[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 7 December 2011

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 7 Dec 2011 14:36:06 -0600

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.  You
can listen to this news online.

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Welcome to Handiham World!

[image: Heathkit HM-102 SWR/Wattmeter poses with Icom gear at WA0TDA.]

Image: A venerable and still useful Heathkit HM-102 SWR/Wattmeter poses
proudly amid my Icom gear. These days, it is an occasional test instrument
rather than a device that is used every day.

Kits - electronic kits - have always been a part of my ham radio world
since I was licensed as a teenager in the late 1960's.  Kits were around
before that, and hearken back to the long tradition of amateur radio
operators building their own equipment.  While not the same as designing
and building one's own gear from scratch, kits do allow those who want to
feel more vested in their radio equipment to enjoy the "hands-on"
experience of assembling the radio and learning more about the layout and
circuitry than if they had simply unpacked a new rig and put it on the
air.  I can't think of a time when I haven't owned at least several kits.
Some of them have been transceivers or transmitters, while others have been
accessories or test gear.

The motivation for owning kits has changed through the years.  Back in
1967, when I got my Novice ticket, and a year later, when I upgraded to
General, it was more important to me to find affordable gear so that I
could just get on the air. Kits like the Knight T-60 transmitter filled the
bill. Paired with a Lafayette receiver that drifted like a rowboat in a
hurricane until it warmed up, this little station was the source of more on
the air fun than you could ever imagine. I was already familiar with
Knight-Kits, having built a two tube regenerative receiver, the "Span
Master", while in high school. When I made the inevitable move to SSB, the
Heathkit HW-100 was the kit of choice. It's 20 tube circuit was challenging
to assemble, but I laid everything out on our family's ping-pong table in
the basement and just followed the directions.  It worked the first time,
and after alignment and installation of the case, provided my first really
solid experience with phone operation, though I had plenty of fun working
DX on CW.

Over the years I built other kits, some of which were test gear that I
still own and occasionally use today. Some kits, like a Heathkit SB-201
linear amplifier, were purchased assembled on the used market.  Later on I
donated that amp to Handihams, having decided that high power wasn't really
all that fun or useful. There are plenty of good used radios and
accessories on the market, originally built from kits but working well

Today's kit builder is motivated less by the need for economy and more by
the desire to experience the fun of putting some of one's own effort into
the station equipment.  However, there is an important new niche in amateur
radio kits - that of simply offering equipment that isn't available any
other way.  A third development is the evolution of superior kit radios
that rival or best the already-assembled competition!  Cost does not
necessarily enter into the decision making for any of these three kit

I was pleasantly surprised to hear from a group of kit builders here in the
Midwest.  The Four State QRP Group has a kit building service and has built
kits for hams who are blind or who just can't see well enough to complete a
kit themselves. They do not charge for their service and would like to
offer their services to our members.  This is an option for those who
cannot build a kit on their own but who would like to experience the fun of
operating with a transmitter that would not otherwise be available to them.
A link to their website follows after my identification.

But what about kits that can be assembled by blind hams?  One inquiry that
intrigued me recently came from K9EYE, who would like to find a kit for a
QRP A.M. transmitter that is possible to assemble with minimal soldering.
Pierre and I both remember as kids having electronics kits or "labs" that
were designed to allow for experimentation with a variety of circuits.
Since they were designed with clip and plug connectors, they lent
themselves to assembly by just about anyone.  For some reason you couldn't
trust kids with hot soldering irons but wood burning sets seemed to be
okay.  Anyway, we all survived to tell about it today!  But we would like
to find some blind-friendly kits.  If anyone has sources or ideas, please
let us know.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

Four State QRP Group online:

Small Wonder Labs Retro-75 AM Transceiver (also available as a 40 meter
Early Winter Reading: Becoming a Ham (Part 12)
[image: code key]

Becoming a Ham - Part 12

By T. A. Benham (SK - formerly W3DD, a callsign which has been reassigned.)

