[CQ-Contest] What Skimmer is!

Richard L. King k5na at ecpi.com
Tue Jun 3 11:10:55 EDT 2008

Hello all.

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 
completing QSOs.

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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