iiNet Internet access – speed observations

I have for many years measured Internet access service performance by measuring the transfer rate for a single HTTP download which is scheduled regularly.

Since moving to iiNet / NBN about 6 months ago, I have had difficulty reconciling apparent workstation performance with the measured download speed.

During investigation of variation in download speed measurements, it became apparent that in the absences of other network traffic, the first download was faster than further downloads within a short space of time.

The above chart shows the download speed on 10 downloads, each download ran for 5s and there was a 2s pause after completion before the next download was started. The file downloaded is one nominated by iiNet for download speed tests and is internal to their network.

The first transfer in this cluster ran at 5.8Mb/s (about half of the ‘headline’ access service rate). The following nine were between 0.9 and 3.1Mb/s, averaging 1.9Mb/s.

This behaviour is reliably reproduced on subsequent tests. It may be a result of the MPLS network, it may be some clever management of what you see vs what you get.

To better capture network performance, I have changed by measurement strategy to perform a 2s download, then wait 2s after it is completed, then perform a measured 5s download to calculate a more realistic download speed.

Above is a plot of a day’s tests using the adjusted algorithm. The median speed is 3.9Mb/s, less than a third of the ‘headline’ rate.

Little wonder that we need intervention as announced by the competition regulator, the industry cannot regulate itself effectively.

ESP8266 IoT DHT22 temperature and humidity – evolution 2

This article documents a first project with the Espressif ESP8266 in its second evolution.

The objective is a module that will take periodic temperature and humidity measurements and publish them to an MQTT message broker.

This inital implementation is very basic, it is largely configured in code, though it does use DHCP. Later extensions might include a web interface for configuration of WLAN parameters etc, but for the moment the emphasis is assessment of reliability given some reports on the ‘net.

Evolution 2

The original design embedded key configuration variables in the main source code for simplicity in getting the code working.

Evolution 2 separates configuration variables from code, and provides a web interface for configuring the most common variables. The screenshot above shows the configuration screen including the use of a datalist on the SSID input field.

Hardware

A module was purchased with on board CP210x USB to serial chip. The only other component needed was the DHT22 digital temperature and humidity sensor.

NodeMCU was chosen for the ESP2866 firmware because of the inbuilt support for ‘interesting things’, including the DHT22.

Above is a breadboard of the system for development. The board had a 4MB (32Mb) flash chip on it. Continue reading ESP8266 IoT DHT22 temperature and humidity – evolution 2

The Mobius strip loop – ham benefits

(Baum 1964) describes his “Moibus strip loop” (sic).

In fact it is not made from a strip conductor but rather a circle of round tube  with a gap at the top, and containing a transmission line which is cross connected to the outer tube at the gap.

Two main features are claimed for this antenna:

  1. cancellation of induced Compton currents in the centre conductor due to incident gamma radiation; and
  2. transformation of the feed point voltage V to 2V at the transmission line at the loop feed T joint.

Feature 1 is claimed to improve S/N when irradiated by gamma radiation, the effect would be of most benefit in the event of a nearby nuclear bomb. Given that most ham stations are not EMP hardened, this is unlikely to be of material benefit to those ham stations. Continue reading The Mobius strip loop – ham benefits

The fraud of energy efficient lighting – LED lighting

Having been pushed into CFLs due to conservationist action that removed incandescent lamps from the shelves before mature reliable product was available, I ventured into LED lighting because of the failure rate of the CFLs.

The LEDs are about the same power consumption as the CFLs they replace, the hope was that they had a longer life (you have seen the claims of 100,000 hours).

Two years after cutover, it is time to review their performance.

Of some 25 11W LEDs installed, most would not be used for an hour a month, but 11 are used every day for an average of around 4 hours per day.

The pic above shows the failures of two years operation, 5 of 11 have failed. The average life of the lamps that failed is less than 3000 hours. probably in the region of 2000 hours, certainly a long way short of the claims of 50,000 to 100,000 hours. Continue reading The fraud of energy efficient lighting – LED lighting

Quiet HF antennas and E and H fields in the near field zone

Hams often postulate that certain HF antennas are “low noise’ antennas.

There are many possible explanations for why an antenna captures less noise power than another, this article discusses the distribution of electric and magnetic fields (E and H) very near to a radiator, and the power captured by antennas that respond more to E or H fields.

Electromagnetic radiation consists of both and E field and a H field, and they are in the ratio of η0=µ0*c0Ω, the so-called impedance of free space, often approximated to 120πΩ or 377Ω. Close to a radiator there are components of E and H additional to the radiation components, the ratio of E/H is not simply 377Ω.

Fig 1.

Fig 1 shows the magnitude of the ratio E/H near a quarter wave vertical over average ground at 3.6MHz. |E/H| depends on location near the antenna, and with increasing distance it converges on 377Ω.
Continue reading Quiet HF antennas and E and H fields in the near field zone

LNR Precision small transmitting loop

LNR Precision have announced a small transmitting loop for amateur radio.

