ARRL and BSA, Finally Together

The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and Boy Scouts of America (BSA) published a memorandum of understanding where the ARRL will help with some merit badge requirements and get access to more young people for a dangerously-aging amateur radio population.

Let’s hope this project is more forward-looking than the new ARRL electronic kits which debuted with Morse Code practice oscillator.

The BSA was an early participant in radio technology, awarding 100 Wireless Telegraphy merit badges in 1919, even though amateur radio operation was just emerging from a wartime ban.

The earliest merit badge requirements I can find are from a 33rd printing “Revised First Edition” of the Handbook for Boys (Dec. 1940). By this time, the badge had been renamed the Radio merit badge. The current Radio merit badge requirements are pretty involved, though not especially difficult. I’ve taught a class on it twice. It is fairly straightforward to finish the badge in a six hour class.

Here is the 1940 version.


To obtain this Merit Badge, a Scout must:

  1. Receive and send correctly a straight text at not less than five words (25 letters) per minute.
  2. Know what, if any, licenses are required by Federal Law for the operation of (a) a receiving station; (b) a transmitting station.
  3. Know at least five of the most frequently used “Q” signals. Explain the meaning of each.
  4. (a) Draw a wiring diagram of a complete receiving set for use on short wave with vacuum tube detector and one stage amplifier. Use correct symbols and show all essential apparatus, including antenna and telephones. Describe each detail of apparatus and explain briefly the use of each. (b) Using the above diagram, explain how this receiving set could be made to operate also as a miniature transmitter.
  5. Construct a working receiving set and demonstrate its operation by receiving signals from at least ten different stations.
  6. Explain how to install an antenna for use in receiving equipment and how to ground it properly and protect it against lightning and power wires.

NOTE: The holding of a first grade amateur operator’s license and a regular or special amateur station license will exempt the holder from examination on all requirements above except 4. (a) and (b) and 5. Such licenses must be in force at the time that the Badge is awarded.


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