Texas ARDF: Amateur Radio Direction Finding
    What is ARDF?
    Getting Started
    About Us
    Contact Us

Rules for Texas ARDF Competitions

These rules are slight modifications and simplifications of the IARU Region I ARDF Rules used in international competitions, and should be quite familiar to most people who have participated in ARDF before.

Section 1: Categories

  1. Competitors are divided into competitive categories according to their gender and age.
  2. Categories:
    Women (W) Men(M) Age
    W19 M19 19 and younger
    W21 M21 any age
    W35 M40 35/40 and older
    W50 M50 50 and older
      M60 60 and older

  3. Competitors belong to the M19 or W19 category up to the end of the calendar year in which they reach the age of 19.
  4. Male competitors aged 40 or older or women competitors aged 35 or older belong to each category from the beginning of the calendar year in which they reach the given age.

Section 2: Starting Order

  1. The competitors start at equal start intervals. The normal start interval is 5 minutes.
  2. The start draw shall be supervised by the meet organizer. The start draw may be public or private. It may be made by hand or by computer. The starting draw shall be done separately for each band.
  3. The start list shall be published on or before the day of the competition.
  4. To ensure fairness, competitors from the same family, local radio club, or team should not start at the same time or consecutively. If they are drawn to start consecutively, the next competitor shall be inserted between them. If this happens at the end of the drawing list, the competitor before them shall be inserted between them.
  5. All competitors of a particular category shall start into the same starting corridor and at the beginning of the same minute of the 5-minute cycle.

Section 3: Terrain

  1. The terrain shall be suitable for setting competitive ARDF courses without any serious hazards to competitors and avoiding man-made objects which could interfere with direction finding activities.
  2. The competition area shall be embargoed as soon as it has been selected. Competitors may not visit the competition area during the embargo period.
  3. Any rights of nature conservation, forestry, hunting, etc. in the area shall be respected.

Section 4: Courses

  1. The Principles for ARDF Course Planning (see IARU Region 1 ARDF Rules Appendix 2) shall be followed to the full extent practical.
  2. Technical and navigational skills, concentration and running ability of the competitors shall be tested. All courses shall call upon a range of different ARDF techniques.
  3. Transmitters, including the finish beacon, shall be located not less than 400 meters apart. The transmitter nearest to the start shall be located not less than 750 meters from the start.
  4. Course lengths, when given in advance to competitors or published along with results, shall be given as the length of a straight line from the start line via the transmitters in optimum order to the finish line. For most courses, they will range from 4 to 7 kilometers.
  5. Total difference in elevation of the points on the course (including the start, all transmitters, the finish, and points in between) shall not exceed 200 meters.
  6. The course setter should communicate in advance to all competitors any additional information or specific recommendations about the competition area, including a safety bearing, through published course notes.
  7. In the event of a thunderstorm or other severe weather, the meet organizer is entitled to recall the competition immediately.

Section 5: Restricted Areas and Routes

  1. Rules set by the meet director to protect the environment and any related instructions from the organizer shall be strictly observed by all persons connected with the event.
  2. Out-of-bounds or dangerous areas, forbidden routes, line features that shall not be crossed etc. shall be described in the information and marked on the map. If necessary, they shall also be marked on the ground. Competitors may not enter, follow or cross such areas, routes or features.
  3. Compulsory routes, crossing points and passages shall be marked clearly on the map and on the ground. Competitors shall follow the entire length of any marked section of their course.

Section 6: Maps

  1. Maps and additional overprinting shall be drawn and printed according to the IOF International Specification for IOF Maps. The map scale shall be 1:15000 or 1:10000. Maps that do not meet IOF specifications may be used where no IOF map is available.
  2. Errors on the map and changes which have occurred in the terrain since the map was printed shall be overprinted on the map if they have a bearing on the event.
  3. On the day of the competition, the use of any topographic or detailed terrain map of the competition area by competitors is not allowed until permitted by the organizer. The use of a standard road map to find the event site is permitted.
  4. The competition map shall cover the whole competition area including start, finish beacon, and all transmitters. The starting point and the point of the finish beacon shall be clearly marked on the map.
  5. Unless otherwise noted, the area covered by the map issued by the organizer shall be considered the competition area. Any area not covered by the competition map shall be considered out-of-bounds.

Section 7: Equipment Used by Competitors

  1. Every competitor shall have a direction finding receiver for the relevant band. The receivers shall meet the IARU Region 1 Technical Specifications for ARDF Equipment.
  2. Start number bibs may be required for competitors. If required, they shall be clearly visible and be worn on the upper part of the body and on back and front of the competitors. The bibs shall not be larger than 25*25 cm with figures at least 14 cm high. The number bibs may not be folded or cut.
  3. As long as the rules of the organizer do not specify otherwise, the choice of clothing and footwear shall be free.
  4. On the day of the competition, the use of any telecommunication device by competitors for the purpose of navigational aid or communications with competitors during competition is prohibited. The penalty for this shall be disqualification.
  5. GPS devices may be permitted on course if and and only if such devices are used for route recording and cannot be used for navigational purposes. All such GPS devices should be approved by the organizer before competition start.

