[CQ-Contest] Is it time that the contest sponsors officially identify SCP as "assisted?"

Michael Adams mda at n1en.org
Thu Dec 3 11:12:34 EST 2015

I'm not Hans, but I can offer my 2 cents:

If one were to use a tool that presented the audio normally received in one's headphones visually, in effect letting you "see" the code being sent (e.g., a CW skimmer display, displaying just the audio passband, with no decoding occurring), I think that a good argument could be made that that's not really assistance.   Your brain is still doing the decoding; it's just doing so based on visual rather than aural input.

The problem is that one step is the start of a slippery slope.  

It's difficult to independently verify that someone using such a tool isn't relying on a software decode function to assist with the decoding (only if the assist is essentially a second opinion).  You turn on the decode function, and you're clearly having someone else (in this case, a team of programmers) help you with copying the signal.

Or, there's the potential complication of what happens if the tool has the ability to display signals outside the range coming into your earphones. What if you can see that a tasty mult has just popped up calling CQ 5kc away?  Arguably you can do that already with bandscopes and panadapters on some radios, so maybe even that's not assistance.... but I imagine that most software with that capability has the ability to decode as well.  Turn on that decode function, and you're clearly over the line into assistance.

Here again, you can't independently verify whether the decode function was on or off.  We all ought to be trustworthy enough to be on the honor system for such things...but that sadly doesn't seem to be the case in the wild.

I can empathize with those who are finding that hearing loss or tinnitus means "copying by eye" is a more viable option than "copying by ear", but I think for relatively simplicity it makes sense for contest sponsors to rule that tools that decoders constitute assistance even when the decode function is turned off.

Michael Adams | N1EN | mda at n1en.org

-----Original Message-----

We had a brief discussion about code readers on our local contest club reflector. Some felt the same way you do. I don’t, but would like to understand your reasoning for thinking a code reader is not assistance. I haven’t gotten what I see as a reasonable explanation yet, but am still open to listening.



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