The 2018 Novice Rig Roundup (NRR)

One of the most enjoyable operating events of the year is fast approaching -- the Novice Rig Roundup or 'NRR'. Technically, it is a contest, but I have the feeling that most participants think of it as just a lot of fun and a nice opportunity to hear and work some of the great old 'classics' of the past -- rigs that were used when they were teenage Novices or rigs that they could only drool about owning, back in those formative years when they each discovered the magic of radio.

WN4HQW's '62 Novice station (now N4CF)
Once again the bands will be alive with the sounds of Heath AT-1s, DX-20s, DX-35s, DX-40s and DX-60s, Johnson Adventurers, Eico 720s, Drake 2NTs, Knight T-50s and T-60s, Ameco AC-1s and of course, an endless variety of lovingly-constructed homebrew delights and ... a full 9 days to celebrate the 'good old radio days' of their teen years, as many of us remember them.

The dates to remember are 0000 UTC March 3  - 2359 UTC March 11  and this multi-day opportunity is, for me, what makes the NRR so enjoyable. With a nice diversion from the usual 'contest frenzy' associated with standard weekend operating events, the NRR can be enjoyed throughout the week, whenever you choose to participate. If last year's operating patterns continue, you should find activity at any time of the day ... and even more as sunset arrives.

With the fast-approaching solar minimum, we will be hard-pressed to relive the glory days of worldwide 15m propagation, as even last year's event proved to be tough on this band. With a little luck and, hopefully, a well-timed solar flare, we may get lucky! If you operate during the daylight hours, please get on 15m and give it a shot ... and be sure to announce your activity on the NRR's sked and chat page here, so that others will know where to find you, especially if you are rock bound in true Novice fashion. With our present spotty conditions, we need all the help we can get and the sked page proved a very valuable asset during last year's affair.

Although technically not required, if you plan to participate it's best to obtain your own NRR number, which is an easy 30-second process.

Additionally, there is an online logger where participants can post their daily log. The nifty logger also keeps track and figures out your score as it goes and no 'after contest' log needs to be submitted. If you plan on submitting a log, the logger is a requirement. The logger will also require you to set up a 'log-in' and once again, a simple 30-second process will take care of that from here.

Stations may run either crystal-control or VFO or can switch between either method ... the online logger will keep track and score things appropriately. Stations running in both Novice 1 and Novice 2 categories (probably most common), will be eligible for prizes in both modes if they make at least ten contacts using a Novice 1 station or if they work ten Novice 1 category stations.

 All of the rules and information can be found on the NRR's excellent website. As well, the soapbox comments and station pictures from last year's NRR may provide the inspiration that you need to spark-up your own activity in this year's event ... from what I can tell, this year will be bigger and busier than ever!

There is also a dedicated NRR Yahoo Group, often the source of much valuable discussion.

Last year I ran my homebrew Longfeller in the (now eliminated) QRP category, and had a ton of fun. You can read about it here. This year, I have refurbished a nice Drake 2NT that had been gathering dust in the basement for over 25 years ... it's all ready to go now, but a problem with the VF-1 VFO has arisen. The combination works well on 40m and above but on 80 it's a different story. The VFO runs on 160m and it seems that the 2NT balks at the idea of doubling in the buffer stage to 80m. Unless I solve the problem, I'll be rockbound on 3579, 3550 or 3560kc. ... it was 'kilocycles' back then, which always seemed to make more sense to me than 'kilohertz'.

If you have access to the web while operating, be sure to bookmark and check-in to the NRR's realtime chat page. Many ops that are crystal controlled will announce their operating frequencies, making it easier for you to find them ... sometimes way up or down from the normal NRR watering holes of ~  3550 - 3650 kHz7100 -7125 kHz, 21.100 - 21.150 MHz and 28.114, 28.120 MHz ... and don't forget to check the colorburst crystal frequency of 3579!

Of course with the large number of rockbound stations (on crystals), be sure to look above and below these frequencies. It's good practice to listen well above and below your own frequency as well, for anyone answering your CQ who may be up or down the band on crystal control. Unlike today, this was very common practice back in the Novice days!

courtesy: Harry - VE7AIJ
Harry's homebrew 6AQ5 crystal oscillator (Feb '55 Popular Electronics) and Hallicrafters S-53, pictured above, allowed him to work the world back in the amazing radio days of Cycle 19. Let's relive some of that excitement in the closing days of Cycle 24 ... in the NRR!

