[CQ-Contest] Flex Radio Question

Tod Olson tod at k0to.us
Wed May 7 15:35:22 EDT 2014

From: "Jack Haverty." <k3fiv at arrl.net>
Date: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 12:49 AM
To: Tod Olson <tod at k0to.us>
Cc: Stuart Phillips <stu at ridgelift.com>, "cq-contest at contesting.com"
<cq-contest at contesting.com>
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Flex Radio Question

On Mon, May 5, 2014 at 9:16 PM, Tod Olson <tod at k0to.us> wrote:
> What do you suppose are
> the considerations that seem to be slowing the adoption of the technology?

IMHO, it's all about software, especially the immaturity of the software.


That is a good analysis.  It brought to mind an event that happened when I
was editor of NCJ back in 1972-75. At that time someone sent me information
that indicated a W4 [I can't remember his call, but I suppose it is in one
of the NCJ¹s from 1974 or so] had used a computer to assist in logging a
contest. Bear in mind that this was prior to the time that some of us had
built our Personal Computers { Jobs & Wozniak, Olson & Olson, Bill Gates,
George Morrow, etc.  did it in about  in 1976} and that memory keyers were
new devices back in 1970 with some discussion about whether or not they
should be permitted in contesting.

As you point out, the development of the supporting software ‹ several
generations of it ‹ has made computer ³augmented² contesting a taken for
granted way to operate contests. I never want to go back to the hand written
dupe sheets!

If the RF performance of the front end(s) of the SDR receivers is comparable
to the non-SDR radios [that includes the ability to survive operator
mistakes] then what I know of the capability of the IF portions of the SDR¹s
vs. the capability of the multiple IF filter radios would suggest that raw
performance might well favor the SDR.

I am not sure that moving a mouse and clicking it will ever beat flicking a
switch or turning a knob for speed of execution in going to a new receiving
or transmitting state.  That suggests to me that someone will create and
perhaps market a piece of equipment that speeds up the selections that would
otherwise been done with mouse motions. A ³mechanical interface² if you
please.  With multi-threaded programs and multicore computers becoming
increasingly common and ever more capable I think that may be just a matter
of time. But even though we can postulate solutions, I have learned the hard
way that the Third Law of Life always prevails. ³The Head is Quicker than
the Hand².

In 1984 we knew that we could make a 3² HDD that would have 10MB storage
capacity. We knew that plated media, vertical recording, custom LSI or even
VLSI and number of Œin the lab¹ technologies would increase the recordable
bit densities. But it wasn¹t until after 2000 or so that all of the Œknown¹
pieces could actually be assembled  and production volumes for the high tech
components had lowered costs and the 1 GB drive appeared. Today we talk of 1
TB drives ‹ 1000 times more storage in the same spatial volume.

I sense that the SDR¹s of today have many, if not all, of the hardware and
software elements needed to effectively receive and transmit signals. But
the User Software that will allow almost everyone to use them as effectively
as they now use their ³Old Fashioned, but familiar² radios probably is one
or two software generations away.

I admit that there is a lot of speculation on my part in the above
paragraphs. I assure you it is all my current opinion which I am prepared to
change at any time when presented with new data that indicates I was
mistaken. I would be delighted to learn that the easy to install and use
User Software already exists. And perhaps the ³mechanical interface² I
mention has already been created and accepted.

I wish to thank everyone who has taken their time to share ideas and
experiences on this subject. I feel I have benefitted greatly from your

Best 73, 

Tod Olson, K0TO

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