World ARDF Tour 2001 Part 16

Bruce’s Report #16

Hi, from the base of Bagd Mountain near Bahkt outside of Ulaan Baatar.

All the competitors are housed in the Baht Hotel, a tourist hotel popular with groups, especially Japanese tour groups. I last spoke to you from Ulaan Baatar, the capital. The internet cafes there are aplenty, and it is quite cheap too (works out about A$2.50 an hour).

If you get this message in a timely fashion it means that they have finally got the modem here to work (the phone lines seem to be quite dodgy) ! If they do manage to get it going I’ll arrange to dump some pictures out overnight too. The “computer” room is on our floor, and I can hook my laptop into their hub with no problems. [Ed: They didn’t]

Buddhist TempleSuburban StreetSukhbaatar Square

We had a good long walk around Ulaan Baatar, looking at the main square and the Monestery to the North. It is still active, but obviously a good tourist destination too. As requested, I now have a Mongolian Hat ! (It is a fur and felt one that I can fit in my luggage, rather than the stiff peaked ornamental one which I’d never get back to Australia in one piece. We stayed at Nassan’s Guest house, which actually turned out to be very good. We had 3 beds , and the old lady who looked after the apartment preferred the floor. She could speak little English, but we managed (she must see heaps of tourists and backpackers). It was only A$4 each for the night. We found a Cafe opposite which looked to be very high class, but despite this was very cheap (well for us anyway). The food and service were excellent too, and the toilet even had toilet paper (a rarity in Mongolia it seems).

After looking at the open air market where we bought some bits and pieces (again very cheap for us), we took a taxi to the Baht Hotel. This was quite a trip (18km or so), but only cost us A$12 or so. We had no real other way of meeting up with transport from the airport or train station, so just figured it was easier to avoid the stuffing around and go straight to the Hotel.

Baht Hotel from the HillThe Hills from Baht HotelBruce tries Stirls sniffer

The Hotel is pretty nice (and yes it has toilet paper too :-)). It is set in a green valley with pine covered hills to one side and a grassy/rocky hill on the other. It is fairly remote and caters for tourists interested in hiking, horse riding or just the countryside. It is right next to the Bagt Mountain National Park. Maybe one of the events will be somewhere very near here !

We arrived at the Hotel and were at a bit of a loss, but Kazaks carrying Yagis convinced us we had in fact come to the right place (phew!… we had directed the taxi driver by pointing at the map and the Hotel name). The reception desk did seem to be familiar with what we were so we got some rooms eventually.

That night I had a team leaders meeting. As usual went on for ages for not much information, but we do know it’s a 1:15000 map. Unsure if true or magnetic North as yet…. Our starting order draw was last for 2m, and first for 80m. Some talk about how Kazahkstan and Eastern Russia are keen to join Region 3 ARDF (I bet !), but they would have to apply formally to IARU. The special event callsign here is JU1ARDF.

Dinner was in the Hotel and was a mixed affair. Salads, mutton, potatoes in various forms, schnizels and so on. Pretty good though. Breakfast the next morning was ok too, but I’m hanging out for some cereal… I miss it !

This morning was another team leaders meeting in a ger _inside_ the Hotel. The Hotel also has accomodation gers outside. Meanwhile the practice transmitters were running. For some reason Dale’s 80m set didn’t seem to pick up anything at all (I will have to have a closer look at it). They were unsure of the frequencies (again), as they had just bought new trasnmitters from Korea. The final verdict seems to be 144.76 and 144.42 for 2m and 3.57 and 3.92 for 80m. Of course, Bryan had to re-tweak his 80m sniffer to handle the range yet again.. Stirls one seems to cover the range ok (thanks Ian!). The time limit for both events is to be 120mins for 4 to 7km crow flies length. Disqualification if you lose your punch card, late, or mis-punch !

2m PracticeAustralian Team lines upChina didn’t bring a flag

The opening ceremony was held in front of the Hotel, and was a return to the reasonably formal arrangement with each team behind a sign bearer. We also took the Aussie flag, prompting other teams to go and grab theirs (if they had one!). Lots of speeches in both Mongolian and English saying much the same thing. At last it finished and we were able to watch some traditional Mongolian entertainment. It broke for a short while in the middle due to rain, but the most unusual performances were the female contorsionist (that was incredible… does she have any backbone at all ?) and the male “nasal” singer (can you sing through your nose ??).

The ContortionistKazakhstan and FriendsEveryone (well most anyway)

My roommate is a Russian Open/Senior/OM competitor. He speaks little English, and I speak absolutely no Russian, but we both make do with woeful German. Who cares it works ! For the verbs we forget we wave hands.

I have just been for a jog up the valley, and returned to a “quick” Region 3 committee meeting. Bryan and I stood in as proxies for Jack WWW.

Australia (WIA) are to host the 2003 Region 3 ARDF competition ! Japan could not make a committment at this stage, but hope to aim for 2005 and China, though keen to run a combined ARDF/FRG in Suzhou, could also not commit at this meeting. The Australia decision is yet to be confirmed at the upcoming Region 3 ARDF committee meeting. Other possibilites for the future are India or New Zealand, or if the Eastern Europeans are sucessful in their Region 3 applications, Vladivostok or Kazahkstan.

I still have not been able to send this out, so maybe after the 2m competition I will go into Ulaan Baatar to do so (they are offering lifts there). [Ed: 2m event ran a bit late so UlaanBaatar was called off]


World ARDF Tour 2001 Part 15

Bruce’s Report #15

Well here’s a quick one, since I’m composing this online….

I’m in an internet Cafe in downtown UlaanBaatar. We arrived here only a short time ago on the train from Beijing. A very interesting train trip !

