I know it's been awhile since I've posted here, and there are quite a few topics I have to catch up on. However, I did want to write briefly about an interesting international competition currently underway in Saugus. The 2009 ARDF World Championship is being held in Breakheart Reservation and Blue Hills Reservation. This is the first time it has ever been held in Massachusetts.
Amateur Radio Direction Finding (also called Radio Orienteering, Radio Foxhunting, and Transmitter Hunting) is an interesting sport that at the highest competitive level combines physical fitness, outdoors skills, radio knowledge, and electronics abilities. Each competitor uses a handmade antenna to track a number of hidden transmitters. (There are five such transmitters hidden in Breakheart today.) The better the skill with which the antenna is made (that is, the more one understands attenuation, directionality, etc. and how to apply them in practice) the easier it will to find and track a transmitter. The more quickly one can move through a natural environment while avoiding undesirable local flora and fauna (watch out for the poison ivy in Breakheart) the faster one will be able to get to a transmitter once it has been located. The fastest overall times win. It is organized by the IARU.
The sport has traditionally been more popular in Europe (where it originated) and Asia than in the Americas, but it has a fairly strong local following, with all of North America being grouped into IARU Region II.
The organizers are approachable and eager to spread knowledge of their sport. In wandering around there this morning I exchanged a few words with participants from Europe and Asia as well as the U.S.. I'd remind everyone to (obviously) not bother competitors during the timed trials, but certainly do feel free to give them a few words of encouragement before their competition and show them that we Saugonians are generally friendly folk.