[CQ-Contest] The Meaning of Assisted

al_lorona at agilent.com al_lorona at agilent.com
Mon Oct 25 11:05:58 PDT 2010

Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan: Unassisted.

Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez: Assisted.

Contester that homebrews his own 3-500Z's: Unassisted.

Contester that purchases and uses a yagi designed and erected by somebody else: Assisted.

Just kidding. 

Seriously, what's the fuss? No one is banning Blind Mode users from contests, of course; Blind Mode users will simply be put in a separate category. In other words, Blind Mode users will compete with other Blind Mode users. What could be more equitable than that? The category we have that most closely describes this kind of operation is called *assisted*.

Please tell me we don't need another category, "semi-assisted". And, I know it's 2010, but could we please keep the idea of a category, "Guy with a radio." Then let's have another category, "Guy with a radio and this other cool technology." Why is that seen as an idea that is past its time? Why send the message, "If your'e going to participate in our contests and have half a chance, you'd better get with the technology, Luddites," and then complain about Sunday afternoon being devoid of fresh stations to work?

I applaud those who continue to find creative ways to use technology in contests. It's incredible what you guys can do with panadapters and band maps and spotting and skimming.

The fuss, it seems, is caused by folks who want to use Blind Mode, but then compete with those who don't use Blind Mode.

So the question of whether to allow this is really the question, Is the difference between a Blind Mode user and a non-Blind Mode user the same as the difference between a 10-element Yagi user and an attic dipole user? Because we already consider Yagi and non-Yagi users to be equivalent, in, for example, the upcoming SS CW, differentiating competitors only on the basis of output power (Q, A, B) and/or spotting assistance (U) and/or number of operators (S, M).

A person who puts up a 10-el Yagi has the wherewithal -- permission, space, money, and motivation-- to do so, while the attic dipole user lacks one or more of these attributes. But it appears that many who choose not to use technology such as Blind Mode do so for a different reason: they feel it is against the spirit of the rules. Maybe not the letter of the rules, but against the spirit of the rules.

If you have the wherewithal to use Blind Mode technology, please do so with my compliments. For the time being, until smarter minds figure this all out, please check the "Assisted" box. Have fun, and see you in the contest!

Asking a person who chooses not to operate with Blind Mode technology to compete against Blind Mode users increases incrementally the pressure to throttle back participation in contests like SS CW. You can tax the little guy only so much, before he figures out that it's cheaper to quit his job and go on unemployment instead.

Al  W6LX

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