I first saw this kit online this last summer and was immediately intrigued. Fast forward to obtaining the December 2021 edition of QST where they did a review of the radio, and I knew I needed to get one.

The kit arrived in a well packed box about 1 week after placing my order. Unpacking it I have the following contents:

The PCBs are packed inside the radio case, and all the individual parts are packed together based on which part of the radio is being assembled.

For example, all the lower PCB parts are packed together and separate from the upper PCB parts. Even more convenient is that within each set of parts, each one is organized in the order of assembly. A welcome usability improvement over other kits I’ve done where parts arrive loose in a single plastic bag.

Also included are print outs of the assembly manuals, which are likewise separate pages for each section

Installation of all components is very straight forward. If you can solder, you can install all the parts.

There are 6 toroids that need winding. None are overly difficult (I still have flashbacks of T1 on the QCX mini ;)). The directions are very easy to follow and there are picture to validate your windings against.

I’m not going to go through a step-by-step of the assembly – the manuals do that for you. K0SSK also has a great post showing assembly and testing of the kit.

Assembled minus the bottom half of the case – need access to the pots to perform final checks and adjustments. Nice clear OLED screen. Always makes me smile to see things work as expected, even more so that I didn’t let the magic smoke out. 🙂

Quick Comparison

Looking at my other radios, the size lends itself to being compared with my Mountain Topper from LnR Precision.

Both come in at roughly the same dimensions. The Mountain Topper is 4 bands (80/40/30/20) compared to the TR-25’s 2 bands (20/40). While both radios offer QRP portability for commonly used bands, you can see that the tradeoff is either usability (a control for everything) vs breadth of capabilities (more bands, memory slots, etc.).

It is a little of an apple and orange comparison when putting a commercially built radio up against a kit given that the MTR comes assembled, but it is the only multi-band radio that is close to the TR-25 in my collection.

Minor Nits

There are a few things missing from this radio that others have, such as:

  • No memory slots for recorded SOTA/POTA/CQ messages
  • No visual indication of WPM for the Iambic-B (there is no Iambic-A support) keyer, the dial simply has Min/Max markers
  • The design is intuitive and having a dial/knob/toggle for all settings is actually nice thing given how many radios use menu and sub-menus to death, but they do stick up from the radio and might be subject to being broken in the field – time will tell

These are minor nits in my opinion as not everybody needs every bell and whistle to enjoy SOTA/POTA/QRP operations.

Conclusion

This post is focused on the quality of the kit and what I received for my money. I have not yet gotten in on the air and will follow up with my impressions there. For now, keeping things focused on the kit building side.

The TR-25 is easy to assemble, with 4-9 watts of output depending on band and power input, no hideous menu structures to memorize (everything has a switch or knob on the face). A great little radio that can be put together and be on the air quickly and easily.

Pick yours up for $199 USD at their online store.

NOTE: Penntek is coming out with the TR-45L 4 band transceiver that is currently in beta testing. It looks a bit “old school” and I’m definitely intrigued.