When the packet spotting networks first came into being, there was a
perception (true or not) that they gave an unfair advantage to the
relatively few amateurs using them. The perception was that there was
enough a discrepancy, among other things, to warrant a separate category
(and yes, I know that wasn't the only reason) in many contests.
I wonder if that is still the case today?
The early spotting networks meant that you had to invest in the hardware (RF
& computers) to access the Cluster or similar system via (usually) 2 meters.
But today, in much of the US and in much of many other countries... yes, I
know, not everywhere and not all... 24/7/365 Internet access has become
easy, reliable, and affordable. It's just another window in the logging
program for many.
The point I'm driving at... if it is easily available to all, whether or not
they choose to use it, and stops being a major advantage (if indeed it ever
was), then do we still need it as a separate category?
The last few major contests have seen minimal (if any) operation from me,
primarily due to family and other obligations. When I was QRV, I took
advantage of having the on-line cluster at hand to look for "rare" spots.
But you know what? I don't think it helped me at all. For one thing,
knowing how often busted calls get posted, I had a tendency to listen to the
other station(s) longer (before & sometimes after the QSO) to verify I had
my information right. For another, especially on some of the "rarer" DX, I
quickly found myself immensed in a huge pileup; a few times I found similar
"rarer" DX prior to the spot, worked 'em quickly, and then would see the
pileup descend after the spot was made. And very often, the spot was being
made by someone with a directional and/or gain antenna, and I was wasting
time listening for someone who (to me) wasn't there, or barely there, or
there no longer.
So, I'm not so convinced now that having the spotting networks at hand is
neccesarily an advantage. (Band maps, you say? Maybe. If they're
accurate, especially after a few minutes, and if those spots don't have some
mini-pileups on top of them, and if the propagation is really there... if if
And if we determine in a few years that they've ceased to be an advantage...
then why worry about them? If you don't use it and the other op does, he
may actually be putting him/herself at a disadvantage!
In short, I think we're looking at the end of the "assisted" category in a
few years. IMHO. YMMV. VWPBL(STn)
73, ron w3wn
Date: Sun, 17 Dec 2006 14:11:39 -0500
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Get Rid of the Assisted Category
While I understand where Dave is coming from, I would like to look at it
from a different perspective.
Let it be said that I would never remove myself from a contest because I
disagreed with a rule so much that I refuse to participate in a contest I
enjoy. This is suppose to be fun and I have no problem following the rules.
My problem was with some ARRL contests, the ASSISTED are thrown in the same
category as MULTI-SINGLE. I strongly submit that ASSISTED and MULTI-SINGLE
aren't even close to the same category and would like that to be considered
in setting up categories.
Using Dave's example, will one of my many friends in the next room writing
down call signs and frequencies agree to operate when I get a bit sleepy at
4 AM???? Or better yet, perhaps we can each switch off at hour intervals to
keep everyone fresh.
I also submit that participants that have receivers with panadapter
capability (ability to show spikes where the band activity is) be forced to
be in the MULTI-SINGLE class because although they don't get the call of
stations, they can see where new pileups are occurring. And since
MULTI-SINGLE/ASSISTED stations always confirm the callsign (you would be a
fool if you didn't when you see all of the miscopied spots placed on
telnet), those stations are essentially receiving the same information as
their "assisted" brethren. SEE?? Now I'm getting a bit ridiculous and I will
most likely will begin to disagree on the number of angels that can dance on
the point of pin with everyone.
Spots are simply another tool in the toolbox. Other tools include 2nd
radios, enough land to separate antennas so that they don't interfere,
stacks, location, number of towers, height of towers, elements, quality of
radios, and the list goes on and on. All of these elements are used in
"real time" during the contest. Many of these tools are much more effective
in competing in a contest than spots. So why is the spot tool considered
the tilting point to drop operators using spots into another category?
It's just another tool.
I suspect if we had the same capabilities as we have now to discuss these
things, the discussion of SSB vs AM would have been a doozy and we would
have ended up discussing how many male and female angels dance on the pin!
The final result is that the person who can maximize the use all of these
tools will make more contacts and multipliers.
However, I know there will be elitist (or should I call them purist - to be
nicer) out there that will see it from a different perspective than mine.
So here are my druthers from best to worse.
1. All stations are allowed to use spotting nets during the contest and
will be considered in the same category.
2. A separate category will be set up for Non-Assisted and Assisted
3. All stations using spotting nets will be considered Multi Op (my most
Finally, I reinterate my most basic premise. Have fun with the contests.
Enjoy the hunt and catch of stations all over the world irregardless of how
you found them.
> Yes we've done this one many times before but I get worried
> when I see the sort of posting from Red K0LUZ.
> Suppose in the next major contest I'm in my shack, ready to
> go. In the next room I have set up a number of receivers,
> connected to receiving antennas. I invite some of my friends
> around and their job is to spend the contest period tuning
> the bands. Any time they find an 'interesting'
> station which they think might be a mult or of interest to me
> for some other reason, they write the callsign and frequency
> down on a piece of paper for me and come into the shack and
> put it on a pile in front of me. Would anyone seriously
> believe that makes mine a single operator entry?
> Packet cluster assistance is very similar, though there are
> many more people contributing spots and the spots go to
> anyone who wants them. But the critical point that separates
> it from all the other 'technology' is that the help is coming
> from other individuals in real time, during the contest.
> There is a choice in CQWW whether to operate SO or SOA, but
> DARC have taken away my choice for WAE. I love the QTC
> feature but I don't feel simply annotating non-assisted
> entries in the overall listing is anything like good enough,
> so I don't support that contest any more and neither would I
> support the 9A contest, or any other event which fails to
> recognise that packet cluster assistance means that more than
> one person is doing the operating.
> Dave G4BUO
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