SSTV Update

Have had a great weekend on SSTV on 20m. Thunderstorms are incoming to QTH in IO90BS so have taken the antenna down for now, but will be back once they pass.

I’ve been able to setup an automated upload. The site is here and can also be found on the tabs of the main site. I’ve also subscribed to World SSTV cams, so other amateur radio users can see their reception at my site easily as well.

I’ll take you thru how I setup the Windows and Linux side.

On the Windows host I download and installed KE5RS FTP Widget which is available free with registration info of call/sign location. Run the setup and let it install in the default locations.

The next step on the windows host is to create the local SSTV directory – this is in *addition* to the SSTV images MMSSTV uses.

I opened a command prompt (Start / Run / CMD) and typed the following

cd c:/
mkdir sstvimages

I created a shortcut to the desktop for FTP Widget. This is useful as I found running it as administrator overcome any file permissions issues on the local side. This probably due to the mechanism and file permission settings that MMSTV uses to duplicate the files, running as administrator fixed this.

Create a desktop shortcut, put it next to your MMSTV shortcut if you have one for easy access 🙂

I then run as administrator from the desktop.

run as administrator to avoid permission issues
Select Properties to open the configuration settings
Configure the paths

Now if you have not used FTP in the past the cocent of local and remote paths will be new, and each FTP client will have its own interpretation of how to set it. Usually the remote system is a Linux/Unix system and the actual full remote path is typically /home/sstvimagesusename/images but the FTP Widget takes the login from the FTP Server and uses the short path name, in this case images.

You’ll need to set the local drive to the one created in the DOS prompt earlier. In image name properties, only change the name if you really must, this is important as the crude template i will provide below depends on the filenames matching. You’ll also want to keep the Image history to what ever you iike, by default its 3, I upped it to 12 as this gives a better log of the images.

On the Linux side I’m using vsftpd. I dont mind saying that running FTP in 2021 is slightly unusual, most file transfers are done over SSH / SFTP more recently, but FTP still has its purposes.

I would suggest running vsftpd as it has options for TLS/SSL as well as chrooting. ‘chrooting’ is a method of ‘jailing’ a user to their own location, so in the worst case the credentials are discovered, the only space they can easily access is that of their own home directory, not the ntire OS filesystem (old FTPs that allowed system access could easily be used to accessing /var/log/ and from there discovering other usernames and ‘brute forcing’ the credentials).

Here is the full example vfstpd.conf , you dont need all of this, but from the default you can see the deltas.

