Topics

Online Scoreboard


Pete W3WC
 

Below is an excerpt from this week’s ARRL Contest Update. It includes a discussion of online scoreboards for contests.

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Cutting-edge contesters are always looking for opportunities to increase their scores. They will try and discard many techniques before finding something that will repeatedly yield increases. Their competition will likely notice the increase in score and try to follow the leader. The main group of contesters will use something if they perceive that it's not too difficult to set up, and that it will increase their scores. If they perceive the effort to set it up will not be rewarded with better scores or more fun, they won't do it.

Let's take an example technology that should be appealing for a contester -- online scoreboards. The big multi-multi stations have generally been aware of their competitors score during contests because it's just part of the job - with or without online scoreboards. Reasons why a mainstream contester might be interested in participating in an online scoreboard include:

  • Increased motivation by competing directly against peers in their geographic or affiliation group
  • Better situational awareness of multiplier or band contact opportunities

Today, there are still some roadblocks to get started, including:

  • Deciding which online scoreboard service to use
  • Signing up for an online scoreboard on the online scoreboard website
  • Configuring club or other affiliations on the online scoreboard website
  • Filling scoreboard configuration information into a contest logging program
  • Understanding how information is going to be used
  • Learning how best to use information provided by an online scoreboard

Looking at just two logging programs and how they integrate with online scoreboards, let's start with N1MM Logger+. It has an overwhelmingly dominant "market share" as the contest logger for most contests and is maximally configurable to be able to work with any of the online scoreboard systems. The downside of flexibility is that scoreboard configuration is made more complicated by this, and many mainstream contesters just won't complete it.

N3FJP (he has different programs for different contests) thinks the sweet spot for contest scoreboards is to foster intra-club competition, and so over the past few years, N3FJP's software has focused on making it as easy as possible for a club to publish scores on their own servers, with minimal configuration required by individual club members. A club member who just wants to report their score using N3FJP's software just needs to enter three pieces of information into the logging program - no interaction necessary with a third-party website, no additional email address confirmations. They can view their scores versus their peers on a club website. It just works. Only one reasonably computer-savvy club member is required to set up the server.

No logger I'm aware of (yet) displays information gathered from an online scoreboard in any of the logging windows. A contester today uses an additional web browser window to display competing scores. No display will yet provide encouraging or insightful messages during a contest such as "you've just moved up a spot to #4!" or "if you work another multiplier right now you can move up a position!"

Now that we're all more familiar with remote meetings, single-click software upgrades, and minimal initial configuration as a consequence of being more online during social distancing, I hope we all can better appreciate the value of user-friendly configuration, and that our contesting software continues to incorporate thoughtful ways to get more people using new capabilities without requiring extensive configuration. And once we have access to more tools and information, think of the new skills and higher scores that can be built on top of those!

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This link is for the entire Contest Update on ARRL’s website. http://www.arrl.org/contest-update-issues?issue=2020-06-24

 

I have prepared the necessary support to make N3FJP’s online scoreboard available to AVRA. Two sample pages are attached, showing the totals page that shows all users together in a list (the total score for all participants is shown at the top of this page), and the individual page that shows each user’s statistics.

Send a reply if you are interested in using this feature for Field Day, or if you want more information. If you want to try it out, you can, even if you are not planning to submit your score under AVRA, but you must be running N3FJP Field Day software to use it. The modified rules for this year’s Field Day makes it possible for individual operators to associate their scores with a club, in the same way as in the more typical contest activities. Field Day, after all, is not primarily a contest.

 

(P.S. I have no financial interest in N3FJP Software, but Scott is a friend. We became acquainted through my cousin Steve W3JX, who is in the same club with Scott. It is known as NEMARC, the Northeast Maryland Amateur Radio Club. I use Scott's entire software suite of programs for contesting.)

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