[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 7 April 2010

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 7 Apr 2010 15:26:45 -0500

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:

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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

More at:


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.

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…. 


Laurie Meier, N1YXU

Read the Events:  <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

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:


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


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. 


•          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

•          Amateur radio transmissions can be picked up by people using

•          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


•          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

•           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


•          You are bound by FCC rules to operate your amateur radio station

•          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. 



•          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

•          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

•           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

•          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

–   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

•          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.


•          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


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 


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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




*       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

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.


·         By wa0tda at 04/07/2010 - 20:12 

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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, 7 April 2010 - Patrick Tice