[handiham-world] Handiham World for 22 July 2009

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2009 14:24:39 -0500

 


Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of 8 July 2009 


This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham
System <http://handiham.org> . Please do not reply to this message. Use the
contact information at the end, or simply email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

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  _____  


Welcome to Handiham World!


We are back again after a vacation week. Our family spent a week on the
North Shore of Lake Superior, and I found out some interesting things about
operating from the hotel via the Internet. As you might expect, one
typically operates a notebook computer at such a location via a wireless
connection to the hotel's wireless router.

This particular hotel, which was really more like rental condominiums, had
an unsecured wireless router. This may seem unusual, but we were so far
north "in the sticks" that I imagine security concerns don't crop up all
that much. One advantage for the hotel is that there are fewer tech support
calls from guests having trouble logging on to the system. So far, so good.
It was easy to connect to the hotel Internet system, and there were no
annoying login screens like the ones typically encountered at major hotel
chains. Sometimes security software and firewalls get in the way of ham
radio operation via the Internet, so a test of the system is always in
order. Most of us who have operated EchoLink are familiar with firewall
issues, and when I am traveling I assume that I am going to have to operate
EchoLink through a proxy in order to bypass firewalls at hotels and coffee
shops. Of course you can always run a simple test with EchoLink in the
normal (non-proxy) mode to see what happens. You should see a station list,
and if you are often dealing with firewall issues like me, you probably have
the EchoLink test server already bookmarked in your favorites. You need to
try a test connection to the EchoLink test server. If it fails, the next
step is to select a proxy from the public proxy list and try the test server
again. If it works, you are good to go!

The interesting thing that I encountered -- something I had never seen
before -- was that the connection through a proxy was successfully made and
allowed perfectly normal reception. The oddity came when I transmitted and
got reports that everything I said was vastly speeded up, although the pitch
of my voice was not changed. "Dead air" punctuated the speeded up speech.
This was most interesting; it was certainly nothing I had ever experienced
before in using EchoLink. It certainly wasn't caused by the proxy, which is
my own WA0TDA proxy running on a high-speed Internet connection. It wasn't
the Dell netbook computer, which I had used many times for successful
EchoLink QSO's. It pretty much had to be the hotel wireless system, which
was delaying packets and then dumping them out all at once. Still, it seemed
odd that this only happened on transmit and audio was perfectly normal while
receiving. One would certainly think that the phenomenon would be the same
in both directions. I would be interested in hearing from any of our readers
and listeners who can shed some light on this strange EchoLink behavior.

That EchoLink problem prevented me from getting on the handiham net, but I
still had the handiham remote base software installed on the Dell along with
Skype, so I decided to check into PICONET, a daily HF net on 3.925 MHz.
Interestingly enough, the rig control software behaved perfectly normally
and I was able to easily control the Kenwood TS-480 transceiver at Courage
North. Skype transported the audio as expected, delivering both excellent
reception and good reports on transmission. Clearly Skype and EchoLink are
very different applications and route audio packets differently over the
Internet. Although it is possible to operate a remote base station using
EchoLink, this only served to confirm that we made the correct decision to
choose Skype as the audio transport system for the handiham remote base
instead of EchoLink. Skype is much more likely to work the first time
without a need to worry about firewalls, proxies, port forwarding, and all
the rest.

Now, as we get closer to the release date of Windows 7, we need to continue
testing to determine how the handiham remote base software and EchoLink will
work in this new operating system that will ultimately replace Windows XP
and Windows Vista. If anyone has experience with testing using the Windows 7
beta or the current Windows 7 release candidate, let me know so that we can
compare notes. We want to make sure that the handiham remote base is
reliable and accessible for all users, whether they are operating from a
hotel room or from their home Internet connection.

Fiberglass antenna blown apart by lightning

Photo: Lightning destroyed this fiberglass antenna at Handiham headquarters
several years ago.  The antenna literally blew apart, but gas-discharge
arrestors protected the station equipment.

lightningBefore we move on to Avery's QTH, I want to remind you that it is
thunderstorm season in much of the northern hemisphere. Yesterday afternoon
I went out for a walk, my typical 2 mile trek through the local park. When I
left the house, I stepped into bright sunshine. Halfway through the walk,
cumulus clouds had grown quickly, getting darker and larger, and thunder was
evident. When conditions are right, thunderstorms can sprout quickly as the
strong sunlight causes air to warm and rise. And there I was, a mile from
home with no umbrella, and no protection from lightning, wind, or hail!

