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How to check which 4G ban...
Forum: Mobile Broadband
Last Post: Seán
16/02/2020, 03:40 PM
» Replies: 10
» Views: 265
FreeDAB Sligo signal near...
Forum: General
Last Post: Seán
03/02/2020, 01:44 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 24
Setting up the TP-Link Ar...
Forum: Mobile Broadband
Last Post: Seán
03/02/2020, 12:14 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 31
VoIP experience over 4G, ...
Forum: Mobile Broadband
Last Post: Seán
31/01/2020, 12:39 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 37
Powering your router from...
Forum: Mobile Broadband
Last Post: Seán
31/01/2020, 10:03 AM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 47
Testing for traffic shapi...
Forum: Mobile Broadband
Last Post: Seán
26/01/2020, 12:21 AM
» Replies: 2
» Views: 101
Use TestMy for download s...
Forum: Mobile Broadband
Last Post: Seán
23/01/2020, 02:54 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 37
How to add a custom URL t...
Forum: Equipment and Software
Last Post: Seán
21/01/2020, 08:06 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 35
Ads showing on YouTube Pr...
Forum: Equipment and Software
Last Post: Seán
19/01/2020, 08:46 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 36
Non-technical discussions...
Forum: The branch
Last Post: Seán
17/01/2020, 01:06 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 32

 
  FreeDAB Sligo signal near Kilcar with sensitive DAB radio
Posted by: Seán - 03/02/2020, 01:44 PM - Forum: General - No Replies

With no sign of RTÉ ever bringing DAB to our area now that they are ceasing their DAB service, I was interested in seeing what else I could pick up on DAB. 

From testing various areas between Carrick and Letterkenny (Co. Donegal) with the most sensitive DAB radio I have, I pick up the Northern Ireland DAB muxes in several areas.  These areas include between Kilcar and Killybegs where there is clear view of Donegal Bay, Dunkineely down to the 80km/h speed limit signs, from about the Toyota dealer to the bottom of the Mountcharles bypass and then from about the picnic park in the Barnesmore Gap all the way into Letterkenny.

With new FreeDAB transmitter broadcasting in Sligo on mux 7D, I pick it up between Kilcar and Killybegs where there is clear view of Donegal bay.  I will test from Killybegs to Donegal and further at a later stage.  In addition, I pick it up in one spot at home with a sensitive radio.  This is despite being in a mobile phone signal blackspot and very weak Saorview reception.  I don't pick up the Northern Ireland DAB muxes at home, at least not yet. Wink

   

The radio I'm picking these up on is a RECA model 80923, purchased at ALDI.  I own multiple DAB radios and tried many others, but this is by far the most sensitive DAB radio I've come across.  Unusually for a DAB radio, it is very sensitive even on FM.  In areas with the above signal reading, no other DAB radio I have with a signal meter will show a single dot in the same spot.   

I can also pick up this FreeDAB mux at home with an RTL-SDR 2838U USB stick, using a 5 element DAB antenna:

   

The FreeDAB radio stations I pick up on mux 7D are as follows:

  • Classic Gold - DAB+ 48 kHz Stereo @ 64kbps
  • Coast FM - DAB 48 kHz Stereo @ 192kbps
  • Coast Rock - No sound
  • Energy 80's - No sound
  • ENERGY FM - DAB 48 kHz Stereo @ 192kbps
  • Kiss Cork - No sound
  • Radio New Poland - DAB+ 32 kHz Stereo @ 48kbps
  • Radio Sylvia - DAB+ 32 kHz Stereo @ 48 Kbps
  • Real Radio - No sound
  • Soul City - No sound
  • STORM - DAB+ 48 kHz Stereo @ 48kbps
The "No sound" means there is no audio with this station, likely due to being off-air.  I will retest these at a later stage and also looking to get hold of another identical radio to mod with an antenna socket.

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  Setting up the TP-Link Archer MR600 with GoMo / Eir simplicity
Posted by: Seán - 03/02/2020, 12:14 PM - Forum: Mobile Broadband - No Replies

The TP-Link 4G routers are popular alternatives to the Huawei mobile broadband routers, mainly due to their low cost.

While they are preconfigured to work with most mobile broadband SIMs, this configuration will not work with many voice SIMs as most mobile providers use a different APN for voice SIMs.  With GoMo and Eir simplicity, their 4G network requires the correct APN and the SIM PIN set.

If you have an unlocked mobile phone handy, I recommend putting the SIM card into it to remove the SIM PIN (Andriod Settings -> Security -> Advanced -> SIM Card lock), then make sure the SIM's data works fine on the phone before placing in the router.
 
