Backup options for NBN VDSL access

The change from Telstra ADSL to NBN VDSL drops the POTS line that gave telephone access independent of premises power.

Telephony is now provided by an ATA integrated into the VDSL modem, and dependent on mains power.

NBN makes no definitive statements about battery backup to the node, or endurance of any battery backup. Nevertheless it appears from pics people have taken of the node cabinets that the bottom layer is batteries and it is likely that they have endurance of more than 10 hours.

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Above, a pic of an NBN FTTN cabinet from NBN’s website, and showing batteries in the bottom layer.

NBN is not customer facing, and it seems they will provide are reluctant to provide all manner of information useful to end users, perhaps guided by lawyers who do not want to create any obligation or liability for the company… the way of modern telecommunications.

In that context, it would seem worth the risk to provide battery backup to the VDSL modem to provide broadband access to battery devices such a tablets, laptops and smartphones, and access for a POTS handset plugged into the ATA port.

The supplied modem includes a 12V DC power pack rated at 2A.

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Above, measurement of the current drawn averages around 0.5A with all features running (though it may draw more current during phone ringing). Continue reading Backup options for NBN VDSL access

mpd on a RPi, streamripper and sox

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For some years I have run mpd on an early RPi as a media player, and it has worked very well… better as Raspbian improved in robustness. Playback is controlled mostly from mpdroid on our Android tablets or phones. Playlists switches can be automated using cron on the RPi.

Whilst using Telstra Bigpond ADSL for broadband access we have been unable to stream Shoutcasts (“Internet Radio”) without frequent stops and starts rendering it unusable. The 8Mb/s broadband service performed so badly it would not sustain near real time traffic at 200kbps.

With the experience that Telstra does not maintain sufficient capacity to give its customers good service, we chose another provider once NBN access became available. Continue reading mpd on a RPi, streamripper and sox

A prototype small 4:1 broadband RF transformer using medium µ ferrite core for receiving use

Discussion at A method for design of small broadband RF transformers using medium µ ferrite core for receiving use was around a 9:1 transformer on a BN-43-2402 core. In that design, 4t was proposed as a suitable winding for a nominal 50Ω primary.

This article describes a 4:1 transformer needed for a project and based on the same 4t primary design, and using a separate 8t secondary.

First, lets find the largest wire that will fit 12t in the core aperture.

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Ok, so allowing a bit or working room, lets use 0.25mm enamelled wire (~0.28mm dia). Continue reading A prototype small 4:1 broadband RF transformer using medium µ ferrite core for receiving use

A method for design of small broadband RF transformers using medium µ ferrite core for receiving use

A simplified design for small broadband RF transformers using medium µ ferrite core for receiving use.

The characteristic of typical medium µ ferrite mixes, particularly NiZn, are well suited to this application.

This article continues with the design discussed at BN-43-2402 balun example, but using a 4t primary and 12t secondary for a nominal 1:9 50:450Ω transformer.

Lets consider a couple of simple starting points for low end and high end rolloff.

Low end roll off

A simple model for these devices with low flux leakage is an ideal transformer with primary shunted by the magnetising impedance. To obtain low InsertionVSWR, we want the magnetising impedance in shunt with 50+j0Ω to have a low equivalent VSWR.

Typically complex permeability changes in-band, and although it tends to decrease, increasing frequency means that the critical point for magnetising impedance is the low end.

High end roll off

At the high end, transformation departs from ideal usually when the length of wire in a winding exceeds about 15°.

Going forward

A small core makes for short windings to obtain high frequency performance, and sufficient turns are needed for low end… but not too many as it restricts the high end.

There are lots of rules of thumb for minimum magnetising impedance, most treat the inductor as an ideal inductor and these ferrites are not that.

A quick analysis using the method in BN-43-2402 balun example hints that a 4t primary is probably good enough down to 1.8MHz, depending on one’s limit for InsertionVSWR. We are not being too fussy here… this is not an application that demands InsertionVSWR < 1.2.

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Above is a plot of expected R and X for a 4t winding using my common mode choke design tool. Z at 1.8MHz is 49+j199Ω, or Y=0.00117-j0.00474S. (If your design tools are not giving you similar values, you might consider validating them.) Adding the shunt 50Ω (Y=0.02), we get Yt=0.02117-j0.00474S, and plugging that in to calculate VSWR… Continue reading A method for design of small broadband RF transformers using medium µ ferrite core for receiving use

Turning 1kW into QRP

Effective Isotropically Radiated Power (EIRP) is one means of comparing the performance of a transmitting station.

An inefficient antenna can lead to very low EIRP, perhaps surprisingly low. Consider these four examples at 3.6MHz,

The following NEC-4.2 models give some insight.

QW vertical with 120 buried radials

Considered by so many experts to be the benchmark for a grounded monopole, here is a quarter wave vertical with 120 buried radials.

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Above, 120 buried radials: GAIN=-1.8dBi, radiation efficiency=20.7%.

At 1kW RF input, EIRP=661W. Continue reading Turning 1kW into QRP

Adapting a 5V TTL GPS to RS232

5V TTL interface GPSs can be had for about $10 on eBay. They are aimed at the RC market and although the GPS chip is a 3.3V chip, they have a 5V regulator on board and level shifters or 5V tolerant IO.

To use them with APRS you usually need to get RS232 output and to support the common 12V feed on the DE9 connector, the RS-232 / TTL adapter needs to incorporate a 12V/5V regulator.

This article describes a couple of modules that are available on eBay for a dollar or so, and suitable for modification by adding the regulator.

max3232powerAbove left and bottom are two MAX3232 modules that have had a LM78L05 regulator and decoupling cap added to provide for 12V in and 5V to power the MAX3232 and GPS (top right is a Ublox NEO6M).

In the case of the lower module, a track has to be cut to disconnect the pad for 12V in from the existing circuitry.