Fox Hunts

Fox Hunts

Mobile hidden transmitter hunts are held throughout the year at 6:00 pm. (if you are looking for one, please contact us) Hunters usually meet at the Patriot Square parking lot in Dennis before the hunt. We meet in the typically empty section of the parking to the right of the entrance by Carewell Urgent Care Participants are asked to show up least 15 min. before the start time to check in and have any questions answered. The hunt will terminate at 8:00 pm and a gathering at a location of the fox's choosing will follow. (optional, but fun)

 

Never done a Fox Hunt?
Come, and we will show you how. Most hunters will be in teams, and there will be some teams that may have room for a ride along for anyone interested in seeing how it's done.

 

What You need:
A vehicle. You will be using your vehicle to cover the search area and find the fox. And some type of VHF receiver with an S meter that will cover 146.355 and 146.955. That is all you "need" many hunters only use the radio in the vehicle to find the fox. That said, you can use any equipment you wish, directional antennas, sniffers, dopplers or anything else. A map of the area or a laptop/smartphone with Google Earth is nice for looking at the surrounding area. Maps that show the satellite view of an area is recommended!.

Hunt Area:
The area in which the fox can hide is determined by; if they can be heard from the start point. The only restriction is it must be on Cape Cod. During the summer the fox is asked not to pick downtown Hyannis or any other location that has an insane amount of traffic. (it is only a request) Our main start point is Patriot Square in Dennis off exit 9B. This will normally put the fox in the mid-cape area. Please have a look at the rules below for rules specific to the location the fox may be in.

How It Works:
At the start, the fox will read the preamble and start the hunt. During this, they will include a description of their vehicle. Transmissions from this point on will be every five minutes 6:05, 6:10, 6:15, 6:20, etc. and will be a minimum of one minute long. There will be a warning given one minute before each of these transmissions. This will allow you time to park and do whatever you must to find the fox.

So the fox's transmissions will look like this:

  • 6:00 open the hunt.
  • 6:04 one minute warning
  • 6:05 transmit for a minimum of one minute, but not more than one and a half minutes
  • 6:09 one minute warning
  • 6:10 transmit for a minimum of one minute, but not more than one and a half minutes
  • 6:14 one minute warning
  • 6:15 transmit for a minimum of one minute, but not more than one and a half minutes
  • repeated till found by all or 8:00pm

Recourses:

Google Earth - Google's amazing mapping application that allows you to view any area in a multitude of ways. NOTE: normal operation of Google Earth required an internet connection. However, if you do not have mobile broadband you can cache the map data and use this offline. (Google it to find out how ;) )

   

GoogleHunt - An application that allows manual or automatic plotting of direction headings on a Google Earth map in real time.

 

   
The VK3YNG Foxhunt Sniffer - Aa specially designed synthesized VHF direction finding receiver covering 120MHz and 144MHz bands. The receiver is designed for quickly finding the direction of beacons or hidden transmitters. Anything from distant weak signals to very close "sniffing" of transmitters running many watts of output power can be pinpointed accurately without suffering "overload" problems that plague other designs. The full auto-ranging operation allows the operator to quickly and intuitively locate the source of a signal without twiddling knobs or watching meters. The operator is freed to concentrate on more important things such as negotiating terrain or reading maps.
   
Tape Measure Beam Antenna - Don't let the looks fool you. This antenna has a very good front to back ratio and is an excellent performer. The fact that the elements will fold up if you hit something and spring back into position is one of it's biggest advantages. This makes getting it into and out of a vehicle or running through the woods possible.
   

Doppler Direction Finders:
An "automatic" type unit that shows the direction a signal is coming from. Some units can interface to computers and mapping software. There is also some development being made that uses a computers sound card to do DSP and the direction finding calculations. There are a lot of variations and brands on the market. All require some assembly by the user (except commercial options).

  • Ramsey DDF1 - A nice low-cost kit with case and all parts. As far as we know the only downside to this kit is it has no RS232 output and can not interface with a PC.
  • PicoDopp - A long-standing quality doppler that does interface with a PC, in fact, the maker also offers free software. (GoogleHunt is one of them). The downside is you will need your own case, depending on how you are using this will depend on the type of case. You also have the option of adding a compass rose display.
  • The Montreal Doppler 3V2 - A well-documented unit with similar features to the PicoDopp. This unit is available as a PCB board and programmed PIC kit only. You will need to build and supply everything else.
  • Sound Card Doppler - A sound card doppler DF interface. From what we have found this is still in development.

 

Rules of the Hunt

Fox Hunt General Rules (Before the Hunt) (Repeater Input Fox)

  1. A designated assembly area will be established for the hunters/hounds, from here forward called the start point.
  2. Hunters may be individual or teams and must check in accordingly with the Leader of the Hunt.
  3. A designated 'end time' will be set.
  4. Maps of the area will be the responsibility of the hunters/hounds.
  5. The Club's 146.955 repeater will be designated for primary contact between the Hunt's Leader and participants. All hunters (or at least one member per team) should have a second rig to monitor the repeater for instructions.