We left Beijing early on Tuesday morning, the only drama being the passport number on Bryan’s train ticket didn’t in fact match his actual passport number. The railways were no help at all and had no interest in being of any help, so we had no option but to risk it. It didn’t matter afterall because the guard took all the tickets just after we boarded.

The Train CabinThe TrainRussian Hot Water Urn
Travelling for 32 hoursInteresting GulliesChinese Border Hills

The soft class cabins sleep 4 in ok comfort (pity the blanket is about 2/3 the width of the bed though…I either ended up sticking out the sides or the end!). We were joined by a guy from Italy travelling to Mongolia as part of a childhood dream after just completing his Enviromental Engineering degree. There is of course plenty of hot water provided at the end of each carriage, and we’d bought some neat plastic jars ideal for chinese tea (and luckily I also had some Ulong tea). Not so for the toilet paper, but we’d been forewaned of that one and came prepared with our own rolls.

I like train travel. You can walk around unlike a bus or plane. The scenery changed from Chinese city to industrial to farms, then after some mountains flat plains bounded by hills. As we approached Inner Mongolia the hils fell away and we were left with enless grass plains, some green, some brown (it varied quite a bit).

Inner MongoliaThe Gobi DesertGreat Wall (again)

We reached the border to Outer Mongolia about 10pm, but didn’t leave there till 12:40 ! We pulled into a station and had one bout of passport checks and immigration. Then we went to a large hall outside the town to get all the train bogies changed. Yup, just like used to be done at Albury between Vic and NSW the rail gauges chnage to a wider gauge in Mongolia,. All the carriages are seperated, then lifted off their bogies using 4 hydraulic cranes. The old ones are rolled out, the new ones in (half a train at a time), and then each carriage is lowered onto its new wheels. This all took about an hour or so, and then we sat there for unknown reasons for another 3/4 hour before finally all the carriages hooked up again. We weren’t allowed off our carriage (others were, dunno why). Back to the station again. This time more passport checks and a full search for hidden people, under the train, in the ceiling, under the bunks etc etc. After an age we finally left the stations. Half an hour later were were disturbed again for the Mongolian passport control. They waited till that was all done, then woke us all up again to do the customs forms. I’m sure this is all deliberate 🙂 Finally we were underway again about 2am. Slept reasonably well, but it was quite cold at times.

Bruce tries for 48V laptop powerLifting the CarriagesNew Bogies
UlaanBaatar HillsTaxi ride in floods to cityNassan Guesthouse
Morning was clear (a relief after smoggy China). I had some late breakfast in the dining car which had changed overnight from a Chinese one to a Mongolian one. It started to rain as we approached the hills around UlaanBaatar (apparently this is the more correct Anglicised spelling). The hills are largly bare grass, but are some forests on some of them. No doubt we’ll see more in the next week. We’re in a guest house in an old apartment building for tonight (US$4 each), and tommrow we go to the university (not sure which one as yet….). This internet cafe is across the road from the guesthouse. Anyway, that’s all from me for now. Feel free to ask any questions ! Well it’s been a bit of a while since I wrote the last report, and it may be even longer before I manage to send this out ! We’re now back in the Tientian Sports Hotel after a very interesting outing out of Beijing. By the way, there won’t be much mention of ARDF in this one, except for that one just then.
Nassan Guesthouse again

Very early tommorow morning we catch the train to Ulaan Baator, the capital of (Outer) Mongolia. It’s a 29 hour train journey, but we hope we are prepared ! Thank God I’m nearly over cold #2.


World ARDF Tour 2001 Part 14

Bruce’s Report #14

Well it’s been a bit of a while since I wrote the last report, and it may be even longer before I manage to send this out ! We’re now back in the Tientian Sports Hotel after a very interesting outing out of Beijing. By the way, there won’t be much mention of ARDF in this one, except for that one just then.

Very early tommorow morning we catch the train to Ulaan Baator, the capital of (Outer) Mongolia. It’s a 29 hour train journey, but we hope we are prepared ! Thank God I’m nearly over cold #2.

The title of this report would more suitably be called:

In Search of the Real Great Wall of China

Leika had suggested we visit the Tai mountains. After some investigation Adam and I discovered they were in the ChangDong province, halfway between Shanghai and Beijing. As it would be a 5 to 6 hour train journey to get there and we only had 2 spare days once Bryan arrived from Melbourne, we decided instead to attempt a more modest excursion to the Great Wall of China.

It was imperative, though, that we were to go to the real original wall (or as original as can be found), rather than the reconstructed effort I visited last year after the World Championships (throngs of thousands of tourists and a wall that didn’t go from anywhere to anywhere but just in a loop). After much poring over guide books we decided that the HuangHua section of wall was suitably original and also off the beaten tourist track. Of course, being off the beaten track means it’s actually much harder to get there, but we had two days so it seemed feasible.

Lake in Beijing ParkTientian Sports HotelDinner at Local Resturant

On Friday, after an amble through some Beijing Parks (as an aside here, I should mention I’ve discovered running shoes make very poor walking shoes; even the old trusty comfy Street-O runners gave me blisters after a deal of walking; still, I had limited luggage space), we took the bus back out to the airport to meet Bryan. That night we returned to the resturant of the 1st night, this time managing to indicate we wanted one of the BBQ pot tables where you cook your own selection. This was fun, some things working out a bit different than expected, but we ate well.

On the way back from the airport we had bought some train tickets to Huairou, a largish town not too far from the small Huanghua village. I didn’t know if we were going to use them as they were for a 6:58am departure from Beijing Central, but at Y4.50 each (about A$1), I bought them just in case so I wouldn’t have to stand in the ticket queue again. As it turns out we didn’t use them as on later reading found there is a regular bus service to Huairou so the early rise wasn’t necessary.

