ARDF Information for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
- Latest update: 2018-03-17 -
This page contains general information that applies to most CHCCS ARDF events.
For information about specific events, make sure to check
the main CHCCS ARDF home page.
CHCCS ARDF, spring 2018 flyer (PDF).
Back to CHCCS ARDF home.
What is ARDF?
ARDF is Amateur Radio Direction Finding. Also known as radio orienteering (radio-o) and on-foot foxhunting.
It is a sport in which low power radio transmitters are placed in the woods and competitors use directional radio receivers, a map, and a compass to find the transmitters.
Why is ARDF so great?
It is the most incredible geeky sport in the world! It has a combination of aspects that make ARDF an activity like no other:
being out in nature, doing sports, complex problem solving (eg route planning in space and time), and gaining technical expertise (eg handling the receivers, maps, a compass).
What exactly will happen at a CHCCS event?
It depends on the event type, but
here is how a standard event goes:
Participants sign in and we distribute the equipment.
We have a short meeting to go over the details of the event.
Experienced students can get on course right after this.
Then we have a thirty minute class describing how to use maps, compasses, and receivers.
Beginners then go on the course as a group with one of us and we search for the transmitters together.
Whenever someone feels ready to go on their own, they are free to leave the group.
There is a 2 hour time limit on the course.
The finish is at our main meeting place
where there is always a lively post-hunt discussion.
Who can participate?
All middle and high school students and their families are invited.
Students can go out indivudually or in teams.
Those that don't feel comfortable alone in the woods can go with one of us.
Parents and other family members are also invited to go out as part of a team.
For older students, this can be either an exciting competitive event or just a great way to spend time with family.
For younger students, it's a great introduction to being out in nature with family and a fun activity.
Registration and receiver reservation.
We have a registration page where you can reserve a receiver:
(reservation page link)
Parents, school teachers and staff, and volunteers can also use that page to reserve a receiver.
You will get an email back soon to confirm the reservation.
For questions or problems in registering, email Kelly Sears
(ksears [at] chccs.k12.nc.us)
Consider buying a receiver.
This way you will never be turned away because we're out of receivers and you'll free up the ones we lend for others.
Also, you will be able to go to events outside of school (eg BOK and national events).
Most of the ones we lend are models R3500D we purchased from
CRKITS (Chinese Radio Kits)
They each cost 47 USD ($39 + $8 shipping and handling).
If you would like to pool an order, let us know and we can save on the shipping and handling costs.
The FoxRex3500 is a $300 competition grade 80m receiver that can be purchased from
RigExpert (contact Yuri Onipko, email@example.com).
The last we checked (2017-08) it could also be purchased from
Kelly can loan you hers at one of our events so you can see what it's like.
Vadim Afonkin also sells nice receivers. He lives in Massachusetts.
We can loan you one of his to try and give you his contact information if you're interested.
What should I bring to an ARDF event?
For almost everybody, $5 and a whistle is what you will need to bring.
If you're going as a team, you only need one entry fee, one receiver, and one whistle.
A team can take more than one receiver as long as we have enough receivers for everyone.
If you have a compass, bring it also.
But if you don't have one, we'll lend you one.
Some people like a board to hold their map, others go without.
Some people bring bug repellent.
We'll provide earphones with the receivers but you may prefer to bring your own.
Just remember that they may take quite a battering if you run in the woods.
A call for volunteers!
Sporting events are a huge amount of work to put on.
Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Volunteers could help with the setup, at the starting line, at the finish line, on the course, and with cleanup.
Email Kelly Sears
(ksears [at] chccs.k12.nc.us)
to let us know you would like to help.
The more help we get, the more events we'll be able to plan.
What is the $5 fee for?
All the collected money goes to the Smith Middle School ARDF Club.
The 80m receivers cost about $41 each. The 2m receivers cost over $100.
They break and need to be fixed or replaced.
If you break one, no worries!
You can't go running in the woods with complex equipment and never break anything; it's part of the sport.
There are also batteries, maps, flagging tape, etc.
Worried about performance or expertise needed?
If you don't feel like running, walk the course and you'll still have a great time.
If you're not sure about the skills needed; don't worry,
we'll teach you.
And every time you participate, you'll get better.
So just get out there now and have fun.
Other ARDF oportunities.
The Backwoods Orienteering Klub (BOK) holds several ARDF events a year in the Triangle area (they really do spell Klub with a K).
They also host a week-long ARDF traning camp during the summer.
See the BOK site for announcements.
The USA National Championships are held every year.
In August 2017, it was held in the Cincinnati area.
We're expecting them to return to North Carolina in the next few years.
Anyone can enter - Super exciting!
Be on the course at the same time as the best ARDFers in the world.
We always have competitors who travel from other countries; most commonly from Canada, Germany, Ukraine, and China.
The Region-2 Championships are held on odd years, usually together with the USA Championships for that year.
Region-2 is comprised of North and South America.
On even years, the Wold Champioships are held.
In 2018 they will be held in Korea.
Where to look for information about school ARDF events.
The CHCCS ARDF information is mostly hosted on the islandcreativetime web site.
It's the family web site of Kelly and Patrick Sears. The main places to look are as follows:
For more information about ARDF...
The following sites may be useful:
Some good YouTube videos avout ARDF...
Video from ardf.club.
The first 1'30" are just fun and a bit corny.
But the rest of the video is the best introduction to ARDF we've seen.
Andrew Soltysik video.
There are two radio bands used in ARDF, 80 meters (3.5 MHz) and 2 meters (144 MHz).
They have quite different characteristics.
The video describes 2m ARDF but gives a good feeling for what it's like to run any classic ARDF course.
As of March, 2018, the CHCCS ARDF events have all been 80m events.
But we're hoping to add 2m in spring, 2018.
follow the orange and white ARDF signs to our meeting place.
Hope to see you there!