Understanding FT8 ... ?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W0KDT, Sep 15, 2020.

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  1. W0KDT

    W0KDT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    OK, I"ve been playing with FT8 for a year or so. Probably 500 QSOs, WAS/20, WAS/40 except Hawaii, and nearly done with DXCC. My operating mode is nearly 100% hunt and pounce.

    I read that FT8 is taking over the world and, certainly on 20, things are pretty busy.

    But what are these folks doing? Chasing paper is fun and I am enjoying it, but when I finish my FT8 DXCC and find that elusive Hawaii station on 40, I think I am done. FT8 is really not communicating in the usual sense. It's just a couple of computer-driven radio signals trying to find each other. Even contesting on SSB has a more human touch than these robots talking. And then I need to regain my CW skills. ...

    Really, I have the same question about calling CQ. Why do people do it? All that would get me is random contacts from states I have already worked and maybe a few random contacts from DXCC entities that I have already probably worked. That said, I am happy to provide a QSO to anyone who pounces on me. I assume that they need my state, grid square, or whatever. Yesterday I even got pounced on from Beijing, from a guy who does not QSL and whose last LOTW upload was in January.

    Help me understand the big FT8 picture. Right now I don't.
  2. W4IOA

    W4IOA Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's all about what the individual finds fulfilling.
    It's perfect for an awards chaser who desires instant gratification
    It's great for those who want to fill their logs.
    It has little allure to me, ssb is a challenge that requires work to hear and make a contact. CW the same (tho it really isn't my thing).

    KE0GXN likes this.
  3. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If you operate FT8 you are still allowed to use other modes as well. :p
    N1VAU, VK6APZ, W5WN and 1 other person like this.
  4. KE0GXN

    KE0GXN XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    W4IOA likes this.
  5. KA3VSP

    KA3VSP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    FT8 is a gateway mode. It will only lead to the more hardcore modes. Soon, you'll be typing away on PSK31. Then, you might hook a mic up and actually talk to someone. Then, if you survive all of that, you may even try CW. Recognize the problem and get help.

    But, seriously, being that I like QSO modes, like PSK and CW, I stayed away from FT8 for a long time. For me, my main attraction to try FT8 was simply to see how far I can go with the least amount of power. It is a fascinating mode for low power operation.
    K4AGO, KC3PBI, WE4E and 1 other person like this.
  6. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    On FT8, you usually get honest signal reports.
    KN4XJ, K4DDT, K4AGO and 8 others like this.
  7. KN6CSB

    KN6CSB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Lots of people use FT8 for testing/checking their antenna setup.

    Using pskreporter.info is really helpful to see how your new antenna works and checking propagation. First thing I do when I setup a new wire antenna is call CQ on FT8, then check pskreporter.info to see my spots. I also use WSPR for this and even switch antennas to compare.

    I have also read how some beacon stations no longer are on the air since FT8 basically has become the new beacons.
    N4NYK, N3FAA, KR4YON and 2 others like this.
  8. ON6KE

    ON6KE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Making DXCC (100 confirmed) is only the beginning and to be honest simple, making 300+ in other modes is another story.
    N4NYK, VK6APZ, W4IOA and 1 other person like this.
  9. N4KZ

    N4KZ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    FT8 gives people with modest antennas the opportunity to make QSOs with distant states and countries they probably would struggle with otherwise. Yes, I know all about CW and its advantages. I have been operating it for more than 50 years. So no need to sing its praises. Been there done that. And stll doing it. FT8 also eliminates the language barrier that's a real roadblock for many around the world. Yes, English is the so-called universal language but not everyone around the world speaks it well enough for a phone QSO. With the current poor HF propagation based on where we are in the 11-year sunspot cycle, FT8 has given new life to many hams who were struggling otherwise to make the kind of QSOs they want to make. But 100 watts and simple antennas don't often cut it with the current propagation. On those days where I don't feel like a SSB and CW ragchew, I get on FT8. It fills my log quickly and I get about 75 percent confirmation through LoTW. FT8 helped me work the few states I still needed for 5BWAS. Now I'm on the verge of achieving 10BWAS. Need 5 more on the WARC bands. (BTW, I got WAS on 160 and 6m. No FT8 Q's on either band. All CW on 160 and SSB/CW on 6.) After 3 years on FT8, I havent worked a single state or country I didn't already have on CW or SSB. But I have worked some rare stuff on FT8 lately that I haven't worked in years on the legacy modes; e.g. HS, AP, VU, 4S7, 8Q7, 5W, 5T5, etc. But as much as I like FT8, every few days I get tired of it and desire a good ol' ragchew which I often find by calling CQ. It's like fishing, call CQ and see what or who you catch. I dont think calling CQ will ever fall out of favor. It's the essence of ham radio. Put out a call and see who calls back.
    N4NYK, N3FAA, KC3PBI and 1 other person like this.
  10. W1VT

    W1VT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Mixed * 1 0 326 327 323
    CW * 1 0 321 322 318
    Phone * 1 0 299 300 297
    Digital * 10 0 262 272 271

    Would like to get another 28 on digital while it is popular and easy to find stations.
    WG7X likes this.

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