Mt. Konokti SOTA activation 2021-10-17

Mt. Konokti SOTA activation 2021-10-17

Welcome back! In my previous post I promised to test my new TR-25 in the field. Lo and behold Mount Konokti aka W6/CC-035 activation report!

I wanted to provide chasers with something juicier than one point summits around the Bay Area but at the same time didn’t want to go all in with a new transceiver. On top of that a friend was joining me for the hike which meant I needed to haul some additional food and water. Add a backup rig and you have yourself quite a hefty backpack.

TR-25 CW radio kit from WA3RNC

TR-25 CW radio kit from WA3RNC

There is no escape from the fact that Ham Radio might be an expensive hobby. This is why I am really grateful to folks like G0UPL and WA3RNC who come up with affordably priced kits so new hams may try SOTA without having to break their piggy banks.

While I am a huge fan of QCX-mini with only 3 watts out I find it a bit underpowered and lacking band agility - QCX is a single band transceiver. I was in a situation a couple of times when an antenna farm on the summit of a mountain I was trying to activate was making a lot of noise on either 40 or 20 meter band forcing me to use the other one. On top of that 20 and 40 meters band signals propagate differently. Switching bands allows you to shift zones where your signals are heard so you may reach folks who were in a shade on another band.

This is why as soon as I heard about TR-25 - 5 watt CW-only 20/40 meter transceiver kit I was sold on immediately. Just in case - I’m not sponsored by WA3RNC in any way and paid a full price for the kit.

Mt. Tallac SOTA activation 2021-08-14

Mt. Tallac SOTA activation 2021-08-14

Wrapping up a long-standing project - activating Mount Tallac aka W6/SN-036. As I’ve mentioned in my post about Mt. Umunhum activation earlier this year Tallac was on my list for a while. It is one of my favorite hikes in California, challenging enough but still doable as a day trip.

Initially my plan was to do a winter activation - I’ve been on the summit on the 1st of January 2019 after celebrating New Year with friends in a cabin near Tahoe lake. While definitely strenuous the hike didn’t throw anything at me I could not overcome.

In February 2021 things were different.

Ubuntu 20.04 update-initramfs fails on low RAM GCE VMs

Ubuntu 20.04 update-initramfs fails on low RAM GCE VMs

Got an email from Google saying they are “improving the experience of the Free Tier” by discontinuing F1-micro type of instance in favor of E2-micro type and I need to switch if I want to continue receiving the Free Tier discount.

E2-micro instances get 12.5% of 2 vCPUs, are allowed to burst up to 2 full vCPUs for short periods and have 1 Gb of RAM.

After rebooting my VM into E2-micro type I decided to upgrade Ubuntu as well.

Evidently something has changed in the initramfs-tools package since the last time I did maintenance because instead of trying to adjust LZMA2 dictionary size while compressing an initramfs image using xz archive tool it just quit with an error. Initramfs image is built every time you install a new version of a kernel image so this prevented the upgrade from finishing properly.

QCX-mini CW radio kit from QRP Labs

QCX-mini CW radio kit from QRP Labs

Hans G0UPL made yet another addition to the family of QCX transmitter kits. QCX+ is good as I wrote previously but QCX-mini is even better!

I was not lucky enough to get my hands on the kit from the very first batch but patience is gold. On a bright side revision 2 PCB I received does not require a hack with an additional capacitor in parallel with C38.

I’ve received the kit, built it and I love this tiny rig!

Same way as with my previous post I will try to avoid repeating the excellent build and operating manuals but I do have a few nits to pick.

Bonus: WSPR beacon mode test.