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Resources include the Radio merit badge worksheet in PDF format Adobe Acrobat PDF and Word format Microsoft Word DOC document, links, and cross-references to related badges and awards.
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Radio merit badge
Status: Elective
Created: 1923
Replaced: Wireless
BSA Advancement ID: 093
Requirements revision: 2018
Latest pamphlet revision: 2017


Radio is a way to send information, or communications, from one place to another. Broadcasting includes both one-way radio (a person hears the information but can't reply) as well as two-way radio (where the same person can both receive and send messages).

Radio merit badge requirements

  1. Explain what radio is. Then discuss the following:
    a. The differences between broadcast radio and hobby radio
    b. The differences between broadcasting and two-way communications
    c. Radio call signs and how they are used in broadcast radio and amateur radio
    d. The phonetic alphabet and how it is used to communicate clearly
  2. Do the following:
    a. Sketch a diagram showing how radio waves travel locally and around the world.
    b. 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.
    c. Explain the difference between a distant (DX) and a local station.
    d. Discuss what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does and how it is different from the International Telecommunication Union.
  3. Do the following:
    a. Draw a chart of the electromagnetic spectrum covering 300 kilohertz (kHz) to 3,000 megahertz (MHz).
    b. Label the MF, HF, VHF, UHF, and microwave portions of the spectrum on your diagram.
    c. 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, receiver, amplifier, and antenna.
  5. Do the following:
    a. Explain the differences between a block diagram and a schematic diagram.
    b. Draw a block diagram for a radio station that includes a transceiver, amplifier, microphone, antenna, and feed line.
    c. Discuss how information is sent when using amplitude modulation (AM), frequency modulation (FM), continuous wave (CW) Morse Code transmission, single sideband (SSB) transmission, and digital transmission.
    d. Explain how NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) can alert you to danger.
    e. Explain how cellular telephones work. Identify their benefits and limitations in an emergency.
  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.
  9. Do ONE of the following: (a OR b OR c OR d)
    a. Amateur Radio
    1. 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.
    2. Explain differences between the Technician, General, and Extra Class license requirements and privileges. Explain who administers amateur radio exams.
    3. Explain at least five Q signals or amateur radio terms.
    4. Explain how you would make an emergency call on voice or Morse code.
    5. Explain the differences between handheld transceivers and home "base" transceivers. Explain the uses of mobile amateur radio transceivers and amateur radio repeaters.
    6. Using proper call signs, Q signals, and abbreviations, carry on a 10-minute real or simulated amateur radio contact using voice, Morse code, or digital mode. (Licensed amateur radio operators may substitute five QSL cards as evidence of contacts with five amateur radio operators.) Properly log the real or simulated ham radio contact, and record the signal report.
    b. Radio Broadcasting
    1. Discuss with your counselor FCC broadcast regulations. Include power levels, frequencies, and the regulations for low-power stations.
    2. Prepare a program schedule for radio station "KBSA" of exactly one-half hour, including music, news, commercials, and proper station identification. Record your program on audiotape or in a digital audio format using proper techniques.
    3. Listen to and properly log 15 broadcast stations Determine the program format and target audience for five of these stations.
    4. Explain to your counselor at least eight terms used in commercial broadcasting, such as segue, cut, fade, continuity, remote, Emergency Alert System, network, cue, dead air, PSA, and play list.
    5. Discuss with your counselor alternative radio platforms such as internet streaming, satellite radio, and podcasts.
    c. Shortwave and Medium-Wave Listening
    1. Listen across several shortwave bands for four one-hour periods - at least one period during daylight hours and at least one period at night. Log the stations properly and locate them geographically on a map, globe, or web-based mapping service.
    2. Listen to several medium-wave stations for two one-hour periods, one period during daylight hours and one period at night. Log the stations properly and locate them on a map, globe, or web-based mapping service.
    3. Compare your daytime and nighttime shortwave logs; note the frequencies on which your selected stations were loudest during each session. Explain the differences in the signal strength from one period to the next.
    4. Compare your medium-wave broadcast station logs and explain why some distant stations are heard at your location only during the night.
    5. Demonstrate listening to a radio broadcast using a smartphone/cell phone. Include international broadcasts in your demonstration.
    d. Amateur Radio Direction Finding
    1. Describe amateur radio direction finding and explain why direction finding is important as both an activity and in competition.
    2. Describe what frequencies and equipment are used for ARDF or fox hunting.
    3. Build a simple directional antenna for either of the two frequencies used in ARDF.
    4. Participate in a simple fox hunt using your antenna along with a provided receiver.
    5. Show, on a map, how you located the "fox" using your receiver.

