[CQ-Contest] 67 spots

Eric Scace K3NA eric at k3na.org
Tue Feb 24 09:12:48 EST 2004

   Having been an operator at W3LPL for many, many years, I'll take a crack at answering Ken's question.

   First, a little background.  W3LPL has 12 operating positions: two per band.  Each pair of radios is connected to a single amp
(i.e., six amplifiers total) through an interlock that allows just one of the two radios to transmit at any given time.

   When the band is open (or might be open!), two operators staff the band.  One is a running operator, calling CQ and working all
responders.  The other operator is constantly tuning across the band, looking for unworked stations (multipliers or not).  Antennas
are available that allow that searching operator to be listening, even while the running operator is transmitting.  Often the
operators switch roles periodically to stay fresh and alert.

   Now, imagine that you are searching the band for unworked stations.  You tune the receiver, hear a call, and type it in to the
computer.  99% of the time it will be a dupe.  Many times that station's call appears on your bandmap, indicating that it has been
spotted on the cluster network in the last half hour or so.  So you keep tuning.

   Occasionally you'll hear a station that is not in the bandmap.  It just takes two keypresses to transmit a spot.  In general,
W3LPL operators will do this EVERY time a station is discovered which is not currently showing in the bandmap -- even if that
station has been spotted many times before during the weekend.  Why?
   a)  It keeps the bandmap current; the next time you tune across that frequency (15 minutes later), you'll have that call already
in your bandmap and can move on to the next station more quickly.
   b)  Spots on the cluster help all the other club members.  Sure, you've tuned across P40V twenty times on 15 meters during the
contest already.  But another club member is operating single-op assisted... possibly a part-time effort... and he just hasn't found
or taken the time to work P40V yet.  Your seemly-redundant spot gives that club member a current spot for P40V, so that he can go
off and work him and increase his score.  As the contest goes on, it's important to the club effort to keep the spots flowing.
Almost any contest club officer will tell you that the club's standing in the club competition depends not just on the dedicated,
full-time-effort stations... but even more on the many smaller stations and operators who, for one reason or another, can only put
in a part-time effort this particular weekend.  Feeding a constant stream of spots to these smaller and part-time stations
(operating as small multi-ops or as assisted single op) means those stations can make the most of their limited antenna resources or
time.  The small station with simple wire antennas can work P40V on Sunday afternoon where his weak signal will be unchallenged.
   c)  Sending those spots keeps the searching operator alert and disciplined.  A good searching operator tunes constantly with one
hand on the radio dial, one hand over the keyboard ... constantly typing calls, checking the bandmap for missed and inaccurate
entries, and punching the Alt-F3/Enter commands to send out those spots... and may spot as many as 100 stations an hour.  This is
not an idle search around the band while waiting your turn on the running radio -- it's a discipline as demanding as that practiced
by the running operator in the chair next to you.  Never stop tuning... never stop keeping the club informed... and, every few
minutes, you will discover a NEW station who wasn't there ten minutes ago.  Of course, you work him first, and then spot!

   That dedication to supporting the club is one of the practices that makes the W3LPL a great team.  And yes, it also generates
6000+ spots to the spotting network, a benefit not just for PVRC members but all other multi-op and assisted operators.

   Why would PVRC let all those juicy spots flow out over the network to every other competing club?  In part because it's good for
contesting: anything to encourage activity in the contest by others is beneficial to our hobby in the long run.  Also in part
because PVRC benefits from spots made by all the other contesters and members of other contesting clubs -- tens of thousands -- an
example of receiving back from the collective community more than one can possibly offer.  And in part because we believe that it's
not information that determines the winners of a contest -- it's what the operator does with the information.

   -- Eric K3NA

-----Original Message-----
From: cq-contest-bounces at contesting.com
[mailto:cq-contest-bounces at contesting.com]On Behalf Of Kenneth E. Harker
Sent: 2004 February 23 17:50
To: CQ Contest
Subject: [CQ-Contest] 67 spots

     What, exactly, compels a station to spot a contest DXpedition 67
times in 48 hours?  What should I conclude about the fact that six out
of seven of the contest DXpedition operators are members of the same
contest club as the spotter?  A club that was named in some of the
spotter's comments?

     Doesn't this cross some line in terms of assistance?  At what point
do we begin to look at the club spotting team back in the states as an
integral part of the contest operation?  Doesn't this look a little
like the club spotting team back home was calling CQ (over the spotting
network) on behalf of the contest DXpedition?

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