Wanted: brains for contesters.

Please ship us a container with brains to implant in Belgian contesters. ASAP. Send it to ‘UBA c/o Contest Log Checkers’. I will take care of it. Maybe people will be offended by this. Maybe people will be mad for this. Well, I am not happy either. I am trying to stay calm and polite but no guaranties here! There’s only so much sh!t a man can take before breaking down. So far I collected about 50 logs (out of +350 total) from Belgian participants in the UBA SSB contest. Clearly they don’t read the rules. Clearly they don’t follow guidelines. Clearly they don’t check their log before sending it in.

First off: about the rules. They are available in three languages: Dutch, French, English. Even a complete n00b can should find them, open the PDF and read them. But for those unable or unwilling to do so, each year about 3 very expensive pages in the bimonthly and bilingual UBA magazine are utterly wasted to reprint the rules. Every UBA member gets this magazine in the mailbox. RTF Rules man! Now here’s what happens.

Quite some logs are sent to the UBA HF manager. It’s not supposed to go there! For years there has been a special email address active to send logs to. That is printed in the rules either in PDF or on paper. Yes, in those very same rules. This is the least of the problems: the HF manager only has to forward the mail to the right address. Consequence: submitter probably doesn’t receive a confirmation. Not a problem but given the volume of mails, a burden on the HF manager’s shoulders. Should be avoided.

The rules (remember: either to be read in PDF or on paper) kindly ask to submit in Cabrillo, the worldwide respected format for contest logs. Worldwide, except for Belgium that stubbornly refuses to do so. We get ADIF. We get CSV. We even get an email formatted in HTML with the the log typed as an email message. Nice reading but completely useless for log checking purposes. Still waiting for Excel and Word docs like I found in last year’s logs that I use for testing.

ON participants send their province abbreviation. So you’d expect that to be in the log as stipulated in the UBA Cabrillo specifications. Authors of contest logging applications really do provide that output, but if an ON participant does not fill in the needed info: no input = no output. This is a commonly accepted law in software. That means that each and every QSO he makes will be busted in the other log because the exchange doesn’t match. So what do we have to do? Either edit the log ourselves (which I refuse to do) or reply and ask to fill in the province and regenerate the Cabrillo. Personal note: about 3 weeks ago I did a presentation on the N1MM software in a UBA club. I specifically addressed the issue of missing info that doesn’t make it into the Cabrillo log. I also emphasized to check the Cabrillo before sending it in. I gave the example I am facing now. One of the attendees that night sends in his log –you guessed it– without the province. He’s #1 on the implant list.

Categories anyone? The UBA has created a set of categories with time limits, to suit the needs of the ON crowd. They’ll never do 24h, most so 6 or 12 hours. So ON participants can pick between 6, 12 and 24 hours either low power or high power. Or QRP or multi-op. This great and friendly system has been in place for a few years now. Did I mention the rules are available either in PDF or on paper and in 3 languages? Well, these categories are listed and named clearly in those rules. Yet it seems ON participants are pulling our legs by not editing their log and change the general category designator to the right UBA format. The category in the log says ‘SINGLE OP ALL LOW’. Is that 24, 12 or 6 hours? Please change to something more meaningful. Open the log with an ASCII editor, and while you’re at it: see if your province is in there. Change the ‘CATEGORY’ field to AL, BH, CL or whatever. It’s in the rules! I agreed with ON7SS that if we cannot pin the category unambiguously, it’ll be CH = 24h high power.

There is a bonus system in place to encourage DX to work more ON stations. Maybe I should propose the UBA HF Committee to install a ‘ON bad log penalty’ system next year? The category thing only applies to Belgian logs, DX follows the classic categories. Although there is one Russian fellow who claims a SB10 log with only 20m contacts in his log. I put him in SB20. Hope he doesn’t mind.

Disclaimer for the record: this is my personal opinion ventilated on my personal soapbox. Please don’t bother the nice folks at the UBA with angry remarks about my views. These volunteers are working for you and the more you bother them, the less they can do for you. Probably they are looking for a way to make the rules more clear. Like translate them into a local dialect? Come to think of it: I’m a volunteer working for you too, so don’t even bother me. I’m doing my best to provide decent log checking. I’m really giving everything I got to make this work. I’m trying to keep it fun and meaningful for myself. A little cooperation and anticipation from the ON contest crowd would be nice.

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