[CQ-Contest] The Skimmer Rule Challenge

Dick Green WC1M wc1m at msn.com
Mon Jun 16 12:52:19 EDT 2008

I'm referring to the ARRL rules for HF Contesting. The relevant rule is:

"2.1.1.Use of spotting assistance or nets (operating arrangements involving
other individuals, DX-alerting nets, packet, Internet, etc) is not

The way this rule is worded, use of local Skimmer is allowed. The phrase in
parenthesis defines the terms "spotting assistance or nets", and it doesn't
include anything like local Skimmer. It appears that "arrangements involving
other individuals" is the part of the phrase that defines "assistance" and
the rest defines "nets". It looks an awful lot like the rule defines
assistance as coming from other individuals. I don't think one can rely on
the first few words, "Use of spotting assistance" alone to definitively say
the rule prohibits local Skimmer. This would most likely result in some
people claiming that it's not assistance if it doesn't come from another op.
We shouldn't have that kind of ambiguity in the rules.
The existing rule clearly prohibits use of remote Skimmer spots received
from packet or the Internet, so nothing needs to be changed for that.

The situation for CQWW may be different. There, the rule says:

"The use of DX alerting assistance of any kind places the station in the
Single Operator Assisted category."

No definition of "DX alerting assistance" is provided, but the phrase "of
any kind" would tend to suggest that the source doesn't matter and local
Skimmer is not allowed. However, as we know from the discussions on this
reflector, some people are going to hang their hats on the word
"assistance", insisting that it implies another op. I don't think that
interpretation is correct, but we don't want people arguing over the meaning
of rules. In my opinion, the CQWW Contest Committee will have to add some
wording to the definition of SO to ensure that local Skimmer is not
permitted, if that's what they want the rule to be.

The CQWW rules don't address remote Skimmer, either, but one could infer
that a remote station setup by another op to pump packet spots into the
packet network wouldn't be allowed under the rule because, even if you don't
agree Skimmer is assistance, another op is involved. Personally, I think the
position (whatever it will be) needs to be stated explicitly.

I hadn't looked closely at the CQ WPX rule before now. It says:

"a) One person performs all of the operating, logging, and, for the Assisted
category only, spotting functions."

I could be wrong, but it looks like there's a typo. Shouldn't it say
"*except* for the Assisted category only"?

Even if the wording is corrected, the way this rule is written, local
Skimmer is allowed for SO in WPX. That's exactly what K5ZD said just prior
to WPX CW a few weeks ago, and he encouraged those who desired to try
Skimmer and report on how much it helped. I don't know how rules are set for
WPX, but if it's desired to prohibit local Skimmer from SO, this particular
rule will have to be changed.

The WPX rule implies that remote Skimmer spots from stations operated by
other persons are not legal for SO. Once again, this should be stated

As I said in my reply to K1TTT, there's an anomalous situation where an
Assisted op could setup a remote receiver to send him/her Skimmer spots via
packet, over the Internet or via dedicated line. Under current rules for
ARRL, CQWW and CQ WPX, this is not permitted because the receiver is outside
the magic circle: i.e., it's a remote receiver. But why should this be
disallowed when the Assisted op is allowed to receive the same information
if the station is setup and controlled by another op? Consideration should
be given to this question when the rules are reviewed.

Some have said that the rules regarding Skimmer don't have to be the same
for all contests, and I agree with that. In my opinion, the effect of
allowing Skimmer in WPX, for example, would be less than allowing it in
CQWW, ARRL DX or IARU. WPX is mainly a run/QSO contest where mults only
count once, not per band. Packet or Skimmer would help in terms of being
able to S&P a little more quickly, and perhaps focus S&P excursions on new
mults more effectively (if that's the desired strategy), but my sense is
that it wouldn't make anywhere near the impact as it would in contests where
mults count on each band. That said, personally I wouldn't want to be forced
to use Skimmer and/or packet to win the SO category in WPX.

73, Dick WC1M

> -----Original Message-----
> From: VR2BrettGraham [mailto:vr2bg at harts.org.hk]
> Sent: Sunday, June 15, 2008 7:27 PM
> To: cq-contest at contesting.com
> Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] The Skimmer Rule Challenge
> WC1M said about skimming:
> > > Where the technology does not represent participation by another
> > > individual it does not violate the rules of the single operator
> > > category.
> >
> >Right, it doesn't violate the current rules. But if the contest
> community
> >wants to preserve the SO category, and not have it morph into
> something that
> >is virtually identical to SO-Assisted, then the rules will have to be
> >changed.
> Which contest/rule are you referring to?
> 73, VR2/KBrett7Graham/p.

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