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Contesting Online Survey

Survey Question Current Survey Question

Recently the RDXC committee reclassified P3F to high power from low power without publicly providing strong evidence that any infraction had occurred. They concluded was that the contestant was running HP on 80/40m but not full-time, just 10 minutes here and there without any convincing evidence. It appears they used the RBN as their source of information. Should the RXDC contest have to publicly provide convincing evidence before reclassifying a station from LP to HP?

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Randy, K5ZD, wrote a sidebar titled " Convergence and Change" in the 2015 CQWW CW printed results in CQ magazine. He wrote that the "convergence of personal computers, Internet access, DX clusters, and CW Skimmer have changed the nature of CW contesting". He goes to say that it is "more difficult to police the line between the single operator working alone and those who are using the assistance of DX spotting." In light of this convergence and change is it time to recombine SO and SOA into a single category?

What's your primary Software for HF Contests ? ( no VHF/UHF ! )

Are you ready the this year's winter contest season

What ways have you found to be effective to attract newcomers to our hobby?

What is your linear?

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Many contest sponsors are considering how to handle CW skimmer. Do you think single-ops (not assisted) should be allowed to use programs like CW Skimmer, as long as everything is local to the station and no spotting nets are used?
  Posted: May 09, 2008   (474 votes, 75 comments) by N6TV

  Don't Care
    (474 votes, 75 comments)
Survey Results
Yes 32% (153)
No 57% (272)
Undecided 5% (26)
Don't Care 5% (23)

Survey Comments
"However, since there is widepread abuse of the assisted category in entries sent in as SO, the wider question would be, "should the SO (nonassisted) category be eliminated?""

I love your sports medicine logic. Since so many athletes are using steroids, let's just declare them legal. :-)

Posted by W4ZV on June 12, 2008

CW Skimmer
Most likely the way this should be handled is to place users in the assisted or MS category, depending on the contest. However, since there is widepread abuse of the assisted category in entries sent in as SO, the wider question would be, "should the SO (nonassisted) category be eliminated?"

Posted by K3MD on June 10, 2008

Define Unassisted
The key term here is "Unassisted". It does not say "Without Spotting", it says "Unassisted" . I am not sure the term shouldn't include Code Readers & Keyboard Keyers.

Clint - W5CPT

Posted by W5CPT on June 9, 2008

WWSA CW DX Contest
Hello dear friends:

Answering some questions regarding the controversial use of CLUSTER and
software like SKIMMER for Single Operator (SO) stations during the WWSA
Contest, we want to point that:

+ You can use any kind of software in order to get some help for your logs,
calculations, score, memory keying, etc. while you are decoding the Morse
Code by your ears.

+ If your are going to use some extra help from a 3rd persons like CLUSTER
spots, you must mark your log for the MS category.

+ The SO station using CW Skimmer must mark his log for the MS category.

+ Those SO using 3rd person and/or external help who omited to mark his
category as MS, will be considerer under -XIII - point of the WWSA rules.

Muchos saludos
Best regards
Alberto U. Silva LU1DZ
WWSA Contest Manager

Posted by LU1DZ on June 4, 2008

Yes. Any tool that brings youth to the hobby is needed. Also like any tool as the user gains experience, dependence of it wains. Eventually the user gets a better tool or doesn't need it at all.

We should encourage this. Using this tool will increase participation. Good ops will learn that dependance on the tool becomes an hindrance to performance. They will take the steps necessary to longer need it.

Posted by WA4WPD on June 3, 2008

1.Link Skimmer with my LOG and radio.
2.Start the contest.
3.The radio starts jumping over the stations registered by the Skimmer.
4.Calls them and logs them.
5.Repeat 4) till the end of contest.
No human is needed in the scenario above.

If we allow Skimmer like programs to be used we are starting to compete against machines.
And it�s no brainer who will win � the biggest machine.

Posted by LZ1ABC on May 29, 2008

Leave the assisted category as genuine as possible
Guys stick to the question above please......

The whole point of the unassisted category for CW contests was to find and copy the callsigns yourself. It's an art we love doing so much. And now, a computer owns it.

Very UN-happy....

73 de Mark, PA5MW

Posted by pa5mw on May 28, 2008

CWSkimmer is a significant leap in technology, and is a welcomed taste of success from what use to be a Ham standard - finding the bar, measuring the bar, and then figuring a way to push the bar further out.

I am proud of this young man's accomplishment. Opposition to CW Skimmer will go along the same path as the government and prohibition and AMers resisting the entry of SSB.

Regretfully, insecurity is now the normal reaction to any change in Ham radio, especially with technological leaps such as with CWSkimmer.

I have seen this in all facets of our hobby, and I am sick of it. In MARS - darn digital modes will never work... I can turn my hearing aid up and still send voice traffic above 80M during the evening Summertime net between the lightning strikes.

I say pull your heads out of the sand, or wherever else you have them and feel proud that a Ham made this advance.


Posted by KI4MF on May 28, 2008

Just a tool. Do not be afraid.
I say let EVERYBODY use it, if they choose, and there you are, no so-called advantage for anyone. I see no reason to disallow its use if automated memory keyers or keyboards that are churning out perfect high-speed CW with just the push of a button or a click of the mouse, are permitted on the sending end. It is nothing more than a tool. Success is measured by how one uses the tools that are available, not if one merely possesses the tools. A hammer cannot build a house without human assistance or intervention. Think of this program as that hammer.

Posted by kn8aw on May 24, 2008

No, but please use it
I think Skimmer has a place in contesting just like packet
does. I just don't understand why folk who see the
relevance of a packet class are indignant at the idea that
technology with EXACTLY THE SAME NET RESULT as
packet shouldn't also be considered assistance.

Arguing that SO2R should be assisted is specious at best:
SO2R ops still have to do the receiving THEMSELVES. They
get no "assistance." It's their skill at using SO2R that
boosts their score, not SO2R itself.

Be all this as it may, I think Skimmer ops will find, just like
packet ops have, that Skimmer is not an advantage.

So maybe I should park myself on the fence, too.

