HamCon 2003 Transmitter Hunts

Organized and Presented by the Fullerton Radio Club

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.

HamCon/Foxhunt 2003, Sunday Afternoon 9/7/03

What a great day for an on-foot foxhunt! It wasn't too hot at Angel's Gate Park in San Pedro and a nice breeze blew in from the ocean as the afternoon went on.

Eastward view from the top of Battery Osgood-Farley toward the Korean Bell and the ocean.

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.

This football field-sized pit at the north end has the remains of Battery Barlow-Saxton. I put one micro-T down there, but nobody found it.

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.

Another micro-T was in the ceiling of this tunnel. Nobody found it either. Note the tag with 3-digit number.

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.

Our Military Museum hosts included Noah Brandt KF6FOJ, at right in the left photo. They provided an excellent guided tour after the hunt was over.

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.

Only one hunter tracked down the micro-T taped to this display easel in the Plotting Room.

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.

Programming frequencies and checking maps.

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.

Travis Wood AE6GA had the most unique RDF setup by far.

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.

There's something in that van!

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.

Roger Denny WB6ARK was one of two hunters who correctly identified the Cordless Phone fox on his score sheet.

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.

Jay Hennigan WB6RDV kept up the pace throughout the hunt.

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.

Jay Thompson W6JAY was just back from Space Camp, part of the prize package for being Newsline's Young Ham of the Year.

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.

Bev Pitman WA6TIU, one of the HamCon03 Co-Chairs, hands out a raffle prize.

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.

Glenn Allen KE6HPZ is an experienced foxhunter, as you can tell from his setup. He found 5 foxes.

Here are the complete results, with number of correctly marked foxes and category:


   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


   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

Can you spot the radio fox in this bush by the Marine Mammal Center? Four hunters did.

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

HamCon Mobile T-Hunt, Friday Evening 9/5/03

Beginning at 7:30 PM from 6th Street and Long Beach Boulevard, the HamCon 2003 mobile T-hunt had four hidden transmitters and was scored by mileage. Time limits kept it from being an all-nighter for the hiders, who had to be up very early on Saturday. Hunters arriving back at the starting point after 10:15 had one T deducted from their score, and those arriving after 10:30 lost two T's.

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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