How to run your own hidden transmitter hunt
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Planning the Event
Choose your date and time, roughly 2 hours of setup time is required before the event can take place. Here is an example timeline:
If this is an evening event, then participants should start no later than 7:00pm and go until 9:00pm. Setup will need to start at 5:00pm to be ready for the 7:00pm introduction and packup will run from 9:00pm until 10:00pm. Depending on the time of year, this will mean some portion of the event and packup will be after dark.
Doing this event in darkness presents challenges to participants in terms of depth perception, finding their way and may also increase the risk of injury. Doing an event at night is not recommended for first timers especially children unless the participants and accompanying adults have headlamps and/or flashlights.
You will receive a handout sheet from the organizer with a list of five (5) hidden transmitters. You will be assigned just three (3) transmitters to find in a specific order so that you wonít run into anyone else trying to find the same transmitter at the same time. (hopefully)
At each hidden transmitter location, there will be an orange triangular orienteering flag tied to a branch of a tree or some other feature at about eye level. And hanging from that orange flag will be a card with a 3-letter Q-Code used by Amateur Radio operators. This is the serial# for that transmitter which you will write down on the handout sheet with the pen you brought or that was provided or you can also take a picture of it on your smart phone but be sure that it is legible because you will need to show this at checkout to prove that you were there.
We recommend that you print out maps of the park. This will allow youth to practice map reading as you request they mark on the map the location of the hidden transmitter when they find it.
What to wear
Dress according to the weather in layers with a synthetic wicking layer close to the skin, a synthetic mid-layer for warmth and a waterproof, breathable outer layer in case of precipitation and to block the wind.
Suitable park locations
An ideal park location will have onsite parking, a mapboard, elevation changes, with a variety of different landscapes including: some forest area as well as pathways and trails, some open field areas that may also have benches, picnic tables and a building ideally with public washrooms. Ideally the park will be 1.5-2KM in at least one dimension and not less than .8km in the other.
Vincent Massey Park is ideally suited and highly recommended because it is also central and you can navigate the entire park without having to cross any roadways.
To book or not to book the venue in advance
It is possible in some cases to just show up at a park if you have a small group, however, if you want to be guaranteed of parking, and if you plan to have a picnic, then itís a good idea to book the venue in advance however there is usually a cost for this.
Some facilities have free parking but others only offer paid parking. If there is a cost, be sure to mention this in your invite to participants so they arenít surprised.
For Participants: The event should be 2 hours which allows for 15 minutes briefing and equipment handout and then 15 minutes to collect the equipment and debrief at the end as well as announce winners and handout awards if you choose to. That leaves a full 90 minutes for the event itself.
Participants should go in pairs with at least one accompanying adult who has a Police Record Check which is registered with the organizing party such as Scouts Canada, Christie Lake Kids or other.
For a group of 10 children, ideally that would mean 5 groups of 2 and either 5 or 10 adult supervisors depending on the organizationís safety protocols.
You will need a minimum 3 and ideally 4 volunteers to run the event on the day. One of these volunteers will need to be a licensed Amateur Radio Operator and that person will be responsible for control of the radio transmitters and as well ensure that all equipment is explained to the participants and that it is looked after during the event and put that an inventory checklist is completed at distribution and collection so that any missing or damaged equipment will be the responsibility of the organizers to replace.
As mentioned, it can take 2 hours to do the setup and another hour after participants leave to retrieve the hidden transmitters, pack up all the gear and cleanup the site. So plan on 5 hours for volunteers, from start to finish.
Plan to arrive at the setup and participant check-in area a full 2 hours in advance of the event. There is lots to do and it canít get started until everyone arrives. Also, be prepared to stay the full hour after the event to help out with pack-up because there is lots to do then too and everyone is tired. More hands make light work as they say.
One antenna, receiver and one clipboard with Tips & Tricks, Park Map, Transmitter Assignment Sheet and a Pen on a leash. These people should arrive 2 hours prior to the start of the event, to assemble and hide the transmitters, assemble the receiver/antennas and demo area as well as the registration area so that everything is done before the participants arrive.
Please refer to the What to Wear section because this applies to everyone.
Hiding the Transmitters
Obtain a topo map of the park or area where you will be holding your event and visit this venue a few days in advance to mark on the map where you will hide each of the transmitters. This will make setup much easier on the day of the event. If this is not possible, then have a map with you while you walk the park to locate hiding spots and record the location of the transmitter along with itís transmitter# marked on the bottom of the tube so that you can find it again easily (maybe with the help of a receiver/antenna at the end of the event).
Donít unpack anything else from your locked vehicle until you return from hiding the transmitters.
If for any reason, your set-up time is cut to 90 minutes (to resolve any issues that might come up) ahead of when you will be receiving participants, remember to prioritize hiding the transmitters so you leave plenty of time to get this done and avoid being seen by participants who might arrive early.
Look for natural features like a tree or tall bush where you can tie the orange orienteering flag at about eye level with the ID tag hanging below. There also needs to be something close by where you can safely place the transmitter tube and secure it (for example around the base of a tree) using the provided cable and key lock.
Itís a good idea to use either a SNIFFER or a Handheld 2M radio to check that the transmitter is working properly before moving on to the next one.
As a volunteer for this event you need to be sure that you are covered by your organization. For participants this would be, for example, Scouts Canada, Christie Lake Kids or Orienteering Ottawa. For the Amateur Radio Operators, they would be covered by the local Amateur Radio Club so long as they are a member in good standing and that the club maintains their coverage with Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) for Affiliated Club Insurance policy.