|Left to Right: Matthew, VE7UDP;
Doug, VE7XAT; Amel, VA7KBA; Pat, VE7AHM; John, VE7GED; Marsha, KA7CSZ;
Pat, WT7N; Rich, KR7W
Once a year we hold an Amateur Radio Foxhunt that brings those of us on both sides of the US-Canadian border together. Port Angeles, Washington lies about 18 miles South of Victoria, B.C. with the Strait of Juan de Fuca separating us. We've been exchanging visits for several years now. Since many of us have been indulging in the sport for a few years, we try to make it a little more challenging than beginner hunts. Often, this means the unusual or outside the standard ARDF format, OK maybe even trickery!
This year we had three 2 meter transmitters, one had a cash prize to the "first finder". It was a little different in that its transmission was controlled by participants and not on a regular cycle. The idea was that when each reached a good triangulation point he/she could enable the transmitter using provided DTMF tones. Keeping the transmisssions at a low duty cycle would make it harder for your competitors. As it turned out, the transmitter was keyed on almost 100% of the time for the first 15 minutes...so much for that theory. Amel, VA7KBA, shown in the picture, was our "first finder" and collected the modest prize of $10. He used his home made "tape measure" beam and a VK3YNG receiver. I trust that he unfolded his beam before he used it? Hi Hi. This fox was on a separate frequency from the other two.
The remaining two transmitters were synchronized on the
standard foxhunting frequency of 146.565 MHz and operated in a more
conventional ARDF format except they
have voice IDers with occasional messages about the wildlife ,
etc. We don't have any poisonous snakes, only bears
and cougars and you can be sure messages were passed to encourage the
hunters to look over their shoulder now and then.
All three transmitters use a homebuilt controller along with ICOM
2AT's in a small ammo can. If you'd like more details on the
setup, contact me
I didn't use the standard ARDF orange and white flags partly because I don't have any and secondly, I wanted the hunters to do more close in "sniffing". Its very easy to hide things in our northwest rain forest plus keeping markers very small increases the difficulty of the hunt. You have to be right on top of the site. With a well designed RDF rig you should be able to get within one foot of the fox antenna w/o the system overloading. Lapel buttons of about 2" diameter or less were used as an ID for the foxes and antenna. You must be within a few feet to recognize the button and record the message it conveys to prove your visit to the site. I've held practice hunts where the searcher had no markers at all so he/she had to find the antenna and fox directly and they were instructed to just bring it back to the meeting place. Saves work for me... Hi Hi
In past hunts, I've used some trickery such as putting a transmitter in the backpack of a friend who was unknown to the group. She walked around and made it a point to avoid the hunters when they got near. You can read about it here. That was a fun one but I'm sure frustrating for many.
Pat, VE7AHM entertained us with her homebuilt antenna. That's her displaying her "5 minute" yagi 2 meter VHF antenna, while fending off sarcasm from more seasoned ARDF enthusiasts. Seems you get lots of attention when you spend the least amount of effort... Amel's two antennas (a Moxon "compact, 2-element, bent arm yagi" and a "3-element tape-measure yagi" with handy velcro tabs for svelt travel) were actually constructed with some care and he won the competition. Pat says, "my contraption stayed in the trunk during the hunt and I borrowed RX gear from others. Matthew and I found 2 outta 3 well-hidden TX's, using a shrewd, iterative-search algorithm (that is, we walked all over this very pretty park), and then got tired and hungry for lunch and knew the money was gone already anyways".
She writes. "since there are so many trees, bushes, camper vans, tall cliffs with amazing views to the beach, concrete WWII defences, and other obstructions/distractions, it is easy for even an expertly built system to hopelessly confuse the operator as the radio waves invisibly behave like they want to, ignoring all imagined (and usually wrong) RF propagation models and rules of thumb.
"I've been interested in radio for a long time but only in past few years have I started attending the local amateur radio club meetings www.ve7bar.org and begun to join in at various events (like emergency communications training & service). In this age of cellphones, internet, and cheap consumer electronics, many of us lose interest in how things work. Radio orienteering provides an opportunity for DIY construction and experimentation, fun, exercise, fresh air, beautiful scenery, map-reading, socializing, messing around to try to change the laws of physics, and lots of laughs."
"If you haven't tried radio orienteering before, please don't hesitate to come to one of the radio orienteering practices in your area and you will meet friendly people who will welcome you."
|Recipe for VE7AHM antenna:
Extract from your junk closet anything long and metal and stiff (I used some old electrical wire) Go to the internet or a book and rip off some 3-element yagi dimensions, for example:
Reflector element 41 3/8" 8" space
Cut the yagi elements to length (extra for tuning). Solder driven element halves to pin & ground, respectively, of a BNC connector (or other suitable connector to your radio receiver) Mount 'em on a wood stick perpendicularly at spacing given (use plastic tie wraps or tape)Forget about any other fancy stuff, for later embellishing...
Connect the BNC to your VHF radio (mine is an old hand-me-down ICOM IC-2AT).
We had total of 9 attendees all of which have their amateur radio license. Two of our regulars, John, VE7GED and Doug, VE7XAT have been foxhunting for many years and continue to participate in 2 meter and 75 meter hunts once a month in the greater Victoria area. Their involvement goes way back to the Friendship Games involving sister cities such as Victoria, Portland and Khabarovsk Friendship Society in Eastern Russia.
Doug continues to hunt with a Russian made Altai 2 meter foxhunting antenna-receiver. Walking on the International ferries with foxhunting equipment can raise some eyebrows and carrying a russian made unit can further increase the interest of the customs people. When I travel to a Victoria hunt, I typically put my collapsible 3 element yagi in a rifle case. We're starting to take side bets on how many times I have to open the case for inspection.
Amel recently held a very successful hunt in Vancouver, B.C. in an effort to build interest in the sport. Hes gathering enthusiasts with two of his participants joining him this day, Matthew, VE7UDP and Pat, VE7AHM. Two ferry rides and about 12 hours of car travel made for a long day but they seemed happy. We'd all like to give them our support and maybe pull in a big hunt in the years to come to the US Pacific Northwest and Southwest British Columbia. He maintains a web site at: http://bcradiosport.ca. I'm sure he would love to have your participation.
KR7W has been hard at work building ARDF interest in Tacoma, Washington
along with his wife, Pat. WT7N. They have
a meet scheduled on September 12th.
I better watch out, I think Rich has got something special planned for us as I could tell by that gleam in his eye! You can read about future events at: http://www.k7dk.org . Follow ARDF links to the foxhunting section.
Results of September 12th event can be viewed at: http://www.kr7w.org/ARDF/Sept%2012_2009%20Ft%20Steilacoom.htm.
We also post our regional activity at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nwrdf/
and don't forget: http://www.homingin.com/