73, kelly

Posted by VE4XT on May 23, 2008

CW Skimmer et al
We should also consider what has always been the biggest "REASON" for contesting in the first place ie- to test,evaluate both the operator and their station for readiness. Perhaps we may have to consider allowing CW Skimmer and other S/W to be mainstream classses and now designate "LEGACY" categorys to the pre-PC era- hmmmm? (ARMSTRONG classes?)

Posted by N4CYV on May 22, 2008

CW Skimmer
I can see the day comimg when your computer will check the date, turn on the radio, work the contest, and send in the log. You wont even know your entered the test until you get the certificate in the mail.
I have 100 watts and one wire antenna fed with ladder line. I compete with myself and try to do better then the last time. I don't even send in the logs anymore. I just pat myself on the back and try to better the next time.

Posted by NJ3K on May 21, 2008

CW Skimmer
I must admit that at first I said why not. It is a new technology and I guess that what Ham Radio is about. Developing new technologies.

But after really looking at it and reading Stan K5GO's comment I must agree with him. I am 1 of those 100w guy's. And there are times that even with more than the no gain antennas have trouble busting the pile ups.

Can I change my VOTE!


Posted by N5ER on May 21, 2008

Skimmer looks like a valid use of new technology to me. There's no-one helping the single operator from outside the shack. Have no fear; the great ops will still be the great ops -- with or without a particular piece of equipment or technology. Skimmer should be an exciting new addition.

Posted by W9CPI on May 20, 2008

CW Skimmer
I believe that the "innovations" mentioned in N5VU's comments do not pertain to this discussion. All the mentioned items are hardware and while they may improve a station's operational capability they do NOT locate the next rare DX Q or multiplier...that still relies on the skills of the operator. That's an important distinction!

Posted by ae7dx on May 20, 2008

The Other Side
Stan K5GO raises an important point. I have already reduced my contesting from "flat out" to just having fun as a result of packet/internet spotting. If you are strong enough into europe to control the mob it is probably OK but for us who usually are weak the packet/internet pile usually slows the rate. So why try to compete?
The skimmer will make it many times worse if allowed to all single op.
Many claim that these new technologies will get new blood into contesting. Any DX new blood will be the first casualties when they try to deal with the pile ups developed, they won't have the skills and will just turn off and go do something that is more fun!

Martin VK7GN (ex VK5GN,VK4VU,GW3VBX)

Posted by vk7gn on May 19, 2008

Another Thought For Your Consideration
Those who think Skimmer is going to help the smaller stations should consider this:

Right now a QRP station or 100W guy with a smaller antenna has the opportunity with some skill and a little luck to tune the bands and find rare stations who do not yet have big pileups, make some special contacts and have good memories of the accomplishment for weeks, months and years to come. With Skimmer in play the VERY FIRST CQ by a rare station will generate a pile-up that cannot be managed.

Perhaps a few big boys will be able to break that pile-up after the initial CQ or perhaps the rare station will just reach for the OFF switch.

Is there any doubt that it will become virtually impossible for a rare station to call CQ in a contest and a guy with QRP or low power and a zero gain antenna to make a contact?

This technology, allowed in any recognized category of entry, will create the scenario described above.

There are many thousands who love to compete with the skills they have developed using this primitive form of communications. That is what this discussion is all about - whether to change the basic nature of what we enjoy to something entirely different - relying on computers to do what operators in any category cannot do on their own.

When you weigh the positives and negatives about this technology, don't forget about the many thousands of CW Contesters with moderate stations who make up the majority of the contacts in your log.

Stan, K5GO

Posted by nn5j on May 19, 2008

Skimmer is an operator
using passive lists by one operator is OK for me.
Using passive helping tools like a keyboard is OK.

But adding an active, intellectual operator to a singleop station must be a differentiator putting the station to another category than single operator.
The active operator can consist of other people behind a network or machines performing similar functions that people can do today - like finding a multiplier or QSO.

When Skimmer gets to a level it can make QSOs independently without human interrupting the QSO creation, those stations will make a completely new category which is not human assisted by computer network. It is computer + network assisted by a human.

Posted by OH6LI on May 19, 2008

CW Skimmer
Amateur radio has alway been about improving ways to communicate, subsequently, the CW Skimmer is another way to communicate. As long as everybody is using absolute correct character spacing this would probably be alright for decoding CW. It doesn't appeat to be 100% perfect and I think that might be a cause for concern for your score accuracy. Heres something to think about, CW memory keyers, keyboards, voice memory devices, multi-band antennas, StepIr antennas, variable filters, etc,...are we going to complain about these inovations too?
I guess it's sad to say,...but us hams will always find a way!
73, Marcel, N5VU

Posted by n5vu on May 17, 2008

Just last year I finally gave in and started using keyboard cw. It was always the straight key before that. My scores were never very big, but they were by fist and by ear. You could tell who was using a keyboard. At hour 23, the keyboard operartor is much more rested and capable than the hand/ear op. Ths is just a re-hash of what some others have said. It is out will be used by the rules or not.

Posted by VE3RCN on May 17, 2008


You are deaf and you can use any thing to enjoy the amateur radio spirit, don´t losse it...!!!

Posted by LU1DZ on May 16, 2008

Skimmer test results
Dear Contesters friends:

After several days of Skimmer test I want to point that this kind of software will not help anybody to make a big final result.

Screen show a lot of mistakes and wrong CALLs, even when it´s tested with good CW signals input.

My ears where better all the time.

In other way I think that CW GET and CW Type are better (and FREE) for Hams who don´t know the Morse Code.

Posted by LU1DZ on May 16, 2008

Yes - CW Skimmer is local
Being deaf, learning and receiving Morse code with an Aldis lamp was and is hard enough. I welcome ANY software that helps me visually interpret incoming Morse code. Seeing the dots and dashes scroll across the 'waterfall' (in my opinion) is a great tool, and allows me to more easily participate in CW contests.

If I am not using help from other operators, those of which that are are working and listening on frequencies that I am not, I don't see why I should be penalized and categorized in an assisted group. All of what is displayed with CW Skimmer is what MY single-operator station is receiving.



Posted by Brian on May 16, 2008

Say what?
I am surprised that N6TV thinks that "DX alerting assistance of any kind" (to use CQ WW rule) means only SPOTTING NETS & that this could possibly mean only assistance from other PEOPLE.

