Radio W4KAZ

Thanks for stopping by the virtual KazShack. Feel free to comment - I often approve them.

CW Skimmer – Genie Out of the Bottle?

NS3T reports that there has been at least one group(WRTC 2010) who have taken the position that using a spotting robot is getting assistance. What amazes me so far is that the opinion is not more widespread. I guess the “anything goes” interpretation is just something I’ve not been able to digest.

In the sidebar on the same page Jamie also reports that the California Qso Party hasactuallymade rules changes to restrict the use of internet chat rooms, etc. to the multi-single class. CAQP does not have an SOA class. Bravo. But no decision yet on Skimmer.

I suppose it is all moot anyway, because the folks who advocate “no rules” may well be the group most likely to disregard the rules anyway. It is certainly all moot to me, as I expect to operate at home as always – no spots, no skimmer. Just a kid with a radio having fun. If I were to ever even get close to a decent score, it will just mean more to me then. But given my station and skills limitations, a competitive score is still just a goal for the future. Let the Big Dawgs chew each others tails off. My input is irrelevant to them, and their windmill tilting is irrelevant to me.

I guess what really bugs me is the parsing of the meaning of the word “is”. I’ve never bought into the ‘roadblock to progress’ bull crap. Anybody that wants to experiment can do so at their leisure. There is no real impediment to experimentation with any new technology or method. Certainly nothing so esoteric as the classification of a contest entry. It undermines their argument completely. Just don’t claim you have “won” if you are using a technique no one else is using. If I bring a motorcycle to a horse race, I’ll improve my odds of getting to the finish line first. But did I “win”?

Actually, the very fact that there is an argument sort of takes the sheen off the idea of contest operating. If it weren’t so damn much fun I would be having doubts. The truth is, a couple thousand more robots on the air might help give me a lot more practice. I’m certainly not doing it for the plaques I’m not even close to winning.

It seems to me the contest sponsors have both dropped the ball and set a bad precedent by failing to act. Does it really take six months to parse the meaning of “is”? The long period of hesitation only serves to give tacit approval. By avoiding action that will piss early adopters off now, they will only piss off those with the opposite view more if they reverse course later.

The genie is out of the bottle – but neither CW Skimmer nor any other technology is the genie. It’s the precedent set by contest sponsors refusing to “man up” and make a decision, whatever that decision might be. A ruling won’t stop those who would cheat – but the cheaters need to “man up” too, aina?

So a big thumbs up to RA3AUU and the WRTC for having enough testicles to decide.

2 comments to CW Skimmer – Genie Out of the Bottle?

  • I don’t have a dog in the CW Skimmer fight since I don’t contest anymore.

    Still, I’m not ‘getting’ the problem?

    “Assisted” obviously means with the help of others, doesn’t it? To me that means an operator using the cluster, IM or email to find juicy mults is obviously being “assisted” by others.

    But CW Skimmer doesn’t require another person at all — it runs on a computer and doesn’t even need access to the Internet.

    It’s a CW decoder — and those aren’t off-limits in the contesting world. Lots of CW decoder applications exist and these haven’t seemed to raise the hackles like CW Skimmer.

    If contesters decide that a software tool that runs on its own, and doesn’t require anyone else to input data should be placed in an “assisted” category, then why not place users who have crystal filters or DSP in their radio in an assisted category too? These are also stand alone tools that give an operator an unfair “advantage” in a contest — at least compared to those who don’t have them.

    It seems to me this is a very fuzzy gray area of the contesting world…

    Or am I missing something huge?

    73 de Jeff

  • >“Assisted” obviously means with the help of others, doesn’t it?

    It would appear to not be obvious at all, based on the months of back and forth on the contest reflector. That’s why I think it should have been addressed more quickly by contest sponsors.

    Perhaps I am the one on the short end of the stick. It seems to me that the point is the QSO’s and multipliers. So if I have some means of finding QSO’s besides calling CQ or answering CQ’s I find myself, I’m being “assisted”. Robot or human is where the current contest rules fall apart from lack of foresight. I don’t blame them for that, but for the hesitation in addressing an already obviously gray area.

    All of the other things are tools that “assist” me, but none of the other tools actually produce/find/attract the QSO’s themselves. Herein lies the difference(in my own view). Even if you use a CW decoder to ‘read’ the code, you still need to tune around(click spot) to find the station.

    Skimmer is analogous to a person in the room next door feeding you spots, not analogous to a code reader or computer generating code.

    Otherwise posting schedules, phoning contesters, IM’s in chat rooms, twitter, seances at midnight, etc., etc. etc., are all also valid methods for attracting QSO’s. Contest sponsors all seem to exclude those activities(Well – I’m not sure about the seances…).

    My own prejudices DO cloud my opinion. I don’t use packet spots at my home station. I DO think it is an advantage for stations to use packet spots. I contest in large part because I enjoy the thrill of what I come across S&P’ing, or who might answer my calls. Spots take that away from me. I just don’t want to be lumped in the same category with folks who are being ‘assisted’ in finding their QSO’s – by human or robot.

    I’m all for more granularity in the results reporting too. It’s all just data, so a few more categories would make it easier to slice/dice/compare notes. That’s a whole can of worms unto itself, sure to make Big Boys cry.

    Edited last: 6/13/2008, 21:13, kaz

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>