Radio-Orienteering News and Results

For Southern California

Hidden transmitter hunting under international rules (also called radio-orienteering, fox-tailing, foxhunting and ARDF) now takes place regularly in southern California.  Some participants are training for upcoming national and international competitions, but most are just out there for fun and exercise.  Here's the latest information on these informal sessions.

Next Event:  Saturday, December 12, 2015 at Lake Los Carneros near Santa Barbara.  (Click for directions and times.)  For e-mail notification of these events, you can join the southern California ARDF mailing list.

El Dorado Park ARDF photos
El Dorado Park ARDF on 10/24/2015
Report below and photos above by Joe Moell KØOV.

Sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s made for a fine day of transmitter tracking at El Dorado Park in Long Beach on October 24.  It has been thirteen years since we last did ARDF in this park, because there has not been a good orienteering map.  But last year, Los Angeles Orienteering Club (LAOC) created a fine 1:10,000 map, so it was time for us to go back to this relatively small and flat location that is perfect for newcomers.  There must have been lots of competing activities this weekend.  Not only was our turnout small, but the entire park was quiet, except for an archery tournament and a big union picnic.

Second-timer Steve Herbert K6CRW made quick work of my three beginner transmitters and then went out on Marvin Johnston's full two-meter ARDF course with help from Julianne Walsh KI6DYX.  Unfortunately, he received an emergency call from his work and had to abandon the hunt after finding one transmitter.  Bob Cooley KF6VSE of Pleasanton took his San Diego friend Ken Carstens along as he walked to all five two-meter ARDF transmitters and back in just over an hour and 15 minutes.

On the other ARDF band, Tom Gaccione WB2LRH and Marvin Johnston KE6HTS went out to find my lone 80-meter transmitter, which was about 1.2 kilometers away near the northern park boundary.

Bruce Corning, one of the field checkers of this fine LAOC map, was in the park on this day and joined us for the traditional after-hunt supper at a nearby restaurant.  This is such a nice park that I'm sure we'll have another beginner event there soon.  Watch for it and plan to attend.

Joe Moell KØOV

Fort MacArthur HamCon-Foxhunt 2015 photos
HamCon-Foxhunt 2015 on 9/13/2015
Report below and photos above by Joe Moell KØOV.

This on-foot transmitter hunt took place on Sunday afternoon, just after the ARRL Southwestern Division convention (HamCon-2015).  Although there were a few similarities, it was different from our regular park sessions.  After the convention displays closed in Torrance, we began a workshop for building measuring-tape antennas and active attenuators at Angel's Gate Park in San Pedro, about a dozen miles from the convention hotel.  Then around 2:30 PM, the hunt got under way.  Instead of the usual 5-fox single-frequency ARDF course, there were 14 two-meter signals on the air from all over the park.  Hunters had 90 minutes to find as many of them as they could.

Fullerton Radio Club (FRC), one of the HamCon sponsoring organizations, organized this hunt.  Fair skies and a fresh breeze from the ocean made for perfect weather.  Some competitors were individuals and others went out in teams of two.  Only a few were experienced. The rest were experiencing on-foot foxhunting for the first time.

Two of the fourteen transmitters were especially for the beginners, with strong signals on separate clear frequencies, placed about 100 yards from the start.  Three intermediate-level voice transmitters on separate frequencies were in the concrete gun emplacement area, 75 to 150 yards away.  Five other transmitters on separate frequencies were intended to be difficult, with shorter transmissions, located at least 300 yards away.  Three close-by micro-transmitters were fighting each other for dominance on 146.565 MHz.  Could the hunters separate them?  The fourteenth transmitter was very special, and since nobody found it, I won't say what or where it was.

Each hunter's goal was to discover and mark down the unique tag numbers on as many foxes as possible within the 90-minute time limit.  But for a found transmitter to score points, the tag number had to be marked next to the proper transmitter on the competitor's frequency slip.  That proved to be the hard part.  Almost everyone found at least one transmitter, but almost everyone marked at least one incorrectly, too.

