Novice Rig Roundup -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 –

I’ve participated since the first year, back in 2015…’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 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!!

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