[CQ-Contest] Remote Control in Contesting - A Summary

Paul O'Kane pokane at ei5di.com
Tue Jun 25 10:39:48 EDT 2013

Felipe NP4Z said, on 23 June,

   "And talking about not using cliches, I just cant avoid it...
   everywhere you go particularly in business school everyone
   says, "Those who don't adopt technology dissapear."

Here's my response to a similar statement in March 2010 -

   "In any activity we have to be careful not to adapt
   ourselves out of business, or into an entirely different
   business.  That is the main reason competitive activities
   are subject to self-imposed limits on technology."


In May 2009, Brett, ex-VR2PG/p noted

   "I believe that as long as the core activity on which we
   compete is so inconsistently defined & the participants
   have their own ideas on what that activity is, we fail to see
   the line already drawn.  There's not much point in drawing
   new lines until all can see & respect the existing one -
   just like we do in sailboat racing."


So - what is our core activity?  Could it be anything
other than contesting using ham-radio RF as our sole
communications medium?

On 28 May ZL2HAM said

   "Pitching radio just as a way to talk to others, which
   puts it in competition with cell phones, Skype and the
   Internet, is a mistake."

To which, Ward N0AX gave eloquent support -


   "What is it that ham radio has which is not available
   to any other citizen communication service anywhere?
   (Citizens Band and freebanders notwithstanding) The
   answer is a completely novel way to interact with an
   unseen and rarely experienced aspect of the world
   around us."


   "The point being not that our communications are easier
   than commercial stuff but that it's HARDER for cool reasons!
   That's why hiking and backpacking and bicycling and fly
   fishing are all still so popular - it's not the common,
   ordinary, everyday stuff.  That you can build and experiment
   and fool around with radio stuff is icing on the cake.

After all this, are we any closer to a common
understanding of what contesting is - and how
does remote control change it, if at all?

There are four main arguments in favour of remote

1. It's exactly the same as if the operator was
    in front of the radio.  There is no difference
    whatsoever in the RF transmitted or received.
    And, anyway, the person at the far end can't
    tell the difference

Yes, the RF is unchanged, but it no longer goes
all the way between the people concerned.  The
fact remains that without the internet there can
be no communications whatsoever.

As for the person at the far end, they're unlikely
to be grateful once they know they've been duped
(in the traditional sense).  That's the way many
of us feel.  When I want to contact someone on the
internet, I use the internet.

2. It increases activity on the bands.  That can
    only be good.

More is not necessarily better. We could increase
activity by using technology to its full, and
integrating with cell phones, tablets, Skype,
Facebook and Twitter - hams only, of course. How
things are done matters.

3. It's exactly the same as if we had long mic,
    speaker and control leads.

Well, that's not true, because we're replacing
direct connections with a public communications
utility.  In either case, we're beyond the usual
500-meter radius limit for stations. I don't buy
the argument that mic, speaker and other signal
and control leads are not integral parts of any

4.  It's pushing the boundaries of technology.

As already noted, all competitive activities have
self-imposed constraints on technology.  Why do
we still have fencing as an Olympic sport when
they could simply shoot one another?  :-)

Here's my summary.

If what you're doing can't be done without an
engine, then what you're doing can't be sailing,
or gliding or cycling.

If you can't have a QSO without the internet,
then it's not a ham-radio QSO.

On the internet, distance has no significance -
there is no DX.

Or did I get all these wrong?

Paul EI5DI

More information about the CQ-Contest mailing list