The leader of the hunt Responsibilities:

  1. Check in each team before the hunt.
  2. Need not know the exact location of the Fox
  3. 10 minutes before the designated start time the leader of the hunt 'calls the fox' and relays the call signs of the hunting teams.
  4. Ensures all hounds have the transmitting frequency for the Fox.
  5. Account for each participant at the end of the hunt to ensure all have safely returned from their hunting or otherwise checked out.

Hunters/Hounds General rules:

  1. May be comprised of only an individual or a group, (designated at the starting check-in).
  2. Hunters are encouraged to use any available resources to locate the Fox; this includes home stations helping the hunters.
  3. Hunters are solely responsible for the safe operation of their vehicles, and proper operation of all equipment in accordance with FCC rules and regulations.
  4. If they must leave the hunt before the conclusion, they MUST check out with the Leader of the Hunt, so they are fully accounted for.
  5. Under penalty of forfeiture of rewards/title/etc..upon discovery of the Fox, make no reference to the location, or the discovery itself.

Fox Specific Rules: (During the Hunt)

  1. Fox needs to announce the preamble at the start and end of the hunt.
  2. Must be a live person or team, no robots or unattended transmitters.
  3. Must be able to be heard from the designated starting area from average mobile equipment. (as long as one person can receive the fox the hunt is on)
  4. Must be in a location that is considered open to the 'PUBLIC', with at least one public access route to their location.  Common sense must prevail, ie.. the average car is not equipped for very rough terrain or forging 2 feet of water. The fox may be parked on a dead-end road or along the road as long as there is a "parking area" like a dirt turn off or culdesac Parking lots of private business are considered open to the public. The fox may not be in an area that is restricted to "residents only", "private", requires going in a "do not enter" sign or any similar restricted area. Private residential driveways are not permitted.
  5. Must stay on the designated frequency. (normally 146.355 for us)
  6. May use any means to obscure, attenuate, or otherwise distort patterning of the source signal (in accordance with Rule #2 above), once the hunt has begun no changes are permitted to the transmitting station, this includes output power levels.  Upon Hunter request may reduce power for brief transmissions provided such transmissions are announced to the Hunters.  After said transmissions are made original output power must be restored. The fox is permitted to be moving as long as it moved within a 500' radius. (This means the fox can be moving, they can't move just the antenna (that would be a change to the station) but they can move the entire station)
  7. Must transmit for a minimum of 60 seconds (but not longer than 90 seconds) every 5 minutes.  A one-minute warning will also be given before every scheduled transmission. This transmission schedule must be strictly adhered to.   The Fox must ID with each transmission, and followed by whatever they wish.  A preamble of sorts identifying the activity as a Fox Hunt is suggested. Normally we use "this is the Your Call the BARC Fox".
  8. May not use any cross-band repeat or remote base mechanisms to further obscure their location.
  9. If/when found, the fox will not disclose their location or the fact they have been found.
  10. May give hints to their location within the closing 30 mins of the designated hunting hours (Clues such as "I see you Fred" is appropriate if Fred can in fact be seen by the Fox)
  11. Other common sense stuff, turn off any APRS transmitters prior to heading to your hole, however, leaving a receive only tracker on could be entertaining.  Avoid operating other bands during the hunt (ie.. rag chewing on 20 meters in between transmissions is not be advisable).

After the Hunt:

  1. The fox will draw a number from a hat to determine the next fox, each team will have a corresponding number.  
  2. When a team finds the fox, the fox will record the mileage of that team and instruct the team where the after hunt meeting/eating establishment like pizza shop will be held for results and after hunt festivities.

 

Preamble:

---------------------- To Open The Hunt ----------------------

This is YOUR CALL SIGN

I will be your fox for this evening.

For the next two hours, the Barnstable Amateur Radio Club will be using this repeater for an Amateur Radio direction finding exercise, also known as a fox hunt.

Tease hunts are held every other Friday from 6-8pm local time. Anyone interested in participating in the hunts may do so. Please visit the clubs website for more information and a calendar of events at barnstableARC.org

So you know what you are looking for I am in a COLOR AND MODEL OF VEHICLE.

That said, this is YOUR CALL SIGNthe BARC fox, come find me.

 

 

---------------------- To Close The Hunt ----------------------

It is now LOCAL TIME and this fox hunt is now over.

Thank you to all that participated and all that stood by while we conducted the hunt. Our next hunt will be DATE.

These hunts are held every other Friday from 6-8pm local time. Anyone interested in participating in the hunts may do so. Please visit the clubs website for more information and a calendar of events at barnstableARC.org

Thank you, YOUR CALL SIGN