[CQ-Contest] Why not do a test??

Robert Chudek - K0RC k0rc at citlink.net
Sat Jul 2 15:24:09 PDT 2011

Hello Tom...

I am not an RF engineer (haven't even been offered to play one on TV) so 
I don't have the technical background to determine whether the existing 
system is "good enough" to satisfy statistical data mining or not. My 
comment was to remind everyone that this system does exist and it 
*might* be taken into consideration in the ongoing discussion. It 
certainly is "world wide", with beacons located on all the continents, 
even one station riding along on the VKØIR DXpedition a few years ago.

Overall I think there are great ideas being put out on the table, 
certainly many things I had not considered previously. I'm getting an 
education. I hope others benefit from this exchange. I'm surprised there 
is "heat" being applied in the background to squelch the different 
approaches. I guess this is another unmeasurable variable... the 
"political" aspects!

The perspective of what creates "fun" in a contest from the 
point-of-view of the 'gaming industry' I found interesting as well. I 
have avoided that hobby because I didn't feel it provided any level of 
education to a participant. But it certainly appears they understand the 
core aspects of making the experience more fun. That's something Dick, 
WC1M, expressed that he wanted to explore.

My bet on the outcome of any change for the ARRL DX scoring algorithm is 
"no change." But certainly the idea of a "contest within a contest" 
should be given serious consideration. It's just a matter of running 
different scenarios on the logs. Then the contesting community could 
speculate / debate why a particular rule-set created the results that 
were observed.

73 de Bob - KØRC in MN


On 7/2/2011 4:26 PM, Tom W8JI wrote:
> Hi Bob,
> I don't think it is a problem to use anything that exists if it is 
> useful and does not take more time.
> Is that system really useful? Are the beacons on all bands? Are they 
> in the right locations? Are the antennas relatively insensitive to 
> variables?
> http://www.ncdxf.org/beacon/intro.html
> http://www.ncdxf.org/beacon/photos/slide14.html
>> From all appearances it seems they are not very useful. They use 
>> vertical 
> antennas that are elevated with small radial systems. Verticals are 
> much more sensitive to local ground conditions than horizontally 
> polarized antennas. Many of the antennas are tilted, some are in 
> congestion, they appear to be different heights. They don't appear to 
> be geographically located where needed.
> 73 Tom
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Robert Chudek - K0RC" 
> <k0rc at citlink.net>
> To: "Tom W8JI" <w8ji at w8ji.com>
> Cc: <cq-contest at contesting.com>
> Sent: Saturday, July 02, 2011 4:47 PM
> Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Why not do a test??
>> My understanding is that the NCDXF/IARU beacons were deployed with
>> "standard" antennas, the Cushcraft R5 multi-band verticals. Granted,
>> looking at some of the photos on the site, there have been some issues
>> with durability in some locations.
>> Since my post, I also found there is software (Faros) available (by
>> VE3NEA) that automates the reception of the beacon network.
>> http://www.dxatlas.com/faros/
>> It appears there is decent planning and engineering behind these
>> systems... but if you rather reinvent the wheel...  just sayin'...
>> 73 de Bob - KØRC in MN
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> On 7/2/2011 3:31 PM, Tom W8JI wrote:
>>> The existing transmitting beacons are useless unless they use standard
>>> antennas properly oriented at similar site types and they are in
>>> useful general locations in the USA.
>>> Reverse beacons with us using antennas we can control would be
>>> perfect. We would get an accurate comparison of sources with identical
>>> ERP and patterns at many individual receive sites.
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Robert Chudek - K0RC"
>>> <k0rc at citlink.net>
>>> To: <cq-contest at contesting.com>
>>> Sent: Saturday, July 02, 2011 3:59 PM
>>> Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Why not do a test??
>>> There has been a beacon system in place for many years.
>>> http://www.ncdxf.org/beacon/earlyhistory.html  It also adds the feature
>>> of variable power levels to help determine minimum power needed to
>>> overcome the path loss.
>>> The reverse beacon network could be used to track the signal strengths
>>> of these beacons (maybe it already does?).
>>> 73 de Bob - KØRC in MN
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
>>> On 7/2/2011 9:34 AM, Tom W8JI wrote:
>>>> Scores are a product of many factors that are entirely the
>>>> responsibility of
>>>> the person controlling the operation. We want to take propagation out
>>>> of the
>>>> equation.
>>>> The only way to do that is to determine the actual difference between
>>>> areas.
>>>> That clearly cannot be done with scores.
>>>> There are two steps to solving this problem. First we have to know
>>>> how much
>>>> a path loss change actually affects contacts or scores. Second we
>>>> have to
>>>> know how much the average path loss changes with different locations.
>>>> I found only one attempt at determining score vs. signal level
>>>> (power), but
>>>> the information processing method was so seriously flawed it is really
>>>> totally useless. Signal level (or path loss) related to contacts or
>>>> scores
>>>> seems to be an unknown, and may never be solvable because of all the
>>>> variables.
>>>> We can quantify path differences pretty easy though.
>>>> All we need to do is setup a few test beacons using identical very
>>>> repeatable antennas in different areas with known power and let 
>>>> them run
>>>> over a period of solar conditions. Then we look at skimmer 
>>>> comparisons.
>>>> This would establish a typical path loss and opening duration for
>>>> different
>>>> geographical locations.
>>>> > From that we have a very useful tool.
>>>> I'm pretty sure there is software around that estimates things like
>>>> this,
>>>> but most likely it is not well verified. This would verify the
>>>> software, if
>>>> working software exists. It would also give us a real basis for any
>>>> correction or geographical scoring.
>>>> I'm pretty busy, but I'd be willing to work with a group of people
>>>> interested in this. It would be something VERY interesting to 
>>>> learn. The
>>>> equipment and work would be minimal.
>>>> The very least we would get out of this, even if we could never
>>>> translate it
>>>> to what the real differences in score are, is to put a number on 
>>>> claims
>>>> certain areas are at an insurmountable disadvantage. For example we
>>>> might be
>>>> able to say with some authority one area has xx% of the opening time
>>>> and xx%
>>>> average signal strength of another area.
>>>> This really should have been done long before any proposal was made.
>>>> Doing any correction by score alone is totally useless, unless we
>>>> decide we
>>>> want an overall handicap system and operator skills and station
>>>> construction
>>>> do not matter.
>>>> For example if K3LR and I set up 100 watt transmitters on automatic
>>>> keyers
>>>> into dipoles and just let them run as often as possible at the same 
>>>> time
>>>> during contest season, over a period of months we would get a really
>>>> good
>>>> idea exactly what geographic differences are. This would involve very
>>>> minimal effort and time, and also give me a very good idea how my
>>>> station
>>>> compares to Tim's. Not only would this get the egos out of the
>>>> equation, we
>>>> would then learn when something is obviously wrong with something 
>>>> we are
>>>> doing.
>>>> It would give us a baseline for everyone to know how much signal level
>>>> difference there should be on average between areas.
>>>> I'm fairly excited at the prospect of doing something that can
>>>> benefit all
>>>> of us!! This could be one of the best QST articles ever, because it
>>>> would be
>>>> the ultimate BS filter on why some people actually have better
>>>> results than
>>>> others. It would stop a lot of negativity.  :-)
>>>> 73 Tom
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