Topband: Error in ARRL 160 contest rules?

Ford Peterson ford at
Fri Dec 9 15:20:45 EST 2005

Rod-VE7VV wrote:

> Hello all,
> As a participant, and sometimes BC section or category leader, in the ARRL 
> 160 contest for 25 years, I can say that working DX in this contest has been a 
> major priority and source of much enjoyment for me. Those extra multipliers 
> are very important for deciding the top scores in this section. After most 
> everyone workable has been worked, a few more qso's don't make anywhere 
> near the difference that another multiplier does. 

It occurs to me that Rod echos the sentiment of many, if not ALL contesting Topbanders.  Any sort of "rules" modification must be made with the notion of increasing participation as being "key" to any changes.  The griping I hear is based on (in my opinion) legitimate "beefs" with the current structure.  I cannot change the rules, but I can change how the results are presented.

(Note: To minimize bandwidth on this reflector, please respond directly to me rather than through this or any other reflector.  I'm not on CQ Contest but people can repost this there if they like (or any other reflector for that matter).  I will only get posts that are directly sent to me as I'm not on other reflectors.  The results of this will become a side-bar on the members only website, and available privately to all who request.  Nobody will be directly quoted without prior permission.)

DX want to participate too.  Last year, I introduced the notion of "Top 5 DX" for the very first time.  It appears several new faces appeared on the scene this year.  Ha!  It worked!  However, with so few DX participating, the Top 5 would (a few years ago especially) been a significant percentage of all DX reporting.  Many DX feel they should be a mult and 10 QSO points to get the US/VE ops to look for the DX.  Many Midwestern and Western ops feel that DX should not be a mult and be assigned 2 points (or less).  What is clear is that the NE US/VE ops enjoy, in some cases, hundreds of 5 pt Qs with EU, thus distorting scores by 100% in some cases.  It is obvious to this OP, (stuck in MN by the way) the choice of a "preferred" formula depends almost exclusively on QTH.  If you are east of a line from the southern tip of Hudson Bay to SanAntonio Texas, you enjoy EU and SA DX.  East of that line you want the mults and 5 pt DX Qs (or more)--in the deep NE and on the beach, the opinions are extremely passionate for obvious reasons.  West of that line, well, DX makes 'winning' impossible and induces a significant negative motivation to participation for many stations.  Think about it folks, an XE1 gets the same weight as the JT1.  In the NE, stations work hundreds of EU with dozens of mults, and in the west, likely zero EU and very limited pacific mults and Qs.  Big stations in the "real" Midwest (contrary to popular belief, K9DX and K3LR is NOT even close to the topband midwest by any stretch of the imagination) are only working 10-15 Qs of DX and about 1/2 that many mults.  

Since there is no "flattening" of the playing field (e.g. making VY2 comparable to SCV in any way, shape, or form) perhaps what should happen is that the notion of "Top Ten" should simply go away for this contest.  In my opinion, it isn't even relevant on Topband.

Many criticize the write-ups due to the goofy selection of sections grouped together and included in "Regions" analysis.  I didn't pick these groupings.  "Regions" have been a part of HF contesting at the ARRL for more years than I've been involved.  While the groupings make some sense in an All-Band Sweepstakes or DX contest event, they make absolutely NO sense on Topband.  Some examples: NE Region includes MAR and MDC.  SE Region includes TN and PR + VI.  Central Region includes WI and OH.  Midwest includes SK, STX, and everything in-between!  West Coast includes PAC, AK, and SCV.  Given the rules, I would scarcely consider any of these examples as 'competitively comparable.'  Perhaps there needs to be a new grouping for reporting Topband results.  Remember though, I'm limited to bifurcating using whole sections.

Using "Call Districts" (e.g. 1 through 0 + VE) is also an HF contest tradition--a tradition which makes zero sense on Topband.  5, 6, and 7 land(s) in particular are quite a territory.

I cannot change the rules.  And the rules will very likely not change if it necessitates a change in formula--no matter how much griping is heard.  What I can change is the write-up.  My flame suit securely affixed, I am requesting input on these matters.

With great admiration for all who claim to be Topbanders, I respectfully submit my request.

Flame away folks...

ford at

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