Here are the results:

       Name and call           Found  Identified

     Bob Cooley KF6VSE           9        8

     Greg Lund K6GHL             4        2

     Steve Herbert K6CRW         3        2

     Dave Wiseman KD6OTJ         2        2

     Ron Allerdice WA6CYY        2        1

     Bruce Jones WA6STA          2        0
        with Damon Jones KI6HPV

     Anthony Mascola KJ6OKV      1        1
        with Ryan

     Ike Martinez KK6WHW         1        0
        with Dick Barch W1MII  

     Dave Jeheber  WA6EKR        0        0 

Three nice convention prizes were presented to the top scorers who were registered for HamCon.

The antenna-building workshop was skillfully organized by Julianne Walsh KI6DYX with antenna and attenuator kits by Marvin Johnston KE6HTS.  Julianne and Tom Gaccione WB2LRH helped some of the beginners find their first transmitters.

Many thanks to Gene Thorpe KB6CMO and Cheryl Thorpe KE6TZU of the Fullerton Radio Club.  They went to endless HamCon meetings, gathered prizes, staffed the sign-up and prize tables and helped at the finish line.  We're also grateful for the courtesies of the Ft. MacArthur Military Museum staff members.  Museum Director Stephen Nelson helped with the necessary permits.  Regular volunteer Dennis DuVall W7QHO made sure that we had the site access we needed.

Joe Moell KØOV

Mt. Laguna ARDF photos
Mt. Laguna ARDF on 5/23/2015
Report below and photos above by Joe Corones N6SZO.

It was a dark, foggy and stormy Friday afternoon with visibility a hundred feet or so and a nippy 40 degrees when Joe Loughlin KE6PHB and I pulled in at the cabin of Mary Walke KJ6ZIW in the Laguna Mountains of San Diego county.  We have used this cabin several times in the past for ham radio events but had never seen weather like this before.  We wanted to get up there early and possibly put out the 5 hidden T's on Friday afternoon instead of running around on Saturday morning.  KE6PHB had finally reached the point on his new "PHB-101" transmitter design so that we could put them out on Friday, set to come on at 10 AM Saturday, but it was just too darn cold!

We huddled up in the cabin and checked all the other gear, practice T, back up Pic-Con's, HTs, borrowed sniffers, batteries, locks and cables, etc.  The cabin finally warmed up with the space heater, so we almost got a good night's sleep anticipating good weather in the morning.

Unfortunately, the weather did not live up to its forecast.  It was still cold, wet and foggy.  Luckily we could drive a loop and not have to walk through miles of wet brush to set out the T's.  We spotted the last T at 9:30 and headed back to the cabin to prepare for the onslaught of hunters.  With the weather this bad we were wondering what we were doing here.  Hunters started arriving and the first team went out at 10:25 AM.  The last team started at 1:55 PM, just short of the 2:00 PM deadline we had set so we could start the BBQ around 3:30.  The only deviation we made during the day was to allow Tom Franks KJ6VOC and his three sons Daniel, Aaron and David to take a break during the hunt for a "dinner stop" as they were one T short at 3:30.  After dinner, they located the fifth T and checked back in.

Here are the results:

      Name and call             Time   Foxes

     Scott Moore KF6IKO         1:34     5

     Bill Elkerton W6ZM         1:55     5
        with Robin Elkerton, KC6LEA, Brian Elkerton KI6DUR and Nicky

     Greg Spaulding W6BAF       2:04     5
        with Karen Spaulding KG6FON

     Mark Ording K6KHO          2:55     5
        with Trevor Ording 

     Dick Foran WB6ZAM          2:58     5

     Tom Franks KJ6VOC          4:03     3
        with Daniel, Aaron and David 

     Jim and Keela              1:00     0

We had a total of 18 people on site with 16 hunters, not bad for an "all weather, all terrain" hunt.  The BBQ was outside with almost everyone eating inside due to cold weather.

We look forward to seeing more folks out on next year's hunt.  It should be at a lower elevation and much better weather.  Thank you for the BBQ donations, every bit helps!

Joe Corones N6SZO

Hillcrest Park ARDF photos
Hillcrest Park ARDF on 5/16/2015
Report below and photos above by Joe Moell KØOV.

After 0.6 inch of rain fell in Fullerton on Thursday and Friday, the hills were a bit muddy and slippery on Saturday.  But cloudy skies meant comfortable temperatures as members and friends of the Fullerton Radio Club gathered in a new location for the annual "Antennas In The Park" event.  The usual HF operators didn't show up this year, but fans of ham radio direction finding had fun building antennas and searching for hidden transmitters.

