Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Handiham World for 27 July 2011

Welcome to Handiham World!

Pat holding microphone in the ham shack.

It is less than two weeks to Handiham Radio Camp, which begins on Monday, 8 August.  As you might imagine, Nancy and I have been busy with last minute paperwork and communications from everyone who is planning to be at camp. We have made considerable progress, but lots of work still needs to be done as we get the equipment ready and answer questions while still trying to provide services to our Handiham members who will not be at camp. Last week I got my son Will, KC0LJL, sent off to Japan, where he will be teaching English for a year. Needless to say, I have not been bored for lack of things to keep me busy!
Today the Internet went down here at my home office and I'm slowly bringing it back on line.  Yesterday Don, N0BVE, went out to camp and got our Internet connection working there, and also got the W0EQO repeater back on Echolink. Last night and today Lyle, K0LR, and I have been working on the W0ZSW remote base, bringing it back on line after the camp Internet outage.  The camp Internet failed during a severe thunderstorm last Saturday.
All of this makes me wonder if good old  Murphy has us in his sights for Internet problems!  The long and short of it is that it does serve to remind us that as useful as the Internet can be, especially with VoIP connectivity for our repeaters and nets, it is still brittle and can suffer outages.  All the time the Internet was out here at home, guess what was still working?  Yup, you've got it: My VHF and HF radios, right here next to me in the ham shack. 
Now, don't conclude that I am about to sing the praises of trusty, time-proven RF while I go on a rant about how unreliable the Internet is and how we amateurs should avoid using it in favor of RF only.  I think the thing we should conclude is that we need redundancy in our communications, and that means the ability to use RF while still having Internet-enabled methods of communications enabled and ready to use.  After all, the Internet-enabled systems we have built to enhance our radio networks have generally been reliable. If disaster strikes, we need to be ready to use whatever works.  Keep an open mind when it comes to this stuff, folks.  
One consideration is to try using digital modes on HF.  Some of these, such as PSK-31, are more reliable than SSB communications and can work well at lower power levels and with less elaborate antenna systems.  I just got an email from our ARRL Division Director K0GW, who mentioned that ARRL has approved a new way to pick up your DXCC;  there will be a new “Digital” DXCC.  This will include RTTY as well as the many other digital modes. No matter what you think of chasing awards like DXCC, I think this is a very good move on the part of the League.  It will ramp up on the air activity, stimulate interest in digital modes, and help to build up a cadre of digital operators.  That will ultimately be good for emergency operations, as more of us will become proficient in digital modes.  Remember, PSK-31 does not need the Internet to get through!
In other thoughts:
Wouldn't it be nice to get QST in digital format?  That just could be an option in the future.  A plan for the next steps in providing QST digitally (in addition to the print edition) was approved at the recent ARRL Board meeting. The change in accessibility brought about by the personal computer and digital reading devices is simply enormous. Worldradio Magazine has led the way with an entirely digital version, which allows blind computer users to access the articles with screenreading software at virtually the same time they are available to everyone else. 
Curious about Morse code?  Coming to Radio Camp? Keep reading for news about learning code. 
For Handiham World, I'm...
Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

But first - Help us win the Dr. Dave Challenge!

We need your help. Dr. Dave, KN0S, climbs the antenna tower at Radio Camp.
Money is tight these days and we desperately need your support.  Now, thanks to a generous challenge grant by Dr. Dave Justis, KN0S, we have a chance to help fill the budget gap.  Dr. Dave will donate $5,000 to the Handiham System if we can raise a matching amount.  That means we need to really put the fund-raising into high gear!  If you can help, designate a donation to Handihams, stating that it is for the "Dr. Dave Challenge".  We will keep you posted in our weekly e-letter as to the progress of the fund. 
Nancy can take credit card donations via the toll-free number, 1-866-426-3442, or accept checks sent to our Courage Center Handiham address:
Courage Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55422

Be sure to put a note saying "Dr. Dave Challenge" somewhere in the envelope or on the note line of the check.  If you donate online as detailed toward the end of your weekly e-letter, be sure to designate to Handihams and then send me an email letting me know you donated to the Dr. Dave fund:
Thank you so much for your support!