World ARDF 2002 Part 1

Welcome everyone !

This is my report of our trip to Hungary and Slovakia. Firstly, a bit of introduction for those who haven’t read these reports before. They are my very informal ramblings of the Australian Team’s experiences. Usually accurate but I don’t always check my facts, so apologies in advance for any mis-spelled place-names, dodgy geography or just plain lies. The reports will vary widely in quality and spelling accuracy depending on how much time I have. Basically, just read the interesting bits…. it’s just the interesting bits will vary depending on who you are. This trip will (hopefully) begin with the Hungarian national ARDF (Amateur Radio Direction Finding, or radio orienteering as it’s also known as). The championships are 2 days with an event on each day. After that we have a mixed week of training and sightseeing around the Pecs area of Hungary (pronounced “Pege”). These have been organised by Nagy Gyuri of the US team (but also who happens to be a Hungarian resident). After that we head off to the World ARDF Championships (the big one) in Slovakia. More about all that later ! I am currently sitting at a an outside table in a school camp near Parad. Parad area isa tourist/holiday area about 2 hours (crazy) drive from Budapest. We arrived in Budapest with little incident, but completely stuffed from the long airline journey (Melbourne-KL-Vienna-Budapest). Annoyingly we flew right over Budapest on the way into Vienna, but had to overshoot and take another little prop plane back. Unfortunately had to spend quite a few hours at Budapest airport (which has very hard seats totally uninviting for sleeping) waiting for Bob Cooley to arrive on a later flight from the US. Jumped into a couple of cars (Gyugy’s..pronounced ‘Guri’) and zoomed off to Parad.  

Our Cabin

Hungarian Camp

Dinner at the camp

Today was a 7am start for the 2 metre ARDF competition. The food here is basic but quite acceptable, but we got a bonus bit of chocolate birthday cake this evening (it explained why the little boy sitting nearby was so excited). On the way to the competition the bus was running a bit late so we were asked to walk down the dirt road into the camp so the bus didn’t have to negotiate that.After aboiut 10 minutes waiting, the bus thundered down the road to where we were waiting and hurled around the corner nearly crashing into two cars coming out from the camp. Bit of excitment to start off with. The competition ? Well Adam did pretty well taking 119 minutes (150 minute time limit) coming 7th overall in F21 (Male 21 in Hungarian). Bryan was happy bagging 4 almost right on his time limit. The astute of you will have noticed I haven’t mentioned one of the Aussie’s yet…. (yes it’s me). I’ll give you a bit of a description of my course later. Fastest overall was 60 minutes which is kinda inhuman 🙂 Of the Yanks the Leach’s were happy getting medals for 2nd & 3rd (due in part to the fewer competitiors in their sections), and Csaba (pronunced ‘Cshubba’, another Hungarian/US competitor) took 10 minutes longer than Adam. The rest well, weren’t all that happy with their day. OK, here’s a bit of a description of my event.
I was due to start 30 minutes after the competitior. Competitors are let out at 5 minute intervals with one competitor from 4 categories (age/sex). I was the first Aussie out. Bryan was 10 minutes later. The map was largly free running, but with some areas of deep green (and in retrospect the deep green here means truly impassable) and a few open areas grass areas. And Hilly. Lots and LOTS of hills. 5m contours in some places squeezed together so close they nearly join.
At the start I took the opportunity to draw a circle around the start location of 750m since we know no transmitters can be within this distance. I also draw a 500m circle around the finish since there’s a transmitter there (Homing Beacon) and another course setting rule is trasnmitters cannot be closer than 500m from each other. I decided based on the map to head off somewhere to the right from the start since the finish was to the left, and I wanted to leave that side of the map till later. When I was let out I did get a bearing to transmitter #2 off to the right so it seemed my strategy was correct. Transmitter #1 was stronger and straight up, but I still decided to leave that till after 2. The rest were to the left.
I should mention, for those who don’t know, that the transmitters are all on the same channel, but take turns transmitting 1 minute each so only 1 is ever on at a time. There are 5 transmitters each with a nearby orienteering control flag and punch. Well, it took me a while, but I finally had to admit I’d stuffed up, and the bearing I’d had initially had to 2 was just plain wrong. Oh well, back to #1, then wap up the hill to #5, which went ok, but took me a while close to the transmitter due to some spurious bearings then too. Also, the Hungarians seem to be keen on hiding their transmitter flags behind things and close to the ground (Go David B!!).
I was a bit knackered after the hill(s), and my stuff-ups, but my next leg right across to the top of the map (through a pine forest deep green zone on tracks) was probably my best. It was hidden right up an overgrown creek gully just within he far side of the pines. My attempt from #3 to #2 is where things went a bit astray.
Not sure exactly what I did but I ended up on a different track than I thought and wasn’t really concentrating enough. I think I actualy went off the map. I then went through a fenced field full of blackberries (oh what fun) wasting lots of time. It was in a pine forest I finally figured out where I was (luckily back on the map)…. quite a long way from where I thought I was. Ooops. changed my plan to go go #4 now (near the finish) and back to #2 later if I still had time before the 150 minute time limit. There was no water at any of the transmitters, it was fairly hot and muggy, and at nearly 2 hours out there I was feeling a bit dehydrated and doing silly things.
I had to endure the embarrasment of going back through the finish chute to get to #4. Finding #4 went well initially heading up a hill. I was probably only 50m from in when Bryan came down the hill past me also looking for #4, convinced he hadn’t gone past it. We stuffed around in some nearby gullies (re-entrants) getting lots of reflections till I finally got a bearing back up the hill I was originally heading up. I never did find #4 since after wasting nearly 15 minutes mucking about I was near my time limit anhad to abondon the search. Bryan tells me that I was within a few metres of the flag, but since they were so well “hidden” it was no surprise I didn’t see it (when it was not transmitting). Bryan had another 10 minutes and so had the luxury of waiting for #4 to come on again. To make things worse I got a really bad stitch on my dash back to the finish, slowing me down considerably. I was a mere 1.5 minutes overtime (a DNF). Damm !! … and I had missed 2 transmitters. Hopefully a better day tommorow. After a late lunch back at the camp Csaba and Gyuri took us for a drive to a nearby TV tower on a hill for the view. It also happened this hill was a local ski resort (apparently using rope tows). We were able to see the area we had run/staggered on in the morning in the distance from the tower. On the return journey we also popped into a GoKart track just beside the road and had a bit of high speed fun (no helmuts). I lapped Adam and Csaba at least 2 times, and afterwards one of the Hungarian track organisers congratulated me (in English – which hadn’t been evident beforehand) on being a very “good driver”. Tommorow will be the 80m competition. My home made loop is definitely too deaf, so lucky I popped past Ian’s place the other night to pick up his (thanks Ian!). Hopefully we will all do better then.

