[CQ-Contest] New Contesting Classification

Paul O'Kane pokane at ei5di.com
Mon Sep 12 13:13:15 EDT 2016

On 11/09/2016 21:52, Jim Brown wrote:
> I strongly disagree. I'm lucky enough to have my own station -- I own 
> a large plot of land and have built a nice antenna farm, so I'm happy 
> operating from home. But MANY hams do NOT have that luxury -- they 
> live on small plots of land, or in housing developments where, by 
> conditions of their purchase or rental of the property, are NOT 
> PERMITTED to have any antennas. And there are MANY hams who are 
> surrounded by neighbors with multiple noise sources that make it 
> difficult to hear all but the strongest signals on a band.

I can relate to almost everything in that paragraph.
I have a small plot, with a 60-foot back yard - not
enough room for an 80m dipole without bends, and I
am surrounded by neighbours with multiple noise
sources. The site is clearly visible on Google Earth.

None of this stops me from having fun - with a K3
barefoot to a TA33jr at 32ft and an off-centre dipole
for 80 and 40m.

I can be competitive on 10m by replacing the TA33 with
a 5-el monobander.  I've done this to get #1 in SOLP
Mixed (DX) in the 1991 ARRL 10m contest, and #2 and #3
in subsequent years.

> If you are one of those MANY hams who cannot build even a modest 
> antenna system, the only thing available to you is remote operation.

Remote operation is not the only other option. There
is always the option to operate from another station,
in my case EI9E in Co. Wexford, abut 85 miles from
my QTH. From there I got World #1 in CQWW CW SO80 LP
last year (November 2015) with 85w from the K3 to a
4SQ, and World #3 SO80 HP CW in 2014.

It wouldn't be too difficult to configure the EI9E
station for remote single-band operation with the K3,
but that's not an option I will consider.

> Moreover, you clearly misunderstand remote operation. Communication IS 
> via radio. The internet is no different from a telephone link to a 
> remote site, or a radio link to a remote site.

On the contrary, I have a full understanding of remote
operation. The necessary two-way communications between
the operators concerned take place BOTH by radio AND
by internet.  There is full dependence on both modes
of communication.  The internet is serving not just
to control the remote station, but also as a carrier
for whatever information the operators are exchanging.
Without the internet, there can be no communications
whatsoever between the operators.  That's not the same
type of rf-all-the-way ham radio I'm used to.  Because
more than one communications technology is required, I
prefer to call it what it is - hybrid-communications.

> Several years ago, K3NA, W3DQ, and I visited an old "ship to shore" HF 
> and MF station north of San Francisco. There are two sites about 20 
> miles apart, one for TX and one for RX, each equipped with multiple 
> rhombics. The two sites are linked by a dedicated landline that 
> carries multiple CW channels as audio tones of different frequencies, 
> one for each transmitter. That station dates back to 1913 -- see this 
> link for a description of the station.
> http://www.ptreyes.org/activities/marconi-rca-wireless-stations

This gets to the nub of the issue.  What Jim has described
is/was a commercial installation for paid traffic.  In the
commercial communications world, the priorities for the
supplier have always been revenue and return on investment.
For their customers, the priorities have always been value
for money and reliability.  With commercial communications,
their customers communicate with one another, not caring how
the system works, so long as it does work. In ham radio,
ham-radio operators communicate with one another using ham-
band RF.  That's what gives us our name, and what gives our
activity its name.

Now, if what I've just said is becoming an old-fashioned
concept, that's OK, but our name and that of our activity
should change to reflect the changes.

It's a mistake to ape commercial communications practice
and believe that it leaves ham radio unchanged - it
doesn't necessarily represent "the future".

By the way, anyone who still believes that it was ham-radio
operators who pioneered SSB in the 1940s or 50s might be
interested to know that the Marconi Company started a
transatlantic telephone service between London and New York
on 7th January 1927 using long-wave SSB.  On this side of
the Atlantic, there was a 200kW transmitter in Rugby,
England and a receiving site at Cupar, Scotland, with
"a directive aerial system ... covering an area of several
square miles" (Wireless Over Thirty Years, by R.N. Vyvyan,
1933, Page 179)

> If that station were built today, it would likely use UHF or VHF radio 
> or the internet to link the two sites. But that would not make it an 
> internet system, or a UHF system, or a telephone system. It's STILL an 
> MF and HF radio system.

Yes, but that's not the full story.  It's a commercial
communications service with internet relays, and/or
telephone relays and/or microwave relays, and/or MW
and HF relays. How the service works (or is advertised)
is of little consequence to the people who use it to
communicate with one another.

Now, if progress in ham radio is measured by how close
we can get to commercial practice - with free (for all
intents and purposes), world-wide, on-demand, person-to-
person communications, then I don't want to know. I'll
stick with Skype or FaceTime on the internet.

> Yet another example. W7RH, who lives in Las Vegas, built his station 
> about ten years ago at a remote site in the Arizona desert, which he 
> mostly operates remotely from home. During contests, he operates from 
> the site to provide greater operating flexibility. http://w7rh.net/
> Building a remote station is no small engineering feat -- it's a LOT 
> more complex than opening a box, pulling out a radio that you've 
> bought, and hooking it up to an antenna. Remote control is a complex 
> engineering problem, and the guys who have built good remote stations 
> have my respect!

This reminds me of the guy who goes to the doctor
complaining of a pain in his arm.  He says "Doc,
every time I move my arm like this, it hurts."
And the doc says "Well, don't do it".

If you want to make things harder for yourself by
operating remote, go right ahead - but don't expect
either praise or sympathy.  You have elected to
operate that way - when there is usually the option
to operate from the remote site.

In 2011, I was a team member on the FSDXA DXpedition
to Kiritimati (T32C) - and we hold the world record
of 213,000 QSOs.  Now, if the team members had all
stayed at home and operated remotely - what sort of
a record would that be?  I'd call it "devalued" :-)

We all know and accept that QSOs via repeaters may be
fun, but are devalued to the extent that they invalid
for contesting and DXCC.  Well, it seems to me that
remote stations are, in effect, personal or private
repeaters accessed over the internet.

Remote QSOs, those carried over public communications
utilities, are fake or counterfeit QSOs - with a
correspondingly diminished value.  They may be such
good fakes that they are indistinguishable from the
real thing, but they are fakes nevertheless.

However, many operators and organisations do not accept
this.  They claim that internet relays are just as
valid as ham-band RF relays and, anyway, it's not people
who communicate with one another, it's stations that
do it. They are wrong.

> Someday, old age or bad health may force us to give up this lovely 
> home in the mountains, but I hope that I can continue to operate some 
> station remotely. And when I do, I will consider it "real" ham radio.

I'm close to that old age or bad health group.  When
I am no longer able to operate from home I will either
go to where I can operate, or do something else
altogether - like using the internet for worldwide
communications, just like everyone else in the developed
world.  I understand and acknowledge the difference
between "real" ham radio and internet-dependent ham
radio (hybrid communications).  The only people who
don't accept this difference are those who choose to
disregard inconvenient facts.

I suggest it's time to acknowledge the difference and
place remote operation in separate categories for both
contesting and DXCC.

Paul EI5DI

> 73, Jim K9YC
> On Sat,9/10/2016 6:47 AM, Paul O'Kane wrote:
>> If ever there was a group of operators who should be
>> classified separately, it is remote operators.
>> Why?  Because the facts are that -
>> 1.  Those operators are at all times communicating over the
>>     internet.
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