Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Handiham World for 10 September 2008

Welcome to Handiham World!

remote base computer and radio
Photo: TS-480 remote base at Courage North

Our remote base project continues to work well and we are learning as we go and are making refinements. We are that much closer to bringing the system on line as a member service. The latest is that members logging in on the members only website will find "Remote Base" in the menu links, which can be followed to learn about how to install and set up the software, who will be considered for user status, and so on.

User status will be initially be restricted to a small group of beta testers. We need to do this to work out the bugs in the system and to give us time to make the system as user-friendly as possible. This Handiham Radio Club station will then enter a "beta 2" testing phase, during which I will need several Handiham members with excellent computer skills and plenty of operating experience to join the testing group. Once we complete the beta 2 phase, we will then add qualified users.

The question will certainly come up about who is a qualified user, right? I know that most everyone feels that they know how to be a good operator, but running the remote base is a little different - well, really a LOT different - than talking on a two meter handheld radio or even running an HF radio that is sitting on the desk in front of you. I welcome your comments on this topic, which you may send directly to

To jump start the discussion, I would ask you to think about and comment on the following:

  • Our first operators will have to hold their Extra Class licenses. I don't want to exclude competent General or Advanced licensees, but we are going to be looking at more experienced hams who will know the rules and be able to act as competent control ops.
  • These users will have to be able to follow directions, install the software, and pretty much figure out things for themselves if they are going to be successful as remote base operators. The last thing we need as we get this project started is a lot of tech support questions about stuff that everyone should already know, like how to operate their computers and what the band edges are!
  • There are also requirements about the user's Internet connection and computer hardware. Users must own and control their own computers, and not try to use a public computer like a school or library machine. The system requires a high-speed Internet connection. It will not work with a dial up Internet connection. The computer must be running Windows XP or Vista.

We are looking forward to a great new member resource that can open up the world of short-wave amateur radio operation to people who cannot have large antennas. Let us know what you think about how we are getting started, and please make suggestions as to how we can train our newer hams to use this technology responsibly.

Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager