The 2019 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.

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 2 to 2359 UTC March 10 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. If you used the logger last year, you will have to set it up again for this year as the old system has been changed.

Stations may run either crystal-control or VFO or can switch between either method … the online logger will keep track and score things appropriately.

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 but there is a now HUGE group of great NRR chat and activity now on Facebook’s NRR Group here. I avoided Facebook for many years and have now discovered that it is an excellent forum for real time chat and information exchange … one can still choose to maintain a very low profile and avoid unwanted interaction if set up correctly.

In 2017 I ran my homebrew Longfeller in the (now eliminated) QRP category, and had a ton of fun. You can read about it here. Last year, I refurbished a nice Drake 2NT that had been gathering dust in the basement for over 25 years and ran it during the 2018 NRR. You can read about my activity and some of the rigs encountered during last year’s fun here.

If you have access to the web while operating, be sure to bookmark and check into 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!

‘CQ’ers should always remember to tune up and down the watering hole for replies from other NRR stations that may be crystal controlled and not able to answer you on your own frequency!! This is extremely important and a real reminder of what was 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 2019 NRR!

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

2 Responses to “The 2019 Novice Rig Roundup (NRR)”

  • Scott KA9P:

    Hi Steve, will be looking for you. Followed your last year’s example and have my old beater 2NT all ready to go! My big goal this year is to work anybody on 10 or 15, and the local club will have a bunch of us on 2 meter AM Wednesday night (local time) on 144.144 in the western burbs of Chicago.

    Cheers, Scott ka9p

  • ZAL-----VU2DK:

    These so called Novice rigs are an example of typical American, fine workmanship of yester years—they were built & designed to last–many a non-novice ham including myself played with this stuff in our hey days !
    I still own & run a Hallicrafters HT-32B & a Drake R4B TX/RX combination–works like a charm !
    Have fun fellas–its like owning a Cadi or Rolls these days !!

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