# Example config file /etc/vsftpd.conf
#
# The default compiled in settings are fairly paranoid. This sample file
# loosens things up a bit, to make the ftp daemon more usable.
# Please see vsftpd.conf.5 for all compiled in defaults.
#
# READ THIS: This example file is NOT an exhaustive list of vsftpd options.
# Please read the vsftpd.conf.5 manual page to get a full idea of vsftpd's
# capabilities.
#
#
# Run standalone?  vsftpd can run either from an inetd or as a standalone
# daemon started from an initscript.
listen=NO
#
# This directive enables listening on IPv6 sockets. By default, listening
# on the IPv6 "any" address (::) will accept connections from both IPv6
# and IPv4 clients. It is not necessary to listen on *both* IPv4 and IPv6
# sockets. If you want that (perhaps because you want to listen on specific
# addresses) then you must run two copies of vsftpd with two configuration
# files.
listen_ipv6=YES
#
# Allow anonymous FTP? (Disabled by default).
anonymous_enable=NO
#
# Uncomment this to allow local users to log in.
local_enable=YES
#
# Uncomment this to enable any form of FTP write command.
write_enable=YES
#
# Default umask for local users is 077. You may wish to change this to 022,
# if your users expect that (022 is used by most other ftpd's)
#local_umask=022
#
# Uncomment this to allow the anonymous FTP user to upload files. This only
# has an effect if the above global write enable is activated. Also, you will
# obviously need to create a directory writable by the FTP user.
#anon_upload_enable=YES
#
# Uncomment this if you want the anonymous FTP user to be able to create
# new directories.
#anon_mkdir_write_enable=YES
#
# Activate directory messages - messages given to remote users when they
# go into a certain directory.
dirmessage_enable=YES
#
# If enabled, vsftpd will display directory listings with the time
# in  your  local  time  zone.  The default is to display GMT. The
# times returned by the MDTM FTP command are also affected by this
# option.
use_localtime=YES
#
# Activate logging of uploads/downloads.
xferlog_enable=YES
#
# Make sure PORT transfer connections originate from port 20 (ftp-data).
connect_from_port_20=YES
#
# If you want, you can arrange for uploaded anonymous files to be owned by
# a different user. Note! Using "root" for uploaded files is not
# recommended!
#chown_uploads=YES
#chown_username=whoever
#
# You may override where the log file goes if you like. The default is shown
# below.
#xferlog_file=/var/log/vsftpd.log
#
# If you want, you can have your log file in standard ftpd xferlog format.
# Note that the default log file location is /var/log/xferlog in this case.
#xferlog_std_format=YES
#
# You may change the default value for timing out an idle session.
#idle_session_timeout=600
#
# You may change the default value for timing out a data connection.
#data_connection_timeout=120
#
# It is recommended that you define on your system a unique user which the
# ftp server can use as a totally isolated and unprivileged user.
#nopriv_user=ftpsecure
#
# Enable this and the server will recognise asynchronous ABOR requests. Not
# recommended for security (the code is non-trivial). Not enabling it,
# however, may confuse older FTP clients.
#async_abor_enable=YES
#
# By default the server will pretend to allow ASCII mode but in fact ignore
# the request. Turn on the below options to have the server actually do ASCII
# mangling on files when in ASCII mode.
# Beware that on some FTP servers, ASCII support allows a denial of service
# attack (DoS) via the command "SIZE /big/file" in ASCII mode. vsftpd
# predicted this attack and has always been safe, reporting the size of the
# raw file.
# ASCII mangling is a horrible feature of the protocol.
#ascii_upload_enable=YES
#ascii_download_enable=YES
#
# You may fully customise the login banner string:
#ftpd_banner=Welcome to blah FTP service.
#
# You may specify a file of disallowed anonymous e-mail addresses. Apparently
# useful for combatting certain DoS attacks.
#deny_email_enable=YES
# (default follows)
#banned_email_file=/etc/vsftpd.banned_emails
#
# You may restrict local users to their home directories.  See the FAQ for
# the possible risks in this before using chroot_local_user or
# chroot_list_enable below.
chroot_local_user=YES
#
# You may specify an explicit list of local users to chroot() to their home
# directory. If chroot_local_user is YES, then this list becomes a list of
# users to NOT chroot().
# (Warning! chroot'ing can be very dangerous. If using chroot, make sure that
# the user does not have write access to the top level directory within the
# chroot)
chroot_local_user=YES
chroot_list_enable=YES
# (default follows)
chroot_list_file=/etc/vsftpd.chroot_list
#
# You may activate the "-R" option to the builtin ls. This is disabled by
# default to avoid remote users being able to cause excessive I/O on large
# sites. However, some broken FTP clients such as "ncftp" and "mirror" assume
# the presence of the "-R" option, so there is a strong case for enabling it.
#ls_recurse_enable=YES
#
# Customization
#
# Some of vsftpd's settings don't fit the filesystem layout by
# default.
#
# This option should be the name of a directory which is empty.  Also, the
# directory should not be writable by the ftp user. This directory is used
# as a secure chroot() jail at times vsftpd does not require filesystem
# access.
secure_chroot_dir=/var/run/vsftpd/empty
#
# This string is the name of the PAM service vsftpd will use.
pam_service_name=vsftpd
#
# This option specifies the location of the RSA certificate to use for SSL
# encrypted connections.
rsa_cert_file=/etc/ssl/private/vsftpd.pem
rsa_private_key_file=/etc/ssl/private/vsftpd.pem
ssl_enable=YES

