Radio-Orienteering Events in 2011

(In reverse order by date)

Los Carneros ARDF

Lake Los Carneros ARDF on 11/12/2011
Photo above and story below by Joe Moell KØOV.

November is a busy month for most people, so that may explain the low turnout for this ARDF session at Lake Los Carneros near Santa Barbara.  The Santa Barbara marathon took place this day, closing Los Carneros road for a while, but it was open by the time our session got under way.

Weather was good and there was lots of discussion about the critters that had been spotted in this park, including coyotes and big cats. But all we saw was the little burrowing guy pictured at right.

Marvin's ARDF course was shorter than usual, intended for training beginners.  For experienced hunters, it made a good sprint course, with the goal of finding one transmitter each cycle.

Here are the results:

      Name and call             Time   Foxes
     Dean Dods KD6I           0:25:17    5
     Julianne Walsh KI6DYX    1:07:00    5

Joe Moell KØOV

Bonelli Park photos

Bonelli Park ARDF on 10/8/2011
Photos above and story below by Joe Moell KØOV.

Bonelli Regional Park is a great place for ARDF and October 8 was a great day for it, with plenty of sun but not too much heat.  The big shelter over the picnic tables that we used to use is gone (termites?), but there was enough shade at adjacent tables to make everyone comfortable.

The former bike rental stand next to our starting point is now being used for a fund-raising snack bar by the park's Mounted Assistance Unit.  It was a convenient place for the participants to get lunch, and the horses didn't seem to mind the people wondering around with strange antennas in their hands.

My four transmitters for beginners were mostly used to test RDF antennas and for some lessons in technique before people set out on the main five-fox ARDF course.  Andrew Shelley KI6JMJ and his dad were newcomers to our events, but they had done some foxhunting in San Diego County.  After a little instruction, they found all four of the beginner foxes in good time.

Marvin's main ARDF course was short, only about 3 kilometers total, but it was more difficult than expected.  Some hunters reported strange bearings and everyone stayed out for over two hours.

Here are the results:

      Name and call             Time   Foxes
     Chris Sanders KE6BRY     2:06:08    4
     Bill Smathers KG6HXX     2:31:24    3
     Greg Kawasaki WA6NJI     2:11:05    1
     Terry Hall K6MA          2:00:37    0
     Julianne Walsh KI6DYX       ?       0

The two-meter hunts took so long that nobody who went out on that course tried to find my 80-meter transmitter afterwards. But Gary Sanders KC6TWZ was intrigued by my 80m loop RDF set and decided to try it.  It was further away than he expected (1.1 kilometer), but he was getting close to it when time ran out.

Thanks to everyone who came out!

Joe Moell KØOV

Angel's Gate Park photos

Angel's Gate Park ROCA on 9/11/2011
Photos above and story below by Joe Moell KØOV.

This on-foot transmitter hunt was on Sunday afternoon, just after the ARRL Southwestern Division convention (HAMCON-2011).  Although there were similarities, it was different from our regular park sessions.  A half hour after the convention 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 shortly after 2 PM, the hunt got under way.  Instead of the usual 5-fox ARDF course, there were 16 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 cool breezes from the ocean made for perfect weather.  FRC has put on several HAMCON hunts here, beginning in 1995.  Over the years, less and less of the 130-acre park has been available to us.  For instance, the northwest portion is now the site of a new high school under construction.  Fortunately, there is still plenty of room for a challenging foxhunt.

The goal was to have something for hiders at every skill level.  Some of the fox transmitters were in traditional ammunition boxes, but others were the size of a chalkboard eraser, or smaller.  Competitors were given up to 90 minutes to find as many as they could.  Two of the transmitters were within the concrete-walled Fort MacArthur Military Museum, where displays of WWI and WWII memorabilia are viewed by the public every weekend.

Participants came from all over southern California and Arizona.  All of the finishers found at least one fox.  But it wasn't enough to just find transmitters, because participants also had to correctly identify them by putting the three-digit code that they found on the transmitter into the correct box on their competitor slip.  Many hunters didn't correctly identify the three foxes on 146.565 MHz because they didn't pay attention to the audio on the transmitters.

