2018 Fox Hunt

On Sunday, 28 October 2018, Stuart, VE8MT (Mikael), VE8BOB (Bob) and VE8IR (Ian) carried on a "fox hunt" around the area of Frame Lake.  Two Byonics 2 m 100 mW transmitters were hidden along the trail from Stanton Hospital to the causeway leading to the Museum.  FM CW signals were sent out identifying the fox and VE8YK (a legal requirement).

VE8BOB and Stuart used a fox hunt sniffer (http://www.foxhunt.com.au/2m_sniffer/manual.htm ) which had a built in 2 m receiver and automatic attenuator and a handheld YAGI antenna.  VE8MT used an arrow satellite antenna (http://www.arrowantennas.com/) with a salvaged attenuator and a 2 m/70 cm receiver.  VE8IR had only a transceiver but focused on inferences made from signals received and the topography of the Frame Lake area and bearings taken using a magnetic compass (calibrated in mils).  

All participants were able to locate both foxes.  While the pace was leisurely and the foxes located in relative open areas, participants gained experience using their equipment and obtained some degree of familitarity with the way in which 2 m radiowaves reflect off the local shield topography.

A number of bystanders were curious as to this activity.  Some thought we were looking for animals while others thought we were looking for aliens.  The exercise scenario was that we were looking for two downed modules lost from Cosmos 955 (a loose reference to Kosmos 954 and Operation Morning Light in 1978) which were transmitting signals from their beacons (which had survived re-entry).  Not quite aliens...but definitely an extra-terrestrial aspect...

This fox hunt is an aspect of the amateur radio hobby known as amateur radio direction finding (ARDF).  ARDF combines orienteering and radio direction finding.  Perhaps at some future date we might try that. 

ARDF has applications in the real world - for instance in locating emergency locator beacons (ELBs) or in detecting interfering signals.  YARS direction found an accidentally keyed-on transmitter some years ago that was blocking the LAD call frequency - greatly appreciated by the ice road trucker dispatch office.  So while a hobby, the techniques learned have significant utility for emergency preparedness/response activities.

This fox hunt was enjoyed by all and all learned a great deal in the field about reflections off the land in the 2 m VHF band (and 70 cm UHF) bands.  We hope next time to try out other types of equipment - such as time difference of arrival devices or phasing.