Massachusetts to Host USA ARDF Championships June 5-8

The USA ARDF (Amateur Radio Direction Finding) Championships return to the Northeast this year. ARRL ARDF Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, said on-foot foxhunting fans of all skill levels will gather near Boston in early June for 4 days of intense competition. Registration to participate in the event has been extended to June 1.

Activities begin on Thursday, June 5 with a 10-transmitter short-course sprint competition on 80 meters. The following day is the foxoring event, a combination of RDF and classic orienteering on 80 meters in which participants navigate to marked locations on their maps where very low-power transmitters can be found nearby. Saturday morning will be the classic full-course 2 meter main event, with five transmitters in a very large forest. The banquet and awards presentation follow that evening. A similar full-course 80 meter main event takes place Sunday morning, with awards presented afterward.
ARDF champ Vadim Afonkin, KB1RLI, is this year’s lead organizer, event host, and course-planner.

National ARDF championships typically take place in late summer or early fall. This year, though, the ARDF World Championships will take place during early September, however. To provide plenty of time for selecting Team USA members and planning overseas travel, the 2014 USA ARDF Championships must take place 3 months before.

ARDF championship rules are set by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). For scoring and awards, participants are divided into 11 age/gender categories. In classic ARDF championships, competitors start in small groups comprised of different categories.

The USA ARDF Championships are open to anyone who can safely navigate the woods solo. A ham radio license is not required. Each participant competes as an individual.

Stateside winners will be considered for membership in ARDF Team USA, which will travel to Kazakhstan for the 17th ARDF World Championships.

An online entry form and more information are available on the Boston ARDF website. Read more. — Thanks to Joe Moell, K0OV, ARRL Amateur Radio Direction Finding Coordinator

 

HCRA Foxhunt – June 1st


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Now that things are warming up in Hampden County, I think it’s time to have ourselves a Foxhunt. So dust off your direction finding equipment and make sure it works. With thanks to Larry, W1AST (ex WB1DBY), We had a decent turnout for our last foxhunt that took place in the fall of 2013. Jeff, NT1K has volunteered to the be the fox this time. If you are interested and want to join in on the hunt, please contact NT1K. You can either reply to this post, fill out the form below, e-mail (my call @ arrl.net) or see NT1K at the next meeting. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to join in on the fun. Home stations with a beam could also help the operators by providing beam headings.

We have permission to use the K1ZJH repeater. The fox will transmit on the repeater while the hunters will be using the input frequency to look for the location of the FOX.

  • Frequency: 146.715 MHz
  • Input Frequency: 146.115MHz (This is the frequency you want to track the fox on)
  • PL: 100hz
  • Date: Sunday, June 1st, 2014
  • Time: 3:00pm Local
  • Starting Location: Holyoke Mall Overflow Lot (Behind Sears)
  • Duration: 1-2hrs

If you are new to Amateur Radio and  never participated in a fox hunt, This would be  the perfect time to get your feet wet. Take some time and read an excellent post by Larry (W1AST) about fox hunting basics. You can also check out homingin.com for more information.

Transmissions will start at approximately 3:00pm. It’s Important that you check in with the fox.
I will transmit for 1-2 min every 10 min. I will also chat it up with anyone else on frequency. My power level will vary from 55W (at the start) to 5W to make it easier for people to track me. 
I will stop transmitting either when all checked in stations arrive or at 5:00pm whichever is first. That is why it’s important to check in.

Home stations with the proper equipment are encouraged to help out and provide headings if possible. 

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Are you Interested? Contact NT1K below
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Twitter Is -Not- The Woodpecker Of Old…

Many of our older, Er, Ah, I mean…more experienced Hams in the club, may recall the “Russian Woodpecker”. Beginning around 1976 till around 1989 when it ceased, this powerful radio signal was heard world wide and when triangulated, the source was found to emanate from inside the Ukraine. Hence the name, the Russian Woodpecker.

Twitter’s only metonymy with the Russian Woodpecker is the use of the bird metaphor in their names. The Russian Woodpecker wanted to disrupt communications, Twitter wants to facilitate them.

As Amateur Radio Operators, one of our goals is to communicate with as many good friends, and make as many new friends as possible using our radios. Similarly, as a club the HCRA needs to communicate with as many of its members (and our friends) as it can. By using Twitter, the club has one more item in it’s tool-kit to do just that.

Twitter is easy to use, accessible via PC as well as any number of mobile devices, and proven itself to be an effective way to share information and ideas. Be it between people who follow other people, or people who follow institutions, such as our club.

