[Skimmertalk] "Assistance" and "Red Herrings" - What technologiesdo we want to permit in our "sport"?

Stan Stockton k5go at cox.net
Mon Jun 30 14:48:53 EDT 2008

KD4D wrote:

> As I see it, the issue is this:  What sorts of technology do we want 
> to permit in our sport?
> To put it another way, is there an essential role for the operator in 
> contesting and, if
> so, what is it?

This is exactly the discussion that needs to take place.  What is 
allowed in the future makes
a lot of difference.  Let's suppose CW Contesting still exists in ten 
Where should the line be drawn or should it be drawn to preserve the 
sport. Should we say there
are only a few thousand worldwide who are still alive and love CW 
Contesting and change it into
something else in an attempt to attract ones who never learned CW?

There are those who justify Skimmer by saying it really isn't that good, 
doesn't replace the
operator, etc.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent by big 
stations in an attempt to
win DX Contests.  Ya think it might be pretty good in a few years?

There are those who would allow Skimmer now but say they would draw the
line to prevent robo contesting.  W4TV is one.

In response to one of Joe's posts K5ZD wrote:

"Does anyone else find it funny that the guy advocating for skimmer on 
grounds of technology advancement is then arguing that contacts should
require a human to be manually involved?"

"If we can make rules requiring human involvement (I assume as a way of
keeping it a human sport rather than a robot/technology exercise), then 
can't we draw the same line around the skimmer?  I.e., we want to keep
humans in the call finding business rather than having skimmer do it."

Randy, K5ZD

If the line is ever to be drawn, now is the time to do it.

This technology bridges the gap between someone having to find stations 
to work and creating
systems to automate the entire process.  There will be no problem in 
creating a system over a
few years that will do things that have not even been thought of by 
most - things that will
eliminate fundamental activities that have been performed by operators 
until now and do them
more efficiently in the name of "advancing the communications art."

Some say this will bring new people into CW Contesting.  Imagine how 
embarrassed you would
be to show your station to someone who was not a ham with the 
demonstration consisting of turning
 on an SDR with Skimmer, finding someone who was calling CQ, clicking on 
the callsign, pushing a button
 on the keyboard to send your call, using a code reader to copy what the 
other guy was sending and
putting the logging software in the keyboard mode to send CW.  Perhaps, 
for our targeted audience,
a demonstration of using a walkie talkie to connect to a repeater to 
talk to someone across town would
complement the demonstration nicely.

> I would like to start a discussion of whether and where it is 
> appropriate to
> prohibit certain technology in CW contesting.  I am also interested in 
> what the
> RTTY contesters think.

I suspect SOME RTTY Contesters would love for CW Contesting to become
more like RTTY.  When it does become like RTTY we can just eliminate CW 
everyone can do RTTY instead.  After all, you don't need to know code to 
get a license.  Why
should we have CW Contesting?  I'm starting to like Phone a lot more.

Even though it does pertain to existing rules, W4TV believes SCP is 
from a third party source.  I don't necessarily disagree, but if that is 
true, would say that VE3NEA is providing
assistance by having created Skimmer for you to use just as K5ZD is 
providing assistance by creating
SCP for you to use.  It just brings us back to what you said, and it 
does not matter what assistance
has been in the past or what CW Contesting has been in the past.  What 
matters is whether the line is
to be drawn or whether we are willing for unlimited resources in 
software development to change CW Contesting
into something completely different.   I disagree with W4TV that the 
imput is the only important thing.  That is the
problem we have with the current rules.  While the intent was to prevent 
someone from having a list generated for
him to click on to work, they did not know Skimmer would be developed 
years later.  The focus on new rules should
be to write them so they will withstand the test of time and be good 
regardless of what the input might be.
If, for example, a single operator should not be provided a list of 
stations to work that he did not find by tuning
the radio to each station one at a time, the rule should state that.

There are probably a few still around who remember when you would listen 
to find a new country to work,
the excitement you had when you found one, and the days (not that long 
ago) when it might be considered a special
achievement to to be on the honor roll - when there were a couple 
hundred instead of about five thousand who had made the
honor roll.  Perhaps some remember when you were excited to see a ham 
license plate (one in two thousand cars) and would
honk "HI" on the horn without wondering whether the other guy would 
think it was road rage.

Without challenge there is no achievement.  The bottom line is that 
Skimmer will eliminate the challenge to develop the
skill required to achieve success in finding stations to work faster 
than your competition in a CW Contest. It will lead to
further automation that will turn CW Contesting into something that 
resembles a computer game.  Is that what we want?

Stan, K5GO 

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