News items for tag hamradio - Koos van den Hout

2020-10-26 I participated in the CQWW DX SSB Contest this weekend 2 months ago
This weekend was the CQWW DX SSB contest, which is one of the bigger contests on the amateur radio calendar. I had planned to participate, I made sure to get my contest software TLF completely configured and tested before the contest. But I didn't get around much to it most of Saturday. I only started Saturday evening to make some contacts on 40 meters which wasn't very successful from my home station.

Sunday afternoon things got a lot better when I tried the 20 meter and 10 meter amateur bands. Yes, 10 meter was open during the contest. This wasn't completely surprising as I made a number of 10 meter FT8 contacts earlier in the week.

The claimed results:
Band   160   80   40   20   15   10
QSO's    0    0    5   31    0   25
Cty      0    0    4   16    0   15
Zone     0    0    3    4    0    3
Pts: 61  Mul: 45 Score: 2745       
The raw scores in the "Assisted low all bands" category put me at rankings #862 (of 997) for world, #510 (out of 566) for Europe and #46 (out of 54). Not bad for the time I had available.

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2020-10-10 The igate is igating 3 months ago
pi4raz igate running showing packet
pi4raz igate running showing packet
I dug into 'how to build code for the ESP32' and found Installing ESP32 Add-on in Arduino IDE (Windows, MacOS X, Linux) and since I have the Arduino IDE working enough for the previous project with a programmable microcontroller: the nanoKeyer morse keyer I did the steps to add ESP32 support.

I had to find the right settings for the specific ESP32 chip and since it is labeled "ESP-WROOM-32" I ended up at ESP-WROOM-32: Uploading a program with Arduino IDE and used the settings 'Board: FireBeetle-ESP32', 'Flash Frequency: 80 MHz', 'Upload Speed: 921600'.

The sourcefile to compile and upload to the ESP32 in the pi4raz igate is pa2rdk/APRS_IGate/APRS_IGate.ino.

I changed the definition of struct StoreStruct for a bigger wifi password (64 chars) and noticed that after uploading the updated code the last parts of the StoreStruct got mangled. I changed to #define EEPROM_SIZE 174 which seems to fix this.

I will admit to doing a bit of cargo-culting here: just following some google results and fiddling a bit until it works, with limited idea what I'm actually doing and what the effect of my changes is. The kind of weird results I got after growing the wifi password buffer suggested clearly to me that I was looking at some sort of buffer overflow, so I started looking for buffer sizes.

But the igate is now talking to the APRS network. First results visible at PE4KH-10 tracked on aprs.fi.

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2020-10-10 Meer opties in de Draytek Vigor 130 gevonden, maar impulse noise protection inschakelen lukt niet 3 months ago
Vandaag actief met de radio met 40 meter en 20 meter morse en FT8, en heel regelmatig valt de VDSL link uit en moet opnieuw opgebouwd worden. Op zoek naar meer informatie over de Draytek Vigor 130 en impulse noise protection kwam ik DrayTek Vigor 130/165 Status Begriffe und Abkürzungen (cookiewalled) tegen met de uitleg over vdsl status more.

Op mijn modem:
> vdsl status more
  ---------------------- ATU-R Info (hw: annex A, f/w: annex A/B/C) -----------
                  Near End        Far End    Note
 Trellis      :      1               1
 Bitswap      :      0               0
 ReTxEnable   :      0               1
 VirtualNoise :      0               1
 20BitSupport :      0               0
 LatencyPath  :      0               0
 LOS          :      8              26
 LOF          :      0               0
 LPR          :      0               8
 LOM          :      0               0
 SosSuccess   :      0               0
 NCD          :      0               0
 LCD          :      0               0
 FECS         :      0            209592 (seconds)
 ES           :      0              50 (seconds)
 SES          :      0              18 (seconds)
 LOSS         :      0               0 (seconds)
 UAS          :     85            7778 (seconds)
 HECError     :      0               0
 CRC          :      0             748
 RsCorrection :      0               0
 INP          :     10             360 (symbols)
 InterleaveDelay :    800               0 (1/100 ms)
 NFEC         :    123              32
 RFEC         :     16              16
 LSYMB        :   8977              16
 INTLVBLOCK   :    123              32
 AELEM        :      0            ----
Die 'ReTxEnable' is het ingeschakeld zijn van G.INP volgens bovenstaande pagina dus wilde ik dus aan beide kanten aan hebben. Commando gevonden: om dat te configureren:
> vdsl optn retx bi on
 retx         [US] =     ON, [DS] =     ON.

