[CQ-Contest] Blind Mode for N1MM Bandmap

Jack Haverty k3fiv at arrl.net
Tue Oct 26 13:39:51 PDT 2010

Hi Paul,

First, my apologies -- I was one of the people who misinterpreted your
phrase "...modes or technologies".

I think this discussion has been just reinforcing the point I was trying
to make in my first message:  it's very very difficult to draw a line
around tools, or how contesters use tools, and describe that line

Is a tool which converts the RF spectrum into a visual display for the
op's eyes a communications technology?  How about a tool which converts
the RF spectrum into audio to the ears?  One is a bandscope, the other
is a receiver.  I can see how they'd both be considered to be
communications technologies.  But are they amateur or non-amateur?  A
traditionalist and a progressive might answer differently.  

Is a contester who somehow borrows a broadcast station's antenna array,
figures out how to load it from his rig, and has fun on 160 in a contest
using "non-amateur" technology?  Or perhaps any technology being used by
an amateur is automatically amateur technology?

What makes a technology "non-amateur"?  I suspect there's no easy

Re the CW rule:  Communications takes two people - one to talk, one to
listen.  If you need to decode CW "by ear" to demonstrate that you can
understand CW, shouldn't you need to send CW by hand to demonstrate that
you can send CW that other people can understand?  Contests all require
two-way communication, so it would seem that each person must be able to
understand what the other sends.  Someone who just pushed the function
keys on a computer might not even know that "C" is dah-di-dah-dit.  So,
one could argue that he hasn't demonstrated the ability to have a CW
QSO, i.e., to send CW, without the assistance of a computer, that the
other guy can understand.

[By the way, I don't use a decoder - don't trust them.  I do use N1MM in
contests to send CW, but it still feels strange to go through a whole
contest without ever touching a key.  I don't use CW Skimmer either,
just haven't gotten around to trying it yet.]

My point is simply that it's very hard to draw these lines so that
there's agreement and no confusion.  We can all argue forever and not
reach consensus.

That's why I suggested using the radio environment for defining rules.
It's no doubt got some problems too, but I think it's easier for all of
us to see that physical line around our stations, and see whether or not
any communication is happening across that line other than by ham radio
signals.  Those rules would determine whether or not a participant is

Someone else mentioned the need for a place for the "guy with a radio".
I know quite a few of these people, and most of them are reluctant to
participate in contests apparently because it's too hard.  We'd all like
to have more people participate, but the guys with just the simple
toolboxes don't feel comfortable.

Perhaps the "categories" of contests is the right place to deal with
tools.  Instead of just power levels (QRP/LP/HP), categories could be
defined based on the station's toolbox.  Maybe one category would be
"Guy with a radio", defined as 100watts, G5RV, no use of computers.  Or
maybe another category "SimpleStation" as 100 watts, antenna-max-10dBd,
computer.  In other words, draw lines around the existence of tools in
the station, rather than around how the tools are used.

Just ideas... Ultimately, the judges are the guys who make the contests'

Good discussion, thanks!

de K3FIV

On Tue, 2010-10-26 at 15:22 +0100, Paul O'Kane wrote:
> On 26/10/2010 10:50, S56A wrote:
> > Paul, your conditions explicitly forbid use of SDR and even bandscopes.
> To avoid any misunderstanding, here are the three conditions.
> 1.  The tools should not replace amateur-band RF in any part of
>       the signal path between the operators concerned - subject
>       only to the usual 500 metre radius circle / own property
>       limits for contesting,
> 2.  The tools should not involve any use, during the contest,
>       of non-amateur-radio communications modes or technologies,
>       with the potential for, or for the purpose of, finding or
>       facilatating contest QSOs.
> 3.  In CW contests, CW decoders (including Skimmer, with any
>       decoding facility enabled) should not be used.  Why?
>       Because such use reduces CW to the status of just another
>       data mode.
> My question is - where, precisely, in any of these conditions
> is there an explicit (or even an implicit) prohibition on SDRs
> or bandscopes?
> If there is, I will be happy to redraft the paragraph.
> For clarification, the phrase "communications modes or
> technologies" was intended to mean "communications modes
> or communications technologies".
> 73,
> Paul EI5DI
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