radio direction finding

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radio direction finding

[′rād·ē·ō di′rek·shən ‚fīnd·iŋ]
A procedure for determining the bearing at a receiving point of the source of a radio signal by observing the direction of arrival of the wave front.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Radio Direction Finding


a type of direction finding in which the direction to a source of radio waves is determined by means of radio direction finders.

A radio direction finder consists of an antenna-feeder system, which is used to receive the radio waves propagating from the object on which a bearing is being taken, and a receiving indicator. Alternating electromotive forces are induced in the antenna-feeder system by the received waves, and, depending on the method employed, the amplitudes of the induced signals may be compared or the phase differences may be measured. This provides information regarding the angles between the direction to the object and given reference planes. In universal (two-coordinate) direction finders, both angles that determine the bearing are measured. In the azimuthal type, only one of the angles (the azimuth) is obtained; this method is employed in maritime navigation.

Depending on the extent to which the measurements are automated and the method of indicating the bearing, the following types of radio direction finders are recognized: the nonauto-matic (aural) type, with indications for the minimum or maximum audibility of the signals from the object; the semiautomatic (visual) type, with a pointer indicator or an oscilloscope display; and the automatic type, with a digital readout of the measured parameters.

Radio direction finding with two direction finders separated by a sufficiently great distance (such that the bearings to the radio source differ by no less than 30°) is capable of determining the position of an object from the intersection of the two bearings. Radio direction finding may also employ two or more sources of radio waves, for which bearings may be computed simultaneously or with short intervals between. This makes it possible to determine the position of the object from which the measurements are being made.

The phenomenon of directivity in radio reception, which is a characteristic of most antenna types and which is the basis of the amplitude method of radio direction finding, was noted by A. S. Popov. The invention of the loop antenna led to the development of the first radio direction finders. The Soviet scientists B. A. Vvedenskii, M. V. Shuleikin, and others have made important contributions to the theoretical and practical development of radio direction finding. The technique is employed extensively in maritime, air, and space navigation and in electronic reconnaissance, radio astronomy, and meteorology.


Kukes, I. S., and M. E. Starik. Osnovy radiopelengatsii. Moscow, 1964.
Vartanesian, V. A., E. Sh. Goikhman, and M. I. Rogatkin. Radiopelengatsiia. Moscow, 1966.
Smirnovskii, A. F. Radionavigatsionnye sredstva. (Kurs korablevozhdeniia, vol. 5, book 5.) Leningrad, 1967.
Mezin, V. K. Aviomaticheskie radiopelengatory. Moscow, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

radio direction finding

A radio location in which only the direction of a station is determined by means of its emissions. The system consists essentially of a loop aerial superimposed with a selsyn system to remove 180° ambiguity. See radio compass.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
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