[CQ-Contest] Skimmer - Proposal & Compromise

Stan Stockton k5go at cox.net
Wed Jun 4 13:02:20 EDT 2008

About half of the problems with Skimmer (aside from taking away certain operator skills - not a trivial issue) has to do with allowing Skimmer/SDR to be accessed remotely.  

A SDR is a receiver and, if it is located remotely, it is a remote receiver.  If it has a code reader attached, if you listen to the audio, if you call it a spotting aid, it makes no difference.  It is a remote receiver copying callsigns and other information, depending on the mode of operation, that perhaps could not be copied without it at your local QTH.  It is basically the same thing as packet except that packet spots are in a VERY limited number as compared to every CQ becoming a spot.

As everyone knows, I would highly prefer that Skimmer not be allowed at all in any category of entry.  I have given it all I can give along with the majority of CW Contesters who have voiced a public opinion. However, unfortunate as it is, I think it may be a losing battle to expect that it will be banned altogether.   

I believe a reasonable compromise that would eliminate "some" of the abuses that have not been discussed publicly in any detail, would be to only allow Skimmer as a local thing (has to be within the magic circle).  I would recommend that it be allowed along with packet for Assisted, M/S, M/M as long as it is local.  A single operator would have to do everything himself - call CQ, find stations to work without an automated process helping him to find stations to work, etc. Yes, that would mean no code readers for that category.  This should not be a big deal since someone who needs a code reader is not going to effectively compete in any category.  He can still enter and submit his log in the category that allows the code reader.

Not allowing Skimmer as a networked remote thing, we still have the automated QSO machine situation which I think will eventually ruin the game.  We still have the elimination of some operator skills and we still have some problems with immediate pile-ups on rare multipliers on the first CQ and the fact that QRP operators will probably never have the fortune of tuning around and getting lucky by snagging a rare multiplier before a big pile-up ensues.  

What we avoid are abuses of Skimmer used in the "un" verified mode where it will provide a list of every callsign it hears on your run frequency, not just those calling CQ.

We avoid the situation where there are hundreds of weak stations who call CQ for a few minutes in an failed attempt to hold a frequency and are pounced on by all the big guys who strain to copy the almost inaudible signal and log a station first copied on a remote receiver filtered by SCP with an automatic report of 59914 for example.  The same thing just described happens with packet.  The difference is that it would be multiplied by several hundred with a remote receiver with a code reader and SCP filtering.

If someone is using a networked connection in any category and Skimmer input is provided, it is automatic DQ for those who are connected.  If it is found that someone has a network outside the circle which is being used to provide spots or other information - automatic DQ.  

Those who run packet clusters would need to have "trusted sites" and make provisions so that Skimmer input was not accepted to avoid this.

I am more than willing to compromise my thoughts on this in order to avoid as many problems as possible and continue to do what we love doing for as long as it lasts.

Please put yourself in a compromising mood and tell me if this makes sense.

Stan, K5GO

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