Many of the attendees were newcomers this time.  They tested their antennas with three practice voice transmitters near the gathering point.  Then they set out on the five-transmitter ARDF course within the 40-acre park.  Here are the results:

      Name and call             Time   Foxes

     David Smith W6DPS        2:09:55    4

     Ron Frank KK6DWD         1:03:00    2

     Kate Hutton K6HTN        1:28:00    2

I put out two transmitters on the 80-meter band, one close by for training and a second one in the northeast corner of the park.  Here are the results for the second transmitter, which sent CW continuously.

      Name and call             Time  

     Ron Frank KK6DWD         0:26:30     

     Robert Haggard AD6XJ     1:12:00     

     Roman Kamienski KG6QMZ      ?     

Thanks to Marvin Johnston for putting on another excellent antenna/attenuator building session and to April Moell WA6OPS for bringing another beautiful and scrumptious Foxhunting Weekend cake for all to share.  Also thanks to the officers and board members of Fullerton Radio Club for sponsoring this fine event.

Joe Moell KØOV

Cal Poly SLO ARDF photos
Cal Poly SLO ARDF on 5/9/2015
Photos above by Sam Vigil WA6NGH.

The sixth annual on-foot transmitter hunt on the campus of California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo took place under beautiful cloudless skies.  It started with a building session for two-meter measuring-tape yagis and active attenuators.  Then individuals and groups went out on the course that was described by one experienced hunter as the hardest ever at this location.  Nevertheless, everyone reported having a good time.

Something new this year was APRS trackers on some of the hunters.  According to organizer Stanton Wu KK6AEE, "In the groups, one person held an APRS tracker and another person held the directional antenna.  The trackers can also be clipped to pants, so people that hunted alone did that while hunting.  Not everyone had a tracker because the club didn't have enough trackers for that."

KK6AEE continues, "A map of the campus with the location of the trackers was projected onto a screen in the hamshack, so people that stayed behind to cook or log times into the computer could watch the hunt.  I was one of the people that stayed behind to help out, and I thought the trackers were neat.  I routinely checked the screen to see how some groups were doing.  I helped hide the transmitters too, so I knew where they were and how close the hunters were to finding one."

Here are the results as provided by the organizers:

Cal Poly SLO ARDF results

Thanks to KK6AEE and all the other volunteers who organized a great hunt, and thanks to Marvin Johnston KE6HTS for providing kits and helping participants build their equipment.

Bonelli Park ARDF photos
Bonelli Park ARDF on 3/21/2015
Report below by Joe Moell KØOV.  Photos above by Joe Moell KØOV and Roman Kamienski KG6QMZ.

Fine weather and a good turnout made for an excellent day of ARDF at Bonelli Regional Park on March 21. We announced that the emphasis would be on training, so there were a total of 15 transmitters on two bands ready when the antenna/attenuator building session concluded. First, there were three voice transmitters on three separate frequencies for antenna testing and bearing-taking training. For those who were ready, there was Marvin Johnston's full five-transmitter two-meter course with radio foxes scattered throughout the park. For those who wanted a bit more practice before tacking the full course, I put out five low-power foxes nearby, all on the same frequency with the standard 60-second ARDF transmission sequence. It gave the newcomers an opportunity to learn how to attack a course with this timing. The experienced hunters could use this as a "sprint" course, with the objective of finding each transmitter on its first cycle.

Rob Brigham W6ZH tried ARDF for the first time at Vasquez Rocks in February and came back this month to build an antenna and attack another full-size course, which he did with splendid results. Also building an antenna/attenuator setup was Karthik Malasani of Santa Monica, whose first time on an ARDF course was assisted by Tom Gaccione WB2LRH.  Here are results of the full two-meter course.

Also on this course was Brooks Kachner W6BJK, joined by his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.

