March 28th 2018
All Night Transmitter Hunt

Hiders: Paul  WB6HPW and Peter
My son Peter aka GrandFAT (age 17) is obsessed with trains, so we have made many trips to Tehachapi Loop, the Mecca of railfanning.  There’s a hill above the Loop that railfans from around the world visit to get their photos of the trains on the Loop and I thought “this would be a good place to hide a T someday.”  My daughter Alessandria (age 13) is equally obsessed with horses and we have made many side trips (armed with 50 pound bags of carrots) to the Cummings Valley where, until recently, the United Pegasus Foundation ( had a horse rescue facility with about 100 residents (the facility was recently moved to San Jacinto).  We had also driven though Stallion Springs, a quaint residential community at the extreme southwest corner of the valley and liked their covered bridge - another obvious hiding spot.  But still, we needed a “marquee” hiding location for a main T.


On the way home from a recent conference in Livermore, I made a detour through Tehachapi and checked out several high points for a main T hiding site.  I was searching for something overlooking the San Joaquin Valley with a view to the south, to try to bring hunters up I-5 and waste mileage looking for a route up towards Stallion Springs from the east without going all the way around CA-58 through Tehachapi … thinking that such a route doesn’t exist.  After chasing out several promising dead-ends from the Cummings Valley side (two of which became other hiding points) I pursued one dirt road (Comanche Pass Road) to a gate … but the gate wasn’t locked nor posted “No Trespassing”, the only sign said “Please Close Gate.”  Hmmm … well it turned out that that Comanche Pass Road is a public road, in fact it’s known to mountain bikers in the area … and it descends all the way to the valley floor, although there are a total of 3 “Please Close Gate” gates along the way.  Both sides of the road along with all side roads are clearly fenced, locked and posted, so the only option was to hide alongside the road.

                                 Figure 1.
Google Earth view of the “main” T location.

On a previous hide at Mt. Sewart in Los Padres National Forest in 2014, I had somewhat successfully used the Tehachapis for a bounce and I wanted to try the same approach here.  After studying Google Earth views, I identified a site along Comanche Pass Road where I would have a view of Cummings Mountain, and for which every possible direct path to the site was blocked by mountains (Figure 1).  I even picked out the exact tree in which we would put the antenna.  From Google Earth I thought we could probably be heard at Palos Verdes but not Pathfinder, so I declared PV the starting point.  After much whining (typical) from the hunters who didn’t want to drive all the way to PV, I came up with a set of rules:

    Starting point is either Palos Verdes, Pathfinder or Summit Inn (RIP) site.
    If you don’t start at PV, mileage will be adjusted to the PV starting point according to the distance from the Pathfinder or SI starting point to the first transmitter (of 1 or more) that you find, according to Google Maps. 
    For example, if Google Maps says the shortest distance from the PV starting point to the first transmitter you find is 567.8 miles, but you start at Pathfinder and the shortest distance to that transmitter according to Google Maps is 543.2 miles, then you will be charged an extra 567.8 - 543.2 = 24.6 miles.
    Note that the “charge” could be positive or negative depending on where that transmitter is.

I knew I would need a lot of power and a lot of directionality to make the bounce work, plus I had basically no hiding equipment of my own, so I borrowed an armada of equipment from Scott N6MI including an 11 element Yagi and a 170 watt amp.  Peter and I picked a total of 5 hiding spots as listed below (see also Figures 2 and 3.)

Figure 2a.  Transmitter locations, north at the top.

Figure 2b.  Transmitter locations, east at the top.

Figure 3a.  Main T

Figure 3b.  Loop T

Figure 3c.  Jack’s Hill T.

Figure 3d.  Covered bridge T.

Figure 3e.  Horsethief T.



Location (elev.)




N6MI (code)

Comanche Pass Road (3201’)

Ammo can T + 170W amp

11 element Yagi

Main T

T22 (code)

Top of Jack’s Hill (4612’)

Yellow box T + 27 W amp (amp removed after 2 hours)

4 element Yagi

Jack’s Hill T

T3 (code)

28504 Stallion Springs Road (3756’)

Black box / 9V battery

Telescoping spike

Covered bridge T

N6MI Hidden T (voice)

Hill at end of Horsethief Rd. (3800’)

Black box / 9V battery


Horsethief T

WB6HPW (voice)

Hill above Tehachapi Loop (3286’)

Bigger black box

2 wires

Loop T

Table 1.  The transmitters.



