Radiosport as a term is sometimes used as two separate words, or as a single word. It refers to the use of amateur radio equipment or the “ham”, in short, as a part of playing some sort of game. It might be group event or a single person event. It can involve other competitors in real time like a race or like a performance or achievement over a given time frame.
The contests are usually sponsored events, and can last anywhere between a few hours and 2 days, the world wide contests being two days usually. It can be local in a specific region, or may involve traveling a long distance. It can be a cumulative contest taking place over many weekends, or a sprint contest which lasts only a few hours. The rules are specific for the event and they include which stations (which regions) may participate and the like.
This is usually called radiosports. This can be any of the following.
This is when stations are to make two way contact with as many stations as possible over the longest distance possible. This is called the International DX-Contest today. Awards may be given for the following accomplishments. The “Worked All States Award” if the entrants make contact with someone from every state in the USA. The “Worked All continents Award” is given for making contact with someone from every continent. “Worked All Zones Award” is the same concept with time zones. Other awards include the DX Century Club award, and the UHF/VHF Century Club award.
Another event is an Amateur Radio Direction finding using radios. A specific number of transmitters needs to be found from a specific region in a map before reaching the end line. This relies on the athletic ability of the ham operator as well as some direction finding skill with radios.
Fox Oaring or Bunny hunting: This is similar to the previous contest but involves more short range equipment of the hams, and so it relies more on the direction finding skills of the contestant rather than the athletic ability. It’s more technical in nature than the previous contest, and the radio can detect signals only 100 meters or so away, so the contestant must locate the transmitter hidden in an area of 200 meter radius.
A more severely restricted game than the Fox Oaring is the Radio orienting contest in compact areas. This requires very high technical skills.
There is another form of the amateur radio direction finding, or bunny hunting, that utilizes transportation with vehicles over long distances. The hams have to travel in their vehicles to the specific region and find the transmitter. Whoever finds the transmitter first and reaches the finish line is the winner. A variation is that the one to find a specific number of transmitters hidden in different places first is the winner. This relies on the traveling skill, orientation skill and the equipment efficiency too.
These events are called ARDF contests, which is short for Amateur Radio Direction Finding Contests. Contests or radiosports are just a part of the hobby activity. Entering contests is not a requirement, but there are many who pursue this almost obsessively, and collect winning certificates by the dozen in fact. On the other extreme are those that are equally passionate about being a ham, but do so purely for communication and satisfaction.
The significant thing about hams that needs to be mentioned here is that the hams can and do make regular contact with space stations. Many astronauts are licensed amateur radio operators and use their radios for educational purpose as well as an emergency backup.
So what was once spanning a small region locally in the beginning now has penetrated into space! What was once only Morse code based has now evolved into greater variations involving voice, digital transmission and so on. It is exciting to see how much radio transmission has changed in recent years.