The New Penntek TR-45L: A Video Tour/Overview, then a full POTA activation!

Yesterday, John (WA3RNC) opened orders for his long-awaited Penntek TR-45L 5 band, CW-only, QRP transceiver.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve had the pleasure of helping John beta test this radio for the past month. In that time, I’ve gotten to know the radio from the inside out and have even taken it on a few POTA activations. In fact, with John’s permission, I just posted my first TR-45L activation video for Patreon supporters yesterday. The radio was using an early firmware version in that video.

TR-45L Video Tour and Overview

Yesterday, after an early morning appointment, my schedule opened up; a rarity in my world.

I then got the idea to take the TR-45L out to a park, do a full video overview of its features, then put it on the air in a POTA activation.

Hazel loved this idea too.

So I packed the TR-45L, a log book, my throw line, and two 28′ lengths of wire. Hazel jumped in the car before I could invite her.

I’ve used a wide variety of antennas on the TR-45L over the past weeks, but I hadn’t yet performed a park activation only using two lengths of wire and relying on the TR-45L’s optional Z-Match manual antenna tuner. This would make for a great real-life test!

Quick note about video timeline

Side note for those of you who follow my field reports and activation videos

I pushed this video to the front of the line since the TR-45L just hit the market. I wanted to give potential buyers an opportunity to see and hear this radio in real world conditions thinking it might help them with their purchase decision.

I’m currently about 7 weeks behind publishing my activation videos. Much of this has to do with my travel schedule, free time to write up the reports, and availability of bandwidth to do the video uploads (I’ve mentioned that the Internet service at the QTH is almost dial-up speed).

I was able to publish this video within one day using a new (limited bandwidth) 4G mobile hotspot.  Patreon supporters have made it possible for me to subscribe to this hotspot service and I am most grateful. Thank you!

So that I can publish this report quickly (this AM), I’m not going to produce a long-format article like I typically do. Instead, this is one of those rare times when the video will have much more information about the radio and the activation than my report.  I’ve linked to and embedded the video below.

Now back to the activation…

Gear used:

Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378) NC

Hazel immediately found the perfect spot to snooze.

Hazel and I decided to head to the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It was a chilly day–proper fall weather–and the skies were clear.

The only thing I did prior to turning on the camera was to deploy my arborist throw line. The wire antenna I planned to use was short, so it was effortless to snag the right tree branch on the first throw.

Next, I started my video and gave a full tour of the TR-45L, describing its features and controls.

Then, I deployed the 28′ random wire antenna: a 28′ radiator and 28′ counterpoise. I connected the wires the posts on the back of the TR-45L. I switched the antenna input from BNC to the binding posts, and engaged the Z-Match antenna tuner.

I then tuned the random wire. Last time I used the Z-match to tune this wire, I got a near 1:1 match on all bands almost effortlessly. This time, it took a wee bit longer. There’s certainly an art to using a manual Z-Match tuner, but it’s surprisingly easy (very easy if you’re used to an ATU like the Emtech ZM-2).

I found a good match, and started calling CQ POTA on 20 meters. I logged sixteen stations in about 20 minutes.

Next, I moved to the 30M band and found a fairly good match. I called CQ POTA for a few minutes and had no replies, so I decided to QSY down to the 40 meter band.

On 40 meters, I logged fourteen stations in 13 minutes. I was very happy with these results especially since I thought 40 meters would be in worse shape than the 20 meter band.

My video was getting very long, so I called QRT on the activation.


Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:

Activation Video

Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation.  As with all of my videos, there are no ads and I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time.

Please note that I’ve added chapters to this video to make it easier to browse. In YouTube, simply hover over the video timeline and you can easily click on the chapters that interest you:

Click here to view on YouTube and subscribe.

Thank you!

Thank you for joining me on this activation and radio tour!

I hope you enjoyed the field report and the video as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.

As I mentioned above, QRPer supporters make it possible for me to invest in a mobile hotspot and other gear that helps me with my workflow. This is all a pure labor of love for me, and your support makes it sustainable. 

