[CQ-Contest] The Paper log one radio, the SO2R and the SDR generations

Bob Naumann W5OV at W5OV.COM
Sun Mar 24 10:45:49 EDT 2013

Wow.  This is quite a treatise - is it not? It took me a while to read it;
digest the whole thing; and to read some (most) of the other comments.

Sadly, some of the story is historically incorrect.  José is indeed part of
the SDR generation because he was licensed and got started in all of this
long after the one-radio and SO2R stuff had already been done.

Yes, many were doing SO2R long before computer logging or the Internet.
Surprise, surprise! While it may be within reach for anyone and much more
common due to the technological advancements and off-the-shelf solutions we
have today, people did it long before the IBM PC was announced. Many have
been using panadapters for decades = and yes, while they might not have been
as good, or as accurate, or capable of showing dits and dahs on a waterfall
display, one could have been used as suggested 50 years ago before they were
solid state devices.

W4KFC was one of the earliest and most notable SO*R operators I'm aware of
and there are others. Many of them are still here and active today. Some
were the "young guns" back then like N2NT who built an SO4R system at W2YV's
station with an elaborate mechanical switching system that allowed him to
instantly switch to any other radio. This motivated me to develop my own
SO2R system that I built back in 1981 or so (I still have it) for using my
Heathkit SB102 and my brand new (at the time) Kenwood TS830S. It worked
great. This "SO2R switcher" that I built was also used by K1AR for a few
years (he gave it back to me when he stopped using it - thanks, John) with
one or two Drake Lines and later with a TS930 as I recall. There were many
others - I think K1ZM was doing something outrageous like SO6R back in those

By the way, I love using the P3 with my K3, but I cannot help but think that
to reach the level of information José claims he can glean from the various
"traces" requires a great deal of imagination and luck. The truth is that
while one could make some assumptions about what those traces are on the
screen, there's just as much chance that you're assumption is wrong. Either
way, I don't think this gives a single op any sort of a tangible advantage
over someone using SO2R effectively nor does it equate to assistance.

Another falsehood that has come up again through this discussion is that the
2R part of the classification makes any difference - which it doesn't.  The
category is "SO" single operator. Whether that single operator uses one
radio, two radios or 100 radios makes no difference - as long as he is doing
all the operating which is "locating and identifying the stations that will
be worked". Also, the contest is not "extended" by using SO2R. Again, it is
one operator doing everything alone within the 48 hour contest period.

Q: So, where does packet, voice networks, Internet spotting, or any other
spotting system fit in? 

A: It is strictly related to someone or something other than the single
operator "locating and identifying the stations that will be worked".  If
it's from another individual - we now have a multi-op.  If it's from a
packet / spotting network of any kind, or RBN or local or DX skimmer, we
have a Single Op Assisted.

If there was essentially no value in it, why would some SO entrants bother
to cheat by using packet? Surely, just using a panadaptor would be nearly as
effective - no?

So, while a single operator can look at traces on a 70" LCD TV mounted on
the shack wall if he wants, he's still a Single Operator as long as he alone
is "locating and identifying the stations that will be worked".  The SDR is
only providing a visual representation of the band and the signals on it,
but it is not locating or identifying them (with skimmer added - that
obviously crosses the line) and as long as the Single Operator is doing the
analyzing, frequency selection and is identifying the stations in those
traces, he is a Single Operator (un-assisted). This is the whole thing in a
nutshell. I would suggest that if you wanted to estimate the value of
anything in this discussion as near zero - it would be the "visual" impact
that this "SDR" generation is based on.

While José is very enthusiastic and imaginative, the differentiation between
assisted and non-assisted is not in any way related to some arbitrary
"value" he has decided to place on assistance. The point is that assistance
provides information to you would not otherwise have: "locating and
identifying the stations that will be worked".  The distinction has nothing
to do with any perceived value of this information! It is strictly related
to who is doing the locating and identifying. It it's *not you* alone as a
single operator, you're either multi-op or assisted - period. That's all
there is to it.

I would suggest that José might want to change his entry category to
assisted and go all the way and include skimmer and other spot data to his
operations and try juggling all of that (including bad spot data) instead of
seeking to change the single op category by using this "value" ruse.  The SO
Assisted Category exists already - why not be honest about it, and just
enter as assisted?  It's part of the SDR generation - is it not? Why do you
have to change the SO Unassisted category? Leave it alone. Join the Assisted
SDR Generation! The assisted category is ready and waiting for you to get
with it!

Also, I want to make clear that José contributes a great deal to amateur
radio contesting through his brilliant and awesome analytical work with the
CQWW committee. I do not want to diminish that whatsoever - but I believe
that his perspective on this subject is misguided and the story he relates
of the history is factually incorrect.