Tienmen SquareBus to HairouDepartment Store

So on Saturday we left most of our luggage checked in at this Hotel and departed for Huairou, armed with our huge Chinese vocabulary of “Hello”, “Thankyou” and “Steamed Rice” and a Chinese guide book with some helpful phrases. First off we walked to local market, but left there soon as we realised we weren’t going to be a ble to carry anything much anyway. Then onto Teinmen Square (well you just have to visit if you’re in Beijing don’t you). The day was very humid, so much so that walking was a big improvement on standing still as you got some airflow.

The next step was to negotiate the Beijing subway system to get to where the long distances buses leave. The subway in Beijing is quite straightforward and this turned out to be quite easy. Again only about Y4.50. We decided the long distance bus station must be the congregation of buses around the corner. Well it was, but we weren’t prepared for the extent. Buses stop at seemingly random (to us) spots all along a fairly long road. After some hand waving we eventually found our bus stop (bus 916), but as it wasn’t there we decided to splash out on a mini-bus which was apparently quicker and a whole Y1 more expensive, taking the trip cost to Y5 (about A$1.50) for the approx 1 hour trip.

I’m not sure if it was quicker because we kept stopping every now and then to cram more passengers in, but we did arrive eventually. Now what ?? The mini-bus operators wanted to know what stop we wanted to be dropped off at (well at least we assume this is what they wanted to know). Somehow we managed to convey we were after a Hotel, and they dropped us at a street a bit out the Northen end of town and a helpful Chinese girl getting out at the same stop waved us vaguely up a side street.

Well, we did find a Hotel up there eventually, quite a nice one in fact. In fact too nice, and a bit too expensive. We said confidently we were going to look elsewhere, without having really a clue what where to head. Walked back into town. The small backpacks we had with us were starting to feel kinda heavy and no Hotels in sight. Still, plenty of time, and at worst we could always go back to the expensive place (actually not too expensive in Australian terms, but much more than this Hotel here in Beijing). At last I spotted a Hotel on the opposite side of the street. After some hand waving, phrase book pointing and finger holding we were booked into a not too bad but a bit rundown Chinese Hotel pretty much in the middle of Huairou.

At a nearby brand new super department store/ supermarket (and I hate to say McDonalds) there seemed to be some sort of music/dance Eisteddford performance on out the front. The first rock band were quite good. Later dancers were ok. Can’t say I can really get into Chinese Opera though. We bought some supplies from the supermarket and settled down to pre-dinner nibblies on the Hotel balcony overlooking (at some distance) the performances. They were also shown on a big screen on the front of the store. During the interminable opera it started to rain, and then rain a bit more. This wasn’t the occasional droplet that managed to find it’s way through the fug over Beijing we’d experienced before, but real proper rain. What’s more it didn’t stop raining for about another 20 hours !

Needless to say, the opera experienced a precipitate termination (no pun intended, really !!). In what seemed a bit of a lull we dashed out to get some late dinner. It decided to do a decent job of raining on us on the way, but it wasn’t cold so it didn’t matter too much. Dinner was in another roadside resturant, this time mainly cold stuff (it was fairly late). We were also treated to a Jackie Chan movie (without SBS sub-titles, but that isn’t too critical for a Jackie Chan movie anyway). The staff & locals seemed amused we were watching.

We mananged to dry off a bit at the side of the big department store which had some ground level heat exhaust fans that were just great for the the job. Not sure what the security guard (there were many of these) thought of us gently rotiserarying ourselves in front of the fans, but we didn’t much care.

My Hotel room bathroom was a bit average. It had an odd smelling moat around the toilet I did my best to avoid. That night though, I was treated to a water wall inside the bedroom. Obviously this was a bit more rain than they normally get. It didn’t matter. It wasn’t much and it wasn’t my carpet that was getting wet :-).

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 small 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.
Taxi to HuanghuaClick to see Movie!

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 small 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.

By the way, there are a number of different “Hellos” in China I’ve discovered. It’s hard to tell them apart:

Hello: Probably means “hello”, but could also mean, can I speak English to you ?

Hullo, Hullo, Hullo, Hullo: Most likely means I have something ghastly I want to sell you.

Helllllooooooo: I wish to give you a pedicab/taxi/breadbox ride to Huanghua.

It continued to pour on the way there, dashing our earlier hopes it was starting to clear. The van wipers after a while started to run into each other and so she had to make do without. The scenery was now very impressive. We were up in the mountains, and with only the occasional cultivated area about as wild as you might get in this part of China. In one village we had to drive though a ford. Due to the rain this was more a raging torrent, but we made it through with little drama, the driver giggling madly.

We made it to Huanghua, and there was the Great Wall. we piled ut of the van and into the shelter of a small kiosk. There were quite a few other sheltering there, including a foreign backpacker (european?) who spoke English. He gave us a bit of a description of where we could walk, and warned us a downhill section might be a bit dicey today in the rain. After drinks and an ice cream from the Kiosk, we managed to borrow 3 umbrellas and off we went.

Climbing UpNice Shot AdamOvergrown in places

Down a dirt track, across stones in a rapidly flowing creek and eventually to a lady charging Y2 for the use of her specially constructed bit of track and steel ladder. We could have bypassed her had we known, but it wasn’t was if it was expensive. Finally we made it to the Great Wall…. the Real Great Wall.

It was in original crumbling condition, and we had an interesting (and fairly active) few hours exploring that section. The only other person we saw was a backpacker making a cup of tea (he was obviously a backpacker since he had a “Let’s Go China” under his arm). Also a tent was pitched at one of the higher guard posts (all the standard two arrow shots apart). Hopefully sometime I can get some photos up of this. Certainly a much more fulfilling visit than my last Great Wall visit I think at Badaling. It even stopped raining for us about halfway through. It’s hard to imagine a project such as the Great Wall taking so many resources of a country just to fuel rampant paranoia these days…., well, maybe, until you start to think about the Bush Administration and Star Wars MKII…..
Overgrown in places
View from the top

We returned to the road to find our original bread-box driver waiting for us, so after taking the umbrellas back to the Kiosk owner (and buying some beer and drinks as a thankyou), we returned to Huairou. The wipers still weren’t working.