You have to reboot the system after you change settings.
Maar ook na reboot en heronderhandeling VDSL geen ReTxEnable voor het near end.

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2020-10-06 Finished and tested the electronics of another project: the igate 3 months ago
After finishing the Raspberry Pi ntp server in the weekend I continued on a long-running project: the PI4RAZ igate I started working on in June (and ordered in September 2019). I dragged the soldering iron, the soldering mat and lots of parts downstairs to work on it on Sunday evening. Soldering lots of pins to an Arduino nano is hard work.

I finished the last soldering on Monday evening and had a long and hard look at all the connections and redid a few. I used a multimeter to make sure three really close soldering islands weren't connected, found two with 0 ohms between them in both polarities so I fixed that issue.

After that I took the plunge of actually powering up the print and it looks good. The display shows output and I can walk through the setup when I connect a usb cable to the ESP32 module.

I can't make it run yet: the space for the wifi password in the ESP32 module is only 25 characters which is not enough for our home network. So I will have to look into changing the code (it has an update anyway: Software update iGate - PI4RAZ) and find a working way to program an ESP32 from linux.

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2020-09-29 I participated in the CQWW RTTY Contest 2020 3 months ago
RTTY Contest on websdr I was wondering until the last moment whether to do it or not but eventually I did participate in the CQWW RTTY Contest in the last weekend. Seeing other radio amateurs get ready on social media helped me decide and jump in.

I made 165 contacts on the 20 and 40 meter band. No new countries! I was seeing decodes from a station from Thailand but he did not decode my replies. It was also interesting to see how some stations that couldn't hear me at one time were almost easy to contact at other times. But not the one from Thailand, that one never came back.

I only worked search and pounce, looking for other stations available for contacts. Some stations had major pile-ups but coming back later helped.

Getting my log in a format that I could upload was a bit of an issue. I selected the CQWW-RTTY contest in the contest setup of fldigi, and it logged the CQ zone numbers and state in the right windows. But on the export to cabrillo there is no option to export those values. Workaround: select the right adif part of the log and use the CQ WW RTTY DX Contest ADIF to Cabrillo Convertor. I did have to fix my one US contact since the state wasn't exported correctly.

Update 2020-10-04: My raw score before log checking is 22579 points according to 2020 CQ WW RTTY Contest raw scores.

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2020-09-16 My amateur radio activity versus the sunspot cycle 4 months ago
PD4KH start on HF bands versus the sunspot cycle
My start on the HF bands versus the sunspot cycle. Click for full graph with legend.
Recently the start of the new sunspot cycle is mentioned a lot in radio amateur news because the influence on ionospheric propagation is strong and the start of counted sunspot cycle 25 has started. Looking at the graphs I felt like I started just at the downward trend of the previous sunspot cycle.

So I looked it up at Solar Cycle Progression - NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center and zoomed in to the time when I made my first contacts making the screenshot in this article. And indeed, August / September 2014 was part of the last peaks of cycle 24, and it went mostly downhill from there. So my experience that I made my first HF contacts on 10 meter and soon had to go to lower frequencies to get any propagation matches those measurements.

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2020-09-15 VDSL hikt als ik actief ben op de radio binnen het VDSL spectrum, maar ook er na 4 months ago
Dit weekend was ik weer eens behoorlijk actief met amateurradio en als ik ging zenden was dit eigenlijk iedere keer onder de 17 MHz, dus binnen het VDSL spectrum. Ik was actief net boven 14 MHz (20 meter band) en net boven 7 MHz (40 meter band). Iedere keer als ik naar een andere frequentie ging verbrak de VDSL de verbinding en moest die opnieuw opgebouwd worden, ook als ik binnen dezelfde band opschoof. Ook waren er in de nachten nadat ik actief geweest was nog onderbrekingen.

