SD by EI5DI - N1TA Editorial


N1TA - Remote Operation

Mike DeChristopher N1TA doesn't agree with what I said about Remote Operation, and wrote an "Editorial" in reply. In reality it's a blog, as N1TA is a self-appointed "editor". Anyway, you can read the original here (scroll down), and it is reproduced in full below. Following that, I demonstrate how N1TA appears to be easily confused and unable to follow arguments written in plain English.


N1TA - Remote Operation: an Editorial - June 7, 2017.

There's a debate raging on the CQ-Contest list at the moment centered on remote operation. Both as a contest administrator and a participant, I've been familiar with the practice and even tried it once or twice. My station is, at the moment, capable of it (albeit with some amplifier limitations).

There are two sides to the argument:

"It's internet." The control of the station relies on the internet; that is to say, without internet, the QSO wouldn't occur (even though it is strictly RF between the physical radios).

"It's the same as a long mic cord." The internet is not replacing any of the RF; it simply replaces the mic (or key) cord and other control devices.

I was pretty neutral about the whole thing until I read EI5DI's piece, which is probably the ugliest, most petty opinion piece on the subject today. Now I'm convinced there is an entire class of operators who have chosen their decade and refuse to leave it. Let me save you the agony of reading that and paraphrase: remote operation is bad because it involves the internet in some way.

FACT: the internet replaces the control, NOT the RF. So EI5DI (and his ilk, whoever and wherever they may be) are really asking for a rule that says I must be mechanically connected to the controls of my station at all times. So for those of you who use wireless switchboxes or filter networks (like me): you're out. Sorry. Personally, I don't care how long your mic cord (or any other control interface) is. I don't care if you're in the next room or the next continent. Like EI5DI says: facts are facts, so here's a fact: remote operators are sending an exchange based on the physical location of the transmitter - the location of the operator is therefore immaterial. I'm not even sure how EI5DI can reach the conclusion that the location of the operator's butt has anything to do with a radio contest.

Is it because we've made it too easy to win? Is it because this allows some of us to build far remote stations with great capabilities in advantageous locations? Sure. But that doesn't stop EI5DI from doing that too. There's realtors around the globe happy to help you find that dream location deep in a jungle and there's airlines willing to fly you back and forth to operate it. To say that the difficulties of doing it for each major contest somehow discredits those operating remote stations is just blatant jealousy, especially when you consider the prevalence of rare zones in recent contests brought to us by remote stations.

This just becomes more embarrassing the longer I think about it. If anything, remote stations that rely on an internet or other data link for control actually have a disadvantage, as that link could go down at any time.

The hobby is always changing. If you want to sit in a room full of radios and use low dipoles in CQWW, that's great - it's about having fun. If you want to use cutting-edge technology and hand out a rare zone, that's great too. But either way, for the love of Hiram, can we just let others do what they want and stop pretending they are lesser operators because they're doing something we can't?

73
Mike


    There are two sides to the argument:

    "It's internet." The control of the station relies on the internet; that is to say, without internet, the QSO wouldn't occur (even though it is strictly RF between the physical radios).

Right from the beginning N1TA gets it wrong, or is economical with the truth. It's not just that control of the station relies on the internet, but also that communications between the operators relies on, and is hosted on, the internet - no internet signal relay, no communications whatsoever.

    "It's the same as a long mic cord." The internet is not replacing any of the RF; it simply replaces the mic (or key) cord and other control devices."

That's true - as far as it goes but, again, it's only part of the story. No one is arguing that the internet is replacing RF. The inescapable truth is that, for remote operation, RF on its own is not enough for the operators to contact one another. Again - no internet, no contacts.

    I was pretty neutral about the whole thing until I read EI5DI's piece, which is probably the ugliest, most petty opinion piece on the subject today. Now I'm convinced there is an entire class of operators who have chosen their decade and refuse to leave it.

Well, N1TA may have been neutral at one time but, for sure, he's not neutral now. In fact, he is indulging in an "ad hominem" attack - a fallacious argumentative strategy whereby genuine discussion of the topic at hand is avoided by instead attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.

    He continues - "Let me save you the agony of reading that and paraphrase: remote operation is bad because it involves the internet in some way."

