Understanding FT8 ... ?

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

ad: L-HROutlet
ad: l-rl
ad: Left-2
ad: L-MFJ
ad: Left-3
ad: Subscribe
ad: abrind-2
  1. W0KDT

    W0KDT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Agreed, though it is not as simple as I had expected using 100 watts and an OCF wire. Getting into the 70s went pretty quickly, but there are large areas of the world where FT8 stations are scarce and, as I got into needing the smaller DXCC territories it also seemed that stations were scarce. But when JTAlertX dumps the DX into your lap, that is a huge advantage over Olden Times. (I was first licensed in jr. high school, took a 50 year break, and am now back. W0KDT was actually my call back around 1965.)
    N4NYK likes this.
  2. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, let's see...
    • Just because you work FT8 doesn't mean you can't/don't work phone, CW, RTTY, etc.
    • The average DX contact is not communicating in the usual sense, "TU, 599, QRZ?"
    • Maybe you, like me, live in a state that a fair number of people need for WAS and are happy to give it to them. Or you just want to see how propagation is going. And, after all, if nobody called CQ you couldn't work anybody, could you?
    That help? :)
  3. KC3PBI

    KC3PBI XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'd read about FT8 and it sounded interesting, but I didn't really grok what it was or how it all worked.

    I had already learned about some other digital modes with a local fldigi group on 2m. We had been practicing sending short messages and files around through the local repeaters. I've gotten pretty good at that, but I can't get anywhere interesting on 2m simplex.

    Then I got my general, took the step of buying an HF rig, building my own antenna from scraps and hoisting it into some trees. Keep in mind, I kicked off this hobby just as the world locked down; and we are still isolating pretty hard. For me much of the point was a hobby that could be done while physically isolated. That meant I couldn't really take advantage of watching another ham try this.

    I read my radio manual a couple of times over, plugged in a dummy and figured out the clever bits of rig control and VOX operation driven by the soundcard. That gave me a sense of what the WSJT-X software was actually going to do.

    Then I hooked up my antenna, tuned it, saw the radio confirm a good swr on its screen. I scanned the WSJT-X waterfall, picked a quiet spot on 20, enabled CQ and immediately somebody came back from Germany. Bam. 1st ever HF contact, just like that.

    That was a really good feeling, instant validation right there. Hooked.

    Since then I've made many more contacts on most bands (still can't get 12 or 10) and I've decided that this is something I can keep doing for a long time.

    I've listened in to a bunch of SSB & AM; never once heard anyone calling CQ. I do hear hours-long nets grinding along but that's not my thing.

    And unfortunately I think I found some RF sewers, some very angry people sharing some really terrible things on the air. With FT8 you can preserve the illusion; maybe your contact isn't some angry old man with an axe to grind.

    Add that up and I've yet to make my first HF phone contact.

    One of my favorite things about FT8 is that nearly everyone has the same language barrier. Nobody needs to know English to work it.

    Now one of my goals is to retrace my steps- hit grid squares that I've personally visited. I think some will be a real challenge.

    I guess ultimately I'd like to find something a little more conversational than FT8 that retains the cyclic orthogonal tx one/receive all nature of FT8.

    Onwards and upwards.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  4. AF2Z

    AF2Z Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you want to maintain long term interest in FT8 I guess you could just reduce power output and start over again with DXCC, etc. Repeat as necessary. Or use a coat hanger for an antenna.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
    KC3PBI likes this.
  5. W4IOA

    W4IOA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've never found hAm radio to be full of endless nets or foul angry old men, I consider that idea nothing but hyperbole.
    Radio is what you make it. It depends on antennas, patience, and timing. When you're on the radio makes a big difference. A large percentage of time when I decide to hop on the air I can always find interesting conversations and even engage in them. But that takes listening skills, patience, and timing as I said earlier.
    FT8 fills a niche and can show how well one's signal gets out. I prefer having an operator on the otherside that I can engage in even if it's not an accurate signal report.
    KC3PBI and W4NNF like this.
  6. KC3PBI

    KC3PBI XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I agree with you- To suggest that it is full of those things really would be hyperbolic- I believe I only indicated that I'd already encountered both without estimating apportionment.

    Your word, not mine.
  7. W1VT

    W1VT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'll look for novice calls in distant lands.

    Zak W1VT
  8. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    On a recent one-week camping trip FT-8 was a very effective mode with less than an ideal antenna set up. Contacts were made on 40-6 meters and included stateside as well as DX contacts. I didn't do a grand total but would estimate around 200 FT-8 contacts and a few on PSK-31.

    I would assume that operating any mode in the hobby is because you enjoy it. What sense would it make to do otherwise?
    N4NYK, KP4SX, W7UUU and 1 other person like this.
  9. W3MMM

    W3MMM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think this is pretty simple:

    - FT8 has exploded onto the scene and is easily the dominant mode as measured by the number of QSOs in places like LoTW.
    - Many hams like to chase awards; they help provide a reason to make the next contact.

    But...I'd suggest that there is NOT more ham radio happening here. Its just that with FT8, a session (say, 45 minutes in front of the rig) now results in 35 contacts in the log, vs before the same amount of time (with the same equipment) might have resulted in 5 contacts prior to FT8. It doesn't represent a surge of ham radio interest, rather, just a wildly efficient way of entering contacts in the log, with awards being the impetus.
    W4IOA and KC3PBI like this.
  10. W7UUU

    W7UUU Principal Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Or just idling away some leisure time playing radio "in a different way"

    I do a lot of FT8.... but I also do a lot of CW and SSB.

    FT8 is just "something else to do to enjoy this hobby"

    W6MDA, N4NYK and KC3PBI like this.

Share This Page