You still have time to get that old clunker on the air but if that's not possible, you can join the fun with your modern rig as well ... all are welcome to jump in and have a great week of radio-fun. I think you will be surprised, just as I was last year, how good some of these old classics can sound ... and you'll hear some great bug-fists as well.

As indicated on the NRR website, this is "more of an EVENT than just a typical contest ... once again taking our OLD ham radios off the shelf and putting them to use again! "

See you in the 2018 NRR!

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

Let’s Call CQ – QSO Today Episode 184 with NW7US

I got a Skype call a few weeks ago from Eric, 4Z1UG–the creator and host of the QSO Today Podcast–during which he asked me about how and why I got into amateur radio.  Here’s the result.

Eric writes,

We talk a lot about the band conditions due to the Sunspot cycle. Most of it on Facebook and other places is about how “dead” the bands are at this point. We all can’t wait until the cycle starts to rise and we will be making contacts with little effort. I remember in my conversation with Chuck Adams, K7QO in Episode 58, that he really enjoys operating is “Pigrig”, one watt, CW transceiver on 20 meters. When I asked him, (I liberally paraphrase) “but Chuck, the bands are dead. How does that work for you?”. His reply was that while most hams are listening to the bands, he calls CQ until he gets a reply. Works every time.

My QSO this week is with Tomas Hood, NW7US, who has years of expertise in propagation and Solar activity. He is the propagation editor of more than a few radio magazines and websites. In our post-recording conversation we discussed this phenomenon of listening and not calling CQ. I even had this idea that maybe one of the reasons that the digital modes are so successful is because they “beacon”, as part of the whole digital experience, the same as calling CQ. This is why they make contacts. From what I see, looking at PSK Reporter, hams are making lots of contacts worldwide using the digital modes. While SSB may not be working so well, CW and the digital modes seem to work fine.

I like to work on my bench or make the podcast while listening to the bands. Jeff Damm, WA7MLH, in Episode 177, says that he will put his keyer in CQ mode while he is working on a new radio. Invariably, sometimes after many minutes, he gets a reply. Great idea Jeff!


Eric, 4Z1UG

Episode 184 can be found here:

Highlights of Episode 184:

Tomas Hood, NW7US is the propagation editor of a number of shortwave and amateur radio magazines, and has a wide variety of websites, that grew out of his love for all things radio, and for listening on the bands to far off DX and commercial broadcast stations. Tomas shares his understanding of propagation and the lessons we can learn from listening, really listening to the QSOs and exchanges during contest operation.

All of the QSO Today episodes are great.  I enjoy hearing about many different hams.  Do check out all of the episodes that Eric has published.

73 de NW7US dit dit


Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to and writes from Nebraska, USA. Tomas is the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Contributing Editor to 'CQ Amateur Radio Magazine', 'The Spectrum Monitor', and 'RadioUser UK Magazine'.

LHS Episode #208: Ham Radio Logging Deep Dive

In this episode of Linux in the Ham Shack, the hosts take an in-depth look at ham radio logging. Topics include: should you log? What are the most popular logging applications? What formats are available? Should you log to the cloud? Logging best practices. And a whole lot more. We also address announcements and listener feedback. Thank you for tuning in!

73 de The LHS Crew

Russ Woodman, K5TUX, co-hosts the Linux in the Ham Shack podcast which is available for download in both MP3 and OGG audio format. Contact him at [email protected].

NBC Report Features Hawaii Hams Preparing for Nuclear Attack

“In the case of an electromagnetic pulse from a blast, 90% of people may be without communication and ham radio is actually one of the ways that you’ll be able to hear what’s happening.” That’s the report that NBC News correspondent Jacob Soboroff gave just moments after the nuclear all-clear was given during the recent scare in Hawaii.

Check out the great 8-minute video below featuring Hawaiian hams and how they’re preparing for the unthinkable in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Matt Thomas, W1MST, is the managing editor of Contact him at [email protected].