Well, I hoofed it back home as quickly as I could, with the thunder getting
louder and the sky getting even darker. I wasn't all that worried about
getting wet, but lightning scares me, and I knew that I needed to be under
shelter as soon as possible.  Besides, all of my station's antennas were
still connected, putting my radios at risk.

As it happened, I made it home without getting rained on, the station was
unscathed, and the storm moved off. Later that evening, I heard on the news
that a 14 year old girl in a nearby city, only about 12 miles away, had been
struck by lightning and killed. She had been playing outside in the rain
when the tree she was under was struck. 

Lightning is unpredictable, and it is more dangerous than the wind and rain.
Lightning has been known to strike 10 to 15 miles from the storm cloud! I
was lucky this time, but it does serve as a reminder to check the weather
radar before going outdoors for an extended period during these unsettled
summer weather conditions. This wouldn't be a bad time to check your ham
shack's grounding and lightning protection systems, too!  Remember, summer
is the time when the day can dawn bright and clear, but thunderstorms can
pop up suddenly, drawing massive energy from the hot sun. Disconnect those
antennas unless you are actually using your station, just to be on the safe
side.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
wa0tda@xxxxxxxx
Handiham Manager

  _____  


Avery's QTH - Voice chips in handheld radios


 <http://www.handiham.org/node/212> Avery's QTH

Welcome once again to my humble QTH:

Many of us grew up with our faces glued to the TV watching programs like
Star Trek with Captain Kirk and the always "highly-logical" Mr. Spock.

When the show was on the air in the 1970's, it never ceased to amaze me how
they could reach up to their chests and tap on the button-like thing there
and call their spaceship, the Enterprise, many miles away up in outer space
somewhere. "Beam me up Scotty", they would say, and sure enough a short time
later they would materialize aboard the ship. Now, many years later, we have
come very close to having similar communications with our very small cell
phones and HT's.

While these tiny communications devices are reliable and portable, there is
a problem with them. They are all menu-driven, and if someone can't see the
menu for any reason they have no way to program the device.

Yes! Sure! That HT is very small and easy to carry around, but what if you
have to change the settings for some reason, like maybe you are in a
different area of the country helping out with some emergency
communications? Some of those tiny radios are almost impossible to reprogram
unless you have a computer, the software, and interface cable or are able to
see the menu on the radio itself.

It would be very handy to have HT's with voice chips so a person could
control all the functions just by listening to the audio output and pushing
the assigned buttons. Not only would it be nice for people who are blind,
but it would also be of value to sighted people who may have to work in a
dark area when operating in a tornado or hurricane where all the power is
down and all the lighting is out.

On several occasions when I have been at larger hamfests where the BIG three
(Kenwood, Icom, Yaesu) manufacturers were there, I went over to their booths
and chatted with them. In almost every case, all three could have been
working for the same company as I received almost exactly the same answer to
my question of why they don't put voice chips in their HT's.

The answer was: "That decision will have to come from upper management and
they are in Japan."

OK! So, then does that mean some electrical engineer, with sales experience,
that can speak both English & Japanese would have to go over there and find
a way to get to and interview the upper management people of each company
and convince them that having voice chips in the HT's would be a GREAT idea?
That is what it amounts to at this stage of the game.

My request never gets outside of this country let alone to the people that
can make it happen.

So, until next time,
73 es DX de K0HLA, Avery
You can reach me Monday & Wednesday until 1:30 PM Minneapolis time at:
Phone: # 763-520-0515
Email: avery.finn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  _____  


Letters


Here's a letter to me from K9JAU, who got to reminiscing about getting on
160 meters after reading my short article about trying to design an antenna
for that band:

My first ham experience was on 160 with random length antennas and tuners. I
had a Globe Scout (an original) plug in coil, link output. And absolutely no
idea of what I was doing! There were a lot of hams on the band at that time,
A M and a bit of SSB being introduced, not to all cheers by the way, and a
lot of us were young hams learning the way. The older hams were generally
accepting of us teens and shared a lot of knowledge with us. 

