News archive November 2019 - Koos van den Hout

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2019-11-24 Morse with the Kenwood TS-480 and remoterig
The next thing I want to get working is morse with the remoterig and the Kenwood TS-480. The good thing is that the remoterig has a built-in morse keyer to overcome jitter problems.

And that keyer has the option to make a winkeyer usb interface available. I did some minor testing with the winkeydaemon driver together with the paddle and it works. So I can use both the keyer from the computer and the paddle at the same time, just like with the nanokeyer and the FT-857 radio.

There is one strange thing though: this keyer responds somewhat different from the nanokeyer when I do a fast dah-dit. I expect the dit to follow after the dah even when I already stopped touching the left paddle (dit) before the dah ends.

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2019-11-23 PC control of the TS-480 radio working again, including for remoterig
I dug into the "why isn't remote CAT control not working" on the Kenwood TS-480SAT with the remoterig setup and as the debugging session progressed I found out it wasn't even working locally. The Kenwood TS-480 radios have a male db9 connector just like the PC had, and the non-intuitive part is that it needs a straight-through cable with data lines and hardware flow control.

I had a bunch of serial cables and adapters cobbled together to get from DB9 female to DB9 female with wires 2 and 3 coming out uncrossed, but it did not have hardware flow control and that had worked one evening before but now it decided to go on strike.

Thanks to the visit to the "Dag van de radio amateur" (DvdRA) ham convention and the extra parts ordered on-line from Conrad I had enough parts to make my own serial cable with the right wiring, including covers for the connectors with the cable coming out on the side.

So my skills in building right serial cables using a soldering iron, flexible wire and an amount of patience were recalled. I am very sure I haven't done that yet this century. Old CAT-5E cables are a good source of flexible cable with 8 wires.

When I had a finished cable with hardware flow control I first did a local test before I started putting the covers on the connectors and when that did work fine I put the covers on, redid the test and switched to testing over the remoterig connection. That also worked.

Update: And for the laptop which doesn't have serial ports I activated the COM port to USB translation on the control side. It took a bit of searching before I found that /dev/ttyACM0 was the active port, so now I can run CQRLOG on the laptop with full control of the radio.

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2019-11-22 Finished the remoterig setup and made the first contact
I finished the setup of the remoterig system. The second part is with lots of wires, first setting jumper wires in the radio box and the control box and after that connecting lots of wires to radio, frontpanel, microphone and other parts.

It took a bit of browsing the manual, checking my jumper wires under good light and redoing the checks but eventually it got all connected.

After that it was setting the software parameters for the specific radio and the connection to the control panel. And the next step: pressing the power button on the frontpanel on the control box and seeing it become active and hearing audio from the radio.

So it's now working. The bit that doesn't work yet is CAT control of the radio (Computer Assisted Tuning, where I can read the status and give commands over the serial port). The forwarding of the CAT port to a USB serial port on the other side did not give me any communication on the connected computer. I'm sure I'll get that fixed.

Next step was to spin the dial and find someone searching for a contact. Not a lot of activity on the 40 meter band, but I heard a greek station calling, answered it and got into the log.
Read the rest of Finished the remoterig setup and made the first contact

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2019-11-22 Spam vanaf
Aardige hoeveelheden spam vanaf In het Nederlands. Voor een adres wat ik niet publiek gebruik, dus er is weer eens een hele oude spamlist of zo opgegraven.

Wat me opvalt is dat er niets over te vinden is, dus begin ik er zelf maar eens over.

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2019-11-21 First setup of the remoterig interfaces
The remoterig set I ordered arrived.

At first I found the box somewhat empty: no manuals. But the entire manual can be found on-line: User manuals - RemoteRig. The manual is about 200 pages so printing it would be a bad idea. The remoterig site is somewhat slow so I downloaded the PDF manual to my computer.

