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Author Topic: "He Tricked Me!"  (Read 8350 times)

Posts: 13

« on: October 31, 2013, 08:04:09 PM »

This weekend brings up my favorite Radiosport Contest, the ARRL November Sweepstakes, CW Edition. It has long been my favorite, because unlike many popular contests, it has a rather difficult exchange which must be copied accurately for points.

Some contests, for example the very popular CQWWDX contest family, have an exchange which is very easy to predict. If you correctly get the callsign by copying it off the air or by clicking a cluster spot, the remainder of the exchange need not be copied. It will be "599 9" from a P40, "599 14" from a DL, or "599 25" from a JA. In fact, most contest logging programs just compute it for you. Get the callsign correctly, you got the points.

Sweepstakes, on the other hand, requires you to copy 4 information fields which cannot be accurately "computed" from the callsign. A serial number, a precedence character, a check number (year first licensed), and your ARRL "section" designator. This somewhat more complicated information exchange obviously rewards a skilled Radioman and penalizes a less skilled Radioman. That's why they call it a contest, right?

But computer programmers are nothing if not clever! Some of the popular contest logging programs now have a feature which allows you to pre-fill your log with the results of previous contests, and there is a thriving exchange of "last years logs" to harvest "what was sent last year". Now when you enter a call in your log, if the fellow was on the air last year, the logging program fills in the precedence, check, and section, and all you have to do is copy the serial number correctly. The rest of the exchange is a pretty good guess to be the same as the previous year.

Some of us feel that this pre-filling dilutes the competitive nature of this contest by taking away the "skill reward" for good copying ability.

So a few have decided to confound the pre-fill by changing our check number from year to year, giving negative reward to those who simply accept "what he sent last year".

The cry goes up in the land "He tricked me! He sent a different check than last year!"

Posts: 568

« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2013, 02:53:50 AM »

I haven't done an ARRL contest in several years, I tend more towards the international contest, maybe I'll try this one.  With all that exchange info I definitely won't be doing any high speed CW, down in the mid teens maybe.  It seems though all contest like using electronic logging for submitting logs so you're going to get all the features available with the logging program, auto fill.  A few years ago I submitted a paper log for a contest and got it returned stating they wanted it in electronic form.  Easy to process.

73 Randy AJ7G

Posts: 555

« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2013, 07:59:59 AM »

I enjoy this contest too. It's been many years since I had a station where I could get on the air and play though.  So if all goes well tomorrow morning (i.e. wind dies down a bit after the front goes through), the windoms will be up high enough to play a bit. My code is so bad that I may not be able to copy my name but I can still send. Smiley I'll be happy with 10WPM doing search and pounce with any measure of accuracy. Have to get back to practicing and work back to 18 WPM or so.

Posts: 7

« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2013, 10:58:36 AM »

What, you couldn't get enough congratulation on the Other Forums that you had to post here, too?

I think it's appropriate to point out that "Some of the popular contest logging programs now have a feature" is in fact a lie. Contest logging programs have had this feature since the 1980s.

Also, when you change the check number outside the parameters listed as valid in the rules, you're cheating. What's worse, you're cheating because you feel like you have to set up some kind of "sting operation" to "catch" folks you consider less-skilled operators.  As I noted over there, I hope you feel better about yourself. Well done, Serpico.  Roll Eyes

You want to feel superior. That's a shame when you have to take lame pot-shots, like this post, at other amateurs in order to do so.

73 de Bob WP2XX (who can copy the exchange just fine, thanks, no matter what gibberish you decide to send)

Posts: 557

« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2013, 01:00:44 PM »

If the rules allow innovation to make contesting more efficient, it will happen. Is there any serious contester that DOESN'T use logging software that provides call/exchange prediction and pre-fills of previous year's contests? The only way to avoid this behavior is to get rid of the complex exchange. Or maybe we should just go back to paper logging?

While Bob's reaction is a bit strong, I agree that it's not fair to suggest that folks that are innovative are cheating. Providing an incorrect check number is more of a rules violation than using smart logging techniques.

Posts: 5210

« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2013, 01:59:02 PM »

If the rules allow innovation to make contesting more efficient, it will happen. Is there any serious contester that DOESN'T use logging software that provides call/exchange prediction and pre-fills of previous year's contests?

In some contests, where I genuinely know that a JA is going to be zone 25, I don't mind my logging software doing the pre-fill. The place where I gotta be careful is Asiatic Russia, and folks in the US where their call does not indicate the correct zone.

But in a test like SS, in a society where many folks are retirees or young tech workers who have recently changed states/sections? It would be unwise to accept last year's exchange when the guy has moved in the past year or is operating as a guest at an out-of-state (or out-of-county) station. Some of the most prolific ops operate as guests from a variety of QTH's.

Many of the "history files" floating around are out of date by not just one, but several years.


Posts: 1725

« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2013, 01:59:33 PM »

I do not use the partial fill databases.
Iffin I can't get the exchange, so be it.

When you come right down to it, the only thing
you have to get right the first time is the S/N.
You can always listen to the station calling CQ
during previous or subsequent Q's to get the rest of the info.

Most of the time, I KNOW the Prec, Check & Section BEFORE I
respond to the CQ.

One minute to start time !
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