Tag Archives: Chelegance MC-750

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” 

Out Of My Element: An Urban POTA activation at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial

It’s funny, but until September 7, 2023, I had never activated one of the closest POTA sites to my home: the Thomas Wolfe Memorial (K-6853).

I remember back in 2020 when I really kicked my POTA activations into high gear, I made a spreadsheet of all of the POTA sites within a 2 hour drive of the QTH and started activating them one by one.

At the time, almost 50-60%, or possibly more, had never been activated. Keep in mind that in early 2020, POTA had a wee fraction of the activity it has today.

It was a lot of fun especially considering those were the early days of the pandemic and it was just nice to get out and about. Any excuse, right?

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial is on North Market Street in Asheville, NC.

One of the parks on my list was the Thomas Wolfe Memorial but being a small historic site in an urban setting, they were closed for quite some time during the pandemic. There was nothing to stop me from walking on the site–or pulling up in their parking lot–and doing an activation while they were closed, but I just didn’t feel like it should be fair game when closed.

Then restrictions loosened up and, frankly, I just sort of forgot about it.

I tend to activate parks in rural areas and I am prone to overlook urban sites (although quite a few of my activations in Canada last year were urban).

Thomas Wolfe Memorial (K-6853)

On Thursday, September 7, 2023, I dropped off my daughters at school then made my way to a doctor’s appointment. I arrived at the office, gave them my name at the front desk, and then they reminded me that we had re-scheduled this particular appointment for later in the month.

Doh! I forgot to make the change in my calendar.

All of the sudden, I had a bit more free time!

Of course, I always fill free time with POTA activations, and I already had radio gear in the car, so it was only a matter of deciding where to go.

I called the Vance Historic Birthplace (about a 25 minute drive) to see if they were busy. Their director (who I know quite well at this point) told me that a large group was on the site, but would be gone by 1:30. That timing didn’t work for me, so I consulted the POTA map.

Since the POTA site used my coordinates to find the closest park, I was reminded that K-6853 was a mere 3 minute drive from the doctor’s office. I could have walked there.

I gave the site a call to ask for permission (again, I always do this for small historic sites) and they told me I’d be most welcome.

The site is on a small urban lot and consists of two buildings: the visitors’ center, and the Old Kentucky Home boarding house. Continue reading Out Of My Element: An Urban POTA activation at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial

A beautiful (and hot) day for a QRP SOTA activation on Bearwallow Mountain!

Tuesday, September 5, 2023, was a gorgeous day. A hot day, but a beautiful one!

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fit in a quick SOTA activation and the most accessible summit that day was Bearwallow Mountain.

Bearwallow Mountain (W4C/CM-068)

I was in South Asheville all day, so Bearwallow was only about a 25 minute detour.

Since it was a Tuesday in the latter part of the morning, there were few others parked at the trailhead. Had it been a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday? It can be difficult to find a parking spot. Indeed, the previous day (Labor Day) I’m sure it was packed!

I practically had the place to myself, though.

The hike up was most enjoyable although it was hot and humid, so sweaty I became.

That said–and I think I even say this in the activation video below–I really wished the hike was a bit longer. The Bearwallow trail is maybe a mile long.

I wanted a longer hike, but in truth, didn’t have the time for one anyway.

Bearwallow’s summit is a large pasture. It does offer up some spectacular long-range views.

Bearwallow is also home to a lot of comms towers including a number of local repeaters.

I found a nice, flat rock, set up my chair, and deployed my Chelegance MC-750 vertical. Continue reading A beautiful (and hot) day for a QRP SOTA activation on Bearwallow Mountain!

Pairing the Yaesu FT-817ND and Chelegance MC-750 at South Mountains State Park

After completing a lively little POTA activation at Lake James State Park (K-2723) and then Table Rock Fish Hatchery (K-8012) on the morning of Monday, July 31, 2023, I decided to squeeze in one more POTA adventure on what became a mini rove.

Since nearby Tuttle Educational State Forest is closed on Mondays in the summer, I chose to visit South Mountains State Park (K-2753) instead–it was only a few minutes further afield than Tuttle.

After leaving Table Rock, I picked up a quick lunch in Morganton and drove to the main entrance of South Mountains and set up at the equestrian picnic area.

South Mountains State Park (K-2753)


The weather that day was beautiful and so was the drive.

I decided to deploy my Chelegance MC-750 this time, just to shake things up a bit. If you know me, when I do little roves like this, I typically like to use different radios and/or antennas at each site.

I paired the MC-750 with my Yaesu FT-817ND. My reasoning for picking the ‘817 was because I could use the SO-239 connection on the back of the radio. The new cable assembly/feedline I was using had PL-259s on each end.

