Radio Orienteering

Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF)

Welcome to Radio-O.  Here is how it works! We provide a radio receiver with a directional antenna, an orienteering map, a compass, and a finger stick. By pointing the antenna and listening to the signal you can determine the direction of the signal.  Using this information you navigate to the transmitter and punch in with your finger stick. Only the start and finish are marked on the map and it is important to keep track of where you are.  To qualify as finishing you must find at least one transmitter on your course and reach the finish within the time limit. To calculate results -- first; the number of assigned transmitters you found, then; your time on the course. We offer beginner through advanced courses, Regular BOK fees apply, and Pre-Registration is required.

Latest News in Radio Orienteering

February 9th, 2019

BOK 2019 ARDF US & Region II Championships

The Backwoods Orienteering Klub proposes hosting the
2019 US and Region II Championships.


July 28 – August 4, 2019

In and around Raleigh, North Carolina. All the venues are within a 30 minute drive from RDU airport and downtown Raleigh. There are many hotels and restaurants to choose from. All the maps are to IOF standards and previously used maps will be available to all participants.

Organizer Contact Information 
Backwoods Orienteering Klub 
Joseph Huberman, Event Director, 
Ruth Bromer, Registrar, 
904 Dorothea Drive, Raleigh, NC 

Proposed Schedule:

  • Saturday: Arrival and equipment check
  • Sunday: Morning – FoxOring Practice ~3k Afternoon – Sprint Practice ~2K
  • Monday: 80m Practice ~4k, Blind ARDF Practice (sighted may participate blindfolded)
  • Tuesday: 2m Practice ~4k
  • Wednesday: Rest Day, Arrival, FoxOring & Sprint equipment check, Meeting
  • Thursday: FoxOring Championship ~8k
  • Friday: Sprint Championship ~3k, Blind ARDF Champs,
    Classic 2m & 80m equipment check, Meeting
  • Saturday: 2m Championship ~8k
  • Sunday: 80m Championship ~8k

Everyone is welcome 
We will include the youth and adult categories for all the events. There will be awards for the top  3 in each category. There are no restrictions to enter. International teams can be any size. 

All the venues are within a 30 minute drive from RDU airport and downtown Raleigh. All the maps  are to IOF standards and previously used maps will be available to all participants. Subject to  permitting these are the venues we expect to use. 
Schenck Forest 
Dorothea Dix Park 
Umstead Park 
Eno River Park 
Carolina North Forest 
Pullen Park 

$150 includes all events, banquet and tee shirt. 
Entry cost for just some events have not been determined 
A $20 late fee goes into effect 6 weeks before the event. 
You must make your own arrangements for transportation, accommodations and meals. There are  many hotels and restaurants to choose from in the Raleigh area. Easy access to I40 on the west of  Raleigh is desirable. We will announce the Event HQ Hotel when the arrangements are made. We  will be happy to assist in making reservations for our international visitors.

International participants who need invitations and/or assistance to get visas should contact the  organizers. 

November 8th, 2018

Results – Nov-4 ARDF at Eno River State Park

We had a wonderful event at the Eno River State Park. We had both an 80 m classic and a beginner foxoring course. We met at the Few’s Ford Access parking lot around 11:00 for the classic and around noon for the foxoring. It was sunny but nice and cool for running. We had 8 […]

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November 4th, 2018

Running a Radio-Orienteering Course

Here is your train of thought while running a course…

You are called up to start and given your map. Only the start and finish are shown and you need to find the 5 foxes (radio transmitters) that are out there. You study the trail system and try to guess where the foxes could be. They must be spaced at least 400m from the finish and each other as well as 750m from the start. You make a tentative plan. Then your time starts, you plug in your headphones and you can hear fox-1 broadcasting it’s Morse code signal. You run along the marked corridor listening to fox-1while rotating your radio receiver because you can tell the direction to the fox by the volume of the signal when your receiver is pointing to the fox.

Now that you are out of the corridor you stop to get an accurate bearing to the fox and draw a line on your map from where you are along the direction to the fox. The signal appears to be coming from an area closer to the finish, so you don’t head toward it, you continue running along the trail as you planned.

