[CQ-Contest] Where to Draw the Line was: Re: Does Using ViewProp Make You Assisted

Pete Smith N4ZR n4zr at contesting.com
Wed Nov 27 15:21:51 EST 2013

After 5 years of advocating that any use of CW Skimmer should constitute 
"assistance", I have changed my mind about where the line should be 
drawn between Assisted/Unlimited and Unassisted, when it comes to 

There are at least two reasons for this:

1. Elaborate attempts to define "assistance" in terms of software 
capabilities are doomed to be almost instantly obsolete. Take ZL2HAM's 
ViewProp as an example.  He could easily add a "contest mode" that would 
prevent the collection of callsigns, frequencies and multipliers, while 
still providing charts of when and which bands are open to which zones 
or continents. That would arguably make it legally consistent with the 
2013 CQWW definition of "unassisted." But then, what about next year?

2. Developments over the last 5 years have made CW Skimmer much less a 
game-changer than other developments, such as the worldwide availability 
of the Reverse Beacon Network. On November 23, the most prolific 
individual CW Skimmer on the RBN in Europe (ES5PC) made 67,121 spots.  
The most prolific in North America was WZ7I, with 64,106.  Meanwhile, 
the RBN forwarded 2,815,948 spots!

Why is this important?  Because no single Skimmer can match the RBN for 
its contribution to a station's score.  Quality filters such as the 
CT1BOH/AB5K algorithm depend on multiple spots of the same station for 
their accuracy. Moreover, if you are in the contest, your Skimmer cannot 
be as capable as a station like WZ7I- both W3LPL and K3LR's Skimmers, 
for example, only delivered 50-70percent as many spots as the best 
dedicated Skimmer.

3. The cost of local CW Skimmer capability is minimal. While some early 
efforts were over the top, you can now put a bandswitching Skimmer on 
the air for under $200 - trivial compared to other expenditures that 
people make for unassisted technology every day

For these reasons, I agree with Rick that the time has come for a 
definition based on the station's boundary.  However, I think the 
general rule should be "No information from beyond the station boundary, 
regardless ofmode of reception." Specific exceptions could be added, 
such as one for "generalized propagation information, such as WWV solar 

Is it time?

73, Pete N4ZR
Check out the Reverse Beacon Network at
blog at reversebeacon.blogspot.com.
For spots, please go to your favorite
ARC V6 or VE7CC DX cluster node.

On 11/24/2013 3:56 PM, Jack Haverty. wrote:
> I agree with Rick - the definitions of "assisted" or "unassisted" should be
> in terms of communications methods used across your station's boundary
> circle.
> "Assisted" used to mean being helped by another living human.   With
> computers, that doesn't happen nearly as much anymore.  Trying to draw
> clear lines around various pieces of ill-defined and evolving technology is
> probably impossible.
> However, it is fairly easy to draw a line around a station, and determine
> what kinds of communications signals are crossing it.  So, "unassisted"
> could mean "nothing but amateur radio crosses that line".   Use of any
> other communications means, for any purpose, to interact with anything
> across that line makes you "assisted".  Internet or carrier pigeon or
> signal flags - it's all assistance, using some communications mechanism
> other than amateur radio to assist our amateur radio communications.
> If you want to include "remote operation", simply define the way you draw
> the line around a station to permit that -- the boundary includes the radio
> location as well as the operator location, and a very narrow pipe
> connecting the two, and only the two, by whatever means you like.
> Note that this would permit Unassisted stations to use technology such as
> spotting networks - but only if they were implemented using only amateur
> radio.
> Similarly, perhaps teams of geographically separated operators could
> interact as a multi-multi entry, using only amateur radio communications to
> coordinate their activities.
> Just some thoughts for the annual debate...
> 73,
> /Jack de K3FIV
> On Sat, Nov 23, 2013 at 9:48 PM, Rick Kiessig<kiessig at gmail.com>  wrote:
>> While I agree that using ViewProp in its current form would make someone
>> assisted, I also think it would help everyone if the contest rules were
>> less
>> ambiguous.
>> Exactly what is meant by "providing call signs" and "multiplier
>> identification" and "along with frequency information"? Concrete examples
>> of
>> what's allowed and what's not would be very helpful.
>> Especially with increasing use of new and innovative forms of cheating (not
>> always purposeful), I would like to suggest a new approach for next season.
>> Rather than focusing on specific technologies, such as Skimmer or ViewProp,
>> which will always be a moving target, why not draw the line between
>> assisted
>> and unassisted in a very clear, unambiguous place:
>> Unassisted means no connections to the outside world, and no radio or
>> contest related help from someone there in person. No Internet, phone, HT,
>> satellite, or anything similar. Any such devices must be unplugged, turned
>> off, or definitively not accessible to participants for the entire duration
>> of the contest.
>> Assisted allows Internet access.
>> This would allow unassisted contesters to use any technology they wish,
>> provided it runs entirely at their location. That might be a local Skimmer
>> or other decoding software, or something new like ViewProp, provided it
>> didn't connect to the Internet.
>> This would also put the focus back on what you can build and integrate at
>> your site. Tinkering is a big part of the hobby for many of us, and that
>> should include software.
>> If adopted exactly as above, this would also put remote operations
>> automatically into the assisted category.
>> I realize there is still a strong sentiment for "a boy and his radio" type
>> contesting on the unassisted side. Unfortunately, with technology the way
>> it
>> is now, that line is hard to draw, and pretty much impossible to enforce.
>> BTW, one reason this is an issue for me (other than as the author of
>> ViewProp), is that the number of people who compete as assisted in this
>> part
>> of the world is relatively small compared to unassisted -- and competing
>> against very small group turns a contest into something else entirely.
>> 73, Rick ZL2HAM / ZM1G
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: CQ-Contest [mailto:cq-contest-bounces at contesting.com] On Behalf Of
>> Chris Hurlbut
>> Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 3:29 PM
>> To: Ken Widelitz
>> Cc:cq-contest at contesting.com
>> Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Does Using ViewProp Make You Assisted
>> Of course it makes you assisted.
>> It provides "multiplier identification" as far as I'm concerned.  What a
>> great way to keep an eye on 10m during marginal conditions!  When are the
>> single ops in the Caribbean firing up on 160?  Easy, just look at the map!
>> No frequency information required.  You know it's open, you will find them.
>> 1000 examples would be easy to come up with, but a debate is not required
>> in
>> this case.
>> -Chris KL9A
>> On Mon, Nov 18, 2013 at 9:01 PM, Ken Widelitz<widelitz at gte.net>  wrote:
>>>     I've just downloaded and started to plan with ViewProp. What a neat
>>> tool!
>>>     If I don't display the path grid which shows call signs, does
>>> displaying the
>>>     DX Atlas map that ViewProp creates make me assisted?
>>>     Per CQWW rule VIII 2. QSO alerting assistance: The use of any
>>> technology or
>>>     other source that provides call sign or multiplier identification
>>> along with
>>>     frequency information to the operator.
>>>     I think viewing the DX Atlas map is NOT assistance per rule VIII,
>>> since it
>>>     doesn't show call signs and frequencies. The ViewProp grid does not
>>> tie into
>>>     my band maps, so I can't see the calls and frequencies there either.
>>>     73, Ken, K6LA / VY2TT
>> _______________________________________________
>> CQ-Contest mailing list
>> CQ-Contest at contesting.com
>> http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/cq-contest
> _______________________________________________
> CQ-Contest mailing list
> CQ-Contest at contesting.com
> http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/cq-contest

More information about the CQ-Contest mailing list