eHam

eHam Forums => Contesting => Topic started by: 5BWAZ on November 06, 2017, 09:26:15 AM



Title: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: 5BWAZ on November 06, 2017, 09:26:15 AM
FT8!

Yep. In over 30+ years of contesting, I never thought I would NOT put in a full effort in a major contest, but I only played around for a couple hours in WW PH and SS CW because I was on FT8.

FT8 exchanges make it very attractive to the contester types. Quick signal report, exchange some grid square nonesense that very few care about and move on the the next contact..PERFECT!

Sure, FT8 requires very little, if any skill. You can basically mash your face on the keyboard, roll it around, and make QSO's, but the fact that I can sit in the NW with my small crappy vertical and 20w and work a never ending string of Europieans while the band is open is fun as hell. If I have PSK Reporter up it's even better! Watching all of EU light up on the map from a few simple CQ's makes me think Whoa! can this be real? Is this some kind of cheesy ham radio mode connected through the internet? Nope, it's REAL radio using the ionisphere, and it's a drug. I feel like i'm operating a DX contest from the East Coast. And i'm sure it's a similar feeling for the East Coast boys to work into Japan and SE Asia.


 Let's see... I can operate a major contest watching unworkable spots roll by, constinately getting trounced and totally rekted in pile-ups, where my chances of actually calling CQ and getting responses is zero  OR  I can sit here and run DX stations with my piss weak station about as fast as I can given my 15sec slot and fill my log with DX contacts. hmmm...thinking...

Honestly I haven't had this type of excitement where the possibilities are endless as to what country will call me next since playing with Dr DX on my Commodore 64 back in the day.

Is this a fad that's popular because it's new? Maybe. The big station guys will all try it and mess around with it for awhile, but for the small stations guys it's the "Real Deal".

The contest organizers need to take note here as it's always been a running topic on how to get the "new blood" into contesting. Moving forward, FT8 won't make it any easier.





  


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: OZ8AGB on November 06, 2017, 01:00:00 PM
And CW contests are filled with F-key pushing computer operators. No skills required. Why contests then??


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: K3TN on November 07, 2017, 03:44:32 AM
I've operated every new digital mode that has come along, I still keep coming back to CW contesting. There is still skill involved in operating CW, as evidenced by the fact that skilled ops dominate the top ten. DX CW contest participation, especially the WPX events, have continue to grow over the past decade - the sunspot minimum will impact that.

RTTY contesting has seen strong growth in the past few years - very little skill involved in copying RTTY, as the software does that. Yet, a similar group of skilled operators dominate the RTTY top ten.

Same will happen in contests (like VHF test today) where FT8 will be used. Skilled operators will come closer to or reach 30 QSOs per hour or whatever the real fastest possible QSO rate while others will not get close to that. But, if the fast mode of FT8 gets some new blood interest in seeing how the can push their own limits, all the better.

Every technological advance (memory keyers, computer logging, packet spotting, etc) has caused the water level to rise, but the captains who build the fastest boats and plot the best course still tend to be at the front of the pack!

73 John K3TN


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: KS2G on November 07, 2017, 03:59:27 AM
Every technological advance (memory keyers, computer logging, packet spotting, etc) has caused the water level to rise, but the captains who build the fastest boats and plot the best course still tend to be at the front of the pack!

Amen!


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: AC4RD on November 07, 2017, 04:18:13 AM
RTTY contesting has seen strong growth in the past few years - very little skill involved in copying RTTY, as the software does that. Yet, a similar group of skilled operators dominate the RTTY top ten.

I'm one of the tiny search-and-pounce fish, John, and I think RTTY contests are a bundle of fun. :-)  You see some really great operators, and it's fast and easy.  Glad to hear more people are coming to RTTY contests!  (I've been pretty much away from radio the last couple of years; just getting back into it--though I made a few dozen contacts in the JARTS RY contest the other week.)   73!   --ken



Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: KC2QYM on November 07, 2017, 05:48:58 AM
First let me say that I like to converse with others.  I am of the opinion that digital modes (with maybe an exception to real CW operators) are cold computer generated automaton communication.  That said, if you have the type of personality where you don't care to share your thoughts with others then digital is your mode. Using digital is just a cold, non involved communication process that provides little if any satisfaction compared to a real conversation with another operator...no matter how far or close the other station may be.  The whole contest madness with meaningless awards and accolades just doesn't excite the true ham radio operator.  The true ham radio operator uses technology but limits the substance of his communication to his mind; he doesn't turn it over to macros and meaningless, programmed dibble.  OK, load your torpedo tubes....


