Getting Started in ARDF

Your First Equipment

de Dale Hunt WB6BYU es Ken Harker WM5R

Looking at the Equipment pages of this web site, there are many different options. What is best for a beginner? If there is a local group that hunts regularly, they may have some equipment that you can borrow at the beginning. Ask people with different equipment if you can listen to it. See how it feels in your hand, and how easy it is to use. Ask the other hunters why they like the equipment they are using.

The typical two meter ARDF receiver consists of a short hand-held yagi antenna with two or three elements, and a dedicated receiver and attenuator, often mounted on the antenna boom. A short yagi with a boom of ~50 cm (~20") is small enough to carry through the woods, and can be designed to have a clean pattern for direction finding. Many ARDF enthusiasts build these antennas out of inexpensive steel tape measure material that can survive rough treatment in the woods. Two meter receivers can be everything from an HT with an external attenuator, to a dedicated ARDF receiver with built-in ARDF features like automatic attenuation, audio S-meters, and more. In the Americas, most ARDF competitions on two meters use FM transmitters, so having an FM receiver is important.

If you are just starting out, and you already have a two meter receiver, the least expensive way to proceed is to build a tape measure yagi and an offset attenuator. A tape measure yagi can be built with the steel tape from a cheap tape measure and some inexpensive pieces of PVC tubing. An battery-powered offset attenuator can be built from a few parts and mounted on the boom of the antenna. If you find that you enjoy the sport, you can later replace the offset attenuator and two meter receiver with a dedicated ARDF receiver for two meters.

The typical 80 meter ARDF receiver consists of a hand-held CW receiver with a magnetic loop antenna or a ferrite rod antenna attached to it. Most simple CW or SSB receiver circuits for 80 meters will work for ARDF. Magnetic loop and ferrite rod antennas produce a bi-directional pattern, with two symmetrical nulls. Using an additional sense antenna (a small vertical whip) can change the pattern to a cardiod shape with a single (but less sharp) null. Most ARDF receivers for 80 meters use a momentary contact switch to engage the sense antenna when needed.


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Last updated: 8 May 2020