A cold morning saw Greg out of bed early and wandering around Candlebark Park in Doncaster setting out five 80M transmitters. The event got underway just after the advertised start time of 10:00am. Ten people decided to have a go locating the TXs and Sports Ident was used for scoring.
Some of the early competitors were not made aware of the time limit (was to be 90 Mins) so the following results do not include any time penalties.
For those who would like to check leg time etc the detailed results are at the end of this report.
Soup was provided at the end of the event and it seems a good time was had by all. Many Thanks to Marg for assisting and Ian Stirling for organising the transmitters; Bruce for the SI gear, Ewen for the map, Jack for the club receivers and headphones, the latter three also helped in collecting transmitters.
Individual Results – Rows are – TX No; Elapsed Time; Leg Time
As Ewen reported we arrived here in the afternoon and were collected by just one interpreter and a mini van driver. Our hotel is reasonably flash, with Bruce and I scoring a very nice room. Dinner was at a nearby venue which was closing at 9 and we arrived about 8:20. It was a cafe style with all the food on display and a group of microwaves to heat things in. We pointed our way to a pretty good meal and Ewen spied several counters full of nice sweet things that finished the meal off well. Breakfast was buffet style in the hotel dining area and had lots of fascinating stuff, one needs to be careful!!
Wednesday 17th September 2014
The guide and van picked us up at 10:00 and we started our tour of the city sights. Usually this is undertaken on foot but as we were retired (most of us anyway). They decided to take us in the van. This meant that we spent a lot of time driving and jumping in & out. Almaty facts: population about 2 million; started as a small village that was sacked by Genghis Khan, then the Russians built a fort here and that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1887. Russian power was established in 1918 and the city has been growing since then. It became the capital of the Kazakh Republic in 1927 and was the first capital of the independent Kazakhstan in 1991. Thus it is the business and financial capital of the country despite the political capital being moved to Astana in 1997.
Almaty seems more real than Astana, which seems to be built for wow factor. The streets are wide and there are lots of parks around. There are many grand Soviet era buildings and a large number of newer ones. There are still many Soviet era apartment buildings and from what I understand these are government owned, thus little maintenance seems to done. We have seen numerous new apartment buildings with many more being built.
Now to the photos and a look around! First was a park with an Orthodox Church (Ascension Cathedral) completed entirely of wood and no nails, bolts or screws in the structural section of the building. This was completed in 1907 and has withstood several earthquakes.
On the others side of he park the bath house was located we were informed that you get a Russian bath here where a guy with a beech broom sweeps you clean, there were no takers from our group!! After some more strolling in the park we came upon a monument dedicated to 28 soldiers from Almaty who volunteered to go to protect Moscow in WW2, none of them returned, there is also another’s WW2 monument showing unity amongst the USSR people.
Others buildings which caught our attention was a musical instrument museum we did not have time to look at but have it on the agenda for next week when we have a spare day back here.
We then had a look at the Green Market the array of food was Spectacular and very well presented, although there did not appear to be any refrigeration for the meat.
After looking around town we headed south east into the nearby hills on the way we passed a ski jump facility constructed for the Asian winter Games in 2011. Our destination was near the location of the ice skating arena built for the games. Above it is a special dam designed to stop mud slides ,which evidently are a common occurrence. The views in these mountains are fantastic as there are always snow capped peaks in the background. There is a flight of stairs from the arena to the dam wall. There was mention of a challenge to ascend this in less than 60 secs. Bruce did the last section in 45 secs so we claim he met the challenge!
Our next stop was at the top of a hill closer to town, more to the east. This has a huge television mast and restaurants. When we got there we found a small zoo a bit like Collingwood children’s farm and a carnival. The boys resisted the temptation of dodgem cars and the like and after examining a Beatles statue we retired to a yurt shaped building for lunch. Ewen did get a chance to look at the latest in Soviet cars and he could be considering it as a Magna replacement!
Lunch was horse meat, cha grilled veggies, soup and a sweet made from deep fried pasta and honey with berries. All washed down with tea.
We returned to the hotel for a rest, some taking a nap while others just listened to those napping! Then it was off on a excursion to locate a dining experience. On the plane Jenelle and Greg had read about wine making in the Assa Valley in Kazakhstan well, what do you know? We find ourselves standing out the front of their centre, so in we go for a tasting. The wine was pretty good and we think some will find its way home on the plane.
Diner was found at a sports bar and was a simple affair as we has a great lunch, then it was back to the hotel via the chemist where we restocked on “Kyrgzstan belly” medication.
Thursday 18th September 2014
Free time this morning so we were off exploring around the city. Yesterday we had noticed that there were water trucks washing the streets, mainly the gutters, and they would blow their hors to warn pedestrians of their approach, today we experienced this from the pedestrians viewpoint, jump back! Before you get covered in water and leaves, it’s autumn here. Reception had directed us to the post office and with some help we managed to locate it and sent off post cards to those that had requested them. The idea of looking for a red P did not help! We wandered through a couple of the parks and past the library or Tech College, or Tech College Library. And then back to the hotel to begin our afternoon trip to the mountains to the South of town.
