Postcard Field Report: Cheap POTA thrills with the TEN-TEC R4020 and Chelegance MC-750

Welcome to another Postcard Field Report!

My Postcard Field Reports are information-packed, just slightly more concise and distilled than my average field report so that I can publish them on a busy day.

T-T R4020

One of the least expensive radios I’ve ever purchased is my TEN-TEC R42020 two-band CW only radio. I believe I paid $120 for it (shipped!) a couple years ago and it sat on my shelf unnoticed for months until I took it on a POTA activation last year.

Here’s the admission:  I really love this little radio!

It is not a feature-rich radio, and the sidetone sounds like a 1080s handheld arcade game, but it works a charm! The receiver and audio are fantastic and it sports two of my most useful POTA/SOTA bands: 40 and 20 meters.

What’s not to love?

POTA time!

I had an early morning doctor’s appointment on Thursday, February 23, 2023. As a little reward  for doing my annual physical I decided to add a POTA activation to my morning. This was a last minute decision, so only a couple minutes before leaving the house that morning, I grabbed my TEN-TEC R4020, the Chelegance MC-750, and my Spec Ops Backpack (filled with all other field accessories), and I hit the road!

I chose the MC-750 that day because I needed an antenna that could be configured to be resonant on 40 meters since the R4020 has no internal ATU. That and I couldn’t remember if I’ve configured the MC-750 for 40 meters in the past. I know I’ve deployed the MC-750 with the 40M coil, but I think I may have used an ATU to match it.

I arrived at the Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378 NC) mid-morning and set up in very short order.

When I first turned on the R4020 and sent “QRL?” I noticed that the keyer was producing extra dits. Thinking a little RF may have been coming back to the radio, I tried replacing out my CNC machined CW Morse paddle with my  VK3IL pressure paddles. My thinking (not backed by any sort of radio science) was that the aluminum CNC paddles may pick up a bit more body capacitance than my mostly dielectric pressure paddles.

The switch out made no difference at all.

What did make a difference was the Tufteln common mode choke I had stashed in the top outer pocket of my radio backpack! A common mode choke is an important field radio accessory every activator should have.


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On The Air

I started calling CQ POTA and was rewarded with a healthy number of hunters. Obviously, the MC-750 works beautifully on 40 meters!

In 33 minutes, I worked 28 stations with 5 watts.

Here are images from my log book (click to enlarge):


Here’s what this 5 watt 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, 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.

I’m so pleased I tacked on this short activation that Thursday morning!

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this morning 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.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me! Here’s wishing you an amazing weekend!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

5 thoughts on “Postcard Field Report: Cheap POTA thrills with the TEN-TEC R4020 and Chelegance MC-750”

  1. I have the R4030 radio. Awesome receive and very basic. Sometimes use a LDG 817 tuner with it. I usually prefer 40 meters early morning. I have a QCX for 20 so that about covers what I like. Oldest rig is a HW 8 that has that direct conversion sound and novice days memories. A Small Wonder DSW 40 from about 1999 or 2000 is a lot of fun still.

  2. I’d like to add the R4020 or R4030 to my stack of Argonauts but never see them for sale often. And yes, even though they are from Youkits and just TenTec branded. Similarly, the Rebel and Patriot one doesn’t see for sale often either but maybe they never sold large numbers of them. Both of those though the Arduino programming kinda scares me off since I’m not a programmer type guy. Good report as usual Thomas.

  3. I think what happened there, is as the radials with 3.5m are a bit short for 40m, the feed line started acting as a radial on its outer sheath. This will also skew your otherwise omnidirectional radiation pattern. In my opinion, you are better off placing a 1÷1 Guanella current balun (suitable for 40m) at the base of your antenna. Sheath current surpression works best when placed at a low impedance point. At the antenna base this is assured; not so along the transmission line, or it should be ½λ long.

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