP Pro when we configure the software for
rig control and audio. A decision will be made later on about any upgrade to
Windows 7 once we have had a chance to assess how the station is responding
to user commands.

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

*       Nancy is still on vacation this week. Call Pat at 763-520-0511 or
email me at patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx instead. Note, however, that I can't do
anything with membership dues or some of those other Nancy-specific office
duties. I am unable to take calls during much of Wednesday, as I am working
on audio production and the calls interrupt this activity. Please leave a
message so that I can call you back outside audio production hours. This may
have to be on the following day. I apologize for the inconvenience. 
*       A brief website outage at handiham.org was traced to excessive CPU
cycles on the host machine. Thanks to Phil, K9HI, and AN Hosting for helping
us to get this resolved. One change, at least for now, is that the search
field has been removed on the main public page. 
*       I am teaching a class tonight, Wednesday from 6 to 8 pm. This means
that I will have somewhat shorter office hours this afternoon so that I can
prepare adequately. 
*       Audio production: The October magazine audio digest for our blind
members is now on the website. Check the audio pages in the member section
of the website for the latest. My thanks to George, N0SBU, for finding an
error in the audio this week so that I could get it corrected. George also
reports that he has finished the tape digest for our members without
*       A big thank you to our net control stations  for "saying yes" and
volunteering for this leadership role. We really appreciate your help and
everyone has noticed that the nets are running more smoothly than ever. 

Audio archive: Listen to the Wednesday Evening Handiham Net from September
22, 2010

Matt Arthur, KA0PQW, logs 500 volunteer hours

Listen to Matt Arthur, KA0PQW, as he runs the weekly Wednesday evening
Handiham net. Sister Alverna, WA0SGJ, checks in.


Tonight is net night.  The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is at 19:30 United
States Central Daylight time, which translates to +5 hours, or 00:30 GMT
Thursday morning during North American Daylight Time. In the winter, the GMT
schedule is +6 hours. Connect from any Internet-enabled computer in the
world, and come out on Twin Cities repeater N0BVE on 145.450.  If there is
no designated Net Control, there will be a simple roundtable net. 

EchoLink nodes:

KA0PQW-R, node 267582
N0BVE-R, node 89680
HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)

Other ways to connect:

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)
WIRES system number 1427

*       Stay in touch! Be sure to send Nancy your change 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
*       How did you do? The correct answer to the dip in the pool question
C. 160, 30, 17, 12, and 10 meters.  


Supporting Handihams - Year-end is a critical time. 

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 2010.


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: 


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, 29 September 2010 - Patrick Tice