[handiham-world] Handiham World for 5 May 2010

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 5 May 2010 16:14:00 -0500

Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 5
May 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

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Welcome to Handiham World!

A new antenna goes up at Handiham headquarters

 <http://www.handiham.org/node/782> Dave gets ready to launch the tennis
ball attached to a fishing line, which will be used to pull the antenna wire
into the trees


 <http://www.handiham.org/node/784> Dave, W0OXB, and John, KC0UHY, compare
notes as the project progresses


By Patrick Tice

As most of our regular readers and listeners know, the Handiham headquarters
has moved from its long-time Golden Valley offices to a new location at Camp
Courage near Maple Lake, Minnesota. We already had a vertical antenna at the
new location, but we really felt that we needed a more versatile wire
antenna that would be able to tune a variety of different frequencies. We
settled on a 300 foot dipole fed with 450 ohm ladder line and a current
balun. Coaxial cable from the balun takes the signal to the antenna tuner
and to the TS-570 transceiver currently in place at our operating location.

As you can imagine, getting an antenna of that length up into the air can be
quite a challenge. We had the advantage of some pretty tall trees from which
we could support the antenna, and with some careful planning we were able to
run the legs of the antenna out into some fairly clear spaces while still
using these tall trees as supports.

Volunteers Dave Glas, W0OXB, and John Harvard, KC0UHY, had put up these "OXB
Special" antennas before, so all I really had to do was follow directions
and do as I was told. Dave directed the operation, as he is the real wire
antenna expert. Not only had he ordered the materials and did some assembly
ahead of time, he also procured the materials by getting the support of the
Handiham affiliated Stillwater Amateur Radio Association, which paid for
everything we needed. Dave also drove and brought the necessary tools. You
could certainly tell that he had done this kind of antenna work many times

The weatherman cooperated on Tuesday, May 4. The sun was shining and the
temperature was in the mid-70s. Although we had some wind, it wasn't really
more than a modest breeze and we were able to use the wind to our advantage
in launching a tennis ball loaded with a couple of heavy lead sinkers as a
lead for our fishing line. The tennis ball is launched using a slingshot
like device that was donated to the Handiham program by volunteer and donor
Bill Rouch, N6HBO. In order to get the tennis ball over some really tall
trees, Dave cut a small slit in it and slipped in a couple of lead fishing
weights. This gave the tennis ball enough mass to easily fly over the
tallest branches. When all was said and done, the average height of this 300
foot antenna was probably close to 45 feet. That is really pretty good for
an antenna of this length held up by trees.

We did some preliminary tests and then had to head back home to avoid
getting stuck in rush-hour traffic. We will do some of the final work on the
station later on when we receive the expected donation of an automatic
antenna tuner from Eliot, KE0N. Do you see how volunteers, donors, and staff
all work together to make a project like this possible? We are so grateful
for everyone's assistance. We couldn't do it without you!

Eventually, we plan to use this new antenna on a second Internet remote base
station. This will increase the operating capability by adding not only the
second station but the ability to operate on the 160 m band and on the 6 m
band. If this new antenna system works as well as expected, we may even
consider upgrading the antenna system at the Courage North location, also
adding 160 m and 6 m there.

Remote base operation will be an important part of our services in the years
to come. Thank you for your support.

Patrick Tice, Handiham Manager


Contacting the FCC

 <http://www.handiham.org/node/767> FCC Logo

Sometimes our Handiham members need to contact the FCC for one reason or
another. The FCC has some easy to use consumer contact information. A visit
to the FCC website can sometimes be confusing, but at the bottom of the page
you will find the following information:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
445 12th St. S.W. Washington, DC 20554

You may not necessarily need to know the street address of the FCC's
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, but several telephone numbers are
given, and they are useful toll-free numbers:

Voice: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)

If you have a hearing impairment and need to use TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC

Fax: 1-866-418-0232

This information is from http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/


NIMS Emergency Communications Courses are Accessible

 <http://www.handiham.org/node/779> Round ARES logo -- Amateur Radio
Emergency Service

A member reports that he has passed several of the NIMS courses and he has
found them to be very well designed and screen reader accessible. Navigating
the website with Window-Eyes, he was able to access all of the material
necessary to pass ICS-100a, ICS 700a, IS-700, and IS-704. One user tip that
he would like to pass on to anyone using a screen reader is that one should
read through all of the information on the forms pages prior to putting the
screen reader into form-filling mode. He advises that the secure website,
operated by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will ask for your
name and physical address as well as your Social Security number.