#
# Uncomment this to indicate that vsftpd use a utf8 filesystem.
#utf8_filesystem=YES
#
force_local_logins_ssl=NO
force_local_data_ssl=NO

#
#
allow_writeable_chroot=YES

The important settings are

chroot_local_user=YES
chroot_list_enable=YES
allow_writeable_chroot=YES

And the create a vsftpd.chroot_list by echoing the username of the sstvftp user into the required config, i.e.

echo "sstvusername > /etc/vsftpd.chroot_list"

Obviously if you already have vfstpd setup and you should know about chrooting, so use >> rather than > as to not to truncate the chroot_list file.

Now create the Linux local sstv user, this will be the same as the username just echoed

sudo bash
useradd sstvusername -m -d /home/sstvusername sstvusername
passwd sstvusername
su - sstvusername
mkdir images

Be sure to keep a log of the password, of course you can always reset it, but it makes setting the FTP Widget properties easier.

You will then want to add the HTML template. Now i make no apologies for how awful this HTML is, but it will get you up and running, i’m planning to do redo this in HTML4, CSS and what ever JavaScript is necessary.

curl https://hamradio.knipmeyer.co.uk/sstv/ > index.html

You will then need to make your webserver (typically apache) serve home directory content. Rather than re-write the excellent tutorial already provided by Apache, follow this. You may have alternative configurations/different http servers, but Apache is simple and well supported.

With the Unix side complete, its time to finish off the settings for the FTP Widget and SSTV.

FTP Widget Settings

Follow the settings given above, putting in your FTP address, either the hostname or IP address. i.e. myftpserver.bob52.com, <n>.<n>.<n>.<n>. You don’t ned to put in the URI ( ftp:// ) .

The next step is to configure MMSTV to copy the received files into the FTP SSTVPics directory.

History tab, right click, Auto Copy, Assign another folder name

In SSTV goto the History tab and right click the image, select ‘auto copy to another folder’ and assign the folder name to the SSTV c:\sstvimages directory.

With that your received files will now not only be stored locally, they will be automatically FTP’d to your webserver ! If everything goes well, you’ll end up with a page whereby other SSTV users can see how their images are being received and a nice catalogue of recent images for yourself.

Your own SSTV reception page !

The next optional step is to setup registration with World SSTV Cams.

Complete the fields to add your site

Complete the fields to add your site, and with that your site will be added for the whole world to see with thumb-nail updates of the most recent reception of images !

Welcome to the World SSTV site !

I hope this gets you up and running with the exciting and interesting world of SSTV !

Having a great time on SSTV

Recently I started to experiment with SSTV (again) on my IC7300 and Windows desktop.

I’ve not been able to get it to work with the band select, but the audio in, out and importantly PTT fine. I saved the main SSTV calling frequency to my IC7300 (14.2300 USB) and just recall that when i want to use SSTV.

I’ve learned to use, but not to rely on, other KiwiSDRs and other sites that scan SSTV images. Most of the time I am seeing one side of the QSO on the remote sites, a good example of this is the slowscan tv site in the Netherlands.

The conditions have been pretty bad lately, but once in a while I get a really good QSO via SSTV, an example from today below with IV3VBM. I’m using 50W into a 6BTV with conditions being reported as ‘poor’

I am really enjoying SSTV – during the day and overnight I can leave MMSSTV running to receive great pictures, and also look back to see how the propagation has varied. I was amazed to receive these transmissions from the US last night !

As you can see the propergation is clear to see as the quality of the pictures vary.

I’m now working out how to automate the upload and ‘most recent’ pictures to the hamradio website, it shouldnt take me long, but as every life is keeping me very busy !

I hope this encourages other users to try out SSTV, its great way of having a digital QSO with personalized content, so why not give it a go.

Until next time, stay safe and 73 !

