[CQ-Contest] RBN Announcement on FT8 Spotting

Stephen Bloom sbloom at acsalaska.net
Wed Jun 13 15:08:30 EDT 2018

FWIW, While I don't think FT8 is just a fad, it is not going to be as dominant as people think over the long haul.  HF ops are enjoying it right now, because
It allows pretty much anyone who can radiate something to work DX (it was possible with JT65, but not at any decent rate).  That's a really big deal for folks using compromise antennas, low power etc.   I don't find it much fun myself, because I have DX capacity on (what is for me) more satisfying modes, but I
can see it (and I'll make it available for those who aren't going to be able to work AK otherwise, say on 160M).  The frenzy will die down, at least on HF, once the novelty wears off.  I saw this with PSK31.  I remember people worrying that PSK was going to destroy everything else.  People eventually got tired of the "brag scripts" even though it was popular for awhile because..it made dx possible with fairly low power and compromise antennas.  The JT/FT modes are a lot more limited in content than PSK was.  There *is* going to be a dominant digital mode at some point, once something that has FT-ish error correcting characteristics and handles multiple use gracefully (Dxing, Ragchewing, Contesting, etc.) but we're not there yet, and even when we are, it's just going to be one of the two or three (depending on how CW does) major modes.

Bring back Olivia!

Steve KL7SB


-----Original Message-----
From: CQ-Contest [mailto:cq-contest-bounces at contesting.com] On Behalf Of Peter Sundberg
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 9:53 AM
To: CQ-Contest at Contesting.COM
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] RBN Announcement on FT8 Spotting

Let it rip.

Who cares any more as FT8 is about computers talking to computers while the operator is doing
- or has his mind - on other things. Ham Heaven is here according to the masses and apparently statistics. RBN is all about computers anyway. 
And we must make decisions based on statistics - right?

To be able to make use of the FT8 "Deep" 
functionality the computer needs the info to decode unknown callsigns that are "22 dB below the noise level".

So why not feed the computers with as much info as possible to speed up the journey up the DXCC ladder. Then, when the barn is full, some operators might even return to real ham radio again without concerns over what is fed to the RBN network.

Peter SM2CEW

At 13:35 2018-06-12, N4ZR wrote:
>As some may be aware, we’ve been debating for some time about whether 
>the RBN should handle
>FT8 spots.  A few weeks, ago, several prolific RBN nodes began 
>spotting FT8 signals, using the combination of WSJT-X and an unreleased 
>Aggregator, version 5.  The purpose of this limited Alpha test was to 
>get a feel for the load and other implications of carrying FT8 spots on 
>the RBN; it has been very revealing.
>The most striking characteristic of FT8 spots is their sheer quantity. 
>Here are some weekday statistics from one of the US testers: *23-May* 
>CW 4294 14% RTTY 69 0.22% FT8 26318 86% Total
>30681 *24-May* CW 4370 13% RTTY 46 0.14% FT8
>29298 87% Total 33714 Whether due to the startling popularity of the 
>new mode, or to the ability to spot stations at 22 dB below the noise 
>level, it seems obvious that adding FT8 spots to our spot flow could 
>have a huge impact on the infrastructure of the RBN.  These numbers 
>suggest that if only 20-30 RBN nodes added FT8 spots, those spots could 
>outnumber the total CW and RTTY spots being delivered by the
>140-150 nodes currently active on the network, doubling the total 
>required throughput. We frankly don’t know whether the RBN servers 
>will be up to the task, so we decided we had better find out before the 
>fall contest season is upon us.  Accordingly, we are taking the 
>following steps on a Beta test basis: 1.
>Effective immediately, the RBN’s current spot 
>feed     (telnet,reversebeacon.net port 7000) 
>will be repurposed to handle     only CW and 
>RTTY spots. telnet.reversebeacon.net port 7001 
>will be     set up for FT8 spots only. 2. 
>Operators of “retail” DX clusters are 
>encouraged to offer the option     of RBN spots 
>with and without FT8 spots, as they now often 
>give     users a choice between spot streams 
>with and without “Skimmer”     spots, and to 
>advertise when they begin to carry FT8 spots 3. 
>A Beta test version of Aggregator Version 5 that 
>can handle FT8     spots received from WSJT-X 
>will be made available on the RBN web     site, 
>along with instructions on how RBN node-ops can 
>configure     their nodes to spot FT8 on one or 
>multiple bands.  Note, please,     that doing 
>so will not interfere with your ability to 
>continue     spotting CW and RTTY. We will 
>closely monitor how the RBN servers handle this new load, as more and 
>more nodes begin sending
>FT8 spots.  We also reserve the right to take steps as necessary to 
>protect the core mission of the RBN, including shutting off the FT8 
>stream on major CW and RTTY contest weekends or, in an extreme case, 
>discontinuing spotting of
>FT8 altogether.  Even in a worst case scenario,
>FT8 spots will continue to be carried by PSKReporter. We hope we’re 
>not doing this in a vacuum.  The RBN team has been collecting the 
>views of contesters and DXers on this, and we think that we’re headed 
>in the right direction.  Feel free to let us know what you think of 
>this experiment. 73, The RBN Team (KM3T, N4ZR, PY1NB, SV3SJ, W3OA) 
>CQ-Contest mailing list
>CQ-Contest at contesting.com
>http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/cq-contest </x-flowed>

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