Thursday, September 19, 2013 —
On Sept. 21, members of the Stanly County Amateur Radio Club will meet at Stanly Community College to participate in a foxhunt. Members will not be hunting the bushy-tailed variety, as most are probably thinking, but will be tracking down a hidden radio transmitter.
This type of foxhunt, also known as Radio Direction Finding, is a popular sport worldwide. Although this event is strictly for fun, there are serious applications for the techniques used by the hunters.
The skills and methods used to hunt this fox are the same used to locate downed aircraft, interference from power lines or hunting dogs that wear small transmitter collars. The local police department has similar equipment to locate medical patients wearing special transmitters on their ankles. Wildlife researchers use similar equipment and methods to track animals that wear tracking devices.
There are different ways of conducting one of these events. Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ADRF) is an event that is run on foot. The hunters will race for several hours on foot to find as many as a dozen transmitters hidden in a heavily wooded area. This type of event is a very popular sport worldwide and was once considered as a possible Olympic event. In October, the USA National ADRF Championships will be in Uwharrie National Forest. This event will have participants from the U.S. and several foreign countries.
Unlike the on-foot events, this local event will follow a popular version which includes the use of automobiles because the distances traveled could be 10 miles or more. Before the hunt, participants will record their vehicle mileage and their starting time. Scoring is calculated based on miles driven and time hunting. The hunter with the lowest score that successfully finds the transmitter is the winner. The winner of the event gets to hide the fox for the next hunt.
This T-hunt, as its also called, will begin at 10 a.m. in the parking lot of the Snyder Building. When the hunt begins, the hidden transmitter will send out a radio signal that the hunters can receive on their walkie-talkie style radios. The transmissions will last about 30 seconds, go silent for about two minutes and then repeat. Hunters will use a directional antenna to get an indication of the direction where the fox is at and will draw a line on a map in the direction of the fox. After moving to a new location, the hunter will get another direction for his map. Where the two lines intersect should be near the location of the fox. The more lines obtained for the map, the more accurate the results will be. Hunters must always be aware that the radio signal can reflect off man made objects like water tanks, which can send them off in the wrong direction. When the hunter finally gets close, within hundreds of feet, the hunt is continued on foot. When the hunter actually finds the transmitter, his time is recorded and his score is calculated.
Anyone interested in taking part in this foxhunt is welcome. Club members will be glad to partner with interested persons that just want to join in the fun. Anyone interested in learning more about Amateur Radio (a.k.a. Ham Radio) or T-hunting is welcome to join the hunt or visit the club’s website at www.K4OGB.org.