Field Kit Gallery: W4EMB’s Penntek TR-45L Portable Kit

Many thanks to Ed (W4EMB) who shares the following article about his portable field radio kit which will be featured on our Field Kit Gallery page. If you would like to share your field kit with the QRPer community, check out this post. Ed writes:

My QRP Portable Set up

by Ed (W4EMB)

Radio: I have one priority rig I use 99% of my time. It is the TR45L Penntek. I have both versions. The fullsize one with built-in tuner and battery, I also have the “Skinny” version. The skinny does not have the tuner nor battery. My second Rig is the Yaesu 817 with the Windcamp Battery upgrade. I also have a 40m only QSX and the 5 band TruSdx.

Penntek TR45L Skinny with external batter and external tuner.

Antenna:  I use the Chelegance MC-750 most of the time, but also use a Homebrew EFHW with 49:1 balun and 67’ of wire.

I have the QRP guys Tri-Band vertical kit, and two pieces of 16ga Speaker wire cut to 33’ that I carry as well. To support the EFHW and Speaker wire antenna, I use the SOTABEAMS 10m (32 ft) “Travel Mast”.

For the QRP Guys Tri-band vertical, I use the SOTABEAMS Carbon-6 ultra light 6m (19.6 ft) mast. To support the 32’ mast I usually just lean it into the trees and slope my EFHW up from the feed point.

For the speaker wire antenna, I run the “red wire” straight up the mast while it is strapped to the picnic table. The “black wire” is simply thrown out across the ground. I might even elevate the black wire with sticks.

My carbon-6 fits right into a piece of 1 ¼ inch PVC pipe I have clamped to my brush guard on my van. Or, I use a Tiki-Torch stake to hold my carbon-6 in open ground.

carbon-6 with Tiki-Torch stake supporting and using the Tri-band Vertical.
carbon-6 inside of PVC pipe with the QRP Guys Tri-band vertical.

I find for me, that my QRP Guys antenna works great on 20m without a tuner. But when I try to use it on 30m or 40m, I require a tuner. For this reason, I lean on my MC-750 to be the main antenna.

I have modified my MC-750 slightly. I made my own set of radials to match the factory ones. I chose to make them out of silicone wire. I find it to be more flexible and does not kink or tangle as easy as the standard factory radials. I used 3mm banana plugs and 24ga yellow wire. I also crimped small ring connectors onto the ends of the radials. I did NOT strip the insulation and place them on the wire. I simply crimped them on the silicone. I use them to stake down the wire. I use four nails as “stakes” to pin the wire down. I find I only stake the radials out when I am on un-even ground.

The second modification, I made a set of “double” radials out of 26ga green silicone wire. Colors do not matter. It is what I had. I spread them evenly around the base of the MC-750.

MC-750 with “double radials” and RG316 for coax.

My key is a Czech military straight key from the 1950s. It was new old stock when I bought it. I also carry a small mini set of paddles. For the TR45L radio, I can not play my recoded CQ or 73 with out a paddle. The “play” button is dit or dah trough the paddle jack.

For coax, I use RG316 and the appropriate adapter for the MC-750.

I have two pencils from Kuru Toga. One pencil is .5mm the other is .7mm. I make my own POTA log sheets and I paper log, and then type them later. I am a not talented enough yet to play with a tablet or PC while operating. I have only done CW for the last 12 months.

On my table: I have a really thin yoga mat. I find the concrete picnic tables a bit rough on my equipment. The yoga mat can get a bit sticky when it is warm, so I drape a small hand towel over the edge where my arms lay. I also have a Write in the Rain tablet in full size paper. I have been out early in the mornings in this summer and humidity and steamy fog makes normal paper hard to write on. The .7mm pencil matches up well with the Write in the Rain paper.

Chelegance antenna pictured in the background. K-2965 Paris Landing State Park

I have found CW and POTA have re-energized my ham radio hobby and resurrected it from a dusty shack, to a fun out door activity.

My first challenge was how to get from the car to the table in one trip. Downsize to the necessities. Next was figuring out the antenna and radio combo that could work in different conditions. By conditions I mean space.

