July 22nd MEATHEAD Hunt

Hider: WB6JPI





































The Plan:

It is now Monday before the hunt. I am writing THE PLAN down now so I don't pretend what happens was really planned.

I intended to find a spot where The signal would be direct to Catalina Island and really blocked to Palos Verdes. I found such a spot using TOPO (2). It was about a mile southeast of Red Mountain south of Hemet. The dirt road would allow not only red mountain to be in the PV path, but it also had Santiago mountain. Great. It was LOS to Catalina with nothing in the way. It was 4000 ft high and Catalina was 90 miles away. Math says that the earth curvature would show all of the island above 50 ft and the ground bounce lobe would produce the first lobe at 70 ft elevation. Should make for a plenty loud island bounce into PV.

I went up to Red Mountain last Thursday. It was hot. (113 in the Zook) and listened to things. I heard nothing from PV. The Catalina repeater was heard, but noisy. Something was wrong. It was hazy and I couldn't see the island, but I checked all the bearings several times. Poopy signal. I decided that it was the inversion layer not letting the Catalina signal get to me. It was mid afternoon and maybe things would be different on Sat Morning.

PLAN B: Not being one to drink the lemonade just made from this lemon, I did notice that Keller peak (Toward Big Bear) was booming in. this repeater is higher than I and we would both be above the inversion layer. I used 30 dB of attenuator and got a very clean bearing indicating that it was a direct and clear path about 40 miles away.

Rationalization for Plan B: Now, I live north of Red Mountain, so I came down from the north. The obvious way was using Bautista Rd out of Hemet. This twisty road is paved as far as the Prison, but the last 6.3 miles is 20 mph dirt. You then turn off to Tripp Flats (back on a paved road) to go up to the Red Mountain Rd which is 13 miles of dirt. If the Catalina bounce thing works, I think most hunters would go south from PV realizing that I am bouncing off the island and about Newport Beach it would be obvious that I was east. Most routes from Newport would place them coming in from the south and getting to Tripp Flats without the privilege of doing Bautista Rd. So maybe the bounce off of Big Bear was a better answer. Cell phone is good from there, so I will try both at the start time. Maybe swing the beam at 10:30..Hmmmm, sounds like plan C.

Other Ts:

There is a cave right on the Red Mountain Rd that is about 4 ft x 3.5 ft and goes back a ways. I think a micro T above the cave entrance will get someone to go inside. I seem to remember that T-hunters cant tell up from down and it will look like it is
coming from the hole in azimuth.

Down at the 2000 ft level and west of Red Mountain off of R3 are two dirt roads, one about 4 miles long and dead end (its marked private, but the map shows it open and the sign is very hard to notice.) and another, Stanley Rd., making a 16 mile loop. The two roads get to within 1 mile of each other. I will hide on the loop road, hoping to get someone up the other one.

If I use the Catalina bounce, then I will hide one near the prison to get them all up Bautista dirt road. You wont be able to hear the prison from the loop as Red Mountain is in the way.

I will have two more Ts available for a total of 6 or 7 if I fix my broken one. I am charging batteries and checking programs and clock settings on the six working ones and if I have time I will get the 7th one perking.

The Hide.

It went poorly.I arrived about 9:30 and found a spot where the Catalina repeater was 40 dB of attenuator about mile before where I had tried last week. I set up the 11 el beam horizontal about 40 ft off the road and about 6 ft lower. I tried to call
everyone I had numbers for in the cellphone, but no one answered. I had forgotten my PalmPilot, so I only had a few numbers and they were very old.I finally got a hold of Tom from San Diego and he passed the phone to Scot. Scott ran 180 watts and I heard him fine in the zook at s6 off of Catalina and +20 off of Big Bear. He lowered his power to 3 watts and I could still hear him off of Catalina (and I assume Big Bear). With 4 el on the zook and 11 el on the transmitter I ASSUMED that I could be heard at the start. No way. Well not quite no way. MJN said he heard something at 240 degrees (right at Catalina) when I was pointed that way and Scott had something to the east when I pointed at Big Bear, but they wanted more.

I tried another transmitter, but I couldn't get it to transmit. It was ready to operate for next weeks hunt, not this one. I then got the 30 watt amp and the big deep-discharge battery and ran that pointed at Big Bear. Actually I think it was pointed more toward
San Jacinto.

Again no one would answer when I called back to see if they heard anything. Finally, at about 10:20 Tom answered his phone and said that he heard nothing, but most all of the teams (there were 7) had left him and one other. He said they headed east, so I again assumed they heard something. I packed up and left the site of T1.

I continued on the road to Red Mtn another couple miles, coming to a stub road that went around Mt Cahuilla from T-1 and at the locked gate, I placed T2. It was IDing N6MI in slow CW and was tagged T2. You could hear it from near T1, but it went away in either direction. If you had attenuation in for T1 you could miss it. It showed up at T5 and T6 though, so if you didn't catch it near T1 and didn't continue on up the road toward Red Mtn, you would have to come back around from T5 (about 30 miles). Nasty.

T3 was hidden at the cave with a GQ T placed on the broken signpost. You couldn't miss that one. I couldn't climb up over the cave to hide it as I intended, so it was very easy.

T4 was placed off of the mountain and on east of Baustista Rd on a forestry road 11S20, or something. It was IDing N6MI T3 and could be heard on the road to T1 as well as all over the south end of Bautista Rd and even on 321 to Anza. It also showed up at some very strange places, like in Hemet.

