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

George Fremin III geoiii at kkn.net
Tue Jun 3 18:15:38 EDT 2008

On Tue, Jun 03, 2008 at 04:15:26PM -0500, David Kopacz wrote:

> I respectfully disagree.

I am not trying to be cute - have you done a serious contest effort
hand logging.

> Computerized logging may have started out "simply" automating record
> keeping, but we all know it does much much more...

That is true - but most of it is just convenience.

> -----------------------------------------------------------------
> Automatic Date and Time logging - No more need to log this information
> manually.

This is not an issue.  The date goes in only on log entry where it
changes.  In a 48 hour contest that once at the start and then again
24 hours later.

The time gets logged every minute or so with just the minutes and the
hour gets logged when it changes each hour.

> Computer to Radio Interface - Now we don't need to indicate which band
> or frequency we are operating on...all done for us now.

This is nice - but again not a big deal to keep up with in the log.

> Antennas Switching - Band change? No problem, let the software choose
> the right antenna, no switching necessary.

Again it is nice and I have had it and not had it hooked up to the
computers.  I have not had my antenna switching hooked up to the
computers for years now. I don't miss it.  It is just a non issue.

> Rotor Direction Control - Need to turn the antenna to work that needed
> multiplier? No problem, the software knows just where to point my
> antenna! How convenient.

I have never had this - I know the beam headings off the top of my
head for just about anything.  I can't see how it would get me a
bigger score.

> Band Change Tracking - How many band changes have I made? No problem,
> the computer recalls for me...it's OK to change for this one last
> multiplier.

Again - maybe nice - not needed for single op and I never had trouble
keeping track of this back in the day and I don't think it slowed us

> Packet Spot Integration - Oh my, JT1 was just spotted on my band. NO
> problem, point and click and voila, I can work him quickly now!

I will agree - it does make this much easier.  I mostly don't use
packet esp when I am single op.

> Super Check Partial - What was his call, I didn't get the last letter.
> Basically guessing the call for you....this one amazes me. How did we
> ever allow this? I can't count the number of times this has saved me
> from having to ask for a repeat to be sure I REALLY heard it correctly.

Maybe - maybe this would make my scores bigger.  I do not use it since
I like to copy the stuff off of the radio - that is one of the main
reasons I am doing the radio contesting.

> Multiplier Checklists - Do I need that Country or Zone? Let's see, the
> computer remembers for me. Boy am I skilled operator!

Again - it is nice but we knew what countries and zones we had the
mult check off sheet or the dupe sheet would tel you.

> Dupe Checklists - Did I work him before? No problem, my old buddy PC
> remembers!

This is much easier with a computer but again the paper dupesheet
worked.  While it is easier I don't think it makes my score bigger.

> CW Interface to Radio - I love it...record it, confirm it and request
> the next Q...all with a button press. What skill I have!

I can't send code by hand but my Accu-Memory keyer did ok.

> Voice Recorder Interface to Radio - Is my voice tired? No problem, the
> computer will call CQ for me all night long, so I can basically fall
> asleep at the keyboard until someone answers!

We had ways to do this before computers. I used tape loops and voice
recorders while logging on paper.  Again - not a computer issue.  It
is nice but not needed - I made 7300+ contacts in an ARRL DX contest
using paper logs and my own voice.

> Multiplier Passing (for Multi operations) - Wow, we need that multiplier
> for another band. Thanks Mr. PC, you helped our score again! You rock! I
> am so skilled!

Again, it might be nice, but at the N5AU multi-multis we passed mults
with the best of them with zero computers. It is not the computer that
gets your ops to pass mults.  It is the ops.

> Scoring and Summaries - How are we doing? Oh, wow, we are way ahead of
> last year's score. Thanks to Mr. PC!

Yep - again this is nice - but it is pretty easy to keep track of your
score when paper logging - I have never had a problem having a very
good idea of what my score was during a contest.

> Grey Line Charts & Propagation Reports - Where is the band open too now?
> No need to use skill here, my trusted PC will tell me exactly when that
> rare multipliers grey line falls! I am a skilled DX'er!

Yeah, well these are skills that all of use learned.  Indeed this is
exactly the sort of thinking that is being debated here on CQ Contest
with respect to CW Skimmer.

I (and many others) spent countless hours in contests learning all of
the skills so that we could be better contest operators.  We learned
beam headings, sun rise/set times, when the band is open to what part
of the world etc.  We became skilled DXers and contesters.  We have
continued to use these skills even as we have moved into the use of
computers that can do some of these things for us.  Many of us still
find it easier and faster to just know the beam heading to some
country that to have the computer tell us.  I (and many others) have
taken great pride in how well we have developed these skills and used
them to be better and faster and more skilled operators.

> What skimmer has done for us is opened our eyes to what ALL technology
> has done to contesting. For that, we should be grateful. Now let's
> properly categorize the technology so that the spirit of competition is
> preserved for everyone involved...without leaving people out of the
> game.

I think that you are correct - the CW Skimmer technology has pushed it
home so that many are seeing that one of major skills they have honed
over the years can be (or will be with so update to come) had by
plugging in some boxes and software and watching the computer screen.

> Or, perhaps we should try going back to operating a contest with NO
> PACKET, NO PC, NO SO2R, just like Hans says... "A Boy and his radio".
> See how you like contesting without all our "technological
> achievements".

I started contesting in the late 70's with as you say above:

with "NO PACKET, NO PC, NO SO2R,"  no WSJT, no chat rooms, no email 
for skeds, no auto beam pointers and no CW Skimmers. 

And I found it fun and exciting and challenging.  And I think it has
been the challenge and the desire to improve my skills that has kept
that 13 year old kid in the contesting game to this day.

George Fremin III - K5TR
geoiii at kkn.net

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