This morning greeted us with an almost blue sky. (I wonder if the young kids in Beijing know what stars are ?). It looked amazingly blue until you realised the Hotel windows were deliberately tainted blue, but it was certainly much clearer than we’d experienced up till now. We decided to take the train back to Beijing from Huiarou for a bit of variety. Also we’d end up at Beijing Central so we didn’t need to do the subway bit. The hardest part of this turned out to be just finding the railway station (hidden at the end of a side road about 2km from the Hotel), but the guide book phrases came to the rescue again here. The trip took about 1.5 hours, and was a pleasant enough journey.

On our return to the Hotel (we finally found the #39 local bus route, yay!), Mr Han was there waiting for one of his chinese ARDF competitors to come in from elsewhere. Also we found the triple room we had booked (about a month ago) was in fact a double room with an extra piece of solid wood thrown in masquerading as a bed. None of us felt we would be able to sleep on the wood board, so I went back to reception and demanded either a real triple or another extra room. I just stood there refusing to go away, so they finally had to give in and give me another room. We arranged to go out for dinner with Mr Han, and he treated us to a great selection at a local resturant. More than we could possibly eat, but we made a good attempt. (Perhaps he is trying to slow down the Aussie team :-))

Better go now, early start tommorow and it’s already late.


World ARDF Tour 2001 Part 13

Bruce’s Report #13

It’s Thursday morning and I’m in the Tientian Sports Motel. It’s fine for us, even though it has some amusing quirks. We’ve elected to leave the top of the toilet cistern since that makes it easier to push down the valve which won’t reset on its own. Also, with a bit of a design flaw, the drain for the shower has been set on one of the higher points of the bathroom floor. Luckily there is a small hill between the toilet and the door where you can dry your feet 🙂 Otherwise the staff at the desk have been helpful (but they do seem to be reluctant to hire us a bike… foreigners ?).

The trip here went fairly smoothly. The 3 sets of directions Mr Han had prepared for us in Canada got us onto the correct airport bus, and directed the taxi to the Hotel once we got to the Beijing railway station. Lost one of my credit cards (yes, again, Jodi) somewhere at the airport yesterday I think. This time I was prepared and have another. Managed to get onto the “which bank” to stop it, and no furthur transactions had been recorded aginst the card since my ATM one at the airport. It’s possible in sleepy fug I even left it in the machine (surely I wouldn’t be *that* stupid!).

Beijing Railway StationWalking at Night BeijingBeijing

We went for a walk last night, along some of the main roads, and some of the unmarked alleyways in between which are full of street vendors. We ended up for dinner at a resturant we felt looked good. Ordered mainly by pointing at other peoples dishes (they all love this). Tried for some time to order rice, but since there wasn’t any nearby to point at we had to give up, even with the help of a chinese boy who spoke some English who came to our aid. Anyway, the prawn, vegetables and cashews was very good, as were the fried packages of that sweet brown stuff (seaweed ?) we’ve definitely had before. The Chinese boy joined us to practice his English. He is also visiting Beijing (staying with his uncle and Aunt who we were to meet shortly) during the long summer school holidays. His uncle and aunt work at one of the nearby Hotels. He is from Changdong which if I understood correctly is between Beijing and Shanghai somewhere. We were invited to their table and tasted some other dishes (the “sheeps meat” was excellent, but very spicy at first taste).

Afterwards bought some DVDs and CDs (and Adam accidentally ended up with a couple of VCDs which he thought were CDs). They all work out at about A$4 each, even the DVDs ! Of course, no Aussie music. Had a look at one of the VCDs on this laptop later on (no, it’s way too old and slow to play DVDs).

Getting a map, and taking our compasses we went on another walk to the North a bit later to locate a market, and a shopping centre. Pulled out a bit more money to pay for the 3 train tickets. Mr Han has offered to pick us up today for this since he has to pay for his 16 Chinese team members also. Hopefully he can also point us to an Internet Cafe or similar so I can send you these reports (and do some internet banking to move money out of the now dead credit card account!). By the way, I had bought another compass from the “Kevin”-like O shop at the German ARDF championships. It is an excellent (very good settling) Russian compass that comes at nearly half the price of an equivalent Silva. Also it suits me better for ARDF since it’s easier to read the bearings off the ring when I’m looking at it from an angle, whereas the Silva has a very high ring that tends to obsure the needle when not looked at from above. Somehow I picked up another small cough in Germany (can’t think where), and the lovely Beijing air (yeah, right) as you can imagine did wonders. It is quite hot here during the day, with that bright but diffuse sunlight you get here.
CRSA Headquarters

Anyway, enough blather for now.

Cheers from central Beijing,

World ARDF Tour 2001 Part 12

Bruce’s Report #12

I’m on the flight from Frankfurt to Beijing. It’s Tuesday evening (Deutsche Time, early in the morning Beijing time). Unfortunately we’re in the middle two seats of four on a 747, and the flight is packed. Adam has used nearly all my laptop batteries, so I might not get very far. No matter. After an uneventful drive back from Passau to Frankfurt we ended up in a small village outside of Frankfurt called Obernhaim which is where the Knoeble’s live. Stephan had arranged for us to stay there the night which was fantastic as we hadn’t really had anything arranged for Monday night. Geog and Barbel (sorry, no umlauts on this keyboard!) have a lovely house complete with a set of pools and fountains in the back garden. Oh, and of course the German Shepard, Fiona. Georg works for the networking section of the Deutchesbank. Later we met their other son Markus who is at University studying Electronics Engineering. Stephan, as you have already seen, was able to send out my two recent reports. Thanks also to Rainer for sending out Report 9 !

