[CQ-Contest] The Skimmer Rule Challenge

Andrew ac6wi at comcast.net
Sat Jun 21 10:47:31 EDT 2008

Joe Subich, W4TV wrote:
> Andrew wrote: 
>> The key phrase (in the CQWW rules at least [1]) that the 
>> pro-skimmer people seem to be ignoring is ... 
> The anti-skimmer forces seem to have lost site of the entire 
> CONCEPT of "assistance."  

No we haven't.  Read the CQWW rules which clearly state "The use of DX 
alerting assistance of any kind places the station in the Single 
Operator Assisted category".

The key part of that is "DX alerting assistance of _any_ kind", which 
skimmer clearly is.

> Assistance and the "assisted" class is a completely made up 
> term that describes the participation by PERSONS other than 
> the single operator - specifically persons on a spotting net 
> or cluster.

Sorry, but that is incorrect.  The rules clearly state "DX alerting 
assistance of any kind", not "DX alerting assistance from other persons".

>  Without other persons there is no assistance. 

Incorrect again.  Skimmer gives you the callsigns of the stations and 
the frequency they are operating on without the operator determining 
this for himself.  That is clearly assistance.

> The ARRL rules in particular make the link between "assisted" 
> and "other persons" very clear.  

You are correct, the ARRL rules for HF contests [1] are very clear on 
this for the Single Operator section..

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

Note, "Use of spotting assistance..... is not permitted".  Skimmer is 
spotting assistance as it determines the callsign and the frequency of 
DX stations that the operator is otherwise unaware of.

Some could even argue that skimmer is not permitted even in the Single 
Operator Assisted class as the rules state "2.2.1.Use of spotting 
assistance or nets (operating arrangements involving other individuals, 
DX-alerting nets, packet, etc) not physically located at the station is 
permitted".  Well, skimmer would be physically located at the station, 
so technically is not permitted :)

[1] http://www.arrl.org/contests/announcements/rules-hf.html

> Skimmer (combining CW decoder, second receiver and bandscope) 
> is nothing more than an application of existing technologies 
> to operation of the second receiver (SO2R) in the same way as 
> CT applied technology to keeping the log and dupe sheet.  The 
> EFFECT of CT was the same as having a second operator assist 
> with the log/dupe sheet.  

A total red herring.  Again, from the CQWW rules [1]  "1. Single 
Operator High: Those stations at which one person performs all of the 
operating, logging, and spotting functions".  The rules do not define 
_how_ the logging can be peformed, just as long as "one person" does it. 
  That is the case with a boy and his radio and CT on his computer.

[1] http://cqww.com/2007_rules_cqww.pdf

> If CT was not grounds for being reclassified to multi-single 
> because of its "effect," why should skimmer be grounds for being 
> "banished" to the assisted class? 

Quite simply because the rules do NOT state that logging must be 
performed on paper.  They just state that one person must perform all 
the logging functions, not how they do that.  CT etc all comply with 
that rule.

On the other hand, skimmer is "DX alerting assistance" as defined in the 
rules of both the CQWW and ARRL contests as it is DX alerting assistance 
and therefore, quite rightly, should be placed in the Single Op Assisted 
category (which the rules of both contests clearly state!.

> Neither technology adds any other person to the single operator

That is very true, however, the rules state "DX alerting assistance of 
_any_ kind", not "DX alerting assistance from another person".  That is 
a _very_ big difference.

> and CT was a breakthrough technology

Indeed it was, but it did not breach the clearly written rules of Single 
Operator like skimmer does.

> while skimmer is simply repackaging technologies that 
> have been used individually (including CW decoders) for ten 
> years or more. 

That may be true, but those technologies did not take an entire CW band 
and decode it in one fell swoop and highlighting mults that you were 
previously unaware of on the band, in effect, exactly what packet spots 
do for you, so, assistance.

> The increase in operator efficiency, score, and 
> most importantly, fun is probably greater with computer logging 
> than with skimmer. 

Maybe, but one is within the rules of Single Operator, the other is not!

Vy 73,

Andrew AC6WI (a.k.a. GI0NWG)

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