Radio-Orienteering Events in 2009

(In reverse order by date)

Lake Los Carneros foxhunt photos

Lake Los Carneros ARDF on 10/17/09
Photos above and report below by Joe Moell KØOV.

Lake Los Carneros Park in Goleta was filled with excited Scouts on October 17 as they took part in the annual Jamboree-On-The-Air. In the morning, boys and leaders from Troops 1, 4, and 105 arrived and were introduced to the sport. After a demonstration of the techniques by Marvin Johnston KE6HTS, they were divided into teams. Each team took a MK4 receiver and measuring tape yagi out to gain skill by finding three beginner transmitters on the two meter band close to the picnic area. Then it was time for the teams to go on the clock as they went around the lake to track down the five transmitters of the ARDF course.

After they finished, those boys headed for the Santa Barbara Red Cross facility, where they got on the ham radio station there with members of the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club. A dozen boys of Troop 50, who had been been at the Red Cross during the morning, came out to the lake for their turn at ARDF.

The best ARDF performance was by a team from Troop 4, which found all five transmitters in just under 57 minutes. Close behind was a team from Troop 105, getting them all in an hour and seven minutes.

Two non-Scouts went out on the course:  Jay Hennigan WB6RDV did it in 46 and a half minutes. Dean Dods KD6I wasn't timed.

Thanks to Marvin, April and Jay (who loaned his equipment) for making it a great day for the Scouts. Also thanks to Daryl Widman KF6DI and the other members of the Santa Barbara Amateur Radio Club for organizing this year's JOTA activities.

Joe Moell KØOV

Santa Fe Dam foxhunt photos

Santa Fe Dam ARDF on 9/19/09
Photos above and report below by Joe Moell KØOV.

We had hoped to have a radio-orienteering session at Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area last April, but decided not to when we learned that the Renaissance Faire was in full swing there at the time. Our second try made us realize that it was worth the wait. It's an excellent location, with 670 acres of the flood basin under the administration of Los Angeles County Parks. That includes a 70-acre lake. It's flatter than most of our venues, resulting in fewer two-meter signal reflections. Firefighters were still using about half of the area between the south shore of the lake and the dam this day, but that left plenty of room for us and hundreds of other park visitors.

Eight beginners turned out to build measuring-tape antennas and attenuators, then test them with their handi-talkies on the three beginner transmitters nearby. We didn't time them on that course.

Marvin set an intermediate level ARDF course of about 4.2 kilometers in the undeveloped area, with transmitters close to the trails. Three of the beginners plus four experienced hunters set out to find them with these results:


      Name and call          Foxes  Time

     Jay Hennigan WB6RDV       5   0:50:37

     Jay Thompson W6JAY        5   0:59:05

     Bill Smathers KG6HXX      5   1:41:01

     Max Praglin KI6SYD        5   1:52:16

     Tom Gaccione WB2LRH       5   2:16:48

     Mark Smith KG6ZOY         1   0:50:27
         with Marcus Smith

Click for SportIdent split times.

I put an 80-meter ARDF transmitter in a tree east of the Nature Center, about 900 meters from the start/finish area. My slingshot broke as I was trying to get the antenna up, so the wire ended up much more horizontal than vertical. Only Jay Hennigan WB6RDV went after it. It was quite weak at the start and he headed off for the south shore of the lake, which was the wrong direction. I'm not sure when he figured out his error, but he did find it, coming back in 20:36 elapsed time.

Marvin, April and I want to thank everyone who came out. We hope you will all come back for a future session. We also want to thank the Park Supervisor and his staff for accommodating us and for providing an excellent facility for all forms of outdoor recreation. In these times of economic hardship for all California parks, be they local, county or state, it's important to recognize the fine work that park workers, rangers and managers do for everyone.

Joe Moell KØOV

Craig Park foxhunt photos

Craig Park ARDF on 7/18/09
Photos above and report below by Joe Moell KØOV.

Temperatures in the low 90s didn't deter an eager group of beginners from coming out to Craig Regional Park on July 18. Our gathering spot at the north end was shady all day and we were serenaded by gypsy music from the next picnic site, just to the east. Four attendees built antennas and attenuators for two meters and all were able to use them successfully on the easy transmitters nearby.

