Central Valley T-Hunters
January 9th, 2016, T-Hunt Recap
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Fox for this hunt was Ken – WA6OIB & Ron – N6MTS. The starting point was from Clovis at Letterman Park. The 4 teams were Mike – KD6LDA (solo); John – K6MI (solo); Rick – W6KKO & Dennis – KI6NVG; and Rob – AE6GE & Dave – NQ6S. And finally the Fox transmitters were located at the Goldenrod Elementary School in Kerman, on the NW corners of S. Goldenrod Ave. and Kearney Blvd.
As usual, the Fox is always tasked with making the hunt a bit different and more challenging. So for this hunt we decided to use dual transmitters, on the same frequency, and modulated by the same source. Because the signal is almost all tones and CW the transmitters were set to USB modulation, with the intent of beating one carrier against the other to create a warbling signal. Well that was our theory anyway. Both radios were producing about 50 watts into separate cross-polarized yagi antennas.
Now for the GOOD part the hounds at the starting point found the signals and were off and running in no time. Well, that’s about all there was that was good.
Now for the BAD part, we had RF signals all over the place. Unfortunately the signals from Kerman to Clovis did not hug the ground as we expected and the signals were weak in Clovis. However they had strong reflections off the foothills north of Clovis. There seemed to be signals from everywhere in the foothills (which was in the opposite direction as the actual Fox transmitters).
Now for the really UGLY, virtually nothing went as planned for the Fox. The 2 separate USB transmitter signals would not mix as expected. Each transmitter interfered with the other in such a way as to just produce horrible noise and no discernable tones at all. What was heard on-air was just a completely unrecognizable. So the dual transmitter idea was very short-lived indeed. However each transmitter seemed to work correctly by itself, so we alternated between both transmitters and hence also both antenna polarities. This was all a huge disappointment for the Fox as we watched our brilliant idea turn to total crap.
About an hour after first signal, our first (winning) hound, Mike – KD6LDA showed up at the transmitter site. Mike reported just following the strongest signals and driving right to us, with no problems. After about 2 hours, then Rick – W6KKO and Dennis – KI6NVG also found us (2nd place), but with more difficulty. However, they reported that our on-air clues were helpful.
After about 2 ½ hours contest-time we finally contacted the missing teams for a status query.
Unfortunately, neither of the other 2 teams reported hearing any our numerous clues and were reported to be wandering in the general vicinity of Millerton Road, north of Clovis. This put them almost an hour away from the Fox, and we were all getting hungry. So with reluctance we agreed to terminate the hunt and all meet up at the Me-N-Ed’s Pizza Parlor in Clovis for a strategy discussion. In summary, a lot of the Fox signal mostly passed over Clovis to reflect off the hills north of Clovis. That was a totally unintended gotcha indeed.
Participating Teams were as follows:
- Mike Cedarquist KD6LDA (will be the New Fox for the next hunt in March)
- Rick Tyburski W6KKO and Dennis Holloway KI6NVG
- John Morrice K6MI
- Rob Mavis AE6GE & Dave Schumacker NQ6S
Submitted by Ron Hunt, N6MTS