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What is ARDF?

Amateur Radio Direction Finding — 
An Exciting Amateur Radio Sport

ARDF competitor at hidden transmitter, 144 MHz

ARDF — Amateur Radio Direction Finding — is an exciting branch of amateur radio activities, attracting people from youngsters and teenagers to experienced old-timers and veterans. Participants of these events arrive at the spot announced by the organizer, dress the sport garments suitable for running and start in small groups to meet the direction finding adventure. Their task is to discover — by taking radio bearings — four or five hidden low power transmitters, located in a forest inadequate distance each from other. The discovery of a hidden transmitter has to be confirmed by the personal presence at the spot and punching the starting ticket. The winner of the event is an amateur who discovers, visits all prescribed transmitters and appears at the finish line in a shortest possible time.

ARDF joins the amateur radio skills like construction of transmitters and receivers, knowledge of HF and VHF propagations phenomena, antenna patterns, evaluation of strength and quality of received signals (and basic knowledge of Morse code, too!) with orienteering skills like proper using of map and its symbols, usage of compass and taking bearings and azimuths, continuous knowledge of own position in the terrain (without using of GPS satellite equipment), and — last but not least — with physical fitness and ability to run a couple of kilometers in diversified terrain, mostly wooded.

ARDF competitor, 3.5 MHz

But overall, ARDF is a pleasure of being in direct contact with nature, of breathing the fresh and unpolluted air, of joining with friends from different amateur radio clubs and societies. It is an unforgettable experience to meet — when running from one hidden transmitter to another — a deer family or lonely hare wondering who disturbs his quiet forest enclave.

Tens and hundreds of ARDF events are organized every year by the local amateur radio clubs, amateur societies and on the highest level — by the International Amateur Radio Union.

ARDF is not only a joy for its enthusiasts. It is a powerful tool for attracting people, especially youngsters, towards amateur radio. Thousands of nowadays experienced transmitting amateurs have started their amateur radio activity as ARDF competitors in a junior category. ARDF is the only amateur activity open to the public — usually, there are hundreds of spectators at the start and finish of big events like regional or worldwide championships, which are usually served by the media — press, radio, and TV. Thus, ARDF is a powerful tool of informing society on the existence and aims of amateur radio. From the point of IARU and its international tasks — ARDF is often a mean of attracting amateur societies in developing countries, leading them to join IARU.

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Print This Page Updated on December 7, 2019

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