POTA with the Penntek TR-45L and importance of quality cable assemblies!

On the morning of Wednesday, June 14, 2023, I left the QTH with a goal in mind: fit in a POTA activation before taking my sweet mom to an appointment that afternoon. As I’ve mentioned in the past, there are about four park options that are easy detours off the 1.5 hour drive to my parents’ home, so it was very much doable.

I decided to go to Tuttle (K-4861) since it would be very close to one of my favorite lunch spots (Food Matters in Morganton). I figured I could fit in an activation, then grab lunch after, and still make the appointment with time to spare.

In almost every case, this is how I do POTA these days: it’s all about fitting in activations with weekly travels and errands. It’s rare that I simply plot out an activation or two the day before. More often than not, I schedule my activation a max of 30 minutes before I arrive at the park.

I arrived at Tuttle around 11:30 AM and had the park to myself. There were no other guests there, just park rangers. And lots of birds.

PSA: Buy/Build quality cable assemblies!

A couple days prior, I received a cable assembly sample in the post: a 25 foot RG-316 cable with BNCs on both ends and three series 31 in-line ferrites from ABR Industries. These slim in-line chokes are a new option ABR is offering, hence the reason they send me the assembly.

I speak about this at length in my video below, but I’ve been a customer of ABR Industries for well over a decade now. ABR is a USA supplier of high quality cable, cable assemblies, and other cable components. I’m a huge fan. In fact, I wrote about them separately on the SWLing Post a couple years ago.

Full disclosure: ABR Industries sent me this cable assembly (and one other I’ll feature in a future report) free of charge. They are not a sponsor (although I’d love for them to be) and I’ve no other relationship with them other than being a customer.

I go into greater detail in my video, but I learned a while back just how important it is to use high-quality cable assemblies, adapters, and connectors in the field and at the QTH.

As a field operator, I know my cable assemblies are essentially consumables. With all of the winding, deployments, packing, being outdoors, rough handling, etc. they will eventually fail. (In fact, Alan made a point of this in his latest field report when a mishap in the field broke a good assembly.)

High quality cable assemblies will not only provide better longevity and better durability, but also less loss and overall higher performance. It’s worth the cost because when I hike to a summit, the last think I want to discover is that my cable assembly has failed.

Note that I also build my own cable assemblies (indeed, I feel like all radio ops should learn this simple skill) and try to use quality components and best practices to make the best assemblies I can.

Take-away is: don’t skimp on your cable assemblies. I no longer buy my cable assemblies from random suppliers on eBay or Amazon, I buy them from companies that build and test their assemblies within our hobby; companies like PackTenna, Tufteln, Messi & Paoloni, and ABR Industries.

Here ends my PSA…let’s get on with the activation!

Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861)

I spent quite a bit of time talking about cable assemblies, then I moved straight into setting up my field gear. I launched a line and deployed my cannibalized 40m EFHW again and connected it to the Penntek TR-45L.

I show this whole process in the video.

The past month, I used my Elecraft KX2 quite heavily because I was in a near constant state of travel and never bothered changing out the KX2 in that time–it’s such a brilliant, versatile little radio.

It was brilliant using the TR-45L again.

Next, I prepared my logs, and was ready to hop on the air!


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On The Air

I hopped on the air and started calling CQ POTA on 20 meters. I had no idea what propagation would be like but based on recent history? Yeah, I had to assume it would be poor.

Fortunately, I logged my first 10 contacts to validate the park in a mere eleven minutes. Score!

I continued calling CQ POTA for another twelve minutes and added nine more hunters to the log–six of those after I moved to 40 meters–for a total of 19 stations logged.

I then looked at my watch and knew it was time to call QRT, pack up, and grab a bite of lunch!

Note: if you watched the video closely, you might have seen the SWR meter and lamp jump a bit near the end of the activation. This was due to a connection that needed to be tightened on my homemade EFHW. 


Here’s what this five 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.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this short activation and enduring my PSA!

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! Have a wonderful week and I hope you get to play a little radio outdoors!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

5 thoughts on “POTA with the Penntek TR-45L and importance of quality cable assemblies!”

  1. Good point about cable (and connector) quality! I was recently reminded that I can use my RigExpert analyzer to measure cable loss. First thing I did was check out the 25 foot piece of RG-174 and six foot piece of RG-316 that I carry in my POTA field kit. I was pleased to find that they check out against the published specs for those cables. As you say, with all the winding and unwinding, deterioration can happen. Thanks to your reminder here, I plan to check my POTA cables from time to time to make sure they’re holding up.
    (See also: May/June 2005 QEX, p. 44, Measuring Cable Loss by Frank Witt, AI1H)

  2. Another great video. I have got to make an effort to visit NC in the next couple of years. What a beautiful State. I have used ABR cable for many years. Great stuff and highly recommend them.
    Are you by chance going to be Huntsville next month? Hope to meet you some day.

  3. I agree. Good cables and good antennas make or break an activation. The TR-45L is a great radio. I had one and used it a few times but I had other radios that had similar functions and utility. However, through some horse trading, I landed a nice K3/10 which replaces the TR-45L. I like big radios because they are easier to use in the field. The K3 will be on the next activation.

  4. Great article!! Unfortunately ABR Industries will only ship to Canada via UPS, which charges exorbitant customs and brokerage fees to the point it’s just not worth it.

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