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ARDF in New Mexico

Kenneth E. Harker (WM5R) on August 18, 2005
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The week of August 1-6, 2005, competitors from around the United States and the rest of the world traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Third IARU Region II Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) Championships. Organized by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) is the sport of finding radio transmitters on foot, using radio receiver, map, and compass in diverse, wooded terrain. ARDF joins orienteering skills like the proper use of topographic maps, compass skills, and locational awareness, with radio direction finding skills using hand-held portable receivers and antennas. The Region II Championships this year were organized and hosted by the Albuquerque Amateur Radio Club.

Photo of Competitors
The competitors at the 2005 IARU Region II ARDF Championships on the morning of the 80M competition.

ARDF is often refered to in Amateur Radio society as "on-foot foxhunting." While that is accurate, there's more to it than that. ARDF is a sport with formalized, international rules that borrow a lot from orienteering. In fact, ARDF is often called "radio orienteering" in orienteering society. Like orienteering, ARDF includes navigation across diverse, wooded terrain, always with the use of a detailed topographic map, sometimes with the aid of a compass, and including navigation off-trail. The transmitters in the woods are marked with standard orange-and-white orienteering controls (which look a little like box kites) and have some sort of punching system where the runner can record their visit to the control. The event is a timed race, where competitors leave a start area in five-minute intervals, must find a certain set of the transmitters out in the woods, and then run to the finish area marked on their map.

Twenty-nine radio orienteers, 23 men and 6 women, participated in the championships in New Mexico. California, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, and Texas were all represented. Four of the competitors traveled to the meet from outside Region II, traveling from Australia, the Czech Republic, and Kazakhstan to North America to experience ARDF on new terrain. Even though not eligible for Region II competitive rankings, they were warmly welcomed to enter the event and share the experience. Many of the competitors have been entering the IARU Region II or USA ARDF Championships for several years, and the quality of competition improves every year. 12 of the 14 members of the 2004 Team USA came to New Mexico for this competition, making it the place to be to see the very best North American athletes in the sport.

The results from these championships and the 2006 USA ARDF Championships (to be held in the Raleigh, NC area, probably on a weekend in April) will help determine who will represent the USA at the 2006 World ARDF Championships, which will be held at a Black Sea beach resort near Bourgas, Bulgaria the week of 12-27 September 2006. Each country is allowed to bring up to three competitors in each of the nine entry classes to the World Championships. The United States of America is the only country in IARU Region II that has ever sent a team to the ARDF World Championships. The United States has yet to medal in a World Championships, but came close in 2004 when Nadia Scharlau of North Carolina finished sixth in her category on the two meter competition.

ARDF is still a growing sport in North America. The level of competition improves every year, and there's still plenty of opportunity for newcomers to get involved. The Third IARU Region II ARDF Championships was an exceptional event, put on by a very dedicated group of individuals. The next IARU Region II ARDF Championship will be in 2007, at a location yet to be determined.

Complete results of the championships are available at the official event site. You can find more photos of the event here and here.

Member Comments:
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ARDF in New Mexico  
by WA6BFH on August 17, 2005 Mail this to a friend!

I think that this would be particularly fun at Hamfests!

What would be really enjoyable is to place the “Fox” on a hamfest attendee’s electric scooter!
RE: ARDF in New Mexico  
by WA1RNE on August 17, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Get ready for the blowtorch, John... it make get hot.
RE: ARDF in New Mexico  
by K0BG on August 17, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
The sad part about this is, I didn't read about it until it was over. You would think the ARRL section manager would have picked this up. After all, he does live in Albuquerque.

I'm personally not into fox hunting, albeit I've done some, but I have a couple of friends here in Roswell, who would have come up if they had known about it.

Hopefully, this will give you a heads up for the next go around.

Alan, KØBG
RE: ARDF in New Mexico  
by ARRLFAN on August 17, 2005 Mail this to a friend!

why would the ARRL help sanction an event that is sponsored by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU).

Doing so helps an organization that is taking money out of the pockets of the ARRL... be like the getting upset that the Republicans didn't tell you about what the Democrats were doing at their convention...

RE: ARDF in New Mexico  
by K0BG on August 18, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Tom, I guess I'm old fashioned. Here I thought the ARRL's self-assigned duty was to promote amateur radio in general, and not necessarily their financially-motivated political views. This said, we all know the current political status of the ARRL; at least their board's status. As a 35+ year member, I can say I'm not always pleased with their lobbying efforts or supported causes, but these aside, there are other amateur radio support avenues which need mentioning (or pursuing as the case may be). This was one of them; irrespective of any political or financial issues.

Alan, KØBG
ARDF in New Mexico  
by NX5W on August 18, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I just so happen to have an electric scooter that I can loan out to to the ARDF and Mike Pendley, K5ATM next time.

Enjoy the hunt! 73', Darryl, NX5W
RE: ARDF in New Mexico  
by WM5R on August 18, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
The ARRL had a significant presence at the event. The ARRL was one of the financial supporters of the event (as they have been for previous USA and IARU Region II ARDF championships.) The ARRL ARDF Coordinator, Joe Moell K0OV, was there as was the ARRL New Mexico Section Manager Bill Weatherford KM5FT. Not only was this the third IARU Region II ARDF Championships, it qualified as the fifth USA ARDF Championships, and is one of the qualifying events for membership on Team USA, whose participation in past World Championships has been sponsored in part by financial grants from the ARRL.

Could the ARRL have done more to publicize the event beforehand? Perhaps. But, ARDF is still a very small niche activity in ham radio in the USA, and even foxhunting in general is a low participation activity compared to other ARRL member interests. I was very glad to see Dale Hunt WB6BYU's article, "A Simple Direction Finding Receiver for 80 Meters" published in the September, 2005 issue of QST. I hope that will encourage more hams to try something new and seek out opportunities to participate in ARDF.

As for the idea that there would be some sort of conflict of interest between the ARRL and the IARU - that's just bizarre.
RE: ARDF in New Mexico  
by KZ1X on August 18, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"As for the idea that there would be some sort of conflict of interest between the ARRL and the IARU - that's just bizarre."

Yes, bizarre.

The ARRL is the Secretariat (host organization) for the IARU, much like the US is the host for the UN.

I believe the original poster may be confusing the IARU with "IARN" ... which is Glenn Baxter's addle-minded attempt at a foil to the League.

(And, not the first of that ilk; IIRC one of the late co-founders of SGC, W6TNS, tried something similar some years back, and a certain well-known W5 is no stranger to the idea, either.)
RE: ARDF in New Mexico  
by WB6BYU on August 19, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Don't forget Oregon.

Even if I have a "6" in my callsign.
RE: ARDF in New Mexico  
by W5AOX on August 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I too was disappointed to read about it only after it was over. I live in the Albuquerque area, and never saw any mention of it on the news nor in the local ham nets and bulletins. The Duke City Hamfest just occurred (2 weeks afterwards) with no mention of the IRDF at all. Shucks.
I would not have competed nor would I likely have tried to "come watch" but it would certainly have been interesting to read about on a more current basis.
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