[CQ-Contest] Contesting in 10 Years - SUMMARY!!

Tonno Vahk tonno.vahk at gmail.com
Fri Feb 10 12:01:52 EST 2017

Well, 10 years has passed, it is February 2017 and I have to fulfil my
promise of bringing those survey results up here again!

You can see the post from February 2007 below summarizing opinions collected
then about Contesting 10 years ahead. The whole document is still on:


You are all free to see how much of it came true. Not so much has changed in
reality as we were perhaps thinking or hoping 10 years ago. Time has really
gone fast.

- SDR's have become wide-spread but certainly not run by most of us yet.
Regular user interfaces are still in demand as well. 

- I think CW skimmer was created shortly after February 2007 and all those
predictions came true, no SSB skimmer yet though.

- Stations for rent over internet have emerged.

- Antennas have not really grown so much but OH8X monster 160m yagi did
appear (RIP!).

- Use of solid state amps has grown somewhat I think but tubes still

- Me and WM5R were both right about WRTC's:) One was won by EU and the other
by US team.

- Extreme category was created in CQWW for a while. So have the log
submission times been shortened considerably for many contests. Contest
organizers have also taken actions against remote receivers and log checking
has become more transparent.

- Real-time scoreboards have become more wide spread but still not commonly

- CW is still alive and contests are still for free!

Anyone out there still using DOS based TR Log?:)

See yourself what else catches your eye from the predictions made back then
compared to where we are now.

Let's perhaps revisit this in February 2027?


-----Original Message-----
From: Tonno Vahk [mailto:tonno.vahk at mail.ee] 
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 6:31 PM
To: cq-contest at contesting.com
Subject: [CQ-Contest] Contesting in 10 Years - SUMMARY!!

Wow, I would have never expected this to be so popular topic. Big thanks to
all who helped to shape the vision including numerous direct mails. I
consolidated all the answers and sorted them into categories with submitters
call added and the full package can be found as pdf file at:

in February 2017 I will post here a follow-up and we will see who was right
and who was wrong! (Especially WM5R about WRTC winners:)

I made my own summary and interpretation as an article which relfects the
general and aggregate view of the responders. I encourage everyone to use
this summary or the full pdf file as you wish on your web sites or in
publications. Enjoy.

So, Welcome to 2017, Fellow Contesters!

Most of us are running SDRs. We have TS970SDX challenging high end rigs from
Yaesu and ICOM. Ten-Tec has also released a $10k+ radio. High end rigs have
a full SO2R functionality and built in soundcard interfaces for PSK and
RTTY. Despite the sofware-updatable functionality radios have retained user
interfaces similar to what they were in 2007. Receiver performance is also
much the same but tools available to the operator have continue to evolve

Software in SDRs is able to automatically populate band map, record
contests, steer adaptable receiving antennas, switch the pattern of your
stack. No more key clicks and filters have become sharper. DSP systems are
enable to detect noisy CW signals not copyable by ear. New tested
"receivers" are front-end boxes with a high-speed digital output. A PC
processes that output stream to implement the functions we see perform in
IF, DSP and AF stages of older radios. The new companion transmitters are a
direct synthesis of the output RF, fed into amplifiers to get up to the
working level.

Some stations are partly operated by robots tuning for multipliers,
selecting antennas. Speech recognition is used and many contests are won by
stations using 100% recorded voice files. We see continued evolution of use
of various sources of real-time outside information (spotting), and
databases by logging software.  Attempts are made by contest rule-makers to
define the acceptable limits of computer assistance to "unassisted" 
operators, particularly regarding real-time deciphering of CW and voice
signals. Many top contesters advocate that amateur radio contesting needs a
new rule - only the human mind may be used for real-time extraction of
intelligence from received signals.

Virtual DX-peditions are possible. Many rare islands are inhabited with
equipment and antennas tied to the internet that can be rented by the hour
or the day or by contest. Contest superstations will be for rent over
internet. The use of Kenwood's Sky Command as well as the Yaesu and Icom
versions have created a controversy in the contesting community as to
whether remote operation should be a separate class or not. Contest
Committees are having hard time regulating and preventing use of remote
receiving locations in addition to remote transmitters.

No-tune and auto-tune amplifiers have become much more popular and
affordable. Some high end amplifiers have built-in LCD video displays
capable of oscilloscope-like and spectrum-analyzer-like displays of the
input and output waveforms.

Antennas that contesters use have got better and bigger. The trap tribander
has disappeared replaced by the DJ2UT and Steppir styles, but monobanders
still rule. In the US the evergrowing issue is land development and tower
zoning. 80m yagis are standard and first rotating 160m yagis have made

Heil has developed a wireless (maybe bluetooth) headset for contesting.

Someone has developed a phone version of MorseRunner/RUFZ. At least 10% of
all contesters continue to use DOS-based logging programs and naturally TR
Log is still a DOS program:)

Contest log programs have more decision logic in them. The log program
advices you what to do next according to your goal and current situation. 
The log program interacts with Internet in a much more extensive way than
today. You are able to predict openings and changes in band conditions using
ionospheric resources on the Internet.

Due to the increase of the percentage of Europeans at WRTC reflecting their
overall increase in contesting as a whole, a EU team has won the top spot at
the next two WRTCs after Brazil. (Sorry WM5R, I modified your prophecy:))

Despite the general aging trend of top notch contesters the new influx of
"foundation" class licenses will give us many more operators, new records
have been set in the latest sunspot peak. A single-operator has broken the
7000 QSO mark in the ARRL 10 Meter Contest and the 12000 QSO mark in CQWW
phone that is still considered the most-prestigious worldwide DX contest. 
Contesting is still considered the future of Ham Radio. CW requirement has
been almost globally dropped and CW scores are declining. RTTY/PSK
popularity is growing.

A few contests have instituted an "anything goes" category with respect to
computer assistance and external data. Most contest sponsors have shortened
submission time for logs dramatically and many are not accepting paper logs
any more.

To address perceived abuses in the HQ competition, the IARU HF contest has
removed credit for "uniques" logged for all stations. Major contest sponsors
have become far more transparent and public with adjudicated
disqualifications for cheating. More contests accept corporate awards

As a consequence of K3BU's life long crusade CQWW contest has been finally
modernized. 7 QSO penalty has been applied for BAD QSOs as the 3 QSO penalty
did not teach the sloppy operators nothing, they were still making errors. 
Also other continents were given 10 points per QSO, zero for own continent,
so the results are more readable and clear of those heavily populated
continents' losers.:)

Real time sharing of scores during the contest is non-controversial and
common. It is not mandatory but many entries from the developed countries
use it. Initial experiments in real time log validation are underway. There
are a few sites offering gambling odds on the top competitors before major




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