East Coast Multi -DF   March 2nd 2014
Woodham Walter Common   13:00 - 16:00
First try at a totally on foot DF.
10 Txs  with Roy - G4JAC
I visited several sites before this, with most of Essex being relatively flat, water was a big problem after this extremely unusual winter.  Although the paths were wet and muddy on this site if you kept just to one side of them the depth of leaves meant you could keep your feet dry, a blessing on a three hour event!

The problem was parking,  although there were lots of  access points they were all surrounded by houses. Speaking with several residents it was clear that DFers leaving cars all over the place was going to provoke hostility. It makes you wonder what planning authorities are for when they fail to provide a car park for what must be one of the largest and most beautiful public areas in Essex.

After much knocking on doors and phone calls I eventually gained permission for us to use the area surrounding the saw mill which is closed on Sundays.  However, to get people to park there meant I had to tell competitors where the site was! Over the years people have often said we don't need the long distance element - a suggestion I have always rejected fearing that, with everyone starting together, they would simply follow one another around.  However, the latest format seems pretty good at splitting people up, so I decided to give an 'on site start' a try.

I walked the area choosing locations for Txs and recording their positions on my gps equipped phone (so I could find a Tx if if failed to operate).

Using the the mill as barrier I chose its gates as the starting point.  Easy stations F and G were placed so they could be accessed on a nice flat road if the competitors went South.  Seriously difficult red Y and Z were also placed close in the hope that I could tempt some of the experts to waste lots of time there while the less experienced grabbed the 'greens'.

Yes there really is a ridge, as those who climbed it several times during the afternoon will testify.
We had been having yet more showers all week so I got up far earlier than I am used to, so as to have plenty of time to take shelter if needed during the  Tx distribution phase.  At 6:30 am I decided I better give my phone a top up charge as the GPS  sucks serious current.  At 7:00 am, blurry eyed, I left home.  At 7:25 am I stopped in a lay by to start all the Txs at 7:30 am as per schedule. Now where did I put my phone? B..... other, no Tx coordinates then, let's hope none fail - they could never be found in that wood without a signal.

I was now awake! Fortunately setting up all the Txs went without a hitch. I had modified the Maxi ATU  to cope with having just an 8m aerial instead of the usual 30m thus removing one of the most time consuming parts of the operation. I could have reduced the power but since the ERP was an unknown, I decided to leave it at the normal 6W to ensure that it would be the loudest and fulfill its duty of transmitting my callsign every ten minutes.  I needn't have worried at 1:00 pm a cracking signal came on.

In the end I had enough time to deploy a couple of training Txs on 1960 and 1930 at the start - these would also offer some jamming of the 'real' Txs should any naughty competitor try taking a bearing before 1:00 pm.   Thus masked I was able to leave the competitors with the 'jammers' close while I went to the centre of things to listen for the Micros and Minis which came on at 12:30 for checking purposes.
New to this form of DF, Stewart and Marie turned up first and I started to explain some of the meaning of the table on the right.  

Then just before the start another guest arrived, Hugh wearing his best trainers;  the combination of  the recent heavy rain and horses pounding the footpaths were going to provide some extra challenge for him!
Jokers drawn,  they are ready.  I walked them from the footpath where all had gathered back to the gates (the advertised start) - mutterings of "Why?" were heard.   Would they stop and take bearings on all stations to see which way to go?

Richard waiting for a signal.   1:00 pm  a blast of transmission from Maxi A and Rosie is off like a scalded cat after her Joker. Startled by this explosive activity many of the flock scatter, leaving  just a few planning a strategy.
Will anyone go for the easy greens via the road, Philip looks tempted but in the end also heads North.  With bearings everywhere, Stewart decides to deal with the strongest station first.

After they had all departed I began to explain how my latest creation framed in best B&Q 2x1 may help in the noble art of Triffid tracking .....
.... "That's it, follow the null but keep those nice trainers to the side of the 'path'    - mud!"

