[CQ-Contest] contesting in the 21st century

Pete Smith n4zr at contesting.com
Sat Jul 26 21:16:10 EDT 1997

At 07:15 AM 7/25/97 -0700, Jay Townsend wrote:
>Pete Smith wrote:
>> Just let me register my agreement with Glenn and Cornelius.  What needs to
>> happen is for there to be a consensus about what elements constitute the
>> essentials of the sport of amateur radio contesting - certainly, sole use
>> of amateur radio as the communications medium
>Lets start with one point at a time. I would think that consensus on this
>point would at least be fairly easy to obtain.
>> and sole use of human brain
>> power for decoding are two good places to start.
>Since the "sport of amateur radio contesting" already includes elements
>that do not support your above element it should be dropped. RTTY
>contesting which has a long history in amateur radio contesting has used
>mechanical devices to decode for years. It now uses electrical or just
>computer devices and software to do the same.

RTTY and packet are clearly exceptions.  K6STI's algorithms can, I'm told,
decode RTTY signals that the human ear can only detect very fragmentarily,
if at all.

But I think we ought to draw the line at decoding other modes -
particularly CW and SSB.

>In much the same manner that keyboard logging by computer has pretty much
>replaced hand logging in the sport. And the use of computer programs to
>"encode" has replaced hand keys, why then, would it be unreasonable for
>the sport to evolve to using decode devices. And why would anyone care?
>Your analogy of sailing as a sport was good. Hasn't there been many
>changes and advancements (or steps backward if you will) over the years.
>To preclude change in a rapidly evolving sport is to limit growth or
>indeed to create stagnation.
>Since decoding probably at this point refers to CW decoding; Do programs
>like S56A's cause you that much concern? The guys like Rich, HC8A, who
>hand log don't seem to worry. Wouldn't another 1,000 entries using CW
>decoding machines make it just more fun ?

Yes, S56A's stuff does worry me.  It has the potential, if I understand it
properly, to completely replace the human operator once the computing power
is available.  I think that would be going much too far.  As I understand
it, autosteering and autotrimming devices are severely restricted in
sailboat racing, or else the America's Cup entries would be using computer
driven autopilots to automatically optimize their sail positions for a
given course, or even to optimize their course steering for a given course,
wind, tidal state and current situation.  I think that the "human brain
only for decoding CW and SSB" rule doesn't preclude advances in receiver
design, but it does draw the line in an appropriate place. 

73, Pete Smith N4ZR
n4zr at contesting.com 

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