Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Handiham World for 30 January 2008

Greetings from my work-at-home office and ham shack!

The pontoon boat leaves for a ham radio cruise.Image: The pontoon boat leaves the dock at Courage North, heading out onto Lake George for a ham radio cruise. The mobile HF antenna is visible against the blue water.

No doubt you have heard about Handiham Radio Camp. Right now, we run two camps a year; one is in February in the San Francisco Bay area and the other one is in late August, generally in the week before the Labor Day holiday at our camp in northern Minnesota. Both camps run about a week, but the Minnesota camp is far and away the one with more activities and resources. The reason is that the Minnesota camp is located on a lake and Courage Center owns the property, Courage North. For that reason, we can provide an excellent camp experience with lakeside activities using the boats for Maritime Mobile amateur radio operation. Because the property is under our control, we can also have ham radio infrastructure built in. That means that we have a wonderful free-standing tower with a tri-band beam antenna and a permanent ham radio station. We also have several wire antennas available, making set up for camp much easier in Minnesota than in California, where we have to rent a camp for the week. Furthermore, our Courage North facility is very well maintained and spacious, with plenty of acreage of tall pine trees and forest trails. From the standpoint of Handiham staff and volunteers, setting up for the week of Radio Camp in Minnesota is far easier because we have so much equipment that is already in place and does not have to be shipped and set up, then taken down.

Where I am going with this is that I would like to hear from you, our Handiham members, and find out what you think we could do to get you to come to Radio Camp. One idea that I had been mulling over would be to have an early summer camp here in Minnesota and still have the late August camp later on in the summer. Does it make sense to have two Summer sessions? Well, it might if the early summer session were at Camp Courage, which is in the southern part of the state. Because Camp Courage is close to the Twin Cities metropolitan area, it would be possible for campers from everywhere to fly in to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. This would make it cheaper to come to the early summer session when one considers the cost of transportation, at least for many people who choose to fly.

Although we had a very good run of camp sessions for many years in Southern California at Camp Joan Mier, that camp property has been sold and is no longer available for rental. Our current location in the Bay Area has not proven to be all that attractive in terms of nearby amenities, and the Bay Area climate is prone to producing cold and wet winters. The camp is located in a valley, not ideal for amateur radio.

So I would like to hear from you. Let me know what you think about running a second Radio Camp in Minnesota during the early summer months. Is this something that would be attractive to you? Since Courage Center owns Camp Courage, we are able to have a complete amateur radio station with tower and beam antenna there, just as we do at Camp Courage North. There is also a lake, and we can do maritime mobile activities.

Cabins are modern and completely wheelchair accessible. There are many paths through the woods at Camp Courage, just as there are at Courage North. One big difference between the two camps is the type of forest. In southern Minnesota, the trees are primarily deciduous. That means that they lose their leaves in the winter, unlike the pine trees in northern Minnesota. So Camp Courage has beautiful forests of broadleaf trees like oaks and maples.

One thing you might not know about the history of Radio Camp is that the first radio camp sessions began at Camp Courage! In recent years, the antenna and beam at Camp Courage have been completely rehabilitated through an Eagle Scout project. This makes the camp much more attractive to us than any California location we have found so far.

Of course we really like being at Courage North, and plan to continue offering our popular end of the summer radio camp session there. But some of our members who go to school or university may find the timing of the February California camp and the late summer camp to conflict with their school schedules. These Handiham members might be attracted to an early summer session at Camp Courage in Minnesota instead of a February session in California.

Please e-mail me and let me know what you think. California? Or Minnesota?

