[CQ-Contest] New Technology Corrupts Competition

Tim Mitchell tim.k9tm at totalink.net
Thu Jan 7 20:32:23 EST 1999

On 3830 at contesting.com
Tom Moore KL7Q
wrote: >
>Dear Contest Sponsor,

>One of the primary purposes of any contest is to generate
>FAIR competition. Classes are set up to divide competitors into
>generally equal competitive categories.

Question here seems to be in definition of "fair".  When I looked
it up in a dictionary it said "implies the treating of  both or
all sides alike, without reference to one's own feelings or
interest".  I think that is what the current rules do.

>For RTTY contests, these classes are usually: Single OP, High and
>Low Power; Multi OP, Single and Multi Transmitters. Note that in the
>Single Op category there is rarely mention of or rule against the
>number of transmitters used. It is "assumed" that the operator will
>use a "single" transmitter. The same is generally true for other
>contests (SSB and CW).

It may be your belief that
single operator means one radio but that is clearly not called out in
any rule that I have ever read.  Also, in my 20+ years of contesting
I have never assumed that single op meant 1 radio.  Two radio single-op
is not a "new" item.  I can remember doing it in the 70's and I talked
to another long time contester who says that he knows of it happening in
the 50's... who knows it has probably been going on since the beginning
of contesting.

Most rules read as this excerpt from the ARRL web site:
"Single Operator: One person performs all transmitting, receiving, spotting,
and logging functions as well as equipment and antenna adjustments. "
"Single-Operator stations are allowed only one transmitted signal at any
given time. "

No where in here does it say, nor does it imply 1 radio.  It says one signal
on the air at any given moment in time.  It does not limit the number of
transmitters that can produce that one transmitted signal at any given time.

How far do you take this ?  Does this mean that if I have one radio (say an
FT1000D)that I can not use the sub-vfo to find a station on another freq
while I run
on the main VFO ?  This would be one radio but still offer an advantage over
people who don't have a sub-receiver.  Then what about the radios that have
sub-receiver but it must be in the same band ?

>In recent years, computer software has been developed to allow
>single operators to control MULTIPLE TRANSMITTERS. These new
>capabilities are based on implementation and use of advanced
>applicable to RTTY, CW, SSB and other modes. In essence, with
>advanced computerized capabilities, the only limit to the number
>of transmitters that can be controlled by a single operator is
>available computers, transmitters and antenna space!

In my 20+ years of contesting, I have almost always used a computer.
This is nothing "new". If anything, things are more fair today than
they were in the past as anyone can purchase contesting software for around
$50.  In the past, this was custom software... sometimes not
even on a PC, it was on custom hardware... available only to the
author or whomever he/she decided to share it with.

Also, for CW and SSB... the human still has to copy the information
and type it into the computer.  There is a definite skill required to
do this.  It appears to me to be a learned behaviour... I was not born
with it and continue to get better at it each time I do it.
For RTTY, one must coordinate the viewing/entry of the multiple
signals printed on the monitor, granted it is much much easier but still
requires some coordination.

>Contest rules have not kept up. As a result, operators using
>multiple transmitters are and have been competing in the same class
>as those using single transmitters! The number of regular competitors
>using these advanced capabilities is increasing with each contest.
>Resultant scores regularly far exceed those obtainable by Single
>transmitter competitors. It has become abundantly clear there is no
>physical way a single transmitter competitor can fairly or effectively
>compete with multiple (often times more than two!) transmitter

Again, this is making the "assumption" that single op means 1 radio.
Regardless of how many transmitters, all entrants in this category only
have 1 signal on the air at any given moment.  Therefore they are equal.

The fact that the note points out, "The number of regular competitors
using these advanced capabilities is increasing with each contest.", to
me implies that other people are catching on and that it is popular.
Thus making it more fair than when a select few were doing it and
perhaps others did not realize it.

This can also depend on geography.  I know of times in stateside contest
when people in say W5 run 100 Q hours.  They have prop to the population
centers that we in W8 don't have.  So to attempt to keep up, we do
things like multiple radios.  Therefore, I don't totally buy into your
assertion.  I think there are cases when people in the right geographical
area can run 1 radio as fast or faster than people with multiple radios.
I also think of my dx-pedition experience where this is true too.  The
controlling factor is NOT number of radios... it is number of responses
(if you are running) or number of new people you can find (if S&P).  I would
like nothing more than to simplify things and use one radio and run big
rate all the time.  Since that does not happen, I have to figure out ways
to make it happen... or move.