I am also surprised that N6TV believes that a bunch of stuff from logging programs to automatic rotors & SO2R hardware is "assistance" that somehow has something to do with the operating function of finding stations (the only thing that differentiates SOA from SO category).

Skimming completely automates the process of finding stations. Nothing that N6TV mentions or anyone else has said is "assistance" has had anything to do with the operating function of finding stations, so they are all not relevant.

I am not aware of those examples or any others that have been put forward as "assistance" ever having been considered by contest sponsors as somehow displacing the operator in the other functions of operating for SO: working & logging stations.

We do not have separate categories for things like multiple towers or stacked beams or SO2R because none of these change one operator or more than one operator, one transmitted signal or more than one transmitted signal or the transmitted power level that have long been established & accepted as the basic categories for contests.

As somebody who is fairly active in contests, either N6TV is even more oblivious (or should that be devious?) than say 4O3A & his rationalizing away the need to send the exchange as defined in the rules, or must be having a go.

I mean really, Bob, have you reverted to paper logging yourself? A "CT expert" in using CT post-contest I guess, eh? And no SO2R, no more than one tower/beam too? I doubt it.

Posted by vr2bg on May 15, 2008

YES, because it will increase CW contesting activities even more
We had this kind of discussions with
- electronic keyers
- contesting software with keyboard CW
- DX-clusters, online-scoreboards and so on...

I think it is just another technology innovation like contesting SW, clusters etc. All these things have helped to increase activity during the past decade.

I am 100% CW enthusiast and want to work as many stations as possible. If CW-Skimmer helps to get more people to CW (even those who did not before) I'll have MORE stations to work, bigger pile ups, more fun.

I would also like to merge assisted/unassisted catorgies because these things seem to be just part of serious contesting.

73 de Stefan, DL5XX

Posted by DL5XX on May 14, 2008

Think ahead
Yes I've tried Skimmer in wideband mode using the IF output of my K3 to LP-PAN. Today it's indeed crude, makes a lot of encoding mistakes (like "MK1TTT" for "CQM K1TTT"), is relatively slow, and has very poor S/N performance compared to the human brain/ear. So not to worry...right?

Now fast-forward a few years to affordable computers with 10X to 100X the power of today's machines, more refined software algorithms, etc. I have ZERO doubt that a system will evolve which will handily beat even the best human brain/ear. I believe N4ZR said Skimmer would already rank around #5 or 6 in the KCDXC pileup competition. How much longer will it be before it reaches #1? Not much I would fact probably by Dayton 2009.

And once we automate reception, why not automate the entire process since the hard part is done? I can already hear that argument coming from some of the same folks saying Skimmer is no different than a keyer or logging program. Now since it can decode better than humans, let's just speed up the keying rate to 100+ WPM or whatever the computer can handle. FUN!!!

We already have RTTY contests which use a machine-to-machine mode. I simply don't see the point of turning CW into another.

Posted by W4ZV on May 13, 2008

Have you actually tried it?
When I read the comments of everyone voting no, I get the feeling you haven't really tried using Skimmer. It is a very cool program, but it is not nearly as powerful as everyone seems to think. CW is hard to machine-decode without errors. If you can't really read CW with your ears and you rely on Skimmer, you will have a horrible score because you will have a lot of busted calls and in most contests, the penalties will eat you alive.

Integrating Skimmer with your station and contest logging program is no piece of cake either. You will not be able to just download the program, fire it up alongside your contest logger, and start knocking down Q's.

I suspect the people who are worrying the most about how this is going to ruin contesting are also the least likely to install it and see for themselves. It's a pity, because if they did, they would realize this is a lot less of a threat to the sport than they think.

As it evolves and gets better, I suppose I could see it putting you in the same category you would be in if you used packet spotting.

But even in this case, you will score higher with the cluster unless you invest in a pile of software defined radios, all with separate antennas so you can run them simultaneously, and all with full band coverage. The vast majority of radios today will only feed Skimmer 3KHz of audio max, which is a paltry piece of spectrum to track compared to what you can get by just plugging your contest logger into the Cluster.

And cluster spots are going to give you the aggregate of what people are hearing with different antennas and locations than yours, and better skills between the ears. Many of those spots would be missed or mis-read by Skimmer, but workable by you when you get them over the cluster.

This program is cool, and I salute Alex for developing it, but it is not a giant slayer.

And as others have pointed out, WriteLog has had a 6 channel CW decoder for a long time and it is completely integrated with the program. Should we ban WriteLog?

Are the people winning contests today doing so because they are secretly using the CW decoder in WriteLog?

And what happens when Icom or Yaesu (or the guys making SDR radios), which already include RTTY decoders, decide to include wide-band CW decoders with a few more lines of code? Will we ban those radios from contesting?

I think the fundamental truth is that you need operator skill to win contests, with or without high technology. If you rely on CW decoders, even multi-channel ones, without the skill to make sure the call is correct, you will lose. And with busted call penalties, you will lose big time. So please, all of you worried that this is going to make CW contesting boring, and remove operator skill from the equation, relax. It is not going to turn CW contesting into a point and shoot race.

If you don't believe me, please download it, install it, and try it in the next contest.

The sky is not falling.

Posted by K4XD on May 13, 2008

Machine-to-machine modes
DJ2QV wrote:

"I also fear that it may turn CW into a "boring" mode - like WSJT did for EME and Meteorscatter."

I believe machine-to-machine QSOs is exactly where Skimmer is eventually headed which is why I voted no. When we remove the human element from the mix and then compare human results to those of computers, I'm no longer interested. I'll simply vote with my feet and find something more interesting (i.e. less "boring") to do with my time.

We now have folks on EME using WSJT crowing about "their" accomplishments. IMHO this is totally meaningless compared to what W5UN and RN6BN have done with their own ears and some big antenna arrays. WSJT has devalued the meaning of any true VHF accomplishment IMHO. The same goes for the folks who make their DXCC totals with Internet QSOs via Packet or Chat. Big deal...I'm not impressed in the least.

