direction finder

direction finder
direction finding.
a receiver with a loop antenna rotating on a vertical axis, used to ascertain the direction of incoming radio waves.

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      radio receiver and antenna system for determining the direction of the source of a radio signal. A direction finder (DF) can be used by an aircraft or ship as a navigational aid. This is accomplished by measuring the direction (bearing) of at least two transmitters whose locations are already known. When the measured directions from each transmitter are plotted on a map, the intersection of the two plotted lines gives the location of the aircraft or ship carrying the DF. This technique, using the directions to two or more transmitters of known location, is called triangulation.

      Because of its early use in navigation, the DF was sometimes called a radio compass. Its use as a navigational aid has been almost entirely replaced by more modern navigational systems, of which the Global Positioning System (GPS) (GPS)—based on satellite communications—is probably the most popular because of its accuracy, low cost, and ease of use.

      The DF has also had important application in military operations as a means for locating hostile transmitters. Its use by the Allies (United Kingdom and United States) was very important in World War II for combating the serious threat of German submarines in the North Atlantic. These submarines were causing heavy losses of Allied shipping in the early years of the war. When a German submarine found an Allied convoy, it radioed the convoy's location to its headquarters so that other submarines could be sent to join the attack. Starting in late 1941, DFs were installed on convoy escort ships, as well as at shore stations. Since the submarine communications were at high frequency (HF), or shortwave (3 to 30 megahertz), these devices were known as HF/DF, or Huff Duff. The use of HF/DF is given much credit, along with microwave radar and Ultra (a project for decoding encrypted German military messages), for the eventual defeat of the very serious German submarine threat.

      HF communications can propagate to long distances via refraction (bending) of the electromagnetic waves by the ionosphere (ionosphere and magnetosphere). Large ground-based HF/DF stations take advantage of this characteristic to locate transmitters (and the ships or aircraft that carry them) at distances up to 5,000 km (3,000 miles). The purpose is for strategic intelligence collection and transmitter location. The strategic intelligence HF/DF antenna is usually a large array of vertically oriented dipoles, or similar radiators, arranged in a circle up to 250 metres (820 feet) in diameter. Sometimes two or more concentric circular arrays are used so as to increase the bandwidth over which the system can operate (each ring of the array antenna covering a different frequency range).

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • direction finder — n. a device for finding out the direction from which radio waves or signals are coming, as a loop antenna that can be rotated freely on a vertical axis …   English World dictionary

  • direction finder — A radio receiver equipped with a directional sensing antenna used to take bearings on a radio transmitter. Specialized radio direction finders are used in aircraft as air navigation aids. Others are ground based, primarily to obtain a “fix” on a… …   Aviation dictionary

  • direction finder — Synonyms and related words: Bourdon tube, Gyropilot, Gyrosin compass, HFDF, Mach meter, RDF, absolute altimeter, accelerometer, aerial reconnaissance camera, aerometer, aeroscope, air log, altigraph, altimeter, ammeter, anemograph, anemometer,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • direction finder — pelengatorius statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. direction finder vok. Peilanlage, f; Peiler, m; Peilgerät, n rus. пеленгатор, m pranc. goniomètre, m …   Fizikos terminų žodynas

  • direction-finder — direcˈtion finder noun A radio receiver that determines the direction of arrival of incoming waves, used esp in navigation • • • Main Entry: ↑direct …   Useful english dictionary

  • direction finder — noun Date: 1913 a radio receiving device for determining the direction of incoming radio waves that typically consists of a coil antenna rotating freely on a vertical axis …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • direction finder — direc′tion find er n. rtv a receiver with a loop antenna rotating on a vertical axis, used to ascertain the direction of incoming radio waves • Etymology: 1910–15 direc′tion find ing, n …   From formal English to slang

  • direction-finder — /dəˈrɛkʃən faɪndə/ (say duh rekshuhn fuynduh) noun a contrivance on a radio receiver usually based on a loop antenna rotating on a vertical axis, which ascertains the direction of incoming radio waves …  

  • direction finder — noun radio; determines the direction of incoming radio waves • Hypernyms: ↑receiver, ↑receiving system • Hyponyms: ↑goniometer, ↑radio compass …   Useful english dictionary

  • direction finder — n. df, apparatus for determining the source of a conveyed signal …   English contemporary dictionary

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