York Region Amateur Radio Club held its first FoxHunt for 2016 on Nov 19, 2016

York Region Amateur Radio Club held its first FoxHunt for 2016 on Nov 19, 2016

The event started with a breakfast/social at the Wimpy’s Diner in Oakridges and while sipping coffee the strategy and equipment shakeout began in earnest

Attendance:

VA3CZK Jerry

VA3WJO Walter

VA3BXG Robert

VE3IBW Brian

VE3DOF Doc

Guest Ron

VA3GS Geoff

VE3MUU Benry

VA3MCT Mike

VE3YRP Ian

VE3ISG Ian

VA3ASE Alex

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At 10 am the fox was in position and the hunt began.

At 10:40 am the husband and wife team of VE3YRP checked in at 10:40 am to claim top honours.

Ian had a homebrew tape measure antenna feeding an Icom R5 scanner and took 3 bearings to locate the fox. He likes the R5 for its sensitivity and s-meter feature

Second place was earned by the father and son team of VE3ISG and VA3ASE. Ian is a new ham and was thrilled with their finish and strategy with 3 bearings. The tape measure beam with a Baefeng did the job. They arrived at 10:47

Third was taken by team VE3IBW and VA3GS coming in at 11:18am.

4th was taken by VE3CZK and VA3WJO using a tape measure antenna they built the day before and using the Kenwood D74 for receive. They arrived at 11:30 due to being on the wrong side of Yonge street and misreading a triangulation.

VE3MUU popped in during the rain at 11:54 and he was so so close by a few hundred yards but realized that he could not “knock” the signal down and thus not get a bearing. I dropped the power on the fox to 100mw and that helped get a fix and make a beeline to the location just before shut down.

VA3MCT, checked on to report that he had abandoned his search at 11:58. Mike was on the wrong side of the Aurora Ridge and was having difficulty hearing the fox transmissions.

The fox was placed across 71 Larmont Street , Aurora beside the old armoury at the town park. Funny enough I noticed that this address has ham antennas and is the home of VE3AHA.

Anthony VE3HIS was “mobile” and heard the beacon from several locations and shared his readings with the group.

Lessons learned:

Do not play or program or unpack the fox hunt controller the day before as we had a technical issue with the fox sending out dead air transmissions and inconsistent timings after about an hour into the hunt. I resorted to manual mode.

Teaming up made it fun

Fancy equipment is not needed

Printed maps may be useful but the winner used his Ham sense to gather his bearings

Fox location was good enough to make it interesting for the start of the Foxhunt series. I was given suggestions to bury it next time, put it on a balloon or make it a moving one to really mess up everyone. Yes, we will do that as we get better at locating the fox and to make it more challenging.

Make it a 9am start with the fox in play and the entrants will gather at the start location “ready to go” and we could have winners within an hour and still have a 90 min or 120 minute time limit.

I will plan the next event for January and will take suggestions on how to make it easier or better.

The 4th place team is all smiles….”Hey we didnt finish top 3 but we did find the Fox”

Say YES to D-Star

These are some of the misconceptions people have about D-star.

1.

D-Star doesn’t work without the internet. False. First off D-Star can operate simplex or point-to-point like we use at hamfests to tell our friends about a hot deal we’ve spotted for them. It can also function like an analog repeater re-transmitting signals using a specific frequency pair. Now here’s where the internet comes in. Since these are digital signals they can be routed through gateways attached to the internet to communicate to other D-Star repeaters around the world.

2.

D-Star isn’t radio. False. This is similar to point number one but I hear it all the time. If you’re talking into a microphone connected to a radio with an antenna attached to it then you’re using a radio. Period. This is D-Star. And yes there is a device that hooks to your computer called a DV dongle and it relies solely on the internet using your computer for the microphone and speaker. This is actually a pretty cool device when you’re traveling so when you’re in a hotel you can work your home repeater anywhere in the world. While this D-Star device connects directly to the internet it also connects you to repeaters that transmit RF.

3.

D-Star is just too “computery” for me. I don’t want to mess around with computers. I just like to pick up my microphone and start talking to people. Hmmmm. I’ll bet you use a computer for logging contacts or maybe controlling your HF radio. Actually if I put an analog and D-Star mobile radio next to each other and asked you pick out the D-Star radio you couldn’t tell the difference because they both have, a microphone.

4.

D-Star is proprietary since ICOM is the only radio manufacture selling it. False. The D-Star format was developed by the JARL as an open standard protocol. This means any radio manufacture can build D-Star radios. The only part of D-Star that is proprietary is the digital codec or the Ambi digital encoder chip. But if you want to go down that road I can open up any analog radio and show you custom chips they use as well. Kenwood and Yaesu could have built D-Star radios but they chose not to take the gamble. ICOM took the gamble and they are now reaping the rewards. With the success of ICOM these other manufactures are now looking to develop their own formats to get into the digital radio business. This is unfortunate and will only confuse hams since the D-Star format is already a very popular digital standard.

5.