Tom Benham, now a silent key but who most recently held callsign W3DD, was
a ham radio pioneer, and being blind didn't even slow him down! Join us now
as W3DD recalls a try at bouncing a signal off the moon that went up in


The trailer was not all devoted to Government projects. We were all Hams
playing the game, so we had to try a few ideas. We experimented with the
12-ft dish and tried our hand at a 1296 MHz helix, stacked Yagis, etc. One
student, not a Ham, suggested we try a moonbounce. With the materials
available, we figured we would need a couple of hundred watts in order to
get a signal back that we could detect. This was in 1960-61. Peter Arnow,
the student, agreed to buy the parts for the final while Ridgeley and I
would do the rest. We had everything ready and made a couple of trial runs
to see that things were working properly. The night had been chosen for the
bounce. Sometime during the day before, the power supply caught fire. No
one was in the trailer at the time. We had built an alarm which would sound
in two or three places in the Physics building so I would hear it no matter
where I was! Much to our dismay it went off! I rushed into the Lab where I
knew one of the students was and he and I made for the car he had parked
nearby. By the time we drove the quarter mile to the trailer and got the
door unlocked, the smoke was dense inside. He hesitated because of the
smoke, but it didn't stop me. I couldn't see anyway. I opened the circuit
breaker, grabbed the fire extinguisher and started to spray in the general
area I knew the transmitter was located. By this time, the student got
oriented and grabbed another extinguisher. By the time the fire was out,
the power supply was beyond any use. This happened near the end of the
College session 1961. Peter graduated and took his 1296 amplifier with him
and we did not have another opportunity. I believe that had we succeeded,
we would have been the first Hams to do it.

*The end of the trailer*

As the NASA system grew and the signals got more and more complex, we fell
into disuse from their point of view, but we kept listening. The entire
project had an unhappy end, however. In October, 1967, some local hoodlums,
after several tries, broke into the locked trailer, poured gasoline over it
and burned it. It was a total ruin. A member of the faculty called me and
said the trailer was burning and that the flames must be 100 feet high. It
was a sad ending, but it had been the source of many hours of fun,
excitement and education. Many students benefited from it and it served as
a subject for many a thesis.

*The knot in the feedline*

In May of 1968, my family moved to a new house on a cliff about 70 feet
above the road. At last, I could erect an antenna high enough to put out a
good signal but there was no satisfactory space to put up a radiator except
on the roof. A friend, Dave, helped me erect a couple of 2 by 4 poles 40
feet apart. We put a 20 meter dipole between them with a coax line from the
center. This ran down the roof and in through a window to my transmitter.
He did most of the work, especially on the roof. I got all set up in the
Shack and tried things out. I couldn't get the SWR below 4 or 5 and could
raise no one. I was using the same transmitter that I had had for years.
(Modern gear would not tolerate such mismatch.) I said to Dave, "It seems
as though the feed line is shorted. Would you go up and check?" He assured
me everything seemed okay. "Describe how the coax gets down here," I
suggested. "Well, it comes right down the roof. I put a screweye in the
ridge pole and put the coax through it and back around and through again so
the wire would not pull on the antenna." "Oh gosh, you've created a
discontinuity in the line which is reflecting everything back to me!" He
undid his knot, fed the line through the eye and everything worked as it
should. I made some rather unusual contacts with this arrangement. It
worked for 13 years, until we moved again, this time to a deep hollow!

*Going modern*

Ham radio was still a hobby I enjoyed. For 50 years, I had been using the
equipment I made during the thirties. It worked well, but was old
fashioned. I had been hearing reports about the new style of gear. One
feature that interested me was the transceiver concept, having the
transmitter and receiver controlled by the same knob so that the
transmitter always transmitted on exactly the same frequency that was being
received. This was much easier to manage than tuning the receiver to a
desired frequency and then having to tune the transmitter to match. In
April of '86, I succumbed to temptation and bought a modern transceiver. It
had the same power output from the transmitter as my old one, but it had
bells and whistles on it that I had not used before. It was marvelous. Set
side by side, my old equipment brought in distant stations just as well,
but the stability and repeatability of the new rig was far superior. I grew
to like it very much but there was no dial that I could mark in some sort
of Braille, so I couldn't tell where I was. I had a voice circuit installed
so I could hear what frequency I was tuned to and the whole experiment has
been a success. Furthermore, the new machine is only 13 by 10 by 3 inches
instead of two large boxes that housed my old equipment. Things fit in my
desk much more neatly. There was one regrettable aspect to the changeover.
In 1939, my sister went to the World Fair in New York. She brought back a
little tag in the shape of a car license plate. On it was stamped, just
like a regular plate, W3DD 1939. She said she asked them to make it say
1931 to match the date I got my Ham license, but they couldn't do it. I
fastened the plate to the front of my receiver and thought about her every
time I touched it. After I had gotten used to the new outfit, I was offered
$100 for my "antique." I sold it but forgot to remove the little plate.
About six months later, I got a letter from a Ham in Massachusetts who told
me the fellow who bought my old receiver had given him a small plate with
W3DD on it. "Was that a replica of an actual plate," he asked, "because if
it was, it shows that such car plates were issued way back then. That makes
it a valuable keepsake." "No," I replied, "My sister had it made at the New
York fair. I would like to have it back. It was not meant to go with the
receiver." "Too bad," he said, "I intend to keep it anyway." Nice guy, I
don't think!

