History and Prupose of Radio Direction Finding

Radio Direction Finding has been in use been the military since the invention of radios. It is only in the 1950s, when receivers were made small enough to be easily man portable, that the Amateur Radio community started organizing Amateur Radio Direction Finding events, Over the years Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) has grown in popularity to the point that a centralized organization was needed to set standards for events where HAMs would gather from around the globe to compete.

The purpose of ARDF is twofold; to provide a venue for Hams to gather and enjoy their hobby, and to gain knowledge and practice in the skill of Radio Direction Finding. The real world applications of ARDF primarily revolves around radio interference, either deliberate or accidental. These techniques are also used for scientific research especially when dealing with tracking large animals fitted with a radio collar.

My father (Bill, WS6K) has experience with both deliberate and accidental radio interference. He assisted his local Amateur Radio Club and an FCC representative in identifying someone who was jamming Amateur Radio and Emergency repeaters near Cincinnati. A combination of stationary and mobile direction finding equipment allowed the local radio clubs to identify the location of the jammer down to what street he was on. Bill used the same skills to identify interference that was causing a fellow Ham issues when trying to use his HF radio. A loud hum was making it very difficult to hear weak contacts. Bill used a similar set up and identified that the next door neighbor had a set of LED lights that was pulling out wide band interference. ARDF is not just for fun but has real world applications for Hams outside of the fun of a Fox Hunt.

Charles Schroeder - KC8EBM