Handiham World for 07 April 2010 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 the end, or simply email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx You can also listen to the content online: MP3 audio stream: <http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u> http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u Download the 64 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player: <http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3> http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3 Get this issue as an audio podcast: <http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham> http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham _____ Welcome to Handiham World! Media Hit: NPR reports that ham radio is experiencing a surprising and healthy growth Media Hit: NPR reports that ham radio is experiencing a surprising and heathy growth Image: Phil Temples, K9HI, operates on the HF bands at a recent Handiham Radio Camp session. We consider any mention of ham radio on a network like National Public Radio to be a real media hit! NPR is reporting that far from being a fading 20th-Century technology, ham radio is instead experiencing healthy growth. The story appeared on the NPR network's "All Things Considered" afternoon show on April 5, 2010. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125586086> Check out the story and listen to the audio on the NPR website at www.npr.org. There was some interesting listener feedback today - we heard one fellow who took the story to task for not including a mention of amateur radio's role in emergency communications. You will also find many interesting comments on the NPR website. _____ HF band conditions remain generally poor as solar wind buffets ionosphere HF band conditions remain generally poor as solar wind buffets ionosphere Image: SOHO solar view as of 7 April 2010. Spaceweather.com reported last Monday that a solar wind struck Earth's magnetosphere at approximately 0800 UT and sparked the strongest geomagnetic storm of the year. The event registered 7 on the K index scale. The ham radio HF bands remain in exceptionally poor shape, with widespread outages. Aurora activity is continuing. Strange whistling sounds are being heard on the HF bands, and usually reliable net frequencies have been nearly wiped out by poor propagation and noise. One Handiham Remote Base user reported that the station wasn't working right - he could only hear noise. Of course not all of us have experienced the effects of a widespread solar wind and the resulting poor HF conditions. This morning the Remote Base was checked on 75m, and stations are being heard somewhat better than they were in the past two days. Today's Spaceweather.com reports: "NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of geomagnetic activity and a 10% chance of severe geomagnetic storms around the Arctic Circle during the next 24 hours. The source of this activity is a fast and gusty solar wind stream that has been blowing around Earth for two days." More at: http://www.spaceweather.com _____ FCC loses in case regulating Internet service providers FCC loses in case regulating Internet service providers Washington Post: Comcast on Tuesday won a legal challenge against the Federal Communications Commission, in a ruling by a federal court that undermines the agency's ability to regulate Internet service providers. For <http://www.handiham.org/node/link.email.washingtonpost.com/r/92KH5M/VNQ9N/8 793QP/DRGK9T/PHZC0/82/t> more information, visit washingtonpost.com. _____ April Events by N1YXU April Events by N1YXU As you look through the events page for this month, you will notice there are quite a few activities. I confess my bias in the “Editor’s Pick of the Month” since a good friend of ours is one of thirteen operators who are currently in Iraq. Check out the details, and be sure to listen for them. Welcome to Spring! Get on the air and have a good month with amateur radio. Until next month…. Regards, Laurie Meier, N1YXU n1yxu@xxxxxxxx Read the Events: <http://www.handiham.org/node/748> http://www.handiham.org/node/748 _____ Nets and Emergency Communications Review by WA0TDA Nets and Emergency Communications Review by WA0TDA Photo: Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, in his ham radio shack. _____ Nets & Emergency Communications - second in our series of an operating basics review. By Patrick Tice wa0tda@xxxxxxxx This web outline is based on a PowerPoint presentation that I use to teach these concepts to prospective new hams who have enrolled in the Technician Class course. We are presenting it here because the skills and terms related to nets and emergency communications are so basic to good operating that we can all do with a review. If you would prefer to hear me read this material with some additional comments, <http://handiham.org/audio/nets_emcomm.m3u> you can follow this link to listen in streaming MP3 format. <http://handiham.org/audio/nets_emcomm.mp3> You may also opt to download the MP3 file: http://handiham.org/audio/nets_emcomm.mp3 Net = Network • Network of stations exchanging information • Can be formal or informal • There is a continuum of formality… Some nets are no more formal than the morning coffee club, while others require near-military precision and have a great deal of structure. • The formality of the net depends on the situation. Some types of nets • Social – could be somewhat formal or completely informal; purpose