News archive August 2018 - Koos van den Hout

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2018-08-26 I participated in the SCC RTTY contest
RTTY contest on websdr As planned and prepared for I participated in the SCC RTTY contest this weekend. I was aiming for 100+ contacts but due to local interference and not very cooperating propagation those did not happen. In the end I made 83 contacts, 2 on the 40 meter band and 81 on the 20 meter band. I entered in the 'single operator 20 meter' category which was the most fitting for me. That does mean the 2 40 meter contacts only count for log checking.

Interesting things that happened: I got YV5AAX in the log. This has happened before in RTTY contests. But I do see YV5AAX from time to time in FT8 but never made a contact in that mode. I guess the station uses different antennas for contests. I also worked several US stations but I don't think those have resulted in a new US state for my statistics.

The new amplifier was working fine although I noticed the fan control and fan in the power supply stopped completely when I transmitted RTTY in the 10 meter band. This was not a very big problem this time as there was no propagation at all on that band. But it will have to be fixed before the next contest.

With this amount of power I can work almost all stations that I can decode. That is a nice improvement!
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2018-08-19 Testing the fiber mast with antenna at home
Today I set up the fiber mast against the back fence of our yard and used it to raise the endfed wire antenna as a vertical, with the coil between the 10/20 meter and 40 meter parts of the wire a few segments beneath the top of the fibermast.

This works ok. Interference on the 10 meter band is nearly gone, interference on the 20 meter band is about the same. What is also interesting is that this setup gives more balanced results on the pskreporter map. With the endfed antenna from the roof to the end of the garden the results are that most of what I receive is to the east of me. With the fibermast and the endfed as a vertical the reception is more balanced and I see more North and South America.

There is a downside: with even the slightest bit of wind the top of the fibermast starts to move a bit much. So to keep this setup safe for a weekend I would need to do something with guy wires.

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2018-08-17 Trying (and failing) to correlate security logs
Since activating sendmail authentication with secondary passwords I see a number of attempts to guess credentials to send mail via my system. This is not very surprising, given the constant attack levels on the wider Internet.

For work I am looking at log correlation and monitoring and with that in mind I noted that finding the right information from sendmail where and when the attempt came from is quite hard since there are several processes busy and it's hard to correlate the logging. The failed attempt is logged by saslauthd in /var/log/auth.log:
Aug 16 12:28:57 greenblatt saslauthd[32648]: pam_unix(smtp:auth): check pass; user unknown
Aug 16 12:28:57 greenblatt saslauthd[32648]: pam_unix(smtp:auth): authentication failure; logname= uid=0 euid=0 tty= ruser= rhost=
Aug 16 12:28:59 greenblatt saslauthd[32648]: do_auth         : auth failure: [user=monster] [service=smtp] [] [mech=pam] [reason=PAM auth error]
Aug 16 12:29:00 greenblatt saslauthd[32649]: pam_unix(smtp:auth): check pass; user unknown
Aug 16 12:29:00 greenblatt saslauthd[32649]: pam_unix(smtp:auth): authentication failure; logname= uid=0 euid=0 tty= ruser= rhost=
Aug 16 12:29:02 greenblatt saslauthd[32649]: do_auth         : auth failure: [user=monster] [service=smtp] [realm=] [mech=pam] [reason=PAM auth error]
This is probably related to this sendmail log information:
Aug 16 12:28:56 greenblatt sm-mta[20716]: STARTTLS=server, [] (may be forged), version=TLSv1/SSLv3, verify=NO, cipher=DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA, bits=256/256
Aug 16 12:29:02 greenblatt sm-mta[20716]: w7GASspx020716: [] (may be forged) did not issue MAIL/EXPN/VRFY/ETRN during connection to MSP-v6
But I can't be sure as there are multiple 'did not issue MAIL/EXPN/VRFY/ETRN' messages in the logs. So I can't build a fail2ban rule based on this.

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2018-08-13 Trying to receive amateur radio through local interference
This evening I tried several things to improve my chances of actually receiving anything other than the loudest stations in the upcoming SCC RTTY contest.

First try was with a borrowed receive loop indoor and using an HF upconvertor, an rtl-sdr dongle and gqrx as receiving software. This did not work for digital modes: letting wsjt-x (FT8 software) 'listen' to the audio output of gqrx gave no decodes.

Interesting detail: looking at the right piece of spectrum for FT8 showed that the frequency wasn't 100% stable, with frequencies slowly changing. Touching the rtl-sdr gave a bump in frequency.

Another attempt was with the loop indoor and reception on the FT-857D radio. Reception of a strong SSB station seemed somewhat better on the loop, but I heard no improvement of weaker stations.

So I moved the loop outside to the end of the garden and layed a long cable back to the radio setup. This made interference worse! It was already dark so this was not related to any solar panel setup, but some other source of interference on HF. The loop is supposed to receive less local interference but I could not get it to do that this time (it did work for SSB some other time).

