I applaud James for trying to make something constructive of this discussion!
Grumbling about how much better things were in the old days alone does no good
other than to demonstrate how far over the hill one is!
I, for one, was glad of the FT8 activity this January. Being unable to go
anywhere due to COVID lockdown, I operated from a my rather limited home
station in a poor location. VE3MIS still managed to break the Canadian LM
record, for the second January in a row, without me, with mostly remote
operation! But I worked a lot of grids from home which were beyond my normal
January SSB/CW range, under pretty poor conditions, for the most part.
That said, when things are open, or for local contacts, SSB and CW are much
better than FT4, which is better than FT8, and some measures are called for to
increase activity on the "old" modes, to (a) increase QSO rate, make things
easier for rovers where the extra complication of a computer hooked to various
rigs can be too complicated and power consuming (b) make things more accessible
for newcomers and casual operators who may not have digital capability and (c)
retain some of the experienced contesters who, for whatever reason, have no
interest in digital modes. I have also been wondering about activity times for
SSB/CW and would be willing to try out James' suggestion on these. It just
needs to be heavily publicized. Interestingly, this year, mostly through the
efforts of a couple of local municipal radio clubs and one or two particularly
keen operators, there was a huge increase in FM activity in this area, which
can also increase newbie participation. Some of that was set u
p on an activity time basis. Within our club we set a few suggested times for
SSB activity, too, which had some limited success, being purely local.
For rovers, activity times are less than optimum, since the operating schedule
at each grid is severely constrained by many factors, but it might be better
than the status quo.
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