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Koos van den Hout

Welcome. This is my homepage where I write about my opinion, projects, things I note, things I try and other random stuff. Newsitems have tags for a bit of structure.

Latest news/thoughts/geeking/rants/notablog

2016-07-22 Complete powerdown does not help against RF noise 2 days ago
On wednesday everything in our house was switched off due to some electricity work. I prepared for this and made sure the radio was connected to a charged battery.

And the end result was that the noise levels around our house are at least the same when power is out. In the 20 meter band I noticed even stronger carriers which may be caused by the fact that the local VDSL modem was powered off at that time. I made one contact which I logged on paper with OE2YOTA the youngsters on the air camp in Austria.

I guess I will have less noise when the power fails in a wider area, as reported at This is what HF sounds like during a power outage at my QTH!

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2016-07-22 Not waiting for dynamic interfaces to come up during boot 2 days ago
I had to shutdown the homeserver greenblatt to allow for work on our electricity meter and I noticed during boot-up it complained:
waiting for network configuration
waiting an additional 60 seconds for network configuration
According to networking - "waiting for network configuration" Problem - Ask Ubuntu this is caused by some error in /etc/network/interfaces but I could not figure out which one until I read about the difference between the auto and allow-hotplug settings for an interface. What I had was:
auto pppdray
iface pppdray inet ppp
        provider dray-vdsl
Which caused the boot process to wait until the PPPoE over VDSL link was completely up and running (which was not going to happen at that time).

Solution, change it to:
# set to allow-hotplug: not needed to boot
allow-hotplug pppdray
iface pppdray inet ppp
        provider dray-vdsl
So the startup continues.

The problem noted at the previous boot Boot-time IPv6 on the homeserver not working was still happening and I had to reconfigure interfaces and restart services to get everything stable, so disabling duplicate address detection did not help.

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2016-07-17 I participated in the DMC RTTY Contest 2016 1 week ago
Again another weekend in which I had some time for digimode radio contacts and digimode contesting turned out the best way to get a high number in the log. There wasn't a lot going on in the 20 meter PSK31 band so I listened in RTTY and found the activity.

This was the weekend of the Digital Modes Club RTTY Contest 2016. Propagation and local noise weren't cooperating a lot but in the end I made 62 contacts. I set my contest category to SOAB-LP-12h: single operator all bands (although I only made contacts on 20 meter, but this contest does not have categories per band), low power (less than 100 watts), time limited to 12 hours (I operated less than 12 hours and had a good nights rest).

Interesting results were a new country: Saudi Arabia, I made a contact with 7Z100. No USA contacts this contest, which I usually expect in a RTTY contest.

I used my fldigi digimode contest macros without any modifications and they worked fine. Calling CQ yielded zero contacts, everything was done search and pounce style.

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2016-07-15 DrayTek Vigor 130 firmware herstel 1 week ago
Na weer duidelijke instabiliteit wilde ik weer omschakelen naar de versie 3.7.9 modem6 firmware, alleen ging er iets mis in de update en bleef er een niet-startend modem over.

Het was even zoeken naar de recovery methoden en de ondersteunde methode is via de Windows firmware utility volgens How to recover my router from a failed firmware upgrade?. Ik zag wel dat het modem probeerde DHCP client te zijn maar de standaard methode van een bootfile meegeven met een verwijzing naar firmware op een tftp server hielp niet.

Voor de snelheid maar even windows geboot en de upgrade uitgevoerd. Achteraf met wat uitzoekwerk gevonden dat wat de firmware utility doet is naar de tftp server in het modem die actief is bij een factory reset boot een firmware bestand sturen. Volgens Updating Draytek firmare using the MacOS X or UNIX command line and TFTP kan dit ook prima op de Linux of MacOSX commandline.

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2016-07-13 Another go at outdoor portable operating at a new location 1 week ago
Outdoor setup with amateur radio I recently came across another spot that looked very good for outdoor radio operations. At a bend in a road near Maartensdijk is a nice spot with a number of trees and a table.

So when I had some time I hooked up a trailer to my recumbent bicycle, loaded enough radio gear to make some voice (phone) contacts and went over there to give it a try.

It is a nice spot, located at JO22ND88SW. Not a lot of trees so it got quite windy. Radiowise the 20 meter band was completely free of interference: I managed one contact with TA1BX/M and my honest signal report was 5-by-0: radio quality 5 (good understanding) and signal level 0: the meter on my radio did not move. He gave me a 5-by-5 report.

I heard several other stations that did not hear me due to the bad antenna situation (part of the endfed was on the ground) or due to the pileups they caused. I set my HF output power to 50 watt to get out a bit, this did not drain the battery too fast.

