[VHFcontesting] Announcements and VHF contesting....

George Fremin III geoiii at kkn.net
Thu Sep 19 21:20:09 EDT 2013

On Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 04:55:50PM -0500, Marshall-K5QE wrote:

> that C)To a very large extent, those that oppose "assistance" live in 
> the NE.  LES, I hope I have stated the gist of your post correctly.

I do not live in the NE and I would like to maintain a category that
is assistance free.

> Jay-W9RM made a post wherein he talked about ANNOUNCEMENTS rather than 
> Assistance.  I think that this is a genius idea.  The concept of 
> "assistance" has become way too fuzzy and ill defined.

Yes - this is a big problem when talking about this be it on HF or
VHF.  It has been clear to me for years that whenever this subject
comes up there is much confusion over what is even being talked about.

> different things to different folks.  The Anti-Assistance folks have 
> taken advantage of this in various nefarious ways. 

I do not think that is the case.  I also do not think that it is
useful for you to generalize people in categories just because they do
not agree with how you think the rules should be written. I think
the world is more nuanced.

I am sure you have already put me in the Anti-Assistance / old school
/ HF contester bucket and as a result you automatically discard
anything that I have to say. And if that is the case then I doubt you
will ever hear anything that I have to say on the subject.

I did my first contest when I was still in high school in about 1979
or 1978.  These were HF contests - I did no have the money to buy any
equipment for the VHF/UHF bands. I was exposed to VHF by a local that
did some MS and EME and I think I might have a made a few contacts in
a VHF contest at this time.

I have been doing VHF contests since the mid 1980's.  I have operated
from the WB0DRL as well as doing a number of pre rover category rover
efforts as WB5VZL here in Texas.

When I helped build the W5KFT contest station I started doing VHF
contests both single op and multi-op before building my own station in
2001 where I have done every June contest as both single op and
multi-op since getting my station on the air.  I really enjoy VHF
contesting.  I enjoy the challenge and I also enjoy the fact that I
never know if the weekend will be dead or full of propagation.  I
enjoy the 300 qso weekends almost as much as the 2000 qso weekends.

I think that I am more than some clueless HF contester. 

When I do HF contests I usually do not use any form of spotting
assistance.  In HF contests this comes in the form of DX clusters and
Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) generated frequency and callsign
information.  Chat rooms are not much used on HF except for 160

In HF contests the above mentioned assistance is almost always allowed
for multi-op stations. But not for Single op unassisted stations. 
There are categories for Single Op Assisted in most contests and 
these categories have become very popular.  I sometimes enter these
contests in the assisted category. 

Most rules on assisted for both multi-op and single op read
something like this:

>From the CQ WW rules:

"2. QSO alerting assistance: The use of any technology or other source
that provides call sign or multiplier identification along with
frequency information to the operator. It includes, but is not limited
to, use of DX cluster, packet, local or remote call sign and frequency
decoding technology (e.g., CW Skimmer or Reverse Beacon Network), or
operating arrangements involving other individuals."

In addition these rules state that:

"4. Self-spotting or asking to be spotted is not permitted."

"8. All requests for contacts, responses to calls, and copying of call
signs and contest exchanges must be accomplished during the contest
period using the mode and frequencies of the contest."

"9. Correction of logged call signs and exchanges after the contest by
using any database, recordings, email or other methods of confirming
QSOs is not allowed."

And then from the FAQ on these rules:

How can I tell if I am Single Operator or Single Operator Assisted?

The rules for Single Operator state "all operating and logging
functions are performed by one person (the operator)." The CQ WW
Contest has two classes of entry for stations with only one operator:
Single Operator and Single Operator Assisted.

You are Single Operator IF you (and only you) *locate AND identify*
every call sign that you put in your log. Locate means to tune in each
signal. Identify means to determine the call sign of the station you
are working. Do not use any outside tools such as the DX Cluster or
RBN network to locate new contacts.

If you cannot say this, then you should enter the Single Operator
Assisted category.

