[UPDATED 2017-01-07 @ 1522 UTC] The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have updated the requirements for the Radio Merit Badge for 2017. A new option for the Radio Merit Badge is Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF). ARRL ARDF Coordinator Joe Moell, K0OV, said he’s “really excited” about the move, and he credited Jamboree on the Air Coordinator (JOTA) and K2BSA trustee Jim Wilson, K5ND, with being the “spark plug” behind the ARDF addition.
“Jim visited a training session at the USA ARDF Championships in Texas last April and realized what an excellent activity that on-foot hidden transmitter hunting can be for Scouts,” Moell recounted. “Working with Brian Coleman, KB0MAP, Jim authored the new ARDF Radio Merit Badge syllabus, which was then reviewed by several leaders of US ARDF community.”
A first draft of the new merit badge pamphlet is anticipated later this month or in early February, with formal publication expected late this year. Moell said the new merit badge requirements, effective on January 1, come in time for the July 2017 National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, where an ARDF course and equipment will be available to Scouts of all ages. ARDF already has a role in JOTA. The Radio Merit Badge ARDF option combines orienteering and foxhunting and opens a new interactive component to this program.
New Radio Merit Badge requirements include cellular telephones and different types of radio modulation. Key requirement being dropped from the Radio Merit Badge include open, closed, and short circuits, as well as schematic symbols and components, because these are covered in the Electricity and Electronics Merit Badges.
The BSA also made some minor editorial changes and reordered requirements for the Amateur Radio option. The radio broadcasting option now includes Internet streaming, regulations and power levels. A medium-wave and shortwave listening option includes both types of listening, as well as listening via streaming services on a smart phone.
The BSA has posted a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs). Scouts are encouraged to follow the new requirements, although the guidelines may allow use of the previous requirements in some cases.