News archive April 2020 - Koos van den Hout

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2020-04-29 More 10 meter band fun 3 weeks ago
This month is somewhere near the absolute minimum of the solar cycle but today FT8 is active on the 10 meter band. I listened to other things on the 10 meter band but when I heard some morse I soon found out it was a beacon from Italy. It would have been nice to do some other mode than ft8 on the band.

But I made the possible FT8 contacts and got bigger distances than yesterday. In the evening I got Asiatic Russia and Belarus in the log.

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2020-04-29 Seeing when it's time to walk to the laserjet printer 3 weeks ago
I have an aged laserjet 4100 DTN printer at home and it sometimes takes a while to print something. The logs from cups will state that it has been sent to the printer but the printer will still show processing.

Solution: ask the printer for the active pagecounter. This will be updated after the page has really been output, so it will only change when the printer is done with the page.
$ snmpget -v1 -c internal laserjet 1.3.6.1.2.1.43.16.5.1.2.1.1
iso.3.6.1.2.1.43.10.2.1.4.1.1 = Counter32: 738042

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2020-04-28 A nice 10 meter opening this afternoon 4 weeks ago
I'm at home at the moment with a few days off from work. Time to play some radio, and with the current stay at home measures there are a lot of stations active.

I spun the dial to the 10 meter band this afternoon and heard signals. There was a nice E-skip opening to Spain and I even decoded some signals from Brazil. With normal ionospheric propagation South-America isn't that hard for most of the Dutch HF amateurs, but it's usually my difficult corner. I made several contacts with stations in Southern Europe, including AM2WARD so that's a new slot in the IARU 95th anniversary stations as organized by the Spanish radio amateurs.

In the weekend I had contacts with other stations part of that activity, including several in morse. Those stations are using fast computer-generated morse so I can't decode everything 'live' but by now I do know what 'PE4KH 5NN' sounds like at rather high speeds.

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2020-04-19 Going horizontal on 2 meters FT8 1 month ago
For all of my FT8 contacts from home until now I used the vertical diamond X-300N antenna on the roof. Most 2 meter DX stations will use a directional horizontal antenna, so I lose some signal when I try to communicate with them.

So last weekend I put the Arrow satellite antenna in the attic pointing out the window with the 2 meter elements in horizontal mode. Pointing out this window means southeast direction so I hoped to make some DX contacts into Germany or beyond.

Beyond did not happen, there was no special propagation on the 2 meter band. But the furthest contact was with DJ5FI with a distance of 360 kilometers. I'll try this again when there is special propagation in that direction.

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2020-04-13 Beeping -- --- .-. ... . loud enough (2) 1 month ago
Today I had time to work on the transistor switching to make the morse oscillator work. As I noticed before the Kent Morse practise oscillator kit is powered directly via the key which draws more current than the nanokeyer I built can handle.

So I had to calculate a transistor switch. That's something I learned a long time ago when I did electronics trade school from 1985 to 1989. In Dutch: MTS electronica. That knowledge had to be dug up again when I did the advanced radio amateur course but since I didn't have to use that knowledge it all sunk away.

But, google to the rescue and I found lots of examples, but the easiest one was at Transistor as a Switch - ElectronicsTutorials which explained exactly what I wanted. The next item was 'which transistor'. The default NPN transistor is the BC547B, but the theoretical current through the oscillator is a bit more than this transistor can handle. But a fellow amateur had a few BC337 transistors spare in his junkbox, so I could continue with this project.

Today I did the drawing and the calculations. I looked up the specifications for the BC337 in full saturation, at which time the Vbe is 1.2 Volt, Vce is 0.7 volt and Ibase is 1 milliAmpere. So I ended up with a resistor of 6800 Ohm at the input (which is (9 Volt - 1.2 Volt)/1 millAmpere rounded) and after building it on a breadboard it went beep with an input current of somewhat over 1.0 milliAmpere.

Update: Second test was with the nanokeyer, which first gave no sound, but that was due to me turning the volume down on the practise oscillator. Turning it back up fixed the problem, and I now have loud morse!

In the end this is giving me a good feeling. I had a kind of problem I haven't had to solve in ages so I had to relearn how to solve this, I found the solution method and was able to apply it in theory, practice followed the theory and it all worked as designed.

