|The Flamingo Net
The Flamingo Net has been around the south Florida HAM radio scene for many years. We hope that you may join us and participate in our many activities. These include Free Fleas, Fox Hunts, BBQ's, Picnics and dinners. We also help out at the annual Hamboree, held here in Miami each February.
For upcoming events such as Fox Hunts, go to the Whats New page. For schematic diagrams of easy to make Fox Hunting gear, go to the Schematic Gallery.
The 2-m Fox Hunt of June 16, 2001
This narrative is provided for those who have never been on a Fox (hidden
transmitter) Hunt and wondered what it is like.
Today's hunt was hosted by the Fellowship Amateur Radio Club with participation
by members of the Flamingo Net. The hunt was conducted on the FARC repeater
frequency, 147.210/147.810 MHz. It was a minimum time hunt, where the hunters
start together from the same location and the first to find the Fox is the
winner. Boundaries are set, so that the hunters don't get too lost. In this
hunt, the boundaries were Oakland Park Blvd. (north), Intracostal Waterway
(east), Hollywood Blvd. (south) and University Blvd, (west). The hunt was to
start at 10 AM, but this usually means that cars will roll out of the starting
point around 10:30. The Foxes were KD4JSD (Stu) and KE4ZZM (Bud). This is
written from the perspective of the hunting team of WA4TEJ (Bill) and KB4HAY
In any hunt, there will always be equipment problems. In this case, as I
tightened the RF connector onto the HT for one final twist (reduce that
contact resistance to milli Ohms) I stripped the threads from the connector.
For the remainder of the hunt, it was held together with good will. For his
part, Ray wanted to secure his rig to his belt better (for running through
the brush later), so he put in an extra long screw to strengthen his belt
holder - a screw that was just long enough to crush his final PA transistors
and render his rig "receive-only". Such technical problems might seem a
disadvantage, but actually they are the hunter's most useful tool: the EXCUSE.
The EXCUSE can be used by winners and losers alike. The use by losers is
obvious ("if I hadn't backed the car into that canal while trying to get a
directional S-meter reading, I could have been a contender"), however the
winner can use it to make his feat seem more incredible. Our hunting
equipment was highly sophisticated, consisting of a receive-only HT with
S-meter hooked (barely, at this point) to a 2-m magnet mounted whip near
the rear of the car. This positioning gives more ground plane forward and
projects (and receives) better in that direction. Turning the car around can
then give some directional information. This rig was tuned to the input
frequency of the repeater. We had an extra HT set for the repeater, so that
we could communicate with the Fox.
The hunt began at the FARC "club house" (Dixie Highway at SE 5 St. in south
Broward Co.), which was well south of the southern boundary - the Fox's
signal just made the repeater. We decided to go north on I-95 since it
would quickly take us to the middle of the hunt area. As we crossed
Hollywood Blvd., the rig tuned to the repeater's input frequency began to
get a signal. As we passed the airport, the S-meter was beginning to flick
up to half scale, so we decided to get off at the next exit, SR-84. We
turned east, but the signal level quickly dropped. Going west caused a
gradual improvement in signal strength until we crossed over the South New
River canal. At the top of the bridge, the signal flicked briefly to full
scale. The next 20 minutes were spent checking out each side of the bridge.
There were several marinas ("no trespassing - visitors must check-in at
office") but we figured the Fox wouldn't be there. We then headed south
along the east side of the river into an airport/wharehouse/business
complex. The signal bounced all around from the buildings, but got
progressively worse. The Fox had to be north of SR-84, near the river.
We expanded the search further to the east of the river along SR-84 and saw
the entrance to Secret Woods County Park. Didn't Stu say somthing about the
hidden transmitter being in a "secret" location? As we turned into the park,
the S-meter hit full scale and stayed there.
