[CQ-Contest] Automated contesting

Bob Shohet, KQ2M kq2m at kq2m.com
Wed Aug 28 19:10:15 EDT 2019

Hi Ken,

Analyzing old contest logs has been favorite strategy of mine for decades now.  Not only does it refresh my memory of obscure openings partially forgotten, but it also gets me psyched.  It is also a sobering reminder that no matter how well I thought I operated a contest, I missed many opportunities, especially in CQWW where there are so many more mults to work and so many counterintuitive paths to work them on and often at very unusual times.

9,316 qso’s after dupes is a staggering total and shows just how much the state of the art has advanced since I made 6,003 qso’s (before dupes) in the 1987 CQWWCW as HD5X, hand-logging each qso and sending with a paddle (no keyer), while using a TS930 with no cw filters.  (My equipment was stolen at the Iberian terminal at JFK).

Efficiency of operation at high speed and excellent frequency/band selection is paramount to maximizing rate.  Multiple fixed and rotatable antennas, multiple receiving antennas and an outstanding location is also required.  Add in top notch radios and automated band switching with auto-switching amps and you have almost completed the setup.  Even with all of that only a few people are capable of making that level of score on a given weekend while pushing yourself to the limit.  I didn’t mention the months and years of training for the operation, physical conditioning, proper diet and another dozen things that are essential to maximizing score.

Yes, almost super-human is a good description and so is robotic - the slightest operating inefficiencies not eliminated would result in a score of several hundred qso’s less.  And there is always room for improvement because no one operates perfectly for 48 hours or at 100% efficiency – and I’m sure that quest for perfection is part of what drives Jose and others to operate year after year and strive to do what has never been done before.  Good stuff! 

Keep doing those analyses Ken.  There are lots of interesting and useful things to learn from the logs of others!


Bob KQ2M

From: ktfrog007--- via CQ-Contest 
Sent: Wednesday, August 28, 2019 4:56 PM
To: kq2m at kq2m.com ; cq-contest at contesting.com 
Subject: [CQ-Contest] Automated contesting

Sometimes for fun (yeah, I know I need to get a life) I analyze CQ contest logs, which are available on the CQ contest web sites.  Usually I run someone's Cabrillo through sh5 and also load it into an Excel file where I can sort and sift to my heart's desire.
I once did this for CR3OO operated by CT1BOH in the 2017 CQ-WW-CW.  He operated high power 2BSIQ and delivered on it.  9316 QSOs (after dupes) operating 48 hours (minus 12 minutes according to sh5).  All running except for some moves.
I thought this was amazing.  Jose is clearly an astounding operator, almost super-human.  Robotic, almost.  In thinking about that, though, it seemed to me that this kind of operation could be automated relatively easily, as these things go.  Overall, they aren't easy, but this may be a special case.

As an aside, here is an amusing statistic from this study, comparing myself against Jose.  I was low powered Classic.
Jose had 9316 QSOs on 81 different frequencies for 115.0 QSOs/QRG.  This is called 2BSIQ.
I had 408 QSOs on 237 different frequencies for 1.7 QSOs/QRG.  This is called S&P.
73,Ken, AB1J

-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Shohet, KQ2M <kq2m at kq2m.com>
To: CQ Contest <cq-contest at contesting.com>; ko7ss <ko7ss at yahoo.com>; Pete W1RM <w1rm at comcast.net>
Sent: Tue, Aug 27, 2019 9:00 pm
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] For Sale: fully automated FT-8 QSO Machine customized to your call

As a Single Op. Non-assisted kind of guy, I don’t like the idea of computerized contest stations, although from a tech standpoint I think it would be a really cool accomplishment if it could be done WELL.

As to whether or not a computerized contest station would be a lid, that depends on how skilled and ethical the operator is who is programming it and how they program it.  If you program it to be a lid then it will be.  But if you program it to operate like a world-class opr. who respects the rules then it could be interesting to watch and listen to.  We might even learn something from a machine that is more potentially efficient that a human and non-emotional.

I still believe that the best skilled humans will beat the best machines on cw and ssb (not FT8) for two reasons:

1) People doing the programming will not be world class ops. so the machines will not be programmed to operate with the same level  of skill and understanding of strategy.  Game over.

2) Humans excel under chaotic conditions when all kinds of confusing and irregular information is coming in that can’t be anticipated and programmed in advance for a machine.  A well skilled and experienced human will know what to do and when to change strategies multiple times in order to post the best score.  A machine will be left behind strategically on CW and ESPECIALLY on SSB, where the combination of hundreds of different accents, modified by qrm, qrn, intermod, flutter and/or auroral effects, would make it impossible for a machine to compete.

However, if the programming and tech employed is advanced enough to utilize AI and machine learning, then it could be a horserace after a sufficient learning period for the machine.  Although the world class opr will still have the edge as he/she will make instant decisions on propagation paths, bands to operate, frequencies to use, changes in rate and accent, and many other strategic factors that the machine will not have in its programming.  

The one factor that I could see changing the dynamic is if 2B+SIQ (NOT 2BSIQ) is used.  With a machine being able to hear 6 bands at once and having access to 6 radios and being able to transmit on same (although not simultaneously), I can easily imagine where a really well programmed machine at a great station at a great qth could beat any opr in a 48 hour DX contest, especially when 3 or more bands are open simultaneously to run. 

No human will ever be able to make 500+ qso’s per hour on CW, although it would be fun to watch Dan and Chris try.  :-)


Bob KQ2M

From: PETER 
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2019 3:46 PM
To: CQ Contest ; ko7ss at yahoo.com 
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] For Sale: fully automated FT-8 QSO Machine customized to your call

Back when computerized logging was just emerging, Gene, W3ZZ, I and a few others were discussing it and the notion of computerized contesting. At one point Gene made the sage comment that a computerized contest station would be a lid and Vic, W4KFC, would beat it anyway.

While Vic is gone I’m firmly convinced the same is true today.

Pete W1RM

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

From: ko7ss--- via CQ-Contest
To: CQ Contest
Sent: August 27, 2019 at 1:15 PM
Subject: [CQ-Contest] For Sale: fully automated FT-8 QSO Machine customized to your call

This is not new stuff, SV5KDL and others have been leading the pack in automated FT8, now FT4 contesting and DXing. http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l1313&_nkw=ft8+robot&_sacat=0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byJyxYi4I8Q http://sv5dkl.blogspot.com/2017/12/sv5dkl-ft8-robot-fully-automatic.html Now you can enter any category you like and wonder if the guy that beat you was hooked up to a local skimmer, running high power with the new OM power amp combiner (hook up 2 X OM-4000), or out at dinner while the contest was on! 73, Bill KO7SS _______________________________________________ CQ-Contest mailing list CQ-Contest at contesting.com http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/cq-contest
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