Raddy RF75A Shortwave Radio

Since I purchased the Raddy RF750 Portable Multimedia Player a year ago, it has become my favorite portable receiver. So, when the folks at Radioddity asked me if I’d like to have a look at a new upgraded version, I jumped on it. The new radio is the Radioddity RF75A Shortwave Radio, and it includes some interesting new features.

[Disclaimer: In the interest of full disclosure, Radioddity sent this radio to me free of charge to evaluate and review. However, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own and were not influenced by the vendor.]

What It’s All About?

Like its predecessor, the RF75A is a multimedia device. It covers the AM, FM, Shortwave, Weather, and VHF bands. In addition, you can play audio files from a micro SD card. In Bluetooth mode, it’ll play audio from an external source. You can also connect a computer to the USB connector and use the RF75A as a speaker.

Some specs from the Raddy Website include:

FM: 64-108MHZ (Step Value: US: 10KHZ, EU: 9KHZ)
AM: 520 -1710 KHz
SW: 4.75 – 21.85 MHz
WB: 162.400 – 162.550 MHz
VHF: 30 – 199.975 MHz
TF Card Max Capacity: Max 256GB
Audio Format: MP3, WAV, WMA
Size/Weight: 3.6’’ x 2’’ x 1” / 3.7 oz
Components & Accessories: 1 x RF75A, 1 x Storage bag, 1 x Lanyard, 1 x Wire antenna, 1 x Type-C cable, 1 x Earphone

The internal 1000mAh battery is charged via a USB-C connector, which is handy for a portable radio. The RF75A also has a built-in flashlight and an “SOS” mode. In the SOS mode, the flashlight flashes and the radio emits an ear-piercing siren. 

At the time this post was written, the RF75A was selling on the Radioddity website for $52.99 (USD).

The Raddy RF75A from Radioddity
The Raddy RF75A from Radioddity

Major Improvements in the RF75A

While the basic functions of the RF75A and RF750 are similar, there are some big changes in the RF75A. The first thing you’ll notice is the digital display and digital tuning. I found the analog tuning on the RF750 a little touchy and the frequencies hard to read. The RF75A’s digital tuning makes tuning much easier. 

One interesting improvement in the RF75A is an app that lets you control the radio from your smartphone over a Bluetooth connection. While the RF75A is pretty simple to operate as it is, the app makes it even easier.

Screenshot of the RF75A Android app, which allows you to control the radio from your smartphone.
Screenshot of the RF75A Android app, which allows you to control the radio from your smartphone.

My Impressions

The first thing that struck me is the RF75A’s small size. It’s smaller than an Altoids tin and thinner than the RF750, so it’ll easily fit in your pocket. 

The Raddy RF75A (left) compared to the RF750. Besides the digital display and controls, the RF75A has a slimmer profile making it more "pocket friendly."
The Raddy RF75A (left) compared to the RF750. Besides the digital display and controls, the RF75A has a slimmer profile making it more “pocket friendly.”

Like the earlier radio, the sound quality is impressive. Listening to the FM band, the sound through the speaker has a rich sound you wouldn’t expect from such a small radio. The supplied earbuds are comfortable and also sound great to these old ears. The RF75A seems to have a little less bass than the RF750, but the sound is still very good.

I found the reception on the AM broadcast band to be very good, easily pulling in local stations. Because of high noise levels, my home location isn’t the best place for testing the shortwave bands. However, using the scan function, I was able to find several shortwave stations. I should note that the RF75A only receives in AM on the shortwave bands. So, if you want to listen to SSB or CW signals, you’ll have to look elsewhere. It comes with an antenna wire (approximately 10 feet long) that you can clip onto the built-in antenna to improve reception.

On the VHF band, I programmed in some local 2M repeaters and a few public service frequencies to test it out. Using the buttons on the radio, I found the tuning steps too coarse to zero in on some frequencies. Using the app, however, it was a simple task to enter the frequencies and save them as presets. Reception was good, but there’s no squelch setting. So, you’ll hear some background noise between transmissions. 