Thank you so very much!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (VY2SW / K4SWL)

Update: John (AE5X) has just published his review of the TR-45L. It’s a must read!

16 thoughts on “The New Penntek TR-45L: A Video Tour/Overview, then a full POTA activation!”

  1. Good morning Thomas. Thanks for the video tour; I can’t wait to get my hands on one. I thoroughly enjoyed building my TR-35 and it gets used a lot.
    Btw, I also enjoyed all of your Videos from during your trip to Canada.

    1. Thank you so much, Brent. We so thoroughly enjoyed our summer in Canada and can’t wait to do it again.

      The TR-35 is a gem of a radio! And as you can see I love the TR-45L. 🙂

      Cheers, Thomas
      K4SWL / VY2SW

  2. Good morning Thomas.Thanks for the review.

    I have got to learn code so that I can take advantage of all the compact and cheaper CW only radios. I also need to work on my Extra.

    Once we get all settled from the move I will need to concentrate on upgrading my license and learning the code. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.


    1. You do, my friend! I hate to tell you but the CW stuff is terribly addictive. Before you know it, you’ll be running the BRARC CW station on Field Day. I can see it coming! 🙂

  3. Hello Thomas,

    Listening to your video I noticed a difference between the incoming CX signals and the side-tone from your station. When you were calling, there is always some kind of a “blob” at the beginning of each Morse sign. It was on all bands.

    Are my ears strange or …

    Anyway: excellent video Thanks.
    Hajo dl1sdz

    1. Hello, Hajo,

      Gosh, I didn’t notice it. Honestly, for the video I have the volume much higher than I normally would. Perhaps it was the camera’s AGC? I’ll take another listen.


  4. Super cool looking rig. I love my TR-35 so I am betting I would like this, but I am not sure that I have an application for it right now. Maybe I don’t need a specific application. 🙂

    Douglas K1GC

    1. Ha ha! Douglas, I’ve found that I can justify almost any radio purchase. “If you buy it, the application will come.” (Okay, so that’s a poor analogy with the Field of Dreams, but hey…it’s what happens in my head!)


    1. Good question. I think the first run will be somewhat limited. You might check in with WA3RNC. As he’s indicated on his site, parts availability is one of the limitations in the production numbers.


    1. Thank you, Jim! That’s the external speaker jack. I should have mentioned that while giving a tour of the radio. 🙂


  5. Thomas,
    Thanks so much for this video in particular and of course all the others. I straightaway ordered the TR-45L w/battery and tuner. In fact, I was one of your 40m contacts, a thrill for me as you might have gathered from the “UR MY HERO” inclusion in my QSO sign-off! I took the challenge to learn CW last winter specifically from the inspiration derived from your videos. I must say, at 70 years of age I find the copy still challenging, but sending is fun and (clearly) works ok!:). Look forward to putting my TR-45L to work and thank you again for all your efforts.
    73s de Steve, KD9JTU (Patreon)

    1. Ha ha! Now you know how you’re going to sound on the other end of your TR-45L! 🙂

      Thank you so much for the kind comments and the extra bit of exchange. Not sure I deserve that, but I’m most grateful even if I played some small part in your CW journey.

      And thank you so much for the Patreon support, OM!


  6. Thomas,
    Great video on the new TR-45L. I ordered one with the battery pack. I passed on the z-match. I have enough external tuners and am not sure I would like the implementation on the TR-45L. Also, I assume the TR-45L has SSB receive capability like it’s little brother the TR-35. Anyway I have told all my rigs a new radio will soon be added to the family. Some of them are not taking it well.

    Brad, AB4BA

  7. Great video on a great rig, Thomas. I have a Hendricks PFR3B and it also has an internal manual tuner. When you first begin using one of these you have to have “safecracker fingers” but it gets progressively easier and quicker to do with use.
    Thanks and 72!
    Mike Serio

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