QRP DX: A quick POTA break with the Penntek TR-45L on the Blue Ridge Parkway

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I feel pretty lucky to live in an area that is  flush with POTA sites.  It’s not that we have numerous individual parks, but the parks we do have encompass massive portions of the area.

One park, in particular, that literally runs around and through Asheville, NC, is the Blue Ridge Parkway. When I’m in town and have a few free minutes, it’s quite easy to hit the BRP; it’s never far away.  I can set up along the parkway pretty much anywhere, or go to the Visitor’s Center or Folk Art Center if I want to operate from a picnic table. In addition, the Mountains To Sea Trail runs along large portions of the parkway, so it’s very easy to hit it as well.

On Wednesday, September 28, 2022, I took my daughters to a class and had the better part of an hour to play radio. The BRP’s Folk Art Center was only a 10 minute drive from their class, so I made a beeline for the site as soon as I dropped them off.

I had the amazing Penntek TR-45L packed in my car, and decided to pair it with my Tufteln End-Fed Random Wire antenna.

My goal was to see if the TR-45L’s Z-Match manual antenna tuner could match this 9:1 antenna. (Spoiler alert: yes a 1:1 match).


On The Air


I wasted no time hopping on the air. In fact, I meant to show the tuning process in my activation video (below) but ended up getting a brilliant match on 20 meters when simply tinkering around with the L/C controls. Since I was in a hurry, I didn’t purposely take it out of match so that I could re-match it on the video.

My goal was to play a bit on 20 meters then either go up to 17 meters or down to 30 meters.

Turns out? 20 meters was on fire.

I started calling CQ POTA and within 13 minutes worked the ten stations necessary to validate the activation.

I continued calling CQ and in 17 minutes worked fourteen more stations for a total of 24 logged.

I had to call QRT because I was pushing my luck with the schedule as it was and needed to allow enough time to pack up and meet my daughters.


This was one of those activation maps where the QSO map really gives you an idea of what 5 watts and a random wire antenna can do when the band is in decent shape.

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

I worked stations as far west as Washington and Arizona, as far south as Louisiana and Florida, as far north as New Brunswick and as far east as Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy.

What fun!

Activation Video

Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation.  As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.

Note that Patreon supporters can watch and even download this video 100% ad-free through Vimeo on my Patreon page:

Click here to view on YouTube.

TR-45L Love

I’ll admit that the TR-45L has quickly become one of my favorite QRP transceivers. When configured with a battery and the Z-Match ATU, it’s a proper shack-in-a-box CW transceiver. Hook up an antenna and a key and you’re on the air.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of the TR-45L’s receiver and audio. The noise floor is very low, it’s very sensitive, selective, and the audio via the internal speaker has a rich fidelity that’s hard to find in a field-portable transceiver.

It’s a treat each time I take this radio to the field. I need to make arrangements with John to purchase this radio. No way am I letting it out of my hands!

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this quick yet DX-filled activation!

I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation 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 before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.

Thank you so very much!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

12 thoughts on “QRP DX: A quick POTA break with the Penntek TR-45L on the Blue Ridge Parkway”

  1. Love the video et al, but for us slow rusty morse ops a little running commentary on the CS would enhance the pleasure, love the radio, strong retro feel.

    1. I’m trying my best to keep my note pad in view at all times, but it can be challenging depending on the conditions. I’m working on that to make it easier for newer ops. Thank you.

  2. I live in a rural area and all of my parks are 45 mins to an hour away. I wish I had one closer. I lusted after the 45L but when analyzing how I operate in the field, went with an FTDX10. Next weekend will be its first foray into the field. Always enjoy your videos.

    1. Hi, Scott,

      Oh wow! The FTDX10 is a radio I’d consider getting for the shack (and, of course, occasional field use).

      You know, you’re right: I looked up your town on QRZ.com and it seems you’ve a lot of parks, but at quite a distance. Looks like Alabama might even be as easy as your in-state options.


  3. Another great video. Have you used a weighted base with the key yet? I have one of the older versions of the paddles. I am spoiled at home using a Bencher. I am thinking of using the new aluminum paddles with the weighted base would do the trick in the field

    1. Hi, Dennis, So I have been using a base recently for some of my picnic table activations. I haven’t used one yet with the CNC Machined Aluminum paddle, though. I do believe I’ll find a good metal base for it because mine has rare earth magnets on the base.

  4. My daughter lives in Asheville. When I drive up to see her, I always take my Xiegu G90. Many nice and convenient places to operate from even if not doing a POTA activation. Not to mention plenty of 2 meter and 440 repeaters.

  5. Thank you for taking us on a short activation again! Wonderful, clean tone coming out of this radio! I was so fascinated with it that I didn’t realize for a few minutes that the video had scrolled itself out of view on my phone so I was looking at the still below. 😀

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