Tag Archives: TR-45L Skinny

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

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” 

WA3RNC introduces the Penntek TR-45L “Skinny” and reservation form

Photos by WA3RNC

Many thanks to John (AE5X) who notes that John (WA3RNC) has release information about his new TR-45L “Skinny” design. 

Here’s the information WA3RNC shares on the Penntek website along with an update about the kit version of the TR-45L (non-skinny version):

TR-45L Kit Version Update

The kit version has been delayed for the time being due to several (most) beta builders experiencing frustration with the process of assembling the front panel onto the main board with 15 loose and unsoldered switches, jacks, and controls. These issues indicate that the TR-45L kit version will most likely be offered as a semi-kit with the main board being largely factory assembled, leaving the pre-aligned plug-in RF board in kit form. The internal battery option would be available in this kit version, but not the Z-Match ATU.

TR-45L Skinny (left) TR-45L (right)

A second kit version in a thinner housing is also being considered (see the TR-45L “Skinny” photos). This version would be offered with no options available (other than a $20.00 tilt bail) as there is no room inside the thinner housing for the internal battery nor the ATU option. It does, however, contain an internal speaker. Unfortunately, while greatly simplifying construction, these semi-kits will erode the normally expected cost savings with a kit. The best guess price for these TR-45L semi-kits would be around $500.00. We welcome your thoughts and opinions on these semi-kit concepts.

For those interested in signing up for the reservation list, you can use the reservation form linked here. Be advised, it could take up to 6-8 weeks until they are ready to be shipped.

The TR-45L has been a long time coming, and I thank you for your patience during the development cycles with parts procurement issues due to the covid pandemic. Let’s hope that the ugly covid experience is behind us…

In a nutshell, the TR-45L Skinny will simply be a TR-45L in a skinnier chassis with no option for an internal battery nor Z-Match ATU, but will still have an internal speaker. 

For those of you who don’t care for the Z-match or internal battery, the TR-45L Skinny will certainly be more portable and less bulky than the original TR-45L.

I suspect the performance will be identical. I’m sure the internal speaker will work well, but I will be curious if it sounds as full-fidelity as the original TR-45L. I might ask John for a loaner to check it out once released!

Again, if interested in this variant of the TR-45L, you might wish to fill out the reservation form.