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Handiham World for 23 January 2008

In this issue you will find:Handi ham microphone logo

  • Spammers target list servers
  • I get an EchoLink node running!
  • Trojan virus targets Jaws users
  • Avery's QTH: Do the math!
  • Digital modes website with attitude!
  • TalkSafe Box allows hands-free operation for hams with disabilities
  • Elmer and the Hazer
  • At headquarters:
    • QST audio digest but no WR
    • Camp Costanoan registration ends
  • Links to resources:
    • Communications reference website has a bazillion frequencies
    • AT tips from NFB
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Greetings from my work-at-home office and ham shack.

cartoon guy shaking fist at dead computerWell, well, well. Here we are once again with another spate of Internet Trojan activity and unsolicited e-mail bombarding our Handiham servers. It seems like these things come in bursts, with intervals of relatively little problem e-mail and then absolute torrents of garbage. Alas, we have entered one of the "garbage" periods right now, and I am having to spend more time administrating the lists to prevent unsolicited e-mail from being sent to our subscribers.

I did want to take a few minutes to let you know that we are not sending out unsolicited e-mail (spam), but that does not mean that you are perfectly safe opening every message that appears to come from a list or user that you normally trust. The reason is that unscrupulous spammers forge e-mail addresses to make their mail look like something that an unsuspecting user should trust. Don't open e-mails with file attachments unless you are expecting a specific e-mail with a known file attachment and have made arrangements to get it at a specific time. Even then, you should always save a file attachment and check it with your virus scanner prior to opening it. An e-mail that looks like it came from a friend but has a file attachment that you didn't expect should always be suspect!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Handiham World for 16 January 2008

In this issue you will find:Handi ham microphone logo

  • I need some help here!
  • Avery's QTH: the old log
  • Explore the cosmos in Braille
  • Allure of Free Open Source
  • Skills of blind people can prove lifesaving
  • At headquarters:
    • QST audio digest
    • Camp Costanoan - last call
  • Links to resources:
    • Free, open-source utility designed to create "hotkeys"
    • Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Handiham World for 09 January 2008

In this issue you will find:

  • Reversed-polarity sunspot is good news for HF
  • Avery's QTH: Circuit boards
  • Accessible radio demo at CES
  • Website news
  • Microphone wiring resource
  • At headquarters:
    • Futurists
    • Camp Costanoan from Google Earth
  • Links to resources
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Handiham World for 04 January 2008

In this issue you will find:

  • The crystal ball comes out
  • Avery's QTH: Avery doesn't get what he wants - Boo, Hoo
  • Extra Class pool released over the holidays... Lotsa questions
  • DX news
  • At headquarters:
    • QCWA Journal audio digest out
    • Magazine audio tape digest mailed
  • Elmer: SDR
  • Links to resources
...and lots of other stuff. Tune in today!

Belated greetings from my work-at-home office and ham shack.

This edition is late due to the holiday backup of work I found at the "real" office!

Cartoon guy with crystal ball2008 already... It seems like the years are flying by, doesn't it? A couple of editions ago, we featured a retrospective from the old Allied Radio Summer catalog and fondly recalled some of the old days and old equipment. ARRL did the same, with an excellent January issue of QST called the "Annual Vintage Issue". From time to time it is fun - and even helpful - to go back into our history a bit and learn why things are the way they are. Radios are subject to an evolutionary development, as is all technology. The older gear had few features that we consider essential today, and would never be able to compete with the state-of-the-art designs we see at Dayton HAMVENTION® every Spring. The thing that makes the comparison fun is that you are seeing the old gear as if it is in a time machine, and you don't see any of the incremental development that obviously took place between then and now!

In other words, change has happened every year. Some new feature was added, a newer model came out, the look of the front panel changed ever so slightly, and so on. Technology evolution is like that. It sneaks up on you, and one really doesn't perceive how things are changing unless you look way, way back!

And if you think looking backwards is difficult, you ought to try looking forward into the future. A half century ago back in the days of the old E. F. Johnson Viking Ranger transmitter, magazines like Popular Science and Popular Mechanics speculated that we would travel around in personal flying cars and live in super-duper streamlined cities of the future in the far-off 21st century. We look back on that stuff with amusement now, but when those magazines came out, it must have seemed possible. The thing is, the future doesn't behave the way we think it will. Instead, the future is notoriously independent and usually has a mind of its own. So there are no flying space cars in the typical suburban driveway, but we do have the Internet. That's why it's so difficult to forecast the technology trends in ham radio, but you know me - I'll stick my neck out and try to forecast where ham radio is going!