Novice Rig Roundup -2019

2019

DESCRIPTION: A thrilling period of amateur radio activity in where radio amateurs contact stations using vintage ham radio equipment from the early era of the NOVICE LICENSE.
Any licensed radio amateur may participate using any equipment and the object is to contact novice style stations built prior to 1980.  This year’s event ran from March 2, 2019 though 2359Z on March 10, 2019.  Here’s the link to the website – http://novicerigroundup.org/

I’ve participated since the first year, back in 2015…..it’s always fun!  I started my hamming with a Novice License, WN2TAW on February 21, 1971.

This year’s event: Another NRR is in the books!  While conditions were NOT all that good, I managed to sneak in some 54  contacts in 26 states (plus Canada and PR!) using a Heathkit HW-16 (about 35W out), and a Drake 2-C, 2-NT, 2-CQ station – with a “pile” of crystals – the photo shows most of them (I had more – look at the shelf above the HW-16!).  I started with the Drake set – I have hade these pieces/parts for a few years now, meaning to refurb and recap……..instead, I put them on a Varistor overnight separately to “form up” the paper caps. Some quick measurements/checks told me they probably wouldn’t “smoke” (and I hoped they wouldn’t).  They worked!  (no smoke).  But I could tell they needed recapping and an alignment.  So after a few quick QSOs, I did the dastardly deeds……cleaned and ”deoxit”ed them, tested the tubes, replaced all of the paper caps (I had the re-cap kits from Hayseeed Hamfest for both sitting on the bench), then aligned them. Also replaced a burned out bulb, wiped out all the cobwebs and dust (really!).  Did the 2-NT the first day, then the 2-C and 2-CQ the next day (was pretty easy to re-cap, and the alignments were fast and straight-forward).   Wow!  They both worked like new!  Smooth tuning, quiet, and what a difference the 2-CQ made with the 2-C.  While the Drakes were “benched” I used the HW-16 to make QSOs.  I built this beast in 1969, getting my Novice license (WN2TAW) in Feb of 1971.  It too was recapped and refurbed several years ago and the sensitivity still blows me away (I can’t turn the volume up past half way because it is so loud).  I can’t tell you how many FB chats I had with folks during this event.  Using a Speed-X straight key and a G5RV wire antenna at night with the tubes glowing…..well, I felt like I was 16 again.  It’s a great feeling.  Thanks to so many of you that chatted – and chirped, buzzed, and faded in and out.  I had many great QSOs during the week.  Almost all Qs were on 40 and 80 – only one on 15M (Good old AA6AC……it was a battle, but we won!).  I used to make tons of 15M CW contacts back in the day, but Ol’ Sol just wasn’t up to it this year.   No matter how many contacts you made, everyone is a winner in this one as far as I am concerned!  Check out my web page www.wb4omm.com and look at the “Old Stuff Like Me” page – there’s a whole story on the HW-16, and the Drake’s story is coming!

72/73!   –   WB4OMM – Steve FL – NRR #19

 

    The Drake “Twins” – all late 1960’s era models.  Transmitter puts out 50 watts on 80-10 meters. Crystal controlled.

 

          Crystals for the transmitters – just like I started in the old days (1971)!! What used to be $3 are now $18!!

 

  My original 1969 built Heathkit HW-16 – didn’t use the VFO as it was crystal controlled for this event. Look on the shelf for               the crystals that I used.  Puts out about 35-40 watts on 80-40-15 meters.  Is a hoot to use.  Real Radio!!

Up and Running!

Done!  All of the antennas are installed and connected.  Three days of coax routing, adding connectors, lightning protection, grounding and the antenna switch – and waterproofing all the connections.  So nice to have this back!  What is there (I know, it’s hard to see!) – from “top to bottom”:

Tower Mounted:  2M/70CM dual band vertical; 3 element 6M Beam; 3 element 10/15/20 Beam; Yaesu 450G rotor; 160M wire sloper; 4 position antenna switch; 4 element grounding (Alpha Delta 2KW lightning protectors).

Mast Mounted:  MFJ Receive only Loop; 2M70CM Beam; Channel Master rotor

Tree Mounted:  Full size G5RV wire antenna (E-W Main Lobes); End Fed wire antenna (N-S Main lobes)

The Alpha Delta Lightning Protection

The Ameritron Remote 4-Position Antenna Switch

Now for those contests and that new DX!!

It’s Back!!