We drove into the Great Almaty George on the way there were numerous restaurants and private homes in this very select area. Evidently it had been a famous apple growing area (Almaty is named after the apple) but has now been sold off. We climbed to 2600 metres there were snow capped mountains in the background, that you may be able to see in some of the pics. At the top of the climb is a national park, requires special permission to drive in, and a lake known as Great Almaty Lake, this provides water for the city and as Bruce found you are not allows too close to the water, an armed guard appeared to signal him back! The lake is 1.5 km across is nearly circular and 40 m deep in the centre.
Lunch was a feast at a restaurant on the way down and the proprietor plied us with his own home made “Cognac” which included nuts from local trees. It was very smooth and he claimed you could drink a ton of it and not be drunk the next day, something I was skeptical about. Further down the mount we stopped of at a hunting bird and dog farm. They had eagles, falcons and others birds plus hunting dogs. Evidently there is usually a display but due to a movie shoot on the mountain it was off.
So it was back to the hotel then a quick bite at the same restaurant we found Tuesday night. We have an early start tomorrow so off to bed for us it’s 10:15 pm.
Sunday evening we found that we would all be hunting transmitters on 80m. The younger classes would be hunting on 2m. So we all prepared ourselves for today’s event. Breakfast was at 7:00 and bus departure at 8:00. At breakfast we were give a “sandwich” – two half slices of bread, a couple of slices of sausage and a hard boiled egg for lunch. First start time for the event was 10:00. Bruce was off first at 10:25 then Jack at 10:30. It was a good thing that we had prepared the night before as we were ordered onto the bus at 7:45. Weather was overcast and cool but the bus was warm and excitement filled the air. You can imagine the sight with competitors nursing their Direction Finding equipment, bags et al.
We only travelled about 10 km to the start which was in a forest, as is most of the area. The buses parked on the side of the road and we walked in about 300m. Teams were required to put their receivers in the quarantine area and we were first to do this, luckily we all went as we would be able to find them at start time. We also got our first look at the map, which was on display, the start and finish had been left off but we could locate where we were. We also found which transmitters we were to find. Bruce 2,3,4 & 5 Ewen, Jack & Greg 1,2 & 4 and Jenelle 1,2 & 3 max time was 150mins.
ARDF Map day 1
It was very cold waiting around and Bruce was particularly affected. Jenelle had a spare jacket which helped him a bit. First competitors were timed to leave at 10:00 and so at twenty to, the call for first competitors went out. We had plastic bags to put our excess gear in and these were collected as you lined up and transported to the finish. Competitors are sent off in groups every 5 minutes as transmitter number one comes on. There were two start corridors.
In no time it was Bruce’s turn to line up and then Jack’s, once they were off the rest of us had a wait. Ewen at 12:10 Greg 12:30 and Jenelle at 12:55. Luckily we were allowed to wait on the bus and the heater was on!!
Ewen was next to go followed by Greg and finally Jenelle. The start process involved lining up, after 5 mins move to the first tent where details were checked and SI stick cleared. 5 mins later collect your receiver then to the map tent to get your map, mark the start and finish and exclusion circles and put it in or on your map board. Then line up at the start line. This is where the advantage of all of us placing our receivers worked well as I saw one competitor searching for their receiver. The clock counts on, the signal sounds and you are off!!
Turn on the receiver and see if you can hear the signal, fantastic I can hear something, the gear’s all working.
Once there has been one round of transmissions you have a plan of attack and mine was to go to 1, then 2 and finally 4. The direct route seemed easy going and I soon lost close contact with the map. Luckily the forest was easy going throughout and the route I chose was the shortest. I did make a detour to miss a swamp marked between transmitter 4 and the finish, but Jack ran the direct line and only encountered a small creek. As I approached transmitter 4 I could hear Bruce blowing his plastic horn at the finish it was great to know he was finished and encouraging us home!!
As I came to the homing beacon control Bruce’s blowing efforts and Jack’s on the cow bell redoubled but they could not get me into running mode!!
Ewen had finished before me so we just had Jenelle out on the course after a while we saw her bush bashing her way toward the finish beacon, she put on a brilliant sprint down the finish chute.
Then it was back to the bus for the trip home, after a shower we regrouped for a beer. Over diner there were lots of stories swapped with the Americans. One of their team, Vadim KB1RLI had run second place in M40.
Times & placings (Category, time m:s, place/num in Category) were as follows Bruce M50 – 61:43 p13/30, Jack M60 – 60:40 p22/31, Greg M60 – 83:22 p28/31, Ewen M60 – 88:38 p29/31 and Jenelle M60 – 133:12 p8/8. So Jenelle had a top 10 finish!! Bruce was second when he finished and slowly slipped down hovering in the top ten for a long time then finally being pushed to 13th. He is finding it a bit hard to see how he can shave 20mins off his time to catch the leaders!! Jack, Ewen and Greg need to get down to 34 mins to do the same!! Still we all had a ball and are looking forward to tomorrow’s event on 2 metres some with trepidation due to the sniffer problems!.
