2014 Philip J. McGan Silver Antenna Award

From the minutes of the July 2015 meeting of the Board of Directors of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL):

29. On motion of Mr. Norris, seconded by Dr. Boehner, the following resolution was ADOPTED (with applause):

 

WHEREAS, Randy Thompson, K5ZD, has demonstrated outstanding volunteer public relations success on behalf of Amateur Radio for many years at the local, regional, and national levels as an active contester and Elmer; and

 

WHEREAS, he has fostered an environment that significantly increases public awareness of Amateur Radio, including through his association with the World Radiosport Team Championship (“WRTC”) event in 2014; and

 

WHEREAS, his active promotion of the WRTC2014 event, and Amateur Radio in general, encompasses several years of effort promoting the WRTC2014 event as “the Olympics of Ham Radio”; and

 

WHEREAS, his efforts in promoting WRTC2014 resulted in national-level coverage of Amateur Radio in the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio’s “Only A Game” program and many local and regional media outlets where WRTC2014 participants lived;

 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED the ARRL Board of Directors, at the recommendation of the ARRL Public Relations Committee, awards the 2015 Philip J McGan Silver Antenna Award to Randy Thompson, K5ZD.

More about the award: http://www.arrl.org/phil-mcgan-award

I was the leader of marketing and communications for the World Radiosport Team Championship 2014 (WRTC2014) that was held in Boston during July 2014. With the help of Michelle McGrath we were able to receive press attention for the event in numerous local newspapers, the Wall Street Journal, and the NPR show Only a Game. We also did a campaign to get press in the hometown newspapers of some of the USA and Canadian competitors.  Check out some of the results on the WRTC2014 site In the Media page.

I was very surprised to receive this honor.  Thanks to Doug K1DG for nominating me and to ARRL for the recognition of our efforts.  It is always hard to measure the results of such activities. It was our hope that WRTC2014 and the concept of radio as a sport would provide a potential point of interest for people outside the hobby to become interested in amateur radio.

CQ Contest Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 2015

Since becoming the Director of the CQ WW DX Contest in 2012, I have had the privilege of introducing the inductees to the CQ Magazine Contest Hall of Fame each year during the Contest Dinner in Dayton.

Dave, KM3T, made a video recording of the ceremony this year featuring the induction of Ward Silver, N0AX, and Doug Grant, K1DG.  Both are great friends of mine and extremely worthy of being in the HoF.

View the video at: https://youtu.be/-RW_yVpi0Y8

Photos below are courtesy of Bob Wilson, N6TV.

CQ Contest Hall of Fame Honorees N0AX, K1DG

CQ Contest Hall of Fame Honorees N0AX, K1DG

CQ Contest Hall of Fame Honoree N0AX, K5ZD

CQ Contest Hall of Fame Honoree N0AX, K5ZD

K5ZD presents CQ Contest Hall of Fame award to K1DG

K5ZD presents CQ Contest Hall of Fame award to K1DG

CQWW 1500W Limit

Contesting is a game. Games have rules. The rules create barriers or constraints that equalize the competition or create strategic choices. If we ignore the rules we don’t like, the game is no longer meaningful.

Those stations that run more than 1500W are cheating. Much the same way users of performance enhancing drugs in bicycle racing, Olympic sports, baseball, etc. are cheating.

The temptation to cheat is strong. “It doesn’t hurt anyone.” “It makes up for my poor location.” “Everyone else is doing it.” These are all justifications to make the cheater feel better. They do not make it right.

The cheaters are hurting the contest. Their loud signals drive other contesters off the bands. Participants lose faith in the integrity of the game and decide not to play. New contesters see the cheaters make big scores and think that is the way to compete so the next generation learns to cheat.

Power cheating happens all over the world. Temptation and lack of control is a human condition. In ham radio contesting it seems to happen much more in some places than others. These areas are so invested in cheating that they ask for the rules to be changed to make it OK.

In the end, there are those that follow the rules. We respect their integrity, their effort, and their achievements. For the others, we see their scores, but we know they are dirty. Maybe they are not disqualified (because there is not the oversight of professional sports), but we do not have to respect them.

Fair play means following the rules. All of them.

Randy Thompson, K5ZD

(This was originally posted to cq-contest mailing list, September 12, 2013)

Randy Thompson, K5ZD, Named Director of CQ World Wide DX Contest

CQ Communications, Inc. / 25 Newbridge Rd. / Hicksville, NY 11801 / Phone: (516) 681-2922 / Fax: (516-681-2926) / e-mail: w2vu@cq-amateur-radio.com

 

NEWS RELEASE

 

For more information, contact:

Richard Moseson (W2VU)

Editor, CQ Amateur Radio

(516) 681-2922 / w2vu@cq-amateur-radio.com

Randy Thompson (K5ZD)

k5zd@cqwpx.com

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 1, 2012

Randy Thompson, K5ZD, Named Director of CQ World Wide DX Contest

(Hicksville, NY) October 1, 2012 — CQ Contest Hall of Fame member and WPX Contest Director Randy Thompson, K5ZD, has been named Director of the CQ World Wide DX Contest, effective immediately. Randy succeeds Bob Cox, K3EST, who retired in September after 35 years at the helm of the world’s most popular amateur radio contest.