Finally!  The tower and beams are back!  Cushcraft VHF/UHF Vertical (at top); Cushcraft 3 element 6M beam; Mosley 3 element HF 10-15-20M beam.  Just have to finish installing lightning protection and remote coax switch.  Hoping to get the cabling finished over the next week or so.  Special thank to my brothers John & George, nephew John, and son Stephen for providing the “muscle” to drop and raise the beast over the last few months.

Almost There!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tower has been remounted, and “tilted” over on Thanksgiving day to add the antennas – a Cushcraft AR-270 VHF/UHF Vertical at the top; a Cushcraft A50-3S 6M 3 element beam; and a Mosley MP-33-N Hy-Brid Tig Array 3 element 10/15/20 beam.  Each is fed with Times Microwave LMR-400 Coax; not attached yet is a W8AMZ 160M Half-Sloper Tower mounted wire antenna, fed with Time Microwave LMR-240.

 

https://www.eham.net/data/reviews/images/10524.jpeg

All the “aluminum hardware” is mounted – the VHF/UHF vertical is cabled.  I have to attach the 106M sloper and make the remaining three cables. Hoping to get the coax prepped and attached  and raise the beast pretty soon! Once the tower is vertical, I have to mount the lightning protection and the coax switch, then finish installing those cables.  Should be finished in a few weeks.

I would like to be ready for some Spring Contests!

Another ATNO!!

Another all time new one for WB4OMM!  Worked them on 12M CW running 500W to a G5RV at 35 feet; got them on the 3rd call!  (But that was after I called them on 17M CW for an hour without success).  This brings my DXCC count to 330.

QCX Enclosure and tower is vertical again!

QCX Transceiver when built…….

Now in it’s nice case!  Looks and works well!

 

AND……YES!  My tower is back on the pad!  Soon to have a 2M/70CM vertical; 6M 3 element beam; 10-15-20M 3 element beam, and the top of the 160M wire sloper.  I have all of the materials (including new LMR400 cable, Alpha-Delta lightning protection, antenna switch and grounding mounts) ready to go.  I received the 6M antenna last week – I am waiting on the Mosley MP-33-N (custom, built to order) beam.  Schedule to ship at the end of this month (October).  I just might have everything up and installed by the time my FAVORITE CONTEST arrives – the ARRL November Sweepstakes!

(The antennas on the mast to the right are the MFJ Receive only magnetic loop and my Cushcraft 2M/70CM beam)

Skeeter Hunt! 1st Place Florida Finish!

The 2018 Skeeter Hunt – more here:  http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/

My end of summer outing!  And summer it was……95 degrees on the portable thermometer, probably hotter – as I wound up in the sun for the last 30 minutes!  But STILL FUN!  I left the house around 1:20 pm EDT with my wonderful wife encouraging me to go!  (We were working in the house with new furniture and cleaning – but we got home from church, had breakfast, and every time I would start to “hesitate” – read make excuses why I shouldn’t go – she told me, “Go have some fun!”  Wow!  Whadda gal!

I drove about 3 miles to Buschman Park, a City park that I actually have some history associated with it’s origin.  Back in the late 1970’s I worked as a police detective in the Port Orange Police Department – and one of our problem “drug houses” belonged to a family that owned several acres with a natural, fresh water stream on it.  After working some undercover buys, I got a search warrant we executed it seizing all kinds of drugs, guns, and cash.  Arrested several of the family members including the mom! It was the start of what ultimately would become a  “documentation trail” of having the site designated a “problem property”, and the City seized it in a court action.  It then was developed as Buschman Park, named for a local Audubon  enthusiast and arborist .  You can see the park amenities here:  https://www.port-orange.org/Facilities/Facility/Details/Buschman-Park-4 

On arrival, I setup at a picnic table and in the first hour, worked 10 other “skeeters” in quick fashion.  By this time, the sun moved West, and the shade with it.  I took a short break, and after another hour, called it quits.  Radio conditions were not great, and it was really getting hot in the direct sun.  When I secured, I was at 15 contacts in 11 states and one Canadian DX.  Not too bad for 3 watts and a small vertical antenna!  Here’s some photos…….

The Entrance to Buschman Park

 

The WB4OMM “Skeeter Station #98” – Elecraft K1, Elecraft T1 Autotuner, American Morse Express Paddle – In the August Florida Sun!

 

The 20M Hamstick Antenna at the water’s edge

And my always necessary “selfie” with the equipment and lake in the background!

A great outing!  72/73 to all!