Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Handiham World for 05 September 2012

Welcome to Handiham World.

New Net Schedule Begins This Week!

VOM with coax and clip lead

Tonight we begin the Handiham Wednesday evening net at 7:00 PM USA Central Time, or 24:00 GMT. Thursday marks the debut of the brand-new Handiham Tech Net. The official start date is on Thursday, 6 September 2012. The net will meet at 7:00 PM each Thursday United States Central Time and will remain true to local time throughout the year. We will be discussing technical topics and answering technical questions in a moderated net format. This will not be a "check in for the count" net, and only stations with technical questions and comments should check in for the discussion.  Everyone is welcome to listen along.
Over the Labor Day holiday I took a mini-vacation with my wife as we celebrated our anniversary. It is great to be able to travel and still enjoy an occasional ham radio contact using some of the new technologies that are available to us today. The remote base stations were working fine over the weekend, and Echolink was mostly useful, depending on whether an internet connection was available.  The was a wide area repeater system that was solid copy. Because our driving route took us through the north woods of Wisconsin on our way to Lake Superior, my T-Mobile cell service was sometimes poor to downright unavailable, which meant that there was no Echolink on long stretches of the route. At other times cellular service was available, but with additional charges for data roaming. Some restaurants and coffee shops have free wi-fi, but it was pretty clear that good old RF was still necessary. The VHF and UHF repeater systems operated by groups and individuals still provide a valuable and necessary service, and are going to be available when cell service fails. Although I have never had anything approaching a real HF mobile installation, it is worth considering if you travel a lot by car. You will inevitably drive through long stretches where repeaters and cell service are unavailable. HF would be nice to have as an alternative means of communication.
My problem has always been that I wouldn't use HF enough to make such an installation worthwhile. The HF antenna system would have to be removed or otherwise folded in order to get the car into the garage. The radio might get stolen if I left it in the car while out and about. It wouldn't be of much use on short trips.  I would get more use out of the spare HF radio (an IC-706M2G) in the main ham shack. All these things conspired to make a permanent HF mobile installation unattractive.
Is there any alternative?
One of our Handiham volunteers, Dave Glas, W0OXB, not only operates HF mobile, but also promotes a nice alternative which I will call "HF portable". The idea is to bring along HF gear, then deploy a temporary antenna system once you are safely parked. Sometimes this allows you to get up a wire antenna when there are trees around, assuming you are good with a slingshot antenna launcher. Alternatively, you can put a vertical antenna up next to or on the vehicle. One vertical antenna mount has a metal plate that you drive one wheel of the car on, and the weight of the car secures the plate, which is attached to an antenna mount. This makes a solid base for a vertical. The idea is to get up a better temporary antenna system that will be more effective on the air than a simple mobile antenna. Even if the stop is just for a short time you can quickly deploy a mag mount single band HF "stick" antenna on the roof of your vehicle.  It's easy and quick, both to set up and take down. This is one method I have used in the past, and while it is not as good as a wire antenna, it does provide a way to get on the air. When you are finished operating, you pack everything back up and do not operate while the car is in motion. This is not as convenient as a permanent mobile HF installation, but it does work better for those of us who don't want to bother with mounting a rig in the car. In any case, this method of HF operation dovetails nicely with emergency preparedness, in that one can set up an HF "go-kit" that can serve to operate portable while you are on car trips. 
Email me at with your questions & comments.   
Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager

Handiham remote base station report

Jose, KK4JZX, has developed a new test version of the rig control software this week. Our thanks to Lyle, K0LR, for his work with Jose in testing the software. This is not a public software release.

Status check screen showing w0zsw offline.
W0EQO at Courage North is in service. W0ZSW is in service. 
Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is expected to be low through the period (05 - 07 September) with a chance for an isolated M-class flare.
Geophysical Activity Forecast: Geomagnetic field activity is expected to be at quiet to unsettled levels during days 1 - 2 (05 - 06 September) with a chance for active levels. This is due to the arrival of CMEs observed on 02 September along with a co-rotating interaction region in advance of a coronal hole high-speed stream (CH HSS). The CMEs are expected to arrive around midday on day 1. The CH HSS is expected to commence on day 2. Field activity is expected to be at quiet to unsettled levels on day 3 (07 September) as CH HSS effects subside.
Credit: NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
Please contact me directly at if you have a remote base comment.