A VOIP Contest??

In my e-mail just now, I got the following:

Hi , Daniel

My name is Rick, and my call sign is XXXX. I’ve been a contester since 2004 when I became a ham, and I love it!

I wanted you to see this information from a friend of mine, Trippy, about a new contest that will be held in March of this year! I will be in it myself, and I hope to work you in it.

Please tell every contester you know about this new contest. I look forward to working you!


Rick, XXXX
PS, contest letter and announcement from Trippy to you, is below

There were several problems with this e-mail. First of all, there was no attachment. Second, this was obviously spam. I don’t know Rick or Trippy, nor have I ever worked them on the air. Third, I just can’t excited about a CQ100 contest.

Here’s my reply:

Hello, Rick–

First, there was no attachment.

Second, as I hope you know, CQ100 isn’t really a new mode. It’s a computer program that simulates amateur radio contacts using the voice over Internet protocol (VOIP).

I’m not one of those OFs (old farts) who gets all hot and bothered about the use of VOIP in ham radio. I use EchoLink when it’s appropriate and feel that it does have a place in ham radio. Having said that, I just can’t get very excited about a “contest” that takes place over a VOIP network, especially one that you have to pay for! Operating a “contest” over VOIP is like shooting fish in a barrel.

If you’re having fun with CQ100, more power to you. I think, however, that you’ll have a lot more fun by actually radiating some RF energy of your own.



What do you all think?


  1. Dan. I’ve said this before, but I don’t dislike VOIP per se and EchoLink is fine with me when it’s used to bring some life to dead repeaters in remote places. It’s using VOIP as a substitute for ham radio that I don’t agree with.

    I don’t think the argument that it’s a way for people who can’t put up antennas to get on the air holds much water, as there must be very few people who can’t use any kind of antenna even a Miracle Whip. I think VOIP becomes the easy option for many that saves them the challenge of finding a way to radiate RF from their restricted location. But it defeats the whole point of the hobby which is about using radio, and therefore to me is worthless.

    Having said all that I’ve recently been taken to task for opposing the use of technology that makes finding and working DX so much easier than in the days before computers. I suppose CQ100 is the final step in the chain of technological evolution by eliminating the one remaining uncertainty in making the contact – the vagaries of propagation.

    In 20 years time the amateur bands will cease to exist, having been sold off to commercial interests, and all that will be left is an online simulation. But by then I’ll probably be muttering to myself in a care home somewhere.

  2. I think yours is a sensible perspective. QsoNet promises to eliminate the aspects of ham radio that I find most interesting and challenging! …QRM, QRN, propagation, RFI, antenna restrictions, etc. Why bother?

  3. David Brodbeck N8SRE says:

    QsoNet is not anything I’d ever be interested in, but I also don’t think it’s a threat to amateur radio any more than Grand Turismo is a threat to autocross or Flight Simulator is a threat to private aviation.

  4. echo-link is good to have because some expensve ht”s are usless. the only way to use them is by crossband repeat or echo-link. Ham radio has been around longer than cell phones and in 2010 we still cant hit most repeaters without a base or mobile. i cant walk through the local grocery store and comunicate with a friend because the ht or repeater will not do the job. we probably could attract more hams if we could stand in line and chat with a friend while we waited. but its embarassing to carry a handheld and if someone ask to demonstate how it works, and when u tried you coulnt hit a repeater.

  5. I guess I am less sympathetic than most when it comes to echolink, let alone CQ100. And it’s not because I have any beef with VOIP or am uncomfortable with “new technology” (not that VOIP is really all that new at this point). To me, it seems like VOIP simply defeats the purpose of ham radio as a hobby. Suppose the people who run the NYC marathon announced that, so long as participants in the marathon either begin and/or end the race on foot, it’s okay for them to ride in cars, buses, etc. the rest of the time. This would have some benefits. It would allow those who are too ill or weak to participate in the marathon to be included in the event as active participants. It would result in less physical stress on participants, making the event both safer and more comfortable.Perhaps it would result in more marathons in more communities. Nevertheless, I think this would be a depressing development as it would defeat the purpose of running a marathon. Now, that said, would I really object to an elderly ham in a retirement home using echolink to keep in touch with his buddies, or to someone’s using echolink once in a blue moon when they can’t hit a repeater? Not really, but there is no way to keep echolink confined to that kind of role. What we inevitably end up with are young, fit hams giving each other “59” “signal reports” over Echolink. Sigh.

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