[CQ-Contest] SO2R... again, and again, and again

k3ft at erols.com k3ft at erols.com
Sat Jan 25 06:20:15 EST 2003

Reading the S02R debate over the past week or so. Seems the following points have 
emerged.  SO2R, like those technological advancements before it, has NOW become..

1) It's now FULLY in the mainstream of tools available to anyone and many people use it 
or have experience with it. (The visibility level is now above the noise and more know 
about it)

2) It has matured to the point where the focus is on improving operating skills and fine 
tuning the technology (rigs, switching, audio distribution, antenna placement, etc) 
rahter than just 'getting it installed and operating'

3) The techonology and equipment have progressed to the point where integration and 
operations are such that anyone who chooses to use it can do so - and the level of 
technical proficiency to install and operate a basic SO2R system is about that required 
to install and operate a normal SO contest station.

4) 'Buy it, install it, and use it' systems are avaialble. True, they may require some 
application of effort to interconnect, but then need to build the boxes to do SO3R is 
gone. Prices are reasonable (for contester's anyway HI) so anyone with interest and 
money can do SO2R.

5) A critical mass of resources familiar with the operating techniques, technology use, 
and how to get the benefits from SO2R now exist.

What this means is NOW SO2R is at the point where many people are proficient enough and 
the technology integrated sufficiently that scores HAVE been and ARE obviously higher 
for a larger mass of people. This raises the level of attention that it receives. When 
it was just a 'few technical folks' doing it.. it was an oddity... curiousity...the 
'WOW' factor existed. We liked hearing about it but it never raised anyones collective 
hackles because it was only for those who were above the level of the average contester 
anyway due to resources required in terms of time, money, and hardware required to 
implement it.  

NOW that it's within those 5 categories it has an APPARENT  visible effect on scores to 
the point where SO2R is PERCEIVED as being an unfair advantage and worthy of it's own 
category. That is becuase it is now more widely known and disucssed so it APPEARS to be 
effecting things. Again, perception.

HOWEVER! As Ron POints out.. There is NOT a body of quantifiable, supportable, 
legitimate evidence that can allow you to make ANY rational determination that SO2R 
DOES, in fact, provide an UNFAIR (Note.. it must be UNFAIR) edge. UNTIL this is done and 
honestly analyzed you'll only be dealing with anecdotal 'war stories' which are nice to 
share but invalid for honest analysis and eventual inclusion for rules changes.  Nothing 
wrong with having an 'edge' WE ALL have our own personal 'edges' that we use (Used to be 
called 'tricks of the trade', now they are known as 'proprietary information' HI) It's 
not UNFAIR.. it's just the way things are. Unfair is claiming to be SO unassisted and 
using packet spotting and NOT entering as SOA. Unfair is running 500W and entering as 
LP.We have LOTS of anecdotal evidence, stories, etc. But very very little real data to 
work with.

SO2R provides an 'edge', true. Is it UNFAIR? No one knows. (At least I've not seen 
anyone post any quantifiable, hard data to support PRO or CON.  Just as in speed 
skating, those folks who wore the full body spandex suits had an 'edge' over those who 
didn't because they cut down wind resistance, but it was not UNFAIR. Anyone could do it 
andnow it is expected that ALL will skate with it. Data was accumulated which verified 
thatit was an advantage. But they didn't make a seaprate category for it. People chose 
to adapt to the new technology and use it,  or not, as they saw fit.

The bottom line in my opinoin is that SO2R is just one of the 'tricks of the trade' that 
folks use. Some are good at it, some are EXCELLENT at it, some are not. Some will use 
it, some won't.  Until a body of evidence exsists for analysis to arrive at a valid 
deduction.. all the rest is, as Ron puts it, personal agenda and/or conjecture.

Me? I'll wait for the evidence. If it becomes known that it is worthy of it's own 
category then have it, if not.. then it's just another tool in the toolbox for people to 
choose to use. 

Chuck K3FT

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