For those of you unfamiliar with NIMS, the acronym stands for "National
Incident Management System". The reason such training is important is that
amateur radio operators are expected to participate in emergency
communications exercises and actual emergency communications during real
incidents. Without the knowledge of how the command structure works and what
the procedures are, an amateur radio operator is more likely to get in the
way of efficient communications rather than be part of an efficient,
organized communications system that works across multiple agencies. In
other words, you are expected to go above and beyond simply getting your
license if you expect to participate fully in amateur radio emergency

He told me that one of his goals is to take the ARRL level I emergency
communications course. I have taken that course myself and I recommend it
very highly as an essential course in emergency communications and good
operating skills. In fact, some radio clubs insist that their emergency
communications participants take the ARRL level I course. If you take the
NIMS courses, which are free and accessible, and then take the ARRL course,
you will find that the material in the ARRL course reinforces what you have
learned in the NIMS courses.

I really must emphasize that even an Extra Class licensee is not necessarily
well-prepared for the new world of emergency communications without these
courses -- especially the ARRL level I course. While you may have good
communications skills, you will need to be trained on the structure of the
incident command system and learn how the pieces fit together and what
procedures will apply in different situations. These are things that you did
not learn while studying for your amateur radio licenses. Now, with
excellent courses available online from ARRL and FEMA, there is really no
excuse to put off doing some extra learning as you prepare to be an
emergency communicator -- a welcome resource for your community.

Here are some links for you:


FEMA plan and prepare links:

FEMA NIMS training page:

ARRL online course catalog:

If you have comments or questions about this story you may e-mail me.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager


Propagation goes to the dogs

 <http://www.handiham.org/node/777> Propagation map from Australian Space
Weather Agency website looks like image of dog

By Patrick Tice, WA0TDA

Over the past week, HF radio propagation has been pretty poor. A recent
solar weather event sent a stream of ionized particles into the Earth's
magnetosphere. HF users on the amateur radio bands had to put up with plenty
of noise and not too many signals. Thankfully, conditions are getting better
on the bands, but that's not what this story is really about.

The accompanying image is a screen shot of the Australian Space Weather
Agency website showing an hourly area prediction map of North America on 4
May, 2010 around 1800 UTC. The map is generated through data collection by
the agency and it shows propagation conditions by color overlays on the map.
The various colors represent frequency ranges in the HF bands. In this
particular case, the area of interest for us was central North America in
the frequency range of 3.9 MHz. Dave Glas, W0OXB, John Harvard, KC0UHY, and
I were testing a new wire antenna that we had just installed at Handiham
headquarters here in Minnesota. We wanted to run a test with a couple of
stations on the 75 m band. John pulled up the Australian website to check on
propagation conditions and the site generated this Java map for us.

The color of most interest to us was yellow, which represented 4 to 6 MHz,
giving us a rough indication of where the band might be open. Anyway, this
area seemed to favor us to some extent and we were able to make our
contacts. The curious thing about this map is that the more or less
oval-shaped yellow area could be seen as the nose of a cartoon dog. I'll bet
you didn't see this at first -- neither did I. I was too intent on looking
for and interpreting the data about propagation. We will have to credit John
with spotting an almost-perfect image of a cartoon dog sporting floppy ears
and a bright yellow nose in this Java-generated propagation map!

Take another look at the image and you will see the blue dog's head with
bright yellow nose and darker blue eyes. Concentric color circles around the
yellow "nose" even reinforce the dog's snout.

Sometimes we just have to step back and look at things from a different
perspective, don't we?

If you would like to use the excellent resources provided by the Australian
government at the Australian Space Weather Agency website, you can find it
at the following link:

 <http://www.ips.gov.au/HF_Systems/7/1> http://www.ips.gov.au/HF_Systems/7/1


This week @ HQ

*       A power outage has put me way behind in my work. I apologize for not
getting back to some of the emails and calls. Please try to keep calls and
emails to a minimum - no email jokes and please, no large file attachments.
*       Ken Silberman, KB3LLA, gives us an audio introduction to the new
National Library Service digital player. Members log in and head for the NLS
Digital Player directory in the manuals section, or else just navigate to
the Audio This Week page. 
*       Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the May 2010 Worldradio audio digest
for our blind members.  
*       We have also finished reading the May, 2010 QST audio digest and Ken
Padgitt, W9MJY, has completed the May 2010 Doctor column from QST 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

.         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 

Please don't call the Camp Courage number to reach Handihams. The phone at
the main Camp Courage office for all departments is (320) 963-3121. However,
we do not always get phone messages left at that number in a timely manner,
so if you wish to leave a phone message, be sure to call:  

Pat: 763-520-0511

Nancy: 763-520-0512 

Nancy and I will get your calls or voicemails at those numbers no matter
where we are working. 

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"

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

graphic showing figure using wheelchair holding hand of standing figure

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
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!


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
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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World for 5 May 2010 - Patrick Tice