Well this year's NRR
has come and gone, providing a full nine days of CW fun for those of us that love old radios.
Once again, the ether filled with signals spawned from the old classic Novice-class workhorses that many of today's 'seasoned' amateurs used in their first stations, way back in their teen years. In many respects, the NRR is as close to a real time machine that you'll find, allowing participants to experience the joys, and sometimes the frustrations, of operating CW with their favorite old rigs from the past.
For me, just like last year
, the NRR once again provided many notable highlights over the nine day event.
Almost topping the list was just experiencing the variety of old classics and hearing how well almost all of them sounded. Numerous Knight T-60
s, Drake 2NT
s, Heath DX-40
s, Johnson Adventurers
and Eico 720
s, along with a nice variety of homebrew MOPA
s and one-tube power oscillators
graced the nightly airwaves. These oft-forgotten shelf-queens always seem to develop super-powers, far beyond their expectations, when the NRR rolls around!
I was really surprised to work so many T-60
s, a small and inexpensive 60 watt transmitter kit from 1962 using a popular 6DQ6
television sweep tube ... one never expected to achieve such RF greatness! I was very impressed with every one that I heard.
What radio-struck pre-Novice teen, dreaming about getting on the air, could resist a clever ad like this.
's 80m T-60
signal sounded as sweet as it looks in his 2018 setup, paired with his Heathkit HR-10B
|KA9P 2018 NRR station with RAF Vulcan bomber Type 51 hand pump|
Right up there with the plethora of T-60
s was the Drake 2NT
, another great sounding radio and also my choice for this year's event. My summer refurbishing project, described here
, proved a worthy companion, although my much-treasured VF-1 VFO's
short term drift probably had my 2NT
getting red in the face whenever I took her off of crystal control to scurry around the band, seeking out the CQ'ers. I've had a love-hate relationship with the VF-1
ever since buying my first one back in '63!
|VE7SL 2018 NRR with 2NT, VF-1 and my Original '63 Vibroplex|
Yet another 2NT packed a powerful punch from West Virginia, keyed by Dave, W3NP
when we exchanged 579 reports on 40m, 45 minutes before sunset.
|W3NP - 2018 NRR setup|
This year's band conditions were excellent as both 40 and 80m sounded much as I remember them sounding back in the 60's ... loaded with strong North American CW signals almost every night. Unfortunately, Solar Cycle 24 has taken its toll on 15m and although the band appeared to often have daily though somewhat dicey propagation, there appeared to be few NRR stations using the band.
I made three contacts on 15m this year: W5IQS
in Texas, K2YWE
in Maryland and WN4NRR
in Florida, whose S9 reply to my 'CQ NRR
' just about took my head off ... what a nice surprise to hear the booming signal from Bry's 2NT
powerhouse. Dan, K2YWE
, was no slouch either, as his Globe Scout
was music to my ears when his signal quickly rose out of the noise just long enough to make the coast-to-coast journey. If the predictions for future solar cycles become reality, there may be many more NRRs before we experience the magic of 15m once again.
|K2YWE's Globe Scout and Adventurer were worked on all three bands!|
My NRR exchanges with George, N3GJ (KA3JWJ)
in Pennsylvania, truly demonstrated just how well the low bands were performing. More than an hour before my local sunset, I responded to his 569 40m 'CQ NRR'
only to learn that his signal, now reaching a solid 579, was coming from an original Ameco AC-1
! This one-tube crystal-controlled power oscillator
has, over the years, reached Holy Grail status among many amateurs. Originals are guarded like precious jewels and handed down from father to son ... or in George's case, from uncle to nephew!
|N3GJ and his all powerful original AC-1|
I was astounded at the strength of his signal and before exchanging '73
's added 'CUL on 80
', not really thinking how low the chances of that might really be. Two hours later, his even stronger 'CQ NRR
' was heard on 80m, as his 579 signal flirted with reaching S8 ... all emanating from just a low hanging inverted-V. It's nights like this that remind me how I was bitten by the radio bug so many years ago and to have them coincide with the NRR was an added bonus. I've rated my contacts with George's AC-1 the highlight
of this year's NRR for me!
Heathkits were plentiful too, with the DX-60
seeming to be the rig of choice, often paired with the matching HG-10 VFO
. Both Mark, VA7MM
and Gary, W8PU
, packed a wallop with these fine examples.
|VA7MM - 2018 NRR set-up|
|W8PU - 2018 NRR set-up|
But it wasn't just DX-60
s representing Benton Harbor engineering in the NRR. All of these neat old Heaths made it out to the west coast, sometimes on both 40 and 80. KN8RHM
's (Rick) HW-16
made it here on 40m with a solid signal almost every night, while KE4OH
(Steve) sported a modernized DX-20
in the form of Heath's HX-11
. Steve even received the highly-treasured 'OO
' report for his NRR chirp ... good job!
|KN8RHM - HW-16 NRR set-up|
|KE4OH - HX-11 NRR station|
Not to be forgotten was the ubiquitous DX-40, used by several, including this proud old warhorse, lovingly keyed by Doug, N3PDT
|N3PDT - DX-40 NRR transmitter|
Rich, WN7NRR / AG5M
operating in nearby Washington state put some of his 44 crystals to work with his HW-16
... that's some collection!
|WN7NRR - HW-16 NTT set-up|
It seems that many NRRers are as adept with a soldering iron as they are with a hand key, as several homebrew transmitters were worked from here as well.
in Reno, was using his homebrew pair of 807
s, driven with a Millen 90700
swing-arm VFO from 1945. Most shacks worldwide, including the Novices, found plenty of use for the 807
as they were dirt-cheap in the post war surplus market. The filament has a beautiful illumination and if a bit gassy as most are by now, emit a wonderous blue glow with each press of the key.
|WB2AWQ - 807s|
|Millen VFO from 1945 at WB2AWQ|
(Joe) in Oregon, sported a 12 volt version of the 807
, a 1625
, in his home brew rock-crusher. With 25 watts into his ladderline-fed 160m inverted-V, his 599 signal up here was hard to miss on both 40 and 80m.
|KD7JG's 1625 NRR mainstay|
down in Florida also utilized the magical 6DQ6
sweep tube in his homebrew rig for 80 and 40m. Bill was worked on both bands from here with his 10 watts receiving a 569 on both contacts.
|K4IBZ's 10 watter|
, Greg in Maryland, used an LM-13
war surplus frequency meter to drive a popular Novice pairing of the 6AG7 / 6146
at 90W input ... good enough for a 579 report on 40m, 30 minutes before my sunset.
|AA8V's homebrew NRR stack|
The runner-up highlight was my 80m QSO with Lou, VE3BDV / VE3AWA
who flirted briefly with the Grim Reaper to work me on his Bare-Essentials 50C5
crystal controlled power oscillator at 7 watts. This thing is scary, being driven directly from the A.C. mains supply ... but he survived long enough to complete our QSO on 3568 kHz.
|VE3BDV / VE3AWA - 50C5 Bare - Essentials power oscillator|
There are many more stories to share and you can soon read them all on the NRR 2018 Soapbox page
once it gets published. If you participated, be sure to post your station picture and tell us about your experience!
I finished up the NRR with 123 contacts, a lot better than last year's event when I was running the Longfeller at 5 watts.
If you think that you might enjoy participating in the next event then now is the time to start preparing ... just 353
more sleeps until the 2019 NRR