The memory card function works great and gives you a choice of four different play modes. I set it to play my MP3 files in random order. You can also choose from six different EQ settings. Using the RF75A’s Bluetooth mode, I was able to pair it to my cell phone and play audio files that way.

I also tested the alarm function. I like having the option to have the radio turn on instead of sounding an alarm. The alarm sound is a loud series of beeps, so I’d rather wake up to music. 

The smartphone app is easy to install and makes it easy to operate the radio (especially for my old eyes). The Android version of the app, however, requires the manual download and installation of a .apk file. I would feel safer getting the app through the Google Play store, instead of downloading it from an unfamiliar website. Apple iPhone users, however, can get the app from the Apple app store. 

Once installed, the app requires access to your phone’s location in order to pair with the RF75A. I’m not sure why the Bluetooth pairing depends on location. In any event, I only allow access to the phone’s location when I’m actually using the app, and I close the app when I’m not using it.

While the Operational Guidelines booklet provided with the radio is sufficient to get you up and running, it’s not without some issues. The wording is confusing in some places, and I came across a few errors and formatting issues. Despite these editorial shortcomings, I had no problems figuring out how to use the radio. 

The Radioddity website claims 7-8 hours of use from the 1000mAh battery. I haven’t actually measured it, but that seems about right. The USB-C charging port is handy, too. I can charge it using my cellphone charger or a portable power bank when I’m camping.

The last function I evaluated was one of the more important features for me: the weather alert function. To test it out, I set up the RF75A in the “Alert” mode in time for the weekly NOAA Weather Radio test. The alarm went off as expected, and boy, did it ever go off! Like the RF750, the weather alert triggers an extremely loud siren. Along with the siren, the light on top of the RF75A flashes, just like the SOS mode. I really wish there was the option to just activate the weather radio in response to an alert. Or, at the very least, be able to adjust the volume of the siren. As it is, I can’t imagine using it in a campground at night.

The Bottom Line (for me, at least)

All in all, I really like this little radio. It’s small in size, weighs next to nothing, and sounds great. I like that it’s simple to operate without having to navigate through a bunch of menu options. The smartphone app is a terrific improvement that further simplifies things.

Since I received it, the RF75A has seen a lot of use around the house, and I plan to take it along on camping trips and travel. Now, if there was only a way to tone down that weather alert, I’d be a very happy camper. 

73, Craig WB3GCK

Bike-Portable with the AX1

Inspired by some blogs I follow, I’ve recently dusted off my Elecraft AX1 antenna and started putting it to use. Until now, I’ve kept it stashed away in my backpack as a backup antenna that I’ve never needed.

So far, I’ve used this versatile little antenna a couple of ways. Most recently, I’ve used it with an old window mount, while operating “stationary-mobile” in my truck. I’ve also used it while “picnic table portable,” using an Elecraft AXT1 tripod mount and my little Ultrapod tripod. If I’m using my KX3, I can use the AXB1 BiPod Mount to support the antenna.

One other use case I wanted to address is operating “bicycle portable.” If I’m out on a bike ride and stop for some radio, it would be handy to use the bike to support the AX1. Browsing around on eBay, I came across an interesting camera mount clamp that looked like it might work well with the AXT1.  

I found this gizmo listed as a “clamp mount ball head” from a company called, SmallRig. It’s a clamp with a standard ¼-20 camera mount, and it works perfectly with the AXT1 tripod adapter. I can fasten the clamp to the handlebars, to give the AX1 some elevation. I would post a link for the clamp, but eBay listings come and go too fast. However, if you search for “clamp mount ball head,” you should find lots of them from a variety of sellers.

This is the camera clamp I used. When coupled with the Elecraft AXT1 tripod mount, it made for a very versatile mount for my AX1 antenna.
This is the camera clamp I used. When coupled with the Elecraft AXT1 tripod mount, it made for a very versatile mount for my AX1 antenna.

