Monthly Archives: August 2021

Your ISP Must Pass All Needed Traffic to Do Remote

Been receiving reports from other amateurs on Washington Island that the once dominant ISP for the Island is not compatible with remote FlexRadio operations. Door County Broadband (DCBB) simply will not pass all the traffic types needed to do a remote connection, and when asked to pass the traffic simply say “no.”

I haven’t had reason to directly speak to Door County Broadband in some years, as I had hit this wall with them trying to configure George W9EVT’s internet for remote access.

Technically the DCBB setup blocks the port forwarding process which scuttles SmartLink.

On-Island internet options that are presently not Flex-Ready are:

Marginal for SmartLink use:

Frontier Communications aDSL – I have this and when the system is working well I can do remote from the Island station. Usually I can access my mainland stations over Frontier. It unfortunately goes down often, usually peak-load weekends when we are on the Island or during storms. Achieved throughput is a fraction of the advertised/purchased, and you need to be on the Island during the work week to get it serviced, so ours doesn’t get fixed.

Possibilities on the Horizon:

  • Island Fiber” – the physical underwater link is laid, as is a limited underground setup for a small part of the Island. Grants, resulting build-outs and connections are needed to light the fiber. If your home is in the test area, you might get Gigabyte-to-Desk in a year or so. For the rest of the island fiber hooked to the existing systems should also offer improvements, though perhaps more in reliability and non-speed aspects. The new fiber may well kill off the DCBB wireless option for much of the island, while making the WISP (Wireless ISP) options like US Cellular and Blazing Hog more viable.
  • Full Constellation” Starlink – the are some rumblings that a dual-antenna setup when the full constellation of satellites is operational may mitigate the buffering, latency and satellite switch drop-outs.

While the Island is RF-quiet making it a great place to operate from, doing remote to an Island station remains challenging. Oh, that the power goes out fairly often (momentarily a couple times a week, 15 minutes or longer about monthly) doesn’t help. While you can do batteries or a generator, the internet often seems to be down at the same time.



W9DXCC – Taking a 2021 Pass – Mask Mandates and Risks

Just cancelled out of the 2021 W9DXCC this morning.

The Illinois new Mask Mandate was the tipping point, as spending a couple days Masked-Up doesn’t appeal, but more importantly the new Mask Mandate is an indicator that the CCP-19 Virus transmission rates in Illinois are high enough to reconsider “should I be doing this?”

The W9DXCC website includes information on how to cancel and if you made hotel reservations through the W9DXCC website you need that confirmation number when you call the event hotel to cancel. Deadlines are by September 5th for the event and 24 hours before arrival for the hotel, in my case.

As my XYL was increasing on edge about her joining me at the event prior to the new Mask Mandate, cancelling resolves some simmering domestic unease.

Learned that several others I had hoped to see at the 2021 W9DXCC have also canceled – N6JSX and KE9V emailed me that they had arrived at the same conclusion, and had canceled.

Hopefully we will have better conditions for future W9DXCC events.



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Non-Radio – Travel to England Virus Rules (August 2021)

An atypical post for With Varying Frequency, as the XYL made a priority Elder-care trip to England, which was booked immediately when the British Government announced elimination of the ten-day isolation quarantine when arriving in England from the USA.  What follows was my running notes as posted in a travel forum.  Despite the forum’s claimed large traveler participation, as the XYL left immediately on the rule change, we were the first timers in the process.  

As the rules, apps, and experience will evolve, they are offered as an accounting of the XYL’s August 2021 trip alone.   I am offering this here as many of us travel, and some might be contemplating travel for radio opportunities or DXpedition reasons.  Worth thinking about – and knowing if you break the rules or mess it up, you can be fined in the English case some thing like $7,000/person, put into quarantine until you can be sent home and have your future UK access put into question.  

This trip was a success though worrisome, and required a couple extra tests at the end as the XYL’s host was Pinged by the NHS (National Health Service) App during the period they were working together to help the XYL’s parents.  So out of caution a couple extra tests were taken.  



Navigating the UK Gov website, Airline Website and juggling all the documents is a bit of a tricky deal.

Not all are properly updated as of Monday August 2nd 2021, the selfie photograph taking part of the UK Gov site has a mind of its
own, and it is hard to answer some of the questions as they are already outdated.

Expect this will get better as the updates to websites are completed/harmonized.

Some really silly stuff like the email from the UK Gov has a pdf attachment that cannot be opened on latest iOS USA configured
phones, but can be opened once to save it to a desktop computer and then resend it back to yourself. I simply don’t have time to dig
into that error, as the workaround takes longer to write up to share than do for yourself.

Current rule extra costs up to the point of travel (so far):

  • About 14 hours of extra time spent.
  • Local C-19 test (out of pocket unknown)
  • Day-2 C-19 test – best deal found about UKP 85 (uses DHL delivery)
  • Extra Insurance (our choice, again we use EA+) – $105/pp

Expected additional costs:

  • Less than 4 hours anticipated for test and games
  • Pre-Return C-19 test – another UKP 85 (unless a better deal is found)

That is if everything goes well.

