[VHFcontesting] Rules, opinions, and emails

Jim Smith w0eea at sbbco.net
Thu May 28 02:51:35 PDT 2009

Someone at the A.R.R.L. apparently believes that everyone who is going to enter any one of their contests is privy to every email and letter they have ever sent explaining, defining,  or redefining their rules for whatever contest the participants are going to enter.  For example an email was recently sent to this reflector redefining a Rule in the 2009 ARRL June VHF QSO Party Rules.  The email said, "Limited Rovers are able to make QSOs on bands other than the lowest four and submit them as a checklog."

Yet the relevant Rule states clearly:  "3.4. Limited Rover. Same as the "Rover" class above, but operation is permitted only on the 6 Meter, 2 Meter, 220 MHz and 432 MHz bands. Output power limits shall be the same as those defined for the Single Operator Low Power category."


'Operation is permitted only on [four bands]' (one of which isn't a ham band anymore,  but that's a whole 'nother matter),  is a phrase with specific meaning.  If you want to allow operation on other bands and checklogs for that operation you should have to say so in that Rule, as is done in Rule 3.6.2 which says:  "(Logs from additional bands used, if any, should be included as checklogs.)"  By the way, 'should' ought to be 'must' in that sentence if others scores are going to be reduced if a check log isn't sent.


Sending an email to this reflector does not inform the majority of those who might enter the contest what the 'rules' really are.  Most of them will get their instructions by reading the Rules not an email.  So the Rules should be corrected before the contest to say that which will be enforced.


A much more confusing set of conflicting Rules can be found surrounding the Rule referred to as the 'Family Rule.'  In the 2009 ARRL June VHF QSO Party Rules,  Rule 3.3.1 states:  "A rover vehicle may transport only one station using a single call sign. An exception is provided for in "General Rules for All ARRL Contests" number 3.5 (Family Rule)."  Yet General Rule 3.5 deals only with transmitters at locations where more than one call (i.e. station license) has been issued.  It says nothing about other locations,  vehicles,  receivers,  antennas,  feed lines,  or power supplies,  in short nothing about Rover stations and therefore is not an exemption to anything stated in Rule 3.3.1...  Of course all this is actually moot as Rule 3.3.2 states: "A rover may not operate with more than one call sign."  There is no Family Rule exemption or any other limitation on this Rule.  Therefore a rover vehicle may transport more than one station (assuming a properly rewritten Family Rule),  but according to the 'published' Rules ONLY ONE MAY OPERATE in any given contest.


As a further example of the problem inherent in not writing the Rules to state what will be enforced as the rules:  I am in receipt of an email from A.R.R.L. staff stating that in their opinion there is a Family Rule exception to a rule in the ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest specific rules even though the Rule in question cites no such exception.  Again anyone just reading the published rules would have no idea of what will actually be enforced.  The specific rule states:  "5.5. A transmitter used to contact one or more stations may not be used subsequently under any other call during the contest period. The intent of this rule is to prohibit "manufactured" contacts."  There are no exceptions listed in this Rule either for family members or for liaison radios.  This Rule is in the highest precedence set of rules for the contest.  Therefore if you are on 432 and have ID'd and are setting up a 10 GHz QSO and set down the mic and your brother picks it up and uses his call on that same radio you are both by a strict reading of the rules subject to whatever punishment breaking the rules entails.  Same for the 10 GHz transmitter itself.
Of course,  the rules don't state what that punishment might be either.  The Disqualification and Penalties (Part 7) section mostly deals with score reductions,  and the two General Rules sets don't say much either other than: "Entrants agree to be bound by the provisions and intent of ARRL contest rules." and "Entrants agree to be bound by the decisions of the ARRL Awards Committee.",  so the League can pretty much do whatever they want to if they ever decide to enforce the rules as written.  
Then again I have an email saying that in Family Rule situations they won't enforce that Rule as written.  But is the staff member who wrote that email still there?  Does whoever is sitting in that chair now know of the email sent to me?  Were conflicting emails ever sent to others?  If a violation of the stated Rule came to the League's attention tomorrow would the staff member who sent me the email (or whoever has taken his place since) be the one deciding if any action will be taken or will someone else (or a committee) decide?
Don't say that it can't happen that way.  It already has.  Immediately after the first Rover class rules were published,  while several of us were independently inventing the concept of Rover Circling (I originally called it Rover Squared because of what it did to scores) I sent a letter to the League and requested an opinion on whether drivers counted as crew if they did not operate the radios.  I received a letter back that they did NOT.  A year or so later an opinion was 'published' in a forum similar to this stating that they did count as operators/crew and could not be switched during a contest.  It took over 15 years for that to be finally decided and added into the rules.  Now they again don't count and its in the rules.
All this would be so much simpler if the rules agreed with the opinions that have been 'published' in so many different ways over the years.  No one at HQ has ever been able to tell me why they won't do so either.
So while you are making recommendations as to what the rules should be,  you might also tell your League reps that it would be nice if the rules stated what will be enforced rather than whatever someone there decided the rules should have said but don't say.  And it might be a good idea to define the punishments for violations other than score fixing more clearly also.
Having said all that I'll still be on for the contest(s).  Hope to work you there.

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