We parked the car, put "rubber duckie" antennas on the HT's and started out
on foot. This park is in a semi-marshy wooded area and is honeycombed with
boardwalks. Quickly, the S-meter pegged even with these less efficient
antennas so the next step was to tune slightly off frequency (poor man's
attenuator). After a few wrong turns in the maze, the path was chosen that
pegged the S-meter even with the antenna removed (the ultimate attenuator).
At this point, we turned the HT's off and listened - we could hear the Fox
without the radio! Acoustic tracking works - and the Foxes were found about
20 yards farther down that boardwalk. Total hunting time, just over an hour.
The site was secured and we went off to BBQ some hot dogs and drink some cold
sodas (all provided by the FARC) - and swap stories about this hunt, those
past and of course, the next one!
THE 2M FOX HUNT OF OCT. 2, 2004 - THE FOX'S VIEW
(Note: During the hunt, a Medivac helicopter landed in the field in front of the Fox's den to transfer an accident victim from an ambulance to the chopper for a faster ride to the hospital)
Well, the Flamingo Net Lost Transmitter Hunt was a
huge success as always! Larry and I had a good time as
we set up and hid under that big tree near the base
ball field. It was funny watching all the hunters
passing by all over the southern part of Highland
Lakes Park through the low dense hanging branches of
Although the weather for the most part was very good
except for that brief rain shower. And we didn't really
get wet except for a few drops until that huge 48 foot
flying weed eater flew in and we caught the strong
wind field from the chopper Medicaid visit and blew
all the collected water from above and we got wet!
I guess that explains all the weird noises in the back
ground during our transmissions for a while. I am
surprised that my J Pole antenna and a tri-pod did not
fall from all that wind.
Well shortly thereafter, Stu KD4JSD found us first to
be first place and next to hide with Bud KE4ZZM
together for our next proposed hunt to be on the
second Saturday of December. Bud had the opportunity
to tag the Principal Transmitter antenna as first
place with Stu.
The second half of the Flamingo Net Lost Transmitter
Hunt came for the locating of the Mini Fox
Transmitters started shortly after Stu found us and
then you Bill found the first Mini Fox Transmitter
near the south end of the lake in the trees of the
north end of the park. Then Stu found the third Mini
fox transmitter in the Palmetto Tree right on the edge
of the north side of the lake.
Well, all in all we all had a great time at the park
with all the excitement and our unexpected helicopter
48 foot weed eater landing.
O K Bill that's it for now! I look forward to the next
Fox Hunt. Until next time.....
FLAMINGO NET "FOX" (LOST TRANSMITTER) HUNTING
The Flamingo Net has conducted "lost transmitter" hunts since the 50's. The
reason that this activity has persisted for so long is that it is FUN! It
combines technical skill (design / construction of mini-directional antennas,
RF sniffers, attenuators, etc.), knowledge of signal propagation (ducting,
spurious reflecions) and "spy vs counter-spy" intrigue (I know its around here
somewhere... but WHERE?).
What you need:
Minimum Equipment (winners often have just this, much to the chagrin
of those with the additional stuff):
Handheld transceiver with signal strength indicator
Additional Useful Stuff:
Directional antenna or array (beam, loop, Doppler)
Handheld RF meter or "sniffer"
Map and compass
Extra sets of eyes (VERY useful when close)
Historically, foxes have been found everywhere: in cars (in a crowded parking
lot), in trees, under bridges, under piles of leaves, fishing (the "pole" was
actually a whip antenna) or anywhere else a crafty mind can imagine. In a
Flamingo Net hunt, the fox MUST either be on public property (parks, roads)
or private property to which public access is encourage (store parking lots).
Although some variations exist, the hunts are usually conducted as minimum
time hunts: the hunters start from the same starting point at the same time
and the first to find the fox is the winner.