Speaking of the new assembly, at the Dayton Hamvention this year, I popped by the ABR Industries booth and Chuck gave me (full disclosure–at no cost to me) a new product to test in the field: a 20 foot PL-259 to PL-259 assembly made with their ABR240-UF cable and with 5 in-line ferrites. What makes this cable unique is that it sports a bright orange flexible webbed jacketing which makes it very easy to see on the ground.

They’ve been informally calling it their “POTA cable.” I immediately knew why this would appeal to POTA ops: one of my constant fears is that someone will unknowingly trip on my feedline while I’m in the middle of an activation. Black coax cable on the ground is very difficult to see (I’ve even tripped on my own lines)–this high visibility jacketing makes cable very conspicuous. Just check out the photos above. Continue reading Pairing the Yaesu FT-817ND and Chelegance MC-750 at South Mountains State Park

A Speedy QRP POTA Activation of the President James K. Polk State Historic Site

On the morning of Tuesday, July 25, 2023, I packed an overnight bag, grabbed my Elecraft KX2 and Chelegance MC-750 then drove to Charlotte, NC.

I go to Charlotte very rarely these days, but somehow in July of this year, I managed two separate visits. Before that, I think I was last there four years ago to catch a flight to Denver.

My main excuse for visiting Charlotte on the 25th was to give a presentation at the Mecklenburg Amateur Radio Society’s monthly meeting.

Since I was in Charlotte for most of the afternoon, I also used it as an opportunity to do a bit of car shopping and test driving. Very soon, I’ll have two new drivers in the family, so we plan to add another vehicle to the mix sometime within the next few months.

While driving to Charlotte I contacted the President James K. Polk State Historic Site. I had never visited this site before so wasn’t sure what to expect. I did a bit of research Monday evening and discovered that their hours were from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM; typical hours for NC State Historic sites.

I knew my schedule would be tight. The park is located on the south west side of Charlotte (in Pineville) and my 3:00 test drive was in the north east part of Charlotte. If you’ve ever driven in Charlotte, you’ll know that driving times are unpredictable once 4:00 hits. I figured I might not arrive until 4:30 or later.

En route to Charlotte, I called the park to ask for permission to do an activation. Anytime I plan to activate a smaller park like a historic site, I always seek permission first from the park staff in advance. Often, they have restrictions about where you can set up and the types of antennas you can use (some historic and archaeological sites, for example, don’t allow any stakes in the ground or lines in trees).

The park staff gave me a thumbs up to do the activation. I didn’t expect them to deny me because this particular park has been activated over 150 times. No doubt, it’s so popular because it’s the closest park to the Charlotte metro area.

I then asked the staff if they closed all of the park grounds at 5:00 or only the visitor’s center. My hope was that, like the Vance Historic Site, they left the park gates open after hours. Unfortunately, the staff member confirmed that they do indeed close the entire site at 5:00, but he added, “you can certainly do your activation up to closing time, though.” He knew I would be pressed for time to fit in this activation.

Fortunately, I made good time to Charlotte and actually was able to bump up my appointments. I finished my last test drive a little after 3:00 and made a beeline for the park.

I arrived on site around 4:00 PM.

President James K. Polk State Historic Site (K-6848)

Before hitting the picnic area, I walked into the visitor’s center to ask where they prefer that I set up. Plus, I wanted to check out some of the displays in the museum!

I chatted with the park staff for a good 15 minutes or so. They were incredibly kind and very familiar with POTA (of course). They were especially familiar with my buddy Max (WG4Z) who lives nearby and activates the site frequently. He’s evidently been a great POTA ambassador!

Having spent so much time in the visitor’s center, I was only left with 45 minutes to complete my activation from setup to pack-up. Continue reading A Speedy QRP POTA Activation of the President James K. Polk State Historic Site

Tu-Endie-Wei State Park: Low-impact QRP fun and one speedy P2P confirmation!

On Wednesday, May 17, 2023, I did something I hadn’t done since 2019: I woke up, hopped in the car, and started my journey to the Four Days In May and the Dayton Hamvention!

It’s about a seven hour drive from my QTH directly to Dayton, but in the 12+ times I’ve attended Hamvention, I’ve never actually driven there directly. Instead, I drive to Athens, Ohio, spend the evening with my buddy Eric (WD8RIF) and his family, pack one car, then carpool to Dayton.

Heading to Athens, I like to time my drive so that I pass through Beckley, West Virginia around noon and enjoy a fine lunch at Tamarack Marketplace. It’s always a nice reward after spending a little over four hours in the car.

This year, I enjoyed local almond-crusted rainbow trout, braised kale, and dill pickle soup. I know…dill pickle soup sounds a bit strange, but trust me: it was exquisite. The food at Tamarack is always top-shelf because the chefs behind the scenes are training for positions at the famous Greenbriar Resort.

