News archive June 2020 - Koos van den Hout

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2020-06-29 Newish electronics project: an igate 6 months ago
Some time ago I saw announcements of an igate build project from PI4RAZ, the amateur radio club in Zoetermeer. An igate is a system that receives APRS messages and forwards them to the Internet aprs servers.

There is a distinct lack of APRS coverage here in Utrecht, so more places that receive those messages and pass them to the Internet are a good idea. A specialized repeater to repeat them on the air would be even better, but that needs a special radio license which is one step too far and expensive at the moment for me.

The electronics came in months ago, but time to pick up the soldering iron and start with the hard part wasn't available. I started this monday with that hard part: soldering a VHF module on top using something close to surface mounting. Just with a lot more space between the soldering islands than real surface mount. Still needed good light and a magnifying glass to check my work constantly. I only had to desolder one small blob of solder which went in the wrong direction.

After that I soldered the resistors. That went fine. After that my eyes were too tired, but the first step has been made.

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2020-06-28 Future cycling goals (2) 6 months ago
As I mentioned before I have some future cycling goals which include some form of long-distance cycling journey, with serious influences from the book Computing Across America. Naturally amateur radio will play a part in such a cycling journey, just as Steven K. Roberts had on his trips.

Via the german amateur radio club DARC I found this bit in the "Deutschland-Rundspruch 24/2020":
DK3JB erreicht erstes Ziel auf seiner Funk-Fahrrad-Reise

Hans-Gerhard Maiwald, DK3JB, hat nach mühsamer und beschwerlicher Fahrt, teilweise auch wegen schlechter Radwege, am 15. Juni gegen 21 Uhr sein erstes Ziel, Kappel im Hochschwarzwald, erreicht. Dabei legte er ohne E-Unterstützung 580 km mit seinem 40 kg schweren Radanhänger zurück. Dem 72-jährigen OM geht es gesundheitlich gut. Hans-Gerhard gelang es, den weitaus größten Teil der Strecke permanent mit seinem TH-D74 in APRS aufzuzeichnen. Dabei hat sich der 1200 g schwere 12 V/20-Ah-Lithium-Ionen-Akku sehr bewährt. DK3JB hat zahlreiche Verbindungen in FM und D-Star vom Fahrrad aus getätigt. Durch Ludwigshafen wurde er von mehreren Funkamateuren gelotst und seine Route mitverfolgt. Hans-Gerhard bleibt bis Sonntag in Kappel und radelt danach vorerst an den Bodensee weiter.
And I found out more about the cycling tours between Siegen and Friedrichshafen in Germany via Funk-Fahrradtouren of DK3JB and it is very inspiring to me. There is also an article DK3JB wieder mit dem Fahrrad unterwegs nach Friedrichshafen - funkamateur.de with information about this tour in 2020 (all in German, which I can read but not really write). He has done this tour several years already, I found an article from the June 2008 trip: Mit Fahrrad, Zelft und FTM-10SE durch Süddeutschland (pdf).

After having read a book about cycling through Europe with the Rhine as one possible route, this confirms my earlier thoughts. Combining recumbent cycling, amateur radio and a nice ride through Europe is the direction I'm thinking.

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2020-06-24 Moved the shed roof temperature sensor from under the roof to above the roof 7 months ago
I wanted to do some things in the shed with cabling, some things were not ideal after the solar power installation.

One of the things was that I had a temperature sensor to measure the temperature above the roof, but with all things that happened with cables it ended up hanging below the roof. I moved it back up in the ventilation pipe and with the current temperatures it started measuring 4 degrees Celcius higher immediately.

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2020-06-20 A new home timeserver: first parts, a Raspberry Pi 7 months ago
And yet another Raspberry Pi is showing up for my home network. This will become the GPS-based timeserver. I may add it to the NTP Pool when I'm satisfied enough with it.

It will probably also replace the 'shed' weather station computer in the long run, to save on power use.

I added an extra USB-based wifi adapter to the Pi. The shed has no wired network and my experience with the other computer there is that dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) wifi support is the best way to have a chance to get working network.

I also ordered the Raspberry Pi GPS/RTC Expansion Board directly from uputronics.

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2020-06-15 A new home timeserver on order 7 months ago
After earlier tries to have a nice GPS-based timeserver for my home network I noticed a simple but very effective GPS 'hat' for the Raspberry Pi, the Raspberry Pi GPS Hat from Uputronix. While the Pi's are already taking over the home network just one more could be a nice addition. In the longer run this will probably replace the shed computer.

So I ordered a Pi with an added dual-band WiFi adapter, a case, the GPS hat and a GPS antenna. The GPS hat has PPS support so I will get the time correct. With the instructions from 5 minute guide to making a GPS Locked Stratum 1 NTP Server with a Raspberry Pi it should be easy. If this all works I may even add the resulting Pi to the IPv6 NTP Pool.

Update 2020-06-16: SOS Solutions came back with some bad news: the uputronix Pi GPS Hat isn't available anymore. I'm now looking at the comparable adafruit hardware which is somewhat more expensive, but offers the same options.

