The weather on 13 September was perfect for this month’s edition of the FWRC Foxhunt; mild temperatures in the 70s and slightly cloudy with a gentle breeze. A good day to be outside. But despite the gorgeous weather, we only had two foxhunt teams show up at the Cobin Memorial Park starting point. Team #1 consisted of Al & Carole Burke, WB9’s SSE & RUS plus Jim & Annie Pliett, K9OMA & KA9YYI. Team #2 consisted of Steve & Linda Nardin, W9’s SAN & LAN, plus their grandson Alex.
Charles Ward, KC9MUT served as the fox. He choose the parking lot of the Harlan Community Park in Harlan, Indiana, and quite effectively hid the microfox at the bottom of a section of chain link fence barrier, which was located in a field filled with weeds, by attaching it to the bottom structure of the barrier using a magnet. The (expletive deleted) thing was essentially invisible. He implemented the high power fox using a yagi at the top of his truck mounted telescoping mast, about 30’ high, and drove it at one point with about 100 watts on 146.430 MHz
Charles started the hunt promptly at 1330 hours with his first high-power transmission. The Nardin team heard him right off and took off, but, egad, the Burke/Pliett heard nothing! As it turned out we had an equipment failure, the receiver. The receiver is a venerable IC-2AT two meter hand held modified for use in foxhunting. Jim modified it to obtain very fine control of the rf gain of the front end amplifier and mixer such that he can obtain accurate S-meter readings when he rotates the roof mounted DF antenna looking for the peak of the received fox signal that establishes the DF bearing.
Anyway, the IC-2AT died, so we were deaf. After replacing the IC-2AT with another receiver we were able to hear the fox but did not have any way near the DF capability it normally provided. But we got a bearing indicating the fox was to the west. So off we went.
Once we got through the city heading west, we then got an indication that the bearing was to the south, so south we went. A little while later we got a bearing indicating north-east. So we headed up Anthony and finally found ourselves heading north-east on Crescent, and as we passed by the Purdue-Ft. Wayne campus we picked up a very large microfox signal, but the bearing remained to the north-east so we follow it and wound up on 37 headed for Harlan. (We suspect that Charles was up to some shenanigans with the microfox because the Nardin team experienced the same (strong microfox signal) when they were around Smith Field. Charles isn’t talking; he just commented that things were working as he had planned…..hmmmm.
We figured that since we were so late getting into the hunt due to the equipment failure, and at first taking off to the west, and then south, that surely the Nardin team would be first to localize the fox. But when we got into Harlan and figured that the fox was most likely near or at the Harlan Municipal Park, we headed that way and low and behold, found that we were the first to localize the fox. Golly-gee.
So we employed our hand-held DF equipment and started searching for the micro-fox on foot. There were multiple sections (about 8’ long) of cyclone fence barriers stacked upright in a weed patch and our hand-held DF equipment indicated that the microfox was somewhere hidden amongst the sections of barrier. After about 45 minutes of searching we still had not located the microfox when the Nardin team showed up. Seems like they had been chasing screwy DF bearings too. (We are considering a Scopolamine-based truth serum session with the Burke/Pliett/Nardin teams and Charles as victim to get to the bottom of this.)
The cyclone fence barriers had a bar running along the top and along the bottom of each section of barrier. Charles wrapped the micro-fox in black tape and it formed a package roughly the shape of a O’Henry’s candy bar. He had attached a small magnet to the package and then attached the package to the bottom side of the bottom barrier bar so that it essentially became invisible to anyone looking for it from above, especially since the barriers where stored in an area full of weeds.
Jim found the microfox after I had been lifting barrier sections off the ground knowing that the microfox just had to be down among the weeds. Charles outdid himself on this one.
After conclusion of the hunt we boogied over to the Dairy Queen at Chapel Ridge for some well-deserved refreshments. As the weather was delightful, we were able to enjoy our repast at outside tables despite the restrictions placed on all kinds of activities by the Covus-19 mess.
The scores for the September hunt and for year-to-date are as follows:
The October foxhunt is scheduled to occur on Sunday, 4 October starting at 1330 hours at Corbin Memorial Park, down by now-defunct Lakeside Golf Course. Ride-alongs are welcome and encouraged! Why not give it a try?