Results from day 1 of the World Championships (these have been posted as printouts in the hotel lobbies – I guess the Germans took the effort to type them up online):
M19, M21, M40, W19, and W21 were all on 144 MHz. The other classes were on 3.5 MHz (Thanks to Ken WM5R for the link)
There was supposed to be a presentation ceremony in the evening but it was postponed till Wednesday.
Tour day – Tuesday 9th September
The tour today was a bus trip to Astana. As we had looked around there when we arrived we decided to stay at the hotel and look around. We had a leisurely breakfast with more chatting to the Americans. The weather has changed and the outside temperature is in the single digits today. The others went for a walk before lunch and have now gone to the national park nearby. They were well rugged up as they left!!
The hotel in Naryn was an interesting building evidently a converted apartment block from the Soviet era the rooms were tight but perfectly adequate. Unfortunately for Bruce, Greg’s snoring level increased to the level that Bruce had to revert to sleeping in the bathroom, and only caught a few hours of sleep.
We were basically transiting back to Bishkek today a distance of about 350 km. as Ewen has reported roads are problematical, the older bitumen roads are badly deteriorated and can turn into a mass of potholes and rock requiring heavy breaking and direction changes. Then we were on a Chinese build highway that was as smooth as silk. We are on the Silk Road after all!
As at home, speed radar devices abound with the fine being 500SOM, evidently a donation to the officer of about 200SOM can be made as an alternative ! Radar detectors are legal here and seem to be the best solution. The one our driver has is a bit too sensitive but very effective! Currency conversion is about 50SOM to the dollar, average income is around $300 per month.
We arrived back in Bishkek mid afternoon and the first thing on the agenda was separate rooms for Greg & Bruce. Bad news for Bruce only available for one of the two nights we are here.
After scouting around a restaurant with pictures on the menu was found and resulted in an excellent meal. The waitress had enough English to help us out, words like cow and chicken. The meal was completed back at our hotel with fruit and ice cream purchased at local shops.
Sun 31st August
This is Kyrgyzstan’s Independence Day it celebrates their independence from the USSR in 1991. Bruce reported that he had a good night’s sleep. After breakfast we headed into the centre of the city and took in some of the sites these included, Victory Square commemorating the second world war, the opera house, then a check of our bags as we entered Altoo Square where the celebration was in progress. Traditional dances performed to recorded music. Bruce has uploaded a video to youtube Following this, the president spoke in Kyrgy and Russian.
Our tour of the city then took us to the House of Parliament, past Game Zone – this was a movie theatre as well, to the university and the Philharmonic Hall. We were surprised by the number of parks and squares included in the city design. There were lots of police around but apparently unarmed.In one of the parks close to Altoo Square a number of jumping castles had been set up and the children were enjoying these, there were numerous food vendors doing a brisk trade and everyone was in the festive mood. There is a public holiday tomorrow, that is the last day of the summer holidays and Tuesday is the first day back at school.
Nearly all the buildings, parks and squares were constructed during the late 1980s and in an attempt to create a city with a cultural heart. Really not possible for us to judge how effective this has been.
Friday 17th Jan saw three teams of hounds come out to play. Temperatures had been over 40C for the previous four days but fortunately a cool change came late afternoon Friday so hounds were treated to milder conditions and by the end of the evening some were looking for warmer clothing!
Hunts were held on 144 and 52 MHz. Locations were Diamond Creek, Eltham, Heidelberg, Alphington and Bundoora. Due to the weather and hound commitments for the following day supper was held a little early. Teams retired to the home of Greg VK3VT to consume a supper of sandwiches, marinated chicken wings, dips, cheese and cake. (Sorry folks I forgot to distribute the ice creams!!) Scores were announced and the VK3FAST team walked away with win by one point.
Many thanks to Greg’s daughter Kate for helping with the supper.
Next month’s fox will be the VK3FAST team.
Results as follows, old fashioned 10 minute rule scoring, all hunts single leg.
Here are the results of the August Hunt. Fox for the evening was the VK3FOX team who became fox just a day earlier and planned the evening while consuming dinner. Three teams ventured into the chilly Melbourne air – VK3FAST, VK3CI and VK3BLN. Hunts alternated between 6m and 2m requiring hounds to swap gear at the start of each hunt. I believe that this is the most complicated change for the VK3CI team so they should be really good at it now!!
Signals on both bands were somewhat intermittent (actually guys that is called CW, or morse code, and it was actually saying something and sending callsigns) but teams soon became adept at DFing the CW and not too many complaints were heard. The hunts went out from Greensborough in a North to Northwest direction and then came in an Easterly / Southerly arc back again. Hunt 1 was in Mill Park, 2 was in Craigieburn, 3 in Mernda, 4 in Yarrambat , 5 in ST Helena and hunt 6 was in Greensborough near the Soccer field over the plenty River ford.
Teams then retired to the home of Greg VK3VT for a well earned supper of vegetable soup, sandwiches, sausage rolls, chicken wings, cake and ice-cream. Results were announced and the teams made their weary way home.
Fox for next month is the VK3MZ/VR/TVB/MD/HRL/etc team and VK3FAST for October.
Results are as follows; scoring was points based, 1 for first 2 for second 3 for third and lowest score wins.