News archive January 2021 - Koos van den Hout

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2021-01-31 Redid connector on phone cable for VDSL
While I was working in the crawlspace yesterday I rerouted the phone cable that brings the VDSL from the network connection point (in the crawlspace, not a good place!) to the utility closet. After that the VDSL started giving disconnects.

Today I reopened the crawlspace, shortened the phone cable by about 8 centimeters and crimped a new connector on the phone cable. The copper on the original connector looked completely black, which may have given interesting interference at higher frequencies.

As we say in amateur radio: RF is magic. And since VDSL is RF, having oxidation in the wrong place can cause intermodulation.

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2021-01-30 Fiber to the shed: actual digging and crawling
The first part of the fiber path has been done.

Today I gathered all the tools to work on this project and removed most of the contents of our shed to work in there.

When I started digging in the shed I soon noticed the plastic pipe from the shed to the crawlspace of our house takes a 45 degree angle first and the next 45 degree angle is under the garden. I was not going to do that much digging so the plan had to be adjusted. The working solution was to pull the fiber through one of the old heating pipes. So my wife pushed a wire-pulling cable through one of the heating pipes while I was laying in the crawlspace waiting for it to show up. When we tried the second heating pipe it did show up, and pulling the fiber back to the shed worked fine. I did put some tape around the connectors to make sure they wouldn't hook behind something and I made sure the bit of rope that was pulling on the fiber was actually pulling on the main fiber and not on the connectors. The fiber came up in the shed nicely.

I wanted to hang the fibre in the crawlspace, since it could get damaged easily lying on the in the sand down there. I installed an electricity pipe hanging under the floor beams. After that there was still a bit of length to get to the nearest switch but not enough fiber left, so I had to leave that hanging for when I get a connector for an extension.

While I was in the crawlspace I made sure some other cables were mounted better, since the mess down there annoys me a bit. And I don't want other maintenance in the crawlspace to have a chance of disconnecting important things.

So the project isn't finished yet, but there is serious progress. It feels like I almost spent as much time making sure I had the right tools available and cleaning and storing them again as I spent actually working on it!

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2021-01-28 Found on YouTube: Cruising The Cut
A while ago the YouTube suggestion algorithm came up with a video about a TV journalist / cameraperson who decided to live and work full-time on a narrowboat in the canals of England. The suggested video: TV Journalist Quits His Job to Live on a Tiny House Boat & Cruise UK Canals Full-Time.

I guess the suggestion was in relation to some videos I watched about people with expedition vehicles.

After that video I checked out the YouTube channel mentioned in the video: Cruising the Cut and I got addicted. By now I have watched more than two-thirds of the videos in the channel. David Johns describes the first steps in buying the boat, getting the boat ready to live on and the journeys along the canal network in England. The exact measures of the narrowboat are to make it fit in the canals that were dug in England as the first way to move goods when the industrial revolution allowed centralized production. The boats are 2.08 meter (6 feet 10 inches) wide to fit in all the canals and locks. The canals were dug by hand, so they are no wider and deeper than needed to transport goods.

I did ask David about the term 'the Cut' because I couldn't find a good explanation for it. It is the term for the canal, because the canals were cut out of the land by hand.

For my Dutch readers who wonder about canals in a not completely flat landscape: canals in England have lots of locks, tunnels and aqueducts to deal with those.

Somehow this idea of a moveable home is nice to me. At the same time I am not a person for living on the water, and with all the plans for long cycling tours I still want to return to a nice home with all the comforts.

One note: I do notice that David Johns comes from a background in television. Great quality video. And yes, I am fully aware that takes a lot of editing.

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2021-01-23 Grolsch dubbel
Beer illustration Again something from our local supermarket. A dark color Belgian dubbel. A slight hoppy taste, not strong. In the brown Grolsch beugel bottle, which is a return to several years ago!

The beer details

CompanyGrolsch
Beer nameGrolsch dubbel
Beer styleBelgian dubbel
Alcohol by volume6.8 %

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2021-01-20 Playing with DUDE-Star and actually hearing audio
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
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
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
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
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.

Update 2021-03-14: Results are in: 74 valid contacts, 68 multipliers, 5032 points. Ranking number 154 in the single operator all band category.

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2021-01-06 I participated in the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2020
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.
Read the rest of I participated in the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2020

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2021-01-05 Sharing my christmas light code
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
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
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
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 practicing 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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Meningen zijn die van mezelf, wat ik schrijf is beschermd door auteursrecht. Sommige publicaties bevatten een expliciete vermelding dat ze ongevraagd gedeeld mogen worden.
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