News archive July 2020 - Koos van den Hout

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2020-07-31 Letting the nanokeyer decode my morse attempts
I'm still trying to learn morse and I currently make too many errors while sending with the paddle at a reasonable speed (12 words per minute).

Digging into the documentation for the winkeyer protocol showed me the option to get the morse it thinks I sent back to the computer.

This is even a supported option in winkeydaemon, the -e option.
       -e     Turns  on  winkeyer's  'echo'  feature and makes the daemon echo
              transmitted CW to all active clients (see '-p').

              Test this feature with the  'netcat'  utility:  'echo  |  nc  -u
              127.0.0.1  6789'.  This creates an active, echo-only client ses‐
              sion.
And indeed I can test my work:
$ ./winkeydaemon -s 13 -e
$ echo | nc -u localhost 6789
CQ CQ DE PE4KH
This could be used to write a morse trainer program. For now I use it to test whether I paddle what I want.
Read the rest of Letting the nanokeyer decode my morse attempts

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2020-07-30 Backup to a remote webdav server using rclone
After the earlier issues with backing up to a remote webdav server I let the problem rest but made sure my backups were in order from time to time.

Until I came across a mention about rclone which especially mentions copying to various cloud services. Since I am trying to backup to a webdav server based on owncloud I had a look and this is a supported configuration in rclone. So I installed rclone to give it a try.

From the devuan distribution I got rclone version 1.35 which seemed to have problems with the specific owncloud server. So I had a look and newer .deb packages are available on the Rclone download page. This worked better.

On the first run rclone was convinced a lot of the files were modified locally since I transfered them with fusedav+rsync, so those were refreshed. But now it is all synchronized correctly the changes are minimal and the runtime isn't very long. I do make sure my uplink isn't filled completely so I limit the bandwidth. Command:
$ rclone --bwlimit 1M -v sync /camera/ owncloudservice:backuptest/camera/

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2020-07-27 Different SSL tests make things complex
After mention of the internet.nl tests at work I tested my webserver with the test from internet.nl and got a failed for the cipher order test. I do have the 'best' configuration according to the Mozilla SSL Configuration Generator but the test at internet.nl disagrees on this point because of the ordering of the ciphers. So with a lot of checking I now have:
ssl-default-bind-ciphers ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-ECDSA-CHACHA20-POLY1305:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-RSA-CHACHA20-POLY1305:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256
Which is not the order Mozilla suggests, but gives me an A+ on the Qualys SSL Server test and a good result on the standards test at internet.nl.

I also found out generating my own Diffie-Hellman parameters is not good for parameter sizes of 2048 bits and up. I changed to a known-good group of 4096 bits.

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2020-07-23 Twitter pointing me right at the dark side of social media
I separated my amateur radio twitter from my work and other contacts twitter to get less depressing world politics in my timeline and today Twitter showed me very clearly that I'm supposed to get agitated and depressed and not retreat into a safer bubble.

I got notifications on the @PE4KH account (including on my phone) to look at this tweet by Phil Karn KA9Q: Fascism has arrived in America. which quotes another political tweet.

I really appreciate the work Phil Karn has done in the past for networking and amateur radio, and as a person I feel sorry for him and others to have to live their daily lives in a situation like this.

But at the same time I don't want to be reminded constantly, because I can't do much about it and I will just feel more depressed. So it really annoys me that Twitter goes out of its way to point me to something that will agitate and depress me.

