[CQ-Contest] The King (Packet cluster network) is dead! Long live the Kin...

Jimk8mr at aol.com Jimk8mr at aol.com
Tue Jul 27 17:29:45 PDT 2010

Thanks for the FB data search and the interesting opinions.
I would like to elaborate on one of your listed reasons,  and to add 
another, for the big increase in qsos over the years.
First, computer logging and CW sending (and its predecessor of memory keyer 
 CW sending) has allowed useful CW speeds to nearly double. I recall a 
recording  made, I believe by K3ZO, of US signals into Thailand during a DX 
contest back in  the late 60s. More interesting that the signal strength was how 
slow they  were sending!
This is not just because people back then did not know CW. It was  because 
it's hard to write by hand at much over 25 wpm. Especially if  you want to 
read it later. And even if you did send 35 wpm, you'd  likely end up waiting 
as long as the time you saved, waiting for the other  guy to stop writing 
and start sending.
This effect really hit me a few weeks ago in the NS Ladder Sprint. This is  
a 30 minute CW contest where the average speed is up around 40 wpm. I got 
on  late, didn't have the time or energy to set up the computer, so just 
started  sending and logging by hand. Sending at that speed requires some pretty 
good  fine motor control in your fingers; trying to copy by pencil (keeping 
up with  what was sent as it was sent) was impossible.
Second explanation: Vast improvement in station hardware, in particular  
antennas.  Back around 1970 a single set of 4 element monobanders up 30  
meters, with a rotator to turn it to wherever,  was a superstation. 40  meter 
beams were rare, and even more rare to be more than 2 elements.  Fast  forward 
to the typical big station today, and those sort of antennas  are third tier 
antennas, probably the ones fixed on the Caribbean  (from the USA).
Add those extra 5-10 db of today's big stacks, and the way those  stacks 
will lengthen an opening, and I think you have a good explanation of the  
score growth over time.
Extra bonus explanation: 160 meters.  Not a huge factor, but back in  the 
70's few modern rigs had 160, and the frequency allocations  were tiny, 
limited slivers. Much more happens there  today!   
Here in the USA we have an expression, "You can lead a horse to water, but  
you can't make him drink". I think this describes the increase in spotting  
information available today. A rare DX station will benefit, but I doubt  
that many Europeans will get excited to know that another K8 is available  on 
20 meters.
73   -  Jim  K8MR
In a message dated 7/27/2010 7:11:53 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
ct1boh at gmail.com writes:
When one  looks at the growth of QSOs during 48 hour contests (notably
maximum QSOs  in the CQWW SOAB CW category in the past decades:
50's 1277 QSOs
60's  2623 QSOs
70's 4505 QSOs
80's 5970 QSO
90's 7555 QSOs
00's 7828  QSOs
one has to wonder where have all those extra QSOs have come  from.

- The operators have better resources and share more information  (more
knowledgeable with propagation and openings, more skillful with  SO2R
resources, ...)
- The logging software and Computer Generator CW  have added extra 
when working stations
- The stations (split  TX signals) and low band antennas (both RX and TX)
have added extra QSO  potential
but If there is one aspect that has  impacted Contesting the most, for
good or for bad, in my opinion, it  is:
- The development of Packet Cluster network by AK1A in the late 80's  and 
enhancement it has given to contest operators to be found while  CQ'ing on a

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