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What would it take for your search and rescue (SAR) team to help more people in less time? Radio direction finding (RDF) technology has long been the standard in the industry, but not all RDF products are created equal. Read on to find out more about RDF and how upgrading your RDF systems can change the lives of many. 

What is Radio Direction Finding?

RDF technology is almost as old as radio transmitters and receivers themselves. Shortly after those had been invented, RDF technology evolved using the same wireless communication technologies to determine the exact location of a person or an object. 

In military applications, RDF is being used to locate potential threats, but there are numerous civilian applications, too. ELABORATE

How Does RDF Work?

In its most basic form, RDF requires a source of transmission and a receiver. Both communicate with each other through radio waves. 

In many cases, traditional RDF worked most efficiently when distress signals were picked up by two receivers. Assuming a vessel is lost at sea and sends a distress signal, one single receiver may not have been able to determine the vessel’s location exactly. A second receiver was needed to triangulate the signal from a different position and determine where those signals met. 

Modern RDF technology has advanced greatly, and 406 MHz radio frequency detectors can decode GPS coordinates from 406 MHz data bursts. They are also compatible with advanced SAR technology, including satellite-aided tracking. 

Advances in 121.5 MHz technology have allowed first responders to cut search times for lost hikers or skiers in half, greatly improving the chances of a positive outcome of the search. With user-friendly software, an Android app, and GPS mapping, these detectors measure the distance between the transmitter of the distress signal and their own position with great accuracy. 

Hybrid transmitters accommodate both frequencies. 


No matter the circumstances, every second matters when someone sends a distress signal. Using state-of-the-art RDF technology like Polaris RDF products will give your SAR team the best possible technology to support those in need. Find out more today!