Things I brought along: radio, antenna cable (RG-58 cable, not as good as Aircell-7 but a lot less weight), BNC to PL259 adapters for the cable, the endfed antenna, two charged 12V batteries, headphones, a tablet computer for logging, nylon rope and a filled waterbottle.

Things I can improve for next time: throwing the rope for the antenna into a tree (it took several tries to get a somewhat acceptable height). And I looked into logging on paper, logging on a tablet was not very comfortable. Maybe logging on old-fashioned paper can be the solution, I found some nice templates at Amateur Log book templates. I printed a few of the 'mobile' template and I will try those next time.

Update: The locator was JO22ND88SW and not JO22ND88RU. At this resolution it does matter when the GPS application says the estimated error is 88 meter.

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2016-07-09 An actual 10 meter contact with my PE4KH callsign 2 weeks ago
Checking around the bands where I can do PSK31 I noticed actual activity on 28.120 MHz (10 meter band) and had a contact there with IZ8OYV. Just one answered CQ and no other contacts.

The sunspot cycle is clearly past its peak with days without any active sunspots showing up, and this lowers the maximum frequency at which radio propagation in the ionosphere happens. So currently a 10 meter contact is very rare where the first HF contacts I made at home in August 2014 were all on the 10 meter band.

Update 2016-07-11: And two more 10 meter contacts in the log.

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2016-07-03 (A comic, or a prediction of the future?) 3 weeks ago
Google+Koos van den Hout : A comic, or a prediction of the future?
2016-06-27 Ancient configuration causing warnings 3 weeks ago
Lots of error messages showing up recently looking like:
Jun 27 12:02:23 greenblatt named[4789]: checkhints: d.root-servers.net/A ( missing from hints
Jun 27 12:02:23 greenblatt named[4789]: checkhints: d.root-servers.net/A ( extra record in hints
The hints come from the root-hints file which the resolver software (bind9) uses to know where to start resolving. I checked my db.root, which said:
;       last update:    Jun 17, 2010
;       related version of root zone:   2010061700
But it is from the ubuntu 12.04 bind9 package:
# dpkg -S /etc/bind/db.root
bind9: /etc/bind/db.root
Solution with help from How Do I Update The Root Hints Data File for BIND Named Server? - UNIX fu was getting the latest from ftp.rs.internic.net which now says
;       last update:    March 23, 2016
;       related version of root zone:   2016032301
and I should get less warnings now. Comparing the two files shows changed IPv4 addresses for d.root-servers and h.root-servers, changed IPv6 addresses for a.root-servers and h.root-servers and added(!) IPv6 addresses for c.root-servers, d.root-servers, i.root-servers and j.root-servers.

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2016-06-26 Working two hours in glabels to save me from one hour of QSL card writing 4 weeks ago
The new and improved QSL card workflow I thought about in April has come true. In the mean time I bought printer labels and this evening I took my time to work through the last (at the moment..) outgoing QSL cards for PD4KH and printed labels for them.

Creating outgoing QSL cards with printer labels - KvdHout on flickr
Creating outgoing QSL cards with printer labels
Labels affixed to outgoing QSL cards and signed - KvdHout on flickr
Labels affixed to outgoing QSL cards and signed
In the end it saves me from having a cramp in my hand from QSL card writing, but it took me a lot of print previews to get the design just right. And after printing I saw I still have not found a font with a slashed zero in it.

I still sign the cards with my name by hand, but that's a lot less work.

Things learned:
  • Changing the exported fields in CQRLOG changed the field numbers in the CSV.
  • CQRLOG export csv files have no newline at the end. I combined two selections (send via bureau and send via manager via bureau) and it took me a while to note one QSL missing.
  • CQRLOG default is to export just the band. I like having the frequency on my cards.
  • Fiels exported: Date, time on, Callsign, Freq, RST Sent, QSL manager, Comment, QSL PSE/TNX

Update 2016-06-27: A bit of searching found me A Slashed-Zero Droid Sans Mono - cosmix.org. Downloaded the zip file, unpacked DroidSansMonoSlashed.ttf in /usr/share/fonts/truetype/droid and it was available to glabels instantly.

And I printed the first labels outgoing QSL cards for PE4KH and now this new workflow is saving me time. I decided to keep using my 'old' PD4KH cards with a small label updating the callsign. Now I am actually saving time!

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2016-06-26 (Userfriendly reminding us about an age when web advertising was just annoying. We upgraded to a threat...) 4 weeks ago
Google+Koos van den Hout : Userfriendly reminding us about an age when web advertising was just annoying.
We upgraded to a threat to your system and to your data usage!

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The person

Father, cat owned/owner, Unix/Linux fan, Internet user, reader, recumbent byciclist, snowboarder, ipv6 fan. For those who don't speak Dutch: how to pronounce Koos van den Hout.

The job

Specialist information security at Utrecht University with a modern Profile page.

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