CARP December 17 T-Hunt Recap
by: Rob Mavis AE6GE

Transmitter Hunt Recap

John K6MI and Erik NI6G conferring over the scores
John K6MI and Erik NI6G conferring over the scores

The evening of Wednesday December 17, 2014 the Clovis Amateur Radio Pioneers Central Valley T-Hunters gathered at Letterman Park in Clovis, California for a night-time transmitter hunt. There were 5 teams competing in the hunt.

John Morrice K6MI and Erik Scott NI6G, the winners of the November 22, 2014 event, devised a great hunt. They employed some deception and misdirection to hinder and throw the hunters off the fox’s trail.

Utilizing three transmitters, the rules for the hunt were as follows:

  • Find all three transmitters, take a card from each one and return to the starting point.
  • One point assessed for every minute that elapsed from the start of the hunt until the team arrived back at the start point.
  • One point will be assessed for every mile driven.
  • Winner will be the team with the least amount of points (minutes+miles).
Ron N6MTS setting up his doppler system - which he ended up not needing.
Ron N6MTS setting up his doppler system – which he ended up not needing.

In the moments leading to the start of the hunt, teams prepared their maps, dopplers and beams. The hunt started at 6:23pm. Hunters, including myself, feverously worked to get bearings on as many of the transmitters as we could.

I plotted a bearing on the strong high-power transmitter and the “Micro-Fox”, both were generally from the north-west. Just as we were heading back to the car to start the mobile portion of the hunt I caught a blip from the “MicroHunt” 50mW transmitter. At that point I realized that if I could hear the micro transmitter then some, if not all transmitters, was located in or around Letterman Park. Nice try on the part of the fox with the misleading instructions. So I tossed the map and compass into the back seat of the car and run off into the darkness of the park.

John K6MI preparing hunters Ken WA6OIB, Greg KG6YZN and Matt KG6YLJ
John K6MI preparing hunters Ken WA6OIB, Greg KG6YZN and Matt KG6YLJ

Even with some early on equipment malfunctions (HT battery died) It was relatively easy to find the high power transmitter located in a 5-gallon bucket behind a tree in the north-west corner of the park because its 5 watt signal overpowered the other two transmitters.
The second transmitter was located east of the first transmitter in the north-east corner of the park near the old Clovis animal shelter.
Due to the high signal strength of the first two transmitters it was difficult to hear the third transmitter. So I decided to head back toward the parking lot where I first heard the signal. As I made my way I saw a cardboard ice cream container sitting at the base of a tree with an antenna sticking up out of it. Without haste I grabbed my third card from the “transmitter” and hurried back to the parking lot where John and Erik were waiting for the teams to arrive.

Ken WA6OIB, John K6MI and John WJ6Y
Ken WA6OIB, John K6MI and John WJ6Y

I pulled the three cards out of my pocket and proudly handed them to John. He then inspected the cards, two of which had a colored line drawn across them, the third had an “X”. John then said “you have found two of the transmitters.” What? One of the transmitters was a decoy!

Back to the hunt! I knew that the first two transmitters I located were actual transmitters as I had actually DF’ed the signals. Note to self; verify suspected transmitters next time. The third was the decoy. I should have known better than to expect a transmitter to be hidden out in the open like that. You sneaky foxes!

I headed back to the parking lot where I heard the micro transmitter. It was now very difficult to catch the signal from the micro because of the duration and time drift of the other two transmitters nearly all of the micro’s signals were covered up by another transmitter. After some triangulation I had narrowed it down to somewhere on the east edge of the park. After spending some time scouring up and down the canal bank all the other hunters were in the general area searching for third and final transmitter.

Due to my first HT dying, I had to use a backup 2-meter only HT, so I could not use the third harmonic method to attenuate the signals from the other transmitters. Eventually I was able to zero in on the transmitter just as John WJ6Y walked up. I stood there next to where the third transmitter was hidden in the weeds on the canal bank hoping the John would pass by following a bounce from the fence lines that paralleled the canal.

No such luck, John also zeroed in on the final transmitter. I went ahead and bent down to grab the card, when John asked me to grab one for him. I grabbed two cards and as I stood up said “No”. Then with a grin handed him a card and then began to run for the start point.

I arrived at the start point and gave John my three cards and he proclaimed me the first place finisher! About a minute later John WJ6Y arrived, shortly followed by the other teams. Final scores are listed below. After the hunt the group met at Me-n-Eds for pizza, beer and tales of the evening’s event.

Thanks to John and Erik for putting on such a great hunt

Place Team Name/Callsign Mileage Time
1st Team Mavis Rob Mavis AE6GE 0 miles 40 minutes
Laura Mavis KI6KRT
2nd Team Low Tide John Youngquist WJ6Y 0 miles 41 minutes
Rick Tyburski W6KKO
4th Ron Hunt N6MTS 0 miles 43 minutes
Ken Holden WA6OIB
Casey Hamlin KJ6SSB
5th Grumpy Guard and his Minon Matt Goodwin KG6YLJ 0 miles 59 minutes
Greg Goodwin KG6YZN