[CQ-Contest] What Skimmer is!
Richard L. King
k5na at ecpi.com
Tue Jun 3 11:10:55 EDT 2008
I have watched and read the debate about Skimmer.
I admit that my prejudices are against it. But I have to admit that
both sides make a strong argument for whether it should or should not
be allowed or whether it should or should not be limited to assisted
or multi-op categories.
But thinking about Skimmer brings me to what it really is. It is the
beginning of robotics used by contesters. Think about this and
consider that all the past technology advancements still had your
brain or your fingers involved in the copying, identifying, and
Many complained about SO2R, but it still requires your ears, brains,
and fingers to do anything with it. A skill for your brain to be learned.
Memory keyers required that you make the decision of what button to
push and when to push it.
Computer logging requires your brain to identify the data and your
fingers to enter the data.
But Skimmer is a robot!
Not a complete robot yet, but the first step of what could eventually
be be a totally robotic contesting station. Currently it decodes and
presents to you a band map of workable stations without any operator
skill needed. At this stage of development you still need to look at
the Skimmer list and select who you want to work in a manner similar
to using packet.
The technology is there now for full robotics as we move in that
direction. It will soon be possible to have your station call and
work another station without your presence in the ham shack. It will
just require a lot of programming and the proper algorithms to
identify what needs to copied, entered, and replied to.
If we allow Skimmer for the single-operator category now we will set
the precedent for allowing a full robotic contest station to compete
in the single-op category later. The single-op winners in the future
may no longer be the best operators but, instead will be those with
the best automated stations.
Years ago, N6TR set up a "KL7 sniffer" for SS CW. It was supposed to
find a KL7 and ring an alarm. I don't think it found a KL7 that
weekend, but it was a glimpse into the future.
I would really like to continue contesting with my own brain doing
most of the copying and decision making. But I have always loved
contesting and will likely do what is necessary to remain
competitive. I think a lot of contesters are like me. They don't
really want this, but they will have to do it to stay in the game.
73 to you all.
Richard - K5NA
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