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2020-04-10 Brand IPA 1 month ago
Beer illustration Not imported from very far, just from the local supermarket.

Again an Indian Pale Ale. There is something about that taste that I like. This one doesn't have a very 'hoppy' taste like some other IPA beers. I would describe the color as a light amber. Almost blonde.

The beer details

CompanyBrand
Beer nameIPA
Beer styleIPA - India Pale Ale
Alcohol by volume7.0 %

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2020-04-08 I participated in the EA RTTY contest 2020 1 month ago
RTTY Contest on websdr Last weekend was the EA RTTY Contest 2020 edition. I decided to participate beforehand so I set up radio, antenna and macros in time before the start. There was quite some time for the contest available since we're not going anywhere.

Things started slow, I couldn't get as much contacts in the log on Saturday as I had in the EAPSK63 contest 2020 on Saturday.

But on Sunday the contacts started happening and I ended with 143 contacts in the contest. 110 on the 20 meter band and 33 on the 40 meter band. I logged 26 unique provinces in Spain.
Read the rest of I participated in the EA RTTY contest 2020

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2020-04-07 Troy Hunt: No I won't link to your spammy article 1 month ago
A recurring theme in rants here: link request spam written to look like a serious and personal request to improve an article on my site.

Troy Hunt seems to get a lot of those too, so he wrote No, I Won't Link to Your Spammy Article.

So we can now all stop doing stupid 'search engine optimization' and go back to sharing actual good content.

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2020-04-04 Found the probable reason of the DNSSEC subzones problem 1 month ago
I think I found the most probable reason of the earlier problem with DNSSEC signed subzones. I was trying this with a domain for which I don't have control over one of the secondary nameservers.

In one of my showerthought moments I decided to try another domain where I have that full control (just less nameservers) and was able to make it all validate correctly after some tries. Forgetting one or more of all the steps needed to correctly create a domain with DNSSEC and getting the delegation right will give errors.

So I guess running a nameserver with all DNSSEC options disabled hinders validation.

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2020-04-03 I participated in the Dutch Digital Activity Contest April 2020 1 month ago
PE4KH claim in the 2 meter Dutch Digital Activity Contest April 2020 There is a new 'activity' promoting digital modes on the 2 meter band. It's short, which is probably why it's called an activity rather than a contest. And it's on a weekday evening. Information in Vanaf nu elke maand een VHF-UHF Digitale Mode Activiteitscontest - VHF en hoger Veron (in Dutch). On the first Wednesday evening of the Month it will be on the 2 meter band, on the second Wednesday evening of the Month it will be on the 70 centimeter band.

I participated 1 April 2020 and made 22 contacts within the activity. Several new calls for me in the log, so that's always good. The contestlog processing website generates a map with locators after submitting a log, so I use that map in this newsitem.

The preferred mode is FT8, and some participants were using the FT8 software in 'EU-VHF mode' exchanging serial numbers and 6-character maidenhead locators. My wsjt-x decided to switch on receiving such an exchange. The interesting part was that in a few of the next contacts the software also switched but other contacts failed with that information so I switched back to normal FT8 with the 'EU-VHF mode' disabled.

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2020-04-02 Beeping -- --- .-. ... . loud enough 1 month ago
Kent morse practise oscillator built
The Kent morse practise oscillator built
To practise my morse at the radioclub I looked for a simple morse practise oscillator and found Morse practise oscillator kit - Kent and ordered it at the beginning of Februari. It took a while for it to arrive, but it arrived and I built it in one evening.

It's a quite simple kit. Which means the power for the whole circuit runs via the morse key, in theory about 120 mA. And that is more than the octocoupler on the CW output of the nanokeyer I built is willing to deliver (50 mA). So I can't use the practise oscillator straight away, there will need to be a small amplifier in between.

Some searching suggests I can use a transistor as 'power amplifier'. Time to look at what I may have (which is not a lot) or find a transistor somewhere.

Solution: order a bunch of transistors in a collection so I have some in the junkbox.

Oh and: The dashes and dots in the title are the word 'MORSE' in morse.

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