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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.

ARRL Winter field day 2021 - Mt. Umunhum

ARRL Winter field day 2021 - Mt. Umunhum

ARRL winter field day! Time to get out to the Nature and work portable! Which is how I do it all the time duh.

My initial plan for the field day was to drive to the Tahoe area and try activating Mt. Tallac. Weather made corrections - Northern California had been pummeled by rain and snow that week and I decided to wait for snow to set before making an attempt.

Safe and easy plan B I fell back to is activating Mount Umunhum aka W6/CC-052.

Due to the fact that the mountain had been closed to visitors until recently it is not featured in popular culture as frequently as other prominent Bay Area peaks.

Scarper peak SOTA (non)activation 2021-01-17

Scarper peak SOTA (non)activation 2021-01-17

And yet another SOTA report from the Bay Area - this time it is about Montara mountain with its highest point - Scarper peak also known as W6/NC-288.

It may be of a surprise to you but european explorers were oblivious of San Francisco bay existence for quite a while. For example Sir Francis Drake most likely stopped to careen his ships in what is now called Drakes bay during his 1579 circumnavigation voyage and search for a North-west passage. English later were trying to use his landing to dispute Spanish and American claims on California.

Only in 1769 Juan Gaspar de Portola and his companions discovered the Bay. The monument commemorating this event is located on the Sweeney ridge trail hugging Montara mountain from the north.