[handiham-world] Handiham World for 9 June 2010

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2010 15:46:31 -0500

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:


Download the 64 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player:


Get this issue as an audio podcast:




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

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

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

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


"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 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.

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

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
*       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"

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 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:

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!


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
changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and
your new address.


.         By wa0tda at 06/09/2010 - 19:48 

.         Login
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.


JPEG image

GIF image

GIF image

GIF image

Other related posts:

  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World for 9 June 2010 - Patrick Tice