It will be a sad day indeed when contests, which represent the last remaining bastion of personal operating achievement, become as devalued as EME, DXCC, etc. have been by computer enabled assistance. Then it will be time for me to find another hobby.

Posted by W4ZV on May 13, 2008

how to control ?
first question I ask to myself when I read all these objections against a nice little software helper is : How do you want to control the usage when you don't allow it for SO unassisted ?
The information is coming from your own radio, the software is just "assisting" you like it does for logging, mult checking and cqing... And the decoder in Skimmer can never fully replace your own ears !

But well, I also fear that it may turn CW into a "boring" mode - like WSJT did for EME and Meteorscatter.

Let's hope my fears don't come true.

Maik DJ2QV

Posted by DJ2QV on May 13, 2008

I voted no for two primary reasons.

Firstly, for CW contesting in particular: The only thing which makes CW an art instead of a data mode, is that it's decoded and sometimes even now, encoded by humans. Electronic CW readers have been available, allowed and perhaps even used in contests, without restriction, for several years and nobody has made much fuss. Whilst true, this fact is of little significance. Single signal electronic readers have proven no match for the skills of a proficient CW operator, so it has been easy to ignor them. The potential of skimmer to translate multiple CW signals and render them on screen simultaneously is a very different proposition. This is something no human operator can do.

If skimmer is given "open season" even the most talented CW operators will rapidly need to adopt it to maintain competitive edge. A swift metamorphosis will likely be forced upon the code, from human art form to data mode. This would be a travesty. We already have a comprehensive data mode contest calendar. What point is there in augmenting it with data CW? Surely the huge popularity of CW contesting arises out of the attraction provided by the art of CW itself. And anyway; how long would it take for it to be realised just how inferior a data mode transit CW makes?

Secondly, for contesting in general: The talent to hunt multipliers effectively has long been a key differentiator between the good and the best. DX cluster has performed a huge disservice to the development of individual operator skill. Sadly, cluster cannot be uninvented either. Skimmer poses a greater threat. Even with cluster, the study of propagation yields benefit. Stations from the four corners of the globe are spotted 24 hours a day during major events. Despite this, operators still needs to develop awareness of when rare multipliers might be workable. Skimmer has the potential to remove this need. A skimmer running at my QTH will only display signals from stations audible at my qth. When a potential multiplier appears in my bandmap I will know the path is open. Why bother to learn anything about propagation?

Contesting must place high value upon the development and expression of HUMAN skill. Undermining this eats at the heart of competitive endeavour. I can think of no other competitive activity whose advocates fail to defend against efforts to undermine this principle.

Posted by 5B4AGN on May 12, 2008

The CW Skimmer as described is internal to the station. If skimming were to be banned or classed as 'assisted', then why aren't DSP rigs, computer loggers, audio recorders, noise cancelling headphones, bandscopes, yagi's over 80' long etc... in the same category ?

If I record the audio of a 48 hour event, and then play it back to myself over the next week to check what I heard.. is that OK as well ??

We risk the 'Bicentennial Man' possibility where we classify a machine as human.

Posted by vk2cz on May 12, 2008

As many have noted technology progresses however much we may want it to stay static. A far more equitable division of classification for single operators would be "restricted" where no outside assistance of any type is allowed, even super check partial logging programs, and "unlimited" where the operator can take full advantage of all technicological aides available so long as the contacts are all made and logged by the single operator.

N7DF the old geezer who can't stay awake for the whole contest any longer anyway.

Posted by n7df on May 12, 2008

Yes, With Reservations
Its a conundrum - isn't it? On one hand, technology, including contesting technology, will march onward independent of what any of us say or do. Skimmer IS, and the toothpaste can't be returned to the tube. An outright ban simply relagates it to the cheaters category. Banning Skimmer is like the sand castle association banning the tides - sorry, the technology always wins out in the end. There were spark guys who hated CW, CW guys who resisted AM telephony, AM guys who resisted SSB, etc. The result was always the same. Many contesters want contesting to remain static. Your wish is denied - by technology. Computer logging drove away those contesters who could not or would not adapt, and contesting went on without those folks. Skimmer may do the same. If you can't or won't adapt, the rest of us will miss you.

On the other hand, the logical extention of the Skimmer trend is the total robot. You turn it on and come back 48 hours later and see how you(r) robot did. I believe N3BB has it just right. At some point the injection of technology is so redefining that it has to be precluded to preserve the fundamentals of the competition. Skimmer is not at that level - but it strikes me as a significant form of assistance coming from outside oneself - and as such, it belongs in the assisted category. I'd be happy to ban full-function robots when they arrive, which they will.

73, Hal N4GG

Posted by N4GG on May 12, 2008

Since several days CW Skimmer is tested in two GACW stations.

Nice to play with it, but the World Wide South America CW Contest rules said:

IV - Categories:
Single Operator
Those stations at which one person performs all of the operating, logging, and spotting functions.
The use of DX alerting assistance of any kind places the station Multi Operator category.

XIII - Disqualification:
The use of non-amateur means such as telephones, emails, telegrams, spots, DX-Cluster, DX-Net, Packet Radio Cluster, etc., to ilicit contacts or multipliers during a contest is unsportsmanlike and the entry is subject to disqualification.

Muchos saludos
Best regards
Alberto U. Silva LU1DZ
WWSA Contest Manager

Posted by LU1DZ on May 12, 2008

The use of a CW Skimmer is great, but it still gives a single operator an assist to determine what "might" be on the band. Therefore, as in packet, the use of CE Skimmer should place one in the single operator category - assisted.

Posted by K9ES on May 11, 2008

Beware of RTTY HF contesting growth thanks to PC technology. Skimmer is expected development with SDR. I operated CW contest robot in ARRL DX Feb. 1991 and it quickly became boring. K6STI and myself spared our CW hobby for at least 17 years. Time for change, isn't it?

73 de Mario, S56A, N1YU

Posted by s5m on May 11, 2008

CW Skimmer
CW Skimmer appears to offer little or nothing in the area of development of operator skills.In the event of a global conflict one of the first communication modes to be targeted will be the satellites. CW may be, in fact, the ONLY mode of communications in some areas and at vital times. So I voted no.

