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Time To Change The Contest Rules

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by VE3II, Mar 27, 2004.

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  1. VE3II

    VE3II Ham Member QRZ Page

    I appreciate that this is a very old debate and a tender point for the majority of amateurs today. The issue that I want you to consider is not whether contesting has a place in amateur radio but rather how contesting effects non-contest stations. I want you to also consider if there is a compromise that could be reached by the contest sponsors, namely CQ magazine and the ARRL, and non-contest amateurs.

    First, let me say that I am by no means anti-contest. I have participated in the Field Day Contest since before I was a licenced amateur, some 33 years ago, but that’s another story. I have certificates on my walls from contests in which I have participated and I continue to contest from time to time. In my opinion, contests are as much a part of amateur radio as rag chewing and the National Traffic System.

    The purpose of this article is to attempt to effect a change in the way that the contests are structured, so that all amateurs, on all bands, can co-exist during a contest weekend.

    After a contest weekend, CQ Magazine or the ARRL receive a flood of complaints about guys causing QRM on a frequency or about the way a contest participant was operating and how broad he was. The contest sponsors admit that they get a lot of complaints but the same thing happens again after the next major contest. I would think that after the number of years that the sponsors have been holding these contests, they might begin to recognize a pattern and take some action. However, nothing ever happens and the arrogance and flagrant operating by some contesters continues.

    The sponsors do publish contest rules and they do, under the disqualification section, specify that all participants must operate according to their countries rules and regulations. I do not know of any country where the regulatory authority permits intentional or deliberate interference with an on-going transmission. I wonder how many contesters have been disqualified for QRM’ing an occupied frequency. You know the type, the ones that operate 200 cycles away from a QSO and, when asked to please QSY, they continue operating and cite some God-given right to cause the interference because there’s a contest.

    Let’s face it; the amateur bands are very crowded these days. The present structure of the major contests is antiquated and was conceived years ago when the bands were not so crowded. The rules need to be reviewed and updated to present standards.

    Consider, for a moment, the percentage of amateurs worldwide who actually participate in one of these major events. I would wager that the number would be below 5 percent. Why then, are the non-contest stations forced to give-up their normal routines to accommodate the contest? Yes, the bands are shared and no one has a claim on a frequency. But it seems just a little unfair to me why, for example, the 20 meter phone is hijacked away from 95% of the non-participating ham community by the other 5% to have a contest.

    I propose that the contest sponsors amend the contest rules to allow for a section of each band to be out-of-bounds for contesting. My initial thought would be the top 100 kc/s on 80/40 meters and the top 50 kc/s on 20, and the top 100 kc/s on 15 and 10 meters. Obviously, this can be worked-on later. But you get the idea.

    Now, I can predict my email inbox will fill-up quickly from angry contesters blasting me about “how dare I tread into their domain” and the like. Well, it is my domain, too. I am a contester and proud of it. But, in fairness to the non-contesters and all the public service nets on the bands, there has to be a compromise. Our right to contest does not negate the right for a net to operate.

    This proposal would accomplish two things. It would give the non-contest stations a place of refuge, away from the contest. It would also give some added spice to the contest by narrowing the operating band and forcing the contesters to have sharper skills, which by the way is the whole purpose of having a contest, isn’t it?

    I have written to the contest chair-people at both ARRL and CQ Magazine about this and they just shrug-me-off as being another whiner. Well, I’ll bet there are a few more “whiners” out there who probably feel the same way.

    The contest organizers normally respond with the usual “non-contest stations can go to the WARC bands”. Isn’t that special?! What they’re really saying is “We don’t care about the non-contest stations. We don’t care about the total disruption of bands that we are sponsoring. We don’t care about public service nets. We are not prepared to do anything about it. But please continue to send us your money for memberships and our magazine because we are the true voice of ham radio.” Yeah, right!

    The sponsors also say that they can’t make a contest-free zone rule. Well, sure they can. All they have to do is write it into THEIR contest rules. They sponsor the contest so they make the rules. All they have to write is “…this contest will operate between 14.150 MHz and 14.297 MHz.” Period. There’s no Act of Congress required. No intervention by the FCC. All that the contest organizers have to do is have the courage to do it.

    They write all kinds of other rules, specifications, multiplier definitions, scoring rules, times of operation and participant categories. Why can’t they bind the participants to a section of the band? Am I asking too much? This is not a hard concept.

    The also say that they do not have the resources to monitor a contest-free zone. My suggestion is that it would be self-policing. Can you imagine the response that a wayward contester would get if he called CQ in a contest-free zone? I can!!

    They also say that "we can't control what foreign ham do during the contest because they don't come under the FCC regulations". I would submit that the FCC has nothing to do with a contest. What they're really saying is that "we can't control the contesters and we are too afraid to enforce our rules".

