Whether you prefer your hidden transmitter hunting to be mobile (T-hunting) or all on foot (foxtailing, radio-orienteering, ARDF), there were opportunities to compete and win prizes at HamCon 2003 in Long Beach, California. The Fullerton Radio Club and its associates presented full weekend of foxhunting fun and prizes.
This was the third time that HamCon on-foot hunts have taken place at this 130-acre park. It's always fun because of the many interesting features. This time there weren't any transmitters in the crowded southeastern corner by the Korean Bell. The lower parking lot there was full due to a crafts show across the street. But another nicely landscaped picnic and play area is in the southwest corner, where three ammo-can foxes were found by many hunters. The north end has the big bunker pit, tunnels, buildings, and other fortifications left over from the site's days as Fort MacArthur. There are endless places to hide transmitters there.
Each hidden transmitter had a small sticker on it or its antenna with a unique 3-digit number. Hunters were instructed to put that number next to that fox on their hunt list to prove that they found it.
In the middle of the park are the Marine Mammal and Bird Rehabilitation Centers, plus the Fort MacArthur Military Museum. This part of the fort has been nicely restored and is open to the public on weekends, with self-guided and docent-guided tours of Osgood-Farley Bunkers. That's where the start and finish were.
I had hoped to put out 20 two-meter transmitters Sunday morning before everyone arrived for the hunt. I ran out of time after 16, which proved to be plenty. One transmitter was cleverly camouflaged inside a toy cordless phone. I intended to place it on a shelf in the museum store. But one museum volunteer didn't show up, so the store didn't open. Fortunately, the Plotting Room exhibit was open, so I put a different micro-transmitter there.
Hunters were divided into four categories. All teams were in one category, while the other three were for individuals, by age range. A team was allowed only one RDF set, to prevent separate hunting. Each individual or team received a list of all the foxes by frequency, with a clue as to the type of transmission to expect from each one (tones, voice, Morse, and so forth). Many competitors took time to program all the frequencies into their handi-talkies or scanners, along with offset frequencies if needed.
Some participants had just come from a convention workshop presented by Marvin Johnston KE6HTS, where they built tape-measure yagis and offset attenuators. Others brought their own unique RDF equipment.
After the countdown, everyone was off to find as many foxes as they could within the 90-minute time limit. The best strategy would have been to run around the perimeter of the park and pick off as many transmitters as possible, then finish up in the museum area where the ending countdown could be easily heard. But several hunters were immediately obsessed with a very strong signal a few feet from the start. It seemed to be coming from my van. Hunters climbed all over it for a while.
When one hunter asked if he could open the door, I suddenly realized why all the interest and intensity. Oops! The toy cordless phone that I couldn't put inside the still-closed store was in the back seat of the van, transmitting away.
Even though I immediately got the phone-fox out and put it on top of the van, it wasn't a "gimmie" to the hunters. Only two correctly identified it on their score sheets. Six others mistook it for another transmitter on the sheet that was 10 KHz higher in frequency.
Best overall score was posted by Jay Hennigan WB6RDV of Goleta, who found and correctly identified nine foxes to win the Senior age category (45 and above). Jay is a long-time mobile T-hunter who recently took up on-foot hunting. His training helped him win four gold medals in the males-over-50 age category at the Third USA ARDF Championships this summer.
Winner of the Junior category (ages 18 and younger) and second-best overall with eight foxes was Jay Thompson W6JAY of Santa Ana. He was recently honored as Amateur Radio Newsline's Young Ham of the Year. W6JAY was also a medal-winner in Cincinnati this summer.
In the Prime Age category (between Juniors and Seniors), the winner was Bob Dengler NO6B with six foxes credited. Winners of the team category, with three foxes, were young Steven Martinet and Phil Goodman AE6DI. All category winners received gift certificates from Amateur Electronic Supply. But that wasn't the full extent of the awards. All competitors received one prize ticket for each fox found. Tickets went into a drum for a table full of goodies from Nestle foods, HamCon, and the museum store.