Next week: Crossed dipoles.

*To be continued...*
New! The Handiham World Year-End Appeal Edition
[image: Screenshot of the 2011 Handiham World print edition, showing page

The Handiham World is published in print once per year along with an
enclosed giving envelope. It is mailed to our regular subscribers and is
now available as a PDF download. As soon as production is complete, it will
also be available in MP3 audio for our members and supporters who do not
read regular print. The link to the PDF download, which contains embedded
text, is here:

The giving envelope is not available in the PDF version, but we will be
happy to send you one if you request it, either by emailing us at
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or calling toll-free at 1-866-426-3442. You can
donate online to support the Handiham System, too. The page with
instructions may be found at:

Be sure to read through the entire page for instructions on how to support
the Handiham program specifically.

You can get the weekly Handiham World by email or audio podcast, or you can
read or listen right here on Handiham.org:

To request an email subscription, please contact pat.tice@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
The weekly edition comes out each Wednesday.

[image: dog barking at cartoon mail carrier]

Dr. Dave, KN0S, sent us a photo of his beam antennas:

[image: Triband beam antenna on tripod tower, with horizontal 2 meter
antenna mounted above.]

In this photo, we are looking up at a triband beam antenna for 10, 15, and
20 meters, with a horizontally-mounted 4-element 2 meter beam mounted above
it.  Everything is on a tripod rooftop tower. The rotor is mounted inside
the tower, and a multi-loop of coax used as an RF choke can be seen at the
feedpoint of the HF beam.  Nice job, Dave!
Troubleshooting 101: Icom IC-706M2G shuts off unexpectedly & a serious
noise problem needs tracking down

[image: Pat and giant alligator]

The ongoing discussion is about my Icom IC-706M2G transceiver, which
started to behave a little strangely.  I noticed one morning that the radio
had simply turned off on its own.

I heard from some of you regarding this oddity:

Gerry, WB6IVF, writes:  You might want to try connecting and disconnecting
the front panel. A few weeks ago my Icom 7000 did a funny thing. I hadn't
used it in several months. I took it out of the GO box, and put it
together. When I turned it on, it would only click once and not come on. I
tried the same things that you did with the same results. Next I decided to
take the front control head off. I felt all of the contacts on both the
head and the radio body. If I could, I moved them to work the spring action
if they had any. I being an ex-mechanic thought about the contacts being
dirty, bent, or fatigued. Finding nothing, I put the head back on the
radio. I reconnected the antenna and power supply and tried it again. It
worked fine after that. So my suggestion is to remove and replace the
control head a few times and try using it again.

John, N1IWT, says: Like you said it could be the CMOS (battery) or even
simpler, does it have a power save circuit?  That did me in on my computer
shutting down... and TURNING ON.

Bill, K9BV, likes the easy way: Don't turn it off -- just turn volume down
at night and turn it up in the morning. After a couple of years, the radio
will be obsolete and you can buy a newer radio. We spent the last couple of
years slapping our TV to open up the picture vertically -- if we hit it too
soon after turning it on we'd have to slap it again -- so we left it on a
few minutes every day before slapping it -- in the correct spot, of course!
THEN, slapping it to get the picture, the volume went down to a half. So we
had to tap it a foot lower on the right side to get the sound back to
normal volume WITHOUT losing the picture again. THEN, even whacking and
slapping to get the picture and sound ok, the picture lost half its
intensity which meant we couldn't watch it during the day anymore. Three
strikes...you're OUT. I put the old TUBE TV in trash pickup and bought a
new flat screen on sale. Merry Christmas!

George, N0SBU, suggests: I think the reason it is shutting off is the power
switch is going bad and will shut off on its own.

Well, so far I have not made a lot of progress zeroing in on a solution. At
the moment, I have switched the radio back to the SEC 1223 switching
supply, and I am leaving it turned on, which is probably closest to
following Bill's advice.  It is the path of least resistance for the lazy
man, which I am at the moment.  But Bill, I have to tell you, I am not sure
I would have the patience to find exactly the right spot to give the radio
a slap to get it up and running every time!