It seems like Twitter wants more doomscrolling and more depression to increase "engagement" at the short term.
Read the rest of Twitter pointing me right at the dark side of social media

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2020-07-21 Spam trying to sell me PC hardware
Since a few weeks I notice a lot of spam with deals in PC and mobile phone hardware. Several different domain names, but all with an overview of latest models and prices. When searching in the log for the names, the patterns are visible:
info2@bulk-laptops-europe.com
info2@notebooks-store-flow.com
info2@pc-b2bsales.com
info3@bigbuyit.eu
info3@computer-eu-trading.com
info3@elektronikresale.eu
info3@global-hardware-trading.eu
info3@notebook-resale.com
info4@laptopspro.eu
info6@bulk-laptops-europe.com
info6@it-stock-trade.eu
info6@technology-wholesale.com
info7@bigbuyit.eu
info7@elektronikresale.eu
info7@notebookb2bpartners.eu
info8@notebook-resale.com
info9@pc-stock-resales.com
Hosting seems to be at 2 or three places.

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2020-07-18 VDSL lijkt weer stabiel te zijn
Sinds de overschakeling naar de modem5 vectored VDSL driver voor de Draytek vigor 130 is er maar een keer een VDSL uitval geweest, en die was gerelateerd aan amateurradio activiteit op de 40 meter band (7 MHz) en dat ben ik gewend.

Het lijkt er dus op dat dit een verder stabiele configuratie is. Daar was ik ook wel weer aan toe na alle problemen sinds begin Juni.

Snelheden zijn sinds die herstart wel anders. De ruimte tussen 'attainable' en 'current' zijn nu groter. Upstream is 34.5 / 30.9 en downstream is 69.1 / 111.0. Snel genoeg in ieder geval voor wat ik wil.

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2020-07-16 Time to grow the diskspace for the home server
There were some ideas for one or more new virtual machines in the homeserver conway 2017 and the current volume group is almost full. Time to order some new diskspace because there's also some upcoming Devuan upgrades where I'd like to keep a snapshot of the 'before' situation so I can go back if everything breaks.

So I ordered 2 960 Gb SSDs. They will run in a mirror anyway. I was wondering whether to add them to the current volume group or take the 2 256 Gb SSDs out of the volume group. I decided to take those two out: there will be enough space after the upgrade and it can save some power. This does mean the new SSDs will also be set to be bootable and I will have to do a move of the volume group.

The order of changes:
  • Shut down machine
  • Install 2 new disks
  • Boot up machine
  • Partition 2 new disks with boot partition, make bootable with UEFI
  • Test boot from new disk
  • Make raid-1 device from the rest of the space on both disks
  • Add new raid-1 to volume group
  • Move volume group away from old raid-1
  • Remove old raid-1 from volume group
  • Unlink old raid-1
  • Shut down machine
  • Remove 2 old disks
  • Boot up again
Quite a number of steps, this will take some time.
Read the rest of Time to grow the diskspace for the home server

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2020-07-16 En weer spam voor een Belg, misschien moet ik maar eens schadevergoeding gaan eisen
Weer eens spam voor een belg, met zelfs de naam "Maes-Swerts/A." weer in de adressering, wat dus betekent dat ze het bestand gebruiken wat ik in augustus 2012 traceerde als illegale bron.

Dat voldoet dus absoluut niet aan de huidige wetgeving op dit gebied en zowel de Nederlandse als de Belgische toezichthouder hebben ondertussen stevige boetes uitgedeeld voor het niet opvolgen van verwijderverzoeken. Een leuk overzicht bij dailybits.be: Overzicht GDPR/AVG boetes en schadevergoedingen.

Misschien maak ik ook wel kans op schadevergoeding, na 8 jaar ergernis.

Eerder, eerder, eerder, eerder, eerder, eerder, eerder, eerder, eerder.

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2020-07-15 I tamed systemd
I shared my earlier mishap with systemd on twitter: @khoos: Another run-in with systemd and got a reply to check the prerequisites: @devbeard: Is there something that needs to come after, before the thing is there for gpsctl to configure? and I added a dependency on the serial driver for the right port.

This seems to work now, it all comes up as planned. Updated file /etc/systemd/system/ublox-init.service:
[Unit]
Description=u-blox initialisation
Before=gpsd.service
Before=ntp.service
Requires=sys-devices-platform-soc-3f201000.serial-tty-ttyAMA0.device

[Service]
Type=oneshot
ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/gpsctl -q -a -B 115200 --configure_for_timing

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target
And now I'm greeted by a working ntpd at 115200 bps when I log in to the Pi.

