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 Download the 64 kbs 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! Beam antenna rises above flowering crabapple trees We are definitely in the summer ham radio doldrums. I can tell that we have reached this time of year by some of the comments I hear, usually by word of mouth or by e-mail: * "What is wrong with the bands?" * "When will the bands get better? I don't hear anything on HF." * "I never hear anything on the repeater." * "My radio club doesn't meet during the summer." * "No one is around to help me with my station/antenna projects." * "When I went to check into the net, there was no net control station and no one ran the net." Does any of this sound familiar? I hear most of this same kind of discussion every year about this time. As summer arrives here in Minnesota, people start thinking seriously about outdoor activities and taking vacation. Of course we have ARRL Field Day in June each year, but the overall disconnect from many ham radio activities really begins in mid-Spring, generally following Dayton HAMVENTION. Mother Nature contributes to the problem of HF operation by throwing thunderstorms at us all summer long. The resulting radio interference pretty much makes operation on the lower HF frequencies something that would try any operator's patience. Then there is the onset of spring and summer jobs waiting for everyone when the snow finally melts here in central North America. I have noticed that radio club attendance usually starts to decline in March. Many radio clubs don't even meet during the summer because everyone has so much going on that it is difficult to find a quorum for a meeting. When I hear questions about the HF bands, I know that they are usually coming from newbies who don't have too much experience and have never learned about the seasonal fluctuations in HF and VHF propagation. Old timers know that the 6 m band comes alive in the late spring and early summer, just as the lower HF bands start to get plagued by thunderstorm static. If these newbies haven't learned about seasonal fluctuations, they certainly don't know about or understand solar weather or the sunspot cycle either. Oh, well... I look upon it as a teaching opportunity. Last week we reminded you to get ready for Field Day. As long as band conditions aren't too good, now is the time to head out to the backyard for an antenna inspection. Those of you listening to the podcast can hear me as I go through my usual checklist to make sure that my antennas are going to keep working all right. An antenna inspection should be done several times each year, or even more often if you have experienced severe weather in your area. What to look for: Are the antennas still up in the air? Don't laugh -- I have heard from people who didn't even know half of their antenna was lying on the ground someplace after one of the supports broke. A visual inspection will include making sure that any wire antennas are still in position and that tree branches are not impinging on the radiating element or feedline. Other types of antennas, like vertical or beam antennas, should be visually inspected just to see that all of the elements are in place. If an antenna is designed to rotate, you should look to see that trees have not grown so close to the antenna that they enter the turning radius. So far, all of this can be done by simply walking outside and looking around. If you are blind or have low vision, you will want to get a helper to do this part of the job with your direction. What about the feedline? Next, you are going to pay particular attention to the feedline or feedlines, and if the antenna is really high in the air, a pair of binoculars can bring the feed point (center insulator) into focus so that you can see if everything is connected properly. This antenna inspection is a pretty simple one and it does not include any tower climbing. You can follow the feedline down to the point where you can do a close inspection, being sure to include where the feedline enters the building. Since you can actually feel and manipulate the feedline at that point, you can check for any deterioration that might indicate a need for replacement. You will also want to check to make sure that where the line enters through the wall that water or insects cannot get into the building. If coax connectors are covered with a sealant, check to make sure that they are still being protected from the elements. I hope you have some kind of lightning arrestor and grounding system where the feedline enters the house. Check to make sure the connections are solid. If you do any actual work on the antenna or feedline, all of the radios inside should be disconnected from the AC mains to avoid any possibility of electric shock. Remember, at this point we are just doing a visual inspection. Have animals damaged the coax? Since one of my antennas is a ground mounted Butternut vertical, I will need to do a close up inspection of the feed point to make sure that the coaxial cable is connected at the base, both the center conductor to the vertical radiating element and the coax braid to the grounding system and radial field. Since this particular antenna model has several capacitors that I can reach from the ground, I can also check to make sure that they have not come loose or broken over the winter. My antenna has a small fence around it to protect the base, and even the fence deserves a quick look over to make sure that it is still structurally sound. The vertical is fed underground, so I will need to inspect the parts that are visible in the feedline system, looking for signs of deterioration or damage caused by rodents or rabbits. (I once looked out the back window and saw a squirrel happily eating away at a plastic lawn chair. Animals can cause similar damage to coaxial cable.) Towers need special attention. If you are lucky enough to have a tower, you should also include it in your periodic inspection to make sure that it is structurally sound, and that includes a close-up inspection of at least some of the hardware that holds the tower together and the tower base to make sure that corrosion has not compromised its integrity. Naturally you want to inspect as much of the feedline as you can easily reach around the base of the tower and take a look at the grounding system as well. A checklist can help. Pilots use them before takeoff - you can use