This article is a revision to take account of recently updated information published by LNR filling in some of the gaps in their original page. It is encouraging to see better product descriptions and measurement data.

Description

The antenna is described at (LNR Precision 2016).

The loop itself appears to be 3/8 Heliax or similar (nominally 9.5mm outer conductor diameter) in a rough circle of 45″ (1.143m) diameter.

Little information is given of the internals, but the promotional material gives a VSWR curve for a matched antenna at 7.065MHz. To their credit, they give the height above ground and ground type for their tests.

The VSWR=3 bandwidth scaled from the graph is 18kHz.

If we assume for a moment that the VSWR measurement was captured at a substantial height above ground, its behavior approaches that of the antenna in free space. Taking the assumption that the published curve is similar to the antenna in free space, we can estimate efficiency based on earlier assumptions. Such antennas very close to ground have a directivity of about 6dB (dependent on ground parameters), and that can be used with efficiency to estimate gain in proximity to ground.

The assumed values and published VSWR curve indicate an antenna system half power bandwidth of 15.6kHz and Q of 453 which implies efficiency of 2.8%.

The actual value for radiation resistance is likely to be with -50-+100% of the free space value used, and that rolls up as an uncertainty of +/-3dB in the calculated efficiency and gain. Continue reading LNR Precision small transmitting loop

Current and voltage implications of a small transmitting loop power ratings

This article gives a simple method for calculating the key voltage and current in a small transmitting loop using observed or expected behaviour and Calculate small transmitting loop gain from bandwidth measurement.

Method

Above is a model hypothetical 1m diameter loop of 10mm conductor on 40m with 1% radiation efficiency.

Lets say it is rated for input power being the lesser of 10W continuous, or 30W PEP SSB. Continue reading Current and voltage implications of a small transmitting loop power ratings

CHA P-Loop 2.0 small transmitting loop

Chameleon have released their CHA-P-Loop 2.0 small transmitting loop. This article considers the likely efficiency on 40m based on their published measurements and Efficiency and gain of Small Transmitting Loops (STL).

Description

The antenna is described at http://chameleonantenna.com/CHA%20P-LOOP%202.0/CHA%20P-LOOP%202.0.html.

This analysis does not consider the proprietary Power Compensator option for lack of sufficient information.

The loop itself appears to be LMR400 coax or similar (nominally 8.0mm outer conductor diameter) in a rough circle of 34″ (0.863m) diameter.

Little information is given of the internals, but the promotional material gives a VSWR curve for a matched antenna at 7.15MHz. To their credit, they give the height above ground and ground type for their tests, though elevation above ground was between 1/2 diameter to a full diameter of the P-LOOP 2.0 is a little vague.

Basic loop (34″)

The VSWR=3 bandwidth scaled from the graph is 27.0kHz. The shape of the curve near minimum suggests that were the scan points sufficiently close, the minimum VSWR would be very close to 1.0 and it is taken as 1.0.

If we assume for a moment that the VSWR measurement was captured at a substantial height above ground, its behaviour approaches that of the antenna in free space. Taking the assumption that the published curve is similar to the antenna in free space, we can estimate the gain and efficiency based on earlier assumptions.
Continue reading CHA P-Loop 2.0 small transmitting loop

80m half wave dipole made from 0.91mm steel MIG wire

Hams being innovative come up with a myriad of cheap alternatives for wire for antennas. One of those alternatives is common 0.91mm steel MIG wire.

Steel MIG wire is often coated with copper and is claimed by some online experts to “work real good”, particularly as a stealth antenna.

But is it the makings of a reasonably efficient antenna?

This article applies the model developed at A model of current distribution in copper clad steel conductors at RF to estimate the effective RF resistance of the wire at 3.5MHz.

Copper coated round steel conductor (MIG wire) – 0.91mm single core

In fact copper is an undesirable and restricted contaminant of steel welding wire, high grade MIG wire is not copper coated.

Copper content is held to less than 0.05% in the core, and less than 0.05% in the coating… which on my calcs says the coating of common 0.91mm MIG wire is less than 0.125µm…. basically it is a small diameter wire with low conductivity and high permeability. Continue reading 80m half wave dipole made from 0.91mm steel MIG wire

80m half wave dipole made from galvanised fence wire

Hams being innovative come up with a myriad of cheap alternatives for wire for antennas. One of those alternatives is galvanised steel fence wire.

A small roll of galvanised tie wire can be purchased from Bunnings hardware for about $10 for 95m… so at $0.10/m it looks like an economical solution.

But is it the makings of a reasonably efficient antenna?

This article applies the model developed at A model of current distribution in copper clad steel conductors at RF to estimate the effective RF resistance of the wire at 3.5MHz.

Galvanised round steel conductor – 1.5mm single core

A sample of new unweathered wire was measured to determine the approximate zinc coating depth, it was 15µm. Note that zinc is a sacrificial coating and it will erode through life, so this study is an optimistic one of wire when new. Continue reading 80m half wave dipole made from galvanised fence wire