is simply a way to get together for people who share a common interest. • Traffic – on the air method of exchanging and routing messages (radiograms) through NTS (national traffic system). Usually formal. • Emergency and Public Service – formal in nature; used in emergency situations like disasters or, in the case of public service, for generally non-emergency communications for events like parades or walkathons. Traffic does not mean cars. • When we talk about “traffic” on the ham radio bands, we are talking about moving messages through the communications system. • Just as in an emergency on the roadway where an ambulance has priority, emergency traffic on the ham bands takes priority over other messages or any other use of the frequency. Q-Signals • Originated in the days of telegraphy before voice communication was used. • Should be avoided during voice communication nets, as their use may cause confusion. • Not everyone knows them. It is better to use plain language to say what you want to communicate. Anyone could be listening, so… • Do not transmit personal information concerning victims over the air. • Amateur radio transmissions can be picked up by people using scanners. • Instead communicate this kind of information over some other more secure communications system, like the telephone. In an emergency traffic net • Do not transmit on the net frequency until asked to do so by the net control station. An emergency traffic net has a formal operating structure, and the NCS – net control station – is in charge. • When you pass an emergency message, always include the name of the person originating the message. Other modes of operation • One way to reduce the chances of casual listeners overhearing sensitive emergency traffic is to pass messages using a non-voice mode such as packet radio or Morse code. • Sensitive personal information about victims should still be passed via some other secure communications method – not on the radio. The net control station -- NCS • Must have a strong, clear signal. The NCS must be heard clearly in order to be effective. • Should be operated by a person with experience in running a formal net. This is not a place for newbies! • In an emergency situation, the NCS should halt all regular net activity so that the frequency can be used to handle the emergency. After the emergency has been handled, the NCS should resume normal net activity. An emergency! No net control, so what to do? • If a large scale emergency has just occurred and no net control station is available, you should open the emergency net immediately and ask for check-ins. • Even if you have never been a net control station before, this is an emergency and you are on the spot to help. Do your best, and if a known, experienced operator is willing to take over for you later on, you have done your part and helped get the net started while earning valuable experience. Formal messages have a preamble • The preamble of a message is important as it contains the information needed to track the message as it passes through the amateur radio traffic handling system. • If there are questions or clarifications later on, the information in the preamble can be used to track down the originating station. Check • A “check” in reference to a message handled via amateur radio refers to a count of how many words there are in the message. • It is a way to tell if the proper number of words has been received. If the check number does not correspond with the number of words in the message, something may have been left out or added by accident. In an emergency, don’t get too wordy. • The recommended guideline for the maximum number of words to be included in the text of an emergency message is 25. • Shorter messages are easier to handle, and the check of the number of words is easier to do. • Message traffic will flow more smoothly, and time and efficiency are important during emergency situations. How to find nets • There are plenty of online resources to locate regular on-the-air amateur radio nets of all kinds. • The ARRL website has a list of nets. • Most amateur radio clubs have websites of their own and list club nets. • Ask at your local radio club, especially if you are interested in public service. Emergency Operating • The Amateur Radio Service is recognized in FCC rules as playing a part in emergency communicating. • “When normal communication systems are overloaded, damaged, or disrupted because a disaster has occurred, or is likely to occur… an amateur station may make transmissions necessary to meet essential communication needs and facilitate relief actions.” – FCC Rules • You are bound by FCC rules to operate your amateur radio station properly. • FCC rules still apply to your station when using amateur radio at the request of public service officials or at the scene of an emergency. RACES and ARES • Both of these organizations provide communications during emergencies. This is one thing that they have in common. • RACES stands for “Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service”, a protocol created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission. Many government agencies across the country train their Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) volunteers using the RACES protocol. The volunteers serve their respective jurisdictions pursuant to guidelines and mandates established by local emergency management officials. http://www.usraces.org/ • ARES stands for “Amateur Radio Emergency