    CQ has no trouble specifying in its annual 160 meter contest rules to “please observe the DX window from 1830 to 1835 kHz.” They go on to say that this is a gentleman’s band and a gentleman’s contest. So, the other bands do not have gentlemen? How can they say “we can’t make rules on specific areas for the contest”, yet make this rule?

    Please feel free to write to CQ Magazine and the ARRL about a contest-free zone amendment to the contest rules. It can be done. It should be done for the benefit of all amateur radio operators.

    Contact People:

    Write to the good folks below and tell them exactly how you feel about the current contest situation on the bands. Tell them, too, that maybe it's time to change the contest rules to allow everyone to use the bands.

    The contest director for the CQ World Wide WPX contest is Steve Merchant K6AW. His email address is

    The other contests for CQ don’t seem to list their Contest Directors, so I would recommend writing to Dick Ross K2MGA, who is the Publisher of CQ. His email address is

    You can write to the ARRL contest people at and write to the representative in your area.

    Will they listen? Probably not. But if enough people complain and force the issue, perhaps a resolution to this issue out can be reached.

    Tom VE3II
  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    As a contestman I'll also say "go to WARC",or if the contest is on SSB,why don't you try CW or other modes?
    73,de LZ4UU
  3. AG4HY

    AG4HY Ham Member QRZ Page

    </span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (lz4uu @ Mar. 28 2004,11:10)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">As a contestman I'll also say "go to WARC",or if the contest is on SSB,why don't you try CW or other modes?
    73,de LZ4UU[/QUOTE]<span id='postcolor'>
    typical, selfish, self-serving, self-centered, comment
  4. KE4ZHN

    KE4ZHN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Very well said Tom, but I believe your proposal will fall on deaf ears in Newington. As long as the folks at the league have their way, their typical attitude towards nonmembers is to hell with them lets do as we please anyway. [​IMG]
  5. N0OV

    N0OV Guest

    </span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (lz4uu @ Mar. 28 2004,11:10)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">As a contestman I'll also say "go to WARC",or if the contest is on SSB,why don't you try CW or other modes?
    73,de LZ4UU[/QUOTE]<span id='postcolor'>
    Thus a good example of the problem.

    Here's a concept -- how about contest rules that specifically limit an area of a band which you can operate it.
  6. VE1FZ

    VE1FZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I like to give out points in contests and work some .Only thing in last contest was why so long a WPX Contest?I guess
  7. VE1FZ

    VE1FZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Opp"s hit wrong key..I was going to say I guess I will have to go shell fishing too as I agree with Last Chap..Lobster season will be starting soon so I"ll be in the top 5% there as well!! ......
  8. K8TMK

    K8TMK Ham Member QRZ Page

    I too have operated in contests and do not have a problem with them. But I also agree that they have gotten out of hand and should be limited to portions of each band.

    I have only limited time I can play ham radio, and it seems like there are more and more contests dreamed up to prevent anyone from using the bands for other purposes.

    I also agree that sometimes people have to be a little versatile. How many times have you heard the old "well we've been using this frequency at this time for umpty-ump years, and so we aren't going to move?" Of course, most of us know this statement is of no significance. And if you ask them which FCC rule number gives them priority over the frequency, they get downwright hostle.
  9. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I don't think there are very many operators out there who have a problem with contesters using a frequency that the ragchewers usually use... I believe the problem is when the contesters open up right on top of an ongoing QSO... Well, when them $%%holes open up on me I send them back their stinking crapola signals with both barrels....

    As for the Newington folks, I am not renewing my membership anyway because they didn't listen to their membership regarding their piss poor restructuring proposal to the FCC... And to think they won't help out the contesting issue, only goes to show one how much they do not listen in general... I only hope 50% or more current members drop their membership too... It's time to clean house and let 'em go belly-up.... Then we can start a REAL league that works in everyone's best interest.....

    So, go on now and cancel that membership... There's better for us all out there....

    Tom NJ1K
  10. WF7I

    WF7I Ham Member QRZ Page


    A very well written post.

    This idea has come up before on past QRZ posts, and there is one major flaw that always gets mentioned with the "limited bandwidth" approach. If you confine the contest to a specified bandwidth, then you are also by necessity creating a much higher density of congestion in that segment, which will cause even worse QRM to the non-contest operations going on in that segment. I believe that this may be the chief reason why this approach has never been taken.

    But I do understand the frustration with the problems of contesting. In my mind, what it really comes down to is bad operating practice, and this can happen with or without contests. It's just that in a contest, it is amplified a million times because of the higher density of ops.

    The other point which is often made is having a contest self-police itself. In other words, poor operating practice is monitored and reported by the contest sponsors/participants, with LIDs getting disqualified, etc. However, probably due to the need for increased bureaucracy with monitors, etc, this never seems to really happen (except of course the complaints from non-contesters who get frustrated and annoyed and complain to the contest sponsor or the offending station).

    73, Bert
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