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Author Topic: Dirty Secret of Contest Rules  (Read 6659 times)

Posts: 203

« on: February 12, 2003, 11:32:20 PM »

This is about the "Dirty Little Secret" of
most contest rules. I am talking about
Single Operator Two Radios, or SO2R.
I have nothing against SO2R, I think it's
a cool and clever application of technology
for those who have two HF contest rigs.
But the dirty secret is that
people using TWO radios are listed
in the same category as Single Ops. Sure, sure
most rules say it's OK as long as only
one signal is on the air at one time.
Gimme a break! Even IF this rule is observed,
, and it widely isn't, give a listen sometime,
is it fair for one op who can call
CQ on ONE band to compete against another
op who can call CQ on TWO bands?
You can't tell me that this is an even playing field, no way. If it is, why don't we have it in
Multi Op rules? We don't! We *separate* the scores
for Multi Op Single Transmitter and Multi Op
Multi Transmitter. So why don't we separate
the scores for SO2R and create a new category?
Because the people who run contests also
like to operate in contests, and they and
(nudge,nudge,wink,wink) their buddies want
to keep this inequity under wraps so they can far
outscore the other Single Ops. Take a look at
the scores for SOAB WPX or CW DX RTTY. At the top
are QSO numbers in the 1,500 to 2,000 range.
Then there is a BIG jump down to 900 or 800 QSO's.
Why? SO2R! I'm not a whiner, I'm a RTTY contester
who has won a few contests (SOAB Africa CQDX RTTY
2000, RTTY Roundup SOAB Los Angeles 2001)with
a 16 year old transceiver and a multiband vertical and wires. I know it takes more than fancy equipment to win a contest. But it is patently unfair and against the spirit of ham radio for a guy using two radios
to compete against a guy using one radio.
Let's make a new category for SO2R right now!
73, Ken Pendarvis 5R8GQ/AD6KA

Posts: 10091

« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2003, 07:03:23 AM »

Most operators of SO2R (those who use one computer for sure) do NOT transmit on two bands at once.

Most operators who use SO2R do NOT call CQ on 2 bands at once - they call CQ on one band and then tune another band looking for new QSOs.

The difference in QSOs that you site is far more related to the kind/number/height of antennas being used, the proximity to large population areas, etc.  No one I know ever gets a 800 QSO advantatge from SO2R.  I'd like to see your proof.

73 Mike N2MG

Posts: 203

« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2003, 07:17:08 AM »

Thanks for your reply, but you miss
the main issue of my post.
Do you not agree that a new category
should be created for SO2R? If one operator
can sit and call CQ *OR* look for mults
because he has one rig, while another
can do *BOTH* because he has two rigs,
should they really be competing?
I agree MOST SO2R ops do not cheat,
but I have two VFO's and I have heard it.
I agree antennas make a difference, but
where is *your* proof? Unfortunately,
antennas, like SO2R, are not listed on
contest results. So perhaps we are both
making suppositions.Best of luck in
all your future contest efforts.
73, Ken  5R8GQ

Posts: 10091

« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2003, 11:30:05 AM »

My proof is looking at the logs of SO2R stations.  There is only a few percent increase in the number of QSOs that can be attributed to the second radio. It's enough to knock them out of the winner's circle now that SO2R is common, but it's not enough for 800 QSOs.

K1AR regularly wins DX contests - he is a notorious SO1R operator.  That's ONE radio.  SO2R is not the overwhelming advantage you suggest.

Also, I need no "proof" to know that monobanders vs wires is a much bigger advantage than SO2R vs SO1R.  You certainly cannot be suggesting that a second radio, running into a vertical or wire is going to make up for stacks of monobanders?  

The only valid claim the separate category folks have is that experienced SO2R operators can keep a run frequency while they tune for mults which a SO1R guy cannot do as effectively.  But even that claim is weak - I use the second VFO in my 940 to tune the band I am on while I am running during slow times.  This is NOT SO2R.  Also, the SO2R op risks losing his run frequency every time he takes the opportunity to work a second radio QSO by virtue of leaving the run freq unattended.  This happens a lot and SO2R ops have learned to live with that.  My guess is that SO1R guys lose their run frequencies less frequently.

