Quickie Field Report: Pileups at Desoto Falls with the Penntek TR-45L and two 28 foot wires

I mentioned in a previous post that I’m quite behind publishing activation videos. Much of this has to do with the fact that I’ve been a pretty busy activator (by my standards) the past couple of months.

While I don’t make field reports and videos for each of my activations, I usually do one or two per week. Two is typically the max I can post because my field reports take 3-4 hours each to write-up and publish; it can be difficult carving that kind of time out of my busy schedule!

In order to catch-up, I’ve decided to post shorter format field reports from time-to-time; especially for reports like this one where I give quite a lot of info and detail in my activation video.

Desoto Falls National Recreation Area (K-7473)

In the previous field report (from October 14, 2022), I recounted two amazing SOTA activations in north Georgia (Big Cedar and Black Mountain) with my buddy Joshua (KO4AWH) during the annual W4 SOTA Fall Campout.

Immediately after wrapping up our SOTA activations on Black Mountain, we decided to hit a park on the way back to the campground. Desoto Falls National Recreation Area made for a short detour and a nice way to relax after a few miles of hiking that day.

We pulled into the parking area of Desoto Falls and set up our stations in the picnic area placing some distance from one another to help with any interference.

I pulled out my trusty Penntek TR-45L and two 28’/8.5m lengths of 24 gauge wire.  I extended the radiator vertically and unrolled the counterpoise on the ground. The wires were connected to the binding posts on the back of the TR-45L (red=radiator, black=counterpoise). I used the built-in manual Z-Match tuner to match the impedance in short order.

Quick note about TR-45L availability

At time of publishing this report (November 26, 2022), John (WA3RNC) is in the process of building and shipping some of the first TR-45Ls ordered. I’ve gotten lots of questions from readers inquiring about lead times. I’m actually not the best guy to ask because I have no inside info.

I can tell you, however, that parts availability is what’s making the production time extended.  John has been shipping units in the order received. I know some customers who’ve already received their TR-45L and others who are projected to receive theirs end of January 2023.

All I can say is it’ll be worth the wait! Indeed, it seems all of my favorite field radios have an extended lead time at present from multiple manufacturers.


On The Air

I started calling CQ POTA around 20:50 UTC on 30 meters and planned to work 30 a bit, then possible 40 and/or 20 meters.

That never happened because 30 meters was simply on fire!

I worked my first ten contacts in 9 minutes.

It was a proper pileup.

All-in, I logged a total of 57 stations in 53 minutes. That’s about as fast as I’m comfortable doing a POTA activation because I try not to treat activations like a contest!

It was incredibly fun.



Here’s what this activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map (click to enlarge).

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.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this activation!

I hope you enjoyed this “short” field report (that actually wasn’t all that short) and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating it.

I had an absolute blast during this activation. The steady flow of contacts kept me on my toes, but it was also so nice simply enjoying the great outdoors, checking out a new-to-me park, then capping off the day with a campsite meal and very peaceful sleep in my tent with downright cold overnight temps.

I live for this stuff!

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 “Quickie Field Report: Pileups at Desoto Falls with the Penntek TR-45L and two 28 foot wires”

    1. Hi, Gavin,

      Thank you! Yes, funny you mention RadCom. I *just* received my October issue in the post (there’s nearly a 2 month delay sometimes to the US) and it was fun seeing my article inside. I enjoy writing for RadCom and think it’s a top-shelf publication despite the fact that they invite me to write the occasional feature! 🙂


  1. Wow, that was a busy activation Thomas! Thanks for sharing…. You held up amazingly well during that overhead helicopter noise; I would have short circuited for sure! Hihi

    Been using my TR-45L for almost a month now and absolutely loving it. John has his a real winner here!

  2. Thomas, if you’ll ever want to try a little experiment, try a 70ft radiator wire and use the two 28 ft wires as counterpoises; I know, deploying such a radiator won’t be as easy as the 28ft one, but if you can, give it a try and… maybe give the 80m band a try too, using such an antenna 😀

    1. Hi, Andrew,

      I could certainly deploy a 70′ radiator. It would be in an inverted vee orientation, but that’s only a few feet longer than the 40M EFHWs I deploy all the time. I may give that a go! 🙂


      1. if you can, give it a go, either directly or through a 9:1, it should give you coverage on bands from 80m up (with the ATU btw), which … well, may open some interesting possibilities, I think 🙂

  3. Thanks for posting this activation, 30m is becoming my favorite band to activate on here in Ontario. It was a pleasant surprise to be able to have my first contact with you, and actually hear myself sending. I learned from you to send 72 when signing off to let others know I also only run QRP and it was fun when you commented in the video about receiving my 72. Thanks for all the great advice and activation reports.

    1. I thought it was fantastic that you sent 72!
      And, yes, I imagine 30 meters would be a very productive band in Ontario. There are loads of hunters within a 30 meter footprint!
      Thank you!

  4. I enjoy your posts on activations and product reviews.

    I would like to start POTA activations next summer, but living in Iowa, there are more state and local parks than federal land.

    Can state parks be activated, I can’t find much info?

    Ken. N0EGN

    1. Hi, Ken,

      POTA included a lot of public lands, but in the States it’s true most are state and national lands at present. This could change in the future if other entities are added.

      The best place to find parks is via the POTA site’s park list and park map.
      Here’s the list:
      Here’s the map:

      Based on your QRZ address, you have several parks close by:
      – Walnut Woods State Park (K-2326)
      – Badger Creek State Recreation Area (K-5729)
      – Beaver Lake Wildlife Management Area (K-9314)
      – Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park (K-2278)
      – Big Creek State Park (K-2281)

      There could be more because I’m not familiar with your area. Sometime parks have multiple tracts of land–especially game lands and national recreation areas, etc.

      Looks like you’ve got some excellent choices, though!
      Be warned! POTA is terribly addictive! 🙂

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