The competitors were evenly split between individuals and teams of two.  Many were experiencing on-foot foxhunting for the first time, but there were some old-timers, too.  Dennis Schwendtner WB6OBB, an experienced blind transmitter hunter, paired up with Marvin Johnston KE6HTS.

Scoring was by points and time.  Most transmitters found were worth one point each, but three of the most difficult transmitters were worth two points each.  I also offered a bonus of two points to anyone who found all five of the transmitters that were sending MOE/MOI/MOS/MOH/MO5 with IARU standard timing.  (Nobody did that.)  To break ties in the number of points, those arriving at the finish earlier scored higher.

Here are the results:

      Name and call             Time   Foxes

     Byon Garrabrant N6BG      1:27:16   8
        with Lara Garrabrant KD6AYO

     John Terrell N6LN         1:21:05   4
        with Jamie Terrell

     Greg Shreve KE6YEX        1:27:02   4
        with Todd Mendenhall

     Don Heflinger WA6FEL      1:27:32   4
        with Thomas Heflinger KG6WGR

     Marvin Johnston KE6HTS    1:28:05   4
        with Dennis Schwendtner WB6OBB

     Chris Rea KD5ADU          1:28:34   2

     Mike Turner KC0CPZ        1:26:30   2

     Vincent Tamae KA6SBQ      1:27:48   2
        with Steven Tamae KJ6QLF

     Chris Sanders KE6BRY      1:28:40   2

     Julianne Walsh KI6DYX     1:26:12   1 

     Bill Rose KA6HMS          1:29:50   1

     Damon Jones KI6HNV         OVERTIME

There were four nice convention prizes to the top scorers who were registered for HAMCON.

Thanks to FRC president Albert Solomon KI6WRU for supporting this activity and to all the FRC members who put on this hunt.  Gene Thorpe KB6CMO and Cheryl Thorpe KE6TZU went to endless HAMCON meetings, gathered prizes, staffed the sign-up and prize tables, surveyed the site and helped at the finish line.

We're grateful for the site support and nice prizes provided by the HAMCON organization, led by Bev Pitman WA6TIU.  We also appreciate the courtesies of the Ft. MacArthur Military Museum staff members, who allowed us to use their facility for this event.

Click for an 18-minute video of this event made by Dennis DuVall W7QHO, a regular volunteer at Fort MacArthur.

Joe Moell KØOV

Topanga Park ARDF photos

Topanga Park ARDF on 8/13/2011
Photos above and story below by Joe Moell KØOV.

It was a great day for ARDF in Topanga State Park on August 13 with a good mix of old-timers and less experienced radio-orienteers.  Samuel Skolfield KJ6QFS is a 20-year-old musician and audio engineer from the town of Topanga who passed his ham license test about a month ago.  He heard about our activities on the Catalina repeater and came to see what it was all about.  He built an antenna and quickly found the three practice transmitters, which made him eager to go out on the full 5-fox course.  Unfortunately, he had another commitment so he had to come back after only finding two of the five.

The Ranger's precondition for our being able to use this park was that the fox transmitters had to be along the trails.  So Marvin Johnston KE6HTS had to set a shorter-than-optimum course of about 2.5 kilometers.

      Name and call          Foxes  Time

     Jay Hennigan WB6RDV       5   0:46:02 
      201(1)   202(1)   203(1)   205(1)   204(1)        F
        6:00    11:47    21:47    31:40    43:43    46:02
        6:00     5:47    10:00     9:53    12:03     2:19

     Bob Cooley KF6VSE         5   0:48:18  
      201(1)   202(1)   203(1)   205(1)   204(1)        F 
        8:33    21:20    28:22    34:59    45:05    48:18 
        8:33    12:47     7:02     6:37    10:06     3:13 

     Bill Smathers KG6HXX      5   1:42:05    
      201(1)   202(1)   203(1)   205(1)   204(1)        F
       10:05    38:20    59:12  1:11:37  1:35:11  1:42:05
       10:05    28:15    20:52    12:25    23:34     6:54 