 J  is in the bag.   He's getting the hang of it .... 
             ....... steady, there's an old man trying to keep up with you!.

Gary on the path back from A.

Fearing rain, Maxi A ticket box has its coat on and a weight in case of gales.
In the end it was fine and relatively calm all afternoon.

Richard putting the boot as well as tickets in.

Stewart retrieving Maxi A, untroubled by the cool breeze!

Hugh deserves the trainer prize,  4 Txs in the bag and not a whiff of horse essence.
Position Competitor Handicap Joker A B F G I J M N Y Z Total Percent
1 Tim P 0 N 26 17 40 40 20 20 26 64 32 26 311 100
2 Philip C 40 Y 20 20 32 26 23 26 23 26 80 32 268 86
3 Colin M 0 Z 13 13 26 32 17 17 32 0 0 80 230 73
4 Colin F 40 M 11 11 15 15 26 23 80 40 26 23 230 73
5 Gary P 40 I 17 23 23 23 80 40 20 23 0 20 229 73
6 Rosie M 0 A 80 40 20 20 0 0 17 20 0 0 197 63
7 Hugh 0 * 64 32 0 0 32 32 0 0 0 0 160 51
8 Richard S 0 B 23 52 17 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 109 35
9 Stewart B 0 F 15 15 26 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 56 18
Reminder, ties are resolved by the  Maxi score (note positions 3 & 4).

Colin M and Philip were on a lucky streak, not just for being 2nd and 3rd  but because Colin lost his compass and Philip lost his new smart phone.    Yes, lucky because they were both found!   It's a DFer + age thing, I can sympathise.
At the start I reminded the group that it was my intention to keep them busy for three hours but despite Y  giving just one 30 sec and one 10 sec transmission in ten minutes and Z being only slightly more generous three people found all 10.  In other words I failed :-(  but hey, there is always next time. Would one 10 sec transmission every hour be too generous?   :-)

Well done Tim, a bold start to the year, finishing with an hour to spare.

Unusually we had three very close results,  all coming out at  73%.

Position on 02/03 HPs BFWD HPs from 02/03 Choice range
available using 
optional discard
of up to 10 HPs
Competitor's choice:  These HPs will be your Handicap Points on 27/04 in the event to win the next Multi-Star-2014.
However they count as 'Hero Points' toward the new Trophy for the DFer with the biggest ego!  How confident are you that you can carry a handicap loading and still win the Multi-Star? I am quite confident that I can thrash the rest of you but after my defeat in the Twitty Fee 'find em all' challenge the ego is just slightly, dented hence going for 43 rather than 45!  
1 Tim P 0 50 50 - 40 40
2 Philip C 40 10 50 - 40 40
3 Colin M 0 3 3 - 0 3
4 Colin F 40 0 40 - 30 30
5 Gary P 40 0 40 - 30 30
Operator Roy E 40 +/- 5 (operator) 45 - 35 43
Not present Steve S 40 0 40-40 40

Some of you may be wondering what on an earth the table above is all about?  Well 'yours truly' designed the system and I haven't got a clue what people are up to, some are  keeping HPs, some discarding them ?????????????

It could have something to do with the new 'Green Alcohol'. For years people have spent huge amounts of money purchasing  liquids which  make you walk in ever-decreasing circles and laugh a lot. Now you can do it for free, just come along and borrow a direction finding set -  but which direction?  Look into the eyes of any Multi-DFer and first first thing you will notice is that they rotate slowly in opposite directions, while the host  brain tries to compute which of 10 Txs to go for.  Sadly a new malady has struck these poor creatures; once they had a single trophy which was their ultimate goal - the Multi-Star, now they have two,  a second macho DFing prize, the Multi-Hero Challenge Trophy, this will initially be awarded to the first person achieving 80 or more HPs. After this initial award the trophy can change hands at any value, always being held by the person who is prepared to compete with the greatest handicap.

