[CQ-Contest] Contesting in 10 Years - SUMMARY!!

Tonno Vahk tonno.vahk at mail.ee
Thu Feb 8 11:30:42 EST 2007

Wow, I would have never expected this to be so popular topic. Big thanks to 
all who helped to shape the vision including numerous direct mails. I 
consolidated all the answers and sorted them into categories with submitters 
call added and the full package can be found as pdf file at:

in February 2017 I will post here a follow-up and we will see who was right 
and who was wrong! (Especially WM5R about WRTC winners:)

I made my own summary and interpretation as an article which relfects the 
general and aggregate view of the responders. I encourage everyone to use 
this summary or the full pdf file as you wish on your web sites or in 
publications. Enjoy.

So, Welcome to 2017, Fellow Contesters!

Most of us are running SDRs. We have TS970SDX challenging high end rigs from 
Yaesu and ICOM. Ten-Tec has also released a $10k+ radio. High end rigs have 
a full SO2R functionality and built in soundcard interfaces for PSK and 
RTTY. Despite the sofware-updatable functionality radios have retained user 
interfaces similar to what they were in 2007. Receiver performance is also 
much the same but tools available to the operator have continue to evolve 

Software in SDRs is able to automatically populate band map, record 
contests, steer adaptable receiving antennas, switch the pattern of your 
stack. No more key clicks and filters have become sharper. DSP systems are 
enable to detect noisy CW signals not copyable by ear. New tested 
"receivers" are front-end boxes with a high-speed digital output. A PC 
processes that output stream to implement the functions we see perform in 
IF, DSP and AF stages of older radios. The new companion transmitters are a 
direct synthesis of the output RF, fed into amplifiers to get up to the 
working level.

Some stations are partly operated by robots tuning for multipliers, 
selecting antennas. Speech recognition is used and many contests are won by 
stations using 100% recorded voice files. We see continued evolution of use 
of various sources of real-time outside information (spotting), and 
databases by logging software.  Attempts are made by contest rule-makers to 
define the acceptable limits of computer assistance to "unassisted" 
operators, particularly regarding real-time deciphering of CW and voice 
signals. Many top contesters advocate that amateur radio contesting needs a 
new rule - only the human mind may be used for real-time extraction of 
intelligence from received signals.

Virtual DX-peditions are possible. Many rare islands are inhabited with 
equipment and antennas tied to the internet that can be rented by the hour 
or the day or by contest. Contest superstations will be for rent over 
internet. The use of Kenwood's Sky Command as well as the Yaesu and Icom 
versions have created a controversy in the contesting community as to 
whether remote operation should be a separate class or not. Contest 
Committees are having hard time regulating and preventing use of remote 
receiving locations in addition to remote transmitters.

No-tune and auto-tune amplifiers have become much more popular and 
affordable. Some high end amplifiers have built-in LCD video displays 
capable of oscilloscope-like and spectrum-analyzer-like displays of the 
input and output waveforms.

Antennas that contesters use have got better and bigger. The trap tribander 
has disappeared replaced by the DJ2UT and Steppir styles, but monobanders 
still rule. In the US the evergrowing issue is land development and tower 
zoning. 80m yagis are standard and first rotating 160m yagis have made 

Heil has developed a wireless (maybe bluetooth) headset for contesting.

Someone has developed a phone version of MorseRunner/RUFZ. At least 10% of 
all contesters continue to use DOS-based logging programs and naturally TR 
Log is still a DOS program:)

Contest log programs have more decision logic in them. The log program 
advices you what to do next according to your goal and current situation. 
The log program interacts with Internet in a much more extensive way than 
today. You are able to predict openings and changes in band conditions using 
ionospheric resources on the Internet.

Due to the increase of the percentage of Europeans at WRTC reflecting their 
overall increase in contesting as a whole, a EU team has won the top spot at 
the next two WRTCs after Brazil. (Sorry WM5R, I modified your prophecy:))

Despite the general aging trend of top notch contesters the new influx of 
"foundation" class licenses will give us many more operators, new records 
have been set in the latest sunspot peak. A single-operator has broken the 
7000 QSO mark in the ARRL 10 Meter Contest and the 12000 QSO mark in CQWW 
phone that is still considered the most-prestigious worldwide DX contest. 
Contesting is still considered the future of Ham Radio. CW requirement has 
been almost globally dropped and CW scores are declining. RTTY/PSK 
popularity is growing.

A few contests have instituted an "anything goes" category with respect to 
computer assistance and external data. Most contest sponsors have shortened 
submission time for logs dramatically and many are not accepting paper logs 
any more.

To address perceived abuses in the HQ competition, the IARU HF contest has 
removed credit for "uniques" logged for all stations. Major contest sponsors 
have become far more transparent and public with adjudicated 
disqualifications for cheating. More contests accept corporate awards 

As a consequence of K3BU's life long crusade CQWW contest has been finally 
modernized. 7 QSO penalty has been applied for BAD QSOs as the 3 QSO penalty 
did not teach the sloppy operators nothing, they were still making errors. 
Also other continents were given 10 points per QSO, zero for own continent, 
so the results are more readable and clear of those heavily populated 
continents' losers.:)

Real time sharing of scores during the contest is non-controversial and 
common. It is not mandatory but many entries from the developed countries 
use it. Initial experiments in real time log validation are underway. There 
are a few sites offering gambling odds on the top competitors before major 




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