Next we hear from Tom, KB8TYJ, with this tale of woe:  The latest challenge
in my ham radio life is trying to uncover the source of an interference
issue that I have experienced on 10 meters for about the past 2 weeks. The
interference is consistent, in that it occurs at all times of the day.  I
only get the interference on 10 meters, but it occurs throughout the band.
The attached file contains a recording of the interference in a .wav
format.  If you want to put this in the next e-letter as an interference
puzzle, feel free to do so.  Listen to the noise here:

Email me at wa0tda@xxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

A dip in the pool

[image: Guy studying license manual.]

It's time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the pool - the question
pool, that is!

Today we are taking a question from the Extra Class pool.

E4E07 asks: *How can you determine if line-noise interference is being
generated within your home?*

Your possible answers are:

A. By checking the power-line voltage with a time-domain reflectometer
B. By observing the AC power line waveform with an oscilloscope
C. By turning off the AC power line main circuit breaker and listening on a
battery-operated radio
D. By observing the AC power line voltage with a spectrum analyzer

If you selected answer C, By turning off the AC power line main circuit
breaker and listening on a battery-operated radio, you were right on the
money. The first thing to eliminate as a source for interference is
anything in your own home. This is easiest to do, because you have control
over your own property!  If the interference disappears when you turn the
main power off, then you have to narrow your search within your house and
any outbuildings or outdoor electrical circuits that might also be fed
through your breaker box.
Remote Base Health Report for 07 December 2011

[image: Kenwood TS-480 transceiver, used in both remote base stations.
(Universal Radio image)]


   *W0ZSW is on line. *

   *W0EQO is on line. *

This past week we have had some intermittent Internet connection problems
at W0ZSW.  Today it is working well, so we are in a wait-and-see mode right
now. Hopefully both stations will remain on line, as I have increasingly
noticed that both are in use much more often, sometimes both at once.  Our
thanks to volunteer engineer Lyle Koehler, K0LR, for his help maintaining
the station databases and updates.

You can view the status page at:
This week @ HQ

[image: Handiham headquarters at Camp Courage, Maple Lake Minnesota]

   - George, N0SBU, reports that the tape cassette version of the
   publications is in the mail as of yesterday.  He also reminds us that he
   has now been doing the tape duplication for around 5 years. One of George's
   new projects is to get the Technician audio lecture series onto 4-track
   tape cassette for a member who cannot use another format.  We sure do
   appreciate all of George's help and dedication over the years!
   - Dates for Radio Camp 2012 are Saturday, June 2 - Friday, June 8, 2012.
   This will be earlier than usual so that we can test for Extra under the
   existing question pool, which expires at the end of the last day of June.


   *Tonight is EchoLink net night.*  The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is
   at 19:30 United States Central time, which translates to 01:30 GMT Thursday

   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 changes of address, phone
   number changes, or email address changes so that we can continue to stay in
   touch with you. You may either email Nancy at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
   or call her toll-free at 1-866-426-3442. Mornings are the best time to
   contact us.

 Supporting Handihams - 2011.  [image: Dr. Dave climbs the tower] Help us
win the Dr. Dave Challenge!
Thanks to everyone who has helped us with donations to the Dr. Dave
Challenge so far.

Money is tight these days and we desperately need your support.  Now,
thanks to a generous challenge grant by Dr. Dave Justis, KN0S, we have a
chance to help fill the budget gap.  Dr. Dave will donate $5,000 to the
Handiham System if we can raise a matching amount.  That means we need to
really put the fund-raising into high gear!  If you can help, designate a
donation to Handihams, stating that it is for the "Dr. Dave Challenge".  We
will keep you posted in our weekly e-letter as to the progress of the fund.

Nancy can take credit card donations via the toll-free number,
1-866-426-3442, or accept checks sent to our Courage Center Handiham

Courage Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422

Be sure to put a note saying "Dr. Dave Challenge" somewhere in the envelope
or on the note line of the check.  If you donate online as detailed toward
the end of your weekly e-letter, be sure to designate to Handihams and then
send me an email letting me know you donated to the Dr. Dave fund:

Thank you so much for your support!

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:

   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 2011.

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 $12 annual dues level for one year. Your renewal date
   is the anniversary of your last renewal, so your membership extends for one

   Join for three years at $36.

   Lifetime membership is $120.

   If you can't afford the dues, request a 90 day non-renewable sponsored

   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 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.

Email us to subscribe:

Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at





   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:


[image: 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.

Courage Center Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422

* hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  *

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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 7 December 2011 - Patrick Tice