These steps are based on helping a few people out who asked for help on my blog:

  1. Log into your TP-LINK router web interface.
  2. Go into the Advanced tab at the top.
  3. If you disabled the SIM PIN using a mobile phone, skip to step 7.
  4. On the left, go into Network -> Pin Management
  5. Tick both 'PIN Lock' and 'Auto-unlock PIN:'
  6. Enter your SIM pin # and click 'Save'.
  7. On the left, go into Network -> Internet
  8. Click 'Create Profile' at the bottom.
  9. Enter the following:
    Profile name: GoMo Internet
    PDP Type: IPv4
    APN Type: Static
    APN: data.mymeteor.ie
    Username & Password: (Leave blank)
    Authentication Type: None
    Click 'OK'
  10. In the Profile Name drop-down, choose "GoMo Internet"
  11. Click 'Save'.
Please note that the APN settings are only for connecting to data.  If the router is having rouble with getting a signal or is not switching to 4G mode, then this is a coverage or interference issue.

If the above settings still do not connect, try following the steps above again, but enter "data.myeirmobile.ie" for the APN field in step 9.

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  VoIP experience over 4G, having cut the phone line
Posted by: Seán - 31/01/2020, 12:39 PM - Forum: Mobile Broadband - No Replies

After using Three's mobile broadband for a while, I decided to port my landline over to VoIP back around February 2018.  At the time, I had a 5Mb DSL connection (3.9Mbps on speed tests).  As the DSL service was practically useless for working from home (due to the 0.4Mbps uplink) and we were mainly using Three for several months, I decided to finally disconnect the landline.  While the package I was on was reasonably priced for a landline package (€45/month for anytime calls and DSL), the additional €30/month for Three brought my total cost to €75/month.  Additional calls (to USA) often added a further €10 to the phone bill.

Before moving to VoIP, I obviously wanted to make sure there was going to be no issue with voice quality.  I had a spare Linksys PAP2T adapter from using Blueface several years ago.  As Blueface no longer does home phone packages, I decided to order a single line on Goldfish.  While they mainly target the business market also, it was very straight forward to order a number.  As they mainly deal with business customers where voice quality is obviously critical, it meant that any sound quality issue would very unlikely be at their end.

I configured the PAP2T adapter with my Goldfish account settings, plugged a spare DECT phone into it and tried making a few test calls.  Even during peak time, the call quality was as good as the landline and had no issue with incoming calls either.  After trying the service for a few weeks, I decided I'll stay with Goldfish and ported my landline phone number over. 

My previous provider was Digiweb.  I decided to keep the Fritz Box and reconfigured it for Goldfish to use in place of the PAP2T.  This had the advantage of being able to use its features.  I connected its WAN port to the Huawei B525, set it up as a cable router and have most of our Wi-Fi devices connected to it.  After I ported the landline over, I had to contact Digiweb to cancel the DSL service as it became a DSL-only package after I ported the landline away.  With some landline package providers such as Eir, porting the landline automatically disconnects any DSL service also.

After two years using VoIP, the only main issue I ran into is that when the Internet is down (4G mast down or power cut), so to is the VoIP.  I also had the occasional issue where an erratic Internet connection (e.g. Three network issue) would cause voice break-ups, but this is to be expected.  On the other hand, we found VoIP no less reliable than the old landline.  With the old landline, we had days where the line was very crackly or where calls couldn't get through in or out. 

As the Fritz Box functions as a DECT base unit, it provides a few nice features most home phone lines lack, such as simultaneous call handling.  For example, if someone is on the phone and another call comes in, the rest of the phones will ring and someone else can answer.  Similarly, someone could pick up another phone to call out also.  This multiple call handling likely depends on the VoIP provider, however, I can confirm this works with Goldfish.  

While Goldfish does not do cheap call bundles like most discount VoIP providers do, paying by the minute is not as expensive as it may seem.  We use the landline just as much as before and our average bill from Goldfish is around €10 to €15, inclusive of the €6.15 monthly fee.  Adding on Three broadband brings our total to around €40 to €45 a month.  An evening time landline call is 1c+VAT/min, so even a 30 minute call is only 37c.  30 minutes of evening calls every day of the month would only add up to €11.  We also saved on calling the USA as those are 1.2c+VAT/month.  Mobile calls are expensive (10c+VAT/min), however, a cheap workaround here is to call from a mobile instead. 

Whenever fibre reaches our area, I intend keeping the VoIP service, the main reason being that I can use any router.  For example, Vodafone does not provide VoIP settings to let one use anther router or VoIP device with their phone service.  However, if the phone service is with another VoIP provider, all that's needed to use another router is the Internet settings, usually just configuring the VLAN ID to 10 on the new router.

