Category Archives: Computing

6Y0A and yfktest.

Well, we made it to 2013. First up on the radio agenda this year was the January Irish Radio Transmitter Society 80 Meter band Counties Contest.

I hadn’t planned to enter the contest this year, but, the day before, I suddenly found myself with that afternoon free. I was invited along to the QTH of Liam, EI8BLB to operate his station along with EI8JA and EI3JB.

I brought along my roadkill linux laptop with yfktest on it for logging.

Yesterday, I received a card from “Kappy” WA4WTG, for 6Y0A, confirming Jamica as a new one for me (thanks Kappy). Kappy collects stamps so I took a bunch of stamps I had from Christmas cards and other received QSL’s and sent them onto him. In return 6Y0A was the first card I received in 2013.

While recording the card in my log, I was thinking that it would have been useful to have yfktest ‘tick off’ the counties as we worked them in the contest last Tuesday. So I had a quick look at the code.

It turned out to be pretty straightforward, as there was examples there already that I was able to follow, so that change should be in the repository come the summer IRTS 80m Counties Contest.

A very happy new year and wishing you good DX for 2013.

Bodging yfklog

To borrow a phrase from Darren, G0HWW. I did a bit of bodging of yfklog over last weekend. I couldn’t figure out how to get the existing code to talk to, so after a bit of bodging with the Ham::Reference::QRZ; module, it now pulls the basic information from, name, address2 (Town), operator class, grid, iota, state, qsl manager, and pops them into the relevant places in the log. A productive few hours!

I’m hoping to do the same for and, when I have a patch ready, Bob,W9YA will hopefully submit my changes assuming he deems them useful.

Another minor modification I made was to change the sort order of the exported online log, threw a bit of php at it, and now my most current contacts appear at the top of the output file.

Micro PV

So, having moved the garden shed and the PV panels in August/September 2011 to a more sun friendly position, I was pretty sure that there would be more output from the system over the next 12 months. Now, that 12 month interval is just coming to an end.

When I checked this evening, the average power generated 24×7 for the last 12 months as per rrdtool is 40 Watts, with a peak of 357 Watts. Which equates to approximately 350kWh, or somewhere between 70 and 90 Euro worth of Electricity for the year.

So in short, yes there was an increase in output, an approximate 42% increase in average power and a 100% increase in peak power. At least now I can tell myself it was worth the effort!

Earth Observation

So there I was a few weekends ago, wandering around the indoor hall at the UK’s National Hamfest (held just outside Newark). I had just left some items at the Bring and Buy, was browsing the stalls and I came across the stand of the Group for Earth Observation, where I stopped for a chat with the two guys on the stand.

I used to be a member quite a number of years ago until, for whatever reason, I lost interest, after a short chat, I purchased a few recent copies of their quarterly magazine and headed into the crowd. On the ferry home I opened them for a look and instantly thought I had to make an effort again.

So, when I got home I joined GEO (again), found my old licence and login details for Eumetsat. Downloaded and compiled xrit2pic and put my licence to use.


Once Mr B. drops me back my Ezcap eztv 688, I will have to try it on good old APT.

Thank you GEO for re-kindling my interest (though my wife may not agree. Hmmm… I wonder if she would mind me putting up a dish for EUMETCast reception. ).

Moving on.

About 9 Years ago I got involved in IrishWAN. It was great fun at the time getting links set up, upgrading to the newest and coolest kit, helping others get nodes running, getting new people connected, all who hadn’t a hope of getting Internet from any available commercial offering.

For some months, before Eircom enabled the local DSL exchange, one of the only ways to get Internet in my town was through a WiFi node on my roof, 5.8Ghz Backhaul, 2 x 2.4Ghz Access.

Recently the last person that was using my node for Internet access moved over to a 3G dongle, so today I pulled the plug on the node, and took down the last of the WiFi antennas.

One of the Westflex 103 cables has been re-used for a 70Mhz (the Amateur Radio 4 Meter band) antenna that I put up today, the other is now spare. Surprisingly enough both seem perfect after 9 or so years exposed to the elements, as was the 2.4Ghz Omni-directional antenna from Wi-Pipe. Now I just need to “upgrade” to a 70Mhz radio, and the fun begins again…

YFKtest on LHS#86

I finally got a chance to listen to Linux in the Ham Shack, Episode 86 in the last few days. I was delighted to hear Bob,W9YA on there being interviewed about YFKtest.