The official source for the information shown in this is:
Boy Scout Requirements, 2018 Edition (BSA Supply SKU #641568)

View the change list (history) of these requirements. The text of these requirements may be locked. In that case, they can only be edited
by an administrator.
Please note any errors found in the above requirements on this article's Talk Page.


Worksheet A FREE workbook for Radio is available here! (PDF or Word) with the maps, charts, links, diagrams, and checklists you need! Or click here to print just the Radio requirements. has PDF and Word versions of workbooks for Scouts BSA ranks and merit badges, Cub Scouting ranks and adventures, and STEM Nova awards.

Radio merit badge requires prior counselor approval for requirement(s) #7.
The Radio merit badge is an option for the Designed to Crunch, Harris Bronze Supernova, and Edison Silver Supernova STEM Nova Awards.

Requirement resources

1. Radio (in General)

1.a. Amateur radioAmateur Radio ServiceBroadcasting
1.b. Broadcasting (commercial)Broadcasting (public)
1.c.Call SignsAmateur Radio call signsFCC (Federal Communications Commission)Amateur Radio call sign map (
1.d. Phonetic AlphabetPhonetic Alphabet and Signal Flags (US Navy)


2.a. Radio Waves in the Atmosphere
2.c. DXingDX (distance) communications
2.d. FCC (Federal Communications Commission)ITU OverviewITU Website

3. Radio Frequency SpectrumUnited States Frequency Allocation ChartRadio Communications Sector
4. Modulation to carry information-animated graphicsRadio PropagationTransceiverTransmitterAmplifierAntenna

5.a. Block DiagramCircuit diagramsElectronic symbols
5.b. MicrophoneFeed Line (also see 4 and 5a above)
5.c. Amplitude Modulation (AM)Frequency Modulation (FM)Continuous Wave (CW) Morse Code transmissionMorse CodeSingle Sideband (SSB) transmissionDigital Transmission
5.d. NOAA Weather Radio ( Weather Radio (Wikipedia)
5.e. Using Your Cell Phone Before, During and After a Disaster (FEMA)Emergency Communications (FCC)

6. Electrical Safety – Including Lightning, Antennas, etc • Direct CurrentGrounding
7. BroadcastingAmateur Radio Station

8. Career Opportunities in Radio:

9.a. Amateur Radio:

9.a.1. Amateur Radio Service
9.a.2. Operator Class licensesLicense ExaminationsVolunteer Examiner Coordinators
9.a.3. Communicating with Other Hams Adobe Acrobat PDF
9.a.4. Emergency Reference Information for Amateur Radio Station Adobe Acrobat PDF
9.a.5. Radios to Go! Getting the Most from your Handheld TransceiverYour First StationRepeaters – what are they and how to use them Adobe Acrobat PDF
9.a.6. Boys' Life Morse Code Machine online game • Morse Code AcademyLearn Morse Code OnlineMorse Code Practice pageMorse Code practice files (mp3)KY8D’s Morse Code PageLearning Morse CodeUse Google’s Morse code keyboard, flash cards to teach Scouts their dits and dahsQSL Cards Adobe Acrobat PDF

9.b. Radio Broadcasting
9.c. Shortwave and Medium-Wave Listening: Shortwave listeningInternational Broadcasting (Shortwave Listening)Medium wave

9.d. Amateur Radio Direction Finding

General: Amateur Radio Direction Finding (Wikipedia)Amateur Radio Direction Finding in the Americas (IARU Region II)Direction Finding (ARRL)ARDF USAThe Art and Science of Radio Direction Finding (RDF)
9.d.1. Amateur Radio Direction Finding (Wikipedia)History of ARDF in the USA and Canada
9.d.2. Foxboxes for Mobile and On-foot Transmitter HuntsRDF Equipment Ideas for VHF Foxhunting and Radio-OrienteeringInternational Style Transmitter Hunting Comes to the Americas (includes frequencies used for ARDF)
9.d.3. RDF Equipment Ideas for VHF Foxhunting and Radio-Orienteering

