The full automation of FT8 - how does it affects us?

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by WF4W, Dec 28, 2017.

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  1. WF4W

    WF4W Ham Member QRZ Page

    Over the past weeks there has been discussion of 'bots' on a FT8 facebook group so it is already happening. I usually don't care what other people do as it rarely, if ever, effects me. However, just a hour ago a 'famous' FT8 operator announced that he has been working on full automation of FT8 and would be making it available to anyone who asked.

    It struck a nerve.

    Ive seen this guy all over the bands since FT8 became a thing and thought very highly of him - an A1 operator in my eyes... To learn that he has been automating his operation is incredibly disappointing. It makes me realize that what others do DOES affect me as it devalues any digital award I 'achieve'. I got DXCC on digital - 75% from FT8 and I did the 'hard' way by seeking out and working the rarer ones. However, once full automation becomes more prevalent, no one will respect a digital award b/c how it was achieved can be called into question.

    The validity of the JT digital modes has always been discussed - some old timers don't consider it "ham radio" while others don't see the contact as meaningful. The proliferation of fully automated JT mode operation will only fan the flames.

    What can we do as a community to prevent this from happening? I thoroughly enjoy FT8 as it is another tool in my toolbox - i use it when I am remote. I dont want to see it fail and become a footnote due to the 'laziness' of some operators...
    N2SUB likes this.
  2. G3YRO

    G3YRO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Given that these QSOs are already your Computer having a contact with another Computer, surely it was inevitable that at some point the human would be taken taken totally out of the loop?!

    Roger G3YRO
    NQ1B, AE8W, K4AGO and 1 other person like this.
  3. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If you think the bands are crouded now, just wait until stations are automated and can work 24/7/365. We'll have to come u with a "WAB" award....worked all beacons. At least FT-8 will be useful for propagation once it becomes fully automated.

    We cannot entirely dismiss the thought however, because in the mind of the "automators", they are advancing the radio art. To me, there has to be some kind of human interaction to make a contact worthwhile. I agree that it would cheapen the digital awards, but awards are just paper. The DXCC award I earned with paper cards looks exactly the same as the one I earned using LOTW, but I value the one I achieved with paper cards infinitely more. You know what you did, and that all that counts.
  4. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That is true of any digital mode, so why would FT-8 be the first to automate with the intent to make contacts? Back in the early 90's I was the 'Digital Officer' in Navy/Marine Corp MARS. We developed an automated system that passed traffic unattended using a combination of AMTOR, PACTOR and Packet. We passed official traffic around the world from outbox to inbox in a matter of hours instead of days through the traditional VOX/RTTY nets. Never in my life would I have expected that technology to be used to make amateur contacts. :)
  5. WF4W

    WF4W Ham Member QRZ Page

    i could automate it if I wanted to - it isn't difficult. I dont understand WHY you want to automate it... i only look for the 'rare' ones now - whats the purpose of a log full of ft8 contacts with the same states and/or countries?
  6. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    How does it affect whom?

    The ops who don't use and don't like FT8 won't be affected at all. Those who do will sometimes wonder, "I wonder if he REALLY clicked on my call to start the QSO, OR did his computer pick me out while he browses freaking Facebook?"

    That is all. ;)
    NQ1B, KN4XJ, K5RCD and 1 other person like this.
  7. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    My guess? Naw. FT8 is going like gangbusters right now for two reasons: It is a NEW fun toy. Also, band conditions are lousy and some of us are just happy to make contacts somehow.

    When the newness wears off, when everybody has filled in the blanks on WAS and DXCC and is feeling empty inside, FT8 will probably begin to fade a little. It or its descendants aren't going away, it's just that some hams will turn to a digital mode that at least allows them to exchange a few pleasantries. That will all be accelerated by the return of solar activity. "Heck, I can make all the DX contacts I want with PSK31 or SSB now!"

    NQ1B, WU8Y, K3XR and 1 other person like this.
  8. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Let me add that a lot of the stations I work on PSK31 don't want to do anything but send macros. Hey, if that's what some people want, it's what they want and so be it. FT8 is the logical extension of that. Anyway, these modes are spectrum efficient and don't bother anybody outside the Chicken Littles as far as I can tell.
    WU8Y, KC9YGN and K5RCD like this.
  9. VK4XJB

    VK4XJB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't think ft8 being automated should be a surprise to anyone. Out of the box it is close enough to that now. At least 200 of my 224 ft8 contacts the list of things done include talking on 2m, chatting on irc, talking to my wife, playing computer games, playing with the dogs, preparing a meal while cq + auto sequencing did the rest. Only pay just enough attention to deal with the log window when it pops up and click enable tx.
    WG7X likes this.
  10. N1OOQ

    N1OOQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    A good technology to have... networking with minimal infrastructure. I, however, can't imagine what fun amateurs would get out of it... turn on radio, turn on computer, start the app, come back hours later and read the log... yawn.
    K7MH, N2SUB and W3JJW like this.

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