The Knoeble’s HouseA Swiss Log FireThe Fountain Garden

We were treated to afternoon coffee in the garden, and later on to a BBQ, accompanied by a Swiss fire. This was a pine log standing vertical. It had been cut into quarters most of the way down with a chainsaw. It was a first time experiment for Georg after he had seen it working elsewhere. The log cuts act with a chimney effect to keep to log burning, and it did (after some initial tribulations). Most impressive, and a great BBQ too with pork steak and weiners. After showing off our pictures of the German Championships (aren’t digital cameras great ?) and Markus showing us his work for encouraging junior ARDFers in Germany, it was suddenly quite late, so off to bed.

Today was pretty relaxed (nice sunny days of about 25 degrees in Germany at the moment). Stephan had to head off the school early (good luck in the French Region 1 championships, Stephan), but Markus took us on a tour of the surrounding area, including a replica/rebuilt olden village where we had lunch, a quick tour into the nearby town of Bad Homburg (Markus also does volunteer work for the Red Cross Ambulance so we had a look at these too). Then he took us to the Frankfurt airport for this flight. Thanks to the Knoeble family for putting up with us !

Tommorow (today) we’ll land in Beijing. Mr Han ahs given us directions in Chinese to get the bus and taxis and so forth, so hopefully all will go smoothly. We also hope to leave the Roller Hockey bag at the airport since the baggage is restricted on the return flight from Mongolia (please note Bryan !).

Bye for now,
Bruce, from somewhere over Russia.

(Yay, I made it before the batteries died !)

World ARDF Tour 2001 Part 11

Bruce’s Report #11

It’s late on the evening of the 2nd day 80m contest of the German championships. Well today didn’t turn out to be a great deal easier despite the alleged lack of bad bearings on 80m !

Walking to Start80m ReceiversThe Aussie Area

I ended up in the middle of the field again (18th) with 5 foxes and 95 minutes or so. Adam managed 86 minutes also with 5 foxes. There was one tranmitter #5 which was very low in power. I lucked near it when I was heading for another fox (actually on a dud bearing!), so got there in 12 minutes or so. Lost myself on the map a bit going to the next one at #4 which did nothing good for my time. I had thought I’d kinda stuffed up the order, but I had little choice since I could only hear 3 foxes at the start (not including my 1st fox!). As it turns out I did end up doing one of the better courses having managed #5 1st. Many had to return there at the end, which was right back to near the Start. The start and finish were exactly the same as for the 2m competition, so I just used the same map again. I relocated luckily on the way to #3 and after that my course was about as good as I’d do with a still slightly sore heel (it varied). I had about a 5km run back to the finish from the last transmitter. A long way between controls ! One split between #1 and #2 transmitters was one of the best times (aren’t splits marvelous in improving your outlook).

Adam Starting 80mAdam’s Map (messy!)Bruce Finishing 80m

As usual we botted a lift to the presentation for the 80m event also at the Bier Hall. Also since this was the last event in their series they had overall tally placeholders for each division. Thanks to Stefan and Stefan for various translations when my limited German could’nt cope. We presented the WIA clock to DARC in our appreciation of a wonderful challenging event. It showed exactly how to run a good competiton with many competitors. They have had lots of practice at this and it all runs very smoothly (well it looks to an outsider like it runs smoothly anyway !). They want us to come back again! The British team commented they have been coming for a few years now, so they are no longer such a novelty :-).

Final PresentationsStephan Won JuniorsGerman Competitors

Afterwards we went for a look at nearby Passau, a lovely town with cobbled streets and huge churches in the European style. Thanks to our hosts, and the great Bavarian style meal we all enjoyed at a BierGarden in Passau.

The Alte Schule gasthaus where were staying also had two mini 9 pin bowling alleys, so we had much fun afterwards along with a Dutch ARDF family also staying there with a bowling competition.

PassauPassau StreetsBowling at AlteSchule

Tommorow we head off back to Frankfurt, and Stephan (not to be confused with Stefan, Stefan or even Stefan) has invited us to stay with his family for the night before our flight to China on Tuesday.
So Aufweidersehen for now, and thanks to DARC for the hardest contest so far on our itineray.


World ARDF Tour 2001 Part 10

Bruce’s Report #10

Well this morning we had the German Championship 2m event, but first, what happened yesterday ?

We arrived and registered for the ARDF championship in a country Bier hall on it’s own about 10 minutes out of Passau, near a small village. After a bit of time there we were taken to the guesthouse, (Das Alte Schule, old school) where we ended up in a nice attic bedroom. We had about 3 hours sleep to recover from the long journey form Canada. Later we returned to the Bier hall to test our receivers and catch up with Rainer Flosser.
Rainer was in a jury meeting, so we had some dinner there and met some of the competitors. I found out that the Ultra sniffer has another small sprugle right on 144.525MHz. Luckily I was able to tune up 5kHz and it was ok (phew !). Met with Rainer and some others and amongst other things had an interesting discussion about electronic tagging. DARC have one set of their own specialised device based on a hard pin contact and an I2C Eeprom inside a blocky card thing you carry around your neck. It works well though.
E Tag ReaderE-Tag

DARC have developed their own software similar to SportID, but much better and easier to use ! Sport Ident has been used once at an international ARDF championship in Czech Republic. They used their own software, and also specially controls built specifically for the event by SportID due to a radiation on 2m problem (they radiate on 144MHz for about 50m or so). This of course means you could hunt the control itself when the transmitter is off, so a special fix had to be done. DARC have offered a deal with Sport Ident to use the DARC software with the SportID hardware (for both ARDF and Orienteering), but SportID so far haven’t leaped at the idea. Maybe worth exploring for Orienteering ? The DARC software has all the web publishing features and leg analysis ability… take a look at the DARC website:

Today we took part in the 2m competition. Well this one has lots more people attending, about 120 ! Also a lot more who looked like they knew what they were doing. The map was not a secret, and many people already had a copy of the orienteering map used before we got given maps at the start. The way the events work here is everyone drives and parks at the finish. There you get your electronic tag and chest numbers.