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  Powering your router from a power bank during a power cut
Posted by: Seán - 31/01/2020, 10:03 AM - Forum: Mobile Broadband - No Replies

Unlike portable hotspots, mains powered mobile broadband devices do not have a battery.  This means during a power cut, the Internet goes down.  While this is not an issue for most people in strong signal areas who can tether their phone's data, those in rural areas are effectively cut off untli the power comes back on.

All the major Huawei routers run on 12V with a standard DC jack that has a positive '+' tip.  Power banks have a 5v output, which is too low.  As surprising as it may sound, most 12V broadband routers will operate fine on 5V.  Huawei routers will power up on 5V, but generally get stuck on a page saying the phone is off hook, even when nothing is plugged in its telephone jack.

To power a Huawei router from a power bank, it needs a 12V step-up converter.  These leads have a USB plug on one end and a DC 5.5mm x 2.1mm jack on the other and are available for around €1.50 to €5 on eBay, Amazon and AliExpress.

For this to work, the power bank needs to provide at least 2.1A, which many of the larger ones do.  The step-up converter leads only provide around 700-800mA at 12V, however, this is usually sufficient as long as there are no USB devices plugged into the router.  Once the router fully boots, its power consumption drops to around 300-400mA.  This in turn draws about 1A from the power bank.

With a fully charged power bank, the runtime is roughly the power bank's mAh capacity divided by 2000.  For example, a 10,000mAh power bank will power the router for at least 5 hours.  With a good qualtiy power bank, this may go further such as 7-8 hours.  For powering additional equipment such as a VoIP adapter, I recommend running it off a separate power bank and also check the voltage they require.  Some equipment may not work, such as most Panasonic Dect phones, which use a proprietary 5.5v power supply. 

For those that regularly get power outages, I suggest getting a dedicated 12V UPS power supply for the router.  This will keep the router powered from the moment the power cut starts and will automatically recharge once the power is restored.

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  Use TestMy for download speed diagnostics
Posted by: Seán - 23/01/2020, 02:54 PM - Forum: Mobile Broadband - No Replies

Anyone that gets a chance to test a high speed Internet connection will almost certainly head to Ookla's Speedtest.net or use their app to test the speed.  With fixed line services such as VDSL, cable and Fibre, that link (if working properly) is generally capable of delivering what Ookla reports. 

To reduce the chance of non-network related activity such as high CPU usage or the Antivirus buffering and releasing data during analysis affecting the speed, Ookla's methodology has a few tricks.  It filters out a portion of the slowest part of the test as well as any brief spike, then averages the rest.  It also makes lots of simultaneous connections to the test server to get the peak speed.

That methodology may make sense with a Gigabit and fast cable connections to see what they can get up to, like speed testing a car.  However, when it comes to erratic connections such as cellular data and even Wi-Fi, filtering out throughput dips can lead to test results much higher than what the link is capable of sustaining.

To demonstrate this, I purchased the Internet Speed Meter App that shows a real time traffic graph in MB/s.  After running multiple speed tests with the Ookla Speedtest App and on TestMy, these are the results chosen when the link throughput was erratic.  I drew in the blue (download) and red (upload) lines, which correspond to the test result in MB/s.  As TestMy runs upload and download tests separately, this screenshot only contains the download test:

       

While the left connection throughput clearly got up to the results shown, it certainly did not sustain either the upload or download speed during the test.  Basically, Speedtest shows what the connection throughput gets up to, not measure what the connection can realistically deliver. It's much like how getting up to 50km/h in rush hour traffic does not mean you will drive 50km in an hour.

TestMy uses a very simple methodology.  It times how long a known block size takes to download or upload and calculates the result.  This gives a much more realistic test result on erratic connections, particularly when testing with a large block size.  This is much like timing how long it takes to drive a mile in rush hour traffic instead of seeing what your speedometer gets up to.

With the blue line I drew in on the right representing 22.8Mbps (2.85MB/s), the graph area above the line would fill the gaps below the line.  At this time of testing, this is the actual download speed the connection was capable of sustaining.  Had I ran Speedtest at that time, it probably would have given around 30Mbps based on what the throughout got up to.  

TestMy can also run Multithread tests for testing the capacity, however, I recommend sticking with the regular Linear test, particularly during times of congestion.  For example, if TestMy cannot deliver 5Mbps with a large block size, don’t expect to be able to stream at 5Mbps minimum.

When testing on the Three network, it’s also worth testing for traffic shaping as explained here.