Either N1TA does not understand what I said or he is deliberately misrepresenting what I said.

What is actually said was -

1. Remote operators are at all times communication over the internet.

2. Without the internet, there would be no communications whatsoever with other operators.

    N1TA states
    FACT: the internet replaces the control, NOT the RF.

No one has alleged the internet replaces the RF. However, with remote operation, RF alone is insufficient for the purpose of contacting other operators. What is required is a further internet communications link or relay. As I said "remote operation represents some form of hybrid communications - with full dependence on both amateur-band RF and the internet for any information to be exchanged (that's "communications") between the operators concerned."

    So EI5DI (and his ilk, whoever and wherever they may be) are really asking for a rule that says I must be mechanically connected to the controls of my station at all times.

N1TA is making things up as he goes along. I didn't say that, I didn't imply that, and I am not asking for such a rule. As for "EI5DI (and his ilk, whoever and wherever they may be)" - does that help to resolve the argument in any way? It's just another ad hominem attack.

For what it's worth, I am an experienced and successful contester and DXpedition operator. Anyone interested can check my record in CQWW, including a SO80 LP World #1 in 2015, and on DXpeditions including T32C - the world record holder since 2011.

CQWW - T32C - Mega DXpeditions

    I'm not even sure how EI5DI can reach the conclusion that the location of the operator's butt has anything to do with a radio contest.

I didn't say that. It may be N1TA's conclusion but it's not mine. What does matter is how we contact one another - that is what gives us our name and earns us our frequency bands. If N1TA has to get on the internet before he can get on the air, then he is a hybrid-communications operator or simply an internet user.

    Is it because we've made it too easy to win?

No - I didn't say that.

    Is it because this allows some of us to build far remote stations with great capabilities in advantageous locations?

No - I didn't say that either.

    Sure. But that doesn't stop EI5DI from doing that too.

I choose not to. I'm a radio amateur, not a hybrid-communications amateur.

    To say that the difficulties of doing it for each major contest somehow discredits those operating remote stations is just blatant jealousy, especially when you consider the prevalence of rare zones in recent contests brought to us by remote stations.

I didn't say that. Again, N1TA is making it up as he goes along. I'm not jealous of anyone - I don't need to be. N1TA and his ilk are welcome to their hybrid-communications contesting on the internet.

    This just becomes more embarrassing the longer I think about it.

Best not to think about it for too long - that way N1TA will not be embarrassed.

    If anything, remote stations that rely on an internet or other data link for control actually have a disadvantage, as that link could go down at any time.

And that proves my point, that remote operators communicate over the internet.

    The hobby is always changing.

That's correct. Change is good in any hobby unless it changes the nature of the hobby - the very thing that gives it its name.

    If you want to sit in a room full of radios and use low dipoles in CQWW, that's great - it's about having fun.

I prefer to win, and to have fun winning - using nothing but RF in the signal path between myself and my contacts.

    If you want to use cutting-edge technology and hand out a rare zone, that's great too.

Well, communicating with RF in this internet age is really old-fashioned - the internet is far more cutting-edge than 120-year-old RF technology. Why bother with RF when the internet is all anyone needs?

    But either way, for the love of Hiram,

Who's Hiram - is he Irish?

    can we just let others do what they want and stop pretending they are lesser operators because they're doing something we can't?

We are all entitled to do what we want, but we are not entitled to do what we want and describe it as we please. We can't use mechanical propulsion on a sailboat and claim to be sailing.

Remote operators are lesser operators because they cannot contact other operators without first connecting to, staying connected to, and continuously communicating over, the internet. They are, simultaneously, internet users and internet deniers - that takes some cojones.

It should be clear that I have zero respect for N1TA and his (lack of) thought processes, and I now propose to respond in kind with an ad hominem attack of my own.

N1TA "served" as ARRL Contest Branch Manager from June 2013 to January 2014. He "resigned to pursue other opportunities". That says it all. Here's confirmation - and here.

    Quote - "We are disappointed with the delays in communications and awards fulfillment that contesters have experienced. The past few months have not been up to ARRL standards; we apologize for this and are working hard to correct it."

I have no confidence in N1TA, or anything he says.

Paul O'Kane EI5DI
27 March 2018



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