Friday, 24 January 2020

Testing a Bakeey microSD card

Is the Bakeey Extreme 64GByte any good?

The claims

Hard to see specs
The rough surface makes it hard to identify the markings. But as far as I can see, it claims to have the following characteristics:


  • 64 GByte capacity
  • Class 10
  • UHS: U3
  • Video Class: V30
  • Class A1
  • UHS1 (Bus Logo: I)
The question is: What does it all mean, and can I test that?




I bought the set (card/adapter/reader (usb-c / usb-a) here from Banggood.

I use h2testw to test the capacity and read/write speed. So from the results, I can see:
  • It really has the 64GBytes, so no fake that overwrites itself: OK
  • Class 10: I get a 13,4MByte/s write speed, so it meets the class 10 specs: OK
  • U3: With the supplied USB adapter, I could not get anywhere near 30MByte/s write speed. So for the moment the answer is: No!
  • V30: Again not with my adapter: No!
  • Class A1: That's 10MByte/s write speed and a low number of IOPS. So: Very likely OK
  • I logo: With the UHS-1 logo, the bus speed can be 12,5 to 104 MByte/s: Again likely OK
The read-speed I got was 17,4MByte/s with the supplied USB Card reader. Again not fantastic, but ok for a class 10.

I wanted to try 4k video streaming in my Olympus OM-D, but with the Micro-SD to SD adapter, the camera reported a card error. So I have no way to verify the 30MByte/s claim. But I have a compatibility issue with either the card or the adapter and the Olympus camera.
No issues in a Macbook Pro with the same adapter, though. Seems like a real compatibility issue.

Bottom line


For the card and the two adapters, I paid 10 USD. That appears fair for the set, but is cards with similar specs are available from Transcend or Kingston in the same price range. An ok deal, but no need to rush. For my camera, I'll stick with a SanDisk Ultra that guarantees 40MByte/s for 4K recording.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Blitzwolf BW-UPC2 Test and Review

BW-UPC2 Blitzwolf UDB Thumb drive

What's special about it?

You probably wouldn't read this if you didn't know that: The BW-UPC2 has both an USB-C and a USB 3.0 A connector.

Cooool... two connectors
So it should be great for me to exchange files between my "old" Surface Laptop 2 and my "new" iPad Pro (3rd gen, 11"). More on that further down the page.
The look&feel is good, but the rotating cover does not (unlike what they claim on their web site) protect the connectors against dust.

At the time of writing, the 128GByte version of the drive was around 25USD and I got it here from my favorite Chinese reseller.

Benchmark test

I used h2testw (from the renowned German computer magazine CT) to benchmark the drive through it's USB A port.
One thing to look for in USB drives is, if they actually have the capacity they report to the PC. h2testw also checks that by filling and verifying the whole drive. This is not a fake-capacity drive.

The Blitzwolf web site claims "up to 150MByte/s" read, and "up to 50MByte/s" write rate. "Up to" seems like something that does not happen in real life.
Still the measured rates are not bad:

Test results
Still not in the same range as a Sandisk extreme, but very acceptable. A lot better than my awful "Intenso Alu Line 32GByte"

Blitzwolf:

  • Write rate: a little under 40MByte/s
  • Read rate: a little over 60MByte/s
Whereas Intenso Alu Line:
  • Write rate: a little under 4MByte/s (= 1/10th of the Blitzwolf)
  • Read rate: a little over 13 MByte/s
All of this was done on the USB A Port of a Surface Laptop 2.

So the Blitzwolf UPC2 is clearly a massive leap ahead for me when it comes to speed. For very short write bursts, it appears to have some kind of cache, because for low data volumes (some MByte), I get over 70MByte/s write- and over 80MByte/s read rates. That is not sustainable, of course.
It does not appear to be the operating system's file cache, as the Intenso drive does not exhibit this behaviour.
(Funny: the 70MByte/s write rate is over the claimed "up to 50Mbyte/s")

Also interesting: The write-performance was very poor on the USB-C port of a new Surface Laptop 3 15" (17MByte/s write / 70MBytes read), while on the USB A port of the same machine, it was 24MByte/s write / 62MByte read). So there appears to be a dependency on the Computer and it's drivers.

iPad pro (3rd gen.) compatibility

The drive comes pre-formatted with an exFAT file system. This is a good thing, as iOS / iPadOS13 currently only supports MSDOS FAT and exFAT (and APFS/MAC OS extended, which is irrelevant for Windows users)

USB-C & iPad pro
The iPad recognizes the drive and shows it in the "Files" app. Both reading and writing works well.

Conclusion

Exactly what I needed. I'll move my stuff over from the dog slow Intenso drive.


Thursday, 2 January 2020

RSA WebAgent: AceInitialize failed

RSA WebAgent Troubles

I had the following problem with my RSA WebAgent:
For secure remote access, I have a linux system, running the RSA WebAgent. After an Upgrade of the RSA ACE server, the web portal only responded with an error

106: The Web server is busy. Please try again later.

