Penntek: John (WA3RNC) is Retiring

Many thanks to Davey (KU9L) who shares a link to this news from John (WA3RN), owner, and designer of Penntek radios. John writes:

I have been considering for some time the future of the Penntek Instruments amateur radio products. This old man isn’t getting any younger and is in fact beginning to get tired. With the current production run of the TR-45L QRP transceiver getting close to being complete, I decided that this is a good time to finally retire at 77 years of age and maybe catch a breath. I have therefore chosen not to order parts for another run of these radios. As of late-March 2024, in-house parts remain for about 45 of the standard TR-45L units and about 70 of the “Skinny” version. The remaining TR-35 parts will allow for an additional 65 units, either kits or built radios. As I heard on a radio commercial, “Once they’re gone, they’re gone”. After these remaining radios are sold, I will remain available for repair and service of the Penntek transceivers. Thanks to all those who have purchased and enjoyed WA3RNC products over the years…

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Penntek transceivers, so this is sad news. But, I am also very happy for John to make this decision about retiring.

That said, if you’ve been on the fence about buying a TR-45L, TR-45L Skinny, or TR-35, I suggest you do so while John has new units!

These are brilliant radios with excellent audio characteristics, robust front-ends, and some of the best ergonomics you’ll find out there. Keying is smooth and provides proper QSK.

Plus, I think they’re one of the best-looking radios on the market (the TR-45L series especially).

Since all of the Penntek radios started out life as kits, they’re also easy to open and modify/repair.

I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m willing to bet that once John’s inventory has been depleted, these radios will hold their own on the used market much like other beloved radio models (I’m thinking specifically of the KX1 and MTR-3B). It’ll be interesting to see where used pricing is in, say, 2026.

Again, if you’ve been on the fence, now is the time to make a decision, in my opinion. It looks like John will continue to provide support after his retirement, which is great news as well.

Here’s wishing John all the best in his retirement! Thanks for creating radios that bring so much QRP joy!

27 thoughts on “Penntek: John (WA3RNC) is Retiring”

  1. Sad news from a radio perspective, but understand John’s position.

    My TR-35 and TR-45 are, alongside my KX2 and KX3, my favourite radios. They are absolutely fabulous to use, being instinctive in operation – they have a great fun factor too.

    As you say Thomas, these will undoubtedly accrue in value and I endorse totally your view; if you were on the fence and undecided, but now before it’s too late! You won’t regret it.

    73 Richard MM0RGM

  2. A retirement well deserved! John is a first class person to do business with. My TR-35 (built as a kit) and TR-45 are gems; the TR-35 build experience was right up there in terms of fun, alongside my K1 and K2 builds. Thanks John!
    73 Brent VA3YG

  3. A retirement well deserved! John is a first class person to do business with. My TR-35 (built as a kit) and TR-45 are gems; the TR-35 build experience was right up there in terms of fun, alongside my K1 and K2 builds. Thanks John!

    73 Brent VA3YG

  4. As Brent said “A retirement well deserved !” As someone pushing 74 and being diagnosed with problems caused by the “wear and tear” of an active life, I totally understand. Even tho I have the latest & greatest in technology (Flex & Elecraft), my TR-45L is special. First, it is incredibly well engineered. Second, it has wonderful knobs, switches & a VU meter. Third, it reminds me of being a young teen in Winston-Salem & discovering the magic of ham radio. Rock on, John !
    73 de K4RLC Bob

  5. My TR-35 has been my go-to portable rig since I bought it nearly two years ago. Best wishes to John for a well-deserved retirement and thanks for producing some fantastic rigs!

  6. I’m glad I got my Skinny when I did! Unless someone purchases the rights to build these from John, it would be nice once he’s sold out, if he could release the Bill of Materials to help us source spare parts in the future.

  7. In total, absolute, complete agreement about John as a designer and producer. Top notch!

    My TR-45L is virtually my only rig. Yeah, there are lesser ones here, but it is the one I use all the time. It’s currently nearing 1800 POTA hunter QSOs while running clean and strong.

    The only thing I would like better is if John added 15m and 10m capability … or showed us how to mod 17m for one of those. 🙂

    Regardless, here’s wishing John a satisfying retirement!

  8. Very happy to have received my TR-45L Skinny yesterday…received only a few days after ordering. Great service.

    Really loving the lack of hidden menus and the audio is superb. This will likely become my favorite POTA radio.

    Best to John for making the wise decision…kick back and smell the roses!

    72, Vic KB7GL

  9. My TR-45L still amazes me with its performance. I’ve used it side-by-side with my DX-10 and would definitely claim that its performance isn’t far behind. It does everything its supposed to and more. Thank you, John! You’ve gifted the Ham community with gear to be used for many years to come. Happy Retirement!

  10. John’s a legend in this community. I still have an unbuilt TR-35 that I’ve got to get down to building. Glad he’ll still be available for consulting. Thanks to him for making such top-quality equipment available at competitive prices. No mystery why he’s worn out with it!

    73,

    Rob

  11. I’m very sorry to hear this, but at the same I’m very happy he has decided to retire – he deserves to enjoy life without the stress of “us.” ???? Best wishes on your retirement, John! 73.

  12. Hopefully, one of the other small manufacturers can take the business over. Sad to see such great products disappear.

  13. This is so funny. When you posted your activation with the “TR-45L – Skinny” this last week I felt inclined to snag one but thought “oh I’ll just wait a little bit I’m sure they’ll always be around .” Then I saw a YouTube comment that they were soon going away and then this blog post. Needles to say I just placed an order.

  14. Sir you don’t know me but I just wanted to say to you, I hope you have some fun in your retirement, I know when I retired I just sat back and you can sleep in,, after a wile one day will be like the last day..Now you can play radio when you want..73s N0QIC HERB

  15. Damn you Witherspoon! (Shakes fist at clouds….) You made me buy another radio! And Bag!

    1. My name is a curse word in many a QTH. ????
      You’ll have no buyer’s remorse. I guarantee it!
      Thomas

      1. Yeah, well, thanks for this, Thomas. I had to pull the trigger on a Skinny. You’re the master enabler. ????

  16. My TR 45L is my all time favorite radio. The craftsmanship John put into his radios speaks of someone who loved our hobby. The TR-35 and TR-45L are possibly the best QRP radios ever built. I am honored to own such a great radio. Best in your retirement John.

  17. Another satisfied TR45-L “skinny” owner. OK, satisfied is really understated, I love this radio. I’m thankful to WA3RNC for the great radio and wish him well in retirement! Thanks John!

  18. Thanks for the heads up. I’ve been looking at reviews for the TR-35 and was wondering if I should get one. I placed my order a few minutes after reading your post!

  19. I don’t know where else to ask this question, but has anyone heard from John lately. I’ve emailed him about the TR-45L case and I’ve ordered one of the TR-35 kits, but haven’t heard anything in several days.

    Thanks
    Ken
    WR7D

    1. John replied on the 6th to my email, just a day after I used the contact form on his website.

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