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 You can also listen to the content online: MP3 audio stream: <http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u> http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u Download the 64 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player: <http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3> http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3 Get this issue as an audio podcast: <http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham> http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham _____ 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 wa0tda@xxxxxxxx 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 before! 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 wa0tda@xxxxxxxx _____ 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 (1-888-835-5322) 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 communications. 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: http://www.fema.gov/ FEMA plan and prepare links: http://www.fema.gov/plan/index.shtm FEMA NIMS training page: http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/NIMSTrainingCourses.shtm ARRL online course catalog: http://www.arrl.org/online-course-catalog If you have comments or questions about this story you may e-mail me. Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager wa0tda@xxxxxxxx _____ 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 cataloged. . 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" automatically! 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 <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 patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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 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: 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: 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 Handiham System Reach me by email at: patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx _____ 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.