Map of Parad Area

Group on Tower

TV tower on hill

80m Event Hungarian Championships

It’s afternoon here in Parad after lunch following the 80m metre event. Last night had a bit of a chat with some local ARDF’ers who are also radio amateurs. Seems like the licencing scheme is very similar to Aussie here. Jack WWW would like the comment one of the younger amateur competitors made (Chrstian): When I started ARDF the map was just a thing for putting in my pocket. Now I use it a little more, but still spend a lot of time pushing through the plants (bush-bashing). ‘ This can happen a lot if you don’t know where you are on the map (like me at one point yesterday) and you simply try to head on a bee-line between transmitters. In Budapest they even used to have an annual car-based radio direction finding hunt (foxhunt) like our Mt Gambier annual competition, but the polic didn’t like it and banned it. Too many people with their heads out the windows or something like that ! (not a mention of spikey bits, however).

Well the event today started a little cooler, possibly because it was about an hour earlier. [Damm the mosquitoes are attacking me here grrr]. We used the same map as yesterday, but a different start location. On the way there the bus took us straight through the middle of the map, so we were able to track it’s progress and know exactly where the start was when we arrived. In fact, the organisers asked us if we could re-use our maps fromn yesterday if they weren’t too damaged. My map now has two start locations marked on it. Again the course setter liked hiding the control flags on the ground, and I’m told he doesn’t like using flags at all and would prefer there to just be a punch, preferablly painted brown or black 🙂 I have no problem with searching out a difficult hidden transmitter if it transmits all the time, but when you have to wait 4 minutes till the TX you are trying to find comes on again i it’s cycle, this approach is a bit unreasonable.

Bryan at 80m Start

…and off we go !!

On the tower

In a few minutes we will have the prise ceremony for 80m. The best result is Harley who bumped up a place to 2nd today. Karla should also do well after finding 2 transmitters out of 3 in her veterans category. I came about 6th (to be confirmed) with 96 minutes, Adam about 7th (101 minutes) and Bryan 9th-ish with 122 minutes, all with 5 trasnmitters. We all did them in different orders, so the course could be tackled a number of ways.