T5 was another dirty trick. It came on every 198 seconds (about 3 minutes) and transmitted for about 30 seconds. It was located on a dirt road off of R-3 right under Red Mtn, but about 30 miles of road away. T1 was 50 dB of atten at T5 and as the beam was pointed about 90 degrees from T5, so it was very LOS. T5 must be really strong at T1. At T5 you could also get a very loud signal from T2 and if you listened carefully you could hear T4.

T6, the talking Transmitter, was hung on a bush about a mile further down the same dirt road as T5. It could be heard for about a mile past, so I assume it could be heard at T5 or even T1.

After planting all of these, I went to Hemet and ate Breakfast (at 2:pm) and then went down Bautista road as far as the jail thingy. I could hear T1 and T4, but not strong and it was very hard to get bearings in that valley. I suspect that a Doppler would be perfectly useless on this hunt for any of the 6 transmitters due to the very bouncy signals. Except for T5/6, none of the transmitters were line-of-sight to any of the others or to most any road over 1 mile away. For 4 miles of the 6 mile dirt road to T1, you couldn't even hear it. If they ever got to Hemet, where you could hear at least 3 of the transmitters, they musta had a good time.

At about 3:30 PM, I went home and took a shower. I figure that they will call me on the phone if they all gave up. On the way home I noted that T1 and T5 were quite noticeable in Marino Valley and at Gillman Springs Road and the 60 Fwy. If they came out the 60, they should have gotten to Hemet and into T-land.

When I went to get the transmitters out, I found that T1 was pooped out. It was only clicking the amplifier relay and making only enough noise to be heard about 10 ft. No wonder some hunter (Joe, KE6VCR) drove within 20 ft of 30 watts into an 11 element beam and didn't find it and it was in plain sight (in daylight).

I decided to take a shortcut from the four (1,2,3 and 4) that were on the Red Mountain Road and take the dotted dirt road to Reed road that ran into the paved road west of Red Mountain. It is a gnarly road worthy of a short cut. I got to Reed Road and it was posted. The gate was open to the north, so I gave it a run, since I was only going to the pavement. But the local cop stopped me about mile in and I had to go all the way back up the road to the mountain, some 5 miles of gnarly. The round trip took over an hour. I hope a few of the hunters had similar experiences.


About midnight Scott, N6MI, sent me an email that said he had spent the day and evening wandering around Big Bear and Hwy 38. Now I am worried that no one found anything and they all wandered around looking for the elusive signal. On Sunday, I got word from Scott that Ron, WA6FAT, had wandered around Lake Arrowhead all day. Now I'm really worried.I started to get some word from the hunters on ICQ. Dave, N6MJN, said he he drove to the area directly. I asked him if he got a bearing at Green River on the 91 and he said they didn't stop. He found all six transmitters. I also heard from Deryl, N6AIN and he said he found all six. Wayne, KC6TNJ also chimed in with all six. Now I was relieved.


There were eight teams in the hunt. Six were official, with starting mileage and two were unofficial. Five teams found the area and at least one transmitter. Three teams found all six. Of the three teams that found all six, WA6RJN did it in 278 miles and just over 23 hours, KC6TNJ/AF6O/WA6TQQ did it in 249 miles and almost 14 hours, and N6MJN/N6XFC, the winners did it in 181 miles and just under 9 hours. Now Deryl, N6AIN failed to sign in at T4, but if he had, he would have had at least 30 miles more than the winners (he went somewhere else between the start and his first Transmitter find). There is no need for any Crenshaw corrections.


Miles to first find Time to first find Average speed
N6MJN/N6XFC 119.3 3:20 35.7
KE6VCR/Joe 125.75 6:08 20.8
N6AIN 172.5 4:36 38.2
KC6TNJ/AF6O/WA6TQQ 161.5 6:42 23.8
WA6RJN 213 11:15 19.3

Assuming a 10:30 Departure Time to first find Clock Time of finds Total time in area
N6MJN/N6XFC 3:20 1:50 2:40 3:20 4:59 7:00 7:20 5:30
KE6VCR/Joe 6:08 4:38 9:35 11:14 6:36
N6AIN 4:36 3:06 3:29 3:50 6:19 6:34 3:28
KC6TNJ/AF6O/WA6TQQ 6:42 5:12 6:16 6:40 7:57 12:18 12:47 7:35
WA6RJN 11:15 9:45 12:20 2:54 6:50 8:52 9:29 11:44
N6ZHZ/KD6CYG 6:40 5:10 0

Order of finding transmitters
N6MJN/N6XFC 4 1 3 2 6 5
KE6VCR/Joe 4 3 2 0 0 0
N6AIN 3 1 2 5 6 0
KC6TNJ/AF6O/WA6TQQ 4 3 1 2 6 5
WA6RJN 4 2 3 1 6 5

Lessons Learned:

Check out the transmitter with the antenna and amp before arriving at the start place. Try to have more than one person involved in the hide. It is just too hard to set and check the locations all by ones self. The 4 minute/30 second transmissions did slow down, but didn't stop or even seriously effect the finding. It is not worth it. The concept of a high "comeon" transmitter and several low level transmitters that can only be heard from the high place and require a lot of driving to get to them is a good way to localize a 250 mile hunt. Having a second high transmitter that can only be heard from one of the low level transmitters would be very mean. I thought I had hid T2 in a spot that was on the other side of Red Mountain and would not be so strong from the T1 spot. I erred and it was quite strong at the T1 site and everyone went from T1 to T2.

I hope all had a day (or two) of fun.