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Hunting for Foxes at the University of Michigan

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Hunting for Foxes at the University of Michigan

Michael Fluegemann, KE8AQW, ARRL LIfe Member

28 May 2021

 In the May/June 2021 issue of On the Air, Michael wrote about foxhunting’s popularity with the University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club, W8UM. Here, he delves a little deeper into what it takes to put on a foxhunt.

Like many university clubs, the University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club, W8UM, had a rough year in 2020 because of pandemic restrictions. We were not able to meet in person for most of the year, which meant we could not get together for our usual operating events and annual contests. With the 2019-2020 school year quickly ending, we decided to hold a foxhunt for our students. Because the foxhunt takes place outside, we felt it was a relatively safe activity for our club members to participate in.  

Our club had two “foxes” (transmitters) that were made a few years ago by student members. We also had Yagi antennas made from tape measures, and 4 MHz crystal attenuators. W8UM is fortunate to have the support of many community members, and many of them offered us spare radios and antennas to use. Our biggest challenge was making sure we had the proper connectors for each set. The other trick was to make sure each radio had a reliable S-meter, so we could find the direction with highest signal.  

On the day of the event, five students showed up — including two who were not members — as well as two community members. None of the other students had participated in a foxhunt before, so we started the event by showing them how to hunt for the signal with the least amount of static and highest signal on the S-meter. I also showed them how to use the offset attenuators. Eventually everyone found the first fox. For the second fox, I let everyone explore more independently.  

After everyone found both foxes, we went to the club shack and showed the new students our radios and antennas. We also provided them info on how to become licensed amateur operators (students can test for free through the Greater Los Angeles Amateur Radio Group VEC). Overall, everyone had a great time — we’re looking forward to the next one!

  I highly encourage other university or student clubs to explore foxhunting. There are many resources online on how to build the tape-measure Yagi antennas, the attenuators, and the foxes. Some of my favorites are:

  Tape-measure Yagi design

  Attenuator circuit schematic

  Fox radio Arduino beacon code 

The students will have a blast trying to beat their friends to find the fox first, and it can be a great recruiting opportunity. If anyone needs help, please reach out to the University of Michigan club at Go Blue!  


ARRL Resources for Learning More

ARRL Operating Manual, Everything for the Active Ham Radio Operator

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