News archive 2021 - Koos van den Hout

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2021-01-20 Playing with DUDE-Star and actually hearing audio 2 days ago
I recently noticed the DUDE-Star software which allows access to D-Star, DMR, YSF, NXDN, P25, M17. For those who read here and got dazzled by these abbreviations: These are radio systems where voice data can be transported both via radio signals and via Internet data streams.

In all of these systems there are ways to connect radio / network interfaces together to make contacts over longer distances possible. This software allows access to all these interfaces and will do the audio encoding/decoding so it will use a microphone and loudspeaker.

I haven't had any luck in hearing D-Star audio yet which may be due to not being a registered D-Star user or due to not selecting busy reflectors (the computer systems that allow linked radios and networks to have the same audio data: an audio chatroom). I browsed around other systems and found busy talkgroups in YSF where I heard chatter in Dutch and English last night.

It is nice to see software like this making it all accessible without investing in hardware. The codecs used have a serious influence on the audio quality, and I was warned the quality from DUDE-Star isn't as good as from the actual radios. From what I heard some of the digital audio modes the quality isn't very good (to leave lots of room for error correction).

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2021-01-15 Fiber to the shed: testing the fiber optic transceivers 1 week ago
I wanted to get an idea whether the network over the fiber optic transceivers is reliable. So at the moment our dining room table looks like a network lab.

For testing networks there is iperf. I found out the Raspberry Pi 3B+ can't keep up with 100 Mbit/second UDP packets, so I searched for a speed where the Pi performs ok. This turns out to be 30 mbit, at higher speeds there is packet loss. I also had to reduce packet size to avoid fragmentation which costs CPU. I use IPv6 because that's what I'm used to. It turned out later the maximum speed without loss is higher with IPv4 than with IPv6.

Server on the raspberry pi:
koos@raspberrypi:~ $ iperf --version
iperf version 2.0.9 (1 June 2016) pthreads
koos@raspberrypi:~ $ iperf -s -V -u
------------------------------------------------------------
Server listening on UDP port 5001
Receiving 1470 byte datagrams
UDP buffer size:  160 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
Test without fiber optic transceivers in the path. Layer 2 route: virtual machine - host machine - utp - network switch - utp - network switch - utp - raspberry pi
koos@wozniak:~$ iperf --version
iperf version 2.0.9 (1 June 2016) pthreads
koos@wozniak:~$ iperf -V -u -b30M -i 10 -t 120 -M 10 -l 1400 -c ..
------------------------------------------------------------
Client connecting to .., UDP port 5001
Sending 1400 byte datagrams, IPG target: 373.33 us (kalman adjust)
UDP buffer size:  208 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
..
[  3]  0.0-120.0 sec   429 MBytes  30.0 Mbits/sec
[  3] Sent 321430 datagrams
[  3] Server Report:
[  3]  0.0-120.0 sec   429 MBytes  30.0 Mbits/sec   0.004 ms    0/321430 (0%)
Test with fiber optic transceivers in the path. Layer 2 route: virtual machine - host machine - utp - network switch - utp - network switch - utp - fiber optic transceiver - fiber - fiber optic transceiver - utp - raspberry pi
koos@wozniak:~$ iperf -V -u -b30M -i 10 -t 120 -M 10 -l 1400 -c ..
------------------------------------------------------------
Client connecting to .., UDP port 5001
Sending 1400 byte datagrams, IPG target: 373.33 us (kalman adjust)
UDP buffer size:  208 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  3]  0.0-120.0 sec   429 MBytes  30.0 Mbits/sec
[  3] Sent 321430 datagrams
[  3] Server Report:
[  3]  0.0-120.0 sec   429 MBytes  30.0 Mbits/sec   0.007 ms    0/321430 (0%)
Trying with IPv4 shows that packet loss starts to occur above 45 mbit. This is an interesting difference.

But the important conclusion is that there is no packet loss over the fiber path. There may be a bit more latency, but that's not a surprise. As a last test I looked at purely ping traffic using IPv6.