To test it out, I packed my radio gear and headed out for my first bike ride of the year. I rode a few miles on the Schuylkill River and Perkiomen trails to a local park. 

The AX1 mounted on the handlebars of my bike.
The AX1 mounted on the handlebars of my bike.

I set up my TR-35 on a bench in the picnic area and mounted the AX1 on the handlebars of my bike. Even with the bike leaning, the clamp’s adjustable swivel allowed me to keep the antenna vertical. I used two radials clipped to the AXT1 tripod adapter with an alligator clip. A six-foot length of RG-8x coax was more than enough to reach the rig. I was on the air in about 3 minutes.

My setup in the park with my AX1 bike mount. I used two 12.5-foot radials attached to the AXT1 tripod mount with an alligator clip.
My setup in the park with my AX1 bike mount. I used two 12.5-foot radials attached to the AXT1 tripod mount with an alligator clip.

The T1 tuner easily tuned up on the 20M band. During my brief stop in the park, I worked POTA stations in Virginia, Illinois, and Georgia. Pleased with my new bike mount, I packed up and continued on my ride. 

I have a feeling I’ll be taking this handy antenna setup along on more bike rides in the future. 

72, Craig WB3GCK

More Fun with the AX1 Antenna

Sometimes, you just have to be flexible. Originally, I had planned to do some bike riding today and experiment with a bike mount I cobbled together for my Elecraft AX1 antenna. However, Mother Nature decided to throw some freezing temperatures at me today. Instead of a cold bike ride, I opted for a more comfortable “stationary-mobile” POTA activation.

I loaded up my gear and made the quick trip to nearby Evansburg State Park (K-1351). My setup today was similar to the one I used a couple weeks ago. I used my AX1 antenna on a window mount. The rig today was my PennTek TR-35 (5 watts), coupled with an Elecraft T1 tuner. The TR-35 limited my operation to the 20M and 17M bands. With this simple setup, I was on the air within a couple of minutes of arriving. 

My window-mounted AX1 antenna
My window-mounted AX1 antenna

Contacts on 20M came as easily today as my last activation with the window mounted AX1. I had my first 10 contacts in about 15 minutes. I was pleased to get a call from K4SWL down in North Carolina. Thomas has a bunch of recent posts on the AX1 over at qrper.com. Of course, I had to let him know I was using an AX1 today.

The organized chaos in the cab of my truck, which includes my PennTek TR-35 and Elecraft T1 ATU.
The organized chaos in the cab of my truck, which includes my PennTek TR-35 and Elecraft T1 ATU.

After logging 20 contacts on 20M, I changed over to 17M. I didn’t have as much luck, but I made four contacts there. After that, I went back to 20M to make a couple of park-to-park contacts. My last contact was with WA3GM. Greg is a local ham who is spending some time in Florida and was activating a park down there.

I shut down after an hour of operating with 26 contacts in the log including 3 park-to-park contacts.That exactly matched the results from my last activation with the AX1. This little antenna never ceases to amaze me.

Hopefully, we’ll get some more moderate temperatures this week, so I can finally get that bike ride in.

72, Craig WB3GCK

Samurai Tactical Wakizashi Backpack

Over the past couple of years, some knee issues have slowed me down. My new knee joint resolved those issues, and life is getting back to normal—as normal as my life gets, I suppose. Anyway, I’m planning to get back to doing some light hiking this year as the weather improves. With that in mind, I bought a new backpack to use on day hikes.

For the past four years, I have been using the Rambler sling pack from Red Rock. It has been—and still is—a great backpack. It has plenty of storage for hauling a radio and accessories out to the field, and it is one sturdy, well-built pack. My only issue with it is that it is a sling pack. For short trips, it’s fine. But, for longer trips, having all the weight on one shoulder feels a bit “lopsided” to me. If I could have the same pack with two shoulder straps, I would be a happy camper (hiker).

