Pairing the TR-45L Skinny and the MC-750 at Gorges State Park!

Once a year, I meet up with my friends Monty and Mike for a weekend of camping. We’ve been friends for over 30 years, so it’s always brilliant hanging out with them, hiking, and just enjoying the break in our busy family lives.

This year, we planned our weekend campout for March 15-17, which is slightly earlier in the year than we usually do, but all of us have complicated schedules in April, May, June, and July. So March it was!

We chose to camp at Gorges State Park (US-2732) in Sapphire, North Carolina.

We also decided to opt for one of the park’s five cabins instead of tent camping. The park ranger I spoke with on the phone prior to making the reservation convinced me that we should reserve one of their newly built cabins. The cabins can sleep six, have electricity, and even have heating and air conditioning.

Mid-March in the mountains of western North Carolina is a fickle part of the year. It can be cold, hot, dry, or wet–all easily within one weekend. Choosing a cabin would mean packing in a lot less gear. Done!

Unfortunately, only a few days prior to the camping trip, Monty had to duck out to attend a funeral. We really missed hanging out with him.

Gorges State Park

To my knowledge, I had never been to Gorges State Park. It’s one of the newer parks in the NC system and, frankly, it’s located in a part of WNC that I rarely travel through these days.

The park is vast, and there are a number of trails that lead to waterfalls.

The visitor’s center was built in 2012 and is really impressive. We stopped by there and spoke with staff about some of the hiking options.

I’ve always preferred state and national park camping facilities over private campgrounds. They’re typically well-maintained, and the sites are spaced apart (so I can easily set up an antenna!).

Cabin #5

The camping area at Gorges is one of the nicest I’ve ever seen. It’s all very new. The cabins and shower/bathroom building are only two years old.

The weekend, overall, was warm during the day and cool at night with periods of rain. We both felt pretty happy we’d picked a cabin for the weekend–packing up wet camping gear is never all that fun!

Saturday morning, Mike and I planned to do a bit of hiking, and I wanted to fit in a short activation.

Picnic Shelter Activation

At one of the trailheads for a short hike, we found a spacious picnic shelter. Despite the amazing weather that morning, there was no one else at the shelter.

I scoped out the trees around the perimeter of the shelter, and most were pretty small trees with larger trees behind them. I decided that it would be easier to simply deploy my Chelgence MC-750 vertical.

I brought three radios along on this camping trip: my TR-45L Skinny, Icom IC-705, and Elecraft KH1. I chose the Skinny for this activation!

TR-45L Padded Case

In this video, I speak briefly about the padded case John (WA3RNC) sent me to evaluate for the TR-45L series radios.

The padded camera bag is an ideal size for both the Skinny and normal version of the TR-45L, and the price is right at $19.95 plus $5.50 (domestic) shipping.

Yesterday, I shot a quick video showing the bag and how the TR-45L fits inside:

John has a limited number of these bags, so if you’re interested, you would want to purchase one sooner rather than later. Also worth noting again that John is retiring.


Note: All Amazon, CW Morse, ABR, Chelegance, eBay, and Radioddity links are affiliate links that support at no cost to you.

Trouble in Paradise

After setting up the Skinny, I discovered something that would plague me throughout most of Gorges State Park: QRM.

Driving into the park for the first time, Mike and I both noticed the only blemish in what was otherwise a gorgeous site: high-tension power lines. In truth, they didn’t detract from the beauty much, but those lines ran right through the park, and I did worry about QRM.

Sadly, I had reason to worry. At both this site and at the campground about 2 miles away, there was a persistent arcing noise that covered the entire HF spectrum. It raised the noise floor to about S5 or S6.

I know that arcing sound all too well because one of the vacation homes we rent near Québec City is located about two miles from high-tension lines. You can’t see them from the house, but that noise blankets the area. There’s really no escape.

I have a note to actually call Duke Energy and report the arcing I heard at Gorges, but this wasn’t something that was going to be resolved that weekend!

Good thing the TR-45L audio is robust–it makes the arcing noise a bit more tolerable.

On The Air

I hopped on the air, started calling CQ POTA, and within nine minutes had worked the ten stations needed to validate this new-to-me park.

The goal at this site was to keep the activation short, so I only worked four more stations to give me a total of 14.

I’m sure there were some weak stations below the noise floor, but fortunately, there were also many strong stations I could hear.


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.

Still a brilliant activation

Despite the QRM, I must say that this was a very enjoyable activation!

The TR-45L Skinny is such a pleasant radio to operate. As I mentioned earlier, the robust audio makes the fatiguing sound of powerline arching much easier on the ears.

In my next activation video from Gorges State Park, I use some of the advanced DSP and noise-blanking built into my IC-705 to help mitigate the QRM. Stay tuned!

Thank you

Thank you for joining me during this 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 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 makes 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!
Cheers & 72,

6 thoughts on “Pairing the TR-45L Skinny and the MC-750 at Gorges State Park!”

  1. Nice report, Thomas. Love to watch these with my morning coffee.

    I received my TR-45L Skinny a couple of days ago — haven’t taken it out to the field yet, but I did bring it into the shack & broke a pile-up on a WY POTA with my mighty 5W…power is overrated! And, you’re right…the audio is amazing!

    Looking forward to paring it with my MC-750.

    73, Vic

  2. Well maintained power lines need not be noisy. I’m extremely fortunate to have very quiet Duke energy power lines only a couple hundred yards away. See the photo on my QRZ page. They are so quiet that my TR45-L’s noise floor is below where the S-meter starts moving.

    Discounting the QRM, that is a beautiful park.

  3. Enjoyed your video as always, Thomas. I believe I got into your log the next day during your Mar. 17 activation from Gorges SP. I happened to hear you when I was hunting for a short time that Sunday. 72, Paul — N4FTD

  4. The link for the Chelegance antenna doesn’t seem to be working. I also noticed on the last video you did with this antenna. Just want to make sure you’re getting the benefit.

    Ken – WR7D

    1. Thank you so much for letting me know that. I’ve fixed it in this post and for future posts. Seems they changed at least on character in their URL.


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