News archive May 2018 - Koos van den Hout

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2018-05-25 Going full duplex with amateur satellites, part 13: receiving a linear satellite transponder / SO-50 without the preamp
This evening another try, this time without the preamp. And tried receiving a linear satellite transponder.

This makes things even more complicated as I have to look at one display (gpredict) to have an idea where to aim the antenna and another display (gqrx) for the waterfall display. Maybe both can be on the same screen with a lot of resizing.

The first pass I tried was a pass of the FO-29 satellite which has a linear transponder. It was not a very high pass so all reception was through a house. I did hear morse first, and later saw signs of USB signals in the passband. Signals were weak and noise was high. I was almost able to understand one callsign, a 9A.. callsign (Croatia).

The other pass I tried was a pass of the SO-50 satellite which is a narrow FM satellite. Signals were weak for narrow FM so I had to keep turning the arrow antenna to get the polarisation right. I could hear spanish and english callsigns.

I recorded the SO-50 pass and noted the audio looked very distorted in audacity. Maybe I can improve the audio somewhere in the chain and get things better.

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2018-05-24 Going full duplex with amateur satellites, part 12: picking it up again
So last year I wanted to get back on amateur satellites and bought some hardware that would enable me to go full-duplex: receive and transmit at the same time. The most important part is to get the receive side working.

This evening had a pass of the SO-50 amateur satellite and a pass of the Fox-1D satellite right after another (with some overlap). And it's dry and a reasonable temperature to be outside with laptop, preamp, rtl-sdr stick and arrow antenna.

Signal levels on narrow FM are still very faint and hard to hear, so I guess I am at the limits of the rtl-sdr for weaker signals, even with the preamp.

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2018-05-24 Stopping the weather map site
In all the web content that has to be migrated to a new environment I noticed the weather map site depends on a load of complex scripts to generate it and never got any amount of visitors.

So I decided to stop that site. I'll archive all the scripts around it so I can pick it up again some day.

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2018-05-22 The linkspammers are back, but they are trying to hide it a lot better
Over the years I have ranted several times about linkspammers. About spammers in general too, but linkspammers are a special category.

Most of them, especially the fully automated ones died when google started detecting their deceit. That time there was some amusement to be had reading mails "somehow there is an evil link to my site from your site, please remove it as it affects both our google ranking".

But now they are back, but trying to hide it a lot better. I received several nicey-nicey and helpful mails with really personal suggestions to improve my site, or improve the world in general by adding some link they proposed, complete with the right anchor text.

At first I thought they were personal and answered them telling them the proposed links were wrong, or they had not read the article/post/.. they wanted to change very carefully.

And then a week or two later I'd get another personal mail asking whether I had considered their previous request. And answering with "did you read my answer?" did not change a thing.

My best guess at the moment is that I wasn't looking at a personal mail and that I should add a lot of airquotes about terms like "personal" above. It's a template with 'page X' 'needs link Y' and 'with anchor text Z' and there is software running that checks whether page X has the 'right' link and keeps sending reminders until it does.

As you can imagine (or not), I feel very annoyed by this new scam tactic.

One sample:
Hi pal,

My name is Oliver and I'm writing to share an infographic that aims to educate people about PTSD amongst our veterans and serving military personnel. The infographic is titled "The Silent Enemy: How PTSD Damages Our Soldiers".

You can view the infographic by clicking here: [link]

To spread the word about these issues, I ask if you could add a "weblink" to this infographic from this page on your own website: Note how this page has only a link to 'military' but actually reading it for 4 seconds would let you know that it has no link to PTSD in the military.

I chose this page because you already link to from this page.

If this is possible, you could add the below text to this page on your own websi te:

The Silent Enemy: How PTSD Damages Our Soldiers – An infographic aiming to raise awareness about PTSD in the military.

Alternatively, you could also publish the infographic on your website as a "guest blog post". If this is OK, I can write a unique introduction to go with the infographic. This will save you time and also help to highlight the important issues covered in the infographic.

I really appreciate your time. I know that linking to this infographic will help to build awareness about mental health issues amongst veterans and serving memb ers of the military. I'm sure this is a cause you would like to get behind by adding the above link. I've actually attached the infographic to this email for you to add to your website at either the page I suggest or as a fresh blog post.

