[CQ-Contest] FW: More ARRL DX Thoughts

Robert Chudek - K0RC k0rc at citlink.net
Sun Jun 26 19:38:51 PDT 2011

One of Dick's comments was "So, I asked the question, 'Can we make this 
contest more fun and more attractive?'"

One of the things that adds to the fun for me is to see my score running 
up quickly. There's just something 'more fun' about having 250,000 
points on the bottom line for (say) 20 hours of effort compared to 
12,000 points.

As the ARRL DX is structured now, you get multipliers per band which 
helps run up the score. What you don't get is credit for "distance". 
It's set to 3 points whether the station you work is 100 Km away or at 
the antipode of your location. www.antipodemap.com

Multipliers based upon existing DXCC entities works fine and IMO should 
be retained. It's part of the 'fun' because most people are hoping to 
work a few 'new ones' during a DX contest. I would venture a guess that 
working a new country is a considerable draw for the more casual 
operators who participate in ARRL DX.

Awarding more points per QSO dependent upon distance sounds like a prime 
area for review and change. One suggestion was to use an "log formula" 
to award points, replicating the inverse decay of an RF signal as it 
travels away from the source. I thought that idea was ingenious and 

The idea of using Grid Squares is being tossed around in several 
different aspects. Some suggest to use it within the contest exchange. I 
don't think that is necessary. In fact that would change the 'flavor' of 
the on-air experience significantly. It wouldn't make the event 'more 
fun', and probably the would have the opposite affect.

As you know, distance is already calculated in most contest software by 
comparing the callsign prefix or zones and displaying the short path, 
long path, and the distances of each. Adding the ability to determine 
distance based upon Grids is already implemented in VHF/UHF modules. 
Calculating the distance is no problem for the software. The issue is 
that you need to know which Grid each station is located in during the 
contest. And most operators want to know their score when the contest is 
over, not 9 months later, after adjudication.

The thought of using 'center of states, districts, sections, or 
countries' is a non-linear measuring method compared to the uniform 
maidenhead system. So if being 'fair' in awarding points is a goal, 
using a grid system is 'more fair.' And the more precise, the better. 
Maybe we should be using Long/Lat designators of each station instead? 
:-) I imagine, just like the SCP database, a SCGS (Super Check Grid 
Square) database would be developed and maintained. This would solve the 
local (immediate) scoring issue.

The other aspect that makes a contest 'more fun' for me is to easily 
compare my performance with my peers. Within our local contesting group 
this is easy. But even within Minnesota there are definite propagation 
differences between members located in the extreme N/S ends of the 
state. For me, placing in the Top-Ten of our contest group is my 
personal goal each year. That has been working for me.

The idea to scrap the "National Winner" was questioned, where there is 
no possible equalization of the playing field among the east, west, 
south, and middle areas of the USA, let alone Russia! Regional winners 
makes logical sense to me. And the WRTC competition makes the most sense 
when looking to award a "World Winner" among all the radiosport 
participants. So what if the ARRL just did away with some of those 
plaques that are causing all this trouble?  ;-)