Here are the complete results, with number of correctly marked foxes and category:
INDIVIDUALS: Jay Hennigan WB6RDV 9 Senior Jay Thompson W6JAY 8 Junior Bob Dengler NO6B 6 Prime Glenn Allen KE6HPZ 5 Prime Ryan Porchia KG6ERB 4 Junior Roger Denny WB6ARK 4 Senior Karen Goodman KG6USN 3 Prime Travis Wood AE6GA 3 Prime Marvin Johnston KE6HTS 3 Senior Scott Stys KG6LJY 2 Prime Richard Thompson WA6NOL 0 Senior Jason Tucker KG6PDS 0 Prime Jim Whitted KG6SDW 0 Senior TEAMS: Steven Martinet and Phil Goodman AE6DI 3 Tom Gaccione WB2LRH and Vicki Moll 2 Norm Dlugatch W6NR, Joshua Dlugatch, and Sal Soto 2 Sam Vigil WA6NGH and Eve Vigil KF6NEV 0
Many people helped make HamCon/Foxhunt 2003 a success. Noah Brandt KF6FOJ and others from the Military Museum were excellent hosts. Mike Cramer KC6YHM, Cheryl Thorpe KE6TZU and Gene Thorpe KB6CMO of Fullerton Radio Club went to many meetings and kept the Transmitter Hunt Table at the convention site going. Jon and Jackie Schaffer, W6UFS and WA6AKP of the Hospital Disaster Support Communications System, kept the competitors hydrated and provided important First Aid services. Jim and Bev Pitman WA6MZV and WA6TIU, the HamCon Co-Chairs, arranged for the site and made sure we had gift certificates for the winners. Other prizes were provided by Fullerton Radio Club and the Nestle Company. Last but not least, it could not have happened without April Moell WA6OPS, who did a myriad of tasks including start, finish, and scoring.
We used the large-scale ROCA format for this convention hunt because it's a challenge for experts, but beginners can succeed too. Most of our informal park foxhunts in southern California include both a mini-ROCA for beginners and an IARU-rules short course for advanced hunters. Click here to find out about these hunts, which take place about every two months. Beginners and experts alike are always welcome.
Joe Moell KØOV
Some hunters thought it wasn't possible to get through Friday night traffic to all T's and back in 2-3/4 hours. But exactly one week ahead of time, I did just that. I drove the course in 5-4-3-1 order, paused appropriate amounts of time for sniffing at each T, and got back with 94.4 miles and about 15 minutes to spare. The course could have been driven in less mileage in 5-4-1-3 order.
The T locations:
T1 - Park-and-ride lot, west of 57 freeway at Highland Valley Road overcrossing, 40 watts into horizontal quad.
T3 - Fullerton train station, north side, 25 watts into horizontal yagi.
T4 - Discovery Science Center parking lot in Santa Ana, on freeway fence overlooking I-5, one watt into 5/8-wave ground plane.
T5 - End of Old Ranch Parkway, next to westbound Hwy 22 onramp from Seal Beach Boulevard, one watt into quarter-wave whip.
Contrary to a few "no signal" complaints, I was able to copy all T's on my hand-held tape-measure yagi at the starting point. Results below show the finish time, number of T's before/after the overtime penalties, and mileage. Crenshaw Factors did not affect the rankings.
Calls Time T's Miles N6AIN/N6MI 10:11 3/3 93.85 First prize WB6JPI 10:10 2/2 73.7 Declined prize KC6TNJ/WA6TQQ 9:57 1/1 63.7 Second prize N6UZS 9:59 1/1 64.4 Third prize WB6RDV/WB6OBB 10:32 3/1 78.3 From Santa Barbara W6DFW/KG6FWH/N6MXU 8:52 0/0 26.8 AE6GA/KG6ERB 10:25 1/0 32.0 N6IDF/KG6GWV 10:32 2/0 94.9 WB6ARK 10:02 0/0 ????
Note that all prize winners were back by 10:15, even though they all found less than four T's. Only one person found all T's. That was N6MJN, hunting unofficially. He arrived at T4 just as April and I were shutting it off.
Special thanks to T-sitters K6SNE at T1 and KE6IPY at T3. Don't blame them for anything, as it wasn't their fault. Also thanks to starter/timekeeper Mike Cramer KC6YHM. Mike and the Thorpe's, Cheryl KE6TZU and Gene KB6CMO, attended many HamCon committee meetings and supervised the T-hunt Table at the convention site.
Joe Moell KØOV
Above photos Copyright © 2003 Joseph D. Moell. All rights reserved.
Go to Let's Go T-Hunting, a page describing mobile transmitter hunts in southern California
Go to International Style Foxhunting Comes to the Americas, a page about international-rules on-foot hunts
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Links updated 7 November 2006