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  Testing for traffic shaping / throttling on Three Ireland
Posted by: Seán - 22/01/2020, 01:05 PM - Forum: Mobile Broadband - Replies (2)

Every mobile network mast has an uplink to provide connectivity to that mast in much the same way as any telephone exchange.  Many rural masts get their connectivity over a microwave wireless link to another mast.  Masts in areas with good fibre infrastructure may get their connectivity over fibre and some also provide microwave connectivity to the rural masts. 

While a microwave link can provide plenty of capacity for the nodes of a single mast, some masts may be fed off a hierarchy or mesh of other masts with microwave links.  This can lead to severe congestion upstream such as with the main fibre connection if it does not have enough capacity.  This can lead to even quiet masts experiencing poor throughput. 

The Three network uses traffic shaping in many areas with many Content Delivery Network (CDN) getting priority over other types of traffic.  This is particularly noticeable in rural areas that face high netwok contention.  One good example of this is where general web browsing and downloading is incredibly slow while at the same time YouTube plays Full HD (1080p) on some videos without a glitch.

In the past, Three did traffic shaping by port #.  This led to the popular Ookla Speed test delivering 20Mbps+ test results when many websites were taking 10 times longer to open pages than on a 5Mbps DSL connection.  Back then it was also possible to exploit this traffic prioritisation by making a VPN connection over port 8008, which Ookla uses.  Three no longer prioritises by port # from what I can tell.  It is still possible to exploit traffic prioritisation through Cloudflare, which I may cover in a future post.  


Testing for traffic shaping

As traffic shaping affects many CDNs such as Google and Cloudflare, testing simply involves downloading a test file from a known fast host and then from a known prioritised host.  TestMy simulates this by timing how long it takes to download a known block size into the browser's cache, making it a useful test on phones where it's difficult to time a file download.  Don't confuse it with the popular Ookla speed test which uses a very diifferent test metholodogy to determine what the connection's speed currently gets up to.    


Test #1 – TestMy London vs Los Angeles servers

With most ISPs the London server generally performs much better than the Los Angeles server.  This makes sense as Los Angeles is in California, the west of the United States.  However, this TestMy host happens to be on a Vultr server that Three prioritises. 

These two links are set up to immediately start a 25MB download test against the London and Los Angeles servers:

The following are test result examples on Three in Killybegs – London vs Los Angeles:

[Image: -RKQ6SurB.png] [Image: pDYwLOsMs.png]

The Three mast in Killybegs very rarely seldom gets over 30Mbps on the London server even early in the morning, yet the Los Angeles server oven gets over 60Mbps even at peak time!

The Three mast in Donegal town (Abbey Hotel) does not appear to be affected.  With line of sight of the mast, I regularly get over 100Mbps, sometimes approaching 180Mbps with the London server:

[Image: 06-Grus_w.png]


Test #2 – Heatnet vs Fosshub

Heanet’s servers are fed by multiple 10Gbps links, so any congestion is very unlikely at that end.  Fosshub on the other hand uses Cloudflare as its CDN, which gets prioritised. 

Compare the download speed of Kodi 64-bit from Heanet and Fosshub:
Test #3 – Leaseweb vs Vultr

The Leaseweb hosting provider has test files up to 10GB in the Netherlands (when testing from Ireland), but currently is not prioritised on Three.  The Vultr hosting provider also has test files, which happen to be on hosts that get prioritised. 

Time how long it takes to download the 100MB file from the following two hosts:

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  How to add a custom URL to a Roberts Stream Internet radio after May 2019
Posted by: Seán - 21/01/2020, 08:06 PM - Forum: Equipment and Software - No Replies

Around mid 2019 Roberts switched from WiFiradio-Frontier to a new database service, which appears to be Frontier Nuvola Smart Radio.  This caused everyone's radios linked with the old provider to lose their presets, favourites and custom radio station streams.

According to Roberts' Radio FAQs, their radio station database partner does not support adding favourites or custom URLs.  However, from my testing with the Roberts Stream 83i and the Stream 93i, it is possible to add streams through Frontier's Nuvola Smart Radio website.

In order to set up favourites or custom URLs, you will need to first create a new account on their website:
https://smartradio.frontier-nuvola.net/

1. Once you sign in, click the large "Connect new device" button.
2. On your Roberts radio, press the menu button, go into System Settings -> Info. 
3. Scroll down to "Radio ID" and type it into this field along with a name and click 'Connect device':

   

4. Go into "Favourites" (1), click "Personal Streams" (2) and click the "Personal Stream" button (3):

   

5. Enter the Station Title (1), the stream URL (2), tick "Shared Favourites" (3) and "Save Personal Stream":

   

Note: Be sure to click "Shared Favourites" (3) shown above, otherwise it will not appear on the radio.  If this happens, go into Favourites -> Personal Streams, click the edit icon to the right of the affected stream and tick the "Shared Favourites" check box. 

