My novice station was a HW-16 which I sold a little bit ago. It was a fine radio and had a great receiver and QSK. I also used crystals with it as a Novice and it was common practice after calling CQ to scan the whole Novice segment as someone else could be bound to one crystal freq and could not reply to you on your freq. It was a challenge but fun. I am glad I got licensed when I did as new hams will never experience Novice CW only sub bands filled with people learning morse code and increasing their skill. I guess that is what made me a CW operator to this day.
I made it a point to get on the air this SKN with my HW-7 that I purchased from Paul, W0RW, earlier this year. I made a few modifications to it but never got around to the all important RIT function. If I did I would had not needed to rely on crystals for transmit frequency, The HW-7 will transmit without crystals but there is no off-set so you will not hear the other station if they zero beat you. I found out how difficult this could be when I took the HW-7 on a SOTA expedition without crystals.
Regardless, I had a blast pushing a watt or so out to a dipole. I managed to make three QSOs, one by chance and the other two after advertising on the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC) schedule page. These where not long rag chew QSOs but rather short exchanges which was good considering what I was using. I earned each of those QSOs and had a lot of fun in the process.
AA6GI, Bill in CA
W9EBE, Chip in IL
N5XE, Carl in OK
Here is a video of my little part of the SKN event.
Of note I recently purchased a HW-8 and look forward to using it next year.