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-60s, Drake 2NTs, Heath DX-40s, Johnson Adventurers and Eico 720s, along with a nice variety of homebrew MOPAs 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-60s, 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.
Scott, KA9P's 80m T-60 signal sounded as sweet as it looks in his 2018 setup, paired with his Heathkit HR-10B inhaler.
|KA9P 2018 NRR station with RAF Vulcan bomber Type 51 hand pump|
Right up there with the plethora of T-60s 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|
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|
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|
|KN8RHM - HW-16 NRR set-up|
|KE4OH - HX-11 NRR station|
|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|
Howie, WB2AWQ in Reno, was using his homebrew pair of 807s, 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|
|KD7JG's 1625 NRR mainstay|
|K4IBZ's 10 watter|
|AA8V's homebrew NRR stack|
The runner-up highlight was my 80m QSO with Lou, VE3BDV / VE3AWA who worked me on 3568 kHz using his Bare-Essentials 50C5 crystal controlled power oscillator at 7 watts. I understand that this rig enjoyed some popularity among many Novices as a 'first transmitter'. Being connected directly across the A.C. mains, fully exposed, would require some delicate handling!
|VE3BDV / VE3AWA - 50C5 Bare - Essentials power oscillator|
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 begins!!