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 You can also listen to the content online: Listen to an MP3 audio stream: <http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u> http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u Download the MP3 audio to your portable player: http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3 Get this issue as an audio podcast: http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham _____ 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 . Login <http://www.handiham.org/user/login?destination=comment/reply/514%2523commen t-form> to post comments . Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/514> version . Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/514> to friend _____ 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. . Login <http://www.handiham.org/user/login?destination=comment/reply/515%2523commen t-form> to post comments . Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/515> version . Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/515> to friend _____ 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. . Login <http://www.handiham.org/user/login?destination=comment/reply/516%2523commen t-form> to post comments . Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/516> version . Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/516> to friend _____ 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 . Login <http://www.handiham.org/user/login?destination=comment/reply/517%2523commen t-form> to post comments . Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/517> version . Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/517> 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.