[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 31 March 2010

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2010 14:46:58 -0500

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham
System. Please do not reply to this message. Use the contact information at
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Welcome to Handiham World!

Before we do anything else, I'd like to share last week's Midwinter Madness
Hamfest with our readers. After that, we have a special edition of the
Handiham World that is dedicated to operator improvement.

Midwinter Madness Hamfest Photos

Midwinter Madness Hamfest Photos - wide angle view of crowd

Our thanks to the  <http://www.k0ltc.org/> Robbinsdale ARC for table space
at Midwinter Madness, the closest Hamfest to Handiham Headquarters! Photo
credit: RARC. 

Pat, WA0TDA, & Matt, KA0PQW pose at the Handiham table.
Pat, WA0TDA, and Matt, KA0PQW pose in front of the Handiham table. Photo by
Susan Tice.

Susan Tice and Jasper at the Handiham HQ office, getting ready for the
Susan Tice and Jasper get ready for the hamfest by helping to pack the booth
equipment at Handiham Headquarters.  Asked if it was a tough job, Jasper
said, "ruff".  WA0TDA photo.

Bob, W0LAW, ARRL MN Traffic Manager at the ARRL table right next to us.
Bob, W0LAW, ARRL Minnesota Traffic Manager, mugs it for the camera at the
ARRL booth, right next to the Handiham booth.  WA0TDA photo.

Now, to our special feature: Communicating with other hams:  It’s all about
exchanging information.

Okay, I've had it with bad communications and bad communicators. It's time
to teach some "elementary" ham radio. In a special three-part series, we are
going back to our Technician Class studies to review some communications
basics. To help us, we are taking the information from my teaching notes -
the very same notes I use to teach in my own local club's Technician course.
We can all do with some reminders of what constitutes the basics of amateur
radio communication.  

Ready to review the basics?  Good!  Let's get started.

The basics   

Start with callsigns: My callsign is WA0TDA. 

Every other station has one, so you will use both of them to initiate a

“W0ZSW, this is WA0TDA”.


•          Use your callsign. 

•          Speak clearly & slowly. 

•          Use phonetics when conditions make hearing difficult. 

•          Position your microphone correctly. 

•          Repeat (or ask for a repeat) of the information as necessary. 


When you are done talking… 

•          You may let the other station know by: 

–       Using your callsign: “…WA0TDA”. 

–       Saying the word “over”. 

–       Using the letter “K” if operating Morse code. 

–       Turn the conversation over without callsigns during a series of
brief exchanges by saying “over” – use callsigns every 10 minutes and at the
end of the contact.


•          Phonetics are easily understood words substituted for letters as
you spell. 

•          Use when conditions are bad or to clarify spelling, even under
good conditions: 

–       “This is WA0TDA, whiskey-alfa-zero-tango-delta-alfa.” 

•          Phonetics are also used in telephone work and voice input
computing with Dragon Naturally Speaking. 



•          Every activity seems to have some special vocabulary associated
with it… jargon. 

•          “Ham radio” is really “amateur radio”! 

•          “CW” is “continuous wave”, or Morse code operation, for example.
If someone is “operating CW”, that operator is using Morse on the air. 

•          Most often it is best to avoid jargon – especially lesser-used
terms – and speak plain language. 


Which frequencies to use

Tip: Always listen first to make sure the frequency is not already in use. 

•          Different frequency bands have different characteristics and
different uses. 

•          Frequency sub-bands have different uses: 

–       2 meter repeaters 

–       2 meter simplex 

•          Find out by asking a member of your local radio club, using a
directory (ARRL Repeater Directory), download a Frequency Chart to keep as a
desktop reference. 


Frequency Resources 

The ARRL Frequency Chart may be downloaded at:

The ARRL Repeater Directory is available in CD or print.   

ArtSci has an online repeater directory:
<http://www.artscipub.com/repeaters/> http://www.artscipub.com/repeaters 


Is the communication clear?

Give the other station a signal report... 

–       In plain language if using phone. 

–       Using the RST system if operating Morse code. 

–       Using RS (not T) if operating phone (using a microphone). 

•      R = readability 1 to 5 with 5 being perfect 

•      S = signal strength 1 to 9 with 9 being strongest 

•      T = Tone (Morse only; not phone) 1 to 9 with 9 being perfectly pure

How much power should I use? 

•          Equipment usually has a way to adjust transmitter power. 