Without fiber in the path:
koos@wozniak:~$ ping -c 100 -i 0.2 -q ..
PING ..(.. (2001:xxxx)) 56 data bytes

--- .. ping statistics ---
100 packets transmitted, 100 received, 0% packet loss, time 20192ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 0.567/0.680/0.866/0.063 ms
With fiber in the path:
koos@wozniak:~$ ping -c 100 -i 0.2 -q ..
PING ..(.. (2001:xxxx)) 56 data bytes

--- .. ping statistics ---
100 packets transmitted, 100 received, 0% packet loss, time 20191ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 0.625/0.738/0.828/0.046 ms
This also shows a bit more latency over fiber.

The extra latency is probably due to the fiber optic transceivers containing a network switch.

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2021-01-15 The scammers found out buttcoin is making news headlines 1 week ago
Buttcoins have had some interesting price changes recently and while I normally only associate bitcoin with sextortion scams I'm now receiving spam about 'getting rich from bitcoin'. Most notably from the mails:
Don't like these emails? Unsubscribe. a Company or Organization Name | Latvia
Wahnsinnig reich werden Wahnsinnig reich werden Don't like these emails? Unsubscribe. a Organization Name | France Unsubscribe {recipient's email} Update Profile | About our service provider
I guess they are abusing some cheap spam provider (probably known to themselves as "e-mail marketing company").

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2021-01-13 Fiber to the shed 1 week ago
There is no fiber to our home in the near future but I am working on laying another fiber route: from the switch in the cupboard downstairs to the shed. This is because the NTP server in the shed still has intermittent connectivity issues when using 2.4 GHz wifi due to the 2.4 GHz wifi channels being very crowded. The wifi dongle has no 5 GHz support and I don't think I would get it very reliable. But other options are also not ideal. As a radio amateur I can't go back to using powerline (network over power cables) and I wouldn't feel safe with a network cable running that far should a lightning strike ever occur. I should write "occur again" since I have had a network switch with probable lightning damage before.

The only option left is what you guessed from the title of this post: fiberoptic cable. No interference to my radio reception and a lot less chance of lightning blowing up parts of the network and connected computers. But a whole new world of fiber types, fiber lengths, wavelengths, connector types and interface types opened up to me. The switch in the cupboard downstairs has SFP ports, but how to get beyond that.

The raspberry Pi 3B+ that I use is 100 mbit only and I wasn't sure how to handle that. So I asked someone who is very good with fiber networks to explain to me what options are available and that person dug up some lengths of fiber that are no longer used and some 100 mbit fiberoptic transverters that were also a wrong purchase. So I already have the connectivity hardware available.

Now all I need is a physical route between the shed and the rest of the network. There is an old plastic pipe from the shed to the crawlspace of our house that was once used for heating will probably do the trick once I figure out how to remove the old heating pipes from it. I guess there is some real dirty work below the floor of our house and in the shed in my near future. I will also need to buy plastic tubing to safely guide the vulnerable fiber. And some hooks to hang this tube and other cables from the floor instead of having them lie in the sand in the crawlspace.

Since there is also an old gas pipe in the plastic pipe I will make really really sure first that one isn't connected somewhere.

This was all triggered by adding the ntp server in the shed to the NTP pool and having the pool monitoring system gripe about the server becoming unreachable as soon as I have wifi problems. The things I will do for serving the right time!

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2021-01-12 I participated in the UBA PSK63 contest 2021 1 week ago
PSK63 contest in fldigi The contest that started radio contests in digital modes for me was again last weekend: the UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest. This is the 7th year in a row that I participated in that contest.

Conditions weren't very good. Especially Saturday the 20 meter band 'dried up' as soon as it got a bit dark and later in the evening I stopped trying on the 40 meter band and decided to call it a night. Sunday morning after I woke up I tried again and got a good number of new stations both on 20 and 40 meters.

In the end I made 78 contacts.

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2021-01-06 I participated in the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2020 2 weeks ago
RTTY Contest on websdr Last weekend was the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2020 and I participated. I made sure beforehand to have a separate logging file for just this contest, with the plan to be able to switch from RTTY in fldigi to FT8/FT4 in wsjt-x and back.

Propagation on the 40 meter band during the dark hours wasn't very good, I never got outside of Europe on that band. On Sunday afternoon I tried the 20 meter band for a while with not much better results. I switched back to 40 meter and worked some new stations. I did switch back to the 20 meter band just before sunset and got one US station in the log: W0PR which also sounds like a reference to the WarGames movie (to me).