Peter and I stayed at the Santa Fe Motel (a 1950s-era “motor hotel”) in downtown Tehachapi on Friday night, got an early start Saturday and went off to hide the main T in foggy 39 degree weather.  We had a problem getting the amp to work, which we finally traced to a bad connection on the battery Scott loaned us.  We were on the air at the stroke of 10 am.  We had no cell coverage at that location, so we drove back up the road to where we were going to deposit T22 at Jack’s Hill and learned by phone that we had 5 teams hunting (4 at Pathfinder, 1 at Summit Inn) and no one could hear the T.  (Later on I learned that the main T could be heard in San Diego, so it certainly could have been heard in PV … I should have stuck to my original plan, in which case I wouldn’t have had to put a strong T on Jack’s Hill and it’s possible no one would have found any T despite hearing signals.)  Anyway, we set up the Jack’s Hill T with a 4-element Yagi and a 27 Watt amp, at which point it could be heard at the Summit Inn site and the hunt commenced.


We then went to set up the other 3 Ts.  I had wanted to hide T3 in a crevice in the covered bridge but I found the wood attenuated the signal so much that one could not hear it from any other T.  So then I wanted to hang the T on the bridge but there was no inconspicuous spot where it would not readily be seen by civilians, so I hung the T on a tree next to the bridge.  I also hid the Horsethief T in a crevice in the tree on top of the hill but again the signal was too weak so I placed it on a branch instead.  KF6GQ/KD6LAJ reported that my father WA6FAT SK had hidden at that very location (he passed away in 2002 so I presume it was some time before then.)  The “Astronaut T” was placed last, on the aforementioned hill above Tehachapi Loop.


Peter and I spent much of the day railfanning (well to be more precise, Peter railfanned while I ‘enabled’ it) at Tehachapi Loop and Caliente, then headed back to Tehachapi to have dinner at the Burger Spot.  I tracked N6MI/K6VCR and WA6RJN teams on  To my surprise, all but one of the hunters (the GQ team) found the Loop T first; from Tehachapi one could hear that transmitter better than Jack’s Hill T which, although on top of a hill at 4612’, was blocked from Tehachapi by a significant ridge (Figure 2b).  The GQ team found the Jack’s Hill T at about the time the other teams were at the loop and managed to find the other Ts in that area by 1736.  They called me to ask if there were any more Ts and said they couldn’t hear any others, so I told them to “go north” but apparently they didn’t find the Loop T.  Everyone eventually found the Jack’s Hill T waaaay up on the hill, the last at 1810.  The N6MI/K6VCR and WA6RJN teams persevered and found the other Ts nearby (Covered bridged and Horsethief) but never did find the main T.  I saw from that N6MI / K6VCR had driven up to the gate after dark, but didn’t go through; after the hunt I asked N6MI why and he said, “it was dark and scary” to which I replied “isn’t the whole point of T-hiding to find dark and scary places?”  From his track I could tell that WA6RJN didn’t reach the gate and I suspect the other 2 teams (N6AIN and N6ZHZ / KD6CYG) didn’t either.  The last transmitter found was the Covered Bridge T, by N6MI / K6VCR at 2115.


Team (starting point)


“Main” T

Jack’s Hill

Covered Bridge


Astronaut T
















Confused by horses ?

Tough !

Where is everybody?

Milt [WA6FAT SK] hid here before



















Big frogs


Nice train!

WA6RJN (Summit Inn)
















Not on the bridge ?



N6AIN (Pathfinder)






































Table 2.  Hunting results.  *Apparently referring to their mileage

In summary, 3 teams found 4 Ts, but KF6GQ / KD6LAJ found 4 Ts with less mileage and less time than the other two teams and because they were the only ones to find the Main T, the KF6GQ / KD6LAJ team is declared the winner.

Don and Steve's Story
April 28th All  Night Pictures