Posted by k6rr on May 11, 2008

Operator skills
Implementation of computer logging programs allowed an operator to operate more efficiently. Implementation of electronic CW keyers allowed an operator to send easier and faster and improve CW skills in general. And so on. Various technical and technological innovations of last years/decades helped an operator to improve his skills. Skimmer, instead, DEGRADES operator's skills.

Let's don't forget, contesting has been implemented in 1930ies or so as operators' skill training for eventual emergency communications. A Skimmer-based operator has zero value in emergency cases.

Posted by VE3IAE on May 11, 2008

Tough call to make
I voted No, but I could also be convinced to vote Yes too, since there are good arguments on both sides.

Since SO2R is still in the Single Op Unassisted, it makes me want to say Yes to the CW Skimmer, but the CW Skimmer assists much more so than SO2R, so I voted No.

I still think SO2R should go into Single Op Assisted too. So when will that happen???

As a long time Single Op contester, if CW Skimmer goes into assisted, then so should SO2R.

Some people are mentioning that dupe checking, partial log checking, computer logging, etc are helpful too (and they are), but the CW Skimmer (including SO2R) are a big leap in helping the Single Op, so I'm still leaning towards No.

And voting No doesn't mean to not use it, but just put it in Single Op Assisted and not Single Op Unassisted.

Either way it goes, I don't think it'll have any affect on how this technology is used or prevent new technology from emerging or improving. All we are doing is just debating on what class to enter in when contesting and nothing else.


Posted by k4wes on May 11, 2008

As much as I read all the negative comments of the nay sayers and advocates of doom and gloom for CW and CW contesting on the reflector I am mystified and puzzled by the lack of acceptance . Amateur Radio has always been about progress and innovation, somehow now it appears this attitude has changed and people seem to want retro-gressive factors and ideas to persist indefinitely. Perplexing !! VO1MP GUS

Posted by vo1xx on May 11, 2008

Skimmer = SOA
True it is not a spotting net. But, IMHO, it is still assistance, so it should be SOA.

Posted by K8DD on May 10, 2008

CW Skimmer
My .02. Banning skimmer is unenforceable like prohibition. In my view the many arguments against skimmer are best answered by the zero call who would like not to compete against anything invented since the W9TO keyer. This seems like nothing more than an extension of 2 radios, which some effective SO multitaskers are probably using now. Let us at it, no new rules, the great ops will continue to be the great ops.
73 Art

Posted by k6xt on May 10, 2008

Essence of the Competition
The potential of Skimmer technology is awesome: to enable a radio to populate a bandmap "automatically," with all the calls and frequencies, including real time text is a real technological achievement. This alone is such a game-changer as to place Skimmer usage into "assisted," at a minimum, even though it involves no "assistance," in the traditional sense, from other hams. Coupled with smart software which enables a station to automatically call and make a QSO with selected stations (S&P is a perfect example) with zero operator involvement takes the advance from "assisted" to a "machine to machine" category. This takes the technology from "assisted" to "unlimited." I don't think we want radio-sporting to make this leap. It would be analagous to introducing computer assistance to chess tournaments. At some point, it is necessary to step in and limit the assistance from technology in order to maintain the essence of the competition. I believe this is one of those times.

Posted by N3BB on May 10, 2008

I am not very good in picking up fast CQs as my CW skills are still low.
For that reason I do not call myself but only do S&SP while running qrp in CW contests.
Some times it takes me a couple of minutes to identify a caller.
Now, when I imagine what Skimmer could do for me it will be terrific difference in my result.
That will be totally unfair against somebody wihout skimmer under the same condition in an unassisted environment and for that reason I quote NO for Skimmer in that category.
Many of us in Europe or Germany have no decent antennas/no approval at home or are limited by man man made noise, therefore are obliged to work fieldday style elsewhere with limited equipment.

73, Peter

Posted by DF3KV on May 10, 2008

While I strongly believe that Skimmer should not be outright banned, I believe just as strongly that it should be placed in the assisted category.

Even with all the advances of the past - computer logging, band scopes, CPU keying, ETC - in the SOAB category the operator still had to locate and everything by himself - decoding CW with his brain. Skimmer eliminates the necessary skills used by the top operators to S&P and find QSO's and multipliers, and turns it into yet another another point-and-shoot game where the loudest guy always wins.

The top SOA operators still need to run, S&P, and know when and when not to chase DX spots. In my opinion, the skimmer user will need to use the exact same game plan. I see no difference between the two whatsoever, other than the source of the spotting assistance.

Perhaps there needs to be a joint movement toward improving the apparent feeling that the Assisted category is the bastard step child of contesting. "Oh no! We can't put it in the assisted category....!" Why not?

73, Dave N2NL/4

Posted by N2NL on May 10, 2008

CW is Horse and Buggy
The basic nature of CW Contesting is that operators who know Morse code compete with other operators who know Morse Code.

CW Skimmer is a stepping-stone technology, like no other that has ever been developed, which will change the basic nature of the sport.

The technology will evolve and will be the core of automated QSO machines which will be sequenced to pick off every station that can be copied. Soon, we will have machine to machine QSOs with no operator intervention.

I would bet that within a few years a good computer gamer and a decent station could win a section award in a major CW contest without knowing a single letter of the alphabet in Morse code.

It will become a requirement in order to compete that you send everything with computer generated CW. Those who send by hand will either have to send perfect CW with their straight key, bug or electronic keyer or wonder (after a few unsuccessful calls) whether they are trying to work a machine and are not going to get through.

Some complain about packet pile-ups as they currently exist. A rare multiplier may show up and actually be able to operate for a while before he is spotted and a big pile-up (consisting of assisted and multi-operator stations) commences. The current situation pales in comparison to what will happen when a rare African multiplier calls CQ on Sunday afternoon and is simultaneously heard by several hundred local or networked Skimmer set-ups in both Europe and North America.

After one CQ a pile-up will ensue that the best operator in the world could not possibly handle. Likely, the rare station who would have wanted to work a few in the contest, will turn the radio off or call a few of the stronger, running stations before going QRT.

Every other sporting activity has drawn the line on some new technology saying that it will not be allowed because it will change the basic nature of the activity.