Summary – about an extra $400-500 per person C-19 “drag” for 3 tests and extra insurance.

Next post:

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Non-Radio – False Pings – Using Bluetooth for the Wrong Purposes

The XYL made an elder-care trip to England the moment the travel rules relaxed.  The ten-day isolation quarantine had been dropped for fully vaccinated Americans (she is a dual-citizen) though the testing and administrative burdens carried on.

What was extortionary was a phone call from her old school friend who had hosted my XYL her last four days, telling Alison that her hosting friend had been “pinged” by the NHS (National Health Service) application for a claimed close-contact with someone later reported as positive during my wife’s stay.

As they had been paying particular attention to maintain social distancing and a quick check of everyone they had been in contact with revealed nobody willing to share that they had tested positive recently, much head scratching has ensued.

Consulting with an expert in medical hygiene, we learned that England was suffering under a “Ping Epidemic” as the NHS app used Bluetooth technology as the basis of establishing a close contact.

The NHS has admitted that the sensitivity of Bluetooth in practice is greater than the specified, with the Bluetooth contact tracing software unaware if the “holders of the phones” were even in the same space with each other, and that upwards of 80% of contact Pings could be in error!

Until August 16th a Ping sent you off to isolation-quarantine for 10 days, along with testing.

As the NHS admission multiplied by some 600,000 Pings a week at the peak resulted in an excess loss of available labor of nearly 5 million days of false-Ping quarantine, the economic effects of a misuse of Bluetooth was huge.  To put this in perspective this is like sidelining some 13,000 people for a whole year, every week, because the App was too sensitive.

Recognizing the problems the NHS App was adjusted and the rule for a vaccinated person relaxed to self-monitoring and testing.

Now my wife did not get Pinged.  Why?  Because her main iPhone remained on the USA system and her UK iPhone SIM card had expired, so she was exempted from the NHS App when she entered.

As the woman did swim at the local sports centre, where their phones laid in the lockers for the period of their socially-distanced and managed swim session they had booked, our expert suggests that another person’s phone, who later was reported as positive, whether in their locker room, and adjacent area (like Men’s or Family Locker Rooms, or the Staff Room) was the Bluetooth through-the-wall reason for the later Ping.  Apparently the phones need to be in proximity for at least 15 minutes.

Out of an abundance of caution the XYL added to her virus tests a few more tests, which were negative.

Some tidbits:

  • USA – Fully Vaccinated is UK – Double Vaccinated, as one-shot vaccines are not in widespread use in the UK
  • Alison’s travel involved several Apps, with things that had to happen in certain windows of time – Goldilocks sort of “not too early” “not too late” “just right” sorts of timing needs, broke down in process and in the VeriFly App simply could not be made to work.
  • Expectations are that you have your trip very well planned and can provide an address for each day of your trip.
  • Being without a UK phone at entry was actually helpful, as being under the radar when the system is itself not working well is okay.
  • The UK tests add up, figure $150-200 per test, and presently you need at least two UK side.
  • While you only need on USA test before you go, be prepared to do more on return if you get Pinged.
  • It is useful to have someone not traveling deal with some of the documentation, as  the UK tests come password protected and the USA tests in our case come virtually to a secure medical patient system. Extracting these reports and putting them into a shared folder was helpful.
  • Have printouts of everything, as the bowels of airports are not always good cellphone or internet locations.

Hopefully we will learn from the mistakes of Bluetooth tracking (false positives and non-tracked persons) and other technology based systems.



Non-Radio – Hiding Out with Hummingbirds and the Night Sky

Squeezed in an “extra weekend” at the Washington Island QTH mid-week.

We really had some local work to attend to and made it into an overnight in the process.

The wildlife is rather tame at the Island, and the hummingbirds came to a feeder hanging in front of my chair on the deck.  They were not bothered by me.

Expect they are feeding their young

Family brought a clever night sky photographer setup, and the very low light pollution made for some fine photos.

Night shot (mechanical tracker and digital camera) – click for bigger

For work, jury duty and family reasons I couldn’t stay longer, but the respite was welcomed!



Non-Radio – Picture of my first car showed up.

Was handed a bunch of old photographs of some buildings my grandfather and father had owned. In front of my grandfathers car workshop building was a my Morris Minor 1000 that I bought before I had a drivers license.

Morris Minor 2-door

I think the car was a 1960, and I had spotted it in a farmer’s field near the the Michigan border in about 1974. If I remember right $150 changed hands, and with a bit of guidance I sorted it it out enough to run in the truckyard. An older brother of a school friend offered me $600 for it as it was, so my first project car never actually hit the road.  I had a 1956 Dodge Cornet by the time I had my license the next year.