[CQ-Contest] No more Unassisted in ARRL VHF Contests?

Zack Widup w9sz.zack at gmail.com
Mon Nov 17 16:45:02 EST 2014

This rules change was recommended by a VHF-UHF advisory committee. It
probably will have no bearing on HF contests.

VHF+ contesting is not anything like HF contesting. I'm a VHF+ contester.
Beam patterns are very narrow (maybe 15-20 degrees on 432 MHz and 2 degrees
for a typical 10 GHz antenna) and you very very rarely make random contacts
on bands above 432 MHz. The higher bands require either working someone up
the bands from a lower band like 144 MHz, or by making a sked somehow,
either before or during the contest. Many times I've sat and waited for a
station I could hear to swing his beam toward me so he could hear me.
Sometimes it happens but more often it doesn't. An opening to a given area
may only last a few minutes. Allowing assistance would at least let you
tell someone you're hearing "Hey, I'm here!"

If you've never operated in a VHF+ contest on any other band but 50 MHz,
you have no idea how frustrating it can be to miss out over and over, and
yet so rewarding when you do make a contact.

73, Zack W9SZ

On Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 1:47 PM, Paul O'Kane <pokane at ei5di.com> wrote:

> On 17/11/2014 15:25, Kelly Taylor wrote:
> <snip>
>  Yet, power levels never get anywhere near the level of hand-wringing ‹
>> despite actually being an infraction of actual laws in most countries ‹
>> compared to the overwhelming dread someone might be looking at an Internet
>> site they're not supposed to?
> I started this thread to draw attention to the fact
> that the ARRL is recommending the abolition of
> "unassisted" categories in VHF/UHF contesting -
> leading to the distinct possibility of this abolition
> being imposed on HF contesting in due course.
> The thread has since been hijacked.  The point of
> view expressed above by VE4XT is representative of
> those who fail to understand the real issue.
> It has nothing to do with cheating, or the ability
> to detect cheaters.  The issue is whether we, as
> amateur-radio contesters, may continue to be
> described as such in the context of routine (and
> sometimes absolute) dependence on other, non-amateur,
> communications technologies or communications
> utilities while contesting.
> There's nothing wrong with using the internet while
> contesting, and that's what the so-called "assisted"
> categories cater for.  Nevertheless, it seems that
> any dependence on the internet (to find, facilitate,
> make or enable QSOs) undermines whatever right we
> have to describe ourselves as "radio" amateurs -
> rather than the hybrid-communications amateurs that
> many of us have become.
> As always, the terms "assisted" and "unassisted"
> are misnomers.  "Assisted", whatever it used to
> imply, now largely means "connected to the internet",
> with Unassisted meaning "not connected to the
> internet".  Since all relevant technology assists,
> the term "assisted" no longer adequately describes
> the connected category.
> In recommending the abolition of unconnected
> contesting categories the ARRL is, in effect,
> forcing us all to become hybrid-communications
> contesters (VHF/UHF initially) to remain competitive.
> I object to this because I'm an amateur-radio
> contester.
> With regard to VE4XT's comment - "compared to the
> overwhelming dread someone might be looking at an
> Internet site they're not supposed to", I offer the
> following analogies in the hope that they help
> others to understand how fundamental this connected/
> unconnected issue is in the context of contesting.
> What do you call a sailboat racer who uses an
> engine when not supposed to?  A driver.
> What do you call a mountaineer who uses a ski-
> lift?  A passenger.
> What do you call a high-jumper who uses a pole
> when not supposed to?  A pole vaulter.
> What do you call a fly-fisherman who uses a net?
> A fisherman.
> What do you call a fisherman who shoots fish in
> a barrel?  Anything you like, but don't call him
> what he's not.
> What do you call an amateur-radio contester who
> uses the internet, whether supposed to or not?
> Anything you like, but don't call him what he's not.
> Everyone with internet access has, in effect, free
> worldwide person-to-person communications at their
> fingertips.  Radio amateurs are different, or are
> they?  Don't they do it the hard way, for its own
> sake?
> In competition, how things are done matters.  That's
> why I want no part of connected contesting, and will
> oppose the ARRL's recommendations.
> 73,
> Paul EI5DI
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