[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [VHFcontesting] Casual operators on ft8

To: Terry Price <terry@directivesystems.com>, Marshall Pochay <wd9exd@comcast.net>
Subject: Re: [VHFcontesting] Casual operators on ft8
From: Bill Junor <junorwider@msn.com>
Date: Sun, 31 Jan 2021 16:40:04 +0000
List-post: <mailto:vhfcontesting@contesting.com>

I agree with Terry; FT8 helps you work a lot of stuff that would have been much 
more difficult without it.  That's why I think we are seeing a lot of us 
getting much closer to completing FFMA.

But for contesting, I'd like to make a couple of points.  The first is just the 
sheer spectral inefficiency of shoehorning all those FT8 stations into 3kHz 
when the 6m band is open.  Apparently, nobody is going to spin the dial and 
find a clear frequency.  We might just as well have crystal-controlled rigs.  I 
think we should broaden the FT8 "band plan" to use more spectrum.  That way, we 
could turn that big round knob in the front of the rig (virtual or real).

The second point is that with FT8, contesting is just not satisfying or fun at 
times, and this is usually the case in the January VHF Contest.  I participated 
in this year's event running MSK144 and FT8.  I did look for SSB and CW 
contacts on 6 and 2m but found no-one.  Once all the activity had migrated to 
FT8 and once I had clicked away for a couple of hours, off and on, I lost 
interest and just turned off the rig.  I couldn't be bothered to even send in a 
log.  This was a weak protest vote, in a way.

Points 1 and 2 are connected.  In FT8, there is usually limited engagement by 
the operator.  The FT8 QSO either gets made immediately or it doesn't.  There 
seems to be no patience or enthusiasm to find a way to make the QSO work,  if 
conditions are marginal.  It's kind of a ham radio helplessness --- if the 
computer can't decode the sequence, then it's all over.  Done.  Finished.  
Over.  Nobody moves to a clear frequency,  or tries a different mode, or even 
waits for more than a couple of overs.  I think this is partly because of 
"helplessness" and partly because of the extremely limited options for 
inserting non-standard information in FT8 to allow an alternative strategy to 
be communicated.

This limitation also impacts moving up through the bands, obviously.  However, 
in the radio deserts of NM, there is a limited need for running bands other 
than 6 and 2.  I have gear for more bands than 6 and 2, but I rarely use them 
here and frankly, the effort in getting these up and running for a contest 
isn't much worth the effort.  My QTH isn't a great contest location so that 
constrains my enthusiasm for anything beyond 6 and 2.

So, I'll continue to use FT8, or whatever the next latest-and-greatest digital 
mode will be, in the June Contest and for chasing FFMA grids but my 
participation in the January Contest is going to be limited and I'm just going 
to cherry-pick my contacts and hand out points to rovers. Once/if I have all 
the FFMA grids, then there's be even less reason to get on for the January 

My gripe is not about FT8 as a mode; I think it's a great mode and I'll 
continue to use it.  But FT8 contesting is just plain boring. Click, click, ... 
Zzzzzz ...

Bill / AI5I

From: VHFcontesting <vhfcontesting-bounces+junorwider=msn.com@contesting.com> 
on behalf of Terry Price <terry@directivesystems.com>
Sent: Sunday, January 31, 2021 7:43 AM
To: Marshall Pochay <wd9exd@comcast.net>
Cc: vhfcontesting@contesting.com <vhfcontesting@contesting.com>
Subject: Re: [VHFcontesting] Casual operators on ft8

Please remember this is a VHF CONTESTING reflector. Conversations and
comments reflect views on VHF CONTESTING. I love FT8, I've worked grids
during contests that I would not have been able to work without it. Just
like MSK144 and JTXX, without them it is way more difficult. I wish I would
of had JTXX in the 1980's when I completed my 2m WAS, my ears would be much
better off for it!!  Lots of folks have worked lots of DX on 6m that they
wouldn't have otherwise worked, me included. The mode is NOT the issue,
it's the way you can't transfer anything other than the absolute necessary
info for a legal contact and during a busy contest with everyone crowded in
one passband QRMing each other it would be like everyone calling CQ on SSB
on 144.200. Now it does work on a single frequency and folks do make lots
of contacts and out west where the shear numbers of folks are less, I'm
sure the QRM factor is less but having another +20 or higher signal will
degrade your sensitivity and may cause the contact to take longer as
decodes are affected. When 6m opens with Es, FT8 is the worst mode you
could use due to it's slow rate and when the band opens good and all
signals are loud, the QRM factor increases exponentially.

Someone else posted it but let me reiterate, the object of a contest is to
work as many different stations on as many different bands in as many
different grids as you can. While not impossible, it's very, VERY difficult
to pass " W2XYZ, do you have any other bands?" If you know what bands
another station has, you can send a frequency to them and hope they see it
and understand but when it's sent, it is not in RED so in a busy
environment, they might miss it. It has worked in the past for me but maybe
10% of the time.

