Radio O

Last edited: 06th Aug 2013

Location information

Mini extract  of Culbin Forest, Credit:John M

Radio Orienteering



I would like to thank all of you for coming to the Radio Orienteering event. It was a bit of an experiment to see whether people would be interested in trying Radio-O at a multi-day orienteering event. With hindsight it seems that the competing attractions on Rest Day, and the fact that some people actually wanted to take a much needed rest, meant that it attracted fewer people than I had hoped for. As it was, there were times when our resources were a bit stretched.

For those of you who have not tried Radio Orienteering before it is a steep learning curve to use the equipment and to find out what the competition actually entails. I was rather optimistic in thinking that more people would have read some of the information on the S6D web-site about Radio Orienteering and would arrive fully briefed! On the day there was a lot to tell you, and some signs to read, and it appears some of it might have been missed. I apologise if this spoiled your enjoyment.

The Practice Course seemed to work well as it gave people a chance to find a control without too much difficulty - not something everybody achieves at their first event!
The Main competition was based on the classic Radio Orienteering format using 5 transmitters on a 5 minute cycle which is much more challenging.
A Beacon control is often used as a safety feature so that everyone can find the finish and is normally made a compulsory last control to ensure that competitors approach the finish from the same direction. For this event I thought it would also be useful to have a Beacon to help with training but to simplify things I decided to make it an optional control for the competition.
This meant that 3 different frequencies were in use. The tuning knob on the Chinese receivers is rather coarse and it is not easy to ensure that they are tuned to the correct frequency. To the inexperienced ear the radio signals on each frequency can all sound very similar. The intention was that the Practice transmitters would be programmed to have a different sound compared to the others, to aid their indentification, but when I got them a week before the event I found out that this had not been implemented. I now think that it would have simplified things to have omitted the Beacon altogether and relied on the Practice transmitters to enable people to find the finish if lost.

At a typical event the time limit for the main courses would be 120 or 150 minutes so I knew a 60 minute limit would be really challenging. The 60 minute time limit was there because I wanted to have the option to use each receiver at least twice if demand warrented this. I was impressed that the winner of the longest course managed to find all 5 controls in the allotted time.
I hoped that everyone would clear their SI cards, punch the Start and Finish and download for the Practice and Main event. It seems some of these steps were missed so the results are somewhat incomplete but I think that at least 25 to 30 people gave it a try.

I have learnt a lot from this event but I would really appreciate some feedback, good or bad, which could help to improve the development of the sport.
email: johnmarriott at gmail dot com substituting @ for ' at ' and . for ' dot '

Click this link for
UK Radio Orienteering - Information, results and forthcoming fixtures
A Radio Orienteering event usually takes place in SE England or the Midlands each month. It appears that the fixtures list has not been finalised for the rest of 2013 so check back soon if you are interested.
Newcomers are always welcome but it is a good idea to contact the organiser to ensure that receivers are available to borrow.

John Marriott: Organiser and Planner

Pre-event details

This is the first opportunity to experience Radio Orienteering at a major UK Orienteering event. This is a well established sport in the former Eastern Bloc countries and China where it has been supported by the military. The competitor age, gender and fitness profile is similar to foot-O. It uses normal foot-O maps but there are no controls marked on the map. The location of the controls is determined by using a small hand held radio to work out the direction to a hidden transmitter located next to each control. No special technical skills are required; just the ability to use the information provided by the radio in conjunction with all your other orienteering skills. More details about Radio Orienteering can be found here


Car park is the same as the Trail-O.  Culbin Forest, Wellhill car park. Grid ref: NH997614. Signed with brown signs ‘Culbin Forest’ from the A96 just west of Forres or just east of Brodie.  Note that this is NOT the same car park as used for Day 3.

A £2 parking charge is payable.  Toilets, including a disabled unit, are available in the car park.


Small hand held receivers and headphones will be available to borrow and instruction in their use will be provided. You will probably find it helpful to mark bearings on the map so please bring a pen or other writing instrument that will work on the map even if it is wet.


Entries are EOD but please register your interest AS SOON AS POSSIBLE so that map numbers can be determined and printed before the organiser sets off for Scotland! Please send an email before the 25th July  to John Marriott stating your Name, Age class, SI card number and preferred start period (early, middle or late). About 30 radio receivers will be available to loan and these can be recycled several times if demand is spread throughout the event period. If you turn up on the day you may still be able to have a go but this cannot be guaranteed. If you have not registered an interest by the 25th but subsequently decide you would like to compete it would still be helpful to let the organiser know in advance.

Registering an interest is not a commitment to enter on the day.  Fees are £6 adults, £2 children.


Follow signs to the Radio Orienteering from the North corner of the car park. Note the Trail-O is also signed from this point but in a different direction.  The Start is adjacent to the Registration tent.


Culbin Forest, 1:7500 updated 2013. 2.5m contours, A4 size printed on waterproof paper.


The main course will have 5 controls to find in any order within 1 hour with an optimum distance of about 4km. Competitors can choose to do a shorter course which involves searching for only a specified 3 of the 5 controls. Please observe the time limit so that the radios can be recycled. Positions will be determined based on the number of controls found then by time. Competitors taking over 1 hour will be ranked lower than any competitors who finish within the time limit. There will also be a short practice course close to the start finish which competitors can try before they start the main course.

Controls and Timing 

Controls will use normal orienteering kites on stakes. SI timing will be used. Please bring your SI Card. There will be a very limited number of SI cards available to hire for £1. (£30 if lost). If you do not own an SI card please try to borrow one from someone else.


From 10.00 to 13.00. (Don’t forget the 1 hour time limit).


All competitors must go back to the Registration tent to download their SI card after they finish.
A first aid kit will be available at Registration.
All participants take part at their own risk.


Planner and Organiser: John Marriott

Categorized under: Competition Rest day

Jump to: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6


Nearest town: Forres
Postcode: IV36 2TL
Grid Ref: NH983593
Latitude: 57.61244
Longitude: -3.70438
Google Map (aerial)
Bing Map (OS)

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