Normally, we start the fox (hidden transmitter) hunt season on the first Sunday in February, but sadly this year one of our enthusiastic hunters, Don Glick, K9LI, passed away suddenly before the hunt. FWRC decided to cancel the February hunt and focus on March. So, Sunday, March 7, we started the first transmission with 30 seconds of silent air to honor Don. This began our hunt and the start of the 2021 season. If this first hunt is any indication, this could shape up to be a great year!
From the staring point we had a variety of hunters, some new to FWRC hunts, some experienced, and some new to the sport. The teams of Al, Jim, Carole, and Anne (WB9SSE, K9OMA, WB9RUS, KA9YYI) were there along with Charles, KC9MUT, who had a ride-along with newbie KD9QHL. We were happy that the team of N9FEB and ND9C, both from the Indianapolis area, drove up to the Fort to participate in one of our hunts. Then there was a new team of several Trine University students and their professor in the form of KC2TCP, N9AMT, KD9OKH, KD9QQW, KW9S, and Abigail (not licensed yet). Also, we had a visit from Fred, KC9EZP and his dog, Izzy. They weren’t in the hunt but passing through the Fort.
Prior to this first hunt, the fox team of Linda and Steve (W9LAN & W9SAN) had made several trips around the county searching out new hiding spots. We had identified six potential places but decided on returning to Franke Park back by the old soap box derby hill. With the help of grandson Alex, the microfox was literally hidden under the edge of a large rock and a small pile of leaves completed the disguise. At 1:30 pm, we started transmitting with the 25 watt fox and activated the microfox, the hunt was on! It was a beautiful late winter day with plenty of sunshine, but the temperature was not too warm in the range of 40 degrees. Since we were only about six miles from the start point, we figured it would be a short time before the hunters started showing up. Boy were we wrong! After about an hour we began to wonder if our “easy” hiding spot was anything but!
At just over an hour from start, KC9MUT came wheeling into the parking area. This was when we discovered that the microfox, which was equipped with a new stealthier stubby antenna, didn’t seem to be putting out very much signal. As we got closer to the hiding spot in a clump of trees and brush, we could hear it on the fox frequency of 146.430 MHZ. Almost absent was the third harmonic at 439.290 MHZ and you needed to be closer to hear that signal.
Despite the RF strength issues, Charles was able to find the fox straight away. Then the truck with Indy hunters, N9FEB and ND9C, pulled into the lot and they got right into the search. These two experienced hunters have been around the state literally from Muncie to Bedford, and they quickly found the microfox as well. We noticed they had a doppler system in their truck to get localized. Hmmm…. KD9QHL, a newbie from the Fort who rode along with Charles was next. The Burke/Pliett team showed up next and dove in. Finally, the Trine University team was on site, and started searching. To see the final scores and finishing order, download the Excel spreadsheet below:
All in all, a good day to hunt! One added challenge to having the hunt in Franke Park, is that over on Wells Street, there is a 150-foot tower with high-power paging transmitters. This added RF in the area makes it difficult to use some of the common fox hunt devices, such as offset attenuators, since the front end of these circuits tend to be easily overloaded! Some Chinese SDR HT’s are also susceptible to this overload issue. But we all worked it out.
We hope to have our next hunt on April 11th. Why not take the time to spend an afternoon doing some radio direction finding? It is a lot of fun and we are always ready to help any newbies!