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My thoughts on FT8



  • Ken - NM9PKen - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited October 2018
    Another thing I have found interesting about FT8 is that I can set JTAlert to watch for States that I need on OTHER modes (CW, SSB, etc.)  I can work them on FT8, then send .....CW?.or SSB?.. and move a station off for a CW or SSB contact to fill a band-mode slot on my WAS list, or to another band for the same purpose.  This has resulted in a few nice phone qso's as well.  

    I can even set alerts for specific calls for people I would like to chat with and move them off frequency/mode.  

    So FT8 has opened doors not only for "semi-automated DX/WAS operations, but has let to other contacts and rag chews as well.

    Is FT8 going to replace my other operations?  not a chance.  But it sure has enhanced them, especially when the bands are poor or dead.
  • edited October 2018
    I was on 40 this morning chatting away in my golf cart mobile, remote.
  • KY6LA_HowardKY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited August 2019
    I love FT8

    I set a goal of 100 countries in a year but did that so quickly that I upped the goal to 200 countries in a year. Hit 198 in 6 months 199, 200 and 201 took the rest of a year- 173 confirmed via LOTW.. (its the 21st Century.. no QSL Cards).

    About 150 countries were worked from SOCAL when I was remote in the E.U.. {No I do not care if they officially count for DXCC because I worked them remote from another country - yet another **** outdated rule}

    Thought I was a Hot operator until I saw my neighbor John NA6L with over 300 countries on FT8

    The mode is definitely saving ham radio from boredom when no sunspots.
  • Dave - W6OVPDave - W6OVP Member ✭✭
    edited October 2018
    Yep. I hear they even have it where you can send your voice over the air. Called "Amplitude Modulation" or something like that. That's not for me. Ham radio is all about CW and anything else is dooming the hobby. This voice business will never last. </s>. <g>.
  • Gerald-K5SDRGerald-K5SDR FlexRadio Employee ✭✭
    edited August 2019
    Thanks for all the great feedback on my article.  Just worked 7W7GWM in St. Helena on 15m while I was reading email.  ATNO for me.

    By the way, this is definitely not a low power mode.  I can hear much better than they can hear me.  I can hear down below -20 but many can't hear me below around -12 or so running 100W and a tri band beam.  I definitely see the value of QRO when you need it on this mode.  Still you can work a lot at 100W.

  • edited August 2019
    Excellant article. Well thought out. Sadly, many cannot see the need for advancement of the radio art. In spite of the online polls, I seriously doubt that FT8 or any other digital mode, will **** Amateur Radio. What will **** it is indifference and not caring about improving the hobby. And protecting it, by making sure our government knows the importance of Amateur Radio. James WD5GWY
  • Mark WS7MMark WS7M Member ✭✭
    edited October 2018
    Nice article Gerald and thank you for writing it.

    I started with CW and I still do CW today.  But yes I fire up FT8 at times because it is there and it simply works.  I've worked stations on FT8 I probably could not decode CW fo

    I saw the yes/no FT8 survey and wow is that ever poorly written!  I mean the survey starts you out thinking "do you like FT8" so you are likely to hit yes until you read the fine print where it says "is FT8 hurting ham radio?"

    While I still love CW, I am open to all modes and even spend time on SSB.  To me, the people that staunchly say how they don't like a certain mode have not opened their minds to the different possibilities.

    I have a friend, local ham, who was all about his analog rig.  His kenwood TS 8xx.  He'd personally gone through it, aligned it and used to tell me how he didn't want to have to boot a computer to get on the air and how superior his kenwood receiver was to anything else out there.  (I regularly heard stations he did not even know existed).

    Then his friend pressure finally got to him and he bought an Anan 8000.  He has not been the same.  In fact I have a recording I made of him on the air telling another ham how he would never go back to the "old" kenwood way of ham radio.

    It just goes to prove that if these guys/gals that hate FT8 gave it a try they might be converts.

    I will say however that if you are an analog rig user, doing FT8 is a lot harder.  DAX and Flex make FT8 dirt simple.

    Mark - WS7M
  • Gene - K3GCGene - K3GC Member ✭✭
    edited August 2019
    Don't knock it if you haven't tried it. (many seem to expect you to be an instant convert the instant you do try it.)  