Books and Other Resources

Amateur Radio

  • Alvareztorres, Al, AA1DO, and Ed Hare, W1RFI, compilers. Ham Radio FAQ. American Radio Relay League Inc., 2001. Answers to frequently asked questions about antennas, station setup and operation, and other issues.
  • Amateur Radio Today. ARRL Inc., 2003. Six-minute video narrated by former CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite, KB2GSD; showcases the public service contributions made by hams.
  • The ARRL Emergency Communication Handbook. ARRL Inc., 2005. For hams who want to help with communications during emergencies or disasters.
  • The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual. ARRL Inc., 2010. A beginners’ guide to amateur radio and preparation for the ham radio license test.
  • Barasch, Lynne. Radio Rescue. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. The story of a young amateur radio operator whose skills led to the rescue of a family stranded by a hurricane.
  • Basic Technology for the Amateur Radio Enthusiast. Alpha Delta Communications Inc., 2000. Basic electronics, a brief history of radio, and a virtual tour through a receiver. Includes book with 23-minute VHS videotape.
  • Getting Started With Ham Radio. ARRL Inc., 2006. A guide to your first amateur radio station: choosing and installing equipment, making your first voice contacts, setting up for digital operating, operating on various bands and modes, etc.
  • Hallas, Joel, W1ZR. Basic Radio: Understanding the Key Building Blocks. ARRL Inc., 2005. An introduction to radio with simple, build-it-yourself projects.
  • Silver, H. Ward. Ham Radio for Dummies, 2nd ed. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.
  • Understanding Basic Electronics. ARRL Inc., 2010. Simple guide for electronics beginners with explanations of basic electronics principles and how components work.
  • Your Introduction to Morse Code. ARRL Inc., 2006. Morse code instruction and practice for those who want to learn the “universal language” of ham radio. Includes two audio CDs and instruction booklet.

Broadcast Radio and Shortwave Listening

  • Field, Shelly. Career Opportunities in Radio. Checkmark Books, 2004. Profiles of more than 70 career opportunities in the radio business.
  • World Radio TV Handbook: The Directory of Global Broadcasting. WRTH Publications. Published annually, a guide to the world of radio including domestic radio services and broadcasters transmitting internationally.

Related awards

  • Amateur Radio Service to Scouting Award
  • Amateur Radio Operator Rating Strip - a designation worn on the uniform to identify licensed radio operators; strip was discontinued effective Feb. 1, 2016, but is still available at the Scout Shop while supplies last.
  • Morse Code Interpreter Strip
  • Aviation merit badge requirements:
    • 2.e. (Explain the purposes and functions of the various instruments found in a typical single-engine aircraft: ... communication radios, ...)
    • 4.b. (Visit a Federal Aviation Administration facility—a control tower, terminal radar control facility, air route traffic control center, or Flight Standards District Office. ...)
  • Participation in the largest Scouting event in the world is "Jamboree On The Air" (JOTA), held on the third full weekend of October, would count. About 1.3 million Scouts and Guides around the world talk to each other using Amateur Radio that weekend. Participation in JOTA could satisfy the following requirements:
    • Radio merit badge requirement #9.a.6. (... carry on a 10-minute real or simulated amateur radio contact ...)
    • Citizenship In The World merit badge requirement #7.e. (Participate in or attend an international event in your area, such as an ethnic festival, concert, or play.)
    • International Spirit Award requirement #3 (for Boy Scouts, Venturers, Sea Scouts, and Scouters) and requirement #4 (for Cub Scouts).
  • Emergency Preparedness merit badge requirements:
    • 7.a. (Take part in an emergency service project, either a real one or a practice drill, with a Scouting unit or a community agency.)
      Participation in the national amateur radio Field Day on the fourth full weekend of June each year can meet this requirement.
    • 8.a.2 (Tell the things a group of Scouts should be prepared to do, the training they need, and the safety precautions they should take for the following emergency services: Messenger service and communication)
  • Engineering merit badge requirement:
    • 6.c. (Understanding electronics. Using an electronic device such as a mobile telephone or portable digital media player, find out how sound travels from one location to another. Explain how the device was designed for ease of use, function, and durability.)
  • Signs, Signals, and Codes merit badge requirement:
    • 3.a (Describe what Morse code is and the various means by which it can be sent. Spell your first name using Morse code. Send or receive a message of six to 10 words using Morse code.)
  • Space Exploration merit badge requirement:
    • 4.d. (Discuss and demonstrate each of the following: How satellite pictures of Earth and pictures of other planets are made and transmitted.)
Science-related awards
Hobby-related awards

See also

Scouts BSA portal
Venturing portal
Sea Scout portal
General Merit Badge information

External links

Personal tools