The discussion centers around what is the most efficient operating
technique to use during a contest to maximize your score and to incorporate
digital modes like FT8 while not just sitting on 50.313 or 144.174 and
ignoring other modes that convey more useful information - like "yes, I
have 222 through 10 GHz !!". I think it's unrealistic to "outlaw" digital
modes, the genie is out of the bottle and it ain't going back!! My hope is
the folks with HF+6m radios that load up their tribander on 6m that use
FT8, get the bug to install a real 6m antenna and try longer haul
communications using SSB or cw.

The best option I've heard is allowing multiple modes per band
with different point values, like 1 for digital, 2 for cw and 3 for SSB.
This will give incentive to work other modes but this is going to create
confusion also. Say you work W2XYZ on 50.313 with FT8 and then you just
flip the mode switch to SSB and call him there, completely legal but you
certainly aren't going to make a lot of friends that way! So if adopted,
something will have to be worked out. Limiting activity time or % of
contacts would be difficult, maybe activity time periods but that has the
drawback of timing of short band openings.

In EM57, your 6 and 2 rates may be higher, but how do you move those folks
to 222 or 432? Random chance? Remember, as you go higher in frequency and
antenna gain increases beamwidths narrow and the "searchlight effect" is
more pronounced. ON4KST can help but COUNTLESS times I text someone there
and never get an answer or it's 15 minutes later and I've moved on. Some
stations don't operate the whole contest, they may have other commitments
so being able to tell them at the time you work them to QSY to another band
is important. At some point you get information overload from watching
ON4KST, your cell phones, an FT8 decode screen and trying not to knock your
beer all over the keyboard!!

There is no one size fits all and just like folks in the west are QSO
limited, digital modes help some more than others. It is an undeniable fact
that it's harder to move folks to higher bands quickly and it affects
rovers and multiband stations more. It also affects multiops with reduced
activity on upper bands it's not as enjoyable for the ops of those bands
because they are used to getting passes from their 6m or 2m ops to work
someone on a higher band so some may be more inclined to not participate in
a muliop group because of diminished activity.

We need to find common ground that helps to generate more activity on ALL
bands which is the most healthy for all VHFers.

Once again, I'm NOT opposed to FT8, we just need to figure out the best way
to mix it in and help mentor others to use it wisely.

Terry Price - W8ZN

On Fri, Jan 29, 2021 at 10:10 PM Marshall Pochay <wd9exd@comcast.net> wrote:

> Hi Terry and everyone, Could someone tell me how these casual operators
> are abusing FT8 enough that we are not supposed to work them? I see a
> casual operator one that probably wont turn a log in but is just out there
> making contacts, They are doing us a favor by being out there, Take  Joe
> KV4HV down in EL94, Nice guy, Doesn't contest but has no problem taking a
> phone call from me to remind him there is a vhf  contest going on and gets
> on and gives out that grid. And Im not talking about him getting on for a
> few contacts I have seen him on for hours. Sorry, Far as I know he is  only
> on ft8 and Im happy to work him there, I usually send out about 10 emails
> before a contest to new (Prior) ft8 contacts I have made inviting them out
> or on for the contest, I try to give them a quick explanation on contest
> mode but I dont really expect them to get it and have no problem working
> them in non contest mode.For years I see complaints about lack of activity,
> Now we have a chance at new contacts
>  into new  grids and I see a suggestion that a core contest station
> shouldnt work them. Please give me a little more detail on what they are
> doing so wrong that I shouldnt work them? I only run 4 bands from the em57
> qth, I find ft8 way more productive than ssb/cw unless of course 6 is open,
> I did manage to work 7 local stations on 2 fm this january but cant work my
> own em57 grid on 222 (LOL)I am lucky I have a good bunch of rovers running
> the 4 bands and we are  covering the  200 to 500 mile range mostly ft8. Yes
> not being able to move operators around with ft8 is a problem we need to
> address, And for that my 222 and 432 scores suffer but honestly for my qth
> I am actually seeing a better RATE on 6 and 2 using ft8. In the old days I
> could call CQ for hours and not get a soul not to mention in bed by 11 and
> back up at 5 or 6 am, Now  days thanks to Digital aka FT8 and MSK144 and
> maybe a little covid19, The EM57 station is active the full contest period,
> Yes I have to take a 4 hour nap,
>   But thats on me, I cant wait to see what this q65 is about, Thanks 73
> Marshall WD9EXD
> _______________________________________________
> VHFcontesting mailing list
> VHFcontesting@contesting.com
> https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Flists.contesting.com%2Fmailman%2Flistinfo%2Fvhfcontesting&amp;data=04%7C01%7C%7C87cff5e1f6404c8c4dc508d8c5f6aafb%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637477010512493054%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&amp;sdata=oh%2BcFAhFES10C0rgw%2Fafh0dVeFw09TO11nsFIv5B5yA%3D&amp;reserved=0
VHFcontesting mailing list
VHFcontesting mailing list

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>