2014 National Qualifier No. 4

13 July 2014

An Organisers view

My aim was to create an event in which ‘DF’ was the main event. Two near identical station sites, both a real challenge, while minimising the driving was priority. Ultimately I believe it should matter not which station one visits first, while on-site competitors should be challenged needing to use every ounce of skill and initiative to locate the transmitter operator. Did I succeed? You’ll have to ask the competitors...

As fate would have it, I spotted station A (East) on a visit to the Crematorium earlier this year. Opening the map there was nothing there but for a school and a country park on the opposite side of the dual carriageway. Already a good start. A site visit revealed clear and obvious public access leading to acres of cover under several power lines. Options galore, indeed it reminded me of the first site I used several years back.

A re-visit to station B (West) I noticed much more cover than before; dense, overgrown on both sides of the canal, and river too, with the power lines still crackling overhead. We had two sites, both more or less identical – including power lines – and after a measure on the map, both five and one half miles from the start and two and one quarter miles between them. Even the start was on the same fold of the map as both stations, no needing to use the bonnet to plot bearings.

Two and a half days later Cathy and I had put up around 350-400 yards of wire at both sites. I opted for a counterpoise at station A run along the length of the path under the power lines on top of some dense cover around shoulder height. The idea was to have the signal peak and trough as competitors walked the path – and hopefully ventured into the cover under the aerial wire. The wires were both terminated in earth stakes at the far end, the wire being lifted onto the trees for all to see, and hopefully get lots of signal out around the ‘wrong end’ of the aerials. I expected competitors to park at the country park and wondered how the power lines may affect signals close by. The station was under the power lines tucked behind a brick wall amongst some thick cover using a ‘sort of’ balanced feed into the aerial wires. Apologies if the station was inadvertently within the restricted bounds of domestic property as per the rules. I trust however, it was fair to all and did nothing to detract from the fun of event.

At station B I took a slightly different approach opting for a ‘conventional aerial’ with a T feed from the transmitter somewhere in the middle both ends being terminated in earth stakes. The aerial was lifted into the bushes above and both sides of the canal, crossed several times, headed into and out of the cover, and had a few Ts ‘going nowhere’ to entice competitors into the cover as per station A. An extra piece of wire was thrown over the nearby river to add to the confusion. The station was located in the open under the power lines the idea being competitors would thrash the thick stuff and miss the station connected to the aerial via some thin wire hidden in part including under the path.

I subscribe to those who think transmissions should be frequent and not necessarily all fifteen minutes apart, so much so around three to half three I put out transmissions 2, 4, and 6 minutes apart although 8-10 minutes throughout the earlier part of the afternoon. I was concerned the power lines could interfere a little too much, although was confident station B would be okay as it had been found easily on an earlier event. I believe DF is about getting everyone into both station sites if at all possible. I went so far as to advise the sites were ‘no more than 3 miles apart’ at one point. I believe Geoff headed my advice, although unfortunately didn’t quite make it in time to his second station.

I am pleased we had about half the field finding both stations, the first two home in fact doing it both ways. It seems then like my plans had, in part at least, proven successful with all but a couple of competitors finding one or more stations. I trust the power lines did not confuse for too long, nor my tactics with devious aerials and some of the worse (best?!) cover I’ve seen in a very long time.

Finally, I should say ‘thank you’ to all competitors for making the event.

Andy Collett

Position Competitor Finish Time A Time B
1 Alan Simmons 15:45:20 15:45:20 14:44:44
2 Matthew Clark 15:59:21 15:14:41 15:59:21
3 Chris Plummer 16:08:59 16:08:59 14:55:57
4 Colin Merry 16:23:55 16:23:55 15:44:38
5 Bill Pechey 16:29:11 15:44:20 16:29:11
6 Geoffrey Foster 15:43:57 15:43:57 -
7 Gary Parker 15:44:10 15:44:10 -
8 Graham Phillips 16:04:41 - 16:04:41
9 Steve Stone 16:06:16 - 16:06:16
10 Roy Emeny - - -
11 John Mullins - - -