A major plus Twitter has going for it, is that while not everyone has time to log onto the internet, then go to websites browsing text files, most everyone has time to look at a quick message sent to them containing 140 characters…or less! That’s right, in about 30 seconds you can instantly learn what’s happening with your club. These Tweets may include a link that would provide you with more information and content.

So, it’s with the above in mind, the Hampden County Radio Association created its own Twitter account called “Hampden County RA” or “@HampdenCountyRA” and we encourage all our members to follow us on Twitter. It’s easy to locate, you can find it by simply clicking on this link: https://twitter.com/HampdenCountyRA. We look forward to your follows, and all club members who follow @HampdenCountyRA, will be followed back.

One last thing, to alleviate any concerns, be assured this is the official and -only- account the Hampden County Radio Association has on Twitter.

Fox Hunt Coming Soon – Sun, Nov 3rd – BE THERE!

That’s right folks, time to break out your RDF equipment because there will be a fox loose on Sunday, November 3rd, 2013.

When: Sunday, Nov 3rd
Where: Forest Park, Rt.5

Picknelly Field (RT. 5 Enterence To Forest Park @ Indian Sculpture)
Columbus Ave, Springfield, MA 01106

Starts at 2pm and should last a couple hours.

From Larry: WB1DBY

We’re holding the First Fall Fox Hunt of 2013 on Sunday afternoon, November 3rd at 2 pm. Yours truly is the fox. Starting point is the parking lot at the “Indian” aka entrance to Forest park across from the King Philip Stockade on the way to Longmeadow.

Max 2 hours. Should be an easy and FUN hunt. The fx will give out clues. Hoping for at least 5 mobile hunters (more welcome!) and also base stations welcome to give headings too.

If you plan on particpating, please let me know. It’s possible we may have some future hams at the starting point looking for rides.

Come and find me!

If you never have been to a fox hunt before, Larry wrote a very nice article about fox hunting and what to do!


The Basics on Finding the Fox
By
Larry, WB1DBY
(with special thanks to my XYL for proof reading this)

So you want to hunt down the fox? What do you need to get started? Are there any tricks to help? What do you do? What hardware do you need? How prepared should you be?

Suggested Equipment:

  • Some sort of receiver be it a scanner, ht, mobile rig for 2 meters

You can hunt with just that, but you’ll need a LOT of luck. You also should have:

  • A directional antenna

  • receiver with a S meter to hunt with

  • 2nd receiver (explained below)

  • Attenuator

  • Compass & piece of string or small rope (or 3 or more pieces of rope or string – see Steps 14 & 15)

  • Physical Map That shows Hartford, CT to Northampton, MA and everything in between (a gps just doesn’t cut it here)

  • Pad and pen

  • watch or clock

  • Co Pilot or two

The Fox will transmit one minute out of every 5 minutes. The Fox will also give a one minute warning (or try to).

Step 1: Meet other hunters at the starting point. For Sunday, November 3rds hunt, we are starting at the parking lot at the entrance to Forest park off exit 1 of route 91. This is the parking lot at Picknelly Field near the Indian and nearly into Longmeadow. It’s also across from the entrance to the King Philip Stockade. You should arrive at least 15 minutes (or more) before the hunt starts to give you time to get ready.

  • Note: Sometimes others will arrive at the starting point looking for a ride. It’s important for the hunters to have room in their vehicles for future hunters to observe (or help you).

Step 2: Have your directional antenna connected to your receiver. Verify that it is connected. Can you DF (direction find) the repeater? Does it point in the correct direction? If yes – good.

Step 3: Now tune to the input and lock it there. If you’re hunting on 94, tune your receiver to 146.34 and lock it there. Do not hunt on the 146.94 OUTPUT of the repeater (you wouldn’t be the first) otherwise you’ll end up at Mt. Tom eventually.

Step 4: Make sure your compass is in your hand or pocket (or better yet, have your co-pilot be ready with the compass, have the pad and pen near too.

Step 5: Listen for the fox to ask for check ins. Check in or ask someone else to check you in. There may be a person designated to collect everyones name and call.

Step 6: Listen for the ONE minute warning. You should be ready by then.

Step 7:  When the Fox is transmitting, sweep the antenna around to the strongest signal on your S meter. Once you find it, reverse the antenna 180 degrees. Can you NULL the Fox out or greatly reduce his signal? If yes, you probably have a good heading. If you have trouble receiving the fox, sometimes moving a few feet is enough to pick up the signal better.