Lest you think that fox hunting is an end unto itself, it DOES have other
applications. The ability to track down interference (QRN due to power lines,
noisy transformers and such - report them to the power company) or QRM
(repeater jammers) can be invaluable. If you really get into it, planes and
boats carry emergency locator beacons which are supposed to go off in
emergencies but often are triggered accidentally. They then put out signals
that block emergency frequencies until they are found and quieted. The Coast
Guard Auxiliary and the Civil Air Patrol have often gotten involved in these
fox hunts. You can contact them for more information.
Information for more advanced hunters (you know who you are!):
As we all know, there are many systems used in Fox Hunting. Many of these are directional in nature (loops, beams, Doppler, pseudo-Doppler, etc.) but they have a problem with multipath. Any object which reflects (or re-transmits) the foxes signal will produce a superposed signal at the hunter's location. This can cause your directional array to give a seemingly very good FALSE directional reading. To check for this (and Doppler systems automatically do this while you are in motion) you should take several directional readings, from positions spaced a fraction of a wavelength apart, each time you take a bearing on the fox. If the bearings differ by more that 10 degrees, you have multipath issues at that location and should disregard ALL of those readings. Go to another location!
My friend flutter: If a spot is so affected by multipath as to make directional readings unreliable, you do have one clue of this fact before setting up for a directional bearing. When you are driving into the area where you plan to take a directional reading, if there is a lot of strong flutter ("picket fencing" , rapid QSB) on the foxes signal, then that area is full of multipath signals, and it is pointless to set up for the directional reading there. It might even be possible to use the characteristics of the picket fencing to provide information about the foxes direction, but that is a matter of discussion.
If multipath becomes a major problem during a hunt, I will resort to a fixed whip antenna with an attenuator. Even this can be fouled up by multipath - the (re-transmitted + foxes) signal can in some locations be stronger than the signal from the fox ("hot spots"). This leads to the signal growing weaker in all directions leading away from the "hot spot", but never getting strong enough at the "spot" to cause you to think that you have arrived at the foxes den. When this problem is detected, try to leave the "spot" in a direction which minimizes the signal strength drop-off. Gradually, as you continue in this direction, the signal strength will begin to rise again, to heights greater than those achieved at the "spot" and you will know that you are again on the foxes trail (or headed for another "hot spot"... closer to the fox).
Signals from the fox can also be "ducted" - much like along a transmission line. This can happen along canals, creeks, rivers, railway tracks, long lines of fence and in rows of buildings. The signal will be transmitted from these ducts at various locations, thus producing lots of multipath sources. You should suspect ducting if the foxes signal rises greatly when you pass over a railroad track, canal, etc. . The rules for dealing with multipath then come into play again, with one additional bit of information: the fox is probably near that railroad track or canal - somewhere.
The History of the Flamingo Net
The net originally was to be called the Pelican Net, but it was found that that name was already taken by a radio group in Louisana. The Flamingo Net name was adopted in 1954 and has been used ever since.
SOME NET HISTORY, FIRST ROLL CALL AND THOSE ON NET AT TIME
OF THIS CHRONICLE BY BETTY CHEYNEY W4SDI WAS WRITTEN
Net was formed at W4VGT's house the week before the 1st roll call, with
W4MVR being elected for NCS.
Those at the formation meeting: W4DTJ, W4WYR, W0MBX, W4MVR, W4SDI,
W4PQR, W4PPQ, W4RID & XYL, W4TOJ, W4TOK, W4UHM & PAT, W4VGT
& XYL, W4OLW & XYL, W4LVL called in by telephone as was in hospital.
FIRST ROLL CALL - JANUARY 30, 1953
W4ABU, W4DTJ, W4DXP, W4FBS, W4IEH, W4IJM, W4IL, W4IM, W4LVL, W0MBX/M,
W4MLS, W4MVR, K4NAC, W4NJM, W4MQB, W4PQ, W4PVH, W4RID, W4RKX, W4RWT,
W4SDI, W4TOJ, W4TOK, W4UHM, W4VGT, W4VWY, W4VYU, W4VZC, W4WFM, W4WSJ,
W4WYR, W4YJD, W4YLV & SWL SAM.