The main five-fox course with international rules timing was especially set for inexperienced hunters. A championship course is 5 to 8 kilometers in length from start, directly to each fox in best order, and then directly to the finish. This Craig Park course was 3.1 kilometers. By skipping #3, the course length was reduced to 2.3 km. Nevertheless, this was a good practice for listening to five one-minute transmissions in sequence. The hilly terrain of this park, which is the flood containment area behind Fullerton Dam, added some interesting signal bounces.

Mike Russell KJ6ACT and his wife, who came all the way from Yucaipa, walked the park and punched in at each transmitter. They were the only ones to find them all. Monique Beringer KI6RVT took three of her friends (Manal, Rahia and Svedi) out to show them ARDF. She had some trouble with the reflections and they only found #2. They came back and went out later with Marvin Johnston KE6HTS, who helped them discover the locations of three more before all the transmitters went off at 2:55 PM.


      Name and call          Foxes  Time

     Mike Russell KJ6ACT       5   2:26:30

     Brad Weyers               4   2:06:40

     Marvin Johnston KE6HTS    3   0:58:41
         with Monique Beringer KI6RVT and the Zaidi family

     Jack Myers N6WUZ          1   1:26:45

     Monique Beringer KI6RVT   1   1:05:46
         with the Zaidi family

Thanks again to Marvin Johnston KE6HTS and April Moell WA6OPS for making things go smoothly.

Joe Moell KØOV

Schabarum Park foxhunt photos

Schabarum Park ARDF on 5/16/09
Photos above and report below by Joe Moell KØOV.

ARDF Team California had its final practice for the USA ARDF Championships at Schabarum Regional Park on Saturday, May 16. A record-breaking weekend had been forecast, but the temperature only got to 87 degrees in the shady finish area at 600 feet elevation, where the finches were enjoying a leaky water fountain. However, it was much hotter on the sun-drenched trails that ranged from 500 to 1130 feet elevation within the park and the adjacent Powder Canyon Wilderness. The many steep hills will shield signals from the fox transmitters and sometimes bounce them like billiard balls. The combination of RF-scattering terrain and ever-changing vegetation makes this the most difficult fully-mapped venue for two-meter ARDF in southern California. If it's hot and sunny in Boston, these radio-orienteers will be ready!

Schabarum Park finch We tried a new starting point at the south end, elevation 700 feet. Hunters who chose the right route and transmitter order could minimize their total climb in the sun. Bob Cooley KF6VSE did just that, completing the course in an excellent 87 minutes, even though his trek was 5.5 miles. (And, of course, he knows how he could have chosen an even better route!)

Jay Hennigan WB6RDV usually does much better, but he got some bad bearings on one fox in the hills and spent almost 70 minutes on it. He made up for that by making good estimations about the locations of the others and finding creative routes to get to them quickly.


      Name and call          Foxes  Time

     Bob Cooley KF6VSE         5   1:27:35

     Jay Hennigan WB6RDV       5   2:11:30

     Scott Moore KF6IKO        4   2:43:20

     Bill Smathers KG6HXX      3   2:40:00

     Tom Gaccione WB2LRH       2   3:14:24

Julianne Walsh KI6DYX also took on the advanced two-meter course. Unfortunately, she had problems with her attenuator and didn't find any transmitters.

After an exhausting two-meter run, the hunters weren't going to be up to a long 80-meter hunt. So I put one 80-meter fox 0.7 km away to the north, just so they could check their gear. Here are the results:


      Name and call            Time

     Jay Hennigan WB6RDV       10:57

     Bob Cooley KF6VSE         11:57

     Scott Moore KF6IKO        15:48

Thanks to Marvin Johnston for setting a challenging course to get our state's team ready to take on the nation and world in Boston. Thanks to April Moell WA6OPS for taking care of a couple of minor wounds as well as keeping the competitors hydrated and healthy.

