[CQ-Contest] Skimmer for S/O in IARU

George Fremin III geoiii at kkn.net
Tue Jun 3 09:31:42 EDT 2008

On Tue, Jun 03, 2008 at 08:56:46AM -0400, Michael Coslo wrote:
> I then click on the signal, and it takes me there. While it does not  
> identify the signals, it lets me know where they are, and I can then  
> ID them more accurately that the Skimmer does, so it is one  
> disadvantage, balanced by an advantage. And believe me it is quick  
> once you get the hang of it. And it works on SSB too.

CW skimmer also decodes and identifies the stations for you.
CW skimmer does something that a human can not do - it decodes 
hundreds of CW signals across the band segment it is listening to.

All of them it can hear across 70 kHz or more.

> Maybe computerized logging should have been banned when it became  
> available? I haven't done paper logging, but I have to imagine that  
> the difference between computer and paper logging has to be much  
> greater than any presumed Skimmer advantage.

Not even close.

I learned how to do this contesting thing using pencil and paper.


I often hear folks talk about computer logging as some really big
advance in contesting and I do not agree - computer logging is just a
tool to record the contacts.  It is true it does make it easier - no
more filling in the dupe sheet - something that is hard to do at the
rate shown on that SS log page above.  And you don't have to cross off
multipliers on some multiplier sheet.  The main reason for using a
computer to log is all of the after contest paper work is no longer
needed.  I almost always re-duped my entire log after a contest and
made sure I had marked all the dupes and multipliers in the log.

>From an in the contest operating prospective there are a number of
things from paper logs that I really miss - the direct access to
logging fields, previous contact data and being able to write a number
of partial calls down when listening to a pileup are some of the
things that come to mind.  These are things that have never been
solved in very good ways with any of the computer logging programs
that I have seen.

I do not think that computer logging helps me go any faster or make
any more contacts than if I used paper.  In some cases logging on a
computer limits the rate.  Every now and then I think it would be fun
to do a contest again using paper logs but all of that post contest
paper work keeps me from doing it - and these days I would have to
type the log in after the contest for most of them to even accept a
high scoring log - so it would make for even more work.

So, I guess what I am saying is that I am sure that I could win SS
using paper logging.  Computer logging is not a big advantage.

For me, the contests do not feel much different with or without       
computers on either mode - but I did get in to this game in the late
1970's so we already had memory keyers.

And as far as voice keyers - I only use it to call CQ - and folks had
been using tape loops back in the 1960's at least (before my time) so
you don't need a computer to do that - in fact I only use a voice
keyer in a phone contest because it makes it much easier to tune and
make make second radio contacts - I think that doing a contest "live"
is the best way to have a better score and I always do it as live as I
can - it is the only way to go to have truly high rates.

The biggest disruption to contesting that I have seen so far is the
widespread use of spotting systems (packet).  This has done more to
alter the way things work than anything else. I think the CW skimmer
technology stands to alter it in some similar ways.

The CW skimmer thing is more like taking a computer to a chess
tournament to pick your moves for you.  It does things that no human
can do and I think it is this fact that gets folks bent out of shape
about it's use in an unassisted single op category at the least.

> Indeed, seeing the results posted here with Skimmer showing up around  
> the middle of the pack - actually lower when we consider that many of  
> those at the bottom looked like they were in it in a very casual way  

I think you might be referring to the KCDX pileup competition.  This
is not the sort of thing skimmer seems to excel at - the KCDX pileup
is one to two or three calls sent once or twice on in what sounds like
a 1.5 or so kHz CW listening frequency.  Some humans are very good at
coping callsigns in such conditions.  The CW Skimmer was designed to
copy all of the CW traffic across the entire passband of an SDR
receiver at the same time.  This is typically 80 kHz. There are SDR
receivers that have passbands of about 500 kHz.  This is very
different skill - and I am sure that it is skill that none of the
people scoring above the CW skimmer at the Dayton pileup contest have
mastered.  Indeed I will go out on a limb and suggest that it is not
something a human can learn how to do - and for me that is problem.

> - I would say that Skimmer is not a threat to begin with,

I do not think you understand what it is able to do.

George Fremin III - K5TR
geoiii at kkn.net

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