•          Use the minimum necessary to establish and maintain
communications – no need to use 50 Watts if 5 Watts will do to reach a local

•          This concept is in Part 97 of FCC rules.


•          Part of a contact with another station is to exchange information
about station locations. 

–       It is helpful to know which direction to point an antenna. 

–       Is the other station mobile and moving away from you? 

–       Location can be vital in emergency communications – SKYWARN
reporting, calling for assistance, passing radio traffic (messages). 

–       Contesting, WAS, other awards & milestones.

What can I say? 

•          Once the basic information about callsigns, names, and locations
is exchanged, almost anything goes, but typically hams exchange information
on things like: 

–       Weather 

–       Station equipment and antennas; power level 

–       Sometimes more personal information like line of work (or retired!),
age, other hobbies & interests – like aviation, astronomy, cooking, travel…

Or not say? 

•          It is usually best to avoid topics like politics unless you know
the other person well and have talked civilly for a long time about

•          Religion and sex are other topics that are approached with great
care if at all. 

•          “Indecent & obscene” language is prohibited by Part 97. 

•          Remember, anyone could be listening! If you wouldn’t say it to
mom, maybe you shouldn’t say it on the air!

Signing off 

•          When you are done with the contact, sign off correctly: 

–       “This will be my final. I’ll be listening out. W0ZSW this is

–       “I’ll be clear on your final…” 

–       “73, this is WA0TDA”. 

–       Other clear, plain language followed by exchange of callsigns – use
your callsign for sure, as this is required by law as you sign off. 


Hams helping hams 

•          Mutual assistance is a long-standing tradition in amateur radio. 

•          Ask for help when you need it. 

•          Offer help politely when you perceive that it might be needed. 

•          Be kind and thoughtful – not judgmental . 

Think before speaking. 

How can I let that other station know that its signal is distorted? 

–       No:  “You idiot! Back off the microphone! 

–       Yes:  “Your signal sounds distorted. Maybe you could talk more
softly or back off from the microphone a bit.” 


Radio & Antenna Checks 

•          Other stations will be glad to help you run a “radio check”. 

•          It is an on-the-air evaluation of your signal. 

•          Ask the other station to help, and for advice if the report is
bad (off-frequency, distortion, not enough audio, etc.) 

•          Learn by doing! You will soon be able to help others as you gain

During a radio check… 

•          You may want to use a “five count”: 

–       “This is WA0TDA testing, 1,2,3,4,5… over.” 

–       Get the other station’s report on your signal, then switch antennas,
change gain, change power levels, or whatever other parameter is under test.

•          Thank the other station for helping.

Oh, oh… 

•          Sometimes we hear another station operating in violation of the

•          Don’t transmit out of band to let the other station know. 

•          Use the telephone or other off-air means (postal, IM, or email)
to let the other station know – be polite!

Logging & Confirming Contacts 

•          You can “log” your contacts to keep a record of your operations,
but it is not required in the rules. 

•          Use paper or digital. 

•          A log is useful: 

–       To help you remember names, locations. 

–       To track your progress toward awards. 

–       To help you confirm contacts with QSL cards. 

–       Free logging software: www.XMLog.com 

Band Plans are voluntary 

•          The Frequency Chart is not the same as the band plan. 

•          Use the chart to determine where you can operate legally with a
given mode and your license class. 

•          Refer to the band plan to learn where to find common operating
frequencies for special modes, for “calling frequencies”, and so on.

Band plan examples 

•          2 m national calling frequency is 146.52 MHz simplex. 

•          Propagation beacons may be heard between 144.275 – 144.300 MHz. 

•          Repeater inputs are 146.01 – 146.37 MHz (among others). 

•          Follow the band plan to avoid interference.

Band Plan Resource 



Starting a contact 

•          Listen on frequency before transmitting. It may be helpful to
say: “Is this frequency in use? This is WA0TDA.” 

•          On the HF (high frequency) bands, hams call “CQ” to make a random
contact. Example:
“CQ, CQ, CQ. This is WA0TDA. Go ahead.” 

•          On a 2m repeater: “This is WA0TDA listening. Is anyone around?”
(or other plain language that communicates the same thing). 


If no one comes back to your call… 

•          The band may be dead (bad conditions). 

•          Perhaps no one is listening on frequency. 

•          Others may hear you, but not want to make a random contact at the

•          A station might be answering you, but you cannot hear that other
station (maybe they are running very low power, for example). 


