Multi-DF     Sunday  July 19th 2015

Pods Wood near Tiptree.   Organiser Richard S,  disorganiser  Roy E.   Tea at the Cricketers.

This event had been advertised as
'Silence is Golden'
but as I met up with Richard for the 12:00 test transmission there was rather more 'gold' than was ideal.

Ten Txs out there and nothing from any of them.

Some competitors coming a long way ...

What to do?

Fortunately the Txs can  be reset to default in case of a programming error but first we would have to find them!

We also had ten spare Txs BUT unfortunately only one set of spare tickets and triffid.

A very large Hmmmm! 

The plan:
We had to find the Txs and reset them.
Richard who had planted them would do his best to remember which tree in the several thousand he had planted each Tx by. Alex would play a key role as chief triffid spotter and photographer and yours truly  would 'man' the laptop to try and find out what had happened and get those little bug bytes back in order.  We would go for 'Greens' first in the large southerly part of the wood.   By 13:00 we had  FG, AB,  and I ready to go,  but 'Joker' J was proving illusive. Must get back to the start to issue DF sets and tell everyone what is happening.

"OK guys bit of a disaster BUT you have five to hunt for and we hope to find the rest and start them before the event ends.  No jokers today, off you go!"
With the pack departed ... how are we going to do this without the competitors just following us?
Let's do  R & S  first,  no one will be up there because there are no signals from that direction.

Yes here is R, no problem, run default program,  and now on to S.

Gary checking for signals at the start, photographer Alex can not only spot triffids he has an eye for a winner too.

OK R is running and that lightening quick Colin is spotted through the telephoto lens.  I leave Richard and Alex trying to find S and go to distract Colin with the usually 'helpful' DF info usually supplied by operators!

B..... where is S?   Even Alex's eyes can't see it.   Checking the spares bag we have an old non programmable 'R' Tx with us.   OK  back to R  swap the old and new Txs.   The new programmable Tx is taken and reprogrammed as  S  and our spare set of * tickets left with it.   R & S - job done.    On our way back Gary is spotted but fortunately by then we are well away from the Txs.

Y & Z are to the extreme East of the lower wood and the Txs should keep the competitors to our West as we go towards them.

After a long walk for young Alex and not quite so young Richard, who has already covered 'some' distance today, we get to Y and  Z;  nasty hides but more memorable and Richard quickly points them out.   

Yours truly at Z. Is the fox showing strain trying to stay ahead of the hounds?
Picture by ace photographer Alex, he knows a man's best profile. Damn, even my builder's bum is receding.
By 15:00 Y & Z join in the fun.   15:20 Gary is spotted near where J should be.
"Yes I have found all nine out there ... when I've posted tickets at A I'll come back and help you find J."
At 16:00  I had returned to A to monitor the final posting of tickets and ask people to collect various Txs.  I was resigned to the fact that J and the unfound version of S were lost ... a lesson learned.  Tim, Gary and Colin had 'volunteered' to collect I, Y & Z.    On my way back to the car park with A Tim phoned ... we've found J, it came on at 16:00!  What? Has S done the same ...yes!   The fog started to clear as to what had happened.
The new Txs have 7 programmable phases, the last of which is recovery transmission which occurs every day after the event at 16:00 until a lost Tx is recovered or the battery dies.  

The Txs had been started early Saturday morning, the first time they had been started that far in advance. For some reason the Txs had already got to phase 7 despite the date being correctly set. Clearly an unspotted software bug despite much testing.

The next day the problem was found, the transmission date mask had worked correctly, there would have been no transmissions on Saturday but the trigger for the phase swapping was not protected by the date mask.  It had worked previously because the Txs had always been switched on the Saturday but after the end of event time so no steps had been triggered.  Two more lines of PIC code and problem fixed .... but too late for a 'phew'!

Well done Gary - Multi-Star of the Day. Cracking performance. Bit of a Parkerfest with the old man retaining the Hero trophy.  And.. is there no end to the talent of Alex, triffid spotter, photographer and now ... presenter!

Position Competitor Handicap Joker A B F G I J R S Y Z Total Percent
1 Gary P 33 J 17 32 26 32 17 0 32 40 40 32 235 100
2 Steve S 53 J 23 17 40 40 40 0 20 23 20 26 196 83
3 Philip C 90 J 40 26 32 26 32 0 23 26 32 40 187 79
4 Colin F 50 J 20 40 23 23 20 0 40 20 23 20 179 76
5 Tim P 111 J 32 23 20 20 26 0 26 32 26 23 117 49
6 Graham D 0 J 15 20 17 17 23 0 0 0 0 0 92 39
7 Bob S 0 J 26 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 41 17
8 Roy E 49 J 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -49 0
Hero Points
Win  50,  Second  10,  Third 3.

Hero points count towards the Hero Trophy awarded to the person who is brave enough to compete with the biggest handicap (thus giving others more of a chance).

After each event those who have competed can choose to discard up to ten hero points.

Good to see that after some initial reluctance heroes are beginning to step forward.  

Full details of this unique handicapping system are here.


At the end the hounds were happy, even commenting that trying to catch up with the fox planting Txs could be a whole new form of DF but the knackered foxes present were not so sure!

Having one Tx to keep running on a  trad event is a responsibility, keeping ten operational was a concern in the early Multi-Days but since 2008 we have only had three Tx failures, and of course with  lots of Txs out there the impact of a single Tx failure is not great, so perhaps some complacency has crept in.

At 12:00 on Sunday it looked as though the Multi-World had collapsed  BUT in the end we recovered  thanks to the efforts of Richard & Alex. The system has its weaknesses (now better understood) but also its strengths.

Lessons learned:
we need more spare tickets and triffids (just in case) and visual clues established (perhaps multiple photos) to locate non working Txs. GPS coordinates were a big help but in the presence of trees they were not quite good enough.

Richard had planned an excellent event for us and he should have been taking pictures of us and Alex tracking down some very well hidden triffids .... my apologies to him for several quite stressful hours replacing what should have been an enjoyable experience.

Next Event  Sunday August 9th, probably in the Danbury area watch this space