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Direction Finding Basics and Foxhunt #3

UPDATE #2-

Heavy rain did indeed result in the cancellation of the Manassas Hamfest foxhunt, but many thanks to Ole Virginia Hams (Sandy especially!) for the use of the (inside air conditioned!) table.  Several dozen folks stopped by to learn about DF techniques and antennas, and we hope to see those folks  and others at the next DF event.

The Manassas area foxhunt will be rescheduled for sometime in June or early July.  Stay tuned!

UPDATE-

Heavy rain is forecast for the Manassas area;  if it is raining steadily, the foxhunt will be cancelled.  The information table will be set up rain or shine, and we hope to see you there.

The next MAPOA foxhunt will be in conjunction with the Ole Virginia Hams Hamfest in Manassas Virginia on Sunday, June 3rd, 2018.  We are tentatively planning on holding the fox-hunt starting at 10:00 AM.  Website for OVH is here;  website for the Manassas Hamfest is here.

Prior to the hunt, there will be an information table at the hamfest; we will be showing RDF antennas and equipment and having an open discussion of DF techniques. The Manassas hunt will be a bit more challenging event than the first two hunts; although the area is small, the presence of many metal buildings and metal rooves, combined with vehicles parked in the tailgate area, will add to the degree of difficulty.

Date:  Sunday, June 3rd 2018.

Time:  DF Basics discussion at the Hamfest table from 7 until 10 AM;  Foxhunt start time 10 AM.

Location:  The Manassas Hamfest, Prince William County fairgrounds, Manassas Virginia.

Cost: none for the fox-hunt;  admission to the hamfest is $9 in advance, $10 at the door.

Direction Finding Basics and Foxhunt general information

The first several foxhunts will be a beginner’s introduction to radio direction finding, with a DF basics discussion at the information table followed by a walking hunt for a hidden transmitter.  This event is appropriate for all levels of amateur radio operator interested in DF techniques, and also for those unlicensed persons interested in radio direction finding, and is open to the hamfest attendees.  As one of the attendees at the Hagertown event commented:  “This is one of the few amateur radio activities where you get some physical exercise!”

To that point: expect moderate but not arduous walking through cleared fields, along marked paths, and through rolling wooded areas is possible.  Total distance covered is expected to be about one to two miles at most. Note that at least one hand, and possibly two, will be required to manipulate antennas and radio receiver.

MAPOA foxhunt rules-

  1.  Safety first.
  2. Have fun!
  3. Learn something new!
  4. Courteous behaviour towards other attendees is required.  These are family friendly events;  appropriate language and behaviour is required from all participants.
  5. At the starting point the fox frequency will be given, together with the on/off cycle for the fox.  The fox will be able to be received at the starting point.

Equipment required:

  • VFO capable  PORTABLE 2 meter FM receiver.  Signal strength meter is highly desireable.  Internal signal attenuator is desirable. RF gain control is desirable.  Typical 2 meter handi-talky (HT) or scanner with removable antenna (to allow you to connect the antenna you’ll use for DF) is all that you have to have;
  • Cable to connect radio and antenna;
  • Directional antenna.  Recommended types for those on foot in Bold;  all of the types listed in Bold have been used effectively in recent hunts. Possible types include but are not limited to:
    • small Yagi (3 element tape measure yagi is very popular)
    • 3 or 4 element Quad
    • Moxon
    • Adcock (can be used effectively from 6 meters to 70 cm)
    • TDOA (Time/Distance Of Arrival)/switched interferometer active antenna (Handi-Finder is one of many types; also can be used on multiple bands)
  • Notebook and pencils;
  • Power source, either internal to radio or outboard.  (one fully charged battery should do, but a spare charged battery is recommended if using an HT;)

There will be a limited number of loaner DF setups available on an “as-available” basis of various sorts.  Those interested who do not have an antenna but are interested in attending, please email MAPOA at runbox dot com (make the proper substitutions, please!) with your name and contact information.

Equipment  recommended:

  • Headphones or earphone that fits the receiver you will be using;
  • A compass or handheld GPS;
  • Outboard signal attenuator with cable(s) to connect to radio and antenna; (HIGHLY recommended!)
  • A clipboard;
  • A small voice recorder for making comments, recording noises or identifiers from the Fox;

Clothing and other things to wear/bring:

  • Sturdy outdoor walking/hiking shoes;
  • Hiking clothes (long pants and long sleeved shirt recommended);
  • Broad brimmed hat;
  • Raincoat if sprinkles or showers expected
  • Your insect repellent of choice for both mosquitoes and ticks (I use Deep Woods OFF. but there are other brands)
  • small bag, pack or haversack;
  • Drinking water (at least 1 liter per person)
  • snacks
  • First Aid kit and any medications you may need.
  • Cell phone

Note that temperatures and weather are subject to rapid change.  Note also that as the weather is expected to be warm, stinging insects and hazardous wildlife may be active on the grounds; watch where you walk.

Occasional sprinkles and showers in the forecast will not be cause for cancellation;  steady rain or excessive wind forecast WILL be grounds for postponement.  The Go-NOGO decision will be made and posted here on the MAPOA website by 6 PM Saturday June 2nd.  MAPOA reserves the right to cancel or delay the event at any time, including during the event, for unexpected severe weather or other reason at our sole discretion.

We look forward to seeing you at our foxhunts.  Yoickes!  Tallyho!