Hi to all the Ping Jockeys who participated in the weekend fun. I operated only a short time (5 hrs) due to family commitments but did manage a few QSO's (one new grid on 2m).
Some observations and opinions about the Contest:
(1) I guess I have a problem recognizing the difference between "un-assisted" and "assisted" operations in the first place. Why bother with this distinction ? A QSO "assisted" or "unassisted" is STILL a QSO and the grid (state,etc.) still counts for ARRL or other credit towards any of the awards. The "assisted" category seems to also have some sub-categories - those that never used any other communication media at all during the contest and those that "only monitored (PJ central)" - What is really the difference in READING all the chat on PJ and actually TYPING in something ? The distinction between the classes seems contrived and I believe should be eliminated. It is damn hard enough to make ANY QSO's in the MS mode, why make it artificially harder ????
Furthermore, I noted and experienced (non-malicious) QRM by "non-assisted" stations to ongoing QSO's because they were not reading the PJ mail and did not realize that QSO's were still in process. I vote for elimination of the assisted/non-assisted classes and let everybody set up skeds any way they like, following the "no-details during the QSO" rule we use for the rest of the year.
(2) The contest needs to be more-widely advertised as there were a number of stations who didnt know about it and were using the usual signal report format. "Unassisted" stations were particularly burned by this as they were prohibited (?) to communicate with these non-contest stations ONLY via the MS mode. Suggest we send out e-mails to ALL known MS people announcing the next contest 2 weeks and 1 week and again 2 days before the contest and CLEARLY specify the required format (see next item below).
(3) Why are Grid squares the required exchange for the contest instead of the usual signal reports ? This caused confusion with the "non-contest" stations and I believe serves no purpose. In fact, the usual criterion for a VALID QSO is to send and receive at least one UNKNOWN piece of information - the signal report is still the one arbitrary and unknown piece of data left - I could look up anybody's grid square and record it in my log but I can't do that for a signal report. Obviously, I disagree with the ARRL vhf/uhf contest format too, I think BOTH the signal report and the Grid should be required in those contests; at least the signal report is still the one arbitrary piece of data that actually validates the QSO.
(4) The actual format of QSO's added to the confusion - I was using "W5XXX K2OVS FN30" as my first message - If W5XXX got a good burst out of me, he has B/C + the Grid all in one exchange ! Many (assisted) stations were sending "K2OVS W5XXX" without the grid - what is my next message ? "W5XXX K2OVS FN30" (which I have been sending already) or "FN30 FN30" ? - guess I can't send any Rogers yet, but how do I acknowledge receipt of both calls ???? If I started with "W5XX K2OVS" (no grid), I am just making the QSO more difficult than it has to be under the contest rules - Goes back to my recommendation to return to the 40 year-old MS format (with signal reports) which everybody knows.........(and loves ?). If we stay with Grids, let's be very specific on the exchange format to avoid this confusion and waste of precious pings .
(5) Boy, I couldn't agree with Joe more about the scoring - I vote for a distance-based scoring system (with a minimum of maybe 300 miles to insure the QSO is indeed MS-based). Keep it simple - 1 point per mile (Km?) on 6m, 2 points on 2 meters, 5 points on 222 mhz and 10 points on 432. Add up all the points by band; add together for total score. Distances based on WSJT calculations as displayed with 6 character grid locators inputted.
Enough for now - Please ALSO forgive my (with apologies to K1JT, Hi Joe) loquaciousness and am looking forward to another (maybe one every major shower ?) MS contest next year.
73 to all - see you on the rox - Jay(2) K2OVS