A while back, I came across the Wakizashi backpack from Samurai Tactical and saved it to my Amazon wishlist. The Wakizashi is similar in size to my Rambler sling pack. While it has fewer storage pockets than my sling pack, it has more than enough storage for my needs. (I tend to carry too much stuff with me anyway.) 

When I purchased it, the Wakizashi backpack in black was selling for a mere $24 (USD). (Other colors are available at slightly higher prices.) For that price, if I didn’t like it, I could always give it to one of the grand-kids. The average ratings were 4.6 out of 5, so I took a chance and placed an order.

I should also note that I have no financial interest here; I paid for the backpack with my own funds. Also, the Amazon link above is not an affiliate link.

Amazon delivered the pack to a neighbor’s porch a few days later. I had to wander the neighborhood in the rain to find it. Not cool, Amazon. 

I wasn’t expecting much for a $24 backpack, but I was pleasantly surprised. For a cheap backpack, it seems well built. A few of the many reviews complained of poor stitching and general issues with quality. I saw none of that in the item I received. Mine was well-built, and the material appears to be durable enough. 

Samurai Wakizashi backpack. The patches and HT pouch were added by me.
Samurai Tactical Wakizashi backpack. The patches and HT pouch were added by me.

The pack measures 17.1 x 11.1 x 6.1 inches with a capacity of 24 liters. There’s a large main compartment and a smaller admin compartment. There are also two smaller compartments near the top of the pack. A side pouch is large enough for a water bottle, and there is plenty of MOLLE webbing on the sides and back. If you’re so inclined, it accommodates a hydration bladder and has a hydration port at the top of the bag.

Samurai Wakizashi backpack shoulder and sternum straps.
Samurai Wakizashi backpack shoulder and sternum straps.

Although the Wakizashi backpack has fewer compartments than my sling pack, there is enough storage to accommodate everything I normally carry in the field. Besides the radio gear, I always carry a small first aid kit, emergency poncho, headlamp, and a few other emergency items. The main compartment is a bit larger, so things that present a tight squeeze in the sling pack fit easily in the Wakizashi. 

I’ve been using this pack for the past couple of months now with no issues. How well it holds up in the long term remains to be seen. For now, anyway, I’m happy with this budget backpack.

73, Craig WB3GCK

Reviving My Old Car Window Mount

Recently, Thomas K4SWL over at QRPer.com featured an excellent guest post from W2AEW describing a car window mount Alan built for his Elecraft AX1 antenna. Inspired by Alan’s post, William KR8L, did some experimenting and came up with his own window mount. These folks got me thinking—a dangerous thing, sometimes.

I remembered a commercially made window mount I bought 25+ years ago. (I think it came from RadioShack, but I’m uncertain of that.) Back then, I was traveling for work a lot, and I usually took my old RadioShack HTX-202 HT along with me. When I was using a rental car, I used the window mount with a rubber duck antenna. When parked, I used a 2M half wave telescopic antenna on it. I hadn’t used it—or seen it—in years. It was somewhere amongst the miscellaneous stuff acquired over my 48 years in ham radio. 

It took a little searching, but after rummaging through some old parts, I found the old window mount. The mount is made of steel with a female BNC connector on it. It also has six feet of RG-58 coax attached. The coax is more than enough to reach the center console of my truck from the passenger side window. 

The old window mount I resurrected from the junk box. The bolt next to the BNC connector is something I added.
The old window mount I resurrected from the junk box. The bolt next to the BNC connector is something I added.

The next task at hand was to figure out a way to connect a counterpoise wire to the mount. The steel mount has a black coating on it, which electrically isolated the BNC connector from the mount. To resolve that, I removed the BNC connector and used a rotary tool to remove some of the coating around the mounting hole. Then, I drilled a hole for a small bolt that I could use as a place to attach an alligator clip for the radials. 

