My thoughts on FT8

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  • Updated 2 months ago
I have never been a blogger but I guess it is never too late in life to become one in the Internet age.  As most of you know, FT8 has exploded on all the bands at a rate I don't recall anytime in my ham radio lifetime.  I wrote a blog about my thoughts on the subject (IMHO) that I hope you will enjoy.  

You can find it at:

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Gerald - K5SDR, Employee

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Posted 12 months ago

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Photo of Gene - K3GC

Gene - K3GC

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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 piss of the neighbors.

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Dave - W6OVP

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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>.
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Gary L. Robinson

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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
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Nick Cloyes

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I would like to comment on your statement “What will kill 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

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Bill N5TU

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You are spot on!
VY 73, Bill, N5TU

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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!

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Pat - WH6HI

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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.
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Pat - WH6HI

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I think JS8 deserves a separate discussion.......
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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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
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K1UO - Larry

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@WO2X...  Dave..have you got me blocked via your email address?
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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It is

I did get your email and will reply with my setting in the morning. On the couch with leg up now. Bad pain day today.

I’ll email my phone number in the morning.

Dave wo2x
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Pat - WH6HI

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Dave, thanks for the info. I live on the south side. Looked at the Kapaa area, but felt traffic conditions can be pretty bad. Koloa is a quieter place. Been making more contacts on JS8, trying to understand the HB, Ack functions. Did 40 meters last night lots of HB+Ack activity. Sorry for off subject posts....
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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!
Photo of Ted  VE3TRQ


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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 :-)