Sunday, 20 December 2015

It had to happen - RoPoCo Contest Dumbed Down AGAIN!

If it wasn't bad enough to change my once favourite twice-yearly short CW contest "RoPoCo" (Rotating Post Codes)  into a CW/SSB contest, the RSGB have now in their infinite wisdom completed the dumbing-down process and changed this into something which is now called "RoLo" (Rotating Locator).
The whole essence of the contest in its original format is that it was a test of both sending and receiving CW skill.
UK postcodes have a slightly quirky format in that the number of letters and numbers in the first part of the code is inconsistent, being either one or two letters followed by either one or two numbers.  The second part of the code (separated on paper by a space) always has a single number followed by two letter.
This made the sending and receiving of the codes accurately somewhat challenging, and part of that challenge is that the SPACING of characters becomes of some importance. (Note that the spacing embedded within the codes when submitted as contest results was never taken into consideration, but receiving a space in the correct place encourages the receiving station to feel that he may or may not have copied the code down correctly)
You may have read elsewhere that the SPACING of CW is one of my pet hobby-horses, as one of the main quality defects of a great many CW operators in my opinion is that their spacing is abysmal, assuming there is any spacing at all.
Perfectly formed characters can be rendered fairly unintelligible (especially when reading the code in one's head) by poor or non-existent spacing.   Conversely, less-than-perfectly-formed characters when spaced correctly should cause the experienced CW operator no difficulty in decoding.
So now we have a CW contest (at least one of the two segments of this contest is for CW operators) where the desirability of good spacing has been eliminated by replacing "quirky" alphanumeric postcodes with monotonously regular Maidenhead locators in their strict format of letterletternumbernumberletterletter (forgive my spacing ... !)