There was nothing busy about the web server, of course.
As I have a strong networking background, one of my standard trouble shooting methods is to have a look at the network traffic to see what's going on:

tcpdump -vvv -i eno16777984 port not 22 and not 443
(Your interface will have a different name, of course)

Apart from the usual DNS chatter which I didn't filter explicitly, there was no traffic from or to the machine. Especially not, when running
./acetest
Which returned a
AceInitialize failed

So the machine was not even trying to play ball :-(

There is not much of a debug function in RSA's command line tools, and a
strace ./acetest
showed that all dependencies were ok.

The solution

Then I set the environment variable to use TCP
export USEUDP_ENV_VAR=false
and got a much better chance of getting a response. (Not 100%, though)
With both the acestatus and the acetest utils running successfully, I still did not fully understand the problem, but could fix it.

1) reconfigure Apache
So I needed to modify the apache config to use TCP, rather than UDP:
In /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf (or wherever your apache config lies) add:
SetEnv USEUDP_ENV_VAR false

2) enable rpcbind
The other thing is, that it now seems to rely on a running rpcbind service, so rpcbind needs to be anabled and started.
To check if that is the case, run:
systemctl list-units --type=service --state=active
and see if you get a
rpcbind.service            loaded active running RPC bind service
in the reply.


Thursday, 5 September 2019

UV9RPlus - Programming the water proof Baofeng radio for HAM use

Baofeng UV-9RPlus

Advantages of the UV9R Plus over the UV-5R series

Quick review of the Baofeng UV-9R Plus: I had an UV5R for quite a while now as my primary handheld for HAM radio. There is a lot of documentation about the UV5R out there and I quite like it for it's long battery runtime.
Waterproof connector

But as an outdoor enthusiast, rain, dirt and moisture was a concern. So I went for the UV-9R Plus when Banggood had a promo. It feels quite a bit more rugged than the 5R. The higher output power (the label on the back claims an unlikely 15W) and the 8000mAh battery (well, that has to be seen, I haven't measured the actual capacity) were not really a factor for me. But it is sure nice to have three power levels to choose from.
Banggod has a promo from time to time when it sells for about the same price as the uv5r.


Programming the UV9RPlus with Chirp in Windows 10

The programming cable

Thr programming cable with its odd connector

I got the programming cable from Banggood:


The cable was a little over 5 bucks at the time of writing. It has a Baofeng label (unlike my UV5R programming cable described here) and has the Prolific USB2Serial bridge chip, which requires a driver, of course. My windows found the driver itself with the "update driver" function of the device manager.
The USB Vendor ID identifies it as a Prolific bridge

Once the driver has installed, it comes up as a serial port

Chirp settings

There has been some controversy in the Chirp forum whether or not the UV9R Plus was supported or not. My finding is, that while it is not explicitly listed as a supported device, it appears to behave like the UV-82WP.
The first thing to do in Chirp is to download the radio's original configuration, and save that, just in case, and then work from that configuration.
Your COM port number will probably be different
The cool thing is that you can copy your channel memories from your UV-5R over to the UV-9R Plus, with a simple copy/paste.
My memory channels
I recommend the following basic settings for HAM radio operations. The other settings are mostly irrelevant.
Basic settings UV9RPlus

Final remarks

Why Baofeng advertises it's otherwise decent product with false specs is most likely a very questionable marketing stunt. A quick web search indicates, that the actual RF output power ist around 7W max, which does not make that much of a difference from the usual 5watters.
Keep in mind that doubling the power adds only one S-level on the receiving side. It might give you a bit of an edge over the UV5R, with it's 4 watts.
I still have to measure the battery capacity. For a 8000mAh it seems a little light to me.
The case has "Digital Mobile Radio" engraved in it. - It's not DMR. It is a traditional analog FM radio. It is CPU controlled and has a LCD display, but that does not make it a "Digital Mobile Radio".
In Germany most repeaters have been modified to conform with the 12.5kHz channel spacing. Therefore the N-FM (2.5kHz) is the FM-deviation of choice for repeater operation, whereas for other applications like the SO50 satellite, 5kHz wide FM is still correct.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Static Routes in Ubuntu 18.04.1

How to set permanent static routes in Ubuntu 18.04

New: netplan

For a somewhat strange Linux cluster configuration, I needed to set a few static routes. Other than suggested in some HOWTOs, the configuration is not in /etc/network/interface but (as it also says in the interface file)  in the /etc/netplan directory. In my case, in a file named 01-netcfg.yaml, with the following structure:

----8x---- cut here ----- 8X-------

network:
        version: 2
        renderer: networkd
        ethernets:
                ens170:
                        dhcp4: no
                        addresses: [192.168.10.145/24]
                        gateway4: 192.168.10.1
                        nameservers:
                                addresses: [192.168.1.254,192.168.1.253]
                                search: [mydomain.com]
                        routes:
                        - to: 192.168.20.90/32
                          via: 192.168.10.1
                        - to: 192.168.20.91/32
                          via: 192.168.10.1

                ens180:
                        dhcp4: no
                        addresses: [192.168.20.145/24]
                        routes:
                        - to: 192.168.20.0(24
                          via: 192.168.20.1


----8x---- cut here ----- 8X-------
As you can see, the machine has two interfaces on different subnets, but needs to talk to two machines on the other interface's VLAN via the primary interface. Therefore the static host routes.
Don't ask why. It is a long&sad story that does not make a lot of sense.

