Introducing the new Penntek TR-45L

If you’re a fan of the Penntek TR-35 or its predecessor, the TR-25, I’ve got some good news for you.

John (WA3RNC) announced this morning that he is now taking orders for his latest design: the long-awaited TR-45 Lite (TR-45L).

I’ve been helping John Beta test this radio since mid-August. I’ve activated a number of parks with it and have used it almost exclusively from home.

In short? I really love it.

Here’s the announcement John (WA3RNC) has posted on his website along with a form to fill out if you’re interested in purchasing from the first run. John notes:

The TR-45L 50-unit pilot run construction is now underway! These first units will be factory wired, tested, and aligned. These units will be available for shipment over the next several weeks. The plan is to have kits available in about 6 to 8 weeks. The kit price is expected to be $430.00. Please understand that this will not be a kit for beginners…

Pricing has been set at $580.00 for wired and tested pilot run units, with an additional charge of $22.00 for USPS Priority Mail shipping. There are two available options: The first is an internal 5200 MAH Li-Ion battery pack and charger with a price of $80.00, and the second is an internal Z-Match antenna tuner for easy matching in the field to simple wire antennas. The Z-Match tuner option is priced at $60.00. Note that the Z-Match ATU can be added later but will require that you drill some rather precise holes in the back case housing and a do a bit of soldering. [Continue reading…]

This radio is pricier than the TR-35, of course, but I would argue it’s very well worth the money: the receiver and audio are superb. The radio has a fun factor that’s hard to describe.

I’ve just updated the radio with the latest firmware and will be taking it on an activation this morning (Monday, Sep 26, 2022). Check the POTA spots page for me.

I’ll make a video including a full tour of the radio, then perform the activation.  If the hotspot bandwidth gods are on my side, I may have this posted later today or early tomorrow.

Note that John (AE5X) has also been testing the TR-45L and will also have updates and videos.

The upshot?

If the TR-45L looks like the sort of radio you’d enjoy taking to the field, just go ahead and get one.  I think it’s brilliant.

I suspect his first production run will sell out in very short order.

It’s a simple radio with simple–almost Apollo era inspired–controls. The audio is gorgeous and I’m pleased with the filtering options. The internal battery option will power it for ages and the Z-match tuner options works beautifully.

Again, if you want to hear it on the air, check the POTA spots for me sometime between 16:00-18:00 today!

Stay tuned!

35 thoughts on “Introducing the new Penntek TR-45L”

  1. This is great news! I built the TR-35 and it has become my favorite QRP transceiver as it is just a wonderful transceiver to use. Quality is excellent. Now I just need to work the budget for the TR-45L – thank you John (WA3RNC) for adding the 80-75 meter band in this feature packed little package!

    1. This looks absolutely gorgeous!

      I’d love a 80-10m SSB version! I’d buy a 80-10 m SSB version over an icom 705 any day!!!

      Just what’s needed, more knobs, buttons and no touchscreens, we’re analogue beings and knobs and buttons seem so much natural and satisfying to use.

  2. Why would one buy this when can get G90 for $425 and X6100 for $600 and in both case get much more radio. Maybe one is looking for a more preemptive type of operation.

    73, ron, n9ee

    1. I think the appeal here is first and foremost, it’s a kit. Many of us enjoy the experience of kit building. Secondly–and I say this as a guy who has used every Xiegu transceiver made–the TR-45L’s receiver and audio fidelity are orders of magnitude better than anything Xiegu has made to date. I’m not knocking Xiegu–I think the G90 and X5105, for example, are good value-packed radios–but the TR-45L is specifically designed for the CW op, so the performance is focused with that in mind. The low noise floor allows you to hear the weakest of signals very clearly.

      Also, the TR-45L is designed, kitted-up, and manufactured in the USA. You’re paying for that in the price.


      1. The CW thing is huge, and almost always overlooked in rig reviews. As a fulltime lifelong brasspounder, I find this frustrating; other modes (SSB, digital) demand far less of the receiver, to say nothing of the note, which is almost never mentioned in rig reviews. And that’s the information I need.

        So yeah. I’ve never used a Xiegu, but I do know that rigs that have been specifically designed and optimised for my mode have become rare, and unless that’s the case, a given current rig will only be marginally useful to me. In most transceivers today, the “beeping” function is just tacked on. (Still mourning TenTen here.)

        And that’s why a radio like this one is worth the price.

    2. Because I can! After 62 years in this hobby sometimes a certain radio or accessory just tickles my fancy. After using a TR 35 for a few weeks I just had to have the TR 45. It is everything I expected and more. I’ve only had it for a couple of weeks but it is a wonderful radio and it’s operation is a throwback to my earlier days and it’s so easy. I didn’t even need to read the two page manual. And it works. The receiver is very sensitive and this radio is as much fun as any of the Elecraft radios that I have, and I have many of those. Dave K8WPE since 1960.

  3. Looks like a very nice radio for the field. I do wish there was a version available that offered multimode say SSB, CW, and at least some digital. I get it, there goes simplicity but maybe not……..maybe just a few more knobs or buttons. Might be a challenge with the price point. But, I bet it would have a good market given that Yaesu seems to have ceded the QRP market to Icom and others. 73, AK5SB, Skip Brown

  4. Just when I thought my QRP cravings were satiated…

    Absolutely adore the retro look and if this is anything as good as the TR-35 it will be a joy to operate.