I think my view on a separate category is clear - I feel that it is unjustified.  I'd sooner see a new category based on hardware (say, antennas) than one based on what is essentially an operating technique.  Antennas are bought and erected beforehand - and even erected by someone else - no "operator" involved.  Any "advantage" of SO2R relies HEAVILY on the operator in realtime during the contest.  He should not be segregated based on an advanced operating technique.

73 Mike N2MG

Posts: 203

« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2003, 12:33:27 PM »

Mike, I guess we agree to disagree.

By *proof* about antennas, in your first post you
were suggesting that the wide difference in scores
is due to the fact that some guys have better
antennas, and I was suggesting that it is due to
SO2R. Since neither data is recorded in contests,
neither of our hypothesis' can be validly demonstrated.
Of course I was not suggesting that monobanders
were not an advantage, and reading my posts, I
don't see me saying that anywhere. (I think maybe
you were taking a personal potshot at me, no?)

If an op has one radio he has to decide whether
to pick a spot and call CQ, or hunt and pounce
multipliers. I don't think his scores should
be piled in with the op who has the luxury of
doing **both at the same time**. Period. And yes,
SO1R ops, like myself, do win contests. I just
want a level playing field. Why is that so
threatening? (That was a rhetorical quesion, not
a personal question, so please don't get hinky
on my friend, OK?) Smiley

We separate Multi Op Single Transmitter from
Multi Op Multi Transmitter, Why? Because more
than one radio is an advantage. Some contests
have a Tribander category to separate them from the
guys with monster stacks. Why? Because monster stacks
are an advantage. Now, if we logically follow that
line of logic we will end up with 47 entry
categories for every contest. Nobody wants that.
I just want an honest competition against my peers
who are using one radio. The ones making that choice
whether or not to sit and call CQ OR to bust your
ass chasing up and down the bands after multipliers,
because we only have one radio and have to make that choice.

I am not against SO2R! I would love to try it someday!
Advanced techniques are good. I support advanced techniques! Two radios versus one radio is more than
advanced techniques, it's just an advantage that
needs to be acknowledged. Just like we acknowledge
Multi Multi and (should more often) Tribander.

Mike, personally, I think we have beat this to death.
But I think you have more to say so have at it, but
I am dropping the thread. Hope to see you one
the bands.
73, Ken 5R8GQ/AD6KA


Posts: 1524

« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2003, 06:58:36 PM »

The single operator, no matter how many radios, computers, antennas, etc that he has can only do ONE thing at any one time.  He/she is limited by the physical reality of being only a single body.    Therefore the multiple setups can only be a very minor advantage at best.  Skilled technique plus high quality antenna setups will be the biggest elements in getting points.  Any single operator is allowed multiple radios so there is no real advantage.  The only limiting factor is the pocket book.  And the pocket book limitation applies to all other elements of contesting as well (antenna setups for example).  So to pick on the single operator that runs multiple radios is no more reasonable than to pick on the guy/gal that can put up a major antenna farm.

On the other hand the multioperator situation is quite different.  Two operators but one radio can multitask (simultaneous operating and logging, checking each other's info to make sure they've got the same thing etc) for a distinct advantage.  The multiop-multiradio setup can do even more.

Posts: 10091

« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2003, 09:25:28 AM »

Hi Ken, personal attacks.  A debate via email/forums often looks that way, but assuredly this was not.

I do take offense to insinuations that there is somehow a secret cabal that defines/tweaks contest rules for the benefit of its members.  That does tend to get my "Irish" up a little...

Hope to hear you on HF someday.

Mike N2MG

Posts: 10091

« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2003, 07:20:19 AM »

No, there is generally no (some exceptions I believe) ten-minute rule or equiv for single-op entries (there are for multi-ops). Having a rule like this would have, IMO, negative effects on the "fun" of single-op: the SO would no longer be able to pass multipliers band-to-band and would be less likely to jump on a new one or two on a generally lower yield band (say, 160m) at the risk of having to stay there for ten minutes tuning static. It already has this negative effect on the multi/single operations for which these rules are common.

