News items for tag english - Koos van den Hout

2017-01-16 Living in two timezones 1 day ago
Radio amateurs who make contacts over the borders constantly live in two timezones: both their local timezone and the UTC timezone. Logging contacts with UTC timestamps ensures the timestamps align across different parts of the world.

To help with this logging programs for amateur radio like CQRLOG will show the current time in UTC and log in UTC.

But I also like having a desktop clock in Linux with both the local time and the UTC time. One of the reasons is with WSJT-X: in this mode transmissions start at second :00 and end at second :50 so I have to check the WSJT-X screen every minute between seconds 50 and 00 (or every second minute when I'm in a contact). This gets tedious and I get distracted when there is 50 or 110 seconds to just wait.

There are hardware 'amateur radio' clocks like the CK-2 LED Digital Dual Time Zone Clock which is over 200 US dollars and looks like it would fit into a missile launch command center. Or from MFJ: MFJ-148RC dual time LCD clock, atomic W/GMT ZONE, id timer at nearly 60 US dollars.

I decided to just look for some software for this task and after a few searches I ended up with PyHamClock which is now running on my amateur radio desktop system.

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2017-01-15 I participated in the UBA PSK63 prefix contest 2017 2 days ago
I had the UBA PSK63 prefix contest in my planning again this year. This year I set up the antennas in advance, checked the contestmacros and I was ready. Some things at home delayed the start a bit, so I did not fire of a CQ UBA PSK63 PFX TEST right at 12:00 UTC but I managed nicely.

In the end I made 133 contacts. I started on 20 meters but that 'dried out' soon especially after the sun started to come down. I switched to 40 meters and this was the first time in this contest that I had access to the part of the 40 meter band below 7.050 MHz, which is where all my 40 meter contacts were made. Late in the evening 40 meter started showing some more distant stations, I saw Indonesia and Surinam callsigns but they did not hear my reply (which was not for lack of trying).

Total 133 contacts, 59 on the 20 meter band and 74 on the 40 meter band, so I entered as SOAB (single operator all band). A simple script counts 65 prefixes on 20 meter and 52 prefixes on 40 meter so that would make my total score 15561 points.

Looking at my contesting results the rates of contacts are improving (even with radio propagation getting worse) so I think I am doing fine.

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2017-01-11 Debugging a crashing cqrlog 6 days ago
This morning cqrlog crashed soon after I started it. On a restart it crashed instantly without even giving me any option to select anything.

Since there was some mysql corruption in my system anyway I decided to completely wipe out the databases/configuration, start over, import the backups again and be on my way. I never got that far, every time shortly after initializing cqrlog it started crashing. So I started testing what could be causing this and ended up with the DXCC update being the cause. So I did not do this update, loaded my logs from the backup, improved some things in my configuration and reported my findings via mail to de cqrlog developer. I can live with the DXCC tables being somewhat outdated, I have contacts with stable countries here in Europe.

I hope an update comes out soon for cqrlog. Also noted in the cqrlog forums where at least one other user has seen the same workaround. I haven't posted it on the forum yet as I wasn't registered there.

Update 2017-01-12: During the day an update for cqrlog was made available which fixes the problem. Applause to the developers of cqrlog for responding this fast.

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2017-01-09 I participated in the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2017 1 week ago
This weekend I wasn't planning on radio contesting but some other plans got changed and in the evenings the 40 meter band around 7.040 MHz was filled with the deedle deedle of RTTY signals. It was the ARRL RTTY Roundup so I participated some hours. Given the limited time and the not so optimal propagation I did not expect a top score.

In the end I made 62 contacts. Better than my score in the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2016 where I made 24 contacts (after logs were checked).

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2017-01-05 Outdoor and cold amateur radio 1 week ago
Today I had time for outdoor amateur radio but it was a bit cold. So I took the car to recreation area "De Leyen" near Groenekan again, which I also did in April 2015 with warmer weather.

This time it was cold enough to stay in the car and still get cold after a few hours. I tried and worked 20 meter PSK31 and SSB, and again had the luxury of the environment there being almost free of radionoise on 20 meters. On 40 meters it was quite different, the only thing I heard from the radio was the typical noise of electrified wire nearby.

No loads of contacts, PSK31 wasn't very busy. I had the advantage of hearing stations a lot better on SSB (voice) but they did not hear my reply over the pile-up of other stations trying to contact them. I heard VP8LP which is impossible for me to hear at home, but he did not hear my replies.

The interesting contact was with A70X which is a radio expedition to Al-Safliyah island in Qatar.

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2017-01-04 Reviewing my 2016 amateur radio resolutions, and the new ones for 2017 1 week ago
Mobile radio for 2m/70cm in radio shack, CC-BY-SA Again on reddit /r/amateurradio there was a thread HNY! What are your 2017 Amateur Radio resolutions? so I checked the results for My 2016 Amateur Radio resolutions and thought about what I want to do in 2017 with amateur radio.