Park en route

Of course, another way to break up the trip and add a little fun is to activate a park. I decided I wanted to activate a new-to-me park not too far off my route, so I consulted the regional POTA expert: WD8RIF.

Eric is an avid park activator and has hit pretty much every park within a three hour drive of his QTH. He made a few suggestions, and I opted for Tu-Endie-Wei State Park in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

Tu-Endie-Wei State Park (K-1823)

Tu-Endie-Wei is a small, four acre state park, situated at the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio rivers in Point Pleasant, WV. Indeed, the name “Tu-Endie-Wei” is a Wyandotte word meaning “point between two waters.” Continue reading Tu-Endie-Wei State Park: Low-impact QRP fun and one speedy P2P confirmation!

Choosing between the Chameloeon MPAS Lite and Chelegance MC-750 vertical antennas

The Chameleon MPAS Lite

Over the past few months I’ve been asked by a number of readers and subscribers about the differences between the Chameleon MPAS Lite and the Chelegance MC-750.

More specifically, folks who are looking for this type of portable HF antenna want to know which one they should buy. I have difficulty answering questions like this in an email or comment because I need to understand the operator first.

At the end of the day, both of these antennas are excellent choices; the decision has more to do with your own personal preferences and how you see yourself using the antenna.

Why buy a vertical?

The Chelegance MC-750

I believe every serious field operator ought to have at least one vertical antenna option available. Depending on where you’re operating, verticals might not be the highest-performing antenna you could deploy, but they may be the most convenient and rapid to deploy. Then again, if you’re sitting on the beach at the ocean or sea, a vertical can be a phenomenal DX antenna.

Verticals aren’t terribly difficult to build. In fact, one of the first field antennas I built many years ago was a 20 meter vertical, albeit with wires instead of telescoping whips.  That said, it’s difficult for some of us to build something as high quality and as durable as a commercially-produced vertical antenna system.

Both the MC-750 and MPAS Lite antennas are high-quality and very quick to deploy. I reach for them frequently because I often have only a short time on the air and any time saved setting up the antenna usually leads to more SOTA and POTA contacts.

MC-750 / MPAS Lite Comparison

Instead of writing a full article about the differences, I made a video where I discuss these two antennas at length. My focus and goal being to help those who are trying to make a purchase decision.

At the end of the day, I don’t think you could go wrong with either antenna system, but I do do think one may suit you slightly better based on your operating style and goals.



Click here to view on YouTube.

Below, I’ve also listed some key features and specs of both antennas along with links that you might find helpful:

Chelegance MC-750

  • Price: $179 + $50 shipping (via Chelegance)
  • Whip length: 5.2 Meters/17.06 Feet
  • Counterpoise: Quantity of four 11.48 foot counterpoises
  • Frequency range: 40M – 6M
  • Resonance markings: Yes (save 30M and 6M on current version)
  • Carry case: Yes, padded case included with purchases
  • Product manual (PDF)
  • Product Link

Chameleon MPAS Lite

  • Price: $360.00 (via Chameleon)
  • Whip length: 5.18 Meters/17 Feet
  • Counterpoise: 60 feet of tinned copper KEVLAR PTFE
  • Frequency range: 160M – 6M
  • Resonance markings: No
  • Carry case: No (Optional large backpack from Chameloen)
  • Includes 50 feet of high-quality coax with inline RF choke
  • Product manual (PDF)
  • Product Link

POTA/SOTA Activation Video Playlists:

SOTA on Hibriten Mountain: Testing my new backpack and working a little QRP DX!

On Friday, April 28, 2023, the clouds lifted and I was eager to fit in a brisk hike.

We’d had a few days of wet weather and, in fact, the previous day I performed a POTA activation with my entire station and antenna under the roof of a picnic shelter.

I was visiting my parents and didn’t want to venture too far afield, but still wanted to fit in a good summit activation. The goal was to stretch my legs and to test my Mystery Ranch Scree 32 backpack. Before taking this pack on a difficult summit hike, I thought it might make sense to check the pack’s suspension and fit with it loaded down a bit heavier than I normally would.

This would actually be my second SOTA activation with the Scree 32 pack (here’s the first) but on that first hike, the pack was so light, I barely noticed it was on my back.

Hibriten Mountain (W4C/EM-093)

Hibriten was an easy choice for the day. It’s only a 25 minute drive from my parents’ home and the trail has modest elevation change over the 5.6 mile round trip hike.

The trail is basically a wide, gravel access road for the crews who maintain the communication towers on Hibriten’s summit.

I remembered from my previous activation of Hibriten that the hike was very pleasant.

It certainly was that Friday!

It wasn’t a terribly hot day, but it was very humid as the sun burned off all of the rain we’d received over previous days.