Most of the setup is done via a webinterface, but the initial network setup needs either the right IP addresses hardcoded or a USB connection and the Microbit setup software which is only available for Windows. I did try to see whether one of the four com-ports via USB that showed up would allow me to do a minimal setup via a terminal program but that wasn't true. So I booted Windows to change the units to DHCP. For the radio-side I made an address allocation in the DHCP server, for the client side it is fine to have any usable address.

And for my next minor issue: they only use IPv4. So my inner linux and networking geek is a bit dissapointed, but my inner radio geek will do just fine.

After that bit I went back to Linux, the rest of the software setup is via a webbrowser. For the hardware setup, which is how it connects to the radio (which pin has audio, which pin has power) it needs a number of internal jumpers and jumper wires connected.

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2019-11-17 Pointing the Arrow antenna at SO-50 again
HF propagation has been really bad the last weeks. At least on the moments I had time to look at the radio. The maximum usable frequency was dropping below 14 MHz as soon as it started getting dark. This means that I can only make contacts on the lowest band (40 meters) with the endfed antenna set up outside and the experience from earlier weekends was that it was still a lot of work to get contacts on FT8.

So this weekend I did some 2 meter FT8 and made contacts with some new call signs. I was lucky: the 2 meter interference stopped after dark. My computer decoded one Danish callsign but I wasn't near it at that moment.

And I tried a pass of the SO-50 satellite. A pure southwest-northeast pas was coming up at the start of the evening, so I planned to be outside in the cold with antenna and handheld radio. I was hoping to get some country to the south of me in the log, but I ended up with a southeasterly contact: Croatia. I heard 9A2EY in a contact so I called him and made the contact.

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2019-11-16 Getting distracted by weird noises and listening to data from car tires
I was tuning across the 70cm amateur band and heard lots of weird noises around 433.92 MHz. Which is logical: that's the ISM band (industrial, scientific and medical) so lots of unlicensed low-power signals there.

That triggered me to update rtl_433 and see what I could receive. The answer after some searching how to build a running version: a lot. Including tire pressure monitoring sensors (TPMS) on a nearby car:

time      : 2019-11-16 15:33:25
model     : Toyota       type      : TPMS          id        : fb8c8bf9
status    : 128          pressure_PSI: 38.500      temperature_C: 6.000
mic       : CRC
There is indeed a Toyota parked across the street. I see three different values for 'id' suggesting that three wheels are 'awake' and reporting tire pressure data about every two minutes. According to eavesdropping the wheels, a close look at TPMS signals the sensors should only activate when the car is going faster than 40 km/h or when a special LF signal is active.
Read the rest of Getting distracted by weird noises and listening to data from car tires

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2019-11-15 Suricata IDS showing amusing results
Some things noticed by Suricata IDS are amusing to me. When looking at lines like:
11/15/2019-13:14:35.001691  [**] [1:2402000:5363] ET DROP Dshield Block Listed Source group 1 [**] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
11/15/2019-13:15:06.794357  [**] [1:2402000:5363] ET DROP Dshield Block Listed Source group 1 [**] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
11/15/2019-13:15:06.794357  [**] [1:2403384:53195] ET CINS Active Threat Intelligence Poor Reputation IP group 85 [**] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
11/15/2019-13:15:20.065796  [**] [1:2403393:53195] ET CINS Active Threat Intelligence Poor Reputation IP group 94 [**] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {UDP} ->
11/15/2019-13:15:32.845110  [**] [1:2402000:5363] ET DROP Dshield Block Listed Source group 1 [**] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
11/15/2019-13:16:23.399397  [**] [1:2402000:5363] ET DROP Dshield Block Listed Source group 1 [**] [Classification: Misc Attack] [Priority: 2] {TCP} ->
All 'Dshield Block Listed' and 'Poor Reputation IP' traffic is port scans to ports that are blocked. So it's not a surprise those IPs have a poor reputation or a Dshield listing.

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2019-11-13 Trying Suricata intrusion detection system (IDS)
After hearing about intrusion detection systems a few times I decided to give one a try at home. Although a lot of attacks are blocked I sometimes see weird attacks and it would be nice to have a better idea of what exactly the attack was.