Section 8: Punch Cards and Marking Devices

  1. The punch card together with the competition map shall be handed out to the competitors 10 minutes prior to his/her start at the latest.
  2. When non-electronic systems are used, competitors are allowed to prepare the punch card, e.g. by writing on it, by reinforcing it or by putting it into a bag, but not by cutting off parts of the card.
  3. When electronic punching systems are used, competitors must have the opportunity to clear and check their electronic punch devices before the start.
  4. Competitors shall be responsible for marking their punch card at each transmitter using the marking device provided. They are responsible for correct markings which must be clearly identifiable.
  5. Missing or unidentifiable control marks shall not be considered, unless it can be established with certainty that the competitor visited the transmitter and that the mark missing or unidentifiable is not the competitor's fault.
  6. When systems with visible punch marks are used, at least a part of the marking must be in the appropriate box for this transmitter or in an empty reserve box. One mistake per competitor is acceptable, e.g. marking outside the correct box or jumping one box, provided all markings can be identified clearly. A competitor who attempts to gain advantage by inaccurate marking may be disqualified.
  7. Competitors who lose their punch cards shall be disqualified.

Section 9: Start

  1. At the discretion of the event organizer, competitors may be required to submit their receivers to impound before the event start. If this requirement has been announced in advance, competitors shall place their receivers at the point indicated to them by the organizers upon arrival at the event location. All transmitters shall remain silent until collection of the receivers is completed.
  2. At competitions without a specified equipment impound requirement, competitors may not turn on power to their receiver equipment until a start official indicates it is appropriate to do so.
  3. Any competitor attempting to listen to the transmitters before a start official indicates that they may do so is subject to disqualification.
  4. The following information shall be published in advance of the meet and/or shown on a special board at the start area:
    • Time limit
    • Transmitter frequencies
    • Starting list
    • First start time
  5. The following shall be available at the start area for competitors to examine:
    • Sample of the orienteering control flag and marking device
    • Clock showing the official time of the competition
  6. The start shall be organized with a pre-start before the time start. The competitors' names shall be called or displayed when they need to enter the pre-start. Beyond the pre-start, only starting competitors, course officials, or others (such as media representatives) authorized and guided by the organizer are allowed.
  7. Competitors shall enter the pre-start area TEN MINUTES before their own start. If receivers have been impounded for the event, they shall be returned to the competitors. If punch cards have not already been issued to the competitors, they will be given to competitors at this time. Competitors receive their maps at this time.
  8. The start shall be organized so that later competitors and other persons cannot see the maps and the route choices of the starters.
  9. When the starting signal is given, competitors may switch on their receivers and shall run along the starting corridor. Reaching the end, they shall start searching for the hidden transmitters. Competitors shall not stop in the starting corridor except for a receiver malfunction.
  10. Competitors, who find out a failure of their receiver, may return within their own running time to the starting line and take up a spare receiver (if available) or receive other assistance from the referee. It is strictly forbidden to give or take any assistance to or from any person except referees.
  11. The starting corridor shall not be longer than 250 meters. Ideally, the end of each corridor shall not be visible from the start area. The terrain at the end of the starting corridors should offer normal runnability. The end of the starting corridor shall be clearly marked with a start triangle.
  12. Competitors who are late for their start time through their own fault shall be permitted to start. The starting referee shall determine at which time they may start which shall be as soon as possible but under consideration of the possible influence on other competitors. These late competitors shall be timed, however, as if they had started at their original start time.
  13. Competitors being late for their start time because of a fault of the organizer shall be given a new start time.