I already had an Elecraft AX1 antenna that I bought years ago when they first came out. I usually carry it in my backpack as a backup antenna, but I really haven’t used it very much. So, I guess it’s time to put it to use.

To see how this setup worked, I drove over to nearby Valley Forge National Historical Park (POTA K-0761) for a brief activation. Along with the AX1 on the window mount, I used two 12.5-foot radials. I have to admit it was nice being able to deploy an antenna in less than a minute. 

My AX1 deployed on the window mount with two radial wires clipped on.
My AX1 deployed on the window mount with two radial wires clipped on.

Back in the truck, I fired up my KX3 running five watts. I was prepared to crank the power up to 10 watts, if need be, but that proved unnecessary. Within a minute of spotting myself, the calls started coming in. The signal reports were decent, and I was seeing some strong hits on the Reverse Beacon Network. It took all of 12 minutes to make my prerequisite ten contacts.

In less than an hour, I had 14 contacts on 20M, nine on 17M, and three on 15M. Among those 26 QSOs, I had one park-to-park contact with a station in Quebec. At one point on 17M, I had a DX station calling. I believe it might have been Italy, but I just couldn’t pull out the entire callsign. My apologies to that station, wherever they were. 

The AX1’s performance was a pleasant surprise. Although it has been in my antenna arsenal for a few years now, I really haven’t given it a serious test. Well, that changed today. It has proven itself to be a worthy antenna choice, when a larger antenna is impractical.

Thanks to W2AEW and KR8L for inspiring me to dust off my old window mount and put it to good use.

72, Craig WB3GCK

Black Widow Pole Quick Fix

During my last POTA activation, the eyelet at the top of my trusty 20-foot Black Widow telescopic pole snapped off. This pole has served me well for over 25 years, so I can’t blame the pole. The Black Widow poles are still available from the manufacturer, so I could have just bought a new one. But hey, what fun would that be?

After staring blankly at the broken pole for a while, I rummaged through my stash of parts and came up with an easy fix. I found a small ring terminal that fit snugly over the top of the pole, so I just glued it on using some Loctite outdoor adhesive. In keeping with my usual practice, I added a small key ring (split ring) to the eyelet replacement. (For more on the rationale for the split ring, check out this post.)

My quick and dirty replacement for the broken eyelet on my Black Widow telescopic pole. I simply glued a ring terminal to the top section of the pole.
My quick and dirty replacement for the broken eyelet on my Black Widow telescopic pole. I simply glued a ring terminal to the top section of the pole.

Well, that was easy enough. Hopefully, this silly little hack will squeeze 25 more years of use left in this old pole. It probably won’t, but a guy can dream, right?

72, Craig WB3GCK

My New Toy

I keep saying that I need another rig like I need a hold in the head. I guess I have a hole in my head, because I recently bought another QRP rig. 

The rig I purchased was a (tr)uSDX transceiver. I had been thinking about getting one of these little rigs for several months before finally giving in and buying one. I placed an order with roWaves in Romania, and, to my surprise, I had it in my hands five days later. 

My new (tr)uSDX transceiver on the air for the first time
My new (tr)uSDX transceiver on the air for the first time

This rig is only about the size of a pack of cigarettes, but it sure packs a lot of functionality in there. I won’t go through all the specs and functions, but it puts out about 5 watts (give or take) and covers 80/60/40/30/20m. It supports CW/LSB/USB/FM/AM, and you can set it up for digital modes, too. 

There are three controls (two push-buttons and a rotary encoder), and they each have multiple functions. So, it’ll take some practice getting this old dog used to the menus and functions. 

I set it up on the bench to fire it up for the first time. I connected it to my Elecraft T1 tuner, which was connected to my rainspout antenna. During this initial session, I logged contacts on 40, 30, and 20M. One of those was a very nice chat on 30M with a fellow SKCC member up in Massachusetts. This little rig held up well in my noisy environment.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to take the (tr)uSDX out in the field over the weekend and give it a whirl. 

