The Rush for
There have been a number of
talks on radio direction finding at the Colchester Amateur Radio Club over the
years. The first that I attended was given by an enthusiast (polite term
indicating insanity) from a member of the Mid Thames club.
Since many years have passed, I remember little of the talk except that
he recommended carrying a plastic bag so that your set could be kept dry should
you need to swim across any rivers! I was not immediately attracted to the
am not sure what inducements were employed but my next memory is of navigating
for Ian Butson (G4HKC - ex. national champion). We met up at Fordham Heath; he
explained that there was no need to worry, this was just an introductory event
to get people used to the sport and we would not be taking it too seriously.
At 7.30 p.m., midst much twirling of frame aerials, I was given the first
bearing. A brief drive and a second was plotted from the Avenue of Remberence,
this produced a cross in High Woods. As Ian drove down a rough track and I
watched the speedo flick between 50 and 60 mph I reflected on what a serious
attempt at DF might involve. By 8:03 p.m. we had located one Mike Hawkins lying
in a ditch some distance from a wood. All the other competitors continued to
examine large quantities of wire that he had placed in the wood for their
entertainment. At 9:00 p.m. the competition ended and we all met up at the
specified pub. There was much talk
of reverse senses and earth stakes; I was saddened to learn that Mike came from
a one-parent family.
overall impression of direction finding was that it was all very easy, you took
two bearings and where they crossed was where the hidden TX was.
I was forced to review this assessment a couple of months later when,
having built a DF set, I did my second competition. This time I took the
bearings, Paul Beards (G4IZX) did the navigating and our two wives came along to
offer advice. We never did find the
TX but we did discover why they give you an envelope with the location of the
pub in it. Analysis over a pint revealed that we had peaked when we passed
within five miles of the hidden station.
a beginner at DF there are several lessons to be learned and my first season of
DF was providing many valuable experiences.
Sometimes the Tx will come on as you are driving through a built up area;
the beginner may think it is worth stopping to take a bearing. Squatting on the
pavement outside Mannís Music Shop in the High Street, I must have looked a
strange sight as I tried to null out the Dah dit dididit dah blasting in my army
surplus headphones, certainly the gathering crowd thought so. It was then that I
came up with the phrase that I have used so many times since ďPlease donít
be alarmed itís just a silly gameĒ. It wouldnít have been so bad but the
surrounding power cables pulled the bearing some 30į
and took us the wrong side of the river.
twenty years have passed since those early lessons and I am still learning.
Indeed I have often said that if I ever get the hang of it I will give it
up, but at the age of 5... I hope it will be many years before that happens.
So whatís the attraction? Well
itís the only thing that gets me running and I need the exercise. I have tried
jogging Ė I hate it Ė but I have regularly run 5 miles in short bursts on a
DF, hardly noticing it (until the next day).
Yes, I have waded through rivers (on one occasion when I had forgotten
the spare trousers I had to wear a jacket with my legs down the arms to drive
home!). If you are up with the
leaders with a chance for that win, the years and the arthritis are forgotten,
youíre like a kid again playing hide and seek. All equipment is home made and
cheap. Though simple, there is always another little mod. to try, and that may
just give you the winning edge.
when can you try your hand/ears/legs? Well if you contact me I will pleased to take you
along one Friday evening. You can borrow a DF
set but donít forget the spare trousers!
you donít fancy the running then we would be very grateful for operators who
are prepared to put up a piece of wire and transmit from a hedge.
Equipment (top band) can be provided.
Emeny, G4JAC, Contact
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