    I tried CW to the point where I achieved a fairly sloppy 20wpm  -yes, I benefitted from no code extra. I could never learn to like it. So back to SSB.

    I tried FT8, read all I could find about, got it all set up, made a bunch of contacts, and was bored silly. So back to SSB.  Propagation sucks so I have to work harder - two ATNOs this year - 303 and counting.

    For me if there ain't two voices involved it just ain't radio.  That's me.  My ultimate goal is to reach honor role exclusively with SSB.  I am also disinterested in a piece of paper.  I know who I talked to and logged and that's all i need. 

    enough soap box. 

    If you haven't done it, try it.  If you don't like it do something else.  If nothing works for you try needle point - it's a lot cheaper and it wont **** of the neighbors.

  • Justin_KL2DJustin_KL2D Member ✭✭
    edited October 2018
    I’d give FT8 on 80M a try .. ;-) Justin “KL”2D
  • Gary L. RobinsonGary L. Robinson Member ✭✭
    edited October 2018
    I am a big fan of Olivia and Contestia.  I have used it regularly since the last minimum and generally a ragchewer whether on digital or phone.  I am not a contester, not into awards, and as such I am probably in a minority hihi  After a few days of playing with FT8 (and FT8Call) I find them kind of boring.  

    However, I agree with your entire article.  I think FT8 is a positive thing.  We need all the help we can get to populate the bands and get new (and inactive older hams) excited.  And many, if not most, hams are not rag chewers - or don' t have the time for long QSO's.  So it definitely fits many active life styles.

    ...and I still keep FT8 on the system because it is like a beacon in as much that it tells me where the bands are open to.  So everyone benefits.

    ---Gary WB8ROL
  • Gary L. RobinsonGary L. Robinson Member ✭✭
    edited October 2018
    I agree mostly Dave but not about reducing the number of ways it can be configured.  Just HIDE all but 5-6 configurations for most people and that will amount to the same thing.  What would be nice is if someone made a stand alone Olivia digital app with only 6-8 configurations available in it.  I would hate to lose all the choices that FLDigi has but it can be overwhelming to many hams.  Just an idea ... :-)

    ---Gary WB8ROL
  • Nick Cloyes, N4CLNick Cloyes, N4CL Member ✭✭
    edited April 8

    I would like to comment on your statement “What will **** amateur radio is if we cease to innovate, become old and grumpy, and no longer bring new blood into the hobby.”

    Being 75 years old and a ham for 53 years, I agree with you completely!  My first question before becoming a ham was “What do hams do?” and I was told that hams are experimenters.  I think SDR, computers, internet access, and digital modes have enriched the hobby.  I think we should never stop learning and experimenting at any age!

    Nick – N4CL

  • Dave - W6OVPDave - W6OVP Member ✭✭
    edited October 2018
    The day they outlawed spark transmission was the beginning of the end for Ham Radio. Just look what has happened since then. Oh, wait... </s> <g>.
  • Bill N5TUBill N5TU Member ✭✭
    edited October 2018
    You are spot on!
    VY 73, Bill, N5TU

  • Douglas MaxwellDouglas Maxwell Mr Member ✭✭
    edited October 2018
    If only PTT worked properly for CW mode!
  • Ken - NM9PKen - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited October 2018
    Just, “different.” Like many other advancements in the art, it is an addition that subtracts nothing. It has added much activity to many bands that otherwise would have been left for dead in previous sunspot lows. That acts as a propagation monitor that has stimulated activity on those bands on other modes as well.
  • k0eook0eoo Member ✭✭
    edited August 2019
    Gerald I really loved your blog, the only item I would add to your FT8 list would be, FT8 is very efficient, you see everyones call in a small 3-4kHz space...  I love it too especially for 160m, I'm working stuff I could NEVER hear with my antenna's on CW or SSB.

    Dennis, k0eoo
  • L.KubisL.Kubis Member ✭✭
    edited August 2019
    Very good  write up Gerald.
    Like many I don't see FT8 being a threat to the future of Ham Radio, on the contrary I see it expanding the interest in what we do because I see FT8 and similar technologies present and future expanding the ability of more Amateurs being able to participate in our hobby.
    FT8 and similar technologies, open the world to Hams who may not have the huge antenna arrays or big amps since it improves their propagation capability greatly. They too can now compete with modest antenna systems. An apartment dweller for example, can now work the world with a just a Mag Loop on his balcony using FT8.
    It will even get better as technology improves!

