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Friday, March 23, 2018

A New Rig

My new rig...

The Heathkit HW-16 was one of the last rigs designed specifically for the US Novice operator. It was marginally a transceiver. The receiver and transmitter sections share a common power supply and antenna coupling circuitry. The HW-16 covered only 80, 40 and 15 meters, the bands allowed for Novices in the late 60s. The CW only transmitter ran 75 watts and was crystal controlled, again novice requirements. The receiver section was double conversion with 500Hz selectivity. Good selectivity for the chaotic novice bands was a must. After my initial tuning around the 40 meter band I'm pretty happy.

Only 345 +- days to go to the NRR 2019. In the mean time look for me in the evenings around 7110-7120.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Novice Rig Roundup Recap

The 2018 Novice Rig Roundup is now history. During the nine day event I used 4 transmitters and 5 receivers to make 23 contacts in 15 states and British Columbia.

This was a great opportunity to try out several of my rigs. Which work best in a variety of situations? Which are easiest to operate? Which are most reliable? Which sound the best on the air? The list goes on....

( Warning: Personal Opinion, YMMV )

Drake 2B and Collins 75A4 with EFJ Adventurer My Adventurer position was set up so that I could easily switch between a Drake 2B and my Collins 75A4. The 75A4 is certainly a fun radio to use. I have a 500Hz crystal filter installed and, with the 75A4 bandpass tuning, I could easily sort signals out. KC frequency readout was great also. The 2B, though, could hold it's own against the 75A4. The only thing I missed on the 2B was KC frequency readout. For pairing with a simple crystal controlled transmitter like the Adventurer the 2B is my choice.

NC-57 with a 6AG7 Sucker Stick Xmtr This pair fits both as an NRR Novice 1 station and as an AWA Linc Cundall pre-1950 rig ( ) I've added a Heathkit QF-1 Q-Multiplier to the NC57 and spread out the bandspread so that 50KC covers most of the dial. It now does a pretty reasonable job on 80 and 40 CW. I just have to ride the RF gain to keep the set from overloading. 4-5 watts out for the 6AG7 transmitter, while expected and a cool design, makes for a tough time raising QSOs. My plan is never to run up the score but QSOs are still more fun that calling CQ CQ CQ. If I were only thinking of the NRR I'd probably replace the 6AG7 transmitter with my Adventurer, but the Adventurer does not qualify for the AWA Linc Cundall. I need a pre-1950 transmitter. Before next year I'll build up some sort of homebrew transmitter using pre-1950 tubes that runs more power than a single 6AG7.

NC-303 / Eico 720 The Eico 720 is my favorite "novice transmitter". I used one 50+ years ago when I was a novice and I like the looks. It has style. Before this year's NRR I replaced the power transformer and did a required tune-up. Now it works without a chirp on all bands. This one is a keeper. The NC303 is a fine late 50s receiver but it has to compete with my Drake 2B as I consider what to use. The 2B is the nicer receiver. Next year my Eico 720 will be paired with my 2B.

Drake R4B with matching T4XB Except for my Novice year I've always had a transceiver at the primary operating position.  This year for the NRR I ran my vintage Drake B Line separated. This worked great! I had frequency spotting, QSK keying, code monitor plus matching KC readout on both receiver and transmitter. The R4B receiver with variable/tunable bandpass is a great receiver. This is now my go-to rig when my KX3 won't quite do the job and it fits in fine as an NRR "Novice 2" station.