Another good resource for understanding what these terms mean is 
this FAQ by the ARRL:


> To way too many, 
> "assistance" means making real time schedules during the 
> contest....which I don't really see anything wrong with, but the legacy 
> HFers go into heart fibrillations whenever this is mentioned. By the 
> way, Announcements would make "real time scheduling" unnecessary.

I have no problem making realtime schedules during the contest
if you use the bands you are using in the contest. But if you do
this by calling them on the phone, or sending an email, or sending
them an instant message or on some vhf chat page - then I feel you 
are no longer operating in a *radio* contest.  You are turning it
into a contest to see who has the biggest Rolodex or has the most
IM buddies or internet chat contest. 

> I propose that we start talking about making ANNOUNCEMENTS in VHF 
> contesting.  An ANNOUNCEMENT will have to be carefully defined to 
> prevent abuse.  Although CQ does not mention announcements, it is clear 
> that their concept is that IF you are calling CQ on digital meteor 
> scatter(MS) or digital EME, you can announce Call, Frequency, and 
> Sequence ONLY on the Internet reflectors, packet clusters, whatever.  
> Such an announcement does not convey any QSO information, only that you 
> are calling CQ and where you are located.  When you receive a call and 
> get a good decode, you will receive both his call and your call, so all 
> QSO information has passed over the radio path--thus satisfying Tilton's 
> Rule.

In the HF world this would be called "self spotting".  I can see why
you would want to do it - it does make make making a contact much
easier.  And if you come back and tell me that VHF is different - I
will tell you that VHF is not that much different.  I can assure you
that if this were allowed in HF contests we would all make many more
contacts.  Hard contacts on the high bands and the low bands. All of
the marginal contacts that are hard even if you know when and where
and who a station is.  Long path on the low bands and scatter on the
high bands.  It is all just like doing a VHF contact. Signals are weak
and you have to be beaming the right way to hear a station and it is
very easy to miss such weak signals.

> ASIDE1:  Why allow Announcements for those modes and not for others??  
> Digital EME signals are quite often not detectable by ear.

But this is unfair - why not allow it for all modes?

> could "turn the dial" until the cows come home and you would never hear 
> a weak digital EME signal.  You would tune right past it.  However, I 
> work such signals all the time and others can as well, IF they can find 
> them.  If I Announce "CQ K5QE 144.142MHz Second" then everyone knows 
> where I am.  Just tune there and see if you can work me. 

How is this different then SSB or CW?  I work plenty of stations that 
are VERY weak that if I knew they were there I could work or at least 
give it a go surfing the QSB and getting the beams dialed in. If you 
were to allow this for digital it should be allowed for all modes. 

> ASIDE2:  Meteor scatter is not a weak signal mode, but signals are 
> essentially random in time. 

Just like those few minute peaks that we used all the time work some
long path QSO on 160 meters.  

> Announcements be allowed in VHF contesting for digital MS and digital 
> EME.

Why only digital?  

I do not like the idea of allowing self spotting - as you say it will
be abused in some way - and it turns the radio contest into an
internet assisted announcement contest.  But if you do want to add
these rules I hope that you do not only do it for digital modes.
Is this a digital only contest?  I dont think so.  Those of us that
have trained ourselves to copy weak signals in the noise with our ears
should not be discriminated against. The idea of a contest is to test
the operators and the stations. If I as a skilled operator can overcome
the limitations of my station as compared to someone else should that
not be rewarded?

The fun part of me is in all contests is testing my operating skills
as well as my station building skills.  There are many things that go
into producing winning contest scores and operating skill is a huge
part of that for me.

I would like to leave you with this thought - the rules for all
contests do not need to be the same.  If they were it would be boring.
If the CQ contest allows these things then operate it. Or create a new
contest that has these rules.  In fact if you wanted to you could run
your own contest with the rules you like during one of the ARRL vhf
contests.  You would not be able to submit your score for the ARRL
event but if you think your ideas are really good perhaps everyone
will enter your event instead.  If nothing else you could start
testing your ideas to see how they work in practice.

I know that I have rambled on a bit - but anyone that is not
clear on what assistance is perhaps a reading of the rules 
and FAQs from some contests will help define it a bit more.

Or ask questions if you are unsure.

George Fremin III - K5TR
geoiii at kkn.net

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