Service”, a corps of trained amateur radio operator volunteers organized to assist in public service and emergency communications. It is organized and sponsored by the American Radio Relay League and the Radio Amateurs of Canada. (Wikipedia) Be prepared • If you are operating a handheld transceiver away from home, you should have one or more fully-charged spare battery packs. • If you are called on to operate in an emergency or during a public service event, a dead battery will take you out of service. The Go-Kit • A go-kit (emergency response kit) is a portable collection of essentials that you might need to take with you in a communications emergency. • Some useful items for your kit might be: – An external antenna and several feet of connecting cable – A cable and clips for connecting your transceiver to an external battery – A listing of repeater frequencies and nets in your area Avoid packing unnecessary stuff • You will want to only include things that are going to be useful in your emergency response kit. • Do not bring that 1500 W output linear amplifier! • Do bring useful items like extra batteries, a flashlight, maps, lists of repeater frequencies, and so on. Sometimes it is noisy • Suppose you are operating at a parade where there is lots of noise from the crowd around you. It may be difficult to hear the speaker that is built into your handheld radio. • An excellent accessory for this kind of operation is a combination headset and microphone. An FCC declaration of a Temporary State of Communications Emergency • If the circumstances warrant, the FCC could declare a temporary state of communications emergency. • This declaration will contain any special conditions and rules to be observed during the emergency. Can you use your amateur station to communicate with stations operating in other radio services? • Yes, when this is specially authorized by the FCC, or in an actual emergency. If you are in contact with another station and hear an emergency call… • You must stop your contact immediately and take the emergency call. • If it is necessary to clear the frequency, you must do so until the emergency is handled and the frequency is once again available for normal use. If the FCC declares a communication emergency… • You must avoid those frequencies dedicated to supporting the emergency unless you are participating in the relief effort. • This does not mean that you can’t listen on the frequencies during an emergency. You can learn a lot about how emergency traffic is handled by listening. However, do not transmit unless you have vital information and are part of the relief effort. Tactical call signs • Sometimes it is more efficient to identify your station by its location or purpose rather than by your FCC-issued callsign. • A tactical callsign such as “command post” or “weather center” will be more efficient and will help coordinate public service communications. • You still need to identify per FCC rules using your regular callsign every 10 minutes or at the end of a series of transmissions. To legally restrict a frequency to emergency-only use… • There must be an FCC declaration of a communication emergency. • No one else can declare a communications emergency in which frequencies are legally restricted to emergency-only use. • However, if emergency traffic is being conducted on a frequency, you must respect the use of that frequency for emergency traffic and avoid it unless you are participating in emergency communications. If you hear someone reporting an emergency… • You should assume that the emergency is a real one and act accordingly. Better safe than sorry! • Common sense should dictate to you what is truly an emergency and what is not when you are making a radio call. It is not an emergency if you have a flat tire in your driveway. It might very well be an emergency if you have a blow out on the freeway and are stuck in a traffic lane. Making an emergency call • The question pool suggests say, “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday”, followed by, “any station come in please”, and identify your station. • I do not like this answer and in a real emergency I would prefer to use plain language such as, “this is an emergency; any station come in please”, and then identify my station. Don’t make a false emergency call • Make a false emergency call, and you could be in big trouble! You could: – Have your license revoked – Be fined a large sum of money – Be sent to prison Who has priority? • When we are talking about amateur radio and the use of amateur radio frequencies, there is no question what kind of traffic has priority on the bands – emergency communications always have priority over everything else. • Priority must be given to stations providing emergency communications at all times and on all frequencies. How can you prepare? • Check at least twice a year to make sure you have all your emergency response equipment and know where it is. • Make sure you have a way to run your equipment if there is a power failure in your area. • Participate in drills that test your ability to set up and operate in the field. SOS or Mayday • As I said before, I do not like archaic terms. Although the question pool does ask when you may transmit “SOS or MAYDAY”, I still prefer plain language. • You may only transmit “SOS or MAYDAY” when there is an immediate threat to human life or property. • Again, use common sense – someone knocking over a rural mailbox is not the kind of threat to property