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2020-07-12 I participated in the IARU HF contest this weekend
Again this year one of the important radiocontests for me: the IARU HF contest was this weekend. I made both SSB and CW contacts on several bands.

I made 22 contacts in morse. I concentrated on SSB during the day, aiming to get some nice contacts in the log. There were good 10 and 15 meter openings which is always nice in a contest. I haven't done a lot of contesting on those bands so those enabled me to get more multipliers and a higher score.

In the end I made 159 contacts, with a claimed score of 343 qso points * 74 multipliers = 25382.

Update 2021-04-10: I did a check of results in several contests. My results for the IARU HF contest 2020: 153 valid contacts, 73 multipliers, score 23798. Ranking #63 for the Netherlands. This gives me a ranking of #9 in the 'Single operator unlimited, mixed mode, low power' category. Which isn't a very busy category.

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2020-07-06 En verder op zoek naar de stabiele VDSL configuratie
Ook de aanpassingen aan de configuratie van het Draytek Vigor 130 modem gaven niet het gewenste resultaat: zondag was er weer uitval. Dus het is niet een conflict tussen de pppoe client op mijn router en die in het Draytek Vigor 130 modem.

Om nu meer richting een ondersteunde configuratie te komen heb ik de nieuwste firmware er op gezet maar dan met de 'modem5' vectored VDSL driver. Ik hoop dat dat een betere situatie oplevert. De 'modem5' driver is volgens Draytek documentatie 'optimized for KPN'. Die levert wel wat meer vertraging op, maar dat is in de orde van milliseconden.

En als extra aanpak van het probleem heb ik een script geschreven wat het modem vraagt om een vdsl herstart. Dit script roep ik aan als het er alle tekenen van heeft dat de verbinding naar buiten weg is.

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2020-07-04 Again with systemd in the new GPS Pi
Again and again systemd annoys me. This time in the GPS Pi configured for timing.

Since I want it to work perfectly at start I added the systemd rules as suggested by A Raspberry Pi Stratum 1 NTP Server - Phil's Occasional Blog with /etc/systemd/system/ublox-init.service containing:
[Unit]
Description=u-blox initialisation
Before=gpsd.service
Before=ntp.service

[Service]
Type=oneshot
ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/gpsctl -q -a -B 115200 --configure_for_timing

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target
After reboot ntp was running, but no data at all from the gps unit, and gpsctl was unable to revive it. The solution was to disable the above unit and ntpd, powerdown and restart the whole system and try again. After that doing the changes by hand and starting ntpd worked fine.

It's probably some sort of race condition, but any time I try to make a system with systemd do something reliably I run into things like this.

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2020-07-04 Wijziging configuratie Draytek Vigor 130 om onderbrekingen te verminderen
De vervelende lange onderbrekingen van de Internet verbinding bleven aanhouden en ik zocht hulp in de xs4all.adsl nieuwsgroep.

Ik kreeg een suggestie om de configuratie van het Draytek Vigor 130 modem aan te passen. Ondanks dat deze in PPPoE passthrough staat blijft de interne PPPoE client toch proberen om een verbinding op te bouwen. En dat geeft een probleem als het proberen op te bouwen van een nieuwe sessie een conflict geeft met een oude sessie wat alleen op te lossen is door een tijdje te wachten.

De suggestie was ook om logging van het Draytek Vigor 130 modem aan te zetten naar een syslog server zodat het zichtbaar werd wat er gebeurde. En dat gaf meer informatie wat inderdaad aangaf dat de PPPoE client op de Draytek Vigor 130 modem storing gaf.
Read the rest of Wijziging configuratie Draytek Vigor 130 om onderbrekingen te verminderen

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2020-07-03 Switched the GPS configuration to one optimized for timing
Based on A Raspberry Pi Stratum 1 NTP Server - Phil's Occasional Blog I switched the gps to a configuration optimized for timing. The default settings are optimized for location services, but I want an NTP server.