73, Craig WB3GCK

Evolve III Maestro E-Book

You’ve most likely heard hams talking about the Evolve III laptop over the past few months. I had been hearing about these little laptops being snapped up at prices as low as $60. Several ARES-RACES colleagues have been happy with them, and there’s even one running 24 x 7 as a VARA FM digipeater in our Emergency Operations Center. So, I had to buy one and judge for myself.

So, what is attracting hams to this laptop? Of course the low price is attractive to frugal hams. It’s also small (11.6-inch display) and light, making it useful for portable operation. Speaking of portable operations, you can charge the Evolve III from a 12-volt DC source. Out in the field, you can charge this laptop from the same type of 12-volt battery used to power your rig. 

Evolve III Maestro E-Book
Evolve III Maestro E-Book

Despite its low cost and small size, it’s a capable little machine. It runs the Windows 10 Pro Education operating system, and has two USB ports and a micro SD memory card slot. A 1.1 GHz Celeron processor runs the laptop, and it has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of data storage. 

Micro Center stores have been selling them for $59.99 with a limit of five per customer. When I checked my local store, they were out of stock, so I bought one on Amazon for about $89. (Still a bargain, I think.) These laptops are obviously clearance items, since the Evolve website shows newer models running Window 11.

My plan for this little laptop is to use it for logging during QRP-portable operations, especially Field Day and Winter Field Day. I also want to use it for digital communications during ARES-RACES exercises and deployments. 

Getting started with the Evolve III was the same as any other Windows 10 device I’ve owned. The initial Windows setup didn’t take long, and I was ready to install some software. I started by installing the software I use for logging, e.g., N3FJP ACLog, SKCC logger, HamRS, N3FJP Field Day Logger, etc. Everything ran without issues. 

Next I installed the software I need for ARES-RACES. First up was Winlink Express, along with VaraFM and SoundModem. Then, I installed the Narrowband Emergency Messaging System (NBEMS) software, i.e., fldigi, flmsg, and flamp. Over the past two weeks, I’ve been making solid connections to a local Winlink node on 2M using VARA FM. The NBEMS software has also been working great during our local ARES-RACES digital nets.

After using the Evolve III daily for the past few weeks, I really like it. The keyboard has a good feel to it, and the display looks good. I used it outdoors in the shade and the display was still readable. You might need to crank up the brightness, though. 

Is it the fastest laptop? No way. Is it fast enough? Absolutely. I’ve heard of hams running FT8 on these things with no issues. You would think the 64GB of storage would be a limitation. However, after installing the ham radio applications I use, I still had about 24GB left. Just in case, I took advantage of the Micro SD card slot and added an extra 128 GB of storage.

I’m really impressed with the battery life. Depending on what I’m doing, I get more than eight hours of operation on a charge. 

Lately, it seems like my house is where computers go to die. I’ve had a laptop and a desktop go belly-up in recent months. Given what I paid for the Evolve III, if it dies, I won’t feel a tremendous loss. 

73, Craig WB3GCK

Giving My Rig the Royal Treatment

Over the years I have accumulated a stash of the bags that Crown Royal whiskey comes in. I don’t drink much hard liquor myself, but I have a relative who enjoys a nip now and then. She knows I have a thing for bags and containers, so she passes them along to me. I graciously accept them, figuring someday I’ll find a good use for them. 

When I take my Penntek TR-35 on the road, I use a repurposed insulated lunch box to carry the radio, an Elecraft T1 tuner, along with a variety of accessories. Pending a better solution to protect the TR-35 from bouncing around, I wrap some bubble wrap around it before placing it in the box.  Decidedly low-tech, but effective.

The Crown Royal bag, along with my TR-35 transceiver
The Crown Royal bag, along with my TR-35 transceiver

The lunch box works great, but it’s a little bulky for my sling pack. So, for hiking, I usually pack the TR-35 loose in the pack, with a rubber band around the bubble wrap. 

