Boy Scouts doing ARDF

ARDF Now in Scouting's Radio Merit Badge

Radio Merit Badge Radio Merit Badge The 2017 update of Scouting's Radio Merit Badge (RMB) includes an option for Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) activities.  Now Scouts and their leaders can experience the fun of on-foot hidden transmitter hunting as part of their introduction to the world of Amateur Radio.

The new RMB requirements are written at a level that is easy for Scouts to read and understand. There are nine things that Scouts must do or explain to earn the RMB.  Item number nine has four activities, of which the scout must do one.  The newest activity choice (d) is ARDF.  It includes building a simple direction-finding antenna for either of the two bands that are used for competitive ARDF (2m and 80m) and then participating in a simple foxhunt with the antenna and a provided receiver.

With the publication of these new RMB requirements in January 2017, Scouts who start working on their RMB in 2017 must follow the new requirements.  Those who started working on the badge in 2016 or before can continue with the old requirements.  More information about implementation of the new RMB, as well as information about other changes in the RMB, can be found in this page of the K2BSA Web site.

The prime mover for including ARDF in the RMB has been Jim Wilson K5ND (at right), the former Director of Communication Services at the BSA national office.  Jim is also president and trustee of the K2BSA Amateur Radio Association.  He visited a training session at the 2016 USA ARDF Championships in Texas.  In talking to the participants, he realized what an excellent activity that on-foot hidden transmitter hunting can be for Scouts.  Working with Brian Coleman, KB0MAP, Jim authored the new ARDF radio merit badge syllabus.  It was was then reviewed by leaders of USA's ARDF community, including Dick Arnett WB4SUV, Bob Frey WA6EZV, Joseph Huberman K5JGH, Marvin Johnson KE6HTS, Harley Leach KI7XF, Joe Moell KØOV, Matthew Robbins AA9YH and Charles Scharlau NZØI.

The RMB is a very popular Scouting achievement, with about 7000 Scouts qualifying annually in recent years.  These revisions came just in time for 2017 National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, where an ARDF course and equipment was available to Scouts of all ages and the RMB was offered.  This new ARDF RMB activity should also encourage more Amateur Radio clubs to include ARDF as part of their Jamboree-On-The-Air activities.  JOTA is always the third weekend of October.

Cub Scouts doing ARDF

Text and photos Copyright ©2017 Joseph D. Moell. All rights reserved.

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This page updated 23 September 2023