Joe Moell KØOV

Tri-City Park foxhunt photos

Tri-City Park ARDF on 5/9/09
Photos above and report below by Joe Moell KØOV.

North Orange County hams celebrated the CQ Worldwide Foxhunting Weekend in grand style at Tri-City Park on May 9. With three participating clubs and a great barbecue, it brought out the biggest "Antennas In The Park" (AITP) attendance in recent memory. Fullerton Radio Club was the overall organizer, Western Amateur Radio Association set up lots of stations in the park and the Catalina Amateur Repeater Association handled the barbecue.

Usually this event brings out at least four participants from Santa Barbara, but the ongoing wildfire problem prevented any of them from attending. It also caused cancellation of the clinic for building on-foot transmitter hunting gear, measuring tape beams and active attenuators. But there was enough loaner gear for newcomers to try the three-transmitters for beginners, all of which were within about 200 feet of the barbecue. This included a father/daughter team and two father/son teams.

The main ARDF course was attempted by six individuals and teams, with these results.


      Name and call          Foxes  Time

     Jay Thompson W6JAY        5   0:44:49

     John Frerichs N6VCW       5   1:55:54
         with John Hill K6JCH

     Dick Dabney K6BZZ         5   1:56:18
         with Dale Ehrbright KØDHE

     Rebecca Katzen KI6OEM     4   1:36:08
         with Tom Gaccione WB2LRH

     John Oppen KJ6HE          3   0:58:58
         with Nicholas Oppen

     Scot Barth KA6UDZ         1   0:40:57
         with Kim Brownlee

I also set out an 80-meter CW transmitter as a very simple demo so that people could hear what one sounds like and attempt to track it.

For the first time, vehicular transmitter hunting was a part of AITP. Bob Thornburg WB6JPI brought kits for a three-element mobile yagi, a mast and rotating system for window mount, and a three-stage resistive attenuator. According to Bob, "With the help of a number of builders and observers, most of the six sets were assembled and two made it into a mini mobile transmitter hunt in the afternoon, hidden by Richard Clark N6UZS. Keegan Heagerty, a 17 year old student home for a break from his high school in Montana, built and mounted the 3 element beam antenna on his bicycle and was able to get about 3/4 of the distance to the hidden transmitter before he ran out of time. The winner of the mini hunt was the team of Albert Solomon KI6WRU and Andrew Adamson KI6WRV. They found the transmitter in 4 miles. (About 3 miles was the best possible route)."

Thanks to everyone who made this great day of ham radio possible. In addition to those mentioned above, April Moell WA6OPS gets credit for the traditional Foxhunting Weekend cake, which was a big hit as always.

Joe Moell KØOV

Topanga Park foxhunt photos

Topanga Park ARDF on 3/7/09
Photos above and report below by Joe Moell KØOV.

Our ARDF event at Topanga State Park was one of the best attended sessions in a long time. The weather was perfect for running and walking, with the temperature never getting out of the 50's in the shade. Under the dense canopy of trees, where we could hear the birds but not see them, nine newcomers built yagis and attenuators. The deer and squirrels watched in fascination. Later, the experienced hunters showed up with their RDF gear, in time for the main two-meter hunt as practice for the USA ARDF Championships in Boston.

I put out three easy 2m transmitters close by and the beginners found them as individuals and in small groups. Not everyone turned in a score sheet, but I know that these people found all three:  Hector Figueroa KE6VRL, Larry Mock KI6BKP and Chuck Tedeschi KI6DKI.

The main course of five ARDF-timed transmitters was about 2.5 kilometers long. It was close for first place between Bob Cooley KF6VSE and Jay Hennigan WB6RDV. Their split times were almost identical at two cycles per fox, except that Jay took four minutes more getting from #5 to #2. Route choice is important!


