February 23rd 2013
All Night
Transmitter hunt

This is a t-hunt report from J. Scott Bovitz, N6MI

On February 22, 2013, I set out to hide eight transmitters in the high desert. The weather was going to be sunny with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s. The official transmitter hunt day was February 23, 2013. This was a start anywhere, start whenever, transmitter hunt -- so I expected an early Saturday start by most of the hunters.

I never made it to the desert.

About a mile or two north of the Kenwood exit on the 15 freeway, I spotted an open gate at Oakie Flat Road. I have never seen this gate open. I had to stop and explore. I determined that the gate had been left open by some construction workers who were on site. These folks were shoring up the freeway grading on a burned out hillside.

I drove east on Oakie Flat Road (heading up a little over a mile). The road abruptly ended in a shallow river. The spot had a view of the snow covered mountains near Wrightwood, but was otherwise fully shielded. I planted a transmitter in the riverbed. This one identified "N6MI" in slow code, once a minute. The transmitter ran 30 watts into a four element quad pointed at Wrightwood (roughly west). I knew this transmitter would be heard everywhere, north and south of Highway 2. I also knew this would be very hard transmitter to find, since there was no place to get a direct bearing. The bearing would always point to Wrightwood.

Now I needed to hide my other seven transmitters.

I went north on the 15 freeway to the Cajon Boulevard/Cleghorn Fire Road exit. I went east on Cleghorn Fire Road. Eventually, I hid six transmitters on Cajon Mountain or along Cleghorn Ridge. Many transmitters were near transmission line towers, with snow covered mountains in the background. See the attached photograph of the Cleghorn road and ridge. All transmitters were placed east of the 15 freeway.

"N6MI T3" identified in Morse Code. This was a small KF6GQ box running 50 milliwatts into a 5/8 wave vertical whip. The transmitter was tied in a tree, about 15 feet above the roadway, almost due east from the Cajon Boulevard/Cleghorn Fire Road exit. The hunters would have to climb a few feet on a steep hill. There was a view of the freeway in the distance.

"N6MI T22" also identified in Morse Code. This transmitter was placed about two miles east of the intersection of the 138 and the 15 freeway (Cajon Junction). I planted the transmitter about 25 feet west of a flat parking spot (not shown on the map). The exciter was a programmable Byonics Micro-Trak AIO (a very nice unit!), running about 1.2 watts into a 30 watt amplifier. I placed a four element yagi on a short mast. I pointed the antenna at Wrightwood. There was no direct view of the freeway. The transmitter was very loud and could be heard by all hunters from their personal starting points.

"N6MI T9" identified in Morse Code. This transmitter was placed on a high hill to the east of the truck stop on the 15 freeway, southwest of T22. The transmitter was a Byonics Micro-Fox running 10 milliwatts to a short vertical antenna. The unit was affixed to a dead bush, about two feet off the dirt. The transmitter had a perfect view of two miles of the 15 freeway.

"N6MI go go go" was a voice transmitter, running a few milliwatts. The transmitter was built into an Altoids tin and buried under the sand. The only thing showing was the black rubber duck antenna. (WA6RJN stepped on the transmitter, but it still works.) The transmitter was at the end of a power line road, about one mile northwest of T22. The road had big UP and DOWN segments.

"N6MI T7 of 8" (an Altoids tin) ran a few milliwatts and identified by voice. "N6MI T4" was a KF6GQ box and identified in Morse Code. Both were on 3N22 Forest Highway Road; this road runs south of and parallel to Rim of the World Scenic Byway (Highway 38). T7of 8 was a short walk to the north of a transmission line tower. See the attached WA6RJN photograph (Doug sniffing T7 of 8). T4 was directly underneath another transmission line tower, attached to an Edison marker.

The gates from 138 to the dirt roads were all closed. So, just for fun, I placed "N6MI T1" to the north of 138, not far from N6MI T7 of 8. This was on an unmarked dirt road, about 1/2 mile north of 138.

WA6RJN (winner!) found all eight transmitters, after I gave a few vague clues regarding the Oakie Flat Road transmitter. Doug will hide in July.

KF6GQ/KD6LAJ (controlled second place) found seven transmitters, but got stuck on the west side of the 15 and gave up (twice) when hunting the Oakie Flat Road transmitter. If they want to arm wrestle WA6RJN for the July hide, the KF6GQ/KD6LAJ team is permitted to ask for a runoff.

N6AIN/N6EKS (third place) found six transmitters. This team did not find T4 or the Oakie Flat Road transmitter. They kindly returned a transmitter of mine from last month. (Thank you.) N6AIN suffered a mysterious injury to his face (sorry!), but we have no other details.

WB6JPI (fourth place) found five transmitters. He was stumped by T9, T1, and the Oakie Flat Road transmitter.

WB6HPW and Peter (fifth place) found one transmitter (T22). Then they left to search for abandoned mines.

N6ZHZ (sixth place) gave a bearing from his house but did not check in to a transmitter.

The weather was nice and everyone seemed to have a good time.