Alan / 2E0FWE

Its July already ?!

Where has the year gone, or more accurately where did June go ? Well, having been busy with work, uni and mentoring the month flew by. WIth bad weather alot of the weekends it meant I couldnt get alot of what I wanted to do done, and the time I had was limited. The good news is that alot of my University work for 2020-21 year is complete, I’m just waiting for grades to be finalized. I’ve changed jobs and am glad to say my new role is more suited to me, so Im really enjoying work. I’ve also had a great time mentoring undergrads the past few months, but has made me very busy, but very rewarding – but heres the good news – this weekend I got a number of things on my ‘ham radio’ to-do list done.

Firstly, I got my IC-705 working in the garden on the Alex-Loop ham-pack. It went really well, although setup wasnt as good as I thought it should be. I’ll do a longer more in-depth write up, but needless to say initial operating was fun and exciting.

Recently and friend and I mowed the garden, as I had told our gardener to not worry about it for the moment due to the movement of tents and radio equipment out. With all the rain and sunshine the grass grew at a proflific rate ! I first borrowed a friends lawnmower, then got a cheap electric one from amazon that would do the job. I’m glad to say that having mown the antenna area with all the radials down the majority of the radials have stayed down.

I will continue to mow the grass and keep it short, then look at adding more radials with better wire-pins (I have been using plastic ones). I still have some more work to do on the 6BTV to add 17M to it, but hopefully the weather will hold at the weekend, in the mean time I have been enjoying FT8 and SWL, making interesting contacts and getting ever closer to the DX100 award.

Heres wish you well and enjoy your radio !

73, 2E0FWE

Coaxial Conudrums

So this weekend i really wanted to complete my feed-line for the 6BTV, its been ‘dug up’ for a few weeks and its case of making up the coax to feed into it. I’ve made many feedlines/patch cables with other coax and SO239 and PL259, but the M&P coax and connectors, well, are just really testing my patience.

underground feed line location

The video for making this cable up, makes it look so simple, even this young lady (ND2L) can do it.

looks easy enought (ultraflex 10 being used here)

And the M&P official video makes it look easy enough

Fitting plugs

I’m using ExtraFlex bury, so it requires that 5mm incision to get the collar in.

I tried soldering, cutting and fitting the plugs as per the videos. On my first attempt i didnt get a good result on the resistance, but thought to give a try anyway, but yep, it didnt work.

I stripped everything down and tried again, I only have a metal ruler for measuring lengths, but done i best i could with it, and i dont have a decent knife, i actually ended up cutting my finger and blood was everywhere 🙁

I tried again and was frustated that again i didnt get the resistance outputs that was needed for an installlation. I cut the ends of the cable off. Repeat *4. On the 4th time it was now 20:00 BST and I was getting very tired of doing this, so just stripped everything back and had a rest.

Fast forward 12 hours I took a look at what the problems could be in my method. One the measurement was not good, the ruler wasnt good enough for the job, and more critically the injury from the blade was bad. I’ve ordered a measurement tool and a proper stanley knife. I’m really hopeful I can get this to work, the cable and plugs have cost *alot* and more importantly have cost me alot in time now.

TL/DR – use the right and safe tools when working with coax and plugs (I’m) not familiar with.

15m DX at night ?!

Was just playing about on my radio with FT8, having had one phone QSO on 20m to Italy, then a number of FT8 on 20m as well, thought, lets give 15 meters a try. Having never really persisted at using 15m, it was an ideal time as I could keep an eye on WSJT-X and tidy/file stuff at the same time.

The band looked completely empty when I started, but as the CQ’s keep transmiting, lo and behold I was rewarded with a contact !

FT8 15m contact

There was even some reports to see on PSKReporter !

Reaching far on 15m with 50W of power

I was really suprised, and impressed, with how well the 6BTV is doing, its such a great antenna and I’m getting more out of it every time I have time to use it on the frequencys I previously didnt really use.