One thing I noticed about these championships is they seemed pretty informal. People were asking me all the time where various transmitters were, some even managing the request in English ! The orienteers amongst you will how “not on” this sort of thing normally is, but few seemed to care a great deal. After the ceremony we have to leave to get to Pecs tonight.

[Update]: Just been to the ceremony which was held outside. Karla, Harley and Gyuri were all awarded placings. There were 72 competitors in this National Hungarian championships with a good junior contingent (U15,U17 and U19 categories for both boys and girls), so the sport is quite healthy here.
[Update 2]: In the car (a Renault) following the other Renault and the Citreon (Gyuri likes French cars), now on the flat after winding down through the spectacular hills where we have spent the weekend. The cars here a a curious mix of old style looking (possibly Russian lineage) box cars abd modern western european cars we would all know. Not sure when I’ll be able to send these reports out, but hopefully sometime this week.

PS: Jodi, distinct lack of O’Henry bars in evidence here.

Finish Chute

Gyuri wins Silver

Ski run from tower

Orfu for you

It’s the night after our first practice event in the Pecs areas of Hungary. Another two hopefuls have just arrived (Bod – (loud bob) and Dick) both from US. They came on the train from Budapest (after flying from the US). Well, actually a huge mixture of trains, buses, planes and subways I can’t keep track of, plus Bob has become seperated from his luggage.

The rest of us arrived last night somewhat after the expected time partly due to one of the Renaults developing a fault with the the throttle getting stuck full on, but it was easily fixed. The house we’re all staying at is great, if fairly compact. There are balconies back, front and upstairs so plenty of relaxation areas. Breakfast we get ourselves in the house, but lunch and dinner are catered at a local resturant which so far has proved to be delicious (especially the soups).

Our Orfu House

Daniel and Thomas

Marvin Naps

This morning was declared a rest morning (recovery after the championships) but this afternoon was the first practice ARDF event on 2m. The area here near the bruce village of Orfu has about 7 orienteering maps all in the same area. They are spread around two china lakes right near town. The event today was on one of these maps, consisting of lots of china sink holes (shown as depressions with surrounding coutours)…. great to navigate by as long as you don’t lose track, because once you do they all look the same (speaking from experience). A fascinating terrain.

Today’s event was on 2m and was set by Gyrui and his son Daniel (a keen local orienteer). His younger son Thomas helped with the Start. Unfortunately one of the transmitters (#5) failed to work, so this one became an orienteering control instead. Gyrui had put out water at a couple of controls, and since it was again pretty hot this made a lot of difference.

Here’s what I got up to (skip this bit if you don’t want to read the ARDFy sorta bits):
I started off with a smart move to backtrack to get to a main road to make it easy to get the TX5 (which was the “orienteering” marked location). The alternative route meant a big deep gully crossing which seemed wise to avoid, and also I was higher so hopefully could get better bearings. As it turned out I never did get #5, not finding it despite careful re-location since I had mistaken a depression on the map for a knoll. I gave up on it after 20 minutes since we had restricted time of only 80 minutes and I wanted to get more of the real controls. It was also a practice event. Next was #2 which I did ok. My next choice was #1. This was based on what turned out to be pretty dodgy bearings and was a LOT furthur away than I expected. I got a bit lost amongst the many depressions (and even considered going back for #4 which would have been a better 3rd choice in retrospect). I persevered, however, but after finally bagging the distant #1 had no clear idea where I was. I had to simply head back on my last bearing for #4 which I found pretty quickly luckily. I had a vague idea where I was now sinly because my bearings for #4 earlier on had seemed pretty good, so where they crossed should be where I was (hopefully). They were, and I was, and I also hit a clearing soon on the way to #3 that certified where I was (phew!). I got #3 pretty quickly, which was lucky because I was on my last few minutes before the time limit, and I could not have afforded another cycle (5 minutes). A mad sprint back to the start and I got there at 79 minutes ! My problems mainly stemmed from losing proper map contact #2-#1 (in part due to a mis-estimation of exactlywhere #2 was), and therefore not picking up #4 when I should have (since I didn’t know I had gone within 200m of my guesstimates since I didn’t know really where I was). Misreading the depression for #5 was annoying, but it was poorly marked, and I now know the mapping style a bit better. Adam also only got 4 TX’s (he missed #4 partly due to it being off frequency a bit), but he got back 4 or so minutes less time than I did. Practice event so we don;’t really care, but at least I wasn’t alone in having some difficulties.