D-Star is too expensive. Sort of, with two thoughts. If Yaesu and Kenwood would simply humble themselves and build a D-Star radio giving ICOM some competition then prices would come down. I agree that $600 for a dual band analog/digital HT is expensive. However on the flip side we’ve been conditioned to think that a dual band HT should cost $50 with all the Baofengs being dumped on the market from China. Try pricing a Japanese dual band HT for a better real world price comparison. Also remember a D-Star radio does digital and analog so it should cost more. You do get what you pay for. Here’s an example of an economical way to get into D-Star. If you own an analog transceiver with a built-in serial port connector such as a Kenwood TM-D710, An ICOM IC-7000 or a Yaesu FT-857 you can buy a $100.00 PCBA that will install between this radio and your PC with a USB cable. This is one example of the many non ICOM D-Star ideas being created because of the nature of this open standard. D-Star is exploding and I’m looking forward to seeing all the new ideas at Dayton.

6.

I’ve heard D-Star audio and when the signal gets weak I can’t understand anything at all. It sounds like R2D2 from Star Wars. That is true but in side-by-side test comparisons between and an analog and a D-Star radio with the same power, same antenna and the same distance the D-Star radio was more readable than the analog radio. The difference is that when an analog radio signal gets weak it fades gracefully into the noise floor. When the D-Star signal gets weak it starts breaking up and this sound can be a bit jarring.

7.

This D-Star stuff takes up a lot of bandwidth on the ham bands. False. Because the D-Star digital signal is compressed it takes up only 6.25 KHz vs. 25 KHz for a wide band FM signal. If some of the dormant analog repeaters were switched to digital there could be almost 4 times as many frequencies available for the space taken up by one analog FM signal. I’m not promoting this idea but in densely populated areas where frequency pairs aren’t as available this would be a good solution.

8.

I don’t like D-Star because it will replace analog. False. Both formats can and do co-exist. Remember before FM came along on VHF and UHF there was only AM. Keep this in the back of your mind with regard to D-Star as it grows more popular over time.

9.

Why do I have to register my call sign to use D-Star. I don’t have to do that with analog. When you register your call sign with the D-Star network the second you transmit the whole world knows you are on the air. This is handy when you want to find your other D-Star friends. There is also another function called call sign routing that allows you to work your home repeater through another D-Star repeater as you travel. If you are only using your D-Star radio simplex then registration is not required. Registration has its benefits because every time you key your mike your call sign appears on all the D-Star radios listening to that frequency. Personally I think this accountability keeps jammers away. Remember those anonymous crank phone calls we would get before caller ID came along? I know, now we have the telemarketers calling but at least we know who is now calling so we can elect to ignore the call.

10.

The Audio on D-Star just sounds funny to me. Sort of true. Digital audio is compressed and as such is not as full sounding as wideband FM. However after listening to it for a while you learn to appreciate the quietness between words and the overall clarity. Occasionally some users of D-Star sound like they are underwater or are very muffled. These are usually hams using their computers to get on D-Star and their computers have very poor quality microphones. I recommend for those using their computers for D-Star to use a quality headset with a quality mike. If you use the standard hand mike on the radio you’ll sound great.

In conclusion, say yes to D-Star. Whenever something new comes along we tend to resist change. Then after we use it for a while we wonder how we lived without it. Remember that new thing called the Internet! I encourage everyone to learn more about D-Star by attending one of the free D-Star seminars being held every so often or talk to a D-Star user to experience it first hand. My hope is when you hear derogatory comments about D-Star you’ll now know the other side of the story. The nature of ham radio is learning and experimenting so keep an open mind as fresh ideas come along advancing our hobby.

Very 73,

David J. Holmgren
K9RUF

York Region ARC Annual FoxHunt

yrarc-logoFox Hunt 1-2016

Hunt Logistics

Date: November 19, 2016
Start Time: 09:00 am
Duration: 2.0 hours
Fox transmit power: 5 Watts
Hound start location: Wimpys Diner, 12916 Yonge St, Richmond Hill

                     Frequency 146.565 MHz

Boundaries

North

Davis Drive
East Hwy 404
South 19th Avenue
West Dufferin Street

Rules

 

  1. DURATION – The exercise ends after two (2) hours or when all hounds have either found the fox or conceded, whichever is the earlier.
  2. FOX’S OPERATION – The fox will transmit on one of the above FM frequency signals from a fixed location, on unrestricted public property, and within the above declared boundaries.

The fox will use an Omni directional, vertically polarized signal. The fox’s effective radiated power will be such that any hounds starting towards the centre of the area in a reasonably high and clear location shall be assured of receiving the fox’s transmission. The fox’s transmitted power will remain constant throughout the hunt.  The fox may issue clues to his location. The fox will transmit the location at the end of the exercise.

HOUND’S OPERATION – The hound is a person or team in one vehicle using one set of equipment. The hounds may start from any location. Taking bearings from home is not permitted. Hounds without transmission capability should make their participation known in advance.

RESTRICTIONS – The YRARC is a responsible club with an enviable reputation. Hounds will adhere to the terms of their transmitting license, all driving laws, the Highway Code, and local Bylaws. YRARC members must satisfy themselves on relevant matters of law and insurance.  They participate in these foxhunt exercises at their own risk and on the strict understanding that all participants agree to indemnify YRARC Officials, the Fox Hunt Committee and the YRARC Inc. for any accident or other damage arising from the event.

Fox Logistics: John Leonardelli VE3IPS


http://nt1k.com/blog/2012/vhf-3el-tape-measure-yagi/
OR http://theleggios.net/wb2hol/projects/rdf/tape_bm.htm

BSEU sanctioned event

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