[CQ-Contest] The Skimmer Rule Challenge

Michael Coslo mjc5 at psu.edu
Mon Jun 9 10:15:20 EDT 2008

On Jun 6, 2008, at 1:36 PM, <ve4xt at mts.net> <ve4xt at mts.net> wrote:

> I'm with OV. The word 'any' is pretty all-inclusive. After 30 years  
> in professional writing, I have a pretty good idea what the word  
> 'any' means.

This looks like a good place to interject.

The rule such as it is, is simply not capable of addressing the  
Skimmer. Skimmer is technology that was for the most part, not even  
conceived at the time. So arguments based on interpreting a rule that  
was never made to address it are awkward at best. We either have the  
"any assistance whatsoever" , for which a valid counter argument can  
be made asking us to define just what any means. The other argument  
is that the sponsors meant assistance from outside the operator's  
station, or provided by other people.

Just what is it that those sponsors meant? They didn't mean anything  
about the Skimmer - it wasn't what they were addressing.

What is needed is what is happening. Contests are taking a wait and  
see attitude toward the technology. Some have approved it already.

We have to delve beneath the emotional aspects of the issue, to see  
how this would actually work. I downloaded Skimmer, and am evaluating  
it right now. I'm not using a Softrock, or tapping my IF, just using  
as wide CW reception as my radio will handle. I'll try some more  
features, certainly some look pretty helpful for the contester, but I  
can offer some critique of the program now.

My initial impressions are:

WoW! the Morse code translating engine has come a long way.

A person using Skimmer is going to be spending a lot of time looking  
at the skimmer screen, which will take away from operating in the  
contest. Even with my reduced bandwidth sampling shows, there are a  
lot of spots to choose from.

Things being what they are, we're going to see both sides of the QSO.  
So we'll have to check it out, and maybe that needed mult wasn't the  
one who was running the frequency. So I just wasted my time if that  
needed mult is off S&P'ing to another frequency. I might be able to  
watch the Op's callsign run up and down the side of the waterfall  
display, while I sit wishing I could work them,

So after some actual use, my preliminary judgement is that a single  
user of the technology will be making less QSO's, and may or may not  
have an advantage in trying to go for specific calls. This is an  
excellent tool for chasing DX, and maybe a fair tool for contesting.  
And the way it translates CW Morse might make it a nice tool for the  

So how do we determine it's actual impact? We allow it's use for a  
time so gauge that impact. If Skimmer users start dominating classes,  
then it might be time to direct it's use to one category or another.

-73 de Mike N3LI -

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