Does good rig help with FT8 receive?

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by N4III, Jun 13, 2021.

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  1. N4III

    N4III Ham Member QRZ Page

    We know that a good HF rig can usually pull weak signals out of noisy environment. How about FT8. Will the difference between rigs not so important in FT8 or it is still make a good difference? Thanks!
  2. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hmmm, good question. You can't use a lot of the features with FT8.
  3. W2SGM

    W2SGM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    A better radio can help with FT8 decoding in some cases. An example would be swapping an easily overloaded SDR dongle for a radio with a more robust front-end. You would improve your ability to decode weak signals when a neighbor next door starts using FT8 in the same band.

    Generally, though, the improvement will be slight unless you are operating under special conditions (like the aforementioned neighbor), or your existing radio is defective/poorly designed.

    While you should avoid using the noise reduction or noise blanker, there are a few features of higher-end radios that you can use on FT8 if you're experienced and quick enough with them, like passband tuning or notch to blank out unwanted strong stations to prevent the AGC from clamping down. But most of the time they are unnecessary; let the software do the work for you.
    N4III, N3RYB and AG5DB like this.
  4. NG1H

    NG1H XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Depends on what you mean by "good". If you are referring to all the audio signal processing, which has improved over the years, then no, it doesn't make a difference. In fact it makes it worse.

    If you are referring to how well the receiver works with all of the processing turned off, then yes it does make a difference.

    FWIW comparing three generations of "good" receivers (FT1000MPM5F, 756ProIII, 7300) they all pretty much worked equally well. If anything the oldest one, the FT1000, may have worked slightly best.
    N4III likes this.
  5. N6YWU

    N6YWU Ham Member QRZ Page

    In the special case that you have antenna in an area with a very low noise floor and there are one or more high power stations nearby transmitting on the same band, then possibly yes. The new rigs on the top of Sherwood's list have better close-in dynamic range.

    If you are anywhere near an urban or suburban area, the local RF noise floor is likely higher than the sensitivity of 4 decade old rigs, so one can't even use best-in-class receiver sensitivity (unless they are in the above mentioned special case). In fact an attenuator is often more useful than Rx RF gain. A rig capable of 2 antenna 2 Rx noise cancellation or beam steering, such as some of the Apache Anan's could be quite helpful.

    If you look at the rigs reporting the most FT8 spots on the most bands per hour on the reverse beacon networks, they are much less expensive QRP rigs and SDRs, such a the Red Pitaya 122-16, Beaglebone KiwiSDR, and Hermes Lite 2.

    Now for transmitting on FT8, it seems to have become as arms race, so a rig that transmits from 50W to legal limit QRO might help a station be more competitive.
    N4III likes this.
  6. G8FXC

    G8FXC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The only thing that matters with FT8 is SNR with all the processing turned off. On a couple of occasions I've wondered why I am having difficulty decoding relatively strong signals and then noticed that I've left the Dynamic Noise Reduction turned on - knock it off and it's all fine and dandy again!

    Martin (G8FXC)
    K3RW and N4III like this.
  7. N4III

    N4III Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for all the comments. I have a IC-7100 and bought a IC-7300 recently for better SSB performance. But I guess for FT8 both unit should be great.
    N3RYB likes this.
  8. N3RYB

    N3RYB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There can be benefits of radios with selective notch filters if you are really trying to isolate one signal out. Newer rigs might be more able to cope with strong nearby signals, but not necessarily. Otherwise any decent receiver is fine. Even a receiver like an old Yaesu FR-101 has been pressed into FT-8 RX service. Mostly just make sure it's not messing with your audio.
    N4III likes this.
  9. W4HWD

    W4HWD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think it does. I got back on the air cheap in 2019 with an Icom 718. Wasn't satisfied, replaced it with a K3S. I use the optional 2.1 kHz filter on FT8 and have no complaints. I set the software BW to match that width and I hear lots.

    On FT8 I'd say a quality soundcard is as important as a good rig - maybe even more so. I use the one built-in to my K3s.
    N4III likes this.
  10. N6YWU

    N6YWU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Using a "soundcard" is suboptimal. It adds either analog connection noise or USB latency. Better are SDR rigs where you can get at the RF or IQ digital data samples directly over a network connection. Or even better might be SDR hardware that allows monitoring more than one FT8 band simultaneously.

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