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

August 5th, 2020

ARDF August 16 at Gray Owl

Charles has again graciously volunteered to set a Classic 80m ARDF course at Gray Owl on August 16th.

We would like to get your preference for start time and your course length. Please fill out this form so we can plan the event details.

The current plan is to have the start about a 1k walk from Gray Owl and the finish at Gray Owl. The swampy area in the north of the map will be out-of-bounds so that no one gets bogged down in it. 🙂

Charles wants this to be a championship level course with proper exclusion zones and start and finish corridors. Foxes will be at 3.54 MHz, and the finish beacon at 3.60 MHz. They will be 1-Watt transmitters operating into vertical dipole antennas. There will be an electronic starting “gun” providing start tones to inform participants when they may turn on their receivers and start.

The event will be open for a total of 4 hours. The first start will be as early as everyone agrees to so we can avoid the heat as much as possible.

Stay tuned for the details.

August 1st, 2020

Gray Owl Results ARDF & O 8/1/ & 8/2/2020

Most people came on Saturday and just a few on Sunday. We started at 7am so the early birds could stay cool. Even so the humidity was so high that we were soaked setting out the 1.6k ARDF sprint at 6:30, just walking. Some people had a problem with control #10, only on Red, and […]

Read More
July 24th, 2020

Two Day Event August 1 & 2

Orienteering & ARDF at Gray Owl

Joseph & Ruth are going to host a two day event consisting of a classic orienteering event and an ARDF sprint event on the weekend of August 1 & 2, 2020. The Orienteering course will be offered on both days. The ARDF sprint is planned for Saturday, but will move to Sunday if the weather is significantly better. Check back on Friday to confirm the ARDF date.

You must register online.

Courses will open at 7am and close at noon so you can beat the heat.

The orienteering courses will be Classic Orange through Red. The course(s) will be designed so you can change to a shorter course after you begin.

The ARDF sprint will include the full 12 controls. This is a sprint, so it is short and fast. Top runners can finish it in 15 minutes. The total length will be about 2.8k. It works like this:

  • There are two sets of 5 controls with a “spectator” control between them. The two sets are on different frequencies. The spectator control is on a third frequency, and the beacon on a 4th frequency.
  • After you start you find as many in the first set as you can. To complete the course you must find at least one of the controls in the both sets. These controls repeat on a one minute cycle. Each control is on for 12 seconds.
  • When you are done with the first set you change frequency and must locate the “spectator” control which is on continuously.
  • Then you change frequencies to the second set of 5 controls and find as many as you can or want to. They are also on the 12 second on, 48 seconds off (one minute) cycle.
  • Finally you change frequency again to find the “beacon” which is also on continuously, and then follow the steamers to the finish.

Covid mitigation procedures:

  • Only 10 entries may arrive and start per hour
  • Choose the correct registration hour for your preferred arrival.
  • We expect everyone to maintain a minimum of 2m distance from others.
  • Everyone must wear a mask except when running on the course
  • We will have remote Start and Finish
  • All registrations will be online
  • Results display will only be over WiFi
  • For ARDF events we will rent receivers
    • Bring your own headphones
  • Bring wipes to sanitize the receivers before and after use.
  • We will not have beginner classes or courses
June 21st, 2020

Gray Owl ARDF & “O” 6/20-21/20 Results

As summer was about to start, we had a few cool days. Then came the weekend. Saturday, for the ARDF event, wasn’t too bad, but Sunday was definitely summer and everybody suffered. We had more DNF’s than we’ve had in a long time. We used a new area of the Birkhead Wilderness for the ARDF […]

Read More
June 3rd, 2020

June 20-21 ARDF & Advanced Orienteering at Gray Owl

ARDF June 20, 10am – 2pm:

We are planning an 80m Classic ARDF course on June 20 in the Birkhead Wilderness from a new start location at Wildlife Resources Commission Trailhead at 35.5974915,-79.8868486.  Pre-registration is required.

The precise Start location is about a 1.5 km walk from the trailhead. There will be five foxes, and a total course effective length along the optimum route of 6.5 km or less. The Finish will be at or near the trailhead parking area.

For a youth course we will have a short course using Sprint transmitters. The remote Start and the Finish for a youth course will be at the same locations as the adult course.

Orienteering June 21, 9am – 4pm

We will hold Advanced Orienteering Course starting from 1725 Gray Owl Road on June 21. This will have Orange through Blue courses including a complex section in the Rock Garden and a part of the course in the Gray Owl section we haven’t used before.

The start will be ~1k from the parking area, and the finish for the Brown, Green and Red course will be about ~1.3k from the parking area. The Blue and Orange courses finish at the parking area.

  • Orange ~3.5k
  • Brown ~4.0
  • Green ~5.8
  • Red ~7.6
  • Blue ~10.0

Registration is required, and is limited to 10 people per hour so you will need to choose your arrival time.


After you turn onto Gray Owl Road 35.6349715,-79.8754197 (there is an orienteering control attached to the mailbox on Hopewell Friends Road) drive .4k and turn left at the first driveway just after passing the field on the right.

Drive another .4k all the way into the turn-around area, turn around and park on the RIGHT side of the driveway as you are heading back out.  Do not drive on the grass at all, and do not park in the turn-around area.

Covid Protections & Procedures

Unfortunately infections are increasing so we are asking everyone to wear a face mask when in the registration / download area and hanging out on the lawn.  This is in addition to a 3m separation between people, the remote start & finish and 10 entries per hour.

  • Wear your mask when you reach the lawn.
  • Pick up your map
  • Clear your finger stick
  • Download the cleared stick to “register” at the event
  • Head out to the start.  (You can remove your mask when you leave the lawn by the house.)
  • After finishing put your mask back on as you approach the lawn and download area.
  • Download and get your splits printout
  • Results will be available on a local wifi network