Update 2020-06-18: And the adafruit hardware is also not available soon. I cancelled the GPS unit part of the order and I'm looking at sourcing a GPS module for the Pi from another source. The GPS hat which sossolutions no longer sells is originally from uputronics where a newer version of the Raspberry Pi GPS/RTC Expansion Board is listed as available on the site. Based on a ublox chipset which allows me access to a lot of the GPS data.

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2020-06-07 CQRLOG and repeater contacts 7 months ago
Friday evening I had a contact with PI4AA via the PI2NOS repeater. So I logged the contact with those parameters in CQRLOG.

After a number of other contacts I wanted to upload my new contacts to LoTW. In an upload, CQRLOG creates an ADIF file of the contacts and lets tqsl sign the resulting file before sending the signed file to LoTW. But tqsl doesn't want to include repeater contacts (those aren't valid for LoTW, so it interprets the rules correctly) and it gives a return status 9 meaning "some QSOs suppressed" which CQRLOG displays correctly. But as a result of that return code it doesn't allow for the other contacts to be uploaded at all, leaving me with a growing number of contacts not uploaded to LoTW.

I reported the bug to the CQRLOG forums: Propagation type RPT (repeater) should not be uploaded to LoTW - Forums » CQRLOG » CQRLOG - bugs with a suggestion for a program fix. From my experience, good bugreports for CQRLOG will be acted upon fast.

In the mean time as a workaround I mark all contacts with propagation type 'repeater' as already uploaded to LoTW to skip them. MySQL statement:
$ mysql -S /home/koos/.config/cqrlog/database/sock cqrlog002
mysql> update cqrlog_main set lotw_qslsdate=curdate() where prop_mode='RPT' AND lotw_qslsdate is NULL;
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.03 sec)
Rows matched: 1  Changed: 1  Warnings: 0
and now other contacts can be uploaded fine.

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2020-06-05 Frastanzer s'dunkle 7 months ago
Beer illustration Yet another import from our snowboard holiday in Austria.

The beer today is a Frastanzer s'dunkle. As the name suggests, a dark beer. With a good head of foam when poured correctly. The taste has a bit of a sweet note and has hops, but not as strong as other beers. A nice beer, good to bring from Austria or find at a store with lots of choice in beers.

The beer details

CompanyFrastanz
Beer names'dunkle
Beer stylePilsener
Alcohol by volume5.8 %

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2020-06-03 I participated in the Dutch PACC 2020 in February 7 months ago
But I forgot to write about it, because I made a very minimal number of contacts: 6. I wanted to get the Veron A08 contest group using call PA0AA in the log and added some others. And on submitting the log I didn't set the category to 'checklog' so there is a result with a ranking.

I got reminded today because our friendly mail delivery person brought an envelope with the token of merit (het vaantje) which is very special for this contest.

The good part is all 6 contacts were valid, so 6 contacts, 6 points, 3 multipliers making a stunning score of 18, and not the last in my category! Ranking 117 (out of 122) in single operator all band low power ssb only.

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2020-06-03 Paar lange onderbrekingen Internet door PPPoE probleem 7 months ago
Ik heb een paar keer de afgelopen dagen een vrij lange onderbreking van het Internet thuis gehad, die eigenlijk leken te komen door een hik in de PPP sessie zonder dat de DSL sessie wegviel. Vervolgens probeert pppd met PPPoE (PPP over Ethernet) erg enthousiast de verbinding weer aan de gang te krijgen wat niet lukt. Netto resultaat: een langdurige uitval tot ik een keer met de hand het modem herstart (en dus de DSL sessie ook laat wegvallen).

Na wat navraag in xs4all.adsl lijkt dit een gevolg te zijn van het hardnekkig en snel weer opbouwen van de sessie terwijl er nog 'state' is van de oude sessie. En er is misschien wel een hik geweest in het transportnetwerk tussen de straatkast hier en de xs4all routers maar de sessie was nog niet weg.
Read the rest of Paar lange onderbrekingen Internet door PPPoE probleem

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2020-06-01 I participated in the CQ WPX CW contest 2020 7 months ago
After a number of recent morse contacts with special event stations I decided to participate in the CQ WPX CW contest during the weekend. Not for getting a big score, but to get experience with morse contesting.

Morse speeds in a contest like this are 25-30 words per minute which I can't decode, so I used fldigi to decode most of the morse. This means I have to enter my results as 'assisted'. And 'most' of the morse is the correct description because the important detail to decode are callsigns and serial numbers. The signal report is always 599 or 5NN which is usually sent faster than the rest of the conversation because it's a specific pattern a trained morse operator hears anyway.

I really didn't participate very long and still made 65 contacts. I'm not sure they all went correct, but it's a start. If I make 10 errors each of those is only 1 error for the other station. It's interesting how this approach to morse contesting gets me 65 contacts when serious participation in a digital mode contest will get me about 120 contacts.

But high numbers of contacts are quite normal in a morse contest. I have received serial numbers over 2000.

Logs are processed and the first confirmations via ARRL Logbook of the world are already coming in.

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