I used gpsctl to configure the ublox chip in the GPS/RTC Hat:
$ gpsctl -a -B 115200 --configure_for_timing -vv
Serial port ("/dev/ttyAMA0") open...
Serial port open and configured...
Automatically determining baud rate...
Trying 230400 baud...
Trying 115200 baud...
Trying 57600 baud...
Trying 38400 baud...
Trying 19200 baud...
Trying 9600 baud...
Synchronized on 9600 baud...
Changing baud rate to 115200...
Successfully changed baud rate to 115200...
After that I got location data at a high speed. I changed the /etc/ntp.conf parameters to use the GPS_NMEA and PPS drivers, with:
# PPS reference
server 127.127.22.0 minpoll 4 maxpoll 4
fudge 127.127.22.0 refid PPS

# GPS NMEA driver
server 127.127.20.0 mode 89 minpoll 4 maxpoll 4 iburst prefer
fudge 127.127.20.0 flag1 0 flag2 0 flag3 0 time2 0.043 refid GPS
And now I get much better numbers:
$ ntpq -p
     remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset  jitter
==============================================================================
oPPS(0)          .PPS.            0 l   14   16  377    0.000   -1.656   0.134
*GPS_NMEA(0)     .GPS.            2 l   13   16  377    0.000  -11.730   0.517
+ntpritchie.idef 131.211.8.244    3 u   44   64  377    4.263    1.436  62.373
+metronoom.dmz.c 192.87.106.3     2 u   44   64  377   12.141   -2.250  49.247
koos@henkp:~ $ ntpdc -c kern
pll offset:           -0.00142676 s
pll frequency:        7.468 ppm
maximum error:        4.934e-06 s
estimated error:      3.372e-06 s
status:               2001  pll nano
pll time constant:    4
precision:            1e-09 s
frequency tolerance:  500 ppm
The time offset factors still need work, but I'm getting close!

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2020-07-03 The GPS ticks!
I remembered the junkbox contains an active GPS antenna which I bought together with the gpskit gps unit in 2003(!). And some other bits and pieces included a SMA to BNC adapter so I put the little GPS antenna outside and connected it to the GPS/RTC Hat.

Before I was back behind a computer it was showing a location and within a few minutes it had a PPS pulse. I was used to cold start taking at least 15 minutes with the gpskit!

So I tested with ntpd talking to gpsd via shared memory. This gave an interesting offset between local gps time and a nearby ntp server.
$ ntpq -p
     remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset  jitter
==============================================================================
*SHM(2)          .PPS.            0 l    6   64  377    0.000   -0.149   1.672
xSHM(0)          .GPS.            0 l    5   64  377    0.000  -104.51   1.943
+ntpritchie.idef 131.211.8.244    3 u  101   64  376    2.774    0.950  13.948
+metronoom.dmz.c 131.211.8.252    2 u   99   64  376   10.482   -0.844  10.638
$ ntpdc -c kern
pll offset:           -0.000136461 s
pll frequency:        -11.054 ppm
maximum error:        1.3748e-05 s
estimated error:      1.7071e-05 s
status:               2001  pll nano
pll time constant:    6
precision:            1e-09 s
frequency tolerance:  500 ppm
I'm not too happy about the fact that the GPS NMEA messages are seen as wrong, so I'm going to stop using gpsd and go for a setup optimized for timing.

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2020-07-02 Setting up the Raspberry Pi to talk to the GPS/RTC board
With most of the hardware in, it is time to configure the Raspberry Pi to allow the GPS/RTC board to be installed. One tip was to do this before installing the board to avoid serial conflicts.

First steps based on Building a GPS Time Server with the Raspberry Pi 3 which uses a different GPS board.

