Since our daughter couldn’t come home for Thanksgiving, my wife and I decided to travel up to Denton for a few days to see her. Not to pass up an opportunity to go foxhunting, I packed my FT-818, stock antenna, 70-dB step attenuator, Arrow antenna (70cm elements only) and a Handi-Finder to search for “Freddy the Fox” on Saturday before heading back to Houston. Bob Romans, KI5GRN, is the keeper of Freddy and sets him loose somewhere in the greater McKinney area most every weekend from 9am Saturday to 7pm Sunday. Freddy transmits about every 3 minutes on 434.500 MHz and even has his own Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Freddy-The-Fox-109578464255677 . Although not seen for several months, there is another fox named Wheatley that is set loose in Richardson, TX (and sometimes Plano) on the weekends. More info at https://sites.google.com/view/wheatley-website/home.
After spending Saturday morning with our daughter at the Denton Farmers Market, and lots of hugs, we set off for McKinney arriving just after 2pm. I decided to start hunting on the northside of McKinney and make my way south so I could finish closer to Houston. Unfortunately, that lengthened my hunt by a few hours hunting for a signal 🙂 But I finally heard Freddy and the hunt started, finally locating Freddy just before 5pm.
Blow by blow… First stop was at the Schlotsky’s on 380 just east of I-75. Nada. Headed east on 380, then down Hwy 5 (listening along the way), then tried to head west on West Virginia St. and quickly learned about McKinney’s HUGE Christmas Festival in downtown with many streets closed off. I circumnavigated that and stopped in a parking lot just north of First McKinney church. Again, nada… Headed south down S Wilson Creek Blvd and stopped at the Cinemark and finally heard Freddy very weak on the vertical. Switched to the yagi and got a bearing just west of south. Heading east to get a triangulation bearing, next stop was the Collin Central Appraisal District parking lot and got a strong signal to the SW. Followed El Dorado to Medical Center and stopped at the Wells Fargo bank and got a bearing due West, which lead me to go searching around the shops on the corner of El Dorado & 75 – Nada but got a bearing to the SW so went looking around the Texas Roadhouse restaurant. From that location, and switching back to the body block method, I got a bearing to the SW right over Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe. At Razzoo’s I got a bearing to the W-SW so went to Craig Cr and stopped right between the Holiday Inn and Social Security Administration. Received a VERY strong signal to the south (had to kick in 60 dB of attenuation), so went walking and found Freddy behind the door to the trash bin at the SSA building. Nice place to hide Freddy for the weekend!
Although it took longer than expected, I was very happy to find Freddy. Unlike Dave Lee’s transmitters, I had no idea what to expect, what the transmissions would be, or signal levels but was happy to find a good strong FM voice transmission lasting about 20 seconds. Plenty of time to get a bearing on the signal. I only tried the Handi-Finder in a few places (Cinemark & Wells Fargo) but the signal either wasn’t strong enough in those locations to get a good tone or there was so much multi-path that there were multiple nulls. In these locations, the 7-element yagi worked better providing strong peaks in the direction of the fox. Once I was close to the fox, the body block method consistently provided better results. I should have tried the Handi-Finder again but I knew I was close and too excited looking for the fox.
So if you are ever up in the McKinney, TX area on a weekend, you might consider taking some foxhunting gear and see if you can find Freddy.
73 de John