Do they allow you to use a laser level on a putter in golf so you are more likely to make the putt to win the tournament?

How many competitive activities can you think of which allow ANY and ALL technology to be used to the advantage of the competitor? I think the answer is that there are no other competitive activities which have allowed all technologies to be used.

This is the time the line should be drawn in CW Contesting. It should not be allowed in any category of entry.

Sorry, I could not remember my password and have changed e-mail addresses since originally signing up, so I posted this using the club call. I won't vote again :-)

Stan, K5GO

Posted by nn5j on May 10, 2008

Skimmer surveillance
Drop your call two times on any frequency in the range of one skimmer of the reverse beacon network and look at your PC-screen with the map (
Can you feel the surveillance-power of this fascinating tool still in his early state of development? Can you imagine any human operator is or ever will be able to exercise such a immediate S&P-action? So, develop skimmer on and on, but please don´t use it in a category where human ops want to compare their skill against other´s skill - besides comparing their station-setups.
S&P by a human against a skimmer soon will be (or already is) like a runner against a bike.
It is a demonstration of tech superiority but not a competition in its true sense.
73, Chris

Posted by dl8mbs on May 10, 2008

It's Nothing New ...

Skimmer is not new technology. Contesters have used bandscopes for decades. Many have used CW decoders for years - WriteLog includes two six channel decoders. SOnR has been a fact of life in contesting for 30 years or more. The only thing Skimmer does is package those elements in a more "user friendly" and usable package.

Technological advancements have been a fact of life in radiosport for more than 60 years Unless contest sponsors choose to slice and dice the single operator entry classification in ever smaller pieces (like rally or sailing or any number of competitions) - to the point that categories are so small as to be meaningless - Skimmer has as much a place in the single operator (unassisted) class as memory keyers, voice keyers, history files, super check partial, SO2R and other CW decoders.

The important division of entry classifications is the number of operators or assistance by another human operator whether in the station or remotely via packet/internet.

Posted by K4IK on May 10, 2008

Skimmer Effectiveness
If I thought "the skimmer" would have little impact on contesting, I would not be as concerned as I am. Please note the following post from the CQ-Contest reflector by Pete N4ZR in April when questioned about the skimmer making mistakes in copying code:

"I've been testing a simple solution, though
- running each Skimmer spot through a quick comparison with the master.dta
file, and only posting the ones that match on the bandmap. You'll lose a
few genuine uniques that way, but it also cleans up almost all the junk. I
have no doubt that Alex will develop other techniques for improving the
output in the coming months.
As I reported a month or so ago, I ran CW Skimmer against a KC pileup
contest recording, and even without the master.dta comparison it would have
finished 4th or 5th."

With the refinements that can be expected (and running it against the data file mentioned), I have no doubt that "the skimmer" will be beating the very best operators in the world at decoding CW. To me, having software/equipment beat the very best in our beloved hobby every time from now to eternity will result in too many negatives. I like the idea of the most skilled operators winning contests (I am NOT one of those operators by the way so this is not about me I can assure you). Skimmer...maybe for DXing...maybe a special category in contests...but allowed as a tool to use against the traditional single op/unassisted...NO!... Obviously this is only my opinion. I respect your right to have yours as well.

Whatever is decided when the smoke clears...let's get back to enjoying radiosport!
jeff NX9T

Posted by nx9t on May 10, 2008

Skimmer surveillance
Drop your call two times on any frequency in the range of one skimmer of the reverse beacon network and look at your PC-screen with the map (
Can you feel the surveillance-power of this fascinating tool still in his early state of development? Can you imagine any human operator is or ever will be able to exercise such a immediate S&P-action? So, develop skimmer on and on, but please don´t use it in a category where human ops want to compare their skill against other´s skill - besides comparing their station-setups.
S&P by a human against a skimmer soon will be (or already is) like a runner against a bike.
It is a demonstration of tech superiority but not a competition in its true sense.
73, Chris

Posted by dl8mbs on May 10, 2008

Multiple receivers
My initial thought was that this is not a big drama if automated CW decoding was added however when I extrapolated that idea and could see that all could be done on 5-6 bands in real time it was clear that a single human operator can not achieve the same efficiency without using broadband automated decoders. In fact, it looks like a "single op multiple real time receivers" category to me. If SO category meant not to have such provision then it would be logical to exclude this technique for now.

If it was allowed, well we will have to rebuild the stations somewhat and add more hardware and antennas to be competitive.

"NO" for now.

Posted by vk2imm on May 10, 2008

As long as SO2R is allowed in the class, it's hard to say no to the skimmer which just makes mult finding several times more efficient than having to spin the dial.

Posted by K8IR on May 10, 2008

yes, allow it for all
It is not assistance from OTHER OPERATORS, it is just a LOCAL RECEIVER.

I agree with N6TV's post: If skimmer is banned, then contest sponsors must create a specific list of exactly what radios, amps, antennas, computers, etc are "fair" to be used.


Posted by n4ogw on May 10, 2008

I voted "yes"
I had no particular reason to vote yes but the SO2R operators allowed to enter the SO class.

If you drive a WRC Rally car you should compete against other drivers in the same class, the N4 cars against other N4 cars, the same with A7 cars and so on.

In the World Rally Championship there are many classes depending on the car you are driving.

These are all SINGLE DRIVER classes but the hardware and money available make all the difference.

Many drivers on a small car are FAR BETTER than other drivers who can afford to buy big cars.

A few years back I remember some of the SO2R guys trying to convince the SO1R contesters how it was a good thing not to be put into a separate SO class so now I am really amazed to read their comments on how the use of Skimmer should push the entrants into a separate class.

In a perfect world Skimmer users would compete against other Skimmer users, SO2R ops would compete against the SO2R ops, so the owners-of-monobander-antennas-on-top-of-a-hill guys, and so on.

If you want the users of Skimmer to be placed into a separate class then I want the SO2R guys to be placed into a separate class.

Just my 2 eurocents worth opinion.

Steve, IK4WMH

Posted by ik4wmh on May 10, 2008

Read Between the lines
This survey assumes that Skimmer should be allowed in any cw contest. More than 300 contesters world wide and of all ages have signed the petition to ban skimmer and similar technologies from cw contesting. Before we start talking about assisted vs. non assisted, lets have a survey that asks if it should even be allowed.