Everyone then walks all at once to the Start in a big group.

The Start was a couple of km away. I was to be in start group 10 and Adam later in the last group 25. The area is reasonably heavy wooded with rather wet pine trees (I can hear Mark JMD groaning already :-)). We were to start at the bottom of the 1:15000 map and finish to the left, so there was a lot of map left above that ! Quite hilly too, with plenty of dark green about.


Basically I mucked up my first control taking 25 minutes. Things did go better after that, but unfortunately a dud bearing led me to do one in the wrong order wasting about 15->20 minutes. I also got a sore ankle somehow (but I don’t think I twisted it). Lost my compass also while leaping over a creek. All in all a bit of a disaster, but I still got back on time with 5 transmitters (just under the 120 minute time limit). This gave me 17th place in M21, out of 26.

Adam, however, had his turn for this event and managed an excellent event taking 79 minutes. This gave him 3rd place in M21 against some pretty tough competition. He was beaten by Czech Republic. Other foreigners at the event were Czech, Netherlands and England (yes there is an English ARDF team: 2 competitors and a helper). There isn’t a great deal of ARDF activity in England, and it has been furthur curtailed of late by the foot and mouth epidemic restricting that sort of activity. The results from the competition are printed periodically, and they also have a laptop and a special keypad so anyone can call up latest results of their category on demand. Very neat. Afterwads everyone one gets a personal analysis sheet which shows how you did all your legs compared to others who did your order, and the leading competitor. A little graphic shows the order of transmitters you did and whether it is the best order or not.
The prizes were presented that evening at the Bier Hall at what is called a Ham-Fest. This isn’t what we would think it is at first, but is more related to the consumption of pork and beer ! We were there for some time, and also the HausMeister has given us two huge (1.5L ?) glass Bier Steins (we’ll have to fit into the growing volume of luggage somehow).


World ARDF Tour 2001 Part 9

Bruce’s Report #9

This report comes to you from Germany, somewhere on the AutoBahn between Frankfurt and Nurenberg. I’m in that slightly numb state after too many hours of travelling, and your body clock is confused by the bright morning sunlight when it’s meant to be night. The evening of the 2m FRG ARDF event many of the group gathered at Rik’s place for drinks and pizza. Perry and Anne gave us a lift there. A warm pleasent evening was spent discussing things ARDF or whatever. We were awarded our 1st and 2nd place medals ahead of time as we were due to fly out the next day. Thanks to the FRG organisers for a great time. A friendy bunch of people who I hope we’ll catch up with in the future.

It turned out to be a late night as we waited for the IRLP node at the Geelong end to be turned on, but it seems is was not to be. Oh well. ICQ still worked though. Thanks to Glenn for the marathon effort and now the pictures on the website now go all the way up to report 8 ! Not sure if we’ll have the chance to load up more images from now on… see how we go for internet connections [we did…but they didn’t make it to the website till now unfortunately] !

We flew from Victoria to Toronto (this slightly odd route was what Carol was able to book for us in order to get to Germany in time for the German ARDF championships). Toronto was experiencing the hottest day this year, and was sweltering under about 42 Degrees and very humid. Felt like getting out of an airplane in Singapore. Onto Frankfurt, with a total time shift of +9 hours (uggh). We were met outside the McDonalds at Frankfurt airport by Stefan, a young competitor in the German champs who also went to China last year.

We’re now whipping along the autobahn amongst the holiday traffic (it’s a long weekend here) in a van with 6 of us plus one baby ————–>

As an aside, Stefan was telling us about the Czech 5 days ARDF championships earlier this year. There are 5 full days of ARDF: 2 days (2m/80m) of a mix of ARDF and orienteering where you have to find normal controls as well as radio controls (encourages good map work !). We’ll have to try this at a Metro I think as an interesting varient. 2 days (2m/80m) of normal ARDF which is also part of the Czech qualification rounds, and a final day of foxoring (see DARC website for full details), where competitors orienteer to a 200m circle on the map. Once within this circle they are assured they can hear a very low powered transmitter which is the control point (not necessarily IN the circle). Tricky huh ?

Anyway, that’s enough for today (whatever “today” means… I’ve lost track).



Townsville 1997 Region 3 ARDF Championships Report

An Unofficial Rambling Account of the 2nd IARU Region 3 ARDF Championships

This account is being written for a number of different audiences (foxhunters, orienteers, observers), so please ignore all the bits you
know already. It’s also LONG !

Last week Australia held it’s first international ARDF event, the 2nd ever IARU (International Amateur Radio Union) Region 3 (Asia-Pacific) championship. The event was very sucessfully hosted by the Townsville Amateur Radio Club, the driving force being Wally Watkins, VK4DO.

Day 1 (Monday) was arrival day, and quite a lot of arriving happened. For some reason I have still yet to establish the Australians (Us) and the New Zealanders were accomodated in the West Halls of the James Cook University just outside Townsville and everyone else (and meals) were in the Central Area. Maybe Wally thought we needed the exercise.
Went shopping and laid in essential alcohol supplies (which of course are strictly banned on campus… Nah..Surely that only applies to the students ? ).
Got to meet the New Zealand contingent of competitors and referrees whilst waiting for an elusive bus.