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: N3HEE on November 07, 2017, 08:22:09 AM
If you think contesting only involves mindless button pushing you are sadly mistaking.  It requires true technical skills, true operating skills and true planning skills.  I would say that the contester is the true radio operator.  Everyone else is just an amateur !


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: N3QE on November 07, 2017, 09:28:42 AM
RTTY contesting has seen strong growth in the past few years - very little skill involved in copying RTTY, as the software does that. Yet, a similar group of skilled operators dominate the RTTY top ten.

I think you misunderestimate the skills it takes pull a weak-ass RTTY callsign or exchange out of a bunch of strong adjacent signal QRM. In many ways I find it more interesting than CW because it combines both auditory and diverse visual skills.

There was a ZS RTTY contester with a nice article in NCJ several years ago that talked about some of the techniques.

I have come in #3 USA in CQ WW RTTY past few years and it's not because I have 200-foot stacks at my home station!

I suspect similar but not identical skills will help the FT8 guys. But we probably have only begun to scratch the surface of identifying or developing those skills. I've made maybe 100 FT8 QSO's, not nearly enough to claim I understand the mode well.


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: NT6X on November 07, 2017, 09:34:50 AM
FT8!

Yep. In over 30+ years of contesting, I never thought I would NOT put in a full effort in a major contest, but I only played around for a couple hours in WW PH and SS CW because I was on FT8.

FT8 exchanges make it very attractive to the contester types. Quick signal report, exchange some grid square nonesense that very few care about and move on the the next contact..PERFECT!

Sure, FT8 requires very little, if any skill. You can basically mash your face on the keyboard, roll it around, and make QSO's, but the fact that I can sit in the NW with my small crappy vertical and 20w and work a never ending string of Europieans while the band is open is fun as hell. If I have PSK Reporter up it's even better! Watching all of EU light up on the map from a few simple CQ's makes me think Whoa! can this be real? Is this some kind of cheesy ham radio mode connected through the internet? Nope, it's REAL radio using the ionisphere, and it's a drug. I feel like i'm operating a DX contest from the East Coast. And i'm sure it's a similar feeling for the East Coast boys to work into Japan and SE Asia.


 Let's see... I can operate a major contest watching unworkable spots roll by, constinately getting trounced and totally rekted in pile-ups, where my chances of actually calling CQ and getting responses is zero  OR  I can sit here and run DX stations with my piss weak station about as fast as I can given my 15sec slot and fill my log with DX contacts. hmmm...thinking...

Honestly I haven't had this type of excitement where the possibilities are endless as to what country will call me next since playing with Dr DX on my Commodore 64 back in the day.

Is this a fad that's popular because it's new? Maybe. The big station guys will all try it and mess around with it for awhile, but for the small stations guys it's the "Real Deal".

The contest organizers need to take note here as it's always been a running topic on how to get the "new blood" into contesting. Moving forward, FT8 won't make it any easier.





  


+1

Also, nice mention of Dr DX. Back in the day CQ Magazine used to print the top scores for 24hr and 48hr sessions in a full page ad. As a new ham I did many 24h BIC sessions trying to get my call listed. I couldn't come close to the top scores until I discovered the hack where you only had to send the number in the call instead of the full call signs.


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: NI0C on November 07, 2017, 10:46:39 AM
And CW contests are filled with F-key pushing computer operators. No skills required. Why contests then??
Unfortunately this is a myth propagated by people unfamiliar with the skills and effort required for contesting.   


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: OZ8AGB on November 07, 2017, 12:54:59 PM
No I just learned it from a couple of top notch contesters here in my country. Big disapointment.


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: N2SR on November 08, 2017, 03:17:36 AM
No I just learned it from a couple of top notch contesters here in my country. Big disapointment.

Okay.  CQWW CW is coming up in a few weeks. 

Why don't you get on for the entire 48 hours and push your F-keys.  If, according to you, there are no skills required, then it should not be a problem for you to win.   I'll be expecting to see your callsign at the #1 spot.   



Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: OZ8AGB on November 08, 2017, 06:23:56 AM
I am considering writing an application that can do the decoding and send the 5NN 18 TU automatically.
 ;)

Don't get me wrong, I didn't say ALL CW contesters are F-key pushers but it is apparently wide spread. Just listen to the 5NN being sent at double rate.
"Digital CW" should be in its own category.