Yes, I have weird interests sometimes. I'm glad I have an ISP (xs4all) where I can select the option 'give me the completely unfiltered Internet connection' so I even see SMB protocol attempts.

I first tried 'snort' but that doesn't deal with PPP interfaces by default. It can be recompiled to accept those but I did not want that. The next option I heard about is 'Suricata' which is running at the moment.

I was amused by the reports of DDoS-like NTP traffic. Those are caused by the NTP statistics gathering. I know NTP can be abused for generating DDoS traffic but all security reports about NTP servers I manage have been false positives.

Anyway it's running and complaining a lot about the traffic it sees. For example the IPv6 port scan/network mapping attempts I noticed two months ago are still active.
11/13/2019-15:06:59.703451  [**] [1:2002911:6] ET SCAN Potential VNC Scan 5900-5920 [**] [Classification: Attempted Information Leak] [Priority: 2] {TCP} 240e:00f7:4f01:000c:0000:0000:0000:0003:6050 -> 2001:0980:14ca:0001:020d:56ff:fece:ffe1:5901
11/13/2019-15:08:39.645780  [**] [1:2002911:6] ET SCAN Potential VNC Scan 5900-5920 [**] [Classification: Attempted Information Leak] [Priority: 2] {TCP} 240e:00f7:4f01:000c:0000:0000:0000:0003:5167 -> 2001:0980:14ca:0001:020d:56ff:fece:ffe6:5901

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2019-11-13 More investment in remote HF operation
So the order for the remoterig duo to work on my remote HF operation plans is out the door. I ordered them with HamShop to get Dutch warranty rules.

I also ordered some other stuff from Conrad to be able to get everything cabled correctly. I may have missed something but I hope to have enough to get going and be able to have frontpanel and main radio hardware separated by Internet.

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2019-11-06 Tested and attached wires to the new 12V powersupply
Powersupply with wires attached
Powersupply with wires attached
I had time to do some soldering and I tested and wired the 12V server powersupply I bought last Saturday at the "Dag van de Radioamateur" ham convention.

The powersupply that I bought is an HP DPS-800GB A and it already had two wires to make it start up when input voltage is applied. I just soldered thick wires to the output terminals so I can connect it to the HF amplifier. Unlike the previous HP DPS-700 powersupply this one has two builtin fans so it won't overheat.

Time to test it with the HF amplifier is this weekend. I'll test the output power with the current output voltage left as-is. It's currently at 12.2 Volt when no load is applied. There are simple modifications to raise the voltage as described by Server supply DPS-800GB - PA0FRI.

Update: After some testing it's clear there are two problems: the output voltage of this power supply does not get very high before it switches off. About 13 volts. At that voltage the output power of the HF amplifier is limited. And when using the external amplifier I had a lot of problem with the connection between the computer and the radio. As soon as I started transmitting the computer started giving error messages about the communication with the radio.

So back to just the radio and its output power at the moment.

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2019-11-02 I visited the "Dag van de radio amateur" (DvdRA) ham convention
Today was the Dag voor de Radioamateur edition 2019, and I went there.

My main todo item was to deliver outgoing qsl cards to the Dutch QSL bureau and pick up the new ones for Region 08. So I walked in with a big shopping bag and after visiting the Dutch QSL bureau market stall I returned to the car right away with a new box full of cards. After that I walked in again and started looking around. I was looking for certain parts I needed recently such as RCA connectors, 2.5 mm stereo jack connectors. I also had some specific things in mind such as a newer high amperage 12V supply because the previous server power supply smoked itself and an antennaswitch and serial connectors for remote HF operation which I found. I found no USBaudio and USBserial interfaces so those will be picked up in the next electronics web order.

I attended a lecture on the QO-100 amateur satellite and the story behind the Patch of the Year antenna co-developed by Remco PA3FYM.

I also met a lot of amateur radio friends, more than I expected!

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IPv6 check

Running test...
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