Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Handiham World for 14 July 2010

Welcome to Handiham World!

A volunteer summer

Eliot, KE0N, gets the remote base project underway

Eliot, KE0N, at the new remote base control point.
Eliot, KE0N, at the new remote base control point.

The Handiham Remote Base at Courage North has proven to be reasonably reliable and quite popular with the Handiham membership. Just in case you need a refresher, our Camp Courage North location is in far northern Minnesota near the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The station is at the location where we held many Handiham Radio Camp sessions over the past two decades. It consists of a Kenwood TS-480SAT, a rig control interface and computer, an LDG auto tuner, and a G5RV antenna. The station runs W4MQ software to control the radio and SKYPE to port the audio both to and from the remote control operator. Users sign in with their approved credentials and are able to control the radio, changing the frequency and other parameters, and use the radio for both transmit and receive functions. The idea is to provide a real radio for many of our members who cannot otherwise get on the air because of antenna restrictions or other impediments to installing an HF station. Some of our members who do have their own stations also appreciate being able to operate from a completely different location. In addition to the W4MQ software interface, up to five users without transmit privileges can listen to the radio by connecting to W0EQO-L on Echolink. If no transmit control operator is present, Echolink users may control the radio's receive frequency using the text box feature of Echolink, simply by sending a frequency in the text and pressing enter. This feature is useful for a quick check of propagation conditions here in the Midwest. For example, a user might enter the number 10 to hear what The National Bureau of Standards station WWV sounds like here in Minnesota.

Kenwood TS-570 transceiver

Since only one transmit control operator can run the station at a time, there is a need for a second remote base. That is why we are pleased to have the able assistance of Eliot, KE0N, and Lyle, K0LR, who are working together to help me with this second Handiham remote base. Our new callsign will be the traditional Handiham headquarters call of W0ZSW. We hope to have the station in operation by the end of July, and when Eliot visited Handiham headquarters yesterday to work on the project, he made a lot of progress. In case you were wondering, the radio we have chosen is a Kenwood TS-570S. This radio, which has the capability of operating 160 through 6 m, will be coupled through an MFJ autotuner to a W0OXB 300 foot "special" wire antenna at an average height of 45 feet. This arrangement will allow us to offer 160 m through 6 m capability from the new remote base location. The existing remote base station at Courage North operates only 80-10 m using a 102 foot wire antenna, so we think that this will be a significant addition to our member services. The rig control computer is a Windows machine configured and supplied by KE0N, and the interface is a RIGblaster Pro. The radio is equipped with the VS3 speech module for blind users.

Lyle, K0LR, engineer for the Courage North station, is helping us with the station configuration. Our goal is to copy all of the user credentials from the first remote base to the new remote base so that users will have easy access to either station. This will also help us with tech support issues, and as you might guess we hope to keep those at a minimum!

One advantage of having two remote base stations separated by a significant distance is that there will be more choice for operating when conditions are bad in one spot but not in another. In the event that one station goes down, the other one would still be available. Redundancy is a good thing if you want to keep a service like this up and running.

No project worth its salt ever gets through the installation process without a few glitches and a visit from our associate engineer "Murphy". Sure enough, Murphy's presence was felt when the necessary DB9 serial cable turned out to be missing in action. We still have some issues to figure out with port forwarding and a static IP address, for those of you who understand what that stuff means. Nonetheless, we are pleased with the progress to date and feel that we are on target to have this member service available very soon.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice

Handiham Headquarters spruced up

Outside view of Handiham HQ entrance, showing antennas to the left, wooded scene
The Handiham headquarters entrance in the Camp Courage Reception Center.

You have seen photos of our headquarters before, but things are looking pretty good now at the Cyril Rotter Technology Center. Antennas rise to the left of the round building, and the 300 foot wire antenna is invisible high up in the trees to the left. The double doors can open wide to accommodate electric scooters or wheelchair users.

QSL cards

Since it is strictly "slow news" for ham radio this time of year, how about telling us about some favorite QSL cards you have either sent or received over the years? A photo or scan would be helpful, if you have one.

Handiham 25th anniversary QSL sticker

This photo shows a Handiham 25th anniversary sticker that we produced in 1992. The idea was to stick these onto your existing QSL cards and send them out to help promote the Courage Handiham System. They are pretty rare, so if you have a card with one of these Silver Jubilee stickers, hang onto it!

So what do you have? Send it to with your comments.


cartoon dog barking at postal carrier

Howard, KE7KNN, writes:

Hello, Pat.

Could you please remind our readers and listeners that we need people to take part in the Handiham nets, both the daily net and the Wednesday evening net. Summer is a particularly slow time and we need more participants. Remember that these nets are open to everyone and that you do not need to be a Handiham member. So bring a friend and join us -- you may even find the Handiham net a place to make new friends!

Howard, KE7KNN, Handiham Net Manager