Many thanks,

Oliver Clark

Rehab 4 Alcoholism

Please click on Unsubscribe to be unsubscribed from any future communications. P rivacy notice.
The last line is quite a hint that this is from an automated system, the stories are somewhat long so this isn't always very visible.

Now I also wonder whether the link would be to a very commercial rehab organisation.

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2018-05-20 I participated in the EU PSK DX Contest 2018
This weekend I had some time to participate in the EU PSK DX Contest. Conditions did not cooperate very well. First I thought local qrm was making me hear only the loudest stations but comparing it to the Utwente websdr I was hearing about 'everything'.
Total number of QSO in your log is 41, Including 0 QSO with errors, Valid QSO - 41
Band  QSOs Dupes Points Mults
160      0     0      0     0
80       0     0      0     0
40      28     0     56    39
20      13     0     25    21
15       0     0      0     0
10       0     0      0     0
Total   41     0     81    60
Claimed score is 4860 points
Read the rest of I participated in the EU PSK DX Contest 2018

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2018-05-14 Back to the 10 meter band
The 10 meter amateur band (from 28.0 to 29.7 MHz) is the HF band where I started making the first HF contacts in 2014 but after that HF propagation went down and I had to go to lower frequencies and bigger antennas.

But there are short periods of better propagation and this evening I tried FT8 on the 10 meter band again and made two contacts into Norway. I even received signals from Brazil so propagation was ok, mostly along the 'greyline' which is the line over the earth between the areas in the sun and not in the sun and causes some more propagation.

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2018-05-07 I participated in the ARI International DX Contest
Last weekend I participated in the ARI International DX Contest.

Before the contest I was looking at the option of trying the tlf contest software and operating phone (voice) but adding the definitions for scoring this contest to tlf turned out to be not possible at the moment and at the end the weekend was filled with enough other things that only a few hours of operating RTTY were left. Propagation wasn't very cooperative and I first was blaming local interference until I noticed that the same lack of signals was showing in other places and twitter was filled with aurora pictures, so a solar flare had blocked propagation.

In the end I made 43 contacts and entered in the 'single operator RTTY low power' category. Low power on an Italian scale: below 100 watts.

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2018-05-05 High-Tech Bridge 'security scan' causing big noise in the logs
I noticed a lot of error messages from sshd/imaps and other services all related to IPv4 address Checking the firewall logs found even more attempts.

It seems all this noise is related to a 'Web Server Security Test' from High-Tech Bridge. Something like the Qualys SSL Labs SSL Server Test but aimed at a complete test according to PCI DSS, HIPAA and NIST. Since most of those standards have to do with procedures too an automated test can never be complete.

But with all these errors and firewall log entries it is very noisy. And now I wonder who was interested in my webserver security at a time that I was asleep.

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2018-05-03 The preferring IPv6 policy is working
Yesterday I changed some IPv4 addresses on virtual machines on the new homeserver to make autofs work. This is a known issue with autofs: autofs does not appear to support IPv6 hostname lookups for NFS mounts - Debian Bug #737679 and for me the easy solution is to do NFS mounts over rfc1918 ipv4 addresses. I prefer autofs over 'fixed' NFS mounts for those filesystems that are nice to be available but aren't needed constantly.

It took about 9 hours before arpwatch on the central router noticed the new activity. I guess the policy to try to do everything over IPv6 is working.

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2018-05-01 Getting amateur satellite contacts into LoTW correctly
A very good bit of info just flew by on the amsat-bb mailing list: Logging Satellite QSOs with Logbook of the World - AMSAT-NA.

Complete with screenshots and needed steps, how to create an ADIF file (which I could import into CQRLOG) with the satellite-specific fields set to the values needed by LoTW to make it a valid satellite-contact.

CQRLOG has no support for satellite-specific contact information, so for me the workflow for these contacts would be to create an ADIF file as above in LoTW, upload it, and import the ADIF file in CQRLOG and not upload it from CQRLOG.

Now to find time, energy and nice weather to get on the satellites again.

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IPv6 check

Running test...
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