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

VR2BrettGraham vr2bg at harts.org.hk
Mon May 31 17:52:52 PDT 2010

W2ID further gets his head around it all:

> I personally feel that if I am made aware of the callsign and frequency of a station that is calling CQ Contest by any means other than hearing that station myself (i.e. with my ears, assuming I don't have a handicap), whether that means by seeing a spot on packet or the internet, or by someone calling me on the telephone or telling me directly over the radio, or by the callsign showing up in text in my bandmap or on a screen or readout device that is in my view while I am operating (and listening) on some frequency other than the frequency of the CQing station, then I have received assistance, and am obligated, whether by the rules or simply by my own ethics, to say so in my entry.

Spot on, mate.  The problem is that no contest rule is clear enough & 
deals with what needs to be dealt with, this leaves room for all the 
interpretation we see.

Unlike phone, CW contests require the operator to decode the code.  It 
has always been part of operating (please no RTTY references here, as in 
RTTY everybody has had to use a code reader of some sort - and please, 
no mention of code sending technologies that depend on the operator 
knowing the code in order to use them... besides, must be at least 30 
years now since [for most here at least] the ability to send has been 
presumed from a demonstrated ability to receive).  The competition is 
based on operating: finding, working & logging stations.  None of that 
is possible if the operator doesn't know the code.

Code reading technology should never have been allowed in CW contests, 
but since previously it has been inferior to what an operator is capable 
of, it wasn't an issue.  Now code reading technology has advanced to the 
point where it can completely displace the SO from doing the decoding 
necessary to operate.  In a very short time, this has gone from 
non-issue to a big one, faster than we have seen spotting networks 
evolve into the mess they've made of finding stations to work.

Congratulations to W2ID, you understand it perfectly.  Given the timing, 
if we look at the rules for the recent WPX contest, as written if the 
code reader tells the operator what is on the frequency the radio is 
tuned to & if the radio tells he operator what frequency it's tuned to, 
then the use of the reader appears not to be allowed.  If one is 
entirely objective about it, it isn't necessary to know what frequency 
the radio is on to work the station the reader is copying - seems K5ZD 
was thinking too much of a specific example of code reading technology 
when he wrote the new rule.

I can't think of a way to allow for the previously accepted uses of code 
reading technology in CW contests without leaving some way for its 
abuse.  The rules & adjudication of the sport needs to catch up with 
where the technology is going, if the S & the O in SO are to mean what 
they've always meant.  The continued debate over what seems to me to be 
so blatantly obvious is a clear indication that this can't be left to 
participants as it has.

73, ex-VR2BG/p.

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