     Brian Kekich WY6X         5   2:01:52  
      201(1)   202(1)   203(1)   205(1)   204(1)        F 
       15:29    31:31  1:27:28  1:36:01  1:58:42  2:01:52 
       15:29    16:02    55:57     8:33    22:41     3:10 

     Dick Norton N6AA          5   2:14:06 
      201(1)   202(1)   203(1)   204(1)   205(1)        F 
        6:32    19:40    33:40    44:02  2:06:29  2:14:06 
        6:32    13:08    14:00    10:22  1:22:27     7:37  

     Scott Moore KF6IKO        5   2:20:32 
      201(1)   205(1)   204(1)   202(1)   203(1)        F 
        7:00  1:07:49  1:27:34  2:04:48  2:18:12  2:20:32 
        7:00  1:00:49    19:45    37:14    13:24     2:20  

     Terry Hall K6MA           4   3:56:42 
      201(1)   202(1)   203(1)   204(1)        F 
     1:15:43  1:27:31  1:35:20  2:35:03  3:56:42
     1:15:43    11:48     7:49    59:43  1:21:39   

     Samuel Skolfield KJ6QFS   2   1:09:16 
      203(1)   205(1)        F 
       12:09    39:54  1:09:16 
       12:09    27:45    29:22

Jay Hennigan WB6RDV and Bob Cooley KF6VSE battled it out for first place with Jay winning by about two minutes.  Jay's track is at right above.

Thanks to everyone who came out.

Joe Moell KØOV

Mt. Pinos ARDF photos

Mt. Pinos ARDF on 7/16-17/2011
Photos above by Joe Moell KØOV.

On the weekend of July 10 and 11, Mt. Pinos was the site of a regular meet of the Los Angeles Orienteering Club (LAOC) as well as an ARDF "training camp" for advanced radio-orienteers, some of whom will be competing in USA national and IARU regional ARDF Championships this fall. Marvin Johnston KE6HTS set two courses, two meters on Saturday and eighty meters on Sunday. Here is his report on the event:

"Apparently when I set the delay to start the transmitters on Saturday, I put in the wrong number. So of course, they didn't start. I thought I could correct the situation using the higher power mobile in the van. But unfortunately I didn't realize the #4 key was bad. That resulted in corrupting all of the control settings. So I went out (again) to each transmitter location to reset the transmitter controllers. That worked, but I tried a shortcut that didn't work, so I had to go back to a couple transmitters to do a full reset on the controller.

"Transmitter #2 sounded pretty weak so I stopped to recheck it on the way back to the start. The antenna cable didn't make a good connection and I missed it when I went back the second time.

"With everything pretty much working okay at this point, we ended up starting at about 1:00 PM. The only problem here was that I had the SportIdent controls set to turn themselves off at 2:00 PM. So almost everyone got to the first control and was able to punch in okay, but from there on the controls were off.

"I kept track of the start and finish times, so here are the results without individual control times."


      Name and call            Time   Foxes

     Jay Hennigan WB6RDV      1:37:41    5
     Bob Cooley KF6VSE        2:21:07    5
     Bill Smathers KG6HXX     3:51:00    4
     Scott Moore KF6IKO     About 2 hrs  2 

"Sunday went much better ... kind of. The 80-meter transmitter #4 was transmitting continuously, so I retired it for this hunt. The only other problem was that #5 had a weak signal. When Dean Dods went to pick it up after the hunt was over, he found the fishing pole end had broken off, allowing the antenna to fall to the ground."

      Name and call          Foxes  Time

     Jay Hennigan WB6RDV       4   0:56:53   
      201(1)   203(1)   205(1)   202(1)        F    
       12:12    21:08    41:09    45:34    56:53    
       12:12     8:56    20:01     4:25    11:19    

     Dean Dods KD6I            4   1:38:52     
      201(1)   203(1)   202(1)   205(1)        F      
       20:57    32:44  1:02:03  1:15:05  1:38:52      
       20:57    11:47    29:19    13:02    23:47     

     Bob Cooley KF6VSE         4   1:49:26      
      201(1)   203(1)   202(1)   205(1)        F    
       11:54    22:41    47:24  1:29:52  1:49:26     
       11:54    10:47    24:43    42:28    19:34     

     Bill Smathers KG6HXX      3   1:37:56          
      201(1)   203(1)   202(1)        F    
       15:49    34:37  1:08:18  1:37:56    
       15:49    18:48    33:41    29:38

Thanks to Marvin for all of his work in putting out two full ARDF courses, each of which proved to be a good challenge to the hunters. Marvin also cooked and served a Santa Barbara style tri-tip supper on Saturday.