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: N3HEE on November 08, 2017, 07:12:16 AM
It's like saying writing a program to decode and send 5NN 18 TU requires no skill.  Just a few lines of simple code and your good to go !  ;D 


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: OZ8AGB on November 08, 2017, 07:37:12 AM
Yes, I know I am way out of line thinking that CW contests actually are about sending and receiving skills without the help of a computer. Silly me.  ;D


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: N2SR on November 08, 2017, 08:44:06 AM
I am considering writing an application that can do the decoding and send the 5NN 18 TU automatically.
 ;)

Don't get me wrong, I didn't say ALL CW contesters are F-key pushers but it is apparently wide spread. Just listen to the 5NN being sent at double rate.
"Digital CW" should be in its own category.

Are you planning on moving to Central Siberia for the contest?   

You implied that ALL CW contests are F-key pushers.  And now you are backing off your initial comment.  Typical. 

And CW contests are filled with F-key pushing computer operators. No skills required. Why contests then??

It's a feature in most of the contest logging programs to speed up sending the report.   Sort of like writing an application to auto decode CW.   

You can always enter the contest with a crystal controlled radio you built yourself, with a straight key you fabricated yourself, transmission line you fabricated yourself, wire you fabricated yourself.   Also be sure and make the paper and the writing implement you are going to use.   







Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: 5BWAZ on November 08, 2017, 10:09:55 AM
So...  the reason for my original post was to simply say that after 30+ years of serious contesting that I never thought I would be doing something else during most of a major contest. With the declining sunspots, I found it more fun to actually run Europeans on FT8 from a VERY modest station than bash my head against the wall in WW PH and SS CW struggling for every qso and feeling the pain of being geographically challenged into EU. Those that are concerned about the declining number of stations to work in any given contest need to know that IMO, FT8 could be partially responsible.

Please don't derail this thread. If all you want to do is bash and hate on contesting, start your own thread.


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: OZ8AGB on November 08, 2017, 10:22:55 AM
It is called a CW contest not a homebuilt-equipment contest. I am asking a simple question because I really don't understand it. That's all. No bashing.

I think that being able to send the report correctly is part of the skill but it is obviously not required.


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: VA3VF on November 08, 2017, 04:39:15 PM
And while sending requires some skills, receiving is a lot more skills dependent. There are software out there to decode CW, but nothing compared to a good op. Very few people use software only to decode CW in a contest, and they sure won't score very high.


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: N2SR on November 08, 2017, 04:48:12 PM
It is called a CW contest not a homebuilt-equipment contest. I am asking a simple question because I really don't understand it. That's all. No bashing.

I think that being able to send the report correctly is part of the skill but it is obviously not required.

As I, and others have posted previously, "if you think it's easy, then why don't you get off your high horse, and operate the CQWW CW contest in a few weeks?"   You obviously do think it's easy, since you bashed CW contesters with this:

And CW contests are filled with F-key pushing computer operators. No skills required. Why contests then??

If it's easy, then everyone would do it, and everyone would do well, and there would be no point, would there?  There are thousands of participants who operate contests, who enjoy it in the way that they see fit.  If using a straight key, keyer, memory keyer, or a computer is how they feel they want to push technology, why are you bashing them?  

Many participants are pushing the technology in many ways.  Instead of just saying that contesters are F-key pushing computer operators, you might want to do some reading about how many of them push the limits of their own brain and body by operating two radios at the same time, or designing antenna sytems, filters, stubs, etc to optimize their signals, or write an application that allows control of radios, computers, amplifiers, and other switching control.  






Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: KG4NEL on November 09, 2017, 06:53:01 AM
No I just learned it from a couple of top notch contesters here in my country. Big disapointment.

Everyone is free to decide if they like a certain method of operation, but to deny the skill involved is at best, uninformed.

For example, I think traffic nets bore me to tears, but to listen to a skilled net control is to listen to a clinic of skills at work.



Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: KG4NEL on November 09, 2017, 06:54:45 AM
You can always enter the contest with a crystal controlled radio you built yourself, with a straight key you fabricated yourself, transmission line you fabricated yourself, wire you fabricated yourself.   Also be sure and make the paper and the writing implement you are going to use.

Classic Exchange!  :P


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: OZ8AGB on November 09, 2017, 07:25:32 AM
Sorry guys. Didn't want to step hard on your toes. I admit my statements were a bit provocative and was intended to start a debate on the subject.
As you figured out I am not a contester although I do like our yearly field day.

I'm out'a here. Happy contesting.  :)


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: AC4RD on November 09, 2017, 09:16:01 AM
I think that being able to send the report correctly is part of the skill but it is obviously not required.

