[VHFcontesting] Captive rovers part deux

Anonymous Coward n0cal at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 27 16:49:02 EST 2004

Hi all,

> Neither do I.  As long as that rover QSO's with
> other stations in ADDITION 
> to the "large M/M group" and any associated rovers
> who sent that microwave 
> rover out to the distant grid square(s).  I don't
> see the technical 
> challenge being greater than random VHF or UHF
> contacts however.  

     The most urgent problem with the proposed captive
rover prohibition is that there is no published,
objective standard for rover behavior. This means that
any rover contacts are subject to the whims of the
league. If club Z wins too much, they get their rovers
quashed, and club P doesn't. We degenerate from a
radio contest into a popularity contest. Obviously,
this is a huge disincentive to participation.

     Will it be legal for a captive rover to make 50
QSOs on 2m-70cm to 30 stations and 50 QSOs on 903+ to
one station? Or does the captive rover threshold apply
to each band separately?

> Random 
> QSO's most certainly are more challenging than
> pre-arranged (scheduled) QSO's.

    True, but some contacts are so challenging that
they very rarely take place without a sked. Long-haul
microwave rover contacts, for example. Such contacts
have several degrees of freedom with considerable
uncertainty under field conditions (azimuth and
elevation within a degree or less, frequency within
1ppm or better, coupled with poor SNR and QSB, times
two endpoints). Leaving one endpoint and the time
undefined results in a vanishingly low probability of

    I think a big misconception here amongst the
captive-rover naysayers is that uW contacts are as
easy as VHF contacts. In most cases on VHF, you hear a
CQ, you key the mike and give your exchange, and its
all over in a couple seconds. Not so on many uW
contacts. Forget about mag-mount contacts on the road.
With uW you need to drive up a hill, stop, get out 20
bits of equipment, set them up, hook up a dozen
cables, etc... Then, each contact may take 15 minutes
to get everything lined up close enough to make the Q
(while being eaten alive by blackflies). Then, you get
to spend another 15 minutes tearing everything down.

    Further, the captive rover stations follow a
schedule with the main station which includes
designated pre-scouted locations in each grid with
easy road access. These locations balance quick access
with a good line of sight path to the main station. As
such, they are not on top of a mountain with a 360
degree view. Often they are, for example, a corner of
a parking lot on a knoll somewhere with a view of the
target hill between two trees. Not a good all-around
contest site. Banning captive rovers means all these
pre-scouted sites need to get re-selected to improve
their all-round performance. This will necessitate
increased travel times. Since the rover stations have
a limited time budget, this means fewer grids worked
and more hassle. This will piss people off. Pissed off
people graduate to stamp collecting.
    If the VHF+ contests were just about buying an
appliance and making many QSOs, they would be on HF.
Many of the VHF+ participants are geeks who like the
technological challenge and could care less about
volume. A few contacts proves it works, why belabor
the point? Especially when belaboring the point means
we don't get to make the attempt from another grid.
Why drive us away?

    One troubling note of our time is the ever more
popular notion of entitlement -- that since I exist,
the world owes me something. The captive rover
prohibition is a derivative of this -- I have a
station, so you owe me a QSO. When I beg for my QSO,
and I don't get it, out come the crocodile tears, "Boo
hoo, you have something I want, and won't give it to
me, boo hoo." When that fails to work, then comes the
state socialism: If you will not play "fair," then we
will make a rule to make you play fair. 
    Well, guess what? No one is stopping anyone else
from finding a dozen new participants and elmering
them on VHF+ contesting. Then you have a dozen new
radio buddies to give you the tough contacts. Not only
that, we get a dozen new participants in the contest
using our endangered bands. What a concept! The league
could even encourage more people to get involved with
VHF+ contesting by _encouraging_ "captive" rovers.

    For what it is worth, I agree that if a rover
constantly blows off VHF-UHF contacts that could be
made incidentally to their uW efforts, then they are
being rude. Shame on them. No mentoring big gun would
ever encourage such behavior. Least of all, because
those VHF-UHF contact points are not a score threat.

         - Dave KD3NC, former W2SZ "captive" rover

These words are my own, I do not represent W2SZ.    

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