I lived in Chicago on a thirty by one twenty foot lot, so all antennas were
short! And we learned about grounds and radials. One summer several of us
pretty close to one another would add a random length radial and that
evening we would compare S meter readings. Not scientific, but for the first
several radials, signal increases were notable. And even with the RF gain
cut way back, I could sometimes hear a difference in a signal from one day
to the next, especially if I had a signal standard to compare with. I
believe that my best, almost all time antenna was a random length, perhaps
100 feet long with the series B & W coil stock up at the roof line, perhaps
twenty feet off the ground, so effectively an almost center loaded antenna.
that's what worked best for the guys with the mobile equipment! I used a bit
too much coil so that I could series tune the mess in the basement ham shack
with an old broadcast variable cap. And again, using a signal and the
reduced RF gain setting and no AVC, I could tune that antenna pretty much on
the money. Not to sound like an old fogy, which unfortunately I am! Those
were really fun times and great times to learn by practice! I'm about ready
to install the W5GI Mystery Antenna along with a ten foot ground rod and,
hopefully, a few radials wandering around just under the sod! I'm looking
forward to getting back on the air after a year or so absence. And maybe a
replacement 160 random length. Perhaps we could work on the band. Thanks for
reading all this nostalgia. 

Pat, K9JAU

Thanks for sharing that story, Pat. When I was a teenaged ham, my old
Knight-Kit T-60 wouldn't even go on 160 meters, so it took me quite a few
years to discover "the top band". 

We also heard from Jim, WB4KMQ, who informs us that there really is such a
tool as a "wire-stretcher":

Just for fun, in reference to your article in the e-letter, you stated that
there is no wire stretcher. In fact there is, but it would not work for
antennas, it is for piano wire. I have used one for that purpose a long time
ago. It looks like a small pizza cutter with a slot around the outside of
the wheel and you roll it down a piano string with pressure to stretch it
when stringing a piano.

Jim, WB4KMQ

 

  _____  


NLS audio players are finally on the way


NLS audio players are finally on the way

Image: The new NLS digital audio player, courtesy NLS website

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS),
Library of Congress has announced that the new, free DAISY players are now
in production and will be coming to a regional library near you, starting
this Fall. NLS says that it will take about three years for everyone to get
a player. So, folks should call or E-mail their regional library now to get
in the queue for one of these great new players.

There are two models, a basic unit and an advanced machine. The advanced
machine allows for full DAISY navigation. The basic model pretty much works
like a tape player only. So, folks should specify which machine they want.

Why the choice of two machines? And is the DAISY capability a pay-for
option?

Both machines are free. The simpler player is intended for those who don't
want to deal with all of that DAISY complexity. It's purely a matter of user
choice as to which machine a person wants.

Find out more on the National Library Service website:
http://www.loc.gov/nls/index.html

Read about the player test phase:
http://www.loc.gov/nls/newsletters/flash/volume5/number1.html

Thank to Ken, KB3LLA, for submitting this story.

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  _____  


Handiham History: May Convo in 1981


Handiham History: May Convo in 1981

Does 1981 seem like a long time ago? When George scanned a copy of the
Handiham World newsletter from Spring of that year, we came up with some
proof that things have changed. This image shows a story about "May Convo",
which is short for "convocation". According to Wikipedia, a convocation
(Latin 'calling together', translating the Greek ecclesia) is a group of
people formally assembled for a special purpose.

The article is entitled "Coming up soon; May Convocation", and reads:

"Each year the Courage Handiham System holds a "May Convocation" at
beautiful Camp Courage near Maple Lake, Minnesota. The Convocation gives
Handiham members and students a chance to get together and talk about
amateur radio -- or anything else, for that matter! The event has attracted
Handiham members from all over the country.

This year's May convocation will be held on May 15, 16, and 17. Invitations
will be going out to all Handiham members, students, and associates very
soon. Non-members are cordially invited, too. This is an excellent
opportunity for a non-ham to get a taste of what this hobby is all about!

The focus for this Convocation is ACTIVITY! The fee for the whole weekend is
$25 per person. Details and registration forms will be mailed to you soon.
Plan now to join us for a weekend of fun and education at the MAY
CONVOCATION!"

Interestingly enough, the photo accompanying this article shows the Courage
North dining hall, not a picture of anything at Camp Courage. Could it be
that the plans were already being made to move the Convocation to Courage
North, where it would become Handiham Radio Camp?

Once again, thank you to George, N0SBU, for his continuing work on the
Handiham History Project.