Section 10: Transmitters

  1. Transmitters shall meet the IARU Region 1 Technical Specifications for ARDF Equipment if possible. Use of FM mode transmitters is permitted.
  2. The antenna installation shall not be changed during the competition.
  3. All transmitters including the finish beacon shall be well audible during the whole competition from the starting point, using a receiver of average sensitivity. All transmissions shall be monitored by the organizer.
  4. Transmitters begin to operate before the first start time. Transmitters shall remain operating until the end of the time limit of the last competitor. The finish beacon transmitter shall remain operating until all competitors have finished.
  5. Transmitters shall operate on each band in the following sequence:
    finish beacon sending code MO continuously...
    transmitter No.1 sending code MOE in the first minute...
    transmitter No.2 sending code MOI in the second minute...
    transmitter No.3 sending code MOS in the third minute...
    transmitter No.4 sending code MOH in the fourth minute...
    transmitter No.5 sending code MO5 in the fifth minute...
    ...during the 5-minute cycle, starting at 0:00. Transmitter identification will be made at the end of each active minute.
  6. Transmitters shall be searched for by each category as follows:
    • W19 category shall not be scored for transmitter No. 2 (MOI)
    • W21 category shall not be scored for transmitter No. 4 (MOH)
    • W35 category shall not be scored for transmitter No. 1 (MOE)
    • W50 category shall not be scored for two transmitters defined by the siting referee.
    • M21 category shall search all transmitters.
    • M19 category shall not be scored for transmitter No. 3 (MOS)
    • M40 category shall not be scored for transmitter No. 5 (MO5)
    • M50 category shall not be scored for transmitter No. 2 (MOI)
    • M60 category shall not be scored for two transmitters defined by the siting referee.
  7. The order in which competitors search for and discover the transmitters is entirely at their discretion.
  8. The finish beacon shall be placed at the entrance of the finish corridor. It has no flag or marking device and need not be discovered and registered.
  9. Transmitters No.1 through 5 shall be marked by a standard orienteering control flag consisting of three squares 30 x 30 cm arranged in a triangular form. Each square shall be divided diagonally, one half being white and the other orange or red.
  10. The flag shall be close to the transmitter antenna but not further away than 4 meters. The flag shall be visible to competitors when they reach the immediate transmitter area.
  11. There shall be a marking device in the immediate vicinity of each flag.
  12. Each transmitter must be easily recognizable by its code number (one to five), which shall be fixed to the flag for easy identification by the competitors. In case of competitions with transmitters working on two different frequency bands there must be another clear sign indicating the frequency band of the transmitter.

Section 11: Finish and Time-Keeping

  1. The competition ends for a competitor when crossing the finishing line.
  2. The finish corridor begins at the finish beacon and ends at the finish line. Its entrance shall not be wider than 10 m. It shall be clearly marked on both sides by uninterrupted tape. The last 20 m shall be straight.
  3. The finish line shall be at least 3 m wide and shall be at right angles to the direction of the run-in. The exact position of the finish line shall be obvious to approaching competitors.
  4. If electronic punching systems are not being used, the finishing time shall be measured when the competitor's chest crosses the finish line. If an electronic punching system is used, the the finishing time shall be recorded when the competitor punches in at the finish line. Times shall be rounded down to whole seconds.
  5. After a competitor has crossed the finish line, the punch card and, if so required, the competition map have to be handed over to the organizer. The competition map may be returned to the competitor later, after all other competitors have started the course.
  6. Having crossed the finish line, a competitor may not re-enter the competition terrain without the permission of the organizer.
  7. The time-keeping system shall meet the IARU Region 1 Technical Specifications for ARDF Equipment if possible.

Section 12: Results

  1. The place of an individual competitor depends on (first) the number of transmitters found and (second) his or her running time. Only transmitters which are scored for the particular category are considered. Competitors who have failed either to find any transmitter or who have exceed the time limit, shall not be classified.
  2. Two or more competitors having the same result shall be given the same placing in the results list. The position(s) following the tie shall remain vacant.
  3. Provisional results shall be announced and displayed in the finish area during the competition. The official results shall be published when approved by the organizers.
  4. The official results shall include all participating competitors.

Section 13: Prizes

  1. Where possible, the following prizes shall be awarded:
    1st placeGold medal
    2nd placeSilver medal
    3rd placeBronze medal
  2. If two or more competitors or teams have the same placing, they shall each receive the appropriate medal.

Section 14: Fair play

  1. All persons taking part in an ARDF event shall behave with fairness and honesty. They shall have a sporting attitude and a spirit of friendship. Competitors shall show respect for each other, for officials, journalists, spectators and the inhabitants of the competition area. The competitors shall be as quiet as possible in the terrain.
  2. It is absolutely forbidden to give or take any assistance to or from any person, including other competitors, or to utilize any means of transport, except:
    • assistance provided by referees within the scope of their defined duties, as long as that assistance is equally available to all competitors;
    • it is the duty of all competitors to help injured runners. No competitor will be disqualified for giving or receiving such an assistance, as long as he or she does not gain competitive advantage by doing so.
  3. Doping is forbidden.
  4. The organizer may decide to publish the venue of the competition in advance. If the venue is not made public, all officials shall maintain strict secrecy about the competition area and terrain. In any case, strict secrecy shall be kept about the courses.
  5. Any attempt to survey or train in the area embargoed by the organizer is not allowed. Attempts to gain any information related to the courses, beyond that provided by the organizer, are not permitted before and during the competition.
  6. Organizers of the competition shall neither disturb nor detain any competitor, nor supply any information whatsoever. Any such officials or other authorized persons in the competition terrain shall remain quiet, wear inconspicuous clothing, and shall not help competitors approaching transmitters.
  7. A competitor who breaks any rule, or who benefits from the breaking of any rule, shall be disqualified.


Send comments to: Ken Harker WM5R wm5r@wm5r.org
Last updated: 12 May 2008