So, first to review what I hoped to do in 2016:
  • Pass the exam for the full license on 2 March
Passed.
  • Participate in "Mills on the air" in May
Prepared, and failed: antenna wasn't working and by the time things were fixed the 40 meter band wasn't cooperating.
  • Making amateur satellite contacts when the weather permits
No contacts made, I got an antenna rotor and built a holder for the arrow antenna on that rotor, but I only used it to receive SSTV from the ISS.
  • Participate in a few digimode contests 'seriously' (preparing, using an outside antenna, optimizing score). Sofar I usuallly go 'oh there is a contest I'll throw in my call and see if I can score some points'
Done: did better in a few contests compared to my 2015 scores. Also worked on and improved my contest macros. I even did a little voice contesting.
  • Bring some radio stuff on summer holiday (a full license makes this possible in a lot more countries around here)
Brought the radio and an endfed antenna on a holiday in northern England. Found out the endfed gets into problems when cold (which was probably also the reason "Mills on the air" failed first). And by the time the weather was nice enough for the endfed to work again the battery of the radio was drained.

So, for 2017:

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2017-01-01 Leaped into 2017! 2 weeks ago
Jan  1 00:59:59 greenblatt kernel: [2538111.748198] Clock: inserting leap second 23:59:60 UTC
I usually distribute the leap second file to all servers I control to make sure there are no strange problems around it.

I wish everyone a good 2017!

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2016-12-30 The weather confirms antenna theory 2 weeks ago
Last afternoon I hung up the endfed antenna outside to make some contacts on different radio bands. This morning I noticed it was all covered in frost due to a night with temperatures below freezing and with lots of mist.

So I took the camera for some pictures of the frost on different parts of the antenna, gathered at flickr: img_3365 | Coil in endfed antenna with ice growth | Koos van den Hout | Flickr.

After I took a set of pictures I started transmitting PSK31 on the 20 meter bands at 50 watts power. And my antenna theory tells me that the part of the antenna radiating the best is where the most current of the standing wave happens which is right after the transformer in an endfed antenna.

Which I got confirmed: img_3380 | Endfed antenna with ice growth on transformer | Koos van den Hout | Flickr was taken before I transmitted and img_3378 | Result of using the enfed antenna: ice vaporized | Koos van den Hout | Flickr after. The ice is gone on the first part.

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2016-12-24 "Nice" view of the local noise 3 weeks ago
Waterfall display with noise in 20m jt65 band With HF conditions being bad I chose the JT65 mode in the hope of having a chance of making a contact. None happened, and the noise patterns in the waterfall display make it very clear how much local noise there is and how the local noise sources change frequencies and power.

Transmissions take 50 seconds in JT65 and start right at the beginning of the minute, at each yellow horizontal line in the waterfall display. The only valid JT65 signal is in the top right corner right of the '1400' marker.

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2016-12-23 Getting video to play just right with vlc 3 weeks ago
I wanted to project a videofile with a black screen before and after, with no visible controls on the screen where the video plays, with manual control of when the video starts and with the video starting on the second monitor.

The 'why' is simple: I want to use a videoprojector which has no option to turn the screen black itself and I want the smoothest videoplay possible with no visible controls.

The how was a bit more work, but vlc has enough command line options. I could not find a guess online so I did an estimated count myself:
$ vlc -H --advanced | grep -ce '--'
VLC media player 2.2.2 Weatherwax (revision 2.2.2-0-g6259d80)
1525
This shows 1525 commandline options. So I had to find the right options. Not too much of a problem either:
vlc --image-duration -1 --no-qt-fs-controller --qt-fullscreen-screennumber 1 --no-video-title-show --qt-notification 0 -f --disable-screensaver Downloads/black.png Downloads/VID_20161210_104822.mp4 Downloads/black.png
This lets me use the vlc controls in the systray, starts playing fullscreen on the right screen, plays the static black image until I select 'next', leaves out all the indicators and ends with the other static black image.

The only thing left is the fact that the audio has to select the right audio device too. It turns out vlc plays audio via the alsa emulation in pulseaudio, and I need to change that preference via the pavucontrol program.

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2016-12-11 New band in amateur radio: 17 meters (18 MHz) 1 month ago
This weekend I had some time to 'play radio' and used the LW-10 longwire antenna for 6 to 40 meters because I wanted to try the 30 meter band. But there was no activity on the 30 meter band in PSK modes. So I tried other PSK31 frequencies as programmed in fldigi and ended up at 18.100 MHz and had a few contacts with Greece, Russia and Spain.

