Pairing the Penntek TR-45L and PackTenna 20M EFHW for a Quickie POTA Activation

We need to do a little time-travel in this short field report…

In 2022, I accumulated so many activation videos that I have a small backlog and some that got lost in the shuffle. The following activation report is one that I meant to post in November, but it got lost in the shuffle.

So let’s time-travel…

On October 20, 2022, I pulled into Tuttle Educational State Forest to enjoy quick a POTA activation with my Penntek TR-45L.

I remember now that I wanted to hold off publishing this video until John (WA3RNC) at Penntek had time to ship the bulk of the radios from his first production run of fifty units. Demand has been very high for this sweet rig and for good reason: it performs brilliantly, is fun to use, sports amazing audio, and (with its Apolloesque design) strikes the right nostalgia chord for many of us.

Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861)

I had a very short window to do this activation–a maximum of 45 minutes or so.  You see, I still had a good 1.5 hour drive back to the QTH and needed to pop by the post office to pick up parcels before they closed at 17:00 local.

I had planned to pair the TR-45L with my PackTenna random wire antenna and use the 45L’s Z-Match tuner, but I discovered I’d packed the PackTenna 20M EFHW instead.

No problem there as the PackTenna 20M EFHW is very efficient and (of course) resonant on 20 meters, so I needed to make sure the TR-45L’s ATU was bypassed before hopping on the air!


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On The Air

Every time I turn on one of my Penntek radios, I’m simply blown away by the low noise floor and gorgeous audio. This activation was no exception: when I first turned on the radio, I tuned across the 20 meter band and the signals just popped out.

In fact, I serendipitously tuned to Mel (W3PYF) who was activating a park, so I called him and worked him on the first try. It was nice being able to start the activation off with a Park-to-Park.

When I found a clear frequency and started calling CQ, the propagation gods were so kind to me.

Within 10 minutes, I added 9 stations to my P2P to validate the activation. In that first ten minutes I worked some proper DX: my ninth contact was with Michael (N7CCD) in Washington state and tenth with Micke (F4HZR) in France. Wow!

I continued working stations for an additional nine minutes accumulating 10 more contacts for a total of 20 stations logged.

What a blast!


Here’s what this 5 watt activation into a PackTenna EFHW looks 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, 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 quick activation!

I look back at some of these shorter activations and I’ll admit that sometimes they really do surprise me. During this activation I worked all the way from the west coast of the US to France–all with a little 5 watt radio at a beautiful park using a mode that dates back to the birth of long-distance communications.

This surely beats the heck out of texting on my iPhone!

I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation videos 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.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me! Have a wonderful, radio-active week!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

2 thoughts on “Pairing the Penntek TR-45L and PackTenna 20M EFHW for a Quickie POTA Activation”

  1. Thomas,

    I DO watch/listen to your videos at 3 AM when I am lying awake contemplating life and usually I get so relaxed that I wake up two hours later with silent BT headphones. On the other hand, I have gotten a lot of code practice out of your videos, LOL.

    That is a beautiful radio! I just received my Penntek TR-35 and cannot wait to get it on the air. I am currently building my QRPGuys 3-band vertical and KM4ACK EFHW antennas.

    I also Operate my Super Tuna Tin 2 Two-Watt CW transmitter station including a simple matching receiver and supporting RF sensing, TR switching, EndFed Matching (Tuna Tunah), Power Distribution (Tuna Helper), and other tuna can support equipment (Including a Tuna Super Keyer), LOL. I think it would be cool to do a POTA Activation with it. It doesn’t work well as a POTA Hunter because the crystal control with the VXO tuning only shifts about 1.5KHz or so, but I have many crystals on 40M.

    Ham Radio is all about having fun and I have had a lot of fun with these QRPme kits which include a lot more than my old eyes and hands can build, LOL.

    Nice video Thomas, thanks! Cheers es 72, Dave – KU9L

  2. Hi Thomas, 🙂

    Happy New Year!

    That radio sure is cool. I often use your videos to compare the audio quality of the different rigs and this Penntek sounds great! I like your description of it being “Apollo-esque” — only thing lacking there are ginormous 7-segment displays for the frequency and such. 😛

    I wanted you to know that watching your POTA activations has spurred me into action and get *something* set up to get on the air. I’ve been a ham since 1994, got my Extra around 2013 but have not yet made even one single HF contact! Pretty sad, eh?

    I have an SW-3B and uBitX v6, but no unun or antenna, but I’m working on building an unun from scavenged PC power supply parts, (Dollar Tree wood slats) enclosure and getting a random speaker wire antenna out there — weather-permitting!

    Thank you so much for your site and your refreshing videos Thomas! God bless you, 72 / 73 de AF7EC 😀

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