[CQ-Contest] FT4 - Robotic Contesting

Matt NQ6N matt at nq6n.com
Wed May 1 21:13:21 EDT 2019

What's the difference between using N1MM+ Logger with needed mults turned
red along with GRITTY with Bayesian decoding vs something like FT4?

It seems to me that the main difference is the time sync aspect of FT4, not
really any other aspect of the technology, other than the massive amount
that is known about coding theory and is part of FT4 that was not known
when RTTY was invented.

The authors of FT4 had considered leaving out the time sync but found that
doing so degraded SNR enough that it wasn't worth doing. Of course that is
a subjective evaluation, but I am inclined to agree with it since the point
of FT4 is to allow QSOs to be made that could not be made without the extra
processing gain.

In my view, FT4 means more stations to work. It means that someone who
would have run out of stations to work or been forced to work S&P can now
try running and may stay in the chair longer.

Even in modes like CW there is dramatic difference in operator skill during
a contest, yet it's still fun for everyone. Yes, FT4 does not require CW
copying skills, but many of the other skills and dimensions of the
competition are preserved or even enhanced by FT4.

I have a strong preference for CW over other contesting modes, but they all
offer something fun. I've worked some SSB contests with horrible conditions
and had rates in the single digits for hours at a time.  If those had been
FT4 the rates might well have been in the double or triple digits with the
same propagation.  That's really quite remarkable.

Best case, FT4 brings a lot of new excitement and competitiveness into
digital mode contesting, worst case, it offers handy training wheels for
those who haven't yet ramped up to the other modes.  But both of those are
in my opinion good things.

Matt NQ6N

On Wed, May 1, 2019 at 7:16 PM Peter Chamalian <w1rm at comcast.net> wrote:

> 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
> Sawyer
> 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
> capability.
> 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.
> 73
> Ed  N1UR
> _______________________________________________
> CQ-Contest mailing list
> CQ-Contest at contesting.com
> http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/cq-contest
> _______________________________________________
> CQ-Contest mailing list
> CQ-Contest at contesting.com
> http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/cq-contest

More information about the CQ-Contest mailing list