The 17 meter band is from 18.068 MHz to 18.168 MHz and one of the WARC bands, named after the World Administrative Radio Conference in 1979 which allocated small parts of the spectrum in 10 MHz (30 meter), 18 MHz (17 meter) and 24 MHz (12 meter) to radio amateurs. Partly on a secondary basis (10 MHz), partly as primary user (18 MHz and 24 MHz).

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2016-12-07 Popular ports for scans... 1 month ago
Currently over half of the incoming TCP SYN packets logged and dropped in my firewall are for port 23 or port 2323. According to on-line sources this is all related to the Mirai botnet and copycats of that botnet.

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2016-11-27 Finished the homebrewed QYT KT-8900 programming cable 1 month ago
Homebrewed QYT KT-8900 programming cable, CC-BY-SA
Homebrewed QYT KT-8900 programming cable
I finished the homebrewed QYT KT-8900 programming cable by using tiewraps to clamp the two pieces of cable together and using heatshring tube to cover the wires and pack it all together.

More about Creating the homebrewed QYT KT-8900 programming cable and instructions for building a 3-pin programming cable for QYT/BTech/others and the KT-8900 FAQ at Mikklor.com.

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2016-11-24 Creating a programming cable for a QYT KT-8900 with some soldering 1 month ago
QYT KT-8900 radio with homebrewed interface cable, CC-BY-SA
QYT KT-8900 radio with homebrewed interface cable, CC-BY-SA
I bought a cheap 2m/70cm mobile/base radio, a QYT KT-8900 which has the special feature of being very small but still able of putting out 25 Watt on the 2 meter VHF band and 20 Watt on the 70 centimeter UHF band.

The display looks a lot like my Wouxun KG-UVD1P, complete with battery status indicator which is not much use when the radio has a constant 13.8V feed. The menus are quite similar, so this is probably not a coincidence.

I bought it via aliexpress and it got shipped at a reasonable speed to my house. In the original listing was mention of a programming cable, but it showed up without one. I asked the seller about this and directly a baofeng programming cable was shipped to me.

But, the QYT KT-8900 has a different programming interface, just a 3.5 millimeter plug with ground, rx and tx data. So I found a very good resource for chinese radios which has the answers: 3 PIN Programming Cable for a BTech, QYT, etc Mobile which has the right pinout. I just cut the Baofeng cable to get at the gnd, rx and tx wires.

Next I had to wait for a cable with the right 3.5mm connector to show up. The connector in the back is sunk into the case and the 3.5mm connectors I had in the junkbox did not fit. But a broken PC speaker set wanted to donate a cable with 3.5mm connectors that were slim enough. Next trying the result with chirp radio programming software under Linux. And suddenly I could copy a list of channels I had and upload it to the radio in 5 minutes, which is a lot faster than manual programming where getting more than one channel programmed in correctly under 5 minutes is hard, see for example Programming Repeaters into the QYT KT8900 Mini Dual Band Mobile Radio Review - AF5DN - Youtube.

At the moment the cable looks very experimental. Now it has been tested I will use tiewraps and heatshrink tube to make it sturdier and make it look a lot better.

As a radio it's ok, but not ideal. I was testing with meetnetwerk baretta - hobbyscoop and the antenna on the roof for 2 meter and 70 centimeter and noticed I had pulsing audio of the output frequency of PI2NOS on the Baretta frequency. Pulsing audio is a known problem in this radio, see KT8900 FAQ at miklor.com but I have no channels with receive CTCSS.

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2016-11-22 A bit of hope for radio contacts 1 month ago
Recently getting some new contacts on amateur radio has been very difficult. And news articles like Sunspot cycle plunges to lowest level in 5 years - Southgate arc which points at source Sunspot cycle at lowest level in 5 years - spaceweather.com tell us things aren't going to improve soon.

But sometimes interesting radio contacts are possible. Last Friday I complained somewhere about propagation being down and the next morning I saw a reply that propagation had improved after 23:00, by which time I was asleep. Yesterday evening I had some time to try the radio after 21:30 and I first added Albania to the list of countries I contacted with a PSK31 contact on 40 meters with ZA5G and later I even had a voice contact with RA3QK who gave me an S5 report.

I kept scanning around the band and heard pileups for some popular stations from the Brazil and the US, who never heard my answer. And later I heard an active net on 7178 kHz with a number of US and Canada stations active. I tried breaking in but they also could not decode my callsign. One of the active members in that net was WA3RSL whose qrz page clearly shows he is a big 40 meter fan and has the space for huge antennas.

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2016-11-18 Trying to scam the spammed 2 months ago
An interesting scam mail received in several of my inboxes:
To: abuse@...
Subject: you've been scammed

Your email abuse@... has been hacked and spam is sent to all your contacts!
If you don't have a lawyer, you may contact me at mark.silberman78@gmail.com

Best Regards,
Mark
I guess 'Mark' bought the cheapest available list of spammable addresses and is now trying to profit from the people spammed.

The other variation is with
Subject: You are hacked!
But with everything else exactly the same.