Schabarum Park ARDF photos

Schabarum Park ARDF on 6/11/2011
Photos above and report below by Joe Moell KØOV.

Schabarum Regional Park is a great venue for on-foot transmitter hunting under international rules, but only if the weather cooperates. We've been there in January after a heavy rain that washed down the trails and made the going very slippery. We've been there in the summer months when the trails, which have very little shade, can seem like a solar oven. But on June 11, the weather was nearly ideal. A light misty rain fell in the early morning hours, not enough to make the trails slippery but enough to keep everyone refreshed. The temperature all day was neither too hot nor too cool.

This was the greatest number of radio-orienteers that we've had on a full ARDF course at Schabarum for several years. It took three trips to drive them all from the gathering point to the hunt starting point. Then they had to navigate their way back to our gathering/finishing location, searching for the five transmitters along the way. Many of them were newcomers who had built their antennas and attenuators at Tri-City Park in May and had learned the basics there. Now they were ready for a full ARDF course.

Another first for us was supplied by Sherman and Vinson Lam, students at Rowland High School. They live nearby so they wheeled to the site, one on a Razor scooter and the other on a unicycle! In the last month, they have gotten their ham licenses under the guidance of Bob Houghton AD6QF, their Physics teacher. Bob also came out and took to the course.


      Name and call            Time   Foxes

     Brian Kekich WY6X        2:33:59   5

     Sherman Lam KJ6PJH       2:59:57   5
        with Vinson Lam KJ6PJF

     Bob Houghton AD6QF       3:49:27   4

     Bill Smathers KG6HXX     2:56:54   3

     Tom Gaccione WB2LRH      2:40:32   2

     Michael Wheeley K6MRW    3:49:05   1
        with Juntima Wheeley

     Rick Allan W6WRA         4:02:37   1

The antenna/attenuator building session was well attended and my three-transmitter beginner course helped some newcomers learn RDF and improve their skills. It was a family activity for Tim Millard KJ6NGF along with Sheri, Adam and Joshua. Also on the beginner course were Greg Kawasaki WA6NJI, Terry Hall K6MA and Brooks Kachner W6BJK.

Joe Moell KØOV

Tri-City Park ARDF photos

Tri-City Park ARDF on 5/14/2011
Photos above and report below by Joe Moell KØOV.

Cloudy skies and cool temperatures may have helped provide a big turnout of members from three ham clubs to Tri-City Park in Placentia for the annual Antennas-In-The-Park (AITP) event.  Fullerton Radio Club organized it, Western Amateur Radio Association brought out some fine HF equipment to try for DX contacts from the park, and Catalina Amateur Repeater Association made sure everyone was well fed with a barbecue and potluck lunch.

What a great group of newcomers to on-foot transmitter hunting we had!  Marvin Johnston KE6HTS was kept busy helping people assemble their kits for measuring-tape antennas and active attenuators.  Then most of the first-timers were able to find my three micro-transmitters that were close by in the trees and bushes.  After that, some of them were eager to try the 5-fox international-rules ARDF course with transmitters scattered in Tri-City Park, the adjoining Tuffree Hill Park and beyond.

The two parks are a total of only about 60 acres, so in anticipation of some of our long-time radio-orienteers showing up and wanting a bigger course to help prepare them for the upcoming USA ARDF Championships, I put fox #5 in a neighborhood well outside the park to make the total course length about 3 kilometers.  I suggested that the non-experts skip that one, especially since most of them couldn't hear it anyway.  But second-timer Dean Graham KJ6JRK picked up the signal and ran the streets of Placentia to find it.