To access the stations on the radio, go into its menu, then Station list -> My Added Stations:

   

If you use the UNDOK app, you can access these by going into Browse -> My added Stations.

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  Ads showing on YouTube Premium embedded videos
Posted by: Seán - 19/01/2020, 08:46 PM - Forum: Equipment and Software - No Replies

As a YouTube Premium subscriber, I am paying for ad-free playback much like how one pays for Spotify Premium to listen to music ad-free.

This worked great up until the end of 2019 when I started noticing ad banners in some videos.  While I can close them off, this is not so simple while screen casting, plus why is YouTube even showing them when I have Premium membership?  

As I was about to contact Google about the issue (after finding the well-hidden link), I decided to try playing the same videos in Google Chrome and noticed every affected video played ad-free, yet continued showing ads in Firefox. After testing various YouTube videos on both YouTube and embedded on Patreon, I found that everything on the YouTube website itself played ad-free, however, some videos on Patreon were showing ads.

The last new feature I recall Firefox adding is tracking protection, which I think it enabled by default.  I turned it off on the Patreon website, tried various videos and sure enough the ads stopped appearing.  The likely culprit appears to be Firefox blocking one of the cookies that identifies whether I'm a YouTube Premium subscriber. 

Since turning off tracking protection, I noticed YouTube now keeps a history of embedded videos I watched, which it was not doing while tracking protection was on.

If there's a particular website you regularly watch embedded YouTube videos on, here's how to turn off tracking protection for that site, which should get rid of the YouTube ads if you're signed in with a YouTube Premium account.  Click the shield icon (1) and click the toggle (2):

   

The above screenshot also shows an example of an ad banner appearing on a Patreon video, including the yellow markers where additional ads will appear. 

After I turn off tracking protection for that website, no more ads appear in the embedded videos and the yellow markers are also gone:

   

The main YouTube website appears to be unaffected with tracking protection enabled in Firefox, at least on my end.

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  How to check which 4G band your Huawei B315/B525/B528 router is using
Posted by: Seán - 18/01/2020, 01:49 PM - Forum: Mobile Broadband - Replies (10)

.Before purchasing a band-specific LTE/4G antenna, first check what band you are currently using.  

These steps cover the B315, B525 and B528 and should be the same for most newer Huawei routers such as the B618, etc.  The older Huawei B593 series does not report the band #.

  1. In your web browser, enter the URL: http://192.168.8.1/
  2. Click on the Settings tab and log in.
  3. Now go to the following URL: http://192.168.8.1/api/device/signal
  4. Right-click the text and click 'View page source'
  5. Look for the band tag as shown in the example below.
   

These are the common band #s in use in Europe.  Eir, Vodafone and Three in Ireland currently use bands 3 and 20 for 4G
  • Band 1 = 2100MHz
  • Band 3 = 1800MHz
  • Band 7 = 2600MHz
  • Band 8 = 800MHz
  • Band 20 = 800MHz

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  Non-technical discussions and chat
Posted by: Seán - 17/01/2020, 01:06 PM - Forum: The branch - No Replies

This forum section is for non technical discussions, such as about the weather, wild bird feeding, etc.

A few articles from my blog as examples (all products mentioned are ones I purchased):

Philips Senseo HD7829 review – Coffee at 1/3 cost of capsules
While some people are picky about their espresso, most people just want a good cup of coffee at the touch of a button.  Here's one that is about as cheap to run as a bean-to-cup machine, but the convenience of using coffee pods.  It makes great cups of coffee and the coffee pods are compostable like tea bags.

Tefal Actifry Review with various chips, fast food & cleaning
My experience of moving from a deep fryer to an air fryer for making chips.  This covers tips on improving the taste and simplifying the process of making homemade chips.  For example, I found no difference between completely drying the chips and putting them in wet, whereas the choice of potatoes makes a huge difference.  

Stanley Erin stove review and which coal works best for us
I wrote this shortly after we replaced our open back-boiler fireplace with a boiler stove.  At first I didn't like that we would lose the open view of the fire.  Now, there's no way we would go back!  Before we lit the stove for the first time, we already noticed a huge improvement in how well our house retained heat, more so than any other added insulation.

Dehumidifier Frequently Asked Questions
Most people don't realise the hidden cost of drying clothes on indoor laundry racks and radiators.  Besides the high risk of mould growth along windows and walls, high humidity draws heat out the house like wearing a damp coat outside.  This article covers various types of dehumidifiers and their running costs.

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