BMG Engineering, Inc.    Radio Direction Finding




Ground search RDF teams must be always prepared to go on the road at a moments notice. While the most capable possible system is desirable, they take time and money to put together. From the beginning, capability should be acquired in a way which maximizes usefulness and flexibility. To these ends the following criteria and plans are put forward.


  1. From the beginning, the equipment should not be tied to a certain vehicle. That vehicle may not always be available.
  2. The equipment must always be available for handheld operations, both for training and actual searches.
  3. It must be equipment which is commonly understood by other SAR personnel.


  1. Must be able to perform all the tasks it could be needed for. Initially, these may take longer to perform than if a more complete system were available.
  2. Must be able to increase overall capability without discarding anything.


The equipment must be maintained and ready to go at any time and at a moments notice. Consumables, such as batteries, water, food, oil, paper, pencils, etc. must be periodically checked and replenished, or replaced if they are beyond their shelf-life. These activities must be carried out at regularly scheduled intervals, as called out on the operations calendar for the squadron.

Acquisition List

The minimum set of equipment is as follows:
  1. Suitable RDF.
  2. Suitable RDF Receiver
  3. Hand-field RDF antenna.
  4. Antenna-mounted compass (handheld).
  5. Batteries (plus spares) for RDF receiver, and for RDF.
  6. Handheld crystal controlled transceiver operating on CAP repeater and simplex frequencies (with selectable PL, if needed).
  7. Batteries (plus spares) for transceiver.
  8. Flashlight
  9. Batteries (plus spares) for flashlight.
  10. Street map-book of area.
  11. Bound log book.
  12. Maps of all the areas you might be servicing. Include Forestry Service, aviation, camping, topographical, hiking trails, and any other that can be thought up!
  13. A good sized plot-board, with tape for mounting maps.
  14. A large protractor.
  15. A long straightedge.
  16. A copy of all information which may be useful (such as signals used to communicate with planes, etc.).
  17. A signal mirror, to call in other teams, or aircraft.
  18. A tote bag in which all the small items will be stored until needed.
  19. An equipment checklist.
  20. Pencils.

Additional Equipment

  1. An RDF antenna which can be manually rotated from within the vehicle, or
  2. 2 Mobile RDF antennas for Front/Back indication and Left/Right indication, Mag-mounted (so can be used on any vehicle). Antenna switch to change between pairs of antennas.
  3. Map reading light which runs from the vehicle power. (Plug into cigarette lighter?)
  4. High intensity spot light which runs from the vehicle power. Plugs into cigarette lighter. Should have a long cord so that it can be taken out of the vehicle to look over the edge of the road.
  5. Binoculars with large lenses (for night vision).
  6. Spare bulbs, fuses, other vehicle items, such as voltage regulator, can of engine oil.
  7. Jumper cables.
  8. Tow cable.
  9. High intensity battery operated handheld spot light. Spare batteries.
  10. Blankets, old coat, gloves, boots, old clothes.
  11. First aid kit.
  12. Full canteen of water.
  13. Snack foods.
  14. An ELT on 121.6 MHz. for practice and training.
  15. More maps!
  16. Spare protractor.
  17. Spare handheld communications transceiver.
  18. Mag-mount communications antenna.
  19. A second tote bag.
  20. Second (duplicate) check list.
  21. Folding trenching tool.
  22. Roll of toilet paper.


Private and/or CAP vehicles should be checked out for suitability for Ground SAR operations, they should be in good working order and reliable. Preferred vehicles would be 4-wheel drive, with compound low gears, a power winch, off-road tires, a roll bar, a good off-road spare tire, and a mounted communications radio. Vehicles designated for Ground SAR should be kept with at least 1/2 tank full of gas at all times.

backpacking, Equipment

To be established by other planners.


George R. Andrews (Russ, K6BMG)
BMG Engineering, Inc.
9935 Garibaldi Avenue
Temple City, CA
91780, USA

Voice 1(626)285-6963
Fax 1(626)285-1684 (24 hour automatic)
America OnLine: Grandrews

(31 Jan 1996)

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