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2018-08-13 False advertising from antivirus software in e-mail
----- No virus found in this message. Checked by AVG - Version: 2014
.0.4830 / Virus Database: 4365/10772 - Release Date: 13/08/18

[-- Attachment #2: doc10089752487652120190813.docx.jar --]
I guess No known virus found was a better message for AVG.

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2018-08-12 Making the HP DPS-700GB power supply less noisy
The HP DPS-700 GB power supply adapted to feed the linear amplifier has no own internal fans so I connected a recycled 50mm PC fan. Which runs at full speed which is a lot of noise. I ordered a 12 volt fan control module on-line so it can run slower and keep the noise down a bit.

I'll probably replace the current fan with an 80mm PC fan and set a low minimum speed. The air has to move as the power supply has no internal fans and is quite good at a thermal shutdown. But as long as things don't get warm it would be nice to reduce the noise as this was very noisy.
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2018-08-12 More output power for PE4KH: I bought an HF linear amplifier
The reason for making the HP DPS-700 GB powersupply deliver a somewhat higher voltage and lots of amperes is that I made the decision to buy a HF linear amplifier. With such a device I get more output power on HF bands which should increase my chances in radio contests.

I have been looking at new and secondhand linear amplifiers for a while. Since this market is dominated by US customers most amplifiers will give 1000-1500 Watts output power at a serious price. The legal limit here in the Netherlands is 400 Watt unless I request a special license which will never happen since the radio station is surrounded by other houses. But there isn't much on offer below 400 Watt output power. I found RM Italy which sells linear amplifiers for CB and radio amateur use at more reasonable amounts of power and at a better price-point. I selected the RM Italy HLA300V plus which should give 300 Watts on HF bands.

I bought it online and it arrived fast. After soldering some cables to the power supply I was able to use it and it works as intended.

On the 20 meter band and 10 meter band it works with the endfed antenna (which can take 400 watts). On the 40 meter band it goes into protection mode instantly. It turns out the amplifier is quite sensitive to SWR problems, the endfed gives a 1:1.5 SWR. Maybe I can improve this a bit, the resonant point is below the 40 meter band.

Giving it 5 watt input power in digimodes will make 5 of the 7 output power LEDs light up. To get it to light up 5 LEDs in SSB mode I need to give it 10 watts power in that mode.

Propagation wasn't great this weekend so I spent most time in FT8 mode. With the help of the new amplifier I was able to get two new countries in the log: V51MA in Namibia and 9G5AR in Ghana.

The receive side is currently a different story. Interference levels are at an all-time high. The way I currently get reception for FT8 is by using the UTwente WebSDR for the receive side and feeding the audio to WSJT-X. With the delays and audio-processing introduced by the WebSDR I still get better and more decodes than from the local receiver.

For contesting that setup is not going to work. Most contests have a rule that all equipment for a contest station has to be on a limited area. For example the upcoming SCC RTTY contest has the rule:
All operation must take place from one operating site. Transmitter and receiver must be located within a 500-meter diameter circle.
I'm looking into using a receive loop to have less interference on reception.
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2018-08-11 Testing login credentials from dataleaks
The authenticated SMTP setup with sendmail and secondary passwords I created is also attracting a new kind of attack: trying credentials from dataleaks. Leading to interesting tries in the log:
Aug 10 17:29:01 greenblatt saslauthd[32650]: do_auth         : auth failure: [] [service=smtp] [realm=] [mech=pam] [reason=PAM auth error]
Aug 11 10:48:42 greenblatt saslauthd[32649]: do_auth         : auth failure: [] [service=smtp] [realm=] [mech=pam] [reason=PAM auth error]

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2018-08-06 Rich chunky amps from a HP DPS-700 GB server power supply
At a hamfest a scouting group was offering a HP DPS-700 GB power supply for the nice sum of 5 euro. A quick search with google found information about the pinout so I bought it. This is a power supply that can deliver 56 Ampere at 12 Volts, and the 12 Volts can be adjusted upwards somewhat.

As usual with projects like this the power supply lived in the stack of projects for a while, but today I got around to testing it. Finding the pinout again was a bit hard, but I found the pins again at HP DPS-700GB 80mm fan shroud - Thingiverse which includes the simple modification to make the output voltage go up.

As this power supply has no internal fans and will stop fast due to internal overheating if not cooled, I set it up with a recycled computer fan. Power supplies like this will always be active in systems with enough fans to push air through the whole chassis.

The first test gave me 12.1 Volt. After adding a 1.5 kOhm resistor it went to 13.27 Volt. In theory the maximum current may have dropped as a result of this modification, but my best guess is that it can still deliver 50 Ampere.

Update: More about this power supply and the different types seen in the wild: Increasing voltage on DPS-800GB A / ATSN-7001044-Y000 K1000 / HSTNS-PD05 for amateur radio - PA0FRI

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IPv6 check

Running test...
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