Radio Merit Badge

Notes to help make this merit badge a little easier

By AA6J Bill Jeffrey
Assistant Scoutmaster and Merit Badge Counselor

4. How do radio waves carry information?

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

A detailed explanation of what happens inside a radio is too complicated for most Scouts. A definition of these words along with requirement 6(b) is all that is provided in the Merit Badge book for this requirement. Requirement 6b has a diagram of these items.

Receiver: Receives radio signals and converts them to audio frequencies so they can be heard

Transceiver: Transmitter and receiver in one box

Transmitter: Sends radio signals after converting the audio frequencies (speech into a microphone) to radio frequencies

Amplifier: Makes signals or sounds more powerful.
Amplifiers are inside of most transceivers, although you might add a larger one for more power if needed.

Antenna: Sends radio signals out from the transmitter and receives them for the receiver. Can vary from small whips found on a car to long single wires to large multipart beams. Size can vary from a few inches to 100's of feet long.

There are several ways ("modes") a ham can send a message. Of course you understand voice, called "phone," using a microphone. This can be sent using Single Side Band (SSB), Frequency Modulation (FM), or Amplitude Modulation (AM - not used much by hams). Then there's Morse Code, which we call CW for Continuous Wave. Other modes include packet (digital using a computer hooked up to a radio) and RTTY (sort of like teletype).

These notes are designed to help the Scout earn a merit badge that sometimes can seem a bit difficult. They are not intended to replace the Radio Merit Badge book.You will still need to meet with a merit badge counselor.

4Links about this requirement below:

Copyright Bill Jeffrey 2000-2002. Rights to reproduce and use for nonprofit purposes given.
Please do not copy this material to another web page. Thank you.

Modes and Modulation by has more detailed explanations of the different modes used in ham radio.

AC6V's DX & Amateur Radio - My friend Rod has the world's best collection of links to amateur radio information.

Last update February 3, 2002