73 de Bob - KØRC in MN


On 6/26/2011 3:43 PM, Dick Green WC1M wrote:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dick Green WC1M [mailto:wc1m73 at gmail.com]
> Sent: Sunday, June 26, 2011 4:42 PM
> To: YCCC (yccc at yccc.org)
> Cc: 'K1AR at aol.com'
> Subject: RE: [YCCC] More ARRL DX Thoughts
> It's best for me to limit my public comments on the ARRL DX tasking while
> the CAC is still working on it, but enough people have asked why we're
> looking at the rules for the contest that I feel a response is necessary. I
> believe this is particularly important because I was the person who
> initiated the project by asking the PSC to give the CAC a tasking on ARRL
> DX.
> First and foremost, let me categorically state that no one involved in the
> process, including me, believes that ARRL DX is broken. It's true that what
> started me thinking about the contest was noting the position of ARRL DX in
> third place for log submissions behind CQ WW and CQ WPX. Nothing wrong with
> third place, but I wondered if we could improve on that. After all, just
> because something isn't broken doesn't mean it can't be made better. Also,
> participation isn't the only measure of success for a contest. An equally
> important measure is fun. In contesting, fun and participation interact and
> reinforce each other, either positively or negatively.
> As I thought more about the contest, I compared my personal experiences in
> ARRL DX with those I've had in CQ WW and CQ WPX. Although I've placed well
> in ARRL DX CW over the past 11 years, I honestly have to admit that the
> latter two contests are a lot more fun for me than ARRL DX. I wondered why,
> and I wondered if others felt the same. For years I've noticed a definite
> lack of enthusiasm for ARRL DX, and difficulty recruiting ops for it, at a
> certain M/M station where I operate Phone contests. It's clear that this is
> largely due to less DX participation in ARRL DX than the other major
> contests. The number of DXpeditions outside the Caribbean is relatively low,
> too, which also affects the contest experience for W/VE stations. I've read
> reports of what it's like to operate the contest from a DX country --
> boring, boring, boring. The bands aren't open to W/VE all the time, which
> leads to lots of idle time, part-time efforts or no participation at all.
> Clearly, this impacts DX participation. It also impacts DXpeditions because
> in many cases it's not worth the expense and effort to mount one if you can
> only operate a limited amount of time.
> So, I asked the question, "Can we make this contest more fun and more
> attractive?" I figured if we could do that, participation would increase.
> > From my perspective, that was the sole agenda for the ARRL DX tasking. I had
> no preconceived notions about what the CAC might find during its
> investigation, nor did anyone on the PSC. The tasking was structured
> broadly, with a handful of suggestions to look at the obvious areas we
> always consider, such as categories, scoring, exchange, awards, reporting,
> and incentives to increase participation. There was also a request to look
> at adding a 24-hour category. However, the tasking was explicitly not
> limited to those areas.
> It was my opinion from the beginning, supported strongly by the CAC, that we
> had to retain the essential nature of ARRL DX as a world-works-W/VE contest.
> There was never any thought about making ARRL DX a clone or look-alike of CQ
> WW or CQ WPX. Obviously, that makes it more challenging to improve DX
> participation. On a suggestion from a top contester in my Division, I
> introduced a proposal for a significant rule change that would allow
> DX-to-DX contacts on a very limited basis (e.g., low point value, not on the
> same continent, etc.) As it turns out, there was very little support for the
> idea among CAC members. It probably didn't help that a poorly publicized
> implementation of DX-works-DX was tried in the '70s and failed miserably.
> Fortunately, we still have a couple of lower-impact ideas on the agenda that
> may prove attractive to DX stations.
> The proposals that have caused so much controversy in the contest community,
> distance-based scoring and reducing the operating time limit for single-ops,
> were brought up by CAC members, as allowed by the tasking. As I've stated
> previously, we're still in discussion mode, not decision mode. Changes to
> the contest are not imminent and I have no idea what final recommendations
> will be made by the CAC when we complete the tasking, nor do I have any idea
> which of our recommendations, if any, will be accepted by the Awards
> Committee or PSC. I will say, however, that what strikes me about these
> proposals is that they show the contest may not be quite as much fun for
> many of the more serious participants as is generally assumed. The issues
> are not limited to ARRL DX, of course. The advantages of location and
> ability to do an ironman effort exist in other contests as well. And the
> issues aren't new, either. They've been discussed by the contest community
> at length. It remains to be seen what the CAC will conclude as to their
> relevance to ARRL DX.
> Although I've not taken a final position on distance-based scoring, and as I
> said in a previous post we're waiting for the results of tests against
> actual contest logs (a project that's now underway), I've been a little
> disappointed by the arguments I've seen on both sides of the issue. While
