Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Handiham World for 30 September 2009

Welcome to Handiham World!

Pat enjoys a cup of coffee from his Handiham mug.

Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November
... Yes, that's the way I remember that September is one of those shorter months, and here we are at the end of the summer season here in the northern hemisphere. There have been a lot of changes in the works for the Handiham program, including our plans for moving Radio Camp to Camp Courage, changing the date of the camp session to the month of May, staffing cutbacks, and -- the one most people have been asking about lately -- the office move.

All of this change is not simply brought about by the current economic recession, though some of it is definitely the result of having to work within a tighter budget. While we would definitely prefer to keep all of our staff on board, right now we simply cannot afford to do so.

While I had hoped to have the office move completed by the end of September, we are not quite there yet. Early October is the most likely time we will be ready, but thanks to Avery and CJ (K0CJ) as well as George, N0SBU, and Mark, WA0PYN, we have made excellent progress preparing for the move by getting some of our equipment out of the way. The next step, coming in early October, will be to move the storage cabinets out to Camp Courage so that we have dry, dust-protected storage for donated equipment that will be used at camp sessions and to move our file cabinets and other necessary office equipment.

Some of our members have not been keeping up with the news about the move and have asked for equipment through the equipment loan program. Since Avery operated the equipment loan program, that part of our services has been suspended temporarily while we figure out how it is going to be handled in the future. At least for the year 2010, we will be distributing equipment to campers at radio camp. This compromise position on distributing equipment allows us to continue to serve members with this part of the program while avoiding the time-consuming and expensive packing and shipping associated with the traditional equipment program. It will still get equipment into the hands of members who need it. Those members who have already borrowed equipment through the loan program will see no change at all, since they may continue to keep the equipment on loan as long as they are using it and keeping up with their Handiham membership obligations.

One of the common questions we are hearing is what our contact information will be. The telephone numbers for Jerry Kloss and Avery Finn will be discontinued. The numbers for Nancy and me will remain in service. E-mail to Nancy and me will remain the same, but you should delete Courage Center e-mail addresses for Avery and Jerry. If you have questions about e-mail addresses, you may always contact me at my address. We must not forget about where mail should be sent. It's pretty easy; any mail sent to our current address, 3915 Golden Valley Road, will reach us as always. If we make any changes in any of this contact information, you will hear about it through your weekly e-mail newsletter and on the Handiham website, which, of course, will remain at

Several of you have asked what the new headquarters station will be like. We think the station will be much more functional because we will be located in a rural area where there is little powerline interference or other electrical noise. As many of you know from following our newsletters over the past few years, electrical noise from the ventilation system at Courage Center has been the bane of HF operation at W0ZSW. In fact, the electrical noise is so severe that practical HF operation has come to a complete halt. Energy-saving motor control systems are the culprit, and it is with much relief that we can finally say goodbye to this terrible RF interference problem. Camp Courage has most of its electrical wiring running underground, making for a quiet RF environment. Our station will be located in the basement of the camp reception center. Reception, in this case, refers to the place where visitors to camp stop first to do business, register as visitors, drop off packages or mail if they are making deliveries, and so on. Ironically, "reception" can also refer to radio reception, which we will finally be able to enjoy again on the HF bands. Don't let the fact that we are in the basement cause you to assume that the station can only be reached by going down a dark stairway, pushing aside the cobwebs, and making your way to a dark corner behind the furnace. No, it is not like that at all. The basement is a walk-out, so there are windows and a door directly out to the parking area behind the building. Bright sunshine and no steps -- that's what will greet you as you come into the new Handiham headquarters station at Camp Courage. Wheelchair users will find the station area accessible. Those of you who are familiar with the station at Courage North or the station at Courage St. Croix will recognize the familiar cabinet housing the station equipment. The carpeted floor helps to hold down noise and the well-placed bright florescent lighting makes the area a good workplace.

Radio Camp at the new location will also be a great improvement in many ways. As much as we like Courage North, the newer cabins at Camp Courage provide better, more accessible space for wheelchair users. The new cabins are state-of-the-art and will make the Radio Camp experience much more enjoyable for everyone. Since we are also on a lake at Camp Courage, we will continue to have the same fun with waterfront activities like the pontoon boat maritime mobile operation, sailing, and perhaps even a visit to an island in the lake. The month of May should provide us with temperate weather in late Spring, not too hot and not too cold. The setting of Camp Courage, which is three times larger than the acreage at Courage North, is in hardwood forest rather than pine forest, which will be a change -- but not a bad one, because both locations are scenic and designed to be accessible. Radio Camp first began at Camp Courage, and was held in the month of May. At that time, it was considered a "convocation", more like a meeting that extended over several days. Today's modern Radio Camp session is a week long and includes much more amateur radio education and more activities.

Yes, I know these are big changes and that some of them are more than a little difficult. No one wants to say goodbye to regular staff members like Avery and Jerry. One good thing about amateur radio is that it has always been a helpful community of dedicated volunteers, whether hams helping other hams through their local radio clubs, friends working together, or through an organization like ARRL or the Handihams. We know that both of these friendly "Elmers" will continue to help other amateur radio operators in every way that they can. As we move into the coming year, we are already seeing signs of economic recovery around the world. Hopefully our volunteers and supporters will continue to enjoy working with us and making sure that we build even more financial stability into the Handiham program. The new headquarters station will be really great, and we even hope to install a second Handiham Remote Base to fill the needs of our members who cannot put up regular antenna systems. Change, whatever inconvenience it may bring us, also holds the promise of opportunity. We will be looking forward, building on what we have and making sure that our core services continue to meet the needs of Handiham members.

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice,
Handiham Manager