Moral of the story is, if the band looks dead, still give it a go ! you never know who you might contact !

So long VDSL!

Hi All !

A quick one really slotted between work and uni assignments. The shack is now on fibre-coax to the QTH ! I’ve turned off the BT Router, and this had improved the QRM visibly on the KiwiSDR.

Please see video for a demo.

VDSL Demo

More updates coming soon, have an exam Wednesday, so updates will be a little more frequent after that 🙂

Posted in QRM

10m skip FT8

Having kept an eye on the Kiwi WebSDR I could see plenty of activity on the 10m band, a sure sign that the ‘skip’ from the ‘E Layer’ had picked up. For those ‘new’ to skip, there is an excellent write up here by VK3FS on the behaviour of this ionospheric band.

Here I’ll be showing over the course of just a few short hours how the E-layer built up, the collapsed.

10m skip at 18:04 UTC in IO90BS

Tuning to the 10M frequency for FT8, 28.074, there was allot of activity, transmissions from Europe where coming in the strongest, and even as far as Brazil in South America. It was incredble to see the band so ‘alive’

pskreporter on 10m transmitting 40w

I started transmitting on what had now become a very noisy channel, with plenty of DX around Europe coming in very strong. My own signal from the Hustler 6BTV and 40 watts of power resulted in the QSO’s started to roll in, with little to no reties.

Racking up the QSO’s on FT8

Grid Tracker really came into its own here, making logging to QRZ effortless so I was able to focus on QSO’s rather than uploading ADIF files. This resulted in 2 confirmed QSO’s almost immediately, with an impressive the furthest being 950 miles to IS0SLM in Dolianova.

Band conditions at 19:22 UTC showing the changed in the ‘E Layer’ propagation

Just as quickly the band and opened up, the conditions returned back to the regular behaviour for the E-layer, as seen in the 19:22 and 19:39 signal spectrum from WSJTX.

Band conditions at 19:39 – signals were getting much weaker in WSJTX Wide Graph

By 20:30 I could still be heard but the 6BTV, a vertical and with that being non-directional, wasn’t pulling in the weaker signals for a QSO to be completed.

10m reach at 20:33 with 40W

My reception reports via Pskreporter showed a big difference. I’d be interested to know if this was a phenomenon of the grey-line as the sun set or just the charge in the E-layer collapsing and limiting propagation again.

9 10m QSOs with some great reports and distances

I was still really happy in this ‘short’ time to get so many FT8 QSO’s via 10m. It really is a fascinating band, and one I will do more research with as I continue to improve the performance of the 6BTV and also work 6m with my Yagi antenna

Is skip season coming ?

The great thing of having a WebSDR is the ability to monitor a huge amount of the HF spectrum visibly.

CB Operators on 27Mhz – mostly SSB, heard alot of French and Irish.

Seeing a sudden surge of red comms in the KiwiSDR, I then set about transmitting WSPR packets. And sure enough, I was reaching Italy with 5W on 10M !

WSPR on 10M with 5W

I still have my 2M/70cm and 6M beam to complete, but this really motivates me to get that done sooner rather than later, I hope the ‘skip’ season is around for a while, but it wont for me thats for sure !

In the mean time, here is an excellent video from Oxford Shortwave Youtube channel, demonstrating the reach he has on his 2m antenna, something I’d reallly like to do with FT8 as well !

AlexLoop hampack !

Just a quick one really ! I’ve got an AlexLoop here, and cant wait to try it out.

I saw this excellent video from Waters and Staton

Alexloop Hampack

I was just wow, got to have one, but the price, eek, thats scary, but look at the performance in video i was conviinced this is the right portalable/QRP antenna for me. Ironically W&S didnt have any in stock (step in Nevada) who did, and wow, it was here quick !

The eagle eyed of you would see a number of books on my desk as I’m currently very busy with my AI&Game Design module of my MSc, i’m hoping that I will get enough time to have a play with it over the weekend. I’m super excited thats for sure !