The best elapsed time of the day by far for finding the four in-park transmitters was turned in by brothers Sherman and Vinson Lam.  They are students at Rowland High School and are studying for their ham licenses.  They were encouraged to come out by Bob Houghton AD6QF, their Physics teacher.  Bob also attended, built an antenna/attenuator setup for himself, and spent as much time finding transmitters as he could before he had to leave.

Another excellent performance for a first-timer was by Brian Kekich WY6X, who drove over from west Los Angeles to attend.  Some attendees came from even more distant places, including San Diego, Camarillo, and Goleta.


      Name and call            Time   Foxes

     Dean Graham KJ6JRK       2:33:15   5

     Sherman Lam              0:32:12   4
        with Vinson Lam

     Brian Kekich WY6X        1:18:05   4

     Julianne Walsh KI6DYX    2:15:00   4

     Rick Allan W6WRA         2:38:10   3

     Bob Houghton AD6QF       0:33:55   2

As always, a highlight of AITP was the special cake in celebration of the annual Worldwide Foxhunting Weekend, provided by April Moell WA6OPS.

Joe Moell KØOV

Lake Los Carneros ARDF photos

Lake Los Carneros ARDF on 4/2/2011
Photos above and report below by Joe Moell KØOV.

What a great turnout! We haven't had such good participation on the full ARDF course in quite a while. A couple of newcomers built antennas and joined in the fun. It stayed cloudy and cool all day, with intermittent mist.

Julianne Walsh KI6DYX showed off the cool plastic handles and element holders for tape-measure yagis that she and her OM are making. The handle has a compartment to hold the active attenuator and battery. She says her next project will be a holder for the receiver for complete one-hand DFing. These items should be available for purchase soon on the Web.


      Name and call            Time   Foxes

     Dean Dods KD6I           0:37:49   5

     Bob Cooley KF6VSE        0:38:21   5

     Dick Norton N6AA         1:00:43   5

     Bill Smathers KG6HXX     1:39:28   5

     John Rendler KI6DIG      1:43:35   5
        with Shannon          

     Darryl Widman KF6DI      2:09:13   5

     Dean Graham KJ6JRK       3:29:56   5

     Julianne Walsh KI6DYX    2:30:08   3

     Rick Whitaker KG6VLB     3:18:28   1

Congratulations to Dean Dods and Bob Cooley! Each of them found all five transmitters in less than eight full cycles.

Marvin Johnston KE6HTS did a great job with the antenna/attenuator clinic and April Moell WA6OPS was on hand with the First Aid supplies to fix minor cuts and scratches, of which there always seems to be at least one.

Joe Moell KØOV

Santa Fe Dam ARDF photos

Santa Fe Dam ARDF on 3/13/2011
Photos above and report below by Joe Moell KØOV.

Our mix-in with a regular meet of the Los Angeles Orienteering Club brought out a couple of newcomer hams and gave some LAOC members a chance to experience radio-orienteering for the first time.

Al Bowers KA6FBB came all the way from Apple Valley to build a tape-measure beam. He then quickly learned how to find transmitters with it. Within a few minutes, he had found all three of my beginner-level transmitters.

Scott Moore KF6IKO and Bill Smathers KG6HXX came down from Santa Barbara to go out on a LAOC classic orienteering course. After that, Scott took on the 5-fox ARDF course, taking Dave Baumgartner of LAOC along to learn from him. Their time for finding four of the foxes was less than 45 seconds faster than that of Tom Gaccione WB2LRH, which isn't bad for Tom, because he had forgotten to take a map along.


      Name and call            Time   Foxes 

     Scott Moore KF6IKO       1:40:15   4  
        with Dave Baumgartner              

     Tom Gaccione WB2LRH      1:40:59   4 

Tom Gaccione and Dave Baumgartner each went out to find the 80-meter transmitter on their own with borrowed gear. It was only 0.6 km away, but gave them a good idea of what it's like to track transmitters on that band.


      Name and call            Time   

     Tom Gaccione WB2LRH      0:12:33

     Dave Baumgartner         Not timed

Thanks to Marvin Johnston KE6HTS for putting on the antenna workshop and for putting out the 5-fox ARDF course. Thanks to April Moell WA6OPS for being ready with First Aid, which wasn't needed by any ARDFers, but was helpful to a LAOC course-setter and an orienteering Girl Scout.

