[CQ-Contest] FT4 - Robotic Contesting

Peter Chamalian w1rm at comcast.net
Wed May 1 14:52:08 EDT 2019

Back many years ago when computer logging first came on the scene, W3ZZ and
I and a number of other contesters were talking about it.  We quickly got
into the idea of automatic logging and contesting in general.  After some
discussion, Gene, W3ZZ observed no matter how sophisticated the robot might
be, it would probably be a lid and Vic, W4KFC would beat it anyway! (For
those who don't know who W3ZZ or W4KFC are, go google them.  I was W1BGD/2).

I would submit the same is true today.

Pete, W1RM
W1RM at Comcast.net

-----Original Message-----
From: CQ-Contest <cq-contest-bounces at contesting.com> On Behalf Of Edward
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 6:59 AM
To: cq-contest at contesting.com
Subject: [CQ-Contest] FT4 - Robotic Contesting

I am not sure how many people are aware of a new FT mode that was just
released.  The mode called FT-4 has a few new features.

The first is that its quicker by trading S/N capture algorithm for speed of
contacts.  I read somewhere there is a 10db price to pay on the weak signal

The second is it allows for more flexibility of contest exchanges.

The third is disturbing.  It allows for an automated feature that decides
the best contact available of the decoded possibilities (like a new mult)
and just goes for it automatically.  The operator doesn't click on the call,
the operator clicks on the desire to find the best call.

Because of the simplistic possibility of having a screen macro just keep
clicking on "find the best call", a feeble attempt to thwart full robotic
capability is made to swap the button on the screen with the cancel button.
Although this is NOT done after every QSO but only after "a few QSOs"
whatever that means.  So even with this attempt, the acceptance of a few
automated and optimized QSOs has been declared acceptable.  Just not 100%
fully robotic.  Although whether this attempt to move buttons actually
prevents a macro from engaging the button is not assured to me.  People more
knowledgably on such things can comment.

I hope that the Contest community is watching this slippery slope slide.
Fire up FT4, decode the signals in the pass band, Automatically find a few
and work them without the operator even knowing which ones are being worked.
Seriously, what is the point?  If a robot war contest is desired, I am all
for it and think it's a cool concept.  But we don't put 6 year olds in the
ring to fight with robots in robowars and we shouldn't be mixing the two in
contesting either.

Contesters ignore this disturbing trend and acceptance by sponsors at their
peril in my opinion.


Ed  N1UR
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