Register Account

Login Help


BSA Updates Radio Merit Badge Requirements


The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has updated the requirements needed to earn the Radio merit badge. The new requirements became effective with the publication of Boy Scout Requirements 2009. While no new content has been added to the program, the new merit badge pamphlet features lots of new information -- including color pictures and updated charts and text -- that reflects the changes in the Amateur Radio Service since the last pamphlet update in 2002. Approximately 4000 Radio merit badges are earned each year.

According to ARRL ad hoc Scouting Committee member Larry Wolfgang, WR1B, the new Radio Merit Badge pamphlet had been in the works for some time. "BSA has been replacing all merit badge pamphlets with new booklets using color graphics and more modern presentations," he said. "With attractive color photos and clear text explanations of the requirements, the new merit badge pamphlet is a pleasure for the Scouts to read. The new text is due in large part to the efforts of longtime Radio Merit Badge Counselor and K2BSA National Jamboree Staff member Mike Brown, WB2JWD. I am looking forward to using the new pamphlet to teach Radio merit badge at our Council's Merit-Badge-O-Ree this spring, and to having a supply of the new books available for Scouts during the 2009 summer camp season."

Wolfgang said that the requirements for the badge have been shifted around: "The old Part 4 of Requirement 7(b) Broadcast Radio was pulled out and placed in the main body of the requirements as Requirement 8. In addition, the old Requirement 8 (to visit a radio installation and discuss what types of equipment, how it was used, what types of licenses are required to operate and maintain the equipment, and the purpose of the station) was moved up to Requirement 7, so that now the three options appear as Requirement 9. The main result is one additional full requirement."

The new requirements for the 2009 Radio merit badge are (as they pertain to Amateur Radio):

1. Explain what radio is. Then discuss the following:

  • The differences between broadcast radio and hobby radio.
  • The differences between broadcasting and two-way communications.
  • Radio call signs and how they are used in broadcast radio and amateur radio
  • The phonetic alphabet and how it is used to communicate clearly.

2. Do the following:

  • Sketch a diagram showing how radio waves travel locally and around the world. Explain how the broadcast radio stations, WWV and WWVH can be used to help determine what you will hear when you listen to a shortwave radio.
  • Explain the difference between a DX and a local station. Discuss what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does and how it is different from the International Telecommunication Union.

3. Do the following:

  • Draw a chart of the electromagnetic spectrum covering 100 kilohertz (kHz) to 1000 megahertz (MHz).
  • Label the MF, HF, VHF, UHF, and microwave portions of the spectrum on your diagram.
  • Locate on your chart at least eight radio services such as AM and FM commercial broadcast, citizens band (CB), television, amateur radio (at least four amateur radio bands), and public service (police and fire).

4. Explain how radio waves carry information. Include in your explanation: transceiver, transmitter, amplifier, and antenna.

5. Do the following:

  • Explain the differences between a block diagram and a schematic diagram.
  • Draw a block diagram for a radio station that includes a transceiver, amplifier, microphone, antenna, and feed line.
  • Explain the differences between an open circuit, a closed circuit and a short circuit.
  • Draw eight schematic symbols. Explain what three of the represented parts do. Find three electrical components to match to three of these symbols.

6. Explain the safety precautions for working with radio gear, including the concept of grounding for direct current circuits, power outlets, and antenna systems.

7. Visit a radio installation (an amateur radio station, broadcast station, or public communications center, for example) approved in advance by your counselor. Discuss what types of equipment you saw in use, how it was used, what types of licenses are required to operate and maintain the equipment, and the purpose of the station.

8. Find out about three career opportunities in radio. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.


  • Tell why the FCC has an amateur radio service. Describe some of the activities that amateur radio operators can do on the air, once they have earned an amateur radio license.
  • Using proper call signs, Q signals, and abbreviations, carry on a 10 minute real or simulated radio contact using voice, Morse Code, or digital mode. (Licensed amateur radio operators may substitute five QSL cards as evidence of contacts with amateur radio operators from at least three different call districts.) Properly log the real or simulated ham radio contact and record the signal report.
  • Explain at least five Q signals or amateur radio terms you hear while listening.
  • Explain some of the differences between the Technician, General, and Extra Class license requirements and privileges. Explain who administers amateur radio exams.
  • Explain how you would make an emergency call on voice or Morse code.
  • Explain the differences between handheld transceivers and home "base" transceivers. Explain the uses of mobile amateur radio transceivers and amateur radio repeaters.

ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Director and Chairman of the League's ad hoc Scouting Committee Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT, called the Radio Merit Badge "a perfect avenue to introduce Scouts and Scouters to the wonderful world of ham radio. Ham clubs across the nation should locate a local Boy Scout Troop, secure permission from their Scoutmaster and/or committee to teach the merit badge and deliver an exceptional Radio merit badge class. What the boys -- and their leaders and parents -- will learn in the process is a fair amount of what is part of the Technician license exam, so the next logical step after a merit badge class is an all-out recruiting effort to get that Troop involved in Amateur Radio. They'll meet new friends and have a great way of communicating while in transit to and from the field, as well as additional peace of mind through an effective means of emergency communications while in the backcountry."



Instragram     Facebook     Twitter     YouTube     LinkedIn