checklists, too. Every antenna installation is different, so I can't get overly specific about a check list. However, I can say that it is my responsibility to know and understand the design and layout of my own antenna system so that I can make sure that it remains safe and effective. You have that same responsibility for your station, whether you have a disability or not. Perhaps you cannot easily get outside or see the antenna system yourself, but you should still have a complete understanding of where things are and how they work and how they should be inspected so that you can direct your helper or helpers during a routine inspection. Of course it helps to have amateur radio operators -- hopefully friends from your local radio club -- to help you with your antenna inspections. But if you don't, you may have to call on friends who know very little if anything about amateur radio and antennas. In that case, you really have to be able to take charge of the inspection and give good directions so that the inspection can be done properly and your helpers can be safe as they are following your directions. You may want to make a checklist of basic items so that you don't forget anything. Yes, summer may be the ham radio doldrums, but it is a lot easier to do an antenna inspection on a nice summer day than it is in the middle of winter. So if you can't hear anything on the bands it might be time to think about an antenna inspection followed by iced tea on the veranda. For Handiham World, I'm... Patrick Tice wa0tda@xxxxxxxx _____ "Echolink isn't real ham radio." Arrgh - I think I'll gag if I hear that idiotic phrase one more time. Echolink not only is ham radio, it is now also being used to meld the that most traditional of operating modes, Morse code, with modern operating practice. This story headline from ARRL, sent to me by KB3LLA, says it all: "W1AW Offers Code Practice, Bulletins via EchoLink" Yes, it's true - the network of Echolink-enabled repeaters and computers worldwide will be pressed into service as a learning resource for Morse. When the QRN is blasting the dickens out of 80 meters this summer, you can learn code or copy bulletins sans-interference, via Echolink. Go for it - you'll have fun with the code, and rest assured, you are using real ham radio technology in the process! _____ FCC ANNOUNCES JUNE 25 BROADCAST ENGINEERING FORUM FCC Round Seal One of the goals of the National Broadband Plan is to evaluate the reallocation of spectrum from the broadcast television bands, including rule-makings regarding service areas, distance separations, channel-sharing, and other mechanisms to achieve its spectrum reallocation goals. In support of such future rule-makings, the FCC has invited a number of broadcast industry engineers and technical experts in related fields to convene in four working sessions intended to address certain technical challenges and opportunities facing the broadcast industry today. WHAT: Broadcast Engineering Forum WHEN: Friday, June 25, 2010, 3:00 p.m. EDT WHERE: FCC Commission Meeting Room, 445 12th St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20554 ONLINE: http://reboot.fcc.gov/live/ The topics for discussion will be (1) Cellularization of Broadcast Architecture, (2) Methodologies for Repacking the TV Band; (3) Improvements in VHF Reception; and (4) Advancements in Compression Technology. Following these working sessions, each group will publicly report on its preliminary findings and recommendations with respect to its assigned topic. Agenda 3:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. Welcome and Overview of the Working Sessions 3:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. Cellularization of Broadcast Architecture 3:45 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. Methodologies for Repacking the TV Band 4:15 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. Improvements in VHF Reception 4:45 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. Advancements in Compression Technology 5:15 p.m. Questions/Discussion 6:00 p.m. Conclusion The reporting session will be open to the public; admittance however will be limited to the seating available. Audio/Video coverage of the meeting will be broadcast live with open captioning over the Internet from the FCC's web page at www.fcc.gov/realaudio. The FCC's web cast is free to the public and does not require pre-registration. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities are available upon request. Please include a description of the accommodation you will need. Individuals making such requests must include their contact information should FCC staff need to contact them for more information. Requests should be made as early as possible. Please send an e-mail to fcc504@xxxxxxx or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau: 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY). For additional information about the meeting, please contact Alan Stillwell (202-418-2925 or alan.stillwell@xxxxxxx) or Rebecca Hanson (202-418-0859 or rebecca.hanson@xxxxxxx). -FCC- More information about the Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan can be found at www.broadband.gov. You can also follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/FCC. _____ This week @ HQ * The Handiham Radio Club and Volunteers mailing lists are broken. I am investigating the outage and will let you know when the lists are back up again. * Pat, WA0TDA, will be at Camp Courage on Thursday. * Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the June 2010 CQ & Worldradio audio digests for our blind members. Thanks, Bob! * We have also finished reading the June, 2010 QST audio digest and Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, has completed the June 2010 Doctor column from QST for our blind members. Thanks, Ken! * 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 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 <http://www.handiham.org/> . Email us to subscribe: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at <http://www.handiham.org/> 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. . By wa0tda at 06/09/2010 - 19:48 . Login <http://www.handiham.org/user/login?destination=comment%2Freply%2F834%23comm ent-form> to post comments . Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/834> version . Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/834> 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.