Location, location….. I had a dog run between me and my antenna. It pulled my radio right off the table and tumble behind the dog. So now I choose my locations like Bill Hickock… always face the door. Hihi. Food for thought.

Thank you to Thomas for inspiring me to get out there and do it. His you tube videos were great copy practice to give me the confidence to get out there. Finally, my Elmer. John, KM6NN. Without him I would have never started my CW journey. He is a true Elmer in every definition of the word. I am proud to know him and lucky he is in my life. Thank you John.


Note: Check out W4EMB on YouTube as he makes his 1st POTA “Kilo” 

14 thoughts on “Field Kit Gallery: W4EMB’s Penntek TR-45L Portable Kit”

  1. GM Ed,

    Great setup, thanks for sharing all of your tips. One question, how does the Carbon mast work regarding tuning? I’ve leaned towards fiberglass masts because I’d heard the carbon fiber ones can interact with the antenna. Would like to hear how that works for you.

    1. Conrad,
      Thank you for the comment and Question. I was not aware of the carbon potential for being an issue. Since I have only used the SOTA beams, I do not know. I have not had any issues with the masts presented here. They seem to work well for me and give me options in different locations. DE W4EMB

  2. Good Morning Ed,

    I like your setup. I continue to be so impressed with the MC-750. Like you, I have been experimenting with different configurations for the counterpoise wires. What I used was a large flat washer between the base and the spike. This allows me to clip on as many additions as I want in any direction.
    My most recent WSPR test was replacing the supplied 11.5″ counterpoise wires with a 4′ X 8′ sheet of copper fabric attached to the base with an alligator clip. Is it practical? Maybe not – but it satisfied my curiosity. It worked just as well as the stock wires and got into western Australia, Eastern Europe and deep into South America on .2 Watts from South Carolina.

    I personally know a lot of people who have acquired that antenna because of Thomas’ reviews on this site.

    Thanks for the post Ed, and thanks Thomas for exposing us to all this great gear!


  3. Small detail but I also love the Kuru Toga pencils. Nice setup and details. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Joshua,
      Thank you for the comment. I may bump up to the .9mm for the really humid days.. the .7 does ok, but it could be darker.

  4. Heh, that happened to me once, but in slow motion! This dachshund, that was dumber than a box of rocks, walked into my RG-316 at chest height, about 3”, off the ground.

    It didn’t stop, or complain, or try to become unentangled, it just kept plowing straight ahead dragging my MTR4B across the picnic table!

    I lunged for the radio and quickly twisted the BNC cable off the rear panel connector before the MTR went over the edge! The released tension on the coax allowed the line to rest on the ground where the dog now simply stepped over it, continuing on his way, apparently unaware the it was ever entangled in the line.

    No harm, no foul. But I was glad it a quick disconnecting BNC instead of a threaded connector!

    1. Matt,
      Yea, once it happens…. now I find myself tying things off to the table.. I’m ready for a twister hihi…. As long as the table is anchored.. DE W4EMB

  5. Nice write-up, Ed. I have used your YouTube channel videos for copy practice as you have those from Thomas. I’m thankful for the time you’ve shared with me as I prepare to do activations now that our Texas weather is cooling off. Lots of good hints here. Thank you.

    1. Eric D,
      Thanks for the comment. I am a big fan of yours too. You’re the best. I hope your “condition” clears up and you get well soon!

  6. Thanks for sharing your wonderful setup, Ed. A few days ago you were mimicking Thomas in your POTA activation video, hi hi, now your post is on QRPer website, this is great!

    To make your setup even more simpler and “skinny”, do you consider SOTA activation in the mountains? You’ll need to carry them all in your backpack to the summit. Another challenge. 🙂

    Hope to have more QSO with you on the air.
    73, de KG6YJ, Jun

  7. Jun,
    I am looking at making a back pack set up soon. It has been so hot here, I was waiting on the weather to break for some cool weather. I hope to put a video up on my You Tube when I develop the plan. Thanks for all the support Jun. DE W4EMB

  8. Thanks Ed (W4EMB) for the great information about this radio. Best wishes to you. I will check it out.

    1. Thanks Jim. The radio is good, I bought a second. The sound is the best of all my QRP rigs. The lack of menus is the biggest plus of all.

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