Phonetics are your phriends. 

•          Use phonetics to be absolutely sure the basic information is
conveyed correctly: “My name is Pat – papa, alfa, tango.” 

•          Don’t make up cute-sounding nonstandard phonetics, as they are
hard to understand! Using standard phonetics gets you into the habit of
communicating clearly… all the time. 


You learned this in kindergarten: 

•          Be polite at all times. 

•          Take turns. 

•          Use audio cues to let the other station know when you are
finished talking if there is no repeater “beep”: Say, “over”. 

•          Keep transmissions short in case someone needs to break in. 

•          Identify regularly to avoid confusion. 


On a repeater… 

•          Listen first before calling to make sure the repeater is not
already in use. 

•          Make use of the courtesy beep if the repeater has one – it takes
the place of saying “over”. 

•          Don’t be long-winded. 

•          Pause before picking the conversation up after the other station
finishes transmitting. This will allow others to break in to join the
conversation, or to report an emergency. 


If two stations talk at once… 

•          It is called “doubling”. Avoid doubling by... 

–       Using the courtesy beep. 

–       Saying “over” if there is no beep, or if you are not using a

–       Pausing to listen before transmitting. 

–       In a roundtable conversation where there are several, or even many,
stations, take turns and keep note of the order. 


Repeater contacts 

•          Most new hams will begin with repeater operation. 

•          Find a repeater in your area using a repeater directory, or by
asking local hams, or visiting radio club websites: www.radioham.org. 

•          Repeaters are almost everywhere! 


Things to know about a repeater 

•          Geographic location. 

•          Input and output frequencies. 

•          Tone (A subaudible tone that is transmitted by your radio to the
repeater to tell the repeater that it is “hearing” a legitimate signal and
not interference.) 

•          Is the repeater “open” to everyone’s use? 

•          Is it a specialty repeater (for example, only for emergency

•          Repeater’s callsign. 


Repeater lingo 

•          Squelch tail – a “”tssssscht” sound heard when you finish
transmitting and the repeater pauses in transmit before dropping. 

•          “Machine” – another name for “repeater”. 

•          PTT – push to talk. 

•          “Hitting the repeater” – your signal is strong enough to open the
repeater and cause it to identify with its callsign. 


Blah, blah, blah…

“Tag: you’re the RTL recipient.” 

•          If you talk too long on a repeater, the machine will “time out”.
Repeaters have different time out settings. This feature keeps the repeater
from being locked into transmit mode. 

•          When you finish talking and release the PTT, and you hear nothing
(no beep or squelch tail), you may have timed out the repeater! 

•          SARA, the Stillwater Minnesota Amateur Radio Association, has an
RTL, or “release to listen” award for members who talk too long and time out
the machine. 


More Repeater Etiquette 

•          Listen before transmitting. 

•          Keep it short. 

•          ID early & often. 

•          Use only as much power as you need. 

•          Pause to listen for other stations. 

•          Give up the repeater immediately in an emergency. 


Repeater Features 

Some repeaters have special features: 

–       Tone encoding. 

–       Linking to other repeaters via RF.

–       Linking to the Internet via Echolink or IRLP.

–       Autopatch for making local telephone calls. 

–       Synthesized voice repeater identification (or Morse).

–       Time out timers. 


Repeater Coordination 

•          Volunteers in local areas work as teams to set repeater
frequencies to minimize interference between machines.

•          Repeater owners apply to their regional coordinator for a
frequency assignment. 

•          MN Repeater Council on the web: 

 <http://www.mnrepeaters.org> http://www.mnrepeaters.org 

(Your State will have its own repeater coordinating body.) 


Repeaters & the Internet 

•          Repeaters may feature Internet connectivity. 

–       Echolink allows you to connect to repeaters via your computer, using
your sound card or USB audio device. You can also enter a code through your
radio’s touch pad to bring up Echolink and go to specific repeaters or users

–       IRLP is similar, but you access it only via radio; no direct
computer access (from a keyboard) is allowed. 

–       145.450, N0BVE, is a Twin Cities wide-area Echolink and IRLP enabled


Echolink in action 

•          Two mobile stations, even on different continents, might hook up
via Echolink. 

•          Neither mobile station would need a computer. 

•          A tone sequence is keyed in via the number pad on the radio’s
microphone to bring up the desired Echolink “node”.