Disabling tty service on the UART:
# systemctl stop serial-getty@ttyAMA0.service
# systemctl disable serial-getty@ttyAMA0.service
And make changes to /boot/cmdline.txt to disable serial console, removing the console=serial0,115200 part.

Also needed is to disable the use of the hardware uart for bluetooth. This device does not need to do bluetooth at all, so I disable the software.
sudo systemctl disable hciuart
And add the lines to disable the bluetooth uart to /boot/config.txt:
dtoverlay=pi3-disable-bt
And with that the UART is completely free to use for GPS and PPS messages. I made all these changes and only added the GPS/RTC hat to the Pi after these changes were done.

Next steps were to add the i2c settings according to the GPS/RTC manual. For this I added
dtoverlay=i2c-rtc,rv3028
dtoverlay=pps-gpio
And indeed the i2c bus appears as the manual says:
# apt-get install python-smbus i2c-tools
[..]
# i2cdetect -y 1
     0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  a  b  c  d  e  f
00:          -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 
10: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 
20: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 
30: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 
40: -- -- 42 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 
50: -- -- UU -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 
60: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 
70: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --                         
I removed the fake-hwclock package and tested operation. On the commandline it works, but in a reboot I still see weird times in the log.

After that I did the changes to /lib/udev/hwclock-set, now it looks like:
dev=$1

#if [ -e /run/systemd/system ] ; then
#    exit 0
#fi
if [ -e /run/udev/hwclock-set ]; then
    exit 0
fi

if [ -f /etc/default/rcS ] ; then
    . /etc/default/rcS
fi

# These defaults are user-overridable in /etc/default/hwclock
BADYEAR=no
HWCLOCKACCESS=yes
HWCLOCKPARS=
HCTOSYS_DEVICE=rtc0
if [ -f /etc/default/hwclock ] ; then
    . /etc/default/hwclock
fi

if [ yes = "$BADYEAR" ] ; then
#    /sbin/hwclock --rtc=$dev --systz --badyear
    /sbin/hwclock --rtc=$dev --hctosys --badyear
else
#    /sbin/hwclock --rtc=$dev --systz
    /sbin/hwclock --rtc=$dev --hctosys
fi

# Note 'touch' may not be available in initramfs
> /run/udev/hwclock-set
The rtc has to be configured correctly, I used information from A Raspberry Pi Stratum 1 NTP Server - Phil's Occasional Blog to configure the rv3028 chip. Get the gpsctl tool and use configure-rv3208.sh to set up the chip. Now the rtc is correct and used at boot time.

I'm seeing NMEA messages when I run gpsd or ask the serial port for data. The NMEA messages are very limited because there is no GPS antenna connected yet.

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2020-07-02 My social media accounts
Social media is a nice and easy way to interact with people. There was and is a lot of choice in social media. Ages ago I started with fidonet echomail groups, later with usenet and recently with web-based social media.

But that's also a development from volunteer-run systems to commercially run systems. Companies like twitter, google and facebook are in the world to make a profit. With echomail and usenet the protocols and software were not linked to the operator of the service, someone else was able to run the same service and allow access to the network again. When google+ stopped the ties to people I knew were broken and I had to find them again on other networks.

I am somewhat active on twitter. My 'main' twitter account is twitter.com/khoos but I was getting a lot of negative messages about world politics which got depressing. Since twitter has made it a lot easier to manage more than one twitter account from the twitter web interface I decided to add a specific account for amateur radio with the predictable name twitter.com/PE4KH. Amateur radio twitter is not completely free of politics, but it's a lot more sane view of twitter.

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2020-07-01 A new home timeserver: GPS/RTC board
The Raspberry Pi GPS/RTC Expansion Board from uputronics came in today (thanks mailman!).

Next part needed: a gps antenna. But that's on backorder with another supplier.

Also needed: time to install raspbian on the Pi and start testing.

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