    Richard M0RGM

  5. Thomas, I cant wait to see your review and user reviews.

    I am on the list. I hope it is in my hands before migrating to the sunny south in December. My TR-35 was a great introduction to Penntek. See you on the bands.

    Dave K8WPE since 1960

      1. Thomas I watched your video on the tr45L and decided to buy one. I’ve been a ham since I was 9 and am 71 now. I’ve got lots of radios and don’t need another. LOL 🙂 but as you said without my friends at heath kit around anymore we need these people to supply nice kits for us.

        Btw I noticed you missed used the tuner and swr meter several times in the video. But it seems that in POTA you could use flags and someone would answer you Thomas! Lol

        Thanks for your videos and what you do.


        1. I used the same setup and antenna on Friday and got a brilliant match! 🙂 You will LOVE the TR-45L. It’s a gem!

  6. Apollo-era is very welcome. Good on John for exercising independence and common sense in these matters. The success of his products is proof of concept.


  7. I was at work and heading home for lunch when you were calling, I just missed you. I also ordered the base radio, I hope I can get the internal tuner as a module later if I want it. Though I don’t need it with the Elecraft T1 ATU. I love the needle S meter, that’s a beautiful rig! 72 de AI5DD

  8. Stop it! I don’t need another QRP radio. Really, I am serious… But then again, it looks cool. It has a nice vibe. And it sounded good on the air today when I worked you on 20m… Hmmm… could I fit another radio into my budget, into my operating rotation, into my shack?
    de K5KHK

  9. I thought I was done acquiring QRP radios and up pops this gem. Back in the early 80’s I built a Heath Kit HW-8 before I got my license. I had to PCS to Germany. I didn’t get my license before I left and never got to use it. I sold it to a friend. The charm of this radio is that it reminds me of the HW-8. I ordered one with the battery and sans tuner. It will allow me to wax nostalgic for a moment. I love the retro vibe. I am looking forward to bringing this out to a park.

  10. I had promised myself one of the base stations from the big three for my midlife crisis but this appeals more.

    It’s the retro look that does it and doing more with less. I see the first run are only available in the USA, here’s hoping they will ship outside the USA with the subsequent runs.

  11. Wow! I only found out about the (then prospective) TR-45 last week, when I was placing my order for a TR-35! What a surprise! I may have already spent my radio budget for the year, between the 6100 and the TR-35, so I’ll probably wait until next year on this, but I’m glad to see that it is just about everything we could have hoped for. Thanks for the review, Tom!
    A side note: I really love the metaphor here; “It’s a simple radio with simple–almost Apollo era inspired–controls.”. I really see what you mean there, it does have that look, and that is a look that I like!
    And another: the TR-35 purchase was largely based on your review and the operating narratives I read here, so thanks for that, too!

    1. Hi, Phil,

      You’re going to love the TR-35. It’s a gem of a little radio! John (WA3RNC) has done such an amazing job designing high-performance field transceivers with their own unique esthetic. I do loe the mechanical switches, and knobs. It’s a lot of the appeal with the TR-35 as well. All controls are at your fingertips!

      Enjoy and we look forward do hearing how you like your new Penntek!


    2. Sell the 6100 and get on the list for a fully decked out TR 45. I have seen and touched the 6100 and it’s a nice radio, but its only selling feature is the waterfall. When you get your TR 35 you will notice that the audio is so clean compared anything else and the ease-of-use is so clear that you will not have to refer back to a manual or push buttons for multiple layers to make it do what you want it to do.

  12. The two radio sound great the
    Price sounds like a good price I would have to have it pre-wired aside need radios wired if I would if. I would buy one of the radios I would have to have a a
    Automatic tune N0QIC 73s..

  13. I have been using the TR-45L since it arrived 3 weeks ago, including for my last 4 POTA activations.
    It is an awesome little rig not just to visually enjoy but to operate as well.
    After watching your initial review of it Tom I attempted to order one, but they were not shipping out of the USA. Glad that changed with the next production run. 🙂

  14. Thomas
    I just got my TR45L, I must say inspired by your videos using it.
    Question: how do I record over a cw message and insert a new one? I tried just recording a new one , thinking it would record over it the previous one, but no luck.
    It seems Penntek has no customer service number or FAQ page, so no help there.
    Also have not been able to find any sort of online gathering spot for other Penntek radios, do you know of any?

    1. dunno what firmware you have, but it is easy to record over a CW msg… simply hit record, tap dit or dah for msg1 or msg2, then send your message… works for me w/my TR-45L just received this week… and yes, there is no FB or group for the Penntek rigs… why not start one? i’ll join!

      p.s. reservation ordering for the TR-45L ‘Skinny’ has opened up!

      1. Second the motion. I’d join a TR-35 building and using group; seems like there’s plenty of us out there.

      2. I will join the group also. I got mine last fall and have loved it. It is so different from all of the current rigs being offered, and reminds me so much of the old days when everything had a button or switch, and no push buttons.

        Dave K8WPE

      3. After corresponding with John WA3RNC, it turned out the problem I had was the radio is very sensitive to proper character spacing. He had me slow down the keyer speed somewhat for recording and accentuate the character spacing. Now the recording works fine for me. He plans to include some explanation of this is the next version of the TR-45L manual.
        73 Paul w2eck

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