Spent an afternoon with a conventional knob rig and came to appreciate all I take for granted with the amazing band-awareness possible today. It's like driving with blinders - sure you'll get there, and it works just fine, but wow...there's so much more.
San Juan Island, Wa.
It's almost like someone used to driving with only the front windshield suddenly getting the other windows and mirrors, plus a full set of gauges! Hands are still on the wheel, and the pilot is still in charge, but the extra help really makes life a pleasure.
Enjoy your own "slice" of the hobby!
Pissed off my contest station partner N6KI no end. so it was really fun doing it. Needless to say I am waiting for him to put together a SSB contest robot to piss me off
BTW robot contesting was first done more than 10 years ago.
As much as I love technology, currently a skilled human operator will easily beat a robot. In the longer term, robots will win. But to my way of thinking there is no fun in cheating to win glory.
What would be more interesting to hear would be comments from contesters about what and how. For example, the K3 has long been at the top of the heap for contesting. Why? And how would the Flex-6k series be better?
(i'm not a contester, so I'd really like to hear. I have my own long list of reasons for why I prefer SDR. )
Taking you hand off your logging keyboard to hit the mouse slows down ur rate.
Having to click mouse menus to change controls slows down you rate.
Having controls ergonomically situated so you can change things quickly improves your rate.
Frankly my rate. In Search and Punce is better on an SDR where I can see things But visibly slower in Run situations than a K3 where. You sometime need to make quick fine adjustments to catch a Q
However it looks like Maestro may just be that secret sauce that lets Flex beat K3 at rate.
I understand what you are saying about rate. One of the things I'm puzzled about with respect to S&P vs rate is that even with a good pan display, the current crop of SDR do not auto-lock onto the carrier point in any decent manner. You click the mouse to position the band pass, and then have to scroll up or down with the mouse wheel to get the right location.
In a CW context, this may be less of a problem, but it is sure a problem for SSB.
From the 2014 RadioSport website:
12.4. Use of DX spotting (e.g., Packet, Web, etc.), skimmer or any other spotting and supplementary information network is not allowed. You are not allowed to receive any assistance to learn the callsign or exchange of any station other than by tuning the radio and listening by human ear.
Does this also imply that using a pan display would be disallowed? I don't recall seeing any operators in the documentary using a pan display, even though several had IC-7600, 7700 and 7800. I'll look again...
okay, I just reviewed the RadioSport documentary again, the portion where they actually show the ops running the contest. There were a number of K3/P3, IC-7600,7700,7800. But my impression from watching them is that these pan displays were all showing such low-resolution information that it would have been used only as secondary feedback to the ops, showing gross regions where activity resided or not.
I did not see any of them actually tuning from the P3 at all, nor were any of them apparently guided for Q's with the display on the Icom rigs. Nearly every one of them had their eyes glued to the logging screen, and their tuning was very slowly incremental by main tuning knob.
So this would tend to discount the actual utility of a pan display to a highly experienced contester op.
16.2.2. Use of any sub receiver in radios that are so equipped, is not allowed. This includes diversity receiving. Radios are not allowed to receive on two frequencies simultaneously. For a two-channel (or multi-channel) radio (which has sub-receiver or parallel reception capabilities), which allows reception of signals on different frequencies simultaneously, the sub-receiver (or that parallel reception) must not be used.
Oops!! Sounds like Flex radios are explicitly disallowed in RadioSport...
16.2.5. Spectrum scopes (pan adapters) are allowed provided that they are used solely for instant spectrum visualization of the current amateur radio band of Radio A or Radio B. The spectrum scope may be built-in to the radio or be a separate device. It may be connected to the radio or PC-A/B with the following limitations:
The only output from the spectrum scope can be video.
Data transfer to the logging program or any other software is not allowed.
Only the current band/frequency data of a single Radio (A or B) can be transferred to one spectrum scope for that radio.
The spectrum curve may be displayed in any suitable device, including the PC-A/B monitor screen.
No additional computers may be used for SDR signal processing; only PC-A/B computers may be used.
The spectrum scope must not be used to control any other device (e.g., tune Radio A/B).
No signal demodulation or any other secondary spectrum processing (e.g., station detection, peak holding, or waterfall display) is allowed.
I just found this rule...
16.3. All radios must be commercially manufactured transceivers, meeting all manufacturer specifications
This one totally blows me away!! I always had the impression that homebrew was the very essence of Ham Radio.
So now, it is beginning to appear that the RadioSport is really a commercially sponsored endeavor on the part of the big 3 + Elecraft.
Are manufacturers expected to contribute if they want their gear to be allowed in the competition? Is this a cartel? Has Flex been excluded because they didn't contribute?
In the above photo all of the stations in the band map are from my local reception. The band maps are populated by the 3 skimmers. Imagine writing an algorithm that looks at a hierarchy of need, is a station rare? Is a station very workable or marginal? Does the station have a high rate? Is the station a well known contest station? etc and then have the algorithm rate things according to conclude say 5 best stations to work. Once worked the next 5 best are shown. Have the algorithm do a rate analysis on itself and tune things for best bands/best rate and/or best mults. Completely changes the workflow and productivity. and suddenly a guy with a 6500 or 6700 and a steppir becomes a contender. No way in hell the big shots are going to allow rules for that.
Well, sorry... I didn't mean to sidetrack the discussion to the negative. I was looking for what makes a good contest rig. Why is a K3 preferred so much, and what is really needed in a Flex? I think I found a few answers.
Not about K3's per se... but at least I have identified that a high-resolution spectrum display is not necessarily the edge maker. Rather, a cooked spectrum analysis with insight and inference as mentioned by Lee, could make a difference.
For automation, I cut my teeth on this (my Baby!) back when it had 6 mirrors