I hope this comment goes through. My other one was lost somehow.


Posted by N5DX on May 10, 2008

What is single op contesting?
Is single op about hunting or shooting? It seeems many people think it is just about shooting (i.e., working stations).

Maybe I am old enough to be old fashioned, but I like the idea of a single operator having to do their own hunting for QSOs and multipliers. Using their own ears and the knob on the radio.

The Skimmer technology is totally amazing and awesome. For that reason, it needs to have a place to live and grow within radio sport. The Assisted class offers a place where using other people/methods to find QSOs is already permitted.

Skimmer is not going to be a factor in contest success for another year or more. But, it has the potential for completely changing the game in the longer term, much like packet has done. The impact of packet was sufficient to spark the creation of a separate category.

Posted by K5ZD on May 10, 2008

I'm just skimming in the rain...
As soon as contest sponsors step inside your Single Operator shack and begin to divy up your hardware, when and with what technology will it stop?

IMNSHO, the Single Operator category needs a fresh definition to put the technology debate to rest. The crux of the issue rests on the words "assistance of any kind" used by ONE contest sponsor. Some operators extended that definition to include technology they don't want to compete against. Some people have wanted to flat out ban the technology in ALL contesting!

I'll extend this concept to what I don't want to compete against: memory keyers, computers with Pentium processors, stacked monobanders, radios with digital readouts, oceanside QTH's, bandscopes, dual VFO's, iambic paddles, anyone using coax larger than RG/8u, or a contester that weighs more than 150 pounds or has an IQ above 100.

That said, the contest sponsors will have to run any new Single Operator definitions through their legal counsel before they publish them I suspect.

Posted by K0RC on May 10, 2008

Skimmer is Assisted
Skimmer should not be banned completely, but if you use it you should be categorized as Assisted.

Ken K5KA

Posted by K5KA on May 10, 2008

I voted "no"
I believe that the essence of Single Operator CW contesting is that the Operator, with his own ears, searches out, detects and copies new Q's. Skimmer is in effect additional operators scanning the band(s) and automagically populating a band map. In this regard it is indistinguishable from a connection to a spotting net, and is inconsistent with the spirit of the category.

Having said that, Skimmer is an interesting technique and I have no objection to treating it similar to packet in ASSISTED categories like "SOA" or SS "Unlimited" for those fine contesters who play in that space.

73, de Hans, K0HB
Just a boy and his radio

Posted by K0HB on May 10, 2008

Hey, I like copying CW. When I can't copy code on my own, I'll become a RTTY contester. When I can't get the pleasure of finding mults on my own, I'll use packet and go assisted. But it is more fun when there is more activity and if guys use code readers or skimmers to make QSOs with me, so much the better.

Posted by K6LA on May 10, 2008

Skimmer is Assisted because it is Unattended
I like Skimmer. I think the technology is cool and I think it might make contests more fun for the casual operator. And I agree that it is kind of silly to criticize Skimmer because it does for receiving that which memory keyers and logging programs already do for transmitting.

However, the thing that Skimmer proponents keep ignoring is that Skimmer represents unattended operation. For the most part, I have to be actively engaged at the rig to use a memory keyer or hit a function key to send a buffer from my logging program. I have to tune the rig to make use of a decoder or a waterfall display. But with Skimmer, I don't have to be there at all to make full use of it. I can leave the chair to grab a snack or take a quick nap, and Skimmer will keep on performing it's intended function FOR ME while I am gone. In my mind that represents assistance beyond mere function.

Trying to ban technologies like Skimmer is futile and counterproductive ... such developments breathe new interest and life into the hobby. But in my opinion, Skimmer should only be used in assisted or multi-op categories.

Posted by AB7E on May 10, 2008

It is assistance
One view from the peanut gallery, or from the unwashed masses looking up upon the Elite Few.

Well, I disagree with most of N6TV's points, so there is no way I could vote yes.

Skimmer is analogous to a spotting net, or having other actual human operators in your shack feeding you QSO's, or via IRC, or the telephone, etc.. The mechanism used to give you rapid access to mults and QSO's is irrelevant. "Assistance" is the fact that you are getting information fed to you about other stations. Skimmer is just another one of many mechanisms to obtain "assistance".

My view is that the semantics of the rules are being over lawyered. They are poorly worded for todays technology environment and common practices.

Since I don't think the technology is the issue, but rather the semantics of the contest rules that are the issue, points two and three are irrelevant.

Because use of a Skimmer technology is a basic change in the way a station would operate, I also disagree with point four. ALL controversial new methods SHOULD be presumed to invalidate an entry UNTIL they have been accounted for within the contest rules. You can always submit a check log if you really wish to experiment with the technology. Surely there are enough contests that this is not an overly onerous burden.

On point five, putting the use of Skimmer in the assisted category won't stop anybody from entering, just change the class they should submit their score into. I don't see how this is another onerous burden or barrier to entry. Heck, I don't have anything better than a dipole, but I still have lots of fun.

On the point about code readers and copy skill - if someone wants to operate, they will. If someone doesn't want to learn CW, they won't try anyway - they will stick to SSB and RTTY.

If the Skimmer technology were to become more efficient at weak signal copy than the human ear, there is also a sideline benefit to the unassisted ops. Those of us that run with low power into crummy antennas might just pop up on the band maps of more assisted stations. :)

Besides. In any contest there is ONLY ONE "winner", and in DX contests it is NEVER a US station. Number 2 through number 5000 ALL LOST.

73 de w4kaz aka el diablo loco

Posted by w4kaz on May 10, 2008

On the Fence
I voted yes, but I'm really on the fence. On the one hand, I'm concerned about limiting technology in ham radio and contesting. On the other hand, I'm equally concerned about random morphing of contesting due to technology advances.

Of course, significant technology advances like CW Skimmer will change the nature of contesting. The question is whether we want those changes to occur. In sailboat racing state-of-the-art technology is deployed within a bounded area. For example, GPS is allowed but motor technology is not. So there is plenty of precedent for limiting technology in a given sport. But, those limits need to be refernced to a set of criteria describing the sport, not the personal preferences of some of the participants.