      Name and call          Foxes  Time

     Jay Hennigan WB6RDV       5  1:19:43
      201(1)   203(1)   204(1)   205(1)   202(1)        F
       11:05    27:29    53:49     0.00     0.00  1:19:43
       11:05    16:24    26:20                      25:54

     Scott Moore KF6IKO        5  1:22:48
      203(1)   201(1)   205(1)   202(1)   204(1)        F
       12:45    21:58    55:17  1:06:37  1:19:58  1:22:48
       12:45     9:13    33:19    11:20    13:21     2:50

     Robert Brigham W6ZH       5  1:37:20
      201(1)   203(1)   204(1)   205(1)   202(1)        F
       21:08    34:48    59:59  1:05:41  1:25:27  1:37:20
       21:08    13:40    25:11     5:42    19:46    11:53

     Bruce Corning             5  1:59:23
      204(1)   205(1)   202(1)   201(1)   203(1)        F
       23:28    56:38  1:16:40  1:41:53  1:55:43  1:59:23
       23:28    33:10    20:02    25:13    13:50     3:40

     Doug Bradley KG6CNR       5  2:00:34
      201(1)   203(1)   202(1)   205(1)   204(1)        F
       21:17    29:27  1:18:16  1:31:02  1:58:06  2:00:34
       21:17     8:10    48:49    12:46    27:04     2:28

     Karthik Malasani          2  1:01:19
        with Tom Gaccione WB2LRH
      201(1)   205(1)        F
     1:00:48     0.00  1:29:57
     1:00:48             29:09

     Bill Smathers KG6HXX      2  2:24:39
      201(1)   205(1)        F
       57:16  1:28:06  2:24:39
       57:16    30:50    56:33

Foxes with "0.00" times were found after the e-punch units shut down at 3 PM. 

I put out two transmitters on the 80-meter band, one close by for training and a second one a little over a kilometer away.  Here are the results for the second transmitter, which sent CW continuously.

      Name and call             Time  

     Scott Moore KF6IKO       0:42:50     

     Tom Gaccione WB2LRH      0:46:41     

     Roman Kamienski KG6QMZ   1:13:12     

Thanks to everyone who came out and took to the courses with eagerness.  Appreciation as usual to Marvin for course-setting and antenna-building, and to April Moell WA6OPS for Field Medic services.  Thanks also to Tom Gaccione WB2LRH for helping with training and to everyone who picked up transmitters at the end.

Joe Moell KØOV

Vasquez Rocks ARDF photos
Vasquez Rocks ARDF on 2/16/2015
Report below and photos above by Joe Moell KØOV.

It's been ten years since we have done ARDF at the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area near Agua Dulce.  This unique site has been used in countless movies and TV shows and is a popular hiking and climbing destination.  Orienteers describe the map as very technical, but also very well done.  Weather was excellent.

Having our President's Day ARDF session combined with a Los Angeles Orienteering Club meet had its good and not-as-good aspects.  It exposed many classic orienteers to radio-orienteering, but there was some confusion about registration for the two separate activities.

This was an unusual opportunity for residents of the Santa Clarita and Palmdale areas to have ARDF close by, so we had a good number of newcomers who came out to try RDF antennas that they had recently built.  My "easy" practice transmitters proved challenging for some but "duck soup" for others.

Of those who had early success, many tried the full ARDF course, or at least went out to find one or two of its transmitters.  Unfortunately one transmitter went off the air soon after the start, so the most that anyone found was four.  Here are the results:

      Name and call          Foxes  Time

     Jay Hennigan WB6RDV       4  1:11:21
      130(1)   119(1)   101(1)   129(1)        F
        6:25    17:28    32:27  1:04:48  1:11:21
        6:25    11:03    14:59    32:21     6:33 

     Dean Dods KD6I            4  1:26:44
      201(1)   204(1)   203(1)   202(1)   205(1)        F
       16:53    29:34    43:40  1:16:53  1:26:44
       16:53    12:41    14:06    33:13     9:51

     Robert Brigham W6ZH       4  2:16:10
      119(1)   101(1)   129(1)   130(1)        F
     1:07:23  1:28:13  1:55:10  2:09:57  2:16:10
     1:07:23    20:50    26:57    14:47     6:13

     David Smith W6DPS         3  1:49:34
      130(1)   119(1)   101(1)        F              *105
       20:32    51:44  1:23:30  1:49:34              7:52
       20:32    31:12    31:46    26:04

     Tim Labera                2  1:21:46
      130(1)   119(1)        F              *153     *146     *108
       27:41  1:04:47  1:21:46              4:28    31:33    53:28
       27:41    37:06    16:59

     Garrett Holmstrom AG6RQ   2  1:56:32
      129(1)   130(1)        F              *160     *157
       26:02    46:55  1:56:32              6:45     8:34
       26:02    20:53  1:09:37

Control numbers with asterisks at left were regular orienteering controls, punched in error.  Steve Morse KI6HGH also went out on the full course but was not timed.