Thompson, 52, has been a ham since age 13. He is an accomplished contester, having multiple wins in the CQ World Wide DX Contest and the CQ WPX Contest, among others. He has also competed in four World Radiosport Team Championships. In addition, Randy is a past editor of the “National Contest Journal” (a post he has held three separate times) and a co-founder of the eHam.net website. He is a longtime member of the Yankee Clipper Contest Club and an instructor at K3LR’s Contest University. He has been Director of the CQ WPX Contest since 2008, coincidentally the same year in which he was inducted into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame.

“The CQ WW is the biggest event on the contest calendar,” commented Thompson. “I am honored to be involved and follow in the giant footsteps of K3EST. With the great conditions we are seeing on the bands, this year should be the biggest CQ WW ever! The first order of business is to have the team ready for the new 5-day log deadline and faster results reporting.”

CQ Publisher Dick Ross, K2MGA, said Thompson’s appointment marks the start of a new chapter in the history of CQ World Wide DX Contest, adding “The CQ management team looks forward to working with Randy as CQWW Director. His four years as WPX Contest Director have already demonstrated his ability to successfully and creatively guide a major contest, and we are totally confident that he will take the CQWW to even greater heights.”

Thompson’s appointment to the directorship of the CQWW creates a vacancy for director of the CQ WPX Contests. Anyone interested in taking on the challenge of leading a major contest should contact Randy at <k5zd@cqwpx.com>.

Summary of how to improve contesting

Some suggestions and ideas as a result of my question about how to improve contest activity. Some were received privately.

> Articles describing the favorable experiences of new contesters might help. The place for these would be in QST or on eHam, not NCJ, and they should probably be run about twice per year. The articles should also highlight that you don’t have to be a serious entrant to have fun, since I’d bet that many folks have the impression that there’s little point in competing unless you go all out.

> Use of contest logs for award credit

> Teams comprised of some predefined number of hams (three? five?) would be allowed to pool their results on an hour-by-hour basis, with the best score for any clock hour being used toward the team score … kind of like a scramble in golf.

> The great majority of potential contesters are not new hams, they are new contesters. It might be more effective to let hams claim Rookie status who had not entered the contest within the last three years.

> More categories that allow people the chance to compete against others with same station (or avoid competing with others with bigger stations).

> Time limited categories that would allow those who don’t have the full weekend to still have a competitive experience. Suggested times were 3 hours, 6 hours, 8 hours, 12 hours, and 24 hours. Or follow German Markrothen RTTY Contest. In that one the entire contest runs 8 hours on, 8 off, 8 on, 8 off, and 8 on. So it is a 24 hour contest spread out over 40 hours with all the 24 hours of the solar day being part of the contest.

One group was in favor of a time-based category. Another group liked a “best x hours” of the full effort.

> Too much focus on winners. Make “performance results” that recognize different achievements within the contest. E.g., Who worked 5BWAC in the shortest time, Who worked most long Distance DX in the shortest time, etc. Categories would revolve around Continents, Zones, Countries, Prefixes, QSOs, All bands, Low bands, High bands, three bands, single bands QSO distance, Time.

> Define a separate category “Best of x hours.” I know a few contests already embrace this philosophy in one form or another. BARTG RTTY is one I believe. You can operate the entire event if you want or a 6-hour window and submit the abbreviated event as your entry for the contest.

> Allow the contesters to select their “best rate” from their entire > contest effort. There might be different “time categories”, i.e., 0-3 hours, 3-6 hours, etc. A contester can then compete against others who have limited time resources and gain recognition of their efforts.

> Give top 3 plaques on all mayor categories and ask for donations with log’s paypal suggested with a limit of $5 US.

> Have decent write ups… Move the detailed results entirely to the web > and have something limited for written media.

> European VHF-contesting uses the .edi-log-format which has lines for power, antenna height, height asl and antennas. So the results can easily contain those informations.
http://www.darc.de/referate/ukw-funksport/ukw/mai-2009a.txt

Randy Thompson, K5ZD

(This originally appeared on the cq-contest mailing list, June 20, 2009)

Everything not specifically prohibited is mandatory

In a post to cq-contest, Hans K0HB made the suggestion for a new universal contest rule:

"Rule XXII:  Everything not specifically prohibited is mandatory."

During my ethics presentation at CTU in Dayton, I specifically made the opposite point.

Contest sponsors have deliberately chosen to keep rules relatively simple. Perhaps to follow historical precedent or keep the text to something that will fit in a magazine. To fully cover every situation, our rules would look like Formula 1 car racing or top level sail boat racing and be hundreds of pages long.

We would then need judges, a commissioner, and an organization to manage the rules (not to mention more lawyers). We don’t have a big TV contract or big $$ sponsors, so contesting remains largely an honor sport.

This means participants have to consider two elements when making a decision about whether an action is permitted or not. 1) Is it in the rules? These are the “easy” ones. 2) Is there an accepted norm that deals with the issue? This is what keeps the cq-contest reflector humming.