      Name and call          Foxes  Time

     Bob Cooley KF6VSE         5   0:46:36

     Jay Hennigan WB6RDV       5   0:50:59

     Scott Moore KF6IKO        5   1:12:36

     Rick Barrett KE6DKF       5   1:17:14

     Dick Norton N6AA          5   1:27:50

     Richard Clark N6UZS       5   1:56:13

     Chris Story KA6WNK        5   2:11:18

     Chuck Tedeschi KI6DKI     5   4:11:16
         with John Rendler KI6DIG and Larry Mock KI6BKP

     Bill Smathers KG6HXX      4   1:09:38

     Tom Gaccione WB2LRH       4   2:31:03

My 80m transmitter was less than a half kilometer away and had a strong signal. It required careful bearings and attention to the map to avoid overshooting the proper trail and ending up in the heavy brush.


      Name and call            Time

     Jay Hennigan WB6RDV        6:51

     Bob Cooley KF6VSE         12:36

     Bill Smathers KG6HXX      13:03

     Scott Moore KF6IKO        16:01

     Mary Ho KI6COG            55:30
         with Rick Barrett KE6DKF

Chris Storey KA6WNK also tracked down the 80m transmitter as we went to pick it up at the end of the day.

Bob Thornburg WB6JPI came by again to promote mobile T-hunting. He has come up with kits including a yagi and window mount and he's looking for beta testers.

Thanks to Marvin Johnston KE6HTS, who stayed up into the wee hours the night before, putting kits together for late registrants. April Moell WA6OPS got all the hunters started on time and took care of a minor soldering iron burn. Thanks to them and to everyone who helped by teaching RDF techniques and picking up transmitters.

Joe Moell KØOV

Bonelli Park foxhunt photos

Bonelli Park ARDF on 2/7/09
Photos above by Joe Moell KØOV and April Moell WA6OPS.  Report below by Joe Moell KØOV.

Except for a half hour of rain at noontime, it was a fine day for transmitter hunting in Bonelli Park at our first event of 2009. Cool temperatures and occasional sunshine brought out several newcomers to build antennas and attenuators and to test them out. The rare-in-California Painted Redstart still flits through the trees by the bike rental shop, near our gathering point.

A special welcome to Frank Henry KB3NAT, who was visiting from Erie, Pennsylvania. As vice-president of the Wattsburg Wireless Association, he is promoting transmitter hunting in northwest PA.

Because of the weather, Marvin kept three of the five ARDF transmitters within a kilometer of the start/finish and I only put out two practice two-meter transmitters, plus one on 80 meters. This was plenty to keep everyone busy. Bob Cooley KF6VSE came down from Pleasanton to vie with fellow expert Jay Hennigan WB6RDV. Both found all five ARDF transmitters and then the 80m transmitter in a jiffy.


      Name and call          Foxes  Time

     Bob Cooley KF6VSE         5   1:04:24

     Jay Hennigan WB6RDV       5   1:10:18

     B. B. Odenthal KG6YGC     2   2:02:32
         with Jeremy Neal KG6YGB

     Scott Moore KF6IKO        1   1:12:00

     Bill Smathers KG6HXX      1   1:16:00

To encourage more hunters to try it, I put the 80m transmitter only 0.8 km away. Nevertheless, most were too tired or wet after 2m hunting to take it on.


      Name and call            Time

     Jay Hennigan WB6RDV        5:58

     Bob Cooley KF6VSE          7:48

     Scott Moore KF6IKO        11:36

     Bill Smathers KG6HXX      13:21

Bob Thornburg WB6JPI displayed GeoHunt, his hunt-anytime solar-powered foxbox which had been hidden nearby in recent weeks. He has re-hidden it and it's available for your mobile T-hunting pleasure.

Thanks to Marvin Johnston KE6HTS for bringing kits and all the tools and soldering equipment for building. As usual, April kept track of the hunters and was ready for First Aid.

Joe Moell KØOV

THRDFS cover Go to Southern California ARDF -- Current radio-orienteering news and results

Go to International-Style Foxhunting Comes To The Americas -- How we're getting the ball rolling

Go to Equipment Ideas for Radio-Orienteering -- Simple and inexpensive receiving and transmitting solutions

Go to Foxhunting for Scouts -- Let's get the kids involved

Go to Local ARDF Contacts -- Links to hams and groups that are doing international-style foxhunting in North America and around the world.

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This page updated 18 March 2010