[VHFcontesting] Get A Grip!

Kenneth E. Harker kharker at cs.utexas.edu
Fri Sep 6 09:17:29 EDT 2002

On Fri, Sep 06, 2002 at 12:13:24AM -0400, Russ Pillsbury K2TXB wrote:

> > NO NO NO, surely the rules are written and understood. They are
> > not subject to interpretation.  Packet operation, spotting nets
> > etc are not allowed.
> But the questions is "Not allowed for what?"  Certainly the intent of the
> rules in disallowing packet operations is for use for spotting nets.  If he
> is using it only for tracking, that is not spotting.  And it does not give
> assistance to his station even if other stations were to use that info to
> locate him.

In the situation he describes, that is self-spotting.  Traditionally, 
self-spotting has been seen as placing your callsign and your CQ frequency 
on a DX cluster.  Blasting away continuously on APRS with your callsign and
location is pretty much the same thing in a VHF contest.  By self-spotting, 
the rover would be cheating - they would be using means other than the 
contest bands and modes to solicit their two-way communications.

> Probably 80% of contacts made on the higher bands during contests are made
> by operators advertising at length on 6 or 2 meters that they are looking
> for UHF or microwave skeds.  The skeds are made and the exact location to
> point, the frequency, sequencing are all known in advance of the attempt.

If the initial contact is made via a contest QSO, it is _entirely_ different.

To take the rover using APRS to the absurd extreme, why shouldn't that same 
contest operation not have a PC at home, receiving the APRS spots on a 
directional yagi that tracks the rover based on the APRS reported position
which, when it receives an APRS position in a new grid locator, then 
emails every VHF/UHF ham the rover could get an email address for?  What if 
the computer also faxes all of these hams, or calls them on the phone and 
leaves a voice message?  What if it put out a spot on the DX cluster?
Or sent out a voice announcement on the local repeaters?

The point I am trying to make is that it is not just the technology used
to self-spot that is the issue - it is the act of self-spotting that matters.
Establishing two-way communications via the contest bands and modes and
asking a station to move to another band is entirely different.

> To carry the issue a bit further, I and many other stations often tell other
> contest stations about the location, frequency, etc., of other stations
> during a contest.  Sometimes we even set up skeds for third parties.  This

Assuming that those third parties are single-ops, then they cannot accept
your "help" in establishing two-way communications for contest QSO credit.
See ARRL VHF Contest Rules 2.1: "Single Operator: One person performs all 
transmitting, receiving, spotting, and logging functions..."  By relaying
a station's location, frequency, etc., you are spotting for them.  They
cannot receive that assistance.  Single-ops have to make all their QSOs 
_by themselves_.  That's what single-op means.  Contesters should know this.

> practice was the center of discussion a few years ago and we were assured at
> that time that it was perfectly legal.  Compared to that, what's so bad
> about someone discovering the location of a rover via an APRS tracker?

I don't think it's sportsmanlike, and if I heard someone actively offering 
this sort of information, I'd be inclined to (a) ask them to stop, and/or (b)
let the Contest Branch know what happened.

Kenneth E. Harker      "Vox Clamantis in Deserto"      kharker at cs.utexas.edu
University of Texas at Austin                   Amateur Radio Callsign: WM5R
Department of the Computer Sciences      VP, Central Texas DX & Contest Club
Taylor Hall TAY 2.124                         Maintainer of Linux on Laptops
Austin, TX 78712-1188 USA            http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/kharker/

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