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The Paper log, SO2R and SDR generations

José Carlos Cardoso Nunes (CT1BOH) on April 25, 2013
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The discussion about merging Assisted and Non Assisted categories, very passionate as one would expect, is interesting because in my view it has to do with different ways to look at the value of information (callsign and frequency data). This information (call sign and frequency data) has different value depending on what generation you are coming from. I see three dividing generations:

The paper log (one radio) generation

The SO2R generation

The SDR generation

In the paper log (one radio)generation ( we have people who started and had success in their contesting careers when there was only one radio on the table, no PCs or packet systems. Back then the most important skill was to decide when to stop the RUN and go on S&P mode. Stopping the RUN to go on the hunt in S&P mode was fundamental, because it was the only way to increase in dramatic terms the multiplier numbers.

The SO2R generation came to full throttle with PC, advanced loggers and station automation. The big thing about SO2R generation is they managed to extend the contesting time from 48 hours to ~77 hours because they can listen to a second radio while the first radio is transmitting (~60% of the time of the contest). Also the contest was accelerated in a way that demands both physical and concentration abilities not necessary with a SO1R scenario (paper log generation). To the SO2R generation operators the value of callsign and frequency data is less than the value attributed to the same data by Paper log generation operators. SO2R operators have more time to work the multipliers and don't need to stop the RUN. The game has a very different nature.

In the recent SDR generation a dramatic event has occurred that is changing and shaping contesting. The contest went from audio only to audio/visual event. Not only the operator is listening to the audio of his channel but at the same time he is seeing the full band and the individual traces of the stations in the panadapter with different resolutions. The SDR generation went from a 500hz dimension event to a full band dimension event and for real hard core SDR operator to a full six band dimension in six different panadapters. The value of call sign and frequency data to SDR generation operators is less than the value attributed by SO2R generation operators because it is easier for them to get to stations and of course it is much less than the value attributed to paper log generation operators that can only work rare multipliers by stopping their RUN.

But a question remains, is the value of callsign and frequency data zero or close to zero so that we can say merging the Assisted and Non Assisted categories has no consequences? No, there is still value in callsign and frequency data. Looking at Top SOAB versus top SOAB Assisted station and MS stations, I estimate the value of callsign and frequency data to be around 10% percent. A top SOAB that decides to jump into SOAB Assisted category and do things right (i.e. follow only the really valuable “spots”) will be able to increase his multiplier totals by around 10%.

A laughable point to me in the discussion about merging the Assisted and Non Assisted categories is the notion transmitted by paper log generation that they are the ones who know how to do things and they do it the noble way. I say laughable, even though I have great admiration by some of those paper log generation icon operators, because in my opinion, they have no idea of what they are talking about. They are stuck in a time and in a contest that will not go back, and try to preach to a generation that doesn’t want to go back because things are more interesting, more intense and for sure a lot more fun. The paper log generation unique skill of knowing when to stop the run and go S&P is no longer necessary when using SO2R and SDR/Panadapters and topped with assistance it’s even more heartbreaking to them. But that’s the ways things are. There’s no time machine and the clock keeps ticking forward… In an image the paper log generation operate as if they are stuck inside a cave listening to a signal coming from the end of the cave, while the SDR generation are out at night, looking at every signal in the universe represented by the stars.

I consider myself in the SDR generation because that is the way I operate from CR3E. I have no problems combining the Assisted and the Non Assisted category. It is an inexorable trend and I have no doubt it will be just a matter of time, sooner than later. It is what the SDR generation want, I dare to say, because contesting will become more interactive, more “social”, more integrated, more real time and for sure a lot more attractive to the younger generation.

Also have not doubts that the winners in the SDR generation need to have more skills than the ones that were needed in the paper log generation or in the SO2R generation.

Member Comments: Add A Comment
The Paper log, SO2R and SDR generations Reply
by NQ3X on May 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Oooooh, boy. Let me get some popcorn, because this ought to be interesting.
The Paper log, SO2R and SDR generations Reply
by N1UR on May 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Jose, I respect your contesting but not your opinion. The migration from paper logs to SO2R did not add 3rd party information to the operator suite, it immensely improved the single party obtained information efficiency. SDR is code for internet generated information from around the world from other parties. If your argument was SOLELY for SDR located at the operator station within the 500m circle, it might be credible. But using RBNs and cluster feeds, it is not.

The SDR on site only is a much higher bar to cross on this argument. I am personally against it. But at least the information obtained is processed and located at the operator location. I guess the feeling is that if machines do all the what point does the fun go away?

Personally, I like being needed in the process.

RE: The Paper log, SO2R and SDR generations Reply
by ve6ex on May 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great topic !!!
I operate in the so -called paper class (never have used paper)..
The Sdr/so2r classes are of the deep pockets land barons. I've done so2r as a guest op and don't really see any extra skill needed... at least for me.
It was all higher rate and bigger scores that the simple single op/stn/ant/ city based setup could'nt hope to match...It's (so2r/sdr) all about big property; stacks, towers and lots of big money hardware that somebody else pays for, (that the city dweller could'nt possibly compete with..) Very few towers in town any more...
I currently operate with a tribander on a roof mount and wires in the trees for the low bands. I don't have the internet (other than Wi Fi in town) and use Dos logging; simple setup.
Technology is fine and good if it competes classed with others of the same "ilk ". That is not the case.
I see the so2r/ sdr stations as a single op version of a multi and a very small percentage of the contesting community...maybe 2% or less. There is no point in comparing the ham op from home with the other two. Doing the contest is great, but even entering is hardly worth while for many.
Cheers, Dan VE6EX..
The Paper log, SO2R and SDR generations Reply
by VE5ZX on January 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Great article.

It won't be long now before assisted is accepted as the normal way of operating a contest. Eventually, the 'classic' unassisted will pass as did the dinosaur leaving only its remnants.

I hope the change takes place before my contesting days are over and I am merely a pile of remnants too.

Syl - VE5ZX
RE: The Paper log, SO2R and SDR generations Reply
by KT8K on March 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Personally and as a home station contester I hope the current categorization will continue, with both non-assisted "paper-loggers" and assisted competitors allowed but not competing with each other. Contesting is better when the fun is maximized for everyone. I may try SO2R operation, and may perhaps someday equip myself with SDR multi-band scanning (I have a panadaptor for the current band now). The distinctions aren't quite as clear to me as the author describes but I'll do what I can afford if it enhances the fun, and (the bottom line) I love the competition.
Hope to C U all in my contest log soon!
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