I did switch to wsjt-x on Sunday evening. I saw absolutely no calls for the contest on 40 meter FT8, and only a few on 40 meter FT4 so I tried making those contacts. I saw several US stations calling but none heard my answer.

In the end I made 89 contacts. I did transpant the log from fldigi to wsjt-x but wsjt-x did not see the earlier contest contacts so I increased the outgoing serial counter to start at 86. I've had better years in the ARRL RTTY Roundup.

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2021-01-05 Sharing my christmas light code 2 weeks ago
I forked the github repository GitHub - jgarff/rpi_ws281x: Userspace Raspberry Pi PWM library for WS281X LEDs into my own GitHub - KHoos/rpi_ws281x: Userspace Raspberry Pi PWM library for WS281X LEDs and committed my code for using the 120 led ledstrip as christmas tree lights including morse code.

It's my first actual python code.

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2021-01-02 Guinness West Indies Porter 2 weeks ago
Beer illustration Looking for some special beers for new year's eve I found this at the local supermarket. I know 'standard' Guinness since we used to drink that on holidays in England, but I had no idea what to expect from this beer. Time for the experiment.

In taste it's a reminder of Guinness, but not as 'creamy' as Guinness. A bit more nuance in taste.

The beer details

CompanyGuinness
Beer nameGuinness West Indies Porter
Beer stylePorter
Alcohol by volume6.0 %

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2021-01-01 New year, new scams 3 weeks ago
The bitcoin sextortion scams continue in this year. The one I got today tries to avoid spam filters that trigger on bitcoin addresses:
Ok! So.. to get some coins go and search on Google for "Buy BIT C0lN instantly"
and send to this address:

Address: 1 L 2 U a v M T r h p C X W n 9 L v q h C q R S v x Y z f Q s B w 4
Amount: 0.027
The address 1L2UavMTrhpCXWn9LvqhCqRSvxYzfQsBw4 is valid according to 1L2UavMTrhpCXWn9LvqhCqRSvxYzfQsBw4 - blockchain explorer but not yet known at BitcoinAbuse.

I hope some day one of these scammers is brought to justice.

Update 2021-01-10: More of the same, with reasonably good Dutch language writing. New bitcoin addresses: 1Emh6CsbF4eo425ph3sSCNZ2aGCWerRB7w 1JakpfFpX4HFyiuv7WKviV5xAanMwknArV 1Emh6CsbF4eo425ph3sSCNZ2aGCWerRB7w and the criminal wants 1500 US Dollar in buttcoins to not publish the videos.

Update 2021-01-13: More good Dutch although I am sure it's a translation because of the familiairity in the writing style. Bitcoin address Eu8sHWG2Uzvd1ukxumae5ctfSNWWtsFkS. The amount has changed to 1400 Euro in buttcoins.

I also note bitcoin address 1JakpfFpX4HFyiuv7WKviV5xAanMwknArV has received 2 incoming transactions of somewhat above 1500 dollars so it seems this crime pays.

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2021-01-01 Closing 2020 in amateur radio with a plot of the number of contacts and a review 3 weeks ago
QSO count plot up to December 2020 Time to plot the number of contacts in 2020 and a review. I made no specific resolutions for 2020 but looking back there were positive developments.
  • The Kenwood TS480-SAT is at a remote location with good antennas for most of the HF bands. This enabled me to work new countries and get more voice and morse contacts in the log.
  • I was active on amateur satellites a few times, including from Austria.
  • The morse speed improved and I got on the air more with morse. Including a few morse contests.
  • I tried to follow the Bulgarian Saints 2020 stations and I had at least one contact with one of the stations in 10 out of the 12 months of 2020. In 8 months I had at least one contact in morse with the station of that month. So I earned the Bulgarian Saints diploma 2020.
  • In general I made more contacts in this year than in any other year. The endfed antenna is now mounted outside in such a way I can leave it there, which makes getting on the radio for a few contacts easier. There were also more special event stations active this year.
  • I had radio contacts with several new countries.
  • The box with outgoing QSL cards is now empty!
  • I'm active as QSL manager for my local club, this is fun and my part of keeping the club running.
Plans for 2021:
  • Keep practising morse, try to pass the morse exam.
  • More satellite contacts. Weather permitting...
  • Morse and phone in contests.
  • Order new QSL cards and keep on sending them.
Read the rest of Closing 2020 in amateur radio with a plot of the number of contacts and a review

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