•          Requires users to pause before keying the transmitter, to allow
for internet delays.


Echolink is free to licensed hams 

•          Runs on Windows. 

•          Mac & Linux versions available. 

•          You must have a callsign to download and validate the software. 

•          N0BVE repeater, wide-area EchoLink on 145.450 MHz, – offset, no

To be continued in our second part of this special edition of your Handiham

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx



This week @ HQ

*       New this week: Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the Spring 2010 QCWA
audio digest for our blind members.  We are in discussions with QCWA about
how to provide this resource to blind and low-vision QCWA members.
*       We have also finished reading the April, 2010 QST & Worldradio audio
digests for our blind members. Handiham members who use adapted audio can
log in to members only for the digest. If you qualify for National Library
Service audio books, you can get the entire issue of QST, once the issue is
read and cataloged. 

·         There has been no time to complete the Extra Class lecture the
past week. Our shortage of staff time continues as other administrative
tasks take up time. We are carrying over the last lecture, which is number
62 and is about spread spectrum.  Members sign in to the member section and
browse to the Extra Class lecture series.

·         We need more campers! Radio Camp applications are out in the mail.
It will be much easier and cheaper to travel to camp, since our new location
at Camp Courage will allow you to travel by air, Greyhound or Jefferson
Lines bus, or AMTRAK, and there will not be an expensive final leg of the
journey to Bemidji as in past years. 

·         Shipping address for Handihams: Our shipping address is different
than our mailing address, though we can still get packages and mail at
either address. The thing is, it is much, much easier if packages, such as
equipment donations, are sent directly to our headquarters office. This is
the same address where Radio Camp will be held. 


Camp Courage
Handiham System
8046 83rd Street Northwest
Maple Lake, MN 55358-2454 

The phone at the main Camp Courage office for all departments is (320)
963-3121. However, we do not always get phone messages left at that number
in a timely manner, so if you wish to leave a phone message, be sure to

Pat: 763-520-0511

Nancy: 763-520-0512 

We are on Twitter! Look for us on Twitter by searching for "handiham". We
invite you to follow us. Handiham web page posts are now "tweeted"

Minnesota Radio Camp dates for 2010, Camp Courage:

Arrive Friday, May 21. 
Class days: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
VE Exam Day: Thursday. Volunteer Examiners arrive in the morning to visit
with campers and eat breakfast together with campers, volunteers, and staff.
Depart Friday, May 28.

Cost of Radio Camp: The cost of Radio Camp depends on your ability to pay,
so anyone can afford to attend. Ask for an application.

·         Camp Courage is west of Minneapolis. The address is 8046 83rd St
NW, Maple Lake, MN‎ 55358.

·         The phone number of the Camp Courage office is (320) 963-3121‎.

·         If you want to receive a Camp Courage summer camp schedule, you
may call for one.

·         The camp schedule includes information about Handiham Radio Camp.

·         If you need specific information about the radio camp or want to
be on the radio camp mailing list, you may call Nancy in the Handiham office
at 1-866-426-3442.


VOLLI is now in service. It stands for VOLunteer Log In, and is a way for
our Handiham volunteers to register and then enter their volunteer hours
without having to fool around with paper records. We encourage volunteers to
create a user name and password, then submit their hours spent recording
audio, doing club presentations for us, and so on. Volunteer hours are
important, because United Way funding depends in part on volunteer hours. If
you are a volunteer and need a link to VOLLI, please email me at
wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx Our special thanks to my son Will, KC0LJL, who wrote the
Java code for VOLLI.

Volunteers, get your hours in through VOLLI. You may also submit volunteer
hours to Nancy at
 <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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 us. 

Wednesday Echolink net news - Net time is new for GMT, now that we are on
Daylight Time.

Wednesday evenings the Handiham Echolink net is on the air. Please join us
and check in or simply listen in, as you see fit. We are on the air
Wednesday evenings at 19:30 hours Minnesota time (7:30 PM) or GMT: Thursday
morning at 00:30 Z.

Supporting Handihams

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 Nancy at: 1-866-426-3442 or
email: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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
<http://www.handiham.org/> 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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Courage Center Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN 55422
E-Mail: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

Toll-Free telephone: 1-866-HANDIHAM (1-866-426-3442) 

FAX:(763) 520-0577 Be sure to put "Handihams" in the FAX address! 

We look forward to hearing from you soon.


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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 31 March 2010 - Patrick Tice