The ten-minute rules were originally invoked to prevent sophisticated switching mechanisms (dubbed an octopus by some) that were utilized 30-40 years ago in advanced mulit-single operations.  In a CQWW M/S, for example, the rules state that there are allowed two TX signals: one TX can "run" (work anyone) while a second TX signal could be used for working only new multipliers.  The "octopus" allowed several multiplier stations to act much like a mini-multi-multi - passing the ability to transmit from one station to the next in what amounted to a flurry of ultra-quick band changes.  The octopus allowed only one TX signal at a time from all the mulitplier stations.

In essence, the modern legitimate SO2R stations emulate, with one operator (that's key, IMO) the octopus with an additional limitation - ONE signal on the air total.


Posts: 2198

« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2003, 05:28:25 PM »

I'm not quite sure about the problem here, or what contests are involved.  It seems to me (at least for ARRL contests) that there's a rule that if you change bands, you have to stay on that band for at least ten or fifteen minutes before changing bands again.  (Except on VHF and above.)  So if you follow the rules, you can't make a contact on 20 M, and a minute later switch to 15 M, and then go to 10 M or back to 20 M, without waiting for the time period on 15 M (in this example.)  Having more than one radio would seem like a very small advantage, especially with many rigs having dual VFO/receive capability; you can monitor one band while working another.

Posts: 1524

« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2003, 08:43:23 AM »

Rules on how often you can change bands only apply to some of the ARRL HF contests, not all of the HF contests.  One must read the rules on a case by case basis.

Posts: 2198

« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2003, 07:46:15 PM »

I stand corrected.  Maybe that's why I don't contest, and just give out points!  (LOL!)  But maybe a waiting period would be a benefit (or at least an equalizer) for some contests.

Posts: 1000

« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2003, 06:19:36 AM »

My, my but the grapes came in sour this season.

One radio, two, or operator is just one operator.  If one guy can actually extract an advantage from operating two (or more) radios, maybe he DESERVES a higher score because he is a better operator than you, by virtue of developing the skill to actually manipulate his equipment more effectively.  

By your own admission you have never tried SO2R.  For the average contester 2 radios are actually a disadvantage.  I certainly have my hands full with one in a contest.  It takes almost superhuman skill to extract an advantage from two rigs.  As Mike pointed out, even then it's not all that significant.

Incidentally, how would you classify a radio that is capable of simlutaneous dual receive?  How does that differ form using a transceiver with a single rx and an additonal outboard rx?

If you think SO2R is such a great deal, why don't you just do it?  Life sometimes just ain't fair, I guess.  Those who can afford more or better stuff frequently show up higher in the standings.  Such is reality...sigh.  Maybe the solution is limiting how much money someone can spend on a contest station rather than how many radios he can that'll ever happen!

If I was gonna plow a bunch of money into a contest station, I think about 80% of it would go into antennas.  A second radio would be WAAAYYY down the list.

Posts: 46

« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2003, 08:20:33 PM »

A similar annoying lack of catagories exists with regard to power levels and single vs. multiple operators in 160 meter CW contests. Share the fun with some other operators who might want to make some QSOs at your station, and then you are competing with the full power stations, regardless of whether you run 100 watts or a KW. Want to enter as a low power station? Okay, but if your friend who does not have a good antenna for 160 meters wants to come over an see what that band is like, you'll have to tell him "sorry even though I'm tired and would like the help, I can't let you operate even one QSO, it will put me in the multioperator catagory, which has no sub catagory for low power."

Posts: 22

« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2003, 04:05:16 AM »

My question is What is the harm of a new category SO2R?  The real effect is just that the SO2Rs have less competition by having their own category and SO1Rs likewise compete with less operators.  

This would certainly not degrade the either the SO1Rs or the SO2Rs any more than SO1Rs and MO1Rs are degraded by having their own contests.

I am just wondering why the SO2R Operator or proponent is offended by suggesting he have his own category.

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