Thanks to Marvin Johnston KE6HTS for taking time away from his LAOC duties to set a good ARDF course, and he thanks everyone who helped him pick up transmitters afterwards.  April Moell WA6OPS took care of all the scratches, bumps and bruises as usual.  And special thanks to Julianne Walsh KI6DYX, who gave one-on-one RDF training to several of the newcomers.

Joe Moell KØOV

Schabarum Park ARDF photos
Schabarum Park ARDF on 1/12/2015
Report below and photos above by Joe Moell KØOV.

Southern California weather forecasters got surprised on the second weekend of January 2015.  Early in the week, they thought that there was only a small chance of brief showers on Sunday morning.  But Saturday afternoon, the rain started and continued intermittently (and sometimes heavily) through Sunday afternoon.  Our Sunday ARDF practice was mixed in with the state orienteering championships for Navy Junior ROTC students, so the show went on.  From a table under a pop-up shelter, we were ready to send participants out to find three practice two-meter transmitters, one practice 80-meter transmitter, a five-fox two-meter ARDF short-course, and another 80-meter transmitter about 650 meters away atop a muddy hillside.  No transmitter went unfound.

Attendance was much lower than expected, of course, but those who came out were in good spirits and had a good time.  We're already planning another session in this park for a warm-weather month.

Besides setting the ARDF course, Marvin Johnston KE6HTS was busy solving problems with electronic scoring of the ROTC event.  April Moell WA6OPS only had one minor wound to patch up, so she had plenty of time to explain ARDF to the orienteers and park visitors.

Joe Moell KØOV

Results and Photos of Previous Years' ARDF and ROCA Events

SoCal 2014 -- Southern California practice/demonstration events of 2014, including Bonelli Regional Park, Topanga State Park (2), Tri-City Park, Schabarum Regional Park, Mt. Pinos (2), Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Lake Los Carneros.

SoCal 2013 -- Southern California practice/demonstration events of 2013, including Tri-City Park, Lake Los Carneros (4), Mt. Pinos (2), Santa Fe Dam, Schabarum Regional Park, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Bonelli Regional Park.

SoCal 2012 -- Southern California practice/demonstration events of 2012, including Travel Town, Tri-City Park, Lake Los Carneros, San Dieguito Park, Mt. Pinos (3), Murray Community Center, Santa Fe Dam, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Bonelli Regional Park.

SoCal 2011 -- Southern California (and Arizona) practice/demonstration events of 2011, including Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Yuma Fairgrounds, Lake Los Carneros (2), Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area, Schabarum Regional Park, Topanga State Park, Angel's Gate Park, Bonelli Regional Park and Tri-City Park.

SoCal 2010 -- Southern California practice/demonstration events of 2010, including Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Schabarum Regional Park, Travel Town, Mt. Laguna, Mt. Pinos (2) and Tri-City Park.

June 5 - 8, 2014 -- Fourteenth USA ARDF Championships near Boston, MA.

October 9 - 13, 2013 -- Thirteenth USA ARDF Championships and Seventh IARU Region 2 ARDF Championships near Asheboro, NC.

June 1 - 3, 2012 -- Twelfth USA ARDF Championships near Mt. Laguna, CA.

September 16 - 18, 2011 -- Eleventh USA and Sixth IARU Region 2 ARDF Championships near Albuquerque, NM.

May 21 - 23, 2010 -- Tenth USA ARDF Championships near Cincinnati, OH.

THRDFS cover Go to Championship Foxhunting News -- Results of recent international competitions and announcements of upcoming ones.

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 Electronic Scoring for ARDF -- What it is, how it works, and why it's gaining popularity.

Go to Extenders Aid Handicapped Foxhunters -- A novel way to include persons with disabilities

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

HOMING IN logo Back to the Homing In home page

This page updated 6 November 2015

As seen in @LA:  The Guide to Greater Los Angeles and Southern California