Day 2 (Tuesday). Official Opening Ceremony. Lots of film wasted by many parties (Hint: Never lend your camera to someone else to take photos…)
Most of your film has gone before you know it !). The Japanese lived up to their reputation and took enough photos to line a house. One little Japanese had a video camera permanently attached to his eye. We’re sure he won’t know where he’s been till he gets home and has a chance to look at the hours of video tape.
Present were USA (ARRL) (Hi Kev!), Bulgaria (BFRA), China (CRSA), Korea (KARL), New Zealand (NZART), Japan (JARL), Poland (PZK) and Australia (WIA), as well as some observers/officials from Thailand and Malaysia.

Afternoon was for practice. A couple of Radio Transmitters were setup around the university grounds and we had to find them. These RDF championships consisted of two events. One is held using transmitters operating in the Amatuer 2m band (145.300 MHz) and the other on 80m (3.58 MHz). The sorts antennas and receivers needed to these two events look quite different.
The 2m antennas are either 2 or 3 element Yagi antennas (they look a bit like TV antennas). The 80m antennas are ferrite rods or DF-loops with sense antennas. I won’t go into technicalities here, but the idea is to to work out which direction the transmitter you are trying to find is in, and then head in that direction (either directly of in-directly depending on the
terrain) till you find the transmitter. Near the transmitter is a orienteering Red/White flag and a punch.

There are 5 transmitters (controls) with punches. Depending of your category (Junior, Senior, Old Timer, Woman) you need to find 4 or 5 of these transmitters.
There is also a 6th transmitter on a slightly different frequency at the finish to help guide you back.

The 5 transmitters are all on the same frequency, so they can’t all be on at the same time otherwise no-one would be able to work out what’s going on.
What happens is each transmitter transmits for 1 minute, then turns off in time for the next transmitter and so on. This means each transmitter is only on for 1 minute out of 5 minutes…so you have to remember bearings taken earlier to work out where to go. Drawing lines on the map using a compass is one way to do this. Each transmitter identifies itself using Morse code. Don’t let this worry you however. I don’t know Morse Code either, but all you have to do is count the short pips at the end to know which transmitter you are listening to.

The map you get is pretty much a standard orienteering map with Start and Finish marked on it. The controls are not marked !

I use a 3 element Yagi with a TJN/XAJ Ultra Sniffer for 2m. For 80m , (taking a more unusual approach), I have a 10m version of the Ultra-Sniffer fed by a 80m to 10m converter attached to an 80m loop and sense antenna.
Just like your AM radio, a ferrite rod (or loop) alone can’t tell you which of two directions the radio transmitter is (“bi-directional”), so the sense antenna is another antenna which can be used to resolve this ambiguity.
All my gear seemed to work OK during the practice and I was able to quickly locate the four various transmitters.
One of the Australians (Jack VK3WWW) noticed that one of the transmitters seemed to decrease in power after about an hour. This was to prove a significant observation that would have an effect the following day during the 2m competition.

After throwing boomerangs around the oval for about an hour (the VK3’s had all recently purchased these from Roger at the Mt. Gambier foxhunt champs and we were keen to try them out) we had dinner, followed by a Jury meeting for the upcoming event.

Somewhere about this time the Kazakhstan (KARC) Contingent turned up. They had mistakenly booked flights to Brisbane only, thinking that Townsville was merely a suburb of Brisbane. They hopped into a Taxi after waiting in vain for some sort of ARDF official to approach them. They could speak little English, and consequently they were driven by Taxi to Townsville ! The driver
must have taken pity on them I suspect, because the trip cost them A$600. This isn’t bad considering it’s over 1300kms ! The team consisted of 3 boys (Junior category) and their teacher (Old Timer) from the Kazakhstan Higher Radio Engineering and Radio Sports School. With a name like that what hope did us poor foxhunters have ?

Had a quiet (illegal) drink with the New Zealanders to pass the evening.

Day 3 Wednesday. Competition Day ! Had get up at the non-existant time of 5.45am in order to be ready for breakfast. We were taken by bus to the secret location for the event somewhere near Mt. Louisa. Suddenly the bus stopped in the middle of the road. The location was so secret even the bus driver hadn’t been told ! Ah. There it was…next to those forbidding looking hills (mountains ?). It was getting quite warm too. About 24 DegreesC.

We were all herded into the Start quarantine area. We had to place our equipment in another area to be picked up just before start. Something had gone wrong with one of the transmitters so there was a bit (well an hour actually) delay whilst the organisers sorted that one. Sat around getting nervous. I’ve never done a real one of these before (only our practice hunts with 3 transmitters) ! What was it going to be like ?

The competitors started to head out. Pre-determined groups are released at 5 minute intervals, so it took over 2 hours between when the 1st and Last groups were released. I went off in group 8 (luckily reasonably early…it was getting hotter as the day wore on).

I pick up my sniffer (antenna & receiver), get a number pinned on and get given a map. I have about 9 minutes to study this before I start. I decide pretty much which way I’m going to head first off…before I’ve heard a single transmitter. When you start you have to run down the “start corridor” before you are allowed to turn on your receiver. Hmm. Tx 1 seems back near the finish so I’ll leave that to last. Tx 2 and 3 seem both roughly ahead so I keep going as per original plan. Phew! Both Tx4 and Tx5 look like they’re also on my “return” journey from a big loop. I keep heading
for Tx3. About 15 mins in I come accidentally across some officials. Unless I’m horribly mistaken there must be a transmitter nearby ! I know it isn’t Tx3, so it must be Tx2. I wait around a bit for the transmitters to cycle round to Tx2 (noting the bearings of the others for future reference). I find Tx2 which was rather well hidden. I thought these flags weren’t meant to be placed in hollows ?