At the end of the first minute fox-2 comes on. Again you stop to take a bearing and draw the line on your map. By the time you have run out of the 750m exclusion zone from the start you have had a chance to listen to all 5 foxes.

Fox-4 sounds closer than the others, but it is off to the the west, in the direction of the finish while fox-3 is more to the east. You need to decide if it makes better sense to get the close one first or save it for the way back to the finish. It is a tough decision because the distance estimation isn’t very good. You decide to head away from the finish to get fox-4, and you’ll pick fox-3 up on the way back to the finish.

There is an intersection coming up where you can take a trail that is going somewhat toward fox-3. As you close in on fox-3 the signal gets louder, and the closer you are the faster the volume increases. You know you are close, but then the fox stops transmitting. It will be 4 minutes before it starts up again. You’re guessing that it is probably within 200m, so you continue on the bearing you took before it went off. There it is. You punch the control and start heading back to fox-4.

While you were running to fox-3 and then fox-4 you took several bearings to the other foxes, so now the intersections of those lines give you a rough idea of their locations. It looks like you made the right choice to save fox-4 for for later, but now you decide to get fox-1 next and then fox-4.

You are not taking many bearings now. Mostly just quick checks to confirm that your calculated locations are still making sense. Route choice decisions are now paramount. You need to get close enough when the fox is on so you can follow the heading even if it goes off.

Fox-1 comes on and you realize you’ve already passed it while running on the trail. As you run back you try to keep track of its direction and then it goes off. You use the bearing until it seems like you have gone too far and then start a searching in different directions. No luck. Finally it comes on again . Wow it is loud – you’re close. Someone else is running toward it from another direction. You see it and punch in.

You check your watch. 50 minutes. You have plenty of time. The limit is 150, but if you are late you are disqualified.

The next foxes go pretty well. You got fox-2 off cycle and lucked out because fox-5 came on just as you got close. All that is left is to get to the finish. You adjust your frequency to the finish beacon which thankfully stays on all the time. You decide on a route and run toward the finish. You see the control at the beacon, punch it, and run in to the finish.

October 25th, 2018

Open Radio-O/ARDF event at Eno River, Sun. Nov-4.

We will have an 80 m classic ARDF event at the Eno River State Park Few’s Ford Access on Sunday, Nov 4. For more information about Radio-O/ARDF, see the BOK ARDF page. Starts 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. We will have a class starting at noon. The course closes at 3:00 PM. Remember there is a $5 fee if you need to rent a receiver. We will also have a short (2.1 km) foxoring course. That course will not open until noon.

Open event with pre-registration: Newcomers welcome — you don’t have to be a BOK member. Please pre-register so we know how many maps to print. Soon after registering, we will send you an e-mail letting you know that we have reserved a receiver for you. If you’re not a member of an orienteering club, go ahead and choose “Other O Club Member” anyway in the registration form. Here is a link to the registration page. Don’t worry about the “Choose Course” field; you can change it when you arrive on Sunday. Groups of 5 or more separate entries may register using the group registration procedure.

Courses provided: There are two types of course, 80 m classic and foxoring.

white 1 fox 1.7 km
yellow 2 foxes 2.6 km
orange 3 foxes 4.5 km
green 4 foxes 5.7 km
red 5 foxes 6.1 km
foxoring 8 controls 2.1 km

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools: Everyone from the CHCCS ARDF community is welcome. Note that this is not a school event. BOK fees apply. For more info about regular event fees, see What will it cost? Receiver rentals are an additional $5. Also, you must register with BOK, not on the usual registration page for CHCCS events. Students in middle school will need to go with a parent if they want to search for all five foxes.

June 16th, 2018

2018 US ARDF Champs Results

ARDF 2018 US Championships A tremendous thanks to everyone who put on the ARDF 2018 US Championships. We had excellent weather throughout the event until Sunday morning when we went through a downpour getting to the 80M event, but thanks again to the organizers for clearing out the rain for the duration of the event.  […]

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