But there you have it:
In the routes section just add the - to:  and via: statements to specify the target subnet and the gateway to be used to get there.

Engage!

To activate the change, issue the
netplan apply
command (with sudo, of course if needed.)

Monday, 15 April 2019

Baofeng UV-5R programming with Windows 10

How to program the Baofeng UV-5R from a Windows 10 PC

Driver Installation

I needed to make some changes to my Baofeng UV-5R memory settings. Doing that manually is very unpleasant, and I have a programming cable, of course.
It is this one, that is not even labelled, but works great. (Important to note: it does not have the FTDI chip)
The most important thing is to have the right driver installed. The adapter acts a serial interface adapter and needs a driver for that.

USB ID of the adapter
I googled the ID of the adapter. The nearest match was the CH340 from wch.com. The driver can be downloaded from here.
The programming adapter apparently has to be plugged in when running the setup (with Admin rights), otherwise the driver installation failed on my machine.

Successful driver installation
To confirm the successful installation, check your device-manager. There should now be a new serial port.  Com3, in my case.
New Com-Port (3)
Once the programming cable is recognized as a serial port, we can proceed with the programming software

Chirp installation

Chirp is a fantastic piece of software that allows to program a wide variety of radios. Chirp can be downloaded from here. The daily build usually is the best version to use.
Chose the UV-5R
The serial adapter connects to the Mic/Speaker socket

I usually download the current setup from the radio, modify it and upload it to the radio.

Programming hints

It is absolutely not essential, but I like to see my name and call sign when I turn on the radio:
Power-on message
For normal ham-radio operation, these advanced settings work great for me:


Simplex programming

For normal simplex work, I use the old fashioned, wide deviation FM settings. That might vary from region to region.
Simplex Channel example
There are some unused settings here for the tone squelch. The important bit is to have the Duplex field empty.

Repeater programming

For the local repeaters, tone mode settings depend on your local requirements. Here is a very simple example for a 2m repeater:
Repeater example
The 2m repeaters in my IARU region have negative 600kHz offset for their input. This repeater doesn't need any tones.

Prevent transmission

Sometimes you might want to just listen in and be 100% sure you don't interfere with a service you have no license for. In that case, set Duplex to "off".
Duplex off = no TX
If you press the PTT key, the radio won't transmit. An interesting feature for those not-yet holding a ham-radio license.


Friday, 15 March 2019

Microsoft Surface DVI-Adapter problem solved

Mini-DP to DVI adapter problems with Microsoft surface

This problem affects all Microsoft Surface PCs (Surface Pro 4 and newer / Laptop 1+2) using the "brick" type dock rather than the older stands. Our good quality Eizo monitors turned black during work or were not recognized by the Surface PC, when conected with a mini Display Port (MiniDP) to DVI cable or adapter.

Microsoft's recommendations

Microsoft recommends two adapters here on their website. Unfortunately none of these is available inside the EU at the moment. So I ordered the "Cable Matters mDP-to-DVI (model 101022)" directly from the US to try it out.
And sure enough it worked. But I need about 50 of them and would have to get someone to import them to Germany. Too much trouble for my suppliers.

First result:

  • Cable Matters model 101022 works perfectly

More research

I then ordered the other adapter from "gofanco" also directly from Amazon US. That has not arrived yet, but in the meantime, I had a closer look at the specs of the gofanco, specifically the chipset:
  • Chipset: Parade PS171

Use the force!

So if the Cable Matters adapter works, and the gofanco has a PS171 chipset, the next step is to find out what chipset Cable Matters uses. If it is the PS171, too, we have a well founded theory.
Only one way to find out: We cracked the case open carefully to reveal this:
Inside the CableMatters 101022
I needed a microscope to be sure, but this is a PS171 chip. 

Alternatives to Microsoft's recommendation

The DeLOCK mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter 62603 lists the same PS171 chipset on it's spec sheet here. And also shares other buzzwords like "Eyefinity" on the list.

I ordered one and I'll report back when we tried it out.
EDIT 2019-03-27:
We had one user testing the DeLOCK 62603 adapter for over a week without any problems. In the meantime, the gofanco adapter arrived from Amazon US. That one (, being recommended by Microsoft,) also works as expected.

Conclusion

For Microsoft Surface pro (Version 4 and newer) and Surface Laptop (Version 1 and 2)  with the new surface dock, use miniDP to DVI-Adapters with the Parade PS171 chip.