[CQ-Contest] Use of CW decoders in contests - a contrarian opinion

John W xnewyorka at hotmail.com
Fri May 28 16:15:44 PDT 2010

Just to play devil's advocate on this issue:

Let's say I'm a Single Op Unassisted entrant, and I have an SO2R station, and I am currently running on 20M, and a friend comes over and sits down at my second radio and starts tuning around on 15M and finding stations that I haven't worked on 15M yet, and he zerobeats them, and types their call into the log on a second computer, and points a finger at me when it's the appropriate time for me to hit the F4 key to send my call and make the qso.  Is that still Unassisted, or is that Assisted?

That seems to me like Assisted.

It also doesn't seem too terribly different from having a display hooked up to my second radio that is showing me what CW is currently being received, in lieu of having my friend doing the copying for me. 

Bottom line: If you are single op with only one VFO, the machine decoder is a crutch to "help" you copy code you otherwise couldn't copy due to lack of CW skill.  Fair enough, I suppose. But if you are using a decoder to copy code on a VFO other than the one you are listening to, then I don't see a substantial difference between that and using a spotter/spotting network/skimmer to hand you callsigns and frequencies.

I am all for doing EVERYTHING possible to increase participation. 
But I am also all for doing everything possible to keep a level playing field.
IMHO, given two great ops who are equally skilled at SO2R, the op using a machine decoder on the second radio will have a definite advantage over the op using one half of his CPU (brain) as the decoder on the second radio.



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