Dit keer ook opvallend: het 'geheugen' van de VDSL verbinding is veel korter. Een avond later kreeg ik weer een onderbreking als ik op dezelfde frequenties actief werd, ik was gewend dat dat bij meer dan een week was.

Al met al is de VDSL dus een stuk gevoeliger voor het soort storingen wat amateurradio veroorzaakt (korte storingen op wisselende frequenties). Ik dacht dat dat in DSL termen "impulse noise". Nu begrijp ik ook dat de firmware met 'optimized for KPN' modem driver die ik nu gebruik anders reageert op dit punt dan de versie die ik gebruikte voordat er problemen met rare verbroken verbindingen kwamen. Geen vooruitgang dus. Wanneer komt er glasvezel naar de huizen? Glasvezel veroorzaakt geen storing op radiofrequenties en het raakt niet verstoort van nabij radiogebruik.

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2020-09-13 A weekend with some radio: first hand-paddled morse contact, a new country and data contacts 4 months ago
After lots of other things a weekend where I made time for amateur radio. I set up the endfed antenna and used a mast to raise the antenna at the end of the garden a bit, which hopefully increases the range a bit.

The big new thing was the last radio contact of the weekend: I decided to get on the air with the paddle as an exercise in morse. After looking for a contact at a reasonable speed where the exchange would be more than just callsigns and signal report I heard someone call CQ on the 40 meter band at about 20 words per minute. So to exercise my sending and not try to decode everything at 20 words per minute I cheated and used the computer to decode most of the morse code. I answered with my call and some basic information, with the printed CW QSO example in front of me. The other radio amateur had the patience to listen to my relatively slow speed (12 words per minute) and I had the contact. So I ended with a good - ..- which is morse for TU which is the abbreviation for "Thank You!"

Earlier in the weekend I made lots of FT8 and some FT4 contacts, just getting more calls in the log. I saw some for me new countries active. I managed to get French Guadeloupe as a new country in the log, and Saint Julia on a new band.

My notifications for the Bulgarian Saints showed me that LZ595IP was active in PSK31. I haven't used that mode in a while. I made the contact, so now I have that call in morse and PSK31, still looking for other modes.

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2020-08-03 Trying a number of amateur satellite passes with a new radio and finally success 5 months ago
Saudisat 1c / SO-50 cube satellite
Saudisat 1c / SO-50
A few weeks ago I tried the Baofeng UV-5R on a satellite pass again to at least receive signal. It did receive something but kept closing the squelch during reception even at squelch level 0. This seems to be a common problem with this model radio.

I decided to put some money into a handheld radio that can do full-duplex. My original Wouxun seems to have developed serious issues receiving on the 2 meter side, but it has served me very well as a handheld radio over the years. So based on reviews about the Wouxun KG-UVD8D/KG-UVD9D models and how their full-duplex capabilities worked in combination with satellites I decided to buy one of these. The current model is the KG-UV9K which adds airband receive capability. I ordered one from bamiporto which came after a few days.

Based on the settings in AO-85 & Wouxun KG-UV9D - more testing I set mine up and tried a number of passes. The passes on satellites AO-91 (Fox-1B) and AO-92 (Fox-1D) all failed. The passes weren't too high and during busy weekends so there was a lot of competition for the uplink. With only 4 watts I am a bit limited there.

The difference between the Baofeng UV-5R and the Wouxun KG-UV9K in handling audio from satellites with the squelch full open is clear: with the Wouxun I only get an interruption when I let go of the transmit button.

Yesterday evening I tried a high SO-50 pass. A southwest to northeast pass, which gave me the option to stand in the front yard with radio, antenna and a smartphone with the W1ANT satellite tracker. I had trouble understanding some stations but could hear others fine who seemed to understand most stations fine, given the contacts I heard. In a gap I called F5ERS/P which turned into a good first contact and after that G0ABI called me and that was a good second contact.

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2020-07-31 Letting the nanokeyer decode my morse attempts 5 months ago
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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