Onto Tx3, passing Kevin Kelly N6QAB (ARRL) who was taking it easy by this stage. Found Tx3 when it wasn’t transmitting just by following my original bearing. This is working out quite well. Tx4 was a little harder, but I also found this one whilst it was off. Wow, only 35 mins for the 1st three checkpoints. As you can no doubt guess disaster is about to strike. I figure Tx5 is the other side of the “mountain” so up I go (on what turns out to be an unfortunate tangent). Tx5 didn’t come on till after I had gone over a ridge and this was to be my undoing. I got a “dud” bearing due to being on the wrong side of a hill from the transmitter and headed downhill at what turned out to be right angles to Tx5. I kept getting odd bearings until I was well down in the valley. It then became obvious. Tx5 was right up the top, even higher than the ridge I had crossed sometime (and many meters up) before. I was starting to regret I hadn’t had a drink at Tx4. It was about halfway up the hill (again) that I discovered I had lost my punch card. After a few fruitless minutes of unrepeatable dialog with various deities (lucky non-one else seemed to be nearby!) I figured I
had almost no chance of finding the card again and thought I might as well find the final 2 transmitters anyway, even though I knew I was disqualified.

Staggered into Tx5 (it was, as previously guessed, right up the top), only to be told that I should keep going as there was a chance I wouldn’t be disqualified. Lucky I mentioned my ticket loss to the officials, and also lucky I decided to punch my map. So with a little more enthuiasm (after all I had plenty of time left) I coutoured around to Tx1 (hidden behind a rock just below another peak. I switched my sniffer over to the return beacon and started heading down (clambering would better describe the slope). I could hear the beacon OK but it did seem to be very very weak. Was I furthur away than I thought ? I came into the finish corridor with relief. That transmitter was still damm weak though, and I was within meters of it !
It turns out it was defective, and it was the same one Jack had noticed seemed to get weaker on the practice day.
I had taken 105 mins. Most of an hour was between 4 and 5. Surprisingly this mediocre result was sufficient to give me 8th place, the best WIA result. Obviously many others had had more problems than I did.

The jury meeting that evening decided to forgive my (and a Japanese competitor’s) lost ticket as they had evidence of all controls visited by the officials hidden at each TX site.

I will post the official results later, but the best time for the 2m event, senior (all Tx) category was by a Chinese bloke, Li Rp, who managed 50 minutes.

WIA corner:
Another noteworthy WIA result was Sue VK3LSL. She found 3 of her 4 required transmitters in 115 mins giving her 6th place and along with Sally (9th) a WIA 3rd team placement. Sue had not found any of the transmitters at our last practice hunt, so husband Mark’s (VK3JMD) training on their drive up to Townsville must have worked. She even beat Mark’s own result of 3 transmitters and 127 mins (Senior category).
Jack VK3WWW (Old Timer category) managed 16th with 4/4 Tx in 136 mins, just under the time limit of 140 min. This was sufficient for a 3rd team placement along with Ian (3/4 122 min). (well all he had to do was get in on time and beat the New Zealanders).

Day 4 (Thursday) Day Off.
Most went to Billabong wildlife sancutury. The VK3s and as it turned out the Americans decided to have a look at Magnetic Island. We respectively Mountain biked, scootered and Mini-Moked around the (rather small) island enjoying the sun, beaches & views before returning of the ferry in time to attend the Townsville Mayorial reception laid on for the ARDF. After more than sufficient alcohol and nibblies we returned for a hasty Jury meeting and an unofficial ARRL Vs WIA ordinary mobile foxhunt.

Kevin was keen to show us the capabilities of the DF Junior, so we patched together a Yagi & broomstick based system for Mark’s car to give him some competition. Our receiver was an ultra-sniffer with an extra external preamp. Jack was beamswinger, Mark driver & myself navigator (off a tourist map) and runner.
Kevin was joined by New Zealander, Andrew ZL2UKF as a navigator. Jeff Aust also put in a 1 person team attempt.

Results: WIA: approx 30 mins, 17 km
ARRL: Never actually got there, but close enough at 130 mins, ?? km

Hmmm. I’ve yet to be convinced about dopplers……
Many thanks the Bob Mann for the roof bar, and John VK4OB for being the fox at very short notice.

Day 5 80m Competition.
Another early morning. No bus arrives, but Wally then appears and informs us that we’re going to walk to the Start ! This event was held near the University on an orienteering map from the Thuringowa Orienteering Club.

I won’t give a blow by blow account of this one, sufficient to say that the hills seemed even higher than the last event, but all the WIA competitors did a lot better. I only made one slight error in climbing up to a peak that was higher than necessary, but managed the course in 80 mins for 5 Txs, just beating all of the Korean team (which I’m quite pleased about so you’re going to hear about it if you want to or not). This gave me 6th place.
Again the Chinese romped it in 1st, 2nd, 3rd with the best time an amazing 40 mins. This is under 8 mins per leg !

WIA corner again:
Mark managed 9th 106 mins 5/5, Sue 5th 102 mins 3/4 and Jack 8th 92 mins 4/4 in their respective categories.
Other WIA members well below this. Bit of a VK3 (Victorian) coup huh ?

After a cool swim in the University pool after lunch another Jury meeting cleared up remaining details.

The closing dinner was held that evening, lots of medals were awarded (well I didn’t get any) and gifts swapped. Bob Mann (president of the Townsville Amateur club) gave us truly dreadful renditions of various old songs. The Thailand representative, always full of beans and self-appointed social dynamo got us all up to dance.

Thanks from me and all the VK3’s to Wally, the Townsville Amateur Radio Club and all the competitors and referees who attended. Korea in 1999 ??? Who knows.

Bruce, VK3TJN