[CQ-Contest] Revised 2011 NAQP Rules

Jack Haverty k3fiv at arrl.net
Sat Jan 8 12:26:11 PST 2011

I received several private email comments on the ideas I tossed out, so
I'll answer my own message to elaborate...

The word "contest" implies competition.  Most of us would like to
compete, but want to do so on a fair basis.  I.E., we'd like our
performance to be measured so that it can be compared with "others like
us" - whatever that means.  Many, maybe most, of the people who make Qs
in contests, don't send in their logs for scoring.  Perhaps it is
because they know they have no chance of winning, and that they'll be
ranked with others in their ill-fitting category who aren't really much
like them at all.

Contest organizers struggle with defining rules.  With too many
categories, you get the strange results of people "winning" their
category even though they only made a handful of contacts.  With too few
categories, you get the disappointing results of people who are
excellent operators being lost in a sea of entrants who had better
technology or simply more time and endurance, rather than better skills.

So, what to do...here's an idea.

Contest organizers are like any event organizers.  They select a venue
(bands, modes, etc.), define the format of the event (dinner, music,
entertainment, etc.) and invite interested people to attend.  Organizers
may provide some means of "scoring" - best costume, best dancer, oldest
attendee, etc.  But others can also score, according to their own
criteria - most drinks consumed, most famous person met, etc.

So, instead of trying to change the rules of a contest, which is hard,
why not simply provide alternate scoring mechanisms?  

The Key Point -- *Anybody* can do it, not just the official contest

Here's a concrete example.  NAQP doesn't allow CW decoding (I think -
it's still not perfectly clear).  But perhaps there's a group of people
who prefer to use decoders.  There's no category for them.  They can
participate in the contest, make Qs, and have fun, as well as provide
more callsigns for others to work.  After the contest, they submit their
logs as checklogs to the official contest organizers (since there's no
category which fits them).  But they can't actually compete.

However, suppose they *also* submit their logs to another scoring robot,
perhaps set up and operated by a club which is very interested in using
computer technology in amateur radio.  That club compares all of the
submitted logs and produces rankings, awards, etc., based on its own
criteria.  They *do* compete in that scoring, in the company of people
like them.

Same log, same Qs, but two separate scoring mechanisms.

Similarly, perhaps a "little pistol" club defines entry categories which
are based on station ERP and use of computer tools.  They simply put up
another scoring robot (another email address), and invite everyone to
submit their logs.

Another club might define a scoring scheme appropriate to "sprinters" -
operators who for whatever reason can't or won't sit for the 20 or 30 or
more hours at a stretch that are mandatory for any hope of a high score.
Scoring categories might be "one-hour" "four-hour" and "eight hour",
with a scoring robot that extracts the best score from a log over that
time span.

Again, same event, same logs, same Qs, different scoring scheme,
different judges.

There are many other possibilities - e.g., the stereotypical "boy and
his radio" category, or "straight-key CW", or "stealth antenna", or "no
computers", "no Internet", etc.

Perhaps a contesting club would run a scoring robot where multipliers
include the callsigns of all club members.  With some pre-event
promotion and nice awards and prizes, that might attract more Qs for
those club members - an alternative to a dxpedition to some exotic

Since we seem to be running out of weekends in addition to bandwidth,
this would permit one contest venue (time period and bands) to host many
scoring parties at the same time.  E.G., the "sprinter" scoring could be
performed at probably every contest, every weekend.

So, ... pick a contest to piggyback on, define and publish your scoring
scheme, set up a log robot, and see what happens.

Same Qs, same logs, different scoring.

/Jack de K3FIV


On Fri, 2011-01-07 at 21:02 -0800, Jack Haverty wrote:
> On Wed, 2011-01-05 at 08:19 -0600, Bob Naumann wrote:
> > So, let's focus on what a single op is - not what an assisted single
> > op is.
> > When we can agree on what a single operator does, can do, can use,
> > then if
> > it ain't that, it's something else - which would be next to be
> > defined. 
> I think this is exactly on the right track. Here's some comments and
> fodder... 
> 1) An operator is a human being.  Single-operator entrants involve
> exactly one human during the contest period.  All operators are
> considered equal.  Any operator who is considered physically challenged
> in everyday situations may use whatever tools are typically used by
> people in such circumstances.
> 2) A station is a collection of technology that interfaces between
> radio-frequency waves and operators, to communicate by radio.  A station
> is defined by a physical boundary, which contains all the technology.
> No communications methods other than amateur RF energy, may cross the
> station boundary as part of contest activity.
> 3) A mode is a specific protocol for communicating using RF energy,
> based on definitions by appropriate authorities.   A mode protocol can
> include frequency specifications - e.g., SSB20M or CWVHF.
> 4) A contest is a specific period of time during which communications
> take place and are logged.
> 5) An entrant is a combination of operator(s), station(s), and mode(s),
> communicating with other entrants in a contest.
> 6) Scoring rules define how communications are counted - what
> information must be exchanged, etc., and how a numeric score is
> calculated. 
> So, with these definitions, you build a contest.
> Single-operator should be pretty obvious.  But there may be additional
> rules.  E.G., can a single operator work at more than one station during
> a contest.  Multi-operator involves multiple humans - who might or might
> not be physically colocated.
> A station is defined by the technologies it uses.  Perhaps a contest
> defines stations as "Big Gun", "Little Pistol" and "Peanut Whistle",
> with a list of technologies permitted in each case.  Or a contest may
> define stations simplistically based on transmitter power - QRP/LP/HP.
> Some station definitions might permit the use of technologies currently
> called "assisted".  Until humans develop senses that can function at RF
> frequencies (lower frequency than light - we have receivers already for
> that), all technologies used in a station are there to assist the
> operator in using RF for communications.
> A mode is defined by the way in which information is converted within a
> station between RF energy and human understanding.  For example, CW/SK
> might be defined as on-off RF transmissions conforming to Morse Code,
> created by manual manipulation of a key or paddle, and interpreted by an
> operator listening to audible audio tones from a speaker or headphone.
> CW/Computer might be defined as on-off RF transmissions as before, but
> created and interpreted by technological means rather than directly by
> operator manipulation and audio senses. Note that some "cross mode"
> contacts are possible - e.g., a CW/SK and CW/Computer station can
> communicate.  Another mode might be multi-channel - e.g., an SO2R, or
> multi-channel CW decoder.
> Well, hope this gets the idea across...  I think the key is the
> definition of stations and modes, with few enough separate types to be
> manageable and to have a reasonable number of entrants in each type.
> For example, there might be a "menu" of technologies: antenna types,
> power levels, receiver capabilities, computer software functionality,
> internet connectivity, etc.  A "Big Gun" could use all of them.  A
> "Little Pistol" could use only 2/3rds, and a "Peanut Whistle" only
> 1/3rd.  So a 500 watt cluster-connected station with an attic antenna
> and a 5watt SO2R station with a stacked array at 100 feet and multiple
> Beverages might both fit in the "Peanut Whistle" definition.
> Hopefully every ham who would like to play would be able to find a
> station type that reasonably fits his or her own situation.
> 73,
> /Jack de K3FIV
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