Update: I am getting some responses to this post, other people are seeing this spam too. I guess I was just the first one to write a post about it, since I usually like to link to posts showing I am not the only one. Hello visitors puzzling about this spam!

Update II: It's not just me! Also noted at You are hacked or scammed - hoax.co

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2016-11-12 Disabling IPv4 on the Raspberry Pi 2 months ago
I have two Raspberry Pi's running in the house, currently with IPv4 still enabled on them. They both run Raspbian 8.0. I was wondering whether I can disable IPv4 on the Raspberry Pi, but a google search does not yield very helpful answers, most of the search terms I try still find pages about disabling IPv6. I want to disable the legacy IP protocol.

Only one way to find out: go for it. Now rebooting one with the statement ipv6only in /etc/dhcpcd.conf.

First thing I noticed was that the searchdomain was not set in /etc/resolv.conf which was indeed only available via the DHCP process for IPv4. So now radvd advertises the search domain via the DNSSL option in /etc/radvd.conf:
   RDNSS 2001:980:14ca:42::18 {
   };
   DNSSL idefix.net {
   };
The first results are:
  • It turned out the ntp config on the raspberry had one IPv6-only and one IPv4-only server. Added a dual-stack server.
  • And ndpmon really does not like the DNSSL option, even when I add it in the config_ndpmon.xml file as
                      <dnssl>
                        <domain lifetime="600">idefix.net</domain>
                      </dnssl>
    
    Fixed by changing it to
                      <dnssl>
                        <domain lifetime="600">^Fidefix^Cnet</domain>
                      </dnssl>
    
    yes, with literal ctrl-F and ctrl-C characters, showing that there is some error in the parsing somewhere.
  • rwhod is IPv4-only so the status is not visible in my network anymore. A workaround for that is not disabling IPv4 completely but just removing the default route, not using ipv6only in /etc/dhcpcd.conf but using the option nooption routers.

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2016-11-07 The future of the Internet is IPv6 2 months ago
Just read Internet Architecture Board Statement on IPv6 with:
The IAB expects that the IETF will stop requiring IPv4 compatibility in new or extended protocols. Future IETF protocol work will then optimize for and depend on IPv6.

Preparation for this transition requires ensuring that many different environments are capable of operating completely on IPv6 without being dependent on IPv4 [see RFC 6540]. We recommend that all networking standards assume the use of IPv6, and be written so they do not require IPv4. We recommend that existing standards be reviewed to ensure they will work with IPv6, and use IPv6 examples. Backward connectivity to IPv4, via dual-stack or a transition technology, will be needed for some time.

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2016-11-06 One source of interference found: osram halotronic htm 70 transformers 2 months ago
Recently I noticed one source of radio interference on 40 meter was the lighting in our bathroom. There are two sets of lights in the bathroom, one with a switch which causes heavy interference and one with a dimmer.

The lights in the bathroom are all 12volt based and the transformers are in a weird corner above the bathroom, but accessible for me. So I found out the "osram halotronic htm 70" electronic transformers (the specs read like switching power supplies) are quite audible on the 40 meter band. The other two a lot less than the switched one. Time to complain to Osram and/or replace them. The Osram Halotronic HTM 70 specifications at Osram say the maximum length of the wire after the transformer is 2 meters to keep RF interference below acceptible levels, I am not completely sure the complete wires until the lamps are shorter than that, so it may also be an installation fault.

Searching for "osram halotronic htm 70 interference" finds this interesting bit: Installation LED Leuchten in Spanndecke with:
Aber auch wenn "nur" der Meßwagen der Bundesnetzagentur vorbeikommt und Deine Konstruktion kostenpflichtig stillegt, kommt wenig Freude auf.
The German Bundesnetzagentur is a lot stricter in finding and stopping interference to amateur bands.

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2016-11-03 Speeding up my website(s) with mod_perl 2 months ago
I am currently working on a new version of one of the sites I manage in perl, rewriting it from php. I noticed loading times were slower and gave mod_perl a try.

The basic configuration of mod_perl is quite simple. This did not give me the big advantage in web server speed, that came when I added:
PerlModule Apache::DBI
to the apache2 config. The Apache::DBI module caches database connections for supported drivers, this speeds up database-dependent scripts. The module comes from the ubuntu package libapache-dbi-perl and Apache will throw really bad errors at you when the module you want to load is not available.

This is now enabled for my homepage site too. The processing times of the pages don't change much, but the startup of the perl interpreter, modules and scripts is much faster so the waiting time is a lot less.

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, reachable as koos+website@idefix.net. PGP encrypted e-mail preferred.

PGP key 2C66 3B5D F0D7 C263 local copy PGP key 2C66 3B5D F0D7 C263 via keyservers pgp key statistics for 0x2C663B5DF0D7C263 Koos van den Hout
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