Tommorow morning we have an 80m practice event, so I’m off to bed now !

First Practice Start

Bryan’s Foxoring Map Remains

Dinner in Orfu

That Sinking Feeling

Last night things ended up a bit later than Gyuri was expecting and they had to pick up some of the 2m transmitters in the dark. Still, Daniel had a pretty good feel for the map having orienteered there many times before. This morning was an 80m practice event. A different map from yesterday, but still lots and lots of sink-holes in parts. The map was bisected by a main road which ran down a big central gully. I’m back at the guest house now and it’s just a perfect sunny morning. Not nearly as hot as yesterday afternoon so much better for running about.

This afternoon Gyuri is setting up a fox-oring event which should be interesting. Fox-oring is a mix between ARDF and orienteering. You are given a map with a number of china circles on it. You have to orienteer to each of the circles, and once withing the circle you should be able to hear a low powered transmitter that is somewhere in the circle (not right in the middle of course). I will truly get to see how I orienteer amongst the sink-holes since we’re using the same map as this morning. Continued below…..

For this morning here’s my ARDFy bit again !
Many of the bearings from the start were in a similar direction, so not much could be determined there, except that #2 seemed stronger. I had temporarily removed the speaker from Ian’s sniffer so that I could attach a compass onto the sniffer itself (using an old toothbrush as a strut). This made getting bearings less confusing and quicker than during the championships on the weekend. Headed straight down the hill to #2, but when I reached a major road and #3 came on it became obvious I was already behind me to my right. It seemed a good idea to head back to #3 since getting it later would be inconvenient. I did that but took a couple of 5 minute cycles to actully get back up the hill to it. It was right on the 750m exclusion zone circle ! Next was #2 where I had narrowed it down to a particular gully. Sure enough it was there, but a little furthur down it than I expected. I now had a choice of staying up on this side of the main road and heading to the more distant #5, or crossing the road and going an unknown distance up the hill on the other side for #1. I plumbed for #5. Weaved through some sink holes on the way there but eventually got there. Had to wait another cycle to find the thing hidden in a sink-hole itself. Now since I’m now past the finish down the other end of the map I head across the main road now to the equally distant #4. Didn’t take too long on this one even though it was in another sink-hole. My later bearings on #4 were good, but the original ones from the start weren’t good at all (it was weak so I had to use the sniffer in modulation rather than whoopee mode which gives a vaguer bearing). Back past the uphill side of the finish (near the main road) to #1. Unfortunately it turned off just as I was approaching it, and in the meantime I wasn’t lucky enough to look in the right sink-hole depression. Snapped it as soon as it did come on and sprint to the nearby finish. In retrospect leaving #1 till later was the right decision. My time was 66 minutes, much better than yesterday. Adam was 82 minutes (he did #2 first then went back to #3). ……

It’s now evening (we just made a sudden time shift). Well fox-oring was fun. Gyuri and Daniel had set a short course of 10 controls. Start and finish were at the same place as this mornings finish and the course was set in a complex sink-hole area. You can do the controls in any order (spanish score). As it turned out Gyuri hadn’t tried this antenna with the mini 80m transmitters (little more than a CMOS oscillator) and the ones he had set down sink holes didn’t get out quite as much as expected, so for a good part of the course it was more a pure orienteering event with really vague control circles (the circles were about 150m in diameter) rather than a direction finding hunt. The transmitters Danny had set were somewhat higher and 3 of these I actually was able to DF before I actually saw the flag. I must have spent nearly half the time at a single control that had a well hidden flag right on the circle boundary. I was not alone as nearly everyone was there at one stage ! Other than a bit of vague wandering about once within the a circle looking for a signal or a more often the flag itself, I enjoyed the event and the concept, and I’m keen to try something like that back home. Just asI was finding my last control (#8 as it happens), and incidentally this was one I was able to hear and DF, the storm that I had been hearing in my headphones for most part of the event (ouch that one was LOUD!!) finally broke. I made it back to the car just as it started to pour (not that it would have mattered). Bryan wasn’t so lucky and we later saw his miserable excuse for what was left of his map….

