[CQ-Contest] An Innocent Question...

Kenneth E. Harker kenharker at kenharker.com
Tue Oct 18 17:18:07 EDT 2005

On Mon, Oct 17, 2005 at 09:34:45AM -0400, K3BU at aol.com wrote:
> I have come up in 2000 with contest and rules that address that very problem,
> approached CQ and ARRL for supporting it in the form of "godfathers" - we 
> would do all the work around the contest, all they had to do is provide the 
> space and promotion for rules and results in the magazine. NOT INTERESTED 
> was the response.  It is TESLA CUP and uses grid squares for multipliers 
> and award was on the drawing board. The rules address just about all the 
> problems we see in scoring of major WW contests. Due to my personal QRL 
> and lackluster (no) support from fellow contesters (I was even told to cool 
> with postings on CQ-Contest reflector) it was the best kept secret for 5 
> years. http://www.computeradio.us/TeslaCup.htm

The ARRL and CQ are already sponsoring as many contests as I think they 
are willing to support with magazine space.  The Tesla Cup would be just 
another HF DX contest, and one that wouldn't necessarily align with either
organization's award programs.  It doesn't surprise me at all that neither
organization took an interest.

As far as "fixing" problems with existing worldwide contests:

* The scoring structure, splitting value between "correctly sent" and 
  "correctly received" halves of the QSO is very different from any other 
  contest and hard to understand.  How do we know that an exchange was 
  sent correctly?  When it is recorded wrong in the other station's log,
  how do you differentiate between incorrect sending and incorrect receiving?
* Assuming I'm interpreting it the way I think it must be done, the 
  scoring structure legitimizes and encourages guessing when copying 
  other stations' exchanges.  Not only are you not penalized for getting it
  wrong, you are always guaranteed 1/3 to 1/2 of the contact's potential 
  points value no matter how badly you copy the callsign or exchange.
  It's kind of hard to take such a points structure seriously.

* The rules define QRP as 15 watts, which is very different from other 

* The single operator class is irrationally split between those operating
  from their personal home station and those operating elsewhere.  And 
  those operating as guests at other stations are lumped in with packeteers,
  which is just bizarre.  This is at variance with essentially every other
  contest's definition of what a single operator is.

* It's not at all clear to me that the stations entering "club competition" 
  are also entering the single-op/multi-op categories or not.

* The contest prizes seem too be structured for the economic benefit of 
  your company.  It's one thing for a company to sponsor the cost of 
  producing a plaque or trophy or something.  But when the prize is a 
  gift certificate that can only be redeemed by spending lots of money
  with the contest sponsor, it starts looking like more of a sales promotion 
  than a genuine competition.  If there were more than one sponsor of 
  that kind of prize, it might not be so objectionable.

* The rules say that the organizers accept Cabrillo format logs, but the 
  Tesla Cup is not a contest supported by the Cabrillo specification.  The 
  rules also specify that logs must be annotated with OFF and ON time period
  demarcations, something that the Cabrillo specification does not support.

I will say this, the contest is sufficiently different from the others 
(especially in the exchange and multipliers definitions) to be potentially 
interesting.  I wouldn't be making the claim that it "fixes" problems 
experienced in other DX contests, because not everyone sees problems where 
you see them.  To me, this contest has its own set of "problems," mostly in 
a flawed scoring system that can't be taken seriously.  If I can only 
justify the time to operate so many contests a year, this one just won't
make it into my schedule.

> ARRL instead of promoting and publicizing contests decided to cool off 
> contest publicity, relegated it to web pages, and instead, you get pictures 
> "of shack on belt hams" and pages of listings of ARRL officials. Go figure!
> So we have "good old" contests that gained popularity, but are having some 
> aging problems, while the remedy is being largely ignored. 

As far as ARRL contests go, some have been experiencing growth and others 
have been flat or seen less growth.  All of the contests that include DX
activity (those broken contests the Tesla Cup is trying to "fix") have been 
growing, the HF domestic contests have been basically flat, and most of the
VHF contests have seen declining log submissions over the past ten years:


Maybe someone can do a similar analysis of CQ contests.

> I will give it more serious effort to have the 2006 running off the ground, 
> we are working on the new home for Tesla RC station and trying to get all 
> the ducks in the row for the club, contest and award going. Judging by the 
> spread of Internet among contesters and how CQ MIR contest has grown, I 
> think the timing should be perfect for Tesla Cup to take off, especially 
> on Tesla's 150th birthday anniversary in 2006.  There is the chance to try 
> something we have been craving for, get involved in either helping to 
> promote or just simply join in and operate. 

Kenneth E. Harker WM5R
kenharker at kenharker.com

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