Idea of Net was to give everyone a chance to get together on the air one night a week and find out what everyone has been doing and the main thing is to provide activities for the entire family - XYLs are members the same as OMs
In the time since first roll call to 1955 when chronicle was written, the Net had sponsored the Emergency Drill at Homestead, participated in Gold Coast Marathons, held two Barbecues, several transmitter hunts (most rememberable one was the moving boat hidden transmitter), picnics at Greynolds Park and at NE 114th Street and the Bay.
Of the stations checking in on the first roll call, 21 were still on the roll call three years later:
Here's the roll call 1955:
W4BTE (ex 0MBX), W4BWP, W4DTJ, W4UJX, W4WSJ, W4WLX, W4SRZ, W4CER, W4KMV, W4TOJ, W4TOK, W4IEH, W4VGV, W4UIW, W4VYU, W4OQL, W4JGG, WA4SJT, W4WAQ, W4VGT, W4AZO, W4QAJ, W4ZHE, W4YSY, W4VZC, W4WYR, W4RID, W4YCL, W4CRM, W4DWN, W4CIB, W4NJM, W4ZDR, W4PAS, W4IJM, W4UWP, W4UUZ, W4FBS, SWL SAM, W4CDJ, W4VYU, SWL DON, W4CXH, W4OKV, W4WUS, W4IQF, W4NVF, W4LFL, W4BXC, W4ZPO, W4BSX, W4RKX, W4ABU, W4AWR, W4RUM, W4RWT, WN4ERL, W4WWJ, W4ZPT, W4UHM, W4MVR & W4SDI.
"We've had membership cards made with the credit for those going to W4ZML who made the plates and W4AE & W4BQA printing them. The all did this free of charge for us. We're having certificates made - Thanks again to W4ZML for the plates."
(ALL OF THE INFORMATION ON THE THREE PAGES ARE DIRECTLY FROM BETTY AND BOB'S WRITINGS. I ALSO HAVE TWO COPIES OF 'BIRD SPARKS' WHICH WAS THE MONTHLY NET NEWSPAPER., NOVEMBER 1956 AND MARCH 1957. I WILL SEE IF I CAN FIND SOME NET PICTURES. I HAVE SIGN-IN BOOK FOR SEVERAL PICNICS AND BAR BQs. THIS WILL HAVE TO DO FOR A START. 73/88 to all the Birds from a "Charter Member".).
EMERGENCY DRILL - FROM HOMESTEAD TO AMERICAN RED CROSS, 5100 BISC. BLVD
No date noted
By Bob Cheyney W4MVR
Drill on 10 meter phone from Homestead and vicinity to Red Cross Building in Miami had W4RID and W4MJK at the Miami station and 17 mobiles in and around Homestead covering all shelters and important places with 10 meter communications into Red Cross Bldg in Miami.
Mobile Stations: Other Operators:
W4MVR & W4SDI W6RZH
W4TOJ & W4TOK W4TFN
W4DTJ & W4WYR W4UUZ
Several local newspapers carried stories on the drill and amateur radio preparedness for emergencies.
GOLD COAST MARATHON
JULY 24-25, 1953
Notes by Betty W4SDI & Bob W4MVR Cheyney
Fixed Portable Station at Pelican Harbor on 75 Meters and one station on 10 Meters. 10 Meter
Station collected boat positions from mobiles at every bridge and turned over to 75 meter station
to be transmitted to Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
Mr. George Light, Jr., Chairman of Gold East Marathon 1953 told lus afterward he never realized
The coverage we could and did give them. We came through their PA System at Pelican Harbor with our 10 meter station so they turned the announcing over to our operator, John W4RWT, who would repeat the news that came in over the air so the amplifier would pick it up and broadcast it to the crowd.
W4BTE (ex W0MBX) W4TPN
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