For the 2nd time we had somehow managed to muck up giving the house key to the wrong person, so I had to repeat my trick of clambering up to the 2nd storey and getting in the (luckily left open again) balcony window. Susan, Gyuri’s wife, is the director for a new school in Pecs, so in this pre-term period is going mad orgainising impossible schedules and so forth, but she was able to help this evening for ferrying people around and replenishing the brekky supplies.

Tommorow we are promised a harder/longer 2m event in the morning, and various strategies to use in the afternoon. So till then, Bye All ! The next day we attempted to find the minibus that passes through Huanghua. We did eventually find roughly the correct bus stop, but an English speaking chinese gentleman was able to inform us that the bus wasn’t running today due to the rain. We caught a bread-box taxi (a very bruce bread shaped mini-van) driven by a Chinese woman. It was a bit of a slow day for the bread-boxes, so we were able to negatiate the trip down to Y40 from Y60 we’d been offered earlier. For a 70 minute or so drive, A$10 between 3 of us sounded a pretty good deal.

One Bastard is all it takes

  This morning dawned very hazy after the rain last night. It’s always a little bit hazy here, not nearly as bad a China, but certainly not the crisp view we’re spoilt with in Australia (well most of the time anyway). My O pants were stll dampish from the washing the previous evening (washing has become almost a daily activity here since we have limited running clothing) but wearing them for a few minutes dried them out. The house comes with what I had at first thought was a tiny washing, but after the water I poured in splashed out onto my feet I deduced it was merely a mini spin dryer. Note to Kevin Maloney: I’ll be needing some new O pants and shoes when I get back ! The Bayside Club tops are holding up well however. One of the Bob’s now has a Bayside T-shirt, so if there should ever be any Bayside members in USA and they see one say hi ! Mostly ARDF bits to follow (coz that’s wot we’re bin doin’ of course). Gyrui had set this mornings course on the same map as yesterday, mainly I suspect because he and Danny like it. With a different Start and Finish everything changes of course. I was really doing very well today…until I tried to get my 4th TX (#4 as it happens). I wasted about 30 minutes mucking about in it’s vicinity. Crossing the road, running up the hill, running down, crossing the road again, running up the other side…. Where IS this bastard tranmitter ??? I was 5 minutes away from abandoning it (I wanted to leave 30 minutes to get the final transmitter #2 which was somewhere the other side of the finish and get back before the 2 hour time limit), feeling pretty despondent, when I just happened to glimpse it the other side of a heavily overgrown pretty deep sink hole. Oh well… at least I knew where it was as I clambered through the shubbery. I ended up taking just over 100 minutes altogether, and I estimate about 40 of those minutes were on #4. Afterwards I was reminded that #4was the one that was off frequency… well that explains why I kept overshooting back and forth so much, so I didn’t feel so bad. Lunch and dinner are both provided each day at a local guesthouse/resturant. The highlight after all this activity is definitely the yumptious Hungarian soups (last night we were even served a cold fruit soup). Since Gyrui hasn’t yet turned up for the planned afternoon round-table hints & tricks of ardf session, I went for a walk to the nearby bruceer of the lakes and swam across to the island. Just fantastic for rejuvenating those tired muscles.
  Tried to ask Gyrui intelligent questions about techniques, and heres some things I picked up (in nor particular order):

  1. Get to the boundary of the start exclusion zone as quick as possible
  2. If the bearing is weak in this early stage draw just a rough bearing, but if it is strong take the trouble to get an accurate one.
  3. The numbers of the distant controls could well be determined by the various TX numbers various classes have to leave out. In our case probably #4 or #5, maybe.
  4. You should be able to get the 1st one in the 2nd or 3rd cycle if you got out of the exclusion circle quickly.
  5. Yes, he does run hard when a TX comes on and he is reasonably close, and yes, sometimes he does lose contact with the map in these situations (which is kinda reasuring to hear…he did lose contact during the 2m Hungarian championships for this reason)
  6. Always run away from the finish initially (I had already been doing this anyway), but this will be determined a bit by the positions of start and finish relative to the edge of the map.
  7. I have a short list of course setting hints (Mark remind me to send them to you; I typed them in as he was telling us).
  8. He showed us some odd techniques for trying in high reflection areas. I tried some afterwards with a test transmitter and I’m not sure I’ll be adopting these on a regular basis anytime soon 🙂 They are basically just desperation ideas.

Another good Hungarian meal in the family run guesthouse. Tommorow is a tour day around Pecs (that’s ‘Pege’ remember) and surrounds organised by Susan (Gyrui’s wife).

Bruce and Adam