2020-12-03 Ottawa 137th Scout Troop - Transmitter Finding in the Dark Event
Sorry! No pictures from this event!
Event Description by Harrie, VE3HYS
First you start with some green space, add three low-power (15 mW) transmitters and some Scouts. The organizers spent about 90 minutes getting everything ready. There were three of us doing the set up. Roger, VA3EGY, stayed by the car and got the three element yagis placed on guitar stands with the sniffer receivers. While he was hooking all the gear up Tom, VA3TXL, and I, VE3HYS, took the transmitters and the little pennant markers out to find some hiding places. The three transmitters were about a kilometre apart in the shape of a triangle.
Tom and I returned to the car about the time the scouts were showing up. We had five scouts and two other leaders come out. We were not sure if each scout would want to go by themselves or in teams of two. They choose to go in teams. Tom and I went out with one team while the other two leaders went out with the second team and the third team went by themselves.
We quickly learned that more instruction was needed. The scouts started homing on the transmitter heading towards people's homes. We pointed out that the radio signals didn't know private property from public property. After that, they seemed to get the hang of it and did quite well locating the transmitters.
At the end of the evening everyone expressed a desire to do it again. They had a great time.
As you may know, radio transmitter hunting is a popular amateur radio activity. In Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and the USA it is pursued as a recreational activity but there is also a competitive radio sport called Amateur Radio Direction Finding (or ARDF) with international championships held in different countries on a regular basis. Unfortunately, ARDF is not well known or practiced in Canada. There are a few small groups active in western Canada, but we want to help bring ARDF back to Ottawa.
ARDF is similar to orienteering, where participants must locate a number of control markers (flags) spread out over a large park or urban area. Using a map and a compass, participants develop a strategy and then locate the most flags in the shortest period of time. With ARDF, a radio transmitter is co-located with each flag and participants use a radio receiver and directional antenna (they may also use a map and compass) to find them.
To ensure that we can provide a safe environment for everyone, ALL participants must wear a suitable face mask. Masks were available in case anyone forgot theirs. Hand sanitizer was available for all participants. The equipment is sanitized before and after every use.
Because it was dark and the group was having too much fun, they forgot to take any pictures!