that rises to the state of an emergency. Someone having chest pains is an emergency. ARES vs. RACES • The Amateur Radio Emergency Service supports agencies like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and National Weather Service. • RACES organizations, by contrast, are organizations restricted to serving local, state, and federal government emergency management agencies. Before you can participate in RACES, you must register with the responsible civil defense organization. On the other hand… • ARES participation only requires that you must have an amateur radio license. • You are much more likely to participate in ARES than you are in RACES. Be creative • During an emergency, regular power may be lost or you may be in some location where power is not available. You could use alternate sources of power like these: – The battery in a car or truck – A bicycle generator (it’s been done!) – A portable solar panel If commercial power is out • You can charge a 12 volt battery by connecting it to a car battery and running the car’s engine. • You must be careful doing so – always observing the correct polarity & procedures! • Running engines can be dangerous – there are hot parts that can cause burns, CO gas emitted from the exhaust, belts & pulleys that can snag a dangling wire, and explosive hydrogen gas near the batteries. In a genuine emergency… • You could even use non-amateur frequencies or equipment to call for help in a situation involving immediate danger to life or property. This is a situation so serious that you may use any means at your disposal to call for help on any frequency. • A real emergency is not some frivolous inconvenience like getting poor service at a drive through fast food joint. Believe it or not, some people have actually called 911 for this! • A real emergency might be if you spot a house fire – time is of the essence and clearly lives and property are at risk. Avoid chitchat • During a public service event, only radio traffic related to the event should be on the air. • Even if things are slow, avoid the temptation to have casual conversation with other stations during a public service event. • Idle chatter might interfere with important traffic – the nature of public service communications is that you never know when something will come up. Keep the frequency as clear as possible. Those darned paparazzi • If a reporter asks you to use your amateur radio transceiver to make a news report, you should politely but firmly advise them that the FCC prohibits such use. • Remember that the general public – and that includes news reporters – don’t understand FCC rules and the nature of amateur radio. Modified equipment • When can you use a modified amateur radio transceiver to transmit on the local fire department frequency? • You can do so in a genuine emergency, which means that you may use any means at your disposal to call for help on any frequency. How to learn ham radio • Listen on the air. “A wise old owl sat in an oak. The longer he sat, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Why can't we be like that wise old bird?” • Participate in nets, both formal & informal. They serve as valuable sources of on the air experience. • Go to club meetings – You will always learn something new. If you are going to take your Technician test soon, good luck on your exam! I hope to hear you on the air soon. Pat Tice, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx · Login <http://www.handiham.org/user/login?destination=comment%2Freply%2F750%23comm ent-form> to post comments on this story. · Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/750> version · Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/750> to friend To be continued in our third part of this special edition of your Handiham World, appearing at a later date - to be announced. For Handiham World, I'm... Patrick Tice, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx _____ This week @ HQ Check out our web poll: <http://www.handiham.org/node/747> Do you plan to operate on Field Day 2010? Yes No * Next week your Handiham World is taking a break. It did not tell us where or if it was going someplace, but we suspect that it will be traveling with the Handiham Friday Audio Notification, which will also be on break. * 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 call: 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" automatically! 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. Volunteers: 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 <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 patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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 activities. · 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: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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! Pat, WA0TDA Manager, Courage Handiham System Reach me by email at: patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx _____ 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. · By wa0tda at 04/07/2010 - 20:12 · Login <http://www.handiham.org/user/login?destination=comment%2Freply%2F754%23comm ent-form> to post comments · Thumbnail <http://www.handiham.org/sites/default/files/images/mic_glasses_1.thumbnail. jpg> · Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/754> version · Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/754> to friend _____ 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.