Be Vewy Vewy Quiet, We’re Hunting Baofengs

By Tom Nardi

In the world of ham radio, a “Fox Hunt” is a game where participants are tasked with finding a hidden transmitter through direction finding. Naturally, the game is more challenging when you’re on the hunt for something small and obscure, so the ideal candidate is a small automated beacon that can be tucked away someplace inconspicuous. Of course, cheap is also preferable so you don’t go broke trying to put a game together.

As you might expect, there’s no shortage of kits and turn-key transmitters that you can buy, but [WhiskeyTangoHotel] wanted to come up with something that could be put together cheaply and easily from hardware the average ham or hacker might already have laying around. The end result is a very capable “fox” that can be built in just a few minutes at a surprisingly low cost. He cautions that you’ll need a ham license to legally use this gadget, but we imagine most people familiar with this particular pastime will already have the necessary credentials.

The heart of this build is one of the fairly capable, but perhaps more importantly, incredibly cheap Baofeng handheld radios. These little gadgets are likely familiar to the average Hackaday reader, as we discussed their dubious legal status not so long ago. At the moment they are still readily available though, so if you need a second (or third…), you might want to pull the trigger sooner rather than later.

At any rate, in the setup that [WhiskeyTangoHotel] has outlined, the Baofeng radio is connected up to an MP3 player which is loaded up with a recording of your message and FCC callsign that plays in a loop. An Arduino and a relay module are then used to key the transmitter automatically by grounding out the microphone connector. As it so happens, the lanyard mount on the Baofeng is a convenient ground point and allows you to hook the whole thing up quickly with alligator clips.

If you’re looking for something a little more compact, we’ve previously covered a very nice wearable transmitter which can be used for fox hunting. We’ve even seen a gutted FRS radio stuck into a rocket if you want to take your hunt to the next level.