"Not required" is what keeps me able to play with the radio.  I've got progressive muscle tremors, even typing is slow and awkward.  I can't send CW with my paddles any more, it comes out gibberish.  If it weren't for "keyboard CW" I'd have to abandon CW--and I'm not ready to do THAT!

"You can have my iambic paddles when you pry them out of my cold dead fingers!"  ;-)


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: K3TN on November 10, 2017, 02:47:33 AM
Like dandelions, this type of thread pops up every year. The SmampFox Contesting Group in South Carolina has an online copy of the AARGH! Frequently Asked Questions list I wrote that was published in the National Contest Journal a while back. You can access the AARGH! FAQ here (http://www.swampfoxcontestgroup.com/Contesting%20AARGH%20FAQ.pdf).

Item 4 is repeated here as a public service:

Isn't {insert latest new technology here} the death of contesting? No, generally new technology is always incorporated in all forms of competition. If you choose not to use any particular new technology, feel free - it is your choice.

73 John K3TN


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: K0UA on November 11, 2017, 10:08:23 AM
If you think contesting only involves mindless button pushing you are sadly mistaking.  It requires true technical skills, true operating skills and true planning skills.  I would say that the contester is the true radio operator.  Everyone else is just an amateur !

Amen and roger that.  If any "true" amateur radio operator thinks contesting is easy, than put your money where you mouth is, and lets see you win one. Any one.  There is room for all aspects of Amateur Radio, including contesting and working piles of DX with FT8 on a wet noodle and a tiny transmitter.


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: K3LI on November 20, 2017, 05:36:13 PM
""If you think contesting only involves mindless button pushing you are sadly mistaking.  It requires true technical skills, true operating skills and true planning skills.  I would say that the contester is the true radio operator.  Everyone else is just an amateur !""


So I take it you are uniformed enough, ignorant enough to think only contesters  are "real" radio operators. Pretty sad on your part.  Some like me, think contesting is about as useless as it gets.  Let see, I can get a zillion dollars, build a contest station that makes K3LR look like 20 watts and a wire and win everything.   That makes me a "real" operator?  How sad for you.


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: N3QE on November 20, 2017, 07:47:51 PM
Let see, I can get a zillion dollars, build a contest station that makes K3LR look like 20 watts and a wire and win everything.   That makes me a "real" operator?  How sad for you.

I'm not sure you ever spent much time listening to K3LR - especially the phone operators. They are remarkably supreme operators.


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: VK5EEE on November 27, 2017, 02:47:28 AM
And CW contests are filled with F-key pushing computer operators.
Indeed they are. To win a CW contest, you will need at least some degree of those. Which is why it would be more interesting if there was also a category for CW without any memory keys, or even just mechanical keys. But I think there are some such contests.

No skills required.
As explained and accepted in later comments below, there are certainly skills required. Especially listening skills.

Why contests then??
Some people love the competitive nature, or the group cooperation as a team, or pushing themselves and their equipment to the limit. It's not my idea at least at this age, to stay awake for most of 48 hours using a computer to log, macros to push, but, if the contest is short, or of a different type that shows up skills I am good at myself e.g. copying messages accurately, then I'm interested. There ARE lots of different types of contests, and contesting is no doubt a good thing for amateur radio, and different types of contests.

That said, many of the major contests in general appear to need a lot of improvement, such as having a genuine CW category that rules out any Digital CW, use of decoders (e.g. this will become a problem in future: an ENTIRE contest of multiple TX can run the entire contest from finding frequency, search and pounce, calling, logging, everything, WITHOUT any operator while the "operator" i.e. USER simply is off fishing, having coffee, watching the tell-lie-vision. Perhaps at that point they will finally acknowledge a "DCW" category.

Another problem, is that contesters really should be considerate to OTHER users of the bands on a weekend. It is not enough to simply say "well you have the WARC bands". There should be at least respect to give the QRP frequencies a berth, and indeed, contest free segments, e.g. above 14059 and below 14010 should be contest free, taking 20m as an example. So that those wanting to work DX can do so down the bottom 10kHz and those wanting to have QSO, QRP or QRS can use the top 10kHz. WHY NOT. CW is also allowed in the SSB section, so during a major CW contest there could be a PART of the shared SSB section also used for the CW contest.