I hiked at a brisk clip to make the most of my workout and, if I’m being honest, I was pretty darn happy to see the summit. Continue reading SOTA on Hibriten Mountain: Testing my new backpack and working a little QRP DX!

Rainy Day POTA: Setting up the Chelegance MC-750 Vertical Antenna Inside a Picnic Shelter?

On Thursday, April 27, 2023, it was pouring rain, so the perfect time for a little POTA, right–?


Actually, I had an idea: in the past, I’ve been known to play POTA under the roof of a picnic shelter on rainy days. I’ve even been known to use my AX1 antenna inside the shelter, under a metal roof. Quite a few times, actually.

Of course, it’s not optimal to operate with your antenna under a metal roof, but with POTA? Let’s just say that you can get away with a lot of less-than-optimal antenna deployments.

That’s the benefit of being the DX!

The MC-750 Tripod

An in-the-shelter activation was also the perfect opportunity to test the new Chelegance tripod that fits both the MC-750 and the JPC-12.

A number of readers have reached out asking about this tripod, so when Jesse at Chelegance asked if I’d like to test it, I agreed to do so.

To be clear, he sent this to me at no cost for evaluation. It’s actually quite affordable ($30 on the Chelegance website, $40 at DX Engineering, for example) so purchasing it would have been easy enough, but Jesse also wanted me to evaluate their new FT-818 ATU, so he sent both at the same time (you’ll see the ATU in a future field report).

The tripod feels very sturdy and is simple to deploy. It’s also a little heavy, so keep that in mind if you plan to pack it in for a long SOTA hike.

A number of you have purchased this tripod and have only had positive comments. I now see why.

I speak about this in more detail in the activation video below.

Lake Norman State Park (K-2740)

I decided that it had been too long since I had activated Lake Norman State Park, so I hopped in the car and headed to Troutman, NC! Lake Norman has a number of picnic shelters and covered areas thus a very safe bet.

It was a rainy day so, of course, I pulled into the Lake Norman picnic area only to find one other car there. In fact, by the time I had taken my backpack to the picnic shelter, that other park visitor appeared at a trailhead, hopped in her car, and left.

The picnic shelter sign wasn’t set to “reserved” either, so it looked like I had a green light to claim it for POTA! Continue reading Rainy Day POTA: Setting up the Chelegance MC-750 Vertical Antenna Inside a Picnic Shelter?

Snagging a little POTA QRP DX with the Chelegance MC-750 and Xiegu G106

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to give the Xiegu G106 a thorough workout in the field. This little HF QRP radio is on loan to me from Radioddity who has very kindly been quite flexible about the loan period.

I want to give the G106 a fair shake-out because I believe it must be the least expensive multi-mode, full HF coverage transceiver on the market. Field ops are always looking for portable, affordable, effective radios to take to the field so many are considering the G106.

Of course, you simply can’t get benchmark performance out of a low-cost leader.

My full review of the Xiegu G106 will be in the May 2023 issue of The Spectrum Monitor magazine. It’s one of the longest reviews I’ve published in TSM because I try to fully explore the pros and cons of this pint size rig in order that pretty much anyone can make a purchase decision based on their own preferences and requirements.


On Saturday, March 18, 2023, I  decided to take the G106 out for a very brief activation during a return trip to my QTH.

My park of choice was Tuttle Educational State Forest (K-4861) because it’s conveniently located, is an excellent POTA site, and I wanted to fit in a quick hike as well. Tuttle’s two mile loop fit the bill perfectly.

When I arrived at the park entrance, however, the gates were closed. I had double checked Tuttle’s schedule in advance and was under the impression that they had started opening the park on Saturdays again for the season.

I really wanted to fit in a decent hike so the next logical park choice was Lake James State Park. It didn’t require a major detour and I was certain it would be open.

Lake James State Park (K-2739)

Lake James has two major access points: the Paddy’s Creek Access and Catawba River Access.

I prefer the Catawba River Access even though it’s much smaller than Paddy’s Creek. For one thing, it’s always less busy and they’ve better spots to set up for POTA (since I like hanging wires trees more often than not). Although the Catawba River access lacks the trail network found at Paddy’s Creek, they do have a few trails that can be stitched together for a nice workout.

Lake James State Park Map Catawba River Access

After arriving at the park, I put on my hiking boots and walked the Fox Den Loop and a bit of the Lake Channel Overlook.

I hiked back to my car, ate a bite of lunch, then grabbed my radio gear for some cheap POTA fun!

Higher Bands

The great thing about the G106 compared with some of my more affordable QRP radios (MTR-3B, SW-3B, R4020, TR-35, etc.) is that it’s not limited to CW and it covers all bands from 80 to 10 meters. Continue reading Snagging a little POTA QRP DX with the Chelegance MC-750 and Xiegu G106