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  _____  


Wednesday Evening EchoLink Net


Wednesday Evening EchoLink Net happy guy with headset

Please join us and check in or simply listen in, as you see fit:

When: 

Wednesday evenings at 19:30 hours Minnesota time (7:30 PM)
GMT: Thursday morning at 00:30 Z

Where:

145.450 MHz N0BVE repeater (Minneapolis-St. Paul) 
Node 89680 (EchoLink worldwide) 
IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector) 
WIRES system number 1427

Everyone is welcome. You do not need to be a member, and the net is relaxed,
friendly, and informal. 

By the way, our Net Manager Howard, KE7KNN, reminds us that we need net
control stations for the Wednesday evening net and for the Monday through
Saturday morning net. If you are in the Twin Cities, all you need is a radio
that can get on the 145.45 N0BVE repeater, and if you live outside the RF
area, you can still be net control via EchoLink, IRLP, or WIRES. 

  _____  


This week at Headquarters:


.        The picture of the "mystery rig" was a Drake TR-7. Congrats to
everyone who guessed correctly.

.        The Friday audio lectures return this week.  Audio will be posted
on Friday.

.        QCWA Journal for summer, the audio digest recorded by Bob Zeida,
N1BLF, is on line. Check it out in the members section at handiham.org.

.        Help wanted: Net control station needed to take over the 14.265 MHz
Monday net! Email us at wa0tda@xxxxxxxx if you can help. You will need at
least a General class license or the equivalent HF license if you live
outside the USA. 

.        Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has recorded audio of the Handiham World Summer
1979 historical edition, so check out the audio page. The Friday
notification email will have a link. If you are a member and are not getting
the Friday audio lectures notification, let us know and we will get you on
the list.

.        I have fixed an error on the Handiham website that indicated the
Radio Camp application page was under construction. It is not, and you can
download the forms you need with no problem.


.        YES!  We still have room at Radio Camp!


.        Minnesota Radio Camp application forms are online. The sooner we
hear from you, the better -- if you are planning to join us at this summer's
session. One of the summer camps that had been held at Courage North in
previous years has been canceled, which means that people who could not get
into that session may want to apply for the Radio Camp. Incidentally, you
can e-mail us with your ideas for projects and topics at the upcoming
Minnesota Radio Camp session. Thanks for all your ideas so far!


The waterfront at Lake George

Join us this August at Minnesota Radio Camp.

Download the camp application package, which contains information pages and
the forms you need to apply for camp. Camp starts on Sunday, August 16, and
finishes on Sunday, August 23. It's a week of extraordinary fun, during
which you can earn your ham radio license or just get on the air. And it can
cost as little as $240 for the week. There are two choices for formats,
either Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF. 

*       Download Word Forms <http://handiham.org/manuals/forms/mncamp/word/>

*       Download PDF Forms <http://handiham.org/manuals/forms/mncamp/pdf/> 
*       Not <http://www.handiham.org/node/358>  sure?  Take a photo tour!

Having trouble downloading or have questions about Radio Camp or Handihams?
Just email Pat, wa0tda@xxxxxxxx, anytime.

  

.        The main Handiham website at www.handiham.org will be updated
daily, usually multiple times a day as news breaks.

*       In Operating Skills: 

*       The July digest issue of CQ is now posted. 
*       That means that now all three July digest issues of CQ, Worldradio,
& QST digest audio have been completed for our blind members by Bob, N1BLF,
and are posted. 
*       Volunteer reader Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, reads the July "Doctor is in"
column from QST for our blind members.  
*       Login to the <http://handiham.org/user>  member section of the
Handiham website and find the magazine digests in the Library. The QST, CQ,
and Worldradio digests have been read by Bob Zeida, N1BLF. 

*       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. 

Reminder:  Handiham renewals are now 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.
*       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: <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 
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.

DONATE USED HAM GEAR 

1-866-426-3442 toll-free Help us get new hams on the air.

FREE! 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:  <mailto:hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 
hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at
www.handiham.org <http://www.handiham.org/> :

. Beginner 
. General 
. Extra 
. Operating Skills

  _____  

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System!

Pat, WA0TDA
Manager, Courage Handi-ham System
Reach me by email at:  <mailto:patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 
patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

*       Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
*       Jerry, N0VOE, Student Coordinator: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
*       Avery, K0HLA, Educational Coordinator: avery.finn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
*       Pat, WA0TDA, Manager, patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
*       Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

ARRL </p />
<p>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 07/22/2009 - 19:18

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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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