What I've not seen is a thoughtful definition of ham radio contesting that would provide a way to include or exclude a specific technology or technique. The opponents of CW Skimmer for classic SO (unassisted) categories are very concerned about the demise of hunting or finding the QSOs to work (either by CQing or tuning around). I'd be a lot more concerned about this potentiality if there were a definition of ham radio contesting that held this aspect sacred while letting CW sending evolve uncontested.

CW Skimmer is not the issue here. The real issue is the effect of unbounded technology advances on the very essence of radiosport. Until that is addressed it is inappropriate to single out one technology, e.g., CW Skimmer, as inappropriate for SO classic contest categories. It's not the technology that is the issue. It is the indirect impact on radiosport that forever changes its very nature.

Posted by w0yk on May 9, 2008

Oppose innovation?
Truthfully, I view the fear and antipathy toward "skimmer" that I've seen among many fellow contesters as true folly.

Posted by kr6x on May 9, 2008

Use of internal skimmer would be the same as using two receivers at the same time, and picking stations and frequencies to call, Pounce without the Search.

Posted by W6RFF on May 9, 2008

Not even a slight hope
Skimmer **IS** a spotting net. Forget about trying to pollute SO with something like that. It just chooses to name itself differently. We of the SO league can only hope that tech will come along to nab each and every skimmie user, whatever class it shows in. The reason skimmie wants in is cuz' the SO league has big entry numbers and the others don't. A perfect example of where the noskills fake it to look good in a operator skill class. This will never end will it....
Regards, VE6EX..

Posted by ve6ex on May 9, 2008

New technologies banned?
Not banning a technology but banning of the impotence and incompetence is the matter. Many of us being afraid of no-coders trying the Skimmer and how it works. The number of 10 QSO contest logs will grow, the number of 'operators' asking for speed change (to meet better their software settings) will grow. Weak, Skimmer unreadable (at particular settings) stations will be jammed.

I will be happy to meet in CW contests competent operators only and not the 'enter pressers' mixing up CW with another macro-played (so called 'digital') modes. Keep in mind, that ham radio is not about stupidity, playing a commercially produced toy with a program written by another guy (in this case very competent OM who only can talk about new technologies).

Anyway, I will strongly disagree with the 'easy ham radio' approach allowing guys with IQ of my dog to be hams!

Posted by ok1rr on May 9, 2008

If a sponsor does not have a method for detecting the use of skimmer then it is best not to limit its use. A rule change without the ability to detect an offending technology will encourage undetectable cheating.

Posted by VE5ZX on May 9, 2008

CW Skimmer
Local use of Skimmer has the potential to be more advantageous than packet, and in some contests (like SS) it could be decisive (imagine getting 50 more QSOs on Sunday because Skimmer found all the new blood, not just some of them). Why not maintain a Skimmer and packet-free class, for those who don't want it, and allow Skimmers in other classes. Then people can "vote with their feet", by deciding which class to compete in.

Posted by N4ZR on May 9, 2008

Commercial Morse--Gone(1999)due to business reasons.

Amateur CW testing--Gone(2007)due to government reasons; obsolete.

Radiosport CW--Gone(?)due to self inflicted gunshot wound.

Technology is a very small part of what radiosport is about. Ask anybody who has ever operated from my station.


Posted by k7bg on May 8, 2008

There are a number of associated technologies and it's going to be difficult to make a different rule for each. If not skimmer, how about Son of Skimmer that doesn't display callsigns, but highlights the waterfall trail of new mults? Don't create yet another unverifiable rule.

Posted by K6KR on May 8, 2008

yes, radiosport is a technology hobby
Yes, skimmer should be allowed. Radiosport is a technology hobby. Artificial limits on new inventions are simply out of place.

Posted by N6NZ on May 8, 2008

Skimmer & SO Unassisted
No. For single-op unassisted ops, reception of signals should be limited to one pair of ears: the operator's.

To be fair, those operators using code-readers, while usually not competitive, should also be categorized as either assisted or placed in a new sub-category.

Technological breakthroughs such as CW Skimmer should lead contest sponsors to create new contest entry sub-categories rather than modify existing ones.


John, N7ON

Posted by N7ON on May 8, 2008

Well, if you don't like skimmer (local, not networked), then I presume you
* don't use SuperCheckPartial?
* don't use a computer to dupe check?
* use only a J-38?
* log with paper on a 'mill'?
* still use spark?

Will it change contesting? Yes, to some degree. All the above examples certainly did too; hopefully for the better.

Posted by AD6E on May 8, 2008

Yes, because CW Skimmer is not a spotting net
The "Assisted" category was intended solely for those single-ops using SPOTTING NETS. A local CW Skimmer disconnected from the outside world is clearly not a spotting net, so using CW Skimmer shouldn't put you in the "assisted" category. Yes you are getting assistance from technology, but not from other PEOPLE.

Real time *technological* assistance such as computer sent CW, real-time duping, name databases, super-check partial databases, band scopes, legacy code readers, automatic rotators, and SO2R boxes have always been permitted as legal tools for a single-op (unassisted). CW Skimmer should be treated the same.

While CW Skimmer can simultaneously decode more signals than any human, our computers are already sending CW better than any human could do, especially when you consider how they are used with automated SO2R boxes to send Alternating CQs and Dummy CQs. So the "no human could do it" argument doesn't carry any weight.

Any technological advance in the state of the art like CW Skimmer shouldn't be banished to a separate category unless you are also prepared to banish other "unfair" technological advances, such as multiple towers of stacked beams and SO2R boxes, to separate categories. CW Skimmer doesn't help as much as those other technologies, so if they don't warrant a separate category, neither should Skimmer.

We live in an age of no code licensing in the U.S., Japan, and elsewhere. Permitting everyone to use CW Skimmer will mean more activity and more stations for everyone to work, in all classes.

Code readers like CW Skimmer won't "damage" CW copying skills any more than computer-sent CW damaged our paddle sending skills. Maybe a little, but no big deal really.

If you agree with most of the above please vote YES. Thank you.

Posted by N6TV on May 8, 2008

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