Bob W5OV

-----Original Message-----
From: CQ-Contest [mailto:cq-contest-bounces at contesting.com] On Behalf Of
José Nunes CT1BOH
Sent: Friday, March 22, 2013 7:55 PM
To: cq-contest at contesting.com
Subject: [CQ-Contest] The Paper log one radio, the SO2R and the SDR

The Paper log one radio, the SO2R and the SDR generations

The discussion about merging Assisted and Non Assisted categories, very
passionate as one would expect, is interesting because in my view it has to
do with different ways to look at the value of information (callsign and
frequency data). This information (call sign and frequency data) has
different value depending on what generation you are coming from because
contesting is done in different ways. I see three dividing generations:

The paper log one radio generation
The SO2R generation
The SDR generation

In the paper log one radio generation we have people who started their
contesting careers when there was no PCs or packet systems. Back then the
most important skill was to decide when to stop the RUN and go on S&P mode.
Stopping the RUN to go on the hunt in S&P mode was fundamental, because it
was the only way to increase in dramatic terms the multiplier numbers.
Deciding those moments and finding rare mults was fundamental, therefore
the value of this activity is very very high for this generation.

The SO2R generation came to full throttle with PC, advanced loggers and
station automation.
The big thing about SO2R generation is they managed to extend the
contesting time from 48 hours to ~77 hours because they can listen to a
second radio while the first radio is transmitting (~60% of the time of the
contest). Also the contest was accelerated in a way that demands both
physical and concentration abilities not necessary with a SO1R scenario
(paper log generation). To the SO2R generation operators the value of
callsign and frequency data is much less than the value attributed to the
same data by Paper log one radio generation operators. SO2R operators have
much more time to work the multipliers. They do it with the second radio
and there is no need to stop the run. They S&P while running. Therefore the
value of callsign and frequency data is much less than the value to the
paper log one radio generation. The game has a very different nature.

In the recent SDR generation a dramatic event has occurred that is changing
and shaping contesting. The contest went from audio only to audio/visual
event.  Not only the operator is listening to the audio of his channel but
at the same time he is seeing the full band and the individual traces of
signals of the stations in the panadapter with different resolutions to
choose. The SDR generation went from a 500hz dimension event to a full band
dimension event and for real hard core SDR operator to a full six band
dimension in six different panadapters. The value of call sign and
frequency data to SDR generation operators is less than the value
attributed by SO2R generation operators because it is quicker and easier
for them to get to stations and of course it is much less than the value
attributed to paper log one radio generation operators that can only work
rare multipliers by stopping their RUN.

But a question remains - is the value of callsign and frequency data zero
or close to zero so that we can say merging the Assisted and Non Assisted
categories has no consequences? It's closer to zero for SDR generation.
It's very far from zero to paper log one radio generation.
But there is still value in callsign and frequency data. Looking at Top
SOAB (SDR generator operator) versus top SOAB Assisted station and MS
stations, I estimate the value of callsign and frequency data to be around
8-10% percent. A top SOAB SDR generation that decides to jump into SOAB
Assisted category and do things right (i.e. follow only the really valuable
“spots” and don't mess with RUN) will be able to increase his multiplier
totals by around 8-10%.  It's different but not that different to have a
striking opposition to merging the Assisted and Non Assisted categories

A laughable point to me in this discussion is the notion transmitted by
paper log one radio generation that they are the ones who know how to do
things and they do it the noble way. I say laughable, even though I have
great admiration by some of those paper log one radio generation icon
operators, because they have no idea of what they are talking about. They
are stuck in a time and in a contest that is very different form the
contest that is played by the new generation.They try to preach to a
generation that doesn’t want to go back because things are more dynamic,
more interesting, more intense and for sure more fun.
The paper log one radio generation unique skill of knowing when to stop the
run and go S&P is no longer necessary when using SO2R and SDR/Panadapters
and topped with assistance it’s even more heartbreaking to them. But that’s
the way things are. There’s no time machine and the clock keeps ticking
forward. In an image, the paper log one radio generation operate as if they
are stuck inside a cave listening to a signal coming from the end of the
cave, while the SDR generation are out at night, looking at every signal in
the universe represented by the stars - the contest the later are playing
is that different!

I consider myself in the SDR generation because that is the way I operate
from CR3E. I have no problems combining the Assisted and the Non Assisted
category. It is an inexorable trend and I have no doubt it will be just a
matter of time, sooner than later. It is what the SDR generation want, I
dare to say, because contesting will become more interactive, more
“social”, more integrated, more real time and for sure a lot more
attractive to the younger generation of contesters.

Also have not doubts that the winners in the SDR generation need to have
more skills than the ones that were needed in the paper log one radio
generation or in the SO2R generation.

José Nunes - CONTEST CT1BOH - http://www.qsl.net/ct1boh
CQ-Contest mailing list
CQ-Contest at contesting.com

More information about the CQ-Contest mailing list