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Sunday 29 October 2017

Homebrew smart sockets

Don't worry, what I plan to do is perfectly safe and involves radio, specifically LPD433 (which as you will no doubt be aware is in the 70cm band), and off the shelf remote control sockets.

What is probably not well known is that I am saving up some money to buy 2 radios that I really would like to have, a Yaesu FT2D and a Yaesu FT991A (as I want brand new and the standard 991 is no longer sold), and to do that I am looking to make cost savings where I can.

The first thing I have done is fit an electricity usage monitor (also an LPD433 device), so I have an idea how much electricity I am using at any given time, I hope to have this replaced with a smart meter later on, this means a lower bill and more money towards things I am saving for, specifically the two radios mentioned above.

The next stage in this is automation, most of the ways I have seen this done, by the foolish, is hard wiring mains leads onto relay boards, which is extremely dangerous for obvious reasons, so I thought let's see if someone has done this wirelessly before I have to start from scratch down that route, and happily someone has done.

This would involve using off the shelf remote control sockets, most places sell these, and though these sockets would draw a very small amount of current themselves to run their radio receiver (probably in the range of a couple of milliamperes), they would assist in saving money on the electricity bill, it also involves use of the Raspberry Pi (a Pi 3 would work but in my opinion this is overkill so a Zero would be a better option), and the TX module of a LPD433 TX/RX pair, also a bit of sniffing of the remote control with a receiver so the RX module can be used for this or at least according to several sets of instructions I have seen.

When implemented I can control what I don't need running from elsewhere in the house, or outside if I put up password protection onto a web interface, thus allowing me to save money when I can.

Another LPD433 project I'd like to do is somehow reverse engineer the codes sent out of the transmitter of my energy monitor and put that up onto a web page as well, not sure if anyone has done that and I'll need to sniff around in the LPD433 band on 433.92MHz where all this traffic sits.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Saturday 21 October 2017

JOTA transmissions on GB3IR

As my local repeater is on the Echolink and IRLP systems, I generally expect there be some International traffic through it, as well as traffic nationally that is generally out of range of the repeater's input, however today is different and it has made me smile, hearing the voices of Scouts as they take part in Jamboree on the Air, which teaches them about radio and allows them to speak to other Scouts worldwide, supervised by fully licenced Amateur radio operators of course (in the UK holders of Full licences) often using special callsigns for the stations, such as the station at Gilwell Park here in the UK.

The repeater is connected to a JOTA conference server as I type, I am aware that an event is being held locally and the repeater has been connected to the conference specifically for this.

This is a very wonderful event in the radio and Scout calendar and I hope that some of these Scouts go on to get their own Foundation licences (or their country's equivalent) and I wish them all the best if they choose to do so.

A nice way to end a week I think, again another thing that makes me proud to be an Amateur radio operator, not sure I'd get my nephew interested when he is old enough but you never know, he might like that.

I noticed the transmissions when I turned on my car this afternoon just as I was about to depart from work, having put some overtime in this morning, naturally it was hard to make most of it out due to my broken exhaust, however once I got home I put the Wouxun KG-UVD1P on as it was tuned to IR anyway from my walks to work when I had took it out to use it, much easier to hear the stations.

I hope the Scouts are having a wonderful time, and getting a go on the air no matter what band, mode or system is in use.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Thursday 19 October 2017

mortified, disgusted and furious

Pretty much every Amateur radio operator works hard to obtain his or her licence and progress in the hobby, I myself am studying for my full licence when I can, however today, and the hobby itself, once again has been spoiled by Chance Callahan KD0MXN.

Sure you will recognise this individual, he is the one that stabbed me in the back the day I went personally to Martin Lynch & Sons to buy my Yaesu FTM-400XDE, and has since committed and planned to commit many atrocities ever since, including harassing me at every opportunity.

This then bring me to the post title, he has since taken it upon himself to hack WiFi routers using the very knowledge he gained during his course and exam for his Technician licence (roughly equivalent to the UK foundation though not entirely), as it has since been learned there is a fundamental weakness in WPA2 that allows someone to gain the key and monitor packets, the full explanation is beyond the scope of this blog as it is focused on radio, and WiFi is relevant as it is roughly in or near the 13cm band (though more accurately just above it).

He intends to build a "cantenna", this is an antenna made from a can of sorts, though he did not specify what can he'd use I can safely assume it would not be made from a potato snack can as this would be useless at 2.4GHz for anything realistic and he would know this too, he did not explain how he'd connect this to a laptop or other device to conduct the attacks.

This act is in gross violation of computer misuse laws worldwide, not only this it puts Callahan in breach of Part 97 of the FCC rules (Part 97 is Amateur radio regulations, similar to Ofcom's conditions here in the UK), and if this does not get his licence revoked I do not know what will, and as he mentioned this in ##hamradio on freenode he may find his door being broken down by the FBI pretty soon, as well as a polite letter from the FCC saying he no longer is eligible to hold an Amateur radio licence.

We can only now hope that this will be the final nail in the coffin for Chance Callahan's life of flouting the rules and laws when he sees fit, there is no place for people like him in the hobby

By the next post I should have calmed down somewhat, and I felt that this was best put out there for all to see.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Edit: I did not read the information correctly and he plans to target 5GHz WiFi routers as well as the exploit I alluded to effects them also, this means that he could be constructing more than one antenna, bearing in mind the information was given out between 6:30 and 7:00am BST today he may well be well into building the antenna assuming he started then (they are 5 hours behind so he may have been asleep for a couple of hours since), readers of the blog in Garden City and Savannah, GA, keep an eye out for suspicious activity on your WiFi

Sunday 15 October 2017

Will I finally enter the 2-metre FMAC?

Hopefully the answer to this question will be 'yes', as you will know, my car threw up another fault on it's way to the National Hamfest, and will be booked in for repair hopefully before November's 2-metre FMAC, nothing stopping me entering now aside from the need to run the engine as I will need to keep the car's battery topped up, and with it being late Autumn now to keep me warm, though I replaced my car's interior light with an LED bulb the current draw will be from the radio on transmit.

The noise the car makes right now due to the hole in the exhaust system is what prevented me from entering October's contest, as it is loud even in the car with the engine at tick-over, as it stands it seems that car is doing everything it can to stop me entering as I can't enter from the home QTH as I don't have an external antenna and this is what I need and such a thing is fitted to my car and parking up at a high point local to me would do it nicely.

I have seen a part on the Internet to get the car back to normal for around £80 with all the nuts and bolts and gaskets and seals, the fitting charge will be down to the exhaust fitter who I intend to fit this as most of the existing bolts are in fact rusted and if they break while I do the work I'd have to arrange the car to be towed and it may also mean missing the contest for another month, getting an exhaust professional to do this will hopefully allow me to enter the contest as planned.

Of course I stand no chance in getting a high place on the scoreboard, but if all works out well for November I should at least make the scoreboard, I will enter the FR (FMAC restricted) which will allow me to use my available 50 watts or if I choose 25 watts.

I plan to take the computer with me to log with minos as before, and also stream the event to YouTube as before, though with the loss of my Huawei tablet this will have to be done on my phone as the computer would not be able to stream and log together.

Hope to work you in the contest on the 7th November, all being well

73 de 2E0EIJ