So .....  HPs  (Handicap Points / Hero Points)  count towards the Hero Trophy for the ultimate ego, while making the the task of winning a Multi-Star and more HPs more difficult.

So now there are many targets to go for.
1.  Finding your first  Triffid.
2.  Finding  all the Green Txs.
3.  Adding in some Yellows & Reds.
4.  Getting your first  'Top 3'  finish and some HPs.
5.  Winning a  Multi-Star Trophy
6.  Holding the Multi-Hero Challenge Trophy.
7.  And the ULTIMATE DF CHALLENGE  .....  winning a Multi-Star while being the current holder of the Multi-Hero.
Will any one ever achieve this?
 Rules relating to the handicapping system.

Do you understand any of the above.....   No? .... Is your brain numb? .... Yes  ....That green alcohol is working ...... QED!

For now let's stick to the basics;  how did 'young' Tim win his first Multi-Star?

The start resembled that of a triathlon; the teams set off after maxi Tx A sprang to life to get into the “water” of Woodham Wa(l)ter woods.

It took a good chunk of A’s transmission to get to and beyond the main entrance, so my strategy was to listen for non-Joker F as this would transmit next in the sequence. F’s offering got me close but in the gap before its next go I and M seemed distant but Y close.

40 points at F and G gave a feelgood factor boosted by finding Phil still at Y; but he found the leaf-hidden triffid first. A chance was missed at Z as Colin M and Phil both sneaked in first.

Maxi A and Micro B were bagged on route to the far side of the wood. I was hoping that my joker, N, would be still relatively intact. I met Colin again steaming away from M. This was another tricky find with the triffid out in the open. I expected 23/20 points for N so I was surprised it had only had one visitor, so left for I and J contented.

 I and J were routine and enabled me to get back to log my tickets just before 3 pm, and reflect on the threat Roy had made at the start : “ Nobody is going to find all ten transmitters today”
After a hearty meal at the Bell, Danbury I was pleased to hear that my efforts had resulted in a win regardless of others’ handicaps.

I had some reservations about the new style of event beforehand, but in the end I found that I had not missed the driving element. We had been able to travel to to GZ as a carload, with less equipment, and without navigation. I think three hours may be a bit too long particularly for “experts” or if its wet.

Congratulations to Roy for arranging a successful event; and for how he graciously presented the trophy to the winner !

Thanks Tim, I had been practicing my curtsy for months, so glad it was appreciated.
Did the 'start on foot' experiment work?      Yes.

There were gains:
Use of an otherwise unusable site. Parking can be organised.
Attracted more interest from outside as a result of not using the cars.
Could reduce the load on operators by using a selection of sites repeatedly and not having to erect a long aerial.
I was concerned about competitors following each other but the jokers worked well, the competitors separated and there was little 'bunching' on site.

However, there were also losses:
With all having site maps the event lacked  some of the challenge of  the normal format, although it could be argued that orienteering skills were increased allowing people to decide whether or not to use paths - if you don't know where the paths are it just comes down to luck and guess work.

Three hours was too much for some. If this style of event is used again then it should be limited to two and a half hours.  Would a two and half hour event attract those travelling a long way to attend?

In the pub it was thought that both forms of event should continue with the operator choosing the format. Over the next month I will alter the website  to reflect this. Variety remains one of the Multi-Spices.

Summary of Multi-Updates for 2014.       
  1. As above, operators may choose to have competitors start 'on site', in which case the event length will be reduced from 3 hours to  2 1/2 hours.
  2. After some reports of confusion between M,  A  and carrier periods, the letters of Txs M & N will be changed to R & S before the next event.  
  3. J S Z  now come on three times each in the ten minute cycle but for shorter periods.
  4. The Multi-Hero Challenge Trophy will be awarded to the first person winning 80 or more HPs.  After the first win it will be held by whoever is competing for the Multi-Stars with the largest handicap.

Next event April 27th             Details soon.                        Multi-DF Noticeboard