> rankings are obviously important, they're not the only consideration. Paul,
> K1XM, has posted results of his attempt to guess what impact distance-based
> scoring would have on rankings. He begins with the assumption that strategy
> doesn't change. But while winning is still going to require running Europe
> as much as possible, distance-based scoring would likely introduce a new
> strategic element into a contest that doesn't require much strategy now.
> Even more interesting is the question of how distance-based scoring might
> affect the overall contest experience. I suspect that when UA9 and UA0
> stations start streaming over the pole, as they sometimes do, I would
> experience a similar thrill to the one I get when working a rare mult or a
> double mult in CQ WW, or when racking up 6-pointers on 40m late in CQ WPX.
> Maybe DX stations in Latvia will appreciate a boost in adrenalin when they
> work a W6 as opposed to yet another W1, W2 or W3. Maybe JAs will stay on the
> air on Sunday so they can work more East Coast stations. I probably haven't
> covered all the possibilities, but isn't it intriguing to think about adding
> another dimension to the contest? Yes, we also have to ask if the rankings
> will be affected in an undesirable way. We have to ask whether the scoring
> will be too complicated for ops to follow. We have to ask if a new dimension
> is worth sacrificing the current scoring records. These are all important
> issues that remain to be discussed.
> Let me add one more thought about distance-based scoring. The term "level
> the playing field" has been tossed around a lot in the discussions about
> this subject. The CAC is under no illusions that it's possible to eliminate
> geographic advantages, nor has that been a desire expressed by any member.
> Distance-based scoring is being explored for ARRL DX as having a potential
> to moderate what is perceived to be a growing "tilt" in the field. Keeping
> the field from developing a near-vertical tilt is a far cry from trying to
> "level" the field. Yes, there could be possible undesirable side-effects of
> such an effort, and that's what we're investigating now by rescoring past
> logs (note: our initial testing is being done using the geographic centers
> of States/Provinces for W/VE and the prefix coordinates for DX stations from
> the CTY file.)
> Regarding the 48-hour time limit, while I'm open to discussion of just about
> any proposal that could improve ARRL DX, I've personally taken a firm
> position that we should not take away any aspect of the contest that is
> currently enjoyed by participants.
> I'm in complete agreement with K1AR and others that the top 100 do not make
> our contests -- it's the legions of casual, part-time ops who provide the
> vast majority of the QSOs, and hence the fun. Some of the things we're
> looking at would potentially improve the experience for such participants.
> That said, the contest community is led by several hundred ops who do care
> deeply about competing and have made substantial investments of time, money
> and effort to do so. Many casual, part-time DX ops want to work these loud
> stations for DXCC, WAS or county awards credit, and many casual part-time
> W/VE ops want to work DX and DXpeditions stations for awards as well. In
> other words, we need the top several hundred, too. While there may not be
> viable solutions for all of their concerns, I believe we have an obligation
> to hear them and take their opinions into consideration.
> 73, Dick WC1M
> NE CAC Rep, Chair
> -----Original Message-----
> From: K1AR at aol.com [mailto:K1AR at aol.com]
> Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2011 10:36 AM
> To: yccc at yccc.org
> Subject: [YCCC] More ARRL DX Thoughts
> All,
> I'm in the camp that suggests we are offering solutions for a problem that
> doesn't exist -- at least in a meaningful way. Here is some other sample
> data (thanks to G3SXW):
> ARRL DX Log Submissions
> Phone
> 2010 - 3151 logs
> 2009 - 2631 logs
> 2008 - 2056 logs
> 1996 - 1492 logs
> CW
> 2010 - 3938 logs
> 2009 - 3114 logs
> 2008 - 2688 logs
> 1996 - 1505 logs
> And, while log submissions don't tell the entire story, the data suggests
> that we are not dealing with a dying contest. In fact, quite the contrary.
> Brian, K1LI, made a marvelous observation the other day. If you didn't see
> it, he said, "I think that those with sufficient competitive spirit are
> always  going to find a way to win. Tinkering with rules may have a
> transient
> effect on  which of the top 100 entrants wins what, but for most of us it's
> irrelevant."
> Also, there was another terrific post on CQ-Contest by W2ID. I strongly
> suggest you read it at:
> _http://lists.contesting.com/pipermail/cq-contest/2011-June/094624.html_
> (http://lists.contesting.com/pipermail/cq-contest/2011-June/094624.html) .
> In my view, contesting will be much better served by worrying about
> everyone except the top 100. I wish there was equal  or greater passion for
> creating new CTU-like events and other ways  to generate interest in
> contesting as
> has been generated by this topic.  Solving the impossible problem of
> equalization is simply a waste of oxygen  and valuable resources.
> 73 John, K1AR
> PS: I have an Excel file from Roger with all of the log  submission data
> for most major DX contests back to 1996 if anyone is  interested. Let me
> know
> and I'll send it to you.
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