>With these advance capabilities, contest rules have quickly become
>outdated and grossly unfair for the vast majority of competitors
>participating in contests in the "single op" category. The result is
>that single op competitors are becoming demoralized with no hope of
>ever being able to effectively compete in, much less win, a contest.

Again these techniques are not "new".

I know that from W8 in most contests it is impossible to "win" the contest.

So I look to other motivators.  Make the top-ten ?  Set new W8 records ?
Beat other friends from the club I belong to or a competing club ?
Try and find a station in a desirable geographic location to guest-op from ?
Beat last years score ?  Do a new mode (for me RTTY) maybe VHF next year ?

Whatever, the trick is to find a game within the game and quit looking
to the outside for recognition.

>I urge you to implement such rules for ALL contests you sponsor as
>quickly as possible. Not only would these rules recognize and
>provide a new competitive category for these advanced capabilities,
>but they would also protect and insure fair competition, participation
>and recognition for ALL.

I think that more categories is NOT the answer.  Perhaps it is the
politically correct answer.  There are so many factors that go into
winning... luck being one of them.  Where does this stop ? Let me
give a few examples of new categories for "fairness":
1. Type of Radio
    a. Cost $500 or less
    b. $501 < cost < $1500
    c. $1501 < cost < $2500
    d. cost > $2501
2. CW Speed used
    a. 1 < wpm < 10
    b. 11 < wpm < 20
    c. 21 < wpm < 30
    d. > 30 wpm
3. SSB
    a. Voice keyer
    b. no voice keyer
    c. voice keyer does entire exchange
4. Type of antenna
    a. Monobander with more than 3 elements
    b. Monobander 3 or less elements
    c. Tribander more than 3 elements
    d. Tribander 3 or less elements
    e. Wire
    f. dummy-load
    g. vertical
5. Feedline loss
    a. > 3 dB
    b. < 3 dB
6. Number of antennas on a band
    a. Stack of 2
    b. Stack of 3
    c. Stack of > 3
    d. Single antenna
    e. no antenna
7. Filters Used
    a. 250 Hz
    b. 500 Hz
    c. DSP
    d. no filtering
8. Geography
    a. If there was a "fair" way to do this, it would probably already be in
9. Family/Marital Status
    a. Single
    b. Married no children
    c. Married w/children
    d. Spousal Alternative
10. Station Location Size
    a. City lot (no beverages on the low bands!)
    b. 1 to 5 acre
    c. greater than 5 acre

My point in all this foolishness is that many things go into winning.
Some of these things we have control over, some we don't.  The point
of any competition is to do just that, compete.  This means that
one must be willing to make themselves and their equipment meet the
task (if the expectation is winning).  Otherwise one needs to find
other ways to be a winner, we don't need contest sponsors to do this
for us.

Other examples of competitions:
  1. Tennis
     There is singles and doubles, men, women and mixed categories.
     There is not a category for serve under/over 100mph or no
     top spin category or wood -vs- graphite racket.
  2. Football
     There are no rules on how big/fast your players can be.  You are
     limited to a certain number of players.  Further you are limited to
only 11 of
     them on the field at once.  Noone says that all players are created
equal nor are
     all stadium conditions.
  3. Baseball
     Not all baseball parks are created the same.  So if you have a
     right field fence that is only 150 ft... you better have good
     pitching, not face many left handed batters or right handed
     batters that hit to the opposite field and you had better stock
     your team with players who can hit to right field.

I could continue on but I think this should prove the point.

I think radio contesting is like everything else in life...
you get out of it what you put into it.  I enjoy it both from an
operating perspective and a station building perspective.  I hope
that everyone finds a way to compete and does compete.  The day that
I or my station can no longer be improved, is probably the day I quit
contesting... I hope this day never comes!

73 and hope to see you in the next contest
Tim K9TM

CQ-Contest on WWW:        http://www.contesting.com/_cq-contest/
Administrative requests:  cq-contest-REQUEST at contesting.com

More information about the CQ-Contest mailing list