Weekly Propagation Summary – 2018 Feb 12 16:10 UTC

Weekly Propagation Summary (2018 Feb 12 16:10 UTC)

Here is this week’s space weather and geophysical report, issued 2018 Feb 12 0146 UTC.

Highlights of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 05 – 11 February 2018

Solar activity was at very low levels on 05, 08-09 and 11 Feb while low levels were observed on 06-07 and 10 Feb. All of the period's activity originated from Region 2699 (S07, L=165, class/area Dai/240 on 10 Feb). The largest observed event was a C8 flare observed at 07/1347 UTC. No Earth-directed CME activity was detected during the period.

No proton events were observed at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit was at normal levels the entire period.

Geomagnetic field activity was at predominately quiet levels under a nominal solar wind regime. Isolated unsettled intervals were observed on 05, 09 and 10 Feb.

Forecast of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 12 February – 10 March 2018

Solar activity is expected to be at very low to low levels, with a chance for M-class activity, through 16 Feb due to the flare potential of Region 2699. Very low levels are expected from 17-28 Feb. A return to very low to low levels, with a chance for M-class activity, is possible from 01-10 Mar after the return of old Region 2699.

No proton events are expected at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit is expected to be at normal to moderate levels on 12-25 Feb, with a chance for high levels on 19 Feb, due to influence from recurrent CH HSSs. Mostly normal levels are anticipated on 26 Feb – 10 Mar.

Geomagnetic field activity is expected to be at quiet to unsettled levels on 15-18 Feb, 20-22 Feb and 04 Mar, with isolated active periods likely on 16 Feb. This activity is due to influence from recurrent CH HSSs. Mostly quiet conditions are expected for the remainder of the outlook period.

Don’t forget to visit our live space weather and radio propagation web site, at:

Live Aurora mapping is at

If you are on Twitter, please follow these two users: 1. 2.

Check out the stunning view of our Sun in action, as seen during the last five years with the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO):

= = = = =

BOOK SALE: Space Weather and Sun Science – get these from Amazon, and help us stay online!

NOTICE: When you buy this (or any item after starting with this link), you are helping us keep our and other resources “on the air” (up and running!). In other words, you are helping the entire community. So, check out this book:

Here is the link to Amazon:

We’re on Facebook:

Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to and writes from Nebraska, USA. Tomas is the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Contributing Editor to 'CQ Amateur Radio Magazine', 'The Spectrum Monitor', and 'RadioUser UK Magazine'.

AmateurLogic 114: What’s New with Martin Jue, K5FLU

AmateurLogic.TV Episode 114 is now available for download.

Peter’s infrared experiments part 2. Tommy’s Active Antenna. Emile’s HF Loop part 1. George at the Capital City Hamfest with Martin Jue(MFJ) and Will Jourdain(Icom).



George Thomas, W5JDX, is co-host of AmateurLogic.TV, an original amateur radio video program hosted by George Thomas (W5JDX), Tommy Martin (N5ZNO), Peter Berrett (VK3PB), and Emile Diodene (KE5QKR). Contact him at [email protected].

A SWR power bridge for uBITX

A damp cold Saturday here at Rugeley, the postman has not long been and dropped off my January issue of QRP Quarterly- Journal of the QRP ARCI.

Something good has just caught my eye, especially if your into the uBITX right now.

This month there is an excellent article for a VSWR bridge for the Arduino, which confusingly KW5GP (Glen Popiel) appears to take all the credits? But it appears the article was written or most of it by KV4QB (DuWayne Schmidlkofer)? A better explaination of the confusion, might be to just nip down to DuWayne's Place  to understand what has actually gone on.

Why is this article good for the uBITX builder or users? Well at the moment there is no SWR/PWR bridge hardware built into the uBITX, although VU2ESE's Arduino code does appear to implement something for a basic S meter.

The article has  a full bridge directional coupler circuit, along with amplified outputs, which are then fed into the Arduino. Along with this, there is the code, that could be easily adapted to work with the uBITX Arduino. Anyway Duwayne, has been good enough to drop off the details along with the code at his Dropbox site here  

Steve, G1KQH, is a regular contributor to and writes from England. Contact him at [email protected].

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