[TowerTalk] NAQP CW + Skimmer

john at kk9a.com john at kk9a.com
Fri Dec 24 08:25:20 PST 2010

Why is this on TOWERTALK?

Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] [CQ-Contest] NAQP CW + Skimmer
From: "Dave Hachadorian" <k6ll at arrl.net>
Reply-to: Dave Hachadorian <k6ll at arrl.net>
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2010 10:25:54 -0700

The rule is now LESS clear because Skimmer is mentioned.  Is
Skimmer allowed in broadband mode (to find EVERY CQ'ing station,
on EVERY band), or only narrowband mode (used only as a
single-signal code reader)?  If you allow broadband mode, the
entire nature of the contest changes.

My suggestion would be to return to the original rule, and add:
"Broadband code readers  (> 3 KHz input bandwidth) are not 

NCJ is not the only contest sponsor struggling with Skimmer
issues. The Stew Perry 160 contest just went through a
last-minute re-write of the rules addressing "Skimmer-like

Dave Hachadorian, K6LL
Yuma, AZ

-----Original Message----- 
From: Aldewey at aol.com
Sent: Thursday, December 23, 2010 9:38 AM
To: cq-contest at contesting.com
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] NAQP CW + Skimmer

I would like to take this opportunity to make a few comments on
subject on behalf of NCJ.

When multi-channel band decoders for CW started to show up
several years
ago, there were strong feelings on both sides of this issue.
Some felt
strongly that, as long as there was no assistance from any source
outside the
station , including the Internet and packet cluster of course,
than it should
be  treated like any other technological advance.  Others felt
that is it
indistinguishable from packet spotting assistance and even,
superior to it.

Although NCJ does not have an official "Contest Committee",
issues related
to the NCJ contests are discussed among all the NCJ contest
Often, input is solicited from others also. Final decisions rest
with the
Contest Manager for each of the 6 contests we sponsor.  For the
Sprints, it  was
obvious that the allowing the use of multi-channel band decoders
made no
sense because of the QSY rule.  It really came down to being an
issue for
the CW NAQP.  We decided to allow it in the Single Operator Class
as long  as
there was no connection via the internet or any other outside
source.   In
2009, the NAQP rule was changed to state:

"Technological methods of copying the information in the contest
are permitted as long as they are entirely contained within the

This rule was intended to allow technologies like CW Skimmer as
long as
they were self contained within the station.  It has been in
place for two
years.  Ironically, because we did NOT get any feedback on this,
we began  to
suspect that they rule was unclear.  Did some people, perhaps,
think  this
was referring to MASTERDAT and Contest Exchange Data bases?  So,
for  2011,
we change the rule to state:

"Technological methods of copying the information in the contest
(e.g. CW Skimmer, Code Readers, etc.) are permitted as long as
components are entirely contained within the station."

So we have not CHANGED the rule - we have only CLARIFIED it.

Also, we understand the danger of identifying a specific tool
such as CW
Skimmer in the rules but, at this point in time, this is what
contesters are
aware of.  This is why we identified it as an example.  As new
technologies arrive, this will have to be revisited.  The fact
that adding  CW Skimmer
as an example rather than just using the words "technological
methods" sort
of proves this point.

I realize that this is a very sensitive subject.  In fact, I
cover  this
topic in a little more detail in my editorial for the Jan/Feb ,
2011 issue  of
NCJ.  I also realize that this will not make everyone happy.
I do not plan to use CW Skimmer myself in NAQP as I enjoy the
challenge of
finding the multipliers myself.


Al, K0AD

In a message dated 12/23/2010 6:47:48 A.M. Central Standard Time,
k1ttt at verizon.net writes:

that  just goes to prove my point that brand names should be
avoided.  CW
Skimmer is well known for generating spotting information so many
people see
that name and assume that is its only purpose.  but it also makes
a nice
audio passband code reader.  In this case it is lumped in with
readers' for copy 'exchange information', after specifically
excluding all
sources of spotting information... so 'obviously' the writer of
the rule  change
understands that it can be used just as a code reader and wants
to  allow
that while excluding the user from decoding a whole band for
purposes.  While this is an improvement over other ways of
writing the  rule, it
would still be better to leave off that brand name software and
just  state
that audio bandwidth code readers are ok for making  contacts.

Dec 23, 2010 06:44:53 AM, daven2nl at gmail.com  wrote:

I normally bite my tongue when these discussions come up,
I'm quite surprised and even more disappointed at the apparent
change in the NAQP that allows local CW Skimmer usage by single
operators. I am curious how this rule change came about - was
there any
previous discussion? Does NCJ even have a contest  committee?

Granted, I may not currently have a dog in this fight since  I am
currently stationed overseas, however the NAQP has always been a
favorite contest of mine, and I was fortunate to have had a
measure of
success over the past decade of participating in the CW event. I
certainly was planning on participating competitively again upon
reassignment stateside. With some prior knowledge of the NAQP,
the way
I see it, there are three basic requirements for a top finish in

(1) A favorable geographical location with good propagation (I.E
Coast in January; W9 and W4 in August).
(2) A relatively good  station, preferably SO2R capable.
(3) The skill set required to effectively  S&P and operate SO2R
maintaining rate, with an understanding of  propagation.
Perennial top
ops such as W9RE, N2IC, KL9A, and N6MJ usually  rack up anywhere
200-400 QSOs through effective SO2R technique, which  separates
them from
the rest. This is a true showing of skill and operator  prowess.

By adding a local skimmer, much of (3) is negated. In a minute
two, the CW Skimmer user can see *every station CQing on every
Every band opening. Every multiplier is shown. Sure - Skimmer
picks up
a lot of garbage, but it is easy to know that W0BH is in Kansas
and my
skimmer sees him on 10m where I need the state for a mult. It
does not
matter how good W9RE or N2IC is at skill set (3) above, because
computerized 2nd op of the CW Skimmer user will find it first in
every instance.

As a result, this rule change has serious  implications which
it separate from other contesting advances the  Skimmer proponent
uses as
a defense. CW memory keyers and computer logging  does not find
QSOs for
you. CW Skimmer does. With the elimination of (3)  above, is
really any point in competing anyway? Sure - there are  still
skills required, such as timing with SO2R, but the unscrupulous
op only
needs to blast away without an interlock.

Again, I am  disappointed that this change came about without
consulting with the  perennial top finishers who have operated
contest for years. In my  opinion, the change should have been
addition of an "unlimited"  category, which allows single
operators to
use packet, a local skimmer, or  the Reverse Beacon Network.
There are
no certificates issued for this  contest, so I don't believe a
category would cause much heartache for  the sponsors. I still
fail to
understand the psyche that seemingly  portrays "Assisted"
participants in a negative light. This psyche  leads people to
lie that they were unassisted, or try to force feed  these game
rules into the "One man and his radio" historical  Single
Operator Category.

73, Dave  KH2/N2NL

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