The challenge for contesting is that the accepted norms vary from one culture to another, from one local group to another, and they change over time! Many times they are passed through word of mouth. Remember the game of telephone where you give a sentence to one person and then see the final result after it has been through many retellings?

At CTU, I suggested norms in contesting have 3 main objectives:

  • Just because its not specified in the written rules doesn’t mean you can do it!
  • Keep the contest on the radio and within the contest period
  • Don’t give or take unfair advantage

I am sure Hans was speaking tongue in cheek, but I really would prefer to continue enjoying a competition where people are following the rules and not always trying to find the outside of the envelope.

Randy Thompson, K5ZD

(This post was originally made to cq-contest reflector, June 6, 2009)

The contest is over

EZ4EBL and HK0T are two calls that have been discussed on the reflector in the past days.  People were more than happy to point out these calls were incorrect and what the correct call was.  I was very disappointed and concerned by that.

What is contesting?  It is a competition between operators.  This competition involves working stations on the air during the contest period.

Part of working stations is recording them accurately in the log.

When the contest is over the participants submit their log (the record of their activity) to the contest sponsor.  The sponsor checks the logs and publishes the results.  Some people are declared winners, but everyone is also able to compete with themselves and measure their own improvement.

Seems pretty simple.

If contesters sit around after the contest and compare their logs with others in order to make corrections to what they copied, is that within the spirit of the competition?  You are still competing to work stations, but accuracy is no longer being tested.  Same is true if you use other means after the contest to correct your log (looking at DX Summit records, listening to audio recordings, etc.).

In the “old days” ops would write their log using pencil and paper.  They would then have to manually go back through and dupe the log.  During this process they would correct errors they found or make the text easier to read.  This process took time and is a big part of the reason there is a 30 day period to submit logs.  It also lead to this perception that correcting logs after the contest was OK.

Today, we keep our log on computer.  At most we should scan through the log looking for typos and fixing anything we kept a note of during the contest.

These corrections should be done by you based on your own review and knowledge of the log.  Not as a group effort or using outside tools!

Its ok if you didn’t get every call or exchange correct.  Yes, your score may be reduced by the log checkers.  That’s part of the competition.

Request your log check report after the results are published and study it.

If you confuse certain letters on phone or CW you know what to work on during the next contest. Its called improving your skills and should be the most satisfying part of contesting.

Do all contesting and yourself a favor.  Follow the rules and work the contest as best you can.  Put your log in the proper format.  Send it in as quickly as possible after the contest.  The result will be an honest and fair competition that can be used to measure your skills against others and yourself.

 

Randy Thompson, K5ZD

(This item was originally posted to the cq-contest mailing list, December 4, 2008)

Going past 10

At the Contest University I gave a talk on Contesting Ethics. During the section on obeying power limits, I made a reference to turning the knob past 10 to 11 as a metaphor for breaking the rules. Several people in the audience identified the movie this was from (Spinal Tap).

K1DG found a video clip from the movie that explains it all. Be sure to
watch all the way to the end.

http://youtu.be/4xgx4k83zzc

And just because the knob on your amplifier might let you go to 11 (or 12, or 13, or even more), please remember contesting is a game and it only works if everyone trusts each other to stay within the rules!

Randy Thompson, K5ZD

(This originally appeared on the cq-contest mail list, May 21, 2008)

Randy Thompson, K5ZD, Named WPX Contest Director

CQ Communications, Inc. / 25 Newbridge Rd. / Hicksville, NY 11801 / Phone: (516) 681-2922 / Fax: (516-681-2926) / e-mail: w2vu@cq-amateur-radio.com

NEWS RELEASE

For more information, contact:
Richard Moseson (W2VU)
Editor, CQ Amateur Radio
(516) 681-2922 / w2vu@cq-amateur-radio.com
Randy Thompson (K5ZD)
k5zd@cqwpx.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8, 2008

Randy Thompson, K5ZD, Named Director of CQ WPX Contests

(Hicksville, NY) May 8, 2008 — Contesting luminary Randy Thompson, K5ZD, has been named Director of the CQ World Wide WPX Contests, effective immediately. Randy succeeds Steve Merchant, K6AW, who has been WPX Contest Director since 2002 and who needed to step aside due to business obligations.

Randy has been a contester for more than three decades and has multiple wins to his credit in the single-op, all-band categories of both the CQ World Wide DX Contest and the CQ WPX Contest, in both CW and SSB modes. Randy is also a past editor of the “National Contest Journal” (a post he has held three separate times) and a co-founder of the eHam.net website. He is a longtime member of the Yankee Clipper Contest Club and an instructor at K3LR’s Contest University. In the past year, Randy has been working with Steve Merchant behind the scenes on the WPX contests, so he is already familiar with the program from the administrative side.

Any questions regarding the 2008 WPX Contests (SSB weekend was held last March; CW weekend is coming up at the end of May) should be directed to Randy via e-mail to <k5zd@cqwpx.com>. We thank K6AW for his years of dedicated service to the WPX Contests and look forward to a seamless transition to K5ZD’s administration of the event.

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