Our local radio club (W0TLM) has been able to help a number of Scouts from the local Boy Scout troop get their Technician Class radio license. (See Results from the Second Technician Class.) The boys are having a lot of fun talking to each other on 2 Meters and using ham radio to support their troop activities.
We started thinking about some other fun activities we could do with them. Somehow the notion of combining some GPS (geocaching) work with transmitter (fox) hunting emerged. It turns out that we are not the first group to have this idea. The North Bay Amateur Radio Club in California had already tried this and named it GeoFox.
Our version of GeoFox, crafted by Stu W0STU, resulted in a course that had three hidden transmitters and three checkpoints defined by latitude/longitude, for a total of 6 checkpoints. The total course length was about 3.6 miles.
Using this as a learning opportunity, the Scouts built their own “tape measure” yagi antennas for use in direction finding.
The course was set up in a portion of Pike National Forest, near Woodland Park, Colorado. The Scout troop combined the GeoFox event with a weekend campout. The Scouts worked in teams of 4, with at least one licensed radio operator and a GPS operator. Each team started at 20 minute intervals with instructions to get them to the first checkpoint. At each checkpoint, they found the instructions that would get them to the next checkpoint. In addition to GPS and radio operating, the instructions required the use of some basic Morse code and traditional map/compass. The event crew was in radio contact with the teams as we tracked their progress throughout the course.
The Scouts plan their attack at the start of the course.
The course turned out to be more difficult than planned. Some of the teams got off track into difficult terrain (for one reason or another) and took a while to recover. A few of the teams did not finish the course in time. Everyone left the event quite exhausted but full of stories to tell about their fun day.
A GeoFox team leaves the starting point, headed for the first transmitter
I think we have the start of a really fun activity for all ages that we will refine over time.
- 73, Bob K0NR
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