Joe Moell KØOV

Yuma Hamfest ARDF photos

Yuma Hamfest ARDF on 2/19/2011
Photos above and report below by Joe Moell KØOV.

For the first time (we think), there was hidden transmitter hunting at the Yuma Hamfest and Arizona State ARRL Convention in 2011.

Things got under way at 9 AM on Saturday, February 19 with my forum presentation on mobile transmitter hunting and ARDF to a good crowd in the Newcomer Building of the fairgrounds. Yuma doesn't get much rain, but that day was stormy and electrical power failed a few minutes before my talk. Fortunately, there were generators nearby and everything went off without a hitch.

At 1 PM, Marvin Johnston KE6HTS put on a building session for measuring-tape yagis and offset attenuators in the 4-H building. Several hams finished their antennas there, but some others took their kits home to build later. At 3 PM, it was time to hunt. I had put out three beginner-level transmitters and Marvin had set a five-fox ARDF short course. Nobody was timed, but Bob Dengler NO6B found all of the transmitters and Byon Garrabrant N6BG got all the ARDF boxes, with help from daughter Blue.

Joe Moell KØOV

Cal Poly SLO ARDF photos

Cal Poly SLO ARDF on 2/12/2011
Photos above by Marcel Stieber KI6QDJ
Report below by Jennifer Walters KJ6GCF.

The Amateur Radio Club at California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo (CPARC) held its second annual transmitter hunt and equipment building session on Saturday, February 12. First, eight students built and tested tape measure yagi antennas with pre-built offset attenuators from kits prepared by Marvin Johnston KE6HTS. That took place in one of Cal Poly's fully equipped microwave engineering labs, and with the help of Marvin and Sam Vigil WA6NGH, all eight antennas were completed, tested, and used successfully in the hunt.

While the antennas were being assembled, Marcel Stieber KI6QDJ, CPARC President and John Chen KI6QDF, Vice-President set a challenging five-transmitter course with the entire Cal Poly campus as the boundaries. At 11:00 AM, the hunt began. The participants were split into two groups, general public and student members. Results are below.


      Name and call            Time   Foxes   Award

     Dean Dods KD6I           1:16:15   5   1st General

     Dave Dowler KA6BFB       3:47:00   5   2nd General

     Julianne Walsh KI6DYX    1:28:30   1   3rd General
        with Ken Vomaske              

     Justin Kenny KJ6KST      1:54:30   5   1st Collegiate

     Jennie Walters KJ6GCF    2:36:20   5   2nd Collegiate
        with Ian Bruce KJ6GCE         

     Bill Blodgett KE6RKT     2:55:00   5   3rd Collegiate 
        with Glenn Bruner KJ6MNL and Elijah Cupano            

     Michael Spahn KJ6GLV     3:11:00   5

     Jessica Sherbon KJ6DNR   3:38:00   5

     Brian Berg KJ6KRZ        4:26:30   5
        with Aaron Berk KJ6KRY        

     Javen O'Neal KF7HNI      3:48:00   3
        with Anthony Ruh KJ6LXY       

     Edwin Ng KJ6KTD          1:59:00   1
        with Brian Domiguez KJ6KSG and Shaun Koide WH6DPB

A second, smaller transmitter hunting course was set up on a nearby campus lawn for a group of Boy Scouts. Sam Vigil set out two continuously-transmitting foxes so that the boys could learn and practice on a smaller scale.

The event came to an end around 3:00 PM when prizes were awarded for the top three times in each class. Many thanks to Jennifer Walter KJ6GCF for organizing the event this year and to Marvin and Sam for all their help in preparing for the event and making it possible.

Jennifer Walters KJ6GCF
CPARC Secretary

Click for a transmitter map and more photos in PDF format. Photos were taken by Marcel Stieber KI6QDJ and Glenn Bruner KJ6MNL, then assembled by Jennifer Walters KJ6GCF.

THRDFS cover Go to Southern California ARDF -- Current radio-orienteering news and results

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

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This page updated 12 March 2012