Step 8:  Look to see where your antenna is pointed. If you are by yourself, find a spot where the antenna is pointed and remember it. Put the antenna down and use the compass to take a directional heading – looking at this spot. (or have your co-pilot do this while you aim the antenna) – Your co-pilot should stand behind the back of the antenna and point the compass down the boom of the antenna and read where it points. Reading a compass is a whole other thing – find a boy scout to help you if you can’t!

Step 9: WRITE down starting point and the heading you just took

Step 10: Open up your map and find the starting point. Put one end of the string at the starting point and using the compass, extend the string out onto the map. Look to see where it goes.

  • At this point, you could drive along the path where the string goes and some will do that. It’s up to you if you’re feeling lucky.

  • You might want to compare your headings with the other hunters

  • You might also want to listen for headings from base stations. If base stations check in, write their call and location down and their heading. (more on this further down)

Step 11: Looking at the map, find a location that is not along the string line to take your next reading. The idea here is to triangulate and find the fox. Write down that location on the pad. Put everyone and all your gear safely into your vehicle and drive to that spot you noted.

Don’t worry about missing a transmission or two by the fox. Go to the point you chose. (it takes a lot of will to not stop and swing the antenna around, try not to)

Step 12: Find a safe spot away from buildings, big trucks, maybe high up or in a clear area to take your next reading.

Step 13:  Repeat steps 4 thru 8 and write down your new bearing on the pad. Don’t commit it to memory as I guarantee you’ll never remember it. Write it down.

Step 14: Plot your original heading with the string. Plot your 2nd heading with another piece of string. Do they cross? Let’s hope so. If not, take another reading OR move your location a bit and take another reading. If there are base station readings with headings, you may want to plot their headings too. Make sure it is from their QTH and not yours!

Step 15:  If the lines cross, you can figure out where on the map that is and drive there OR repeat steps 3 thru 8 again from another selected spot not along the lines and plot another heading.  This should give you a much more exact location where all 3 headings cross. Go there!

Step 16: So you got close, but not close enough. That’s normal. If you haven’t already, put your attenuator in line, you’re going to need it. Repeat steps 4 thru 8 again.

Now comes the exciting part – going in for the kill! It’s also where a lot of hunters get extremely frustrated –  When you’re so close you can not attenuate or null out the fox anymore. How to reduce the signal strength?

You can tune your receiver OFF the exact receiving frequency by first 5 kHz then 10 kHz until the signal is reduced in strength.

If tuning with a HT, hold the HT close to your body and rotate around. IF the signal is super strong, take off the antenna. Still super strong? Open your eyes wider, you’re very close!

Be careful when getting close. Getting excited is normal, but watch out for non-hams in the area. Keep your speed down. You don’t want to get into any trouble for driving too quickly or recklessly!

If you find the fox, go up and check in with him so that your time can be recorded. Maybe you’re the first one there? If you are, don’t say anything on the repeater about being first. That’s the quickest way to discourage the other hunters.

Base Stations:
So you have a 2m beam at home? Or you hear the fox on the input? What to do?

 First, those with beams. Take a good reading and also try to get a null too. Then go outside your house and take a compass reading. DO NOT rely on the rotor control heading as it could be off quite a bit. Write the heading down and then go back inside and announce your finding. Sometimes you want to listen to a few Fox transmissions to make sure your heading is good.

It’s important that base stations announce their call and name, approx cross street location or well known street and then their heading for the hunters.

Second, for those base stations without a beam. Your signal reports are just as important. Listen on the input and then announce who you are, where you are to the nearest cross street or well known street and relay how strong the fox is, whether full scale or noisy. If super loud, take off your antenna and listen again. Can you still hear the Fox? If yes, is he in your driveway? Or your neighbors?

All signal reports are important to the hunters. If you’re lucky while at home, you can take other base station readings and those of the mobile hunters and plot them on a map and announce where you think the Fox is or maybe drive there yourself.

All are welcome to the Fox’s den.

The goal is to start out the hunts easy. That means drive up, publicly accessible property without paying a fee with parking available for others. A safe location. We want lots of hunters out there and we Foxes will try to make the hunts fun, easy but challenging.

A word of warning when hiding. Sometimes the easy hunts are real hard. Sometimes the hunt you think is going to be long and difficult ends up being easy. There’s no reasoning until it’s over.

When the hunt is over and all hunters are in, or the hunt has ended, the Fox shall announce his location to the public.

Happy Hunting!


Here are some photos of some past fox hunts in the area (click image to enlarge)
Old Fox Hunts045
Old Fox Hunts042
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1st Long Range Fox Hunt Picnic p10431st Long Range Fox Hunt Picnic p2044Photo provided courtesy of Larry WB1DBY

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