The bubble-wrapped TR-35 going in the bag
The bubble-wrapped TR-35 going in the bag

I found that a Crown Royal bag provides a more elegant solution for packing the TR-35 (or other small QRP rig). I just wrap the bubble wrap around the radio and place it in the bag. There’s no longer a need for the rubber band. Plus, there’s enough room in the bag to accommodate the T1 tuner. 

The Crown Royal bag with my TR-35 tucked away inside
The Crown Royal bag with my TR-35 tucked away inside

These bags don’t offer any real protection from the weather, but they look cool. My collection of bags includes a variety of colors, so I can change them to match my mood (just kidding—let’s not get carried away here).

So, there’s a crazy little hack for you to ponder. If you’re a Crown Royal drinker, save the bags. Your radio just might fit in there.

Bottoms up!

73, Craig WB3GCK

Father’s Day with a New Rig

I needed another rig like I needed a hole in the head, but I couldn’t resist. I’ve had my eye on the Penntek TR-35 for a while now, so I finally pulled the trigger and ordered one. I considered it a Father’s Day present to myself. Two days later, I had the TR-35 in my hands.

Lacking the patience and the close-up vision for serious kit building these days, I ordered a factory-built radio with the rotary encoder tuning option. Now, I have seen plenty of pictures and videos of the TR-35, but the small size of this rig really struck me when I opened the box. Its footprint is not much larger than a QSL card. It’s a perfect size for portable operating.

Here are some features that drew me to the TR-35:

  • It covers the bands I use most in the field (40/30/20/17)
  • Built-in iambic mode B keyer (my mode of choice)
  • Two CW memories. Perfect for POTA activations, QRP contests, etc.
  • Separate inputs for paddle and straight key. I sometimes get calls from fellow SKCC members, so it’s convenient to switch instantly to a straight key for those QSOs.
  • No complicated menu structures to navigate to get things set up. The TR-35 is super-simple to operate, and that’s just how I like it. 

The TR-35 doesn’t include a built-in tuner. No worries; I’m going to dust off my little Elecraft T1 ATU and show it some love. An SWR indicator would have been a nice feature to have, but I can get along fine without it. 

Taking It For a Spin

I didn’t have a chance to put my new TR-35 on the air until today. I drove over to Valley Forge National Historical Park (K-0761 and KFF-0761) to try the new rig on a POTA activation. Doing an activation with a radio you’ve never used is a little like going camping with a tent you’ve never set up before. But, what the heck, I was a risk-taker today. Actually, I brought a backup rig along, but I never needed it. 

I set up the TR-35 in the cab of my truck, along with my T1 tuner. The antenna was my homebrew 19-foot vertical on the back of the truck. As soon as I powered up, I was greeted by lots of loud CW signals. That’s a good sign. I quickly programmed a “CQ POTA” message into one of the two CW memories and got on the air.

My TR-35 on its first POTA activation at Valley Forge National Historical Park. My Elecraft T1 tuner is on the right. It was nice to have paddles and a straight key connected simultaneously.
My TR-35 on its first POTA activation at Valley Forge National Historical Park. My Elecraft T1 tuner is on the right. It was nice to have paddles and a straight key connected simultaneously.

One of the first things I noticed is how loud the audio is. I was using earbuds, and I had to turn the volume almost all the way down. The sidetone seemed a bit loud for my liking, but not really much of a problem for me.

Once I got going, I had a lot of fun with this little rig. I easily made contacts on each of the four bands (40/30/20/17). The TR-35 is a joy to operate, and I really appreciate its simplicity. Tuning with the optional rotary encoder is smooth as silk.

After about an hour and a half, I had 24 contacts in the log, with five park-to-park QSOs. My stomach reminded me it was lunchtime, so I packed up and headed home. I left the park feeling very happy about my recent purchase. The TR-35 is going to see a lot of use in the field.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

73, Craig WB3GCK