I have a lot more respect for contests even in their current often-inconsiderate form for non-contesters than "DX unspecified and thus unlimited split" because those DX Pedos also sometimes wreck the WARC bands on a contest weekend, and unlike contesters do not occupy a bandwidth of 50 Hz per station, on a CLEAR frequency (no contester will sit on a used frequency as the QRM wills slow them down) -- and CW contesters acknowledge the fact and make use of it that CW is less than 50Hz wide, so they are happy to make full use of the spectrum instead of all being a rediculous 1000 Hz apart.

DX Pedos on the other hand occupy upwards of 30 kHz PER DX Pedo do not listen on their own frequency, AND the DX Pedo demands a full 1000 Hz exclusion zone around their signal -- at least, the DX Pedo Philes chasing the Pedo do, many of which are using decoders and remote internet mobile apps and remote stations with big time lag -- something no contester would do or they'd simply fail.

Interesting discussion and thanks to OZ8AGB for getting it rolling.]

As to original topic, FT8 I don't see how it will be a contest killer, just as it will not be a CW killer. It has its uses and is not for everyone or all the time. Like any other mode. Some advantages, and many disadvantages.


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: N3QE on November 27, 2017, 03:51:11 AM
Which is why it would be more interesting if there was also a category for CW without any memory keys, or even just mechanical keys. But I think there are some such contests.

Here in NA, we have "Straight Key Night", and there are a variety of events )like NAQCC sprint) where there is a multiplier bonus for using a straight key or hand paddle. There are also other ( SKCC  WES ) events that either require or strongly encourage straight keys.

http://www.arrl.org/straight-key-night

http://naqcc.info/sprint_rules.html

http://www.skccgroup.com/operating_activities/weekend_sprintathon/


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: VK5EEE on November 27, 2017, 06:27:59 AM
Thanks, those are exactly what I was thinking of, they're not generally heard nor popular down here these days, as we're very isolated, but I have come across them late at night on 40m. Those are the sorts of contest that those who are not QRQ can participate in and have good fun, before perhaps moving up to faster bigger contests later once they have built up speed.


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: N3QE on November 27, 2017, 07:57:50 AM
Thanks, those are exactly what I was thinking of, they're not generally heard nor popular down here these days, as we're very isolated, but I have come across them late at night on 40m. Those are the sorts of contest that those who are not QRQ can participate in and have good fun, before perhaps moving up to faster bigger contests later once they have built up speed.

Yeah, most of these US straight key events tend to concentrate activity during US evenings on the low bands. If not because of the official hours, then just out of tradition.

While Straight Key Night has the word "night" in the title, I'm sure that the morning of Jan 1 (your evening) that US stations will be on 40M with straight keys and the path to VK is very good then.

With you in VK5, do you get much long path to USA in your morning on 40M? For VK6's this is a slam dunk path but if you are in the eastern part of VK5 might not be so easy but still can happen.


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: N2MG on November 27, 2017, 08:32:41 AM
Like dandelions, this type of thread pops up every year. ...

Thanks for the link; it made my day.

Mike N2MG


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: VK5EEE on November 27, 2017, 03:53:21 PM
With you in VK5, do you get much long path to USA in your morning on 40M?
Probably, yes, but the problem is I'm usually asleep in the early morning  ;D


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: 4K6FO on November 28, 2017, 08:12:23 AM
 :)
I've operated every new digital mode that has come along, I still keep coming back to CW contesting. There is still skill involved in operating CW, as evidenced by the fact that skilled ops dominate the top ten. DX CW contest participation, especially the WPX events, have continue to grow over the past decade - the sunspot minimum will impact that.

RTTY contesting has seen strong growth in the past few years - very little skill involved in copying RTTY, as the software does that. Yet, a similar group of skilled operators dominate the RTTY top ten.

Same will happen in contests (like VHF test today) where FT8 will be used. Skilled operators will come closer to or reach 30 QSOs per hour or whatever the real fastest possible QSO rate while others will not get close to that. But, if the fast mode of FT8 gets some new blood interest in seeing how the can push their own limits, all the better.

Every technological advance (memory keyers, computer logging, packet spotting, etc) has caused the water level to rise, but the captains who build the fastest boats and plot the best course still tend to be at the front of the pack!

73 John K3TN


Title: RE: The "NEW" Contest Killer
Post by: N8AUC on December 09, 2017, 10:40:22 AM
Let see, I can get a zillion dollars, build a contest station that makes K3LR look like 20 watts and a wire and win everything.   That makes me a "real" operator?  How sad for you.

I'm not sure you ever spent much time listening to K3LR - especially the phone operators. They are remarkably supreme operators.

True statement. Tim doesn't let just anybody play with his radios.