robot contestants

Kris Mraz mraz at
Sun Aug 1 16:47:48 EDT 1993

I predict within 5 years all non-voice contests will have rules specifically
disallowing robots. Within 15 years there will be rules disallowing robots
even for voice contests. There will be special contests for robot-only

Kris, AA5UO

PS: These contests will be dominated by the newbies. OF's will
lament the end of amateur radio as we know it.


>From Peter Hardie <hardie at>  Mon Aug  2 02:48:59 1993
From: Peter Hardie <hardie at> (Peter Hardie)
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 1993 19:48:59 -0600 (CST)
Subject: We Robots
In-Reply-To: <9308012038.AA16055 at greylock.local>
Message-ID: <Pine.3.04.9308011935.C4470-c100000 at>

On Sun, 1 Aug 1993 K2MM at wrote:

> I can imagine someday being able to order off-the-shelf software, load it
> onto my PC, hook up a few cables, and away I go!  Something about that
> doesn't feel right.
Fer sure.

Jim AD1C commented earlier something to the effect that anyone could
program. I think this is wrong. If it were true, there would not be
the tiny handful of contest logging programs available (CT, NA, ??) that
there are. Everyone would have written their own. They are much easier to
write than a robot - how many of you have written (or tried to write) a
program to read morse code? In fact, the beginnings of a robot would
basically be the scoring/duping/etc. routines that are in a contesting
It is not only likely, but in my view certain, that the majority of
robot programs on the air would be written by only a handful of people. 
Therefore, a contest that permits robots would be a contest between very
few different programs. This would therefore remove the element of
operator skill as John K1MM pointed out.
But requiring some degree of authorship for a robot entrant would be rather
difficult to enforce. How do you detect whether two entrants used different
programs? What degree of authorship would be sufficient? 

The authors of the major packet BBS systems and contesting programs do not
release their code and I suspect it is highly unlikely that robot authors
would release their code either.
So a robot contest would come down to very few real 'entrants' (i.e.
programmers) operating on a wide variety of stations. Once the results of
that contest were made known, people would tend to gravitate towards the
program that scored the best overall and ultimately it would be about the
only robot operating. Kinda like having one hotshot op at hundreds of
different stations, all using the same tactics (plus or minus local condx).

However, I think there's one other facet to contesting, which John didn't
mention, that will ultimately decide the fate of robots - the personal
satisfaction of participation. *I* might get a lot of satisfaction sitting
here watching *my* program handling a contest (especially if it didn't
crash :-) but I doubt that hundreds of other people running my program
will get any real feeling of accomplishment, no matter what their score,
because *they* didn't really participate at all.

Now for a question of my own. Let's assume that you are running my robot
software in the CQWW (which, by the way, I haven't written - yet) and it
works a new country for you. Would that count for DXCC? Would it be
ethical to even think of submitting the card? :-)

73 de Pete hardie at  VE5VA  (*might* be in NAQP next weekend)

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