I have mentioned YFKtest explicitly before (here and here), its the only contest logger I use as my “roadkill” laptop is a bit too old to run windows. As Bob points out in the interview, YFKtest doesn’t need a GUI or a mouse to control it, so it’s pretty frugal with resources, and I share his hatred of being forced to use a mouse when it is completely unnecessary. I would like to think I have been doing my bit to assist Bob in improving it over the last while (a few minor fixes), along with trying to help him debug a few issues and quite a few of those fixes were tested recently when operating EI2WRC/p for the IRTS 80m Counties Contest, and it worked great. Now I just need to get on air a bit more!

Radio-Active weekend

In between cleaning the rubbish off the deck, entertaining my cousin Saturday afternoon, getting the tables and chairs out, putting the glass back into the glasshouse (literally), and getting the lawn cut. I got some time to look at some digital modes for Amateur Radio.

First up was getting my tunnel set back up to AMPRNet. That took a bit longer than expected, but I finally got it all sorted and have rip44d (Written by Heikki, OH7LZB) running, with a slight modification to use a separate routing table for the “44” Network. More on this below.

Next up, was to get my 4m (70Mhz) AX.25 port back running. Then configure LinuxRMS to allow the port to be used as a Winlink Gateway.  This will allow anyone that can connect to my 4m port to use it for sending and receiving email over radio (just like a smart-phone, only much more slowly 😉 and much larger range between base-stations).

Now, the only real way to test it properly was to connect to it from another machine which meant configuring paclink-unix on my (recently re-installed) Linux laptop.  So I unpacked my Emergency Communications Go-Kit, plugged it all in, downloaded and installed the latest version of paclink-unix. Configured it up and tried to connect.  Lo and behold it all worked.

While I was as it, I tried out the wl2kax25d daemon and the peer-to-peer mode of paclink-unix and it also seemed to work quite well (for instances when no Winlink gateway is available).

Now that I had the tunnel to AMPRNet running, I though I’d test it out some more so configured up a second ethernet port on the machine with my AMPRNet address of, and configured the (same) laptop with the address of  Once it was all set up I tested the wl2ktelnet daemon which is the paclink-unix mechanism for directly connecting to the Winlink servers when Internet connectivity exists. Much to my surprise (that I hadn’t stuffed something up) it worked first time.

Now that it all seems to work, I’m going to bring it all along to Tankardstown Geopark next Sunday (17th) where SEARG will be operating for a few hours (80m Counties Contest) The priority will be voice on Sunday, but I may get time to “go digital”.

If your passing, drop in and say hello. Club members will be there from about 10 in the morning until after 6 in the evening.




iPod and “Keys out of order”

So, its a typical weekday evening, I have several things waiting to be completed, but earlier on today, John, EI7BA posed a question on a mailing list looking for some information about a piece of software.

He wanted to know if it would work with his FT-847, and, I have the same transceiver here so I thought I’d help him out by trying to use the software in a Windows Virtual Machine running on my Mac-mini.

First problem, the mini is at the wrong end of the desk, about 7 feet from my FT-847. So I slide the mini and all attached to it along the desk to make up the shortfall, all good.

I test the software, and it seems to work ok with the 847, report the same to EI7BA, all good.

Now, what exactly happened I’m not sure, but I saw my iPod display light up, thinking it a bit strange, I picked it up and pushed the docking connector home again, all good.

iTunes gives me an error when it tries to sync, hmmm, Disk Repair says it can’t be repaired, hmmm, I tried to fsck it in the terminal

bash-3.2# fsck_hfs -fy /dev/disk1s2
** /dev/rdisk1s2
Executing fsck_hfs (version diskdev_cmds-540.1~34).
** Checking Journaled HFS Plus volume.
The volume name is John's Pod
** Checking extents overflow file.
** Checking catalog file.
Keys out of order
(4, 3045)
** Rebuilding catalog B-tree.
** The volume John's Pod could not be repaired.

Not good. I tried to mount it, but it refuses to mount, not good. The perceived wisdom on google is to purchase Disk Warrior. I have a few GB of data on there that I don’t want to loose, but it’s not really worth spending money on, so after a bit more trawling through web pages I decide the data is gone (not good), but I will be able to gather it all together again, given time.

Before I “restore” the iPod, and purely for the hell of it I plug it into my Roadkill (I first heard Bill, N2CQR use the term) Ubuntu Laptop. Lo and behold, the drive mounted automatically.

I immediately remounted it read-only and started copying off data.  That seemed to complete successfully, so I unmounted the drive and plugged it back into the mini. Much to my surprise, the drive mounted (and iTunes was happy to sync it).  Just to check, I tried an fsck again and it still gave gave the same errors as above. For now, I’ve decided to ignore the errors until such time as it stops working completely.

So, if you have an iPod that gives you a Keys out of order error message when you try to check and/or repair it, talk to a friendly Linux user and ask them if you could plug your iPod into it before you decide your data is toast.