  • PatrickPatrick WH6HI Member ✭✭✭
    edited June 11
    Gerald’s point that FT8 opens up otherwise dead bands is significant, especially for me . Living on Hawaii, one has to work stations at a minimum distance of 2400 miles. Current conditions can preclude doing any on air operation, other then local Hawaii stations and Nets. Since the advent of theJT modes and now FT8 the concept of a band within a band or maybe call a sub band. Is significant. Occupying and providing significant no of signals within a approximately 3 KHz bandwidth. The only weakness I feel, is that the mode can not provide for conversationally capabilities. The mode is absolutely amazing for DX operation as it follows the standard pattern of quick in and out of a contact and fast confirmation, which is another factor in modern Ham operation. The one question I have for Joe Taylor & Co. is it possible to adapt the FT8 technology to an interactive conversational mode? The way I could imagine it could work, is that once a connection is established, the two station would then establish a two way cycle, lets 15 seconds, were the buffered text would be transmitted and received, with error correction. The mode would need to be.wider, as needed. Just some thoughts for consideration.
  • Larry _ W8LLLLarry _ W8LLL Member ✭✭
    edited August 2019
    What you are asking for already exists its called JS8CALL, I tested it with a local ham and it works well, not sure if it has taken off yet. Settings are the same as wsjt-x.


  • PatrickPatrick WH6HI Member ✭✭✭
    edited August 2019
    Thanks for the info, will check it out....
  • KI4PKI4P Member ✭✭
    edited May 22
    nice thoughts! ive tried it and done it about 3 or 4 weeks just to get good and used to it, not my bag of tea, so to speak!, to each their own, hope they enjoy it, would love to see some come back to PSK though! later!
  • Ted  VE3TRQTed VE3TRQ Member ✭✭
    edited August 2019
    One thing required for PSK to make a comeback are some sunspots! PSK does not handle QSB well, and is nowhere near as sensitive as JS8 (or Olivia, for that matter). Maybe if you have a multi-element beam at 100 ft it does not affect you as much, but many of us are blessed (!) with compromise antennas. Here’s to an early start to the next solar cycle :-)
  • PatrickPatrick WH6HI Member ✭✭✭
    edited August 2019
    JS8 is now installed, made one contact. Hopefully more stations will come on board. Installation was same as wsjt-x, and only took a couple of minutes. Just need to get logging going. Compatibility to JTAlert would be nice also. Larry thanks for directing me to this SW, Mahalo and Aloha.......
  • David Decoons, wo2xDavid Decoons, wo2x Member ✭✭✭
    edited August 2019

    I connected remotely into my friend's station in Kauai (Tom, K4XV) and set him up with WSJT-X and HRD Logbook with his Flex 5000A. He is now on the air again.

    You might catch him on the bands.

    Dave wo2x

  • PatrickPatrick WH6HI Member ✭✭✭
    edited August 2019
    Hi Dave will keep an eye and ear for him. Do you know what town or location on Kauai he is at?
  • PatrickPatrick WH6HI Member ✭✭✭
    edited August 2019
    Have made a few JS8 contacts and the reliability is extremely good. So far solid copy. It is slow but just my speed at my age. I do see this mode as an ideal emergency com mode for disaster mitigation communications. It evidently can be used in APRS which would be a plus to integrate HF/ VHF/UHF NETS. It may not be fast but it is solid copy.
  • PatrickPatrick WH6HI Member ✭✭✭
    edited August 2019
    I think JS8 deserves a separate discussion.......
  • David Decoons, wo2xDavid Decoons, wo2x Member ✭✭✭
    edited August 2019
    Tom is in the Wailua Estates area of Kapaa, about 350 ft ASL on the east side. I stayed at his guest houselast year and gave him a hand running hard line for his satellite antennas. He works at the Community college and they have a amateur satellite station up. Dave wo2x
  • K1UO - LarryK1UO - Larry Member ✭✭
    edited August 2019
    @WO2X...  Dave..have you got me blocked via your arrl.com email address?

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