[CQ-Contest] Contesting and the FT8 Revolution

Alan M. Eshleman doctore at well.com
Sat Jun 19 16:38:01 EDT 2021

I also use FT-8 for the same situations that Jim mentions.  It's often the difference between making a QSO and listening to static.  And, yes, a computer did not do many of the things that I needed to be a ham radio operator. 

But for me--at age 77--the most important thing a computer does not do is capture the thrill and joy that I experienced when I first went on he air 62 years ago and which I still experience. The thrill is just not there when I make an FT-8 QSO unless it's some sort of ATNO.  

Enjoy these new digital modes. YMMV.  For me, they don't deliver the emotional satisfaction of CW or phone.  I'll give a pass to RTTY since that mode allows actual discourse.  

73, Alan, K6SRZ

----- Original Message -----
From: Jim Brown <k9yc at audiosystemsgroup.com>
To: cq-contest at contesting.com
Sent: Sat, 19 Jun 2021 10:40:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Contesting and the FT8 Revolution

On 6/19/2021 8:24 AM, José Nunes CT1BOH wrote:
> ** The spotting revolution
> ** The marginal bands revolution

Yes indeed, the PSKReporter spotting system is an excellent way to study 
propagation. I've used it extensively on 6M for this purpose, AND to 
chase QSOs with stations in grids I want to work.
> With FT8, marginal bands like 160, 10 and 6 meters become alive like no
> other. Going deeper into the SNR, “opens” new circuits, brings more
> activity, confirms these circuits were always there. We are working Japan
> on 6 meters on a daily basis... Also, there is a move from CW into FT8 on
> these band. This is a side effect, but it is what it is. If people suddenly
> find a band open at -21dB that before was close at -15dB, of course they
> will use the mode that enables those QSOs and will not use the other mode
> anymore.

I've been using the modes developed by K1JT and his team extensively for 
nearly ten years, almost exclusively on 160M during the winter to fill 
in EU countries from my QTH near San Francisco, and on 6M to chase grids 
during the summer e-skip season. I'll use FT8 to work expeditions on HF, 
but I have yet to get bitten by the bug to use it during contests.

My engineering judgement is that FT8 is able to work about 10 dB deeper 
into the noise than CW with great operators on both ends of the QSO. I 
STRONGLY encourage 160M operators to use the newer and even more 
powerful FST4, which provides an additional 4-9 dB advantage, depending 
on the transmission period.

For those who consider these modes "not real ham radio, computers 
talking to each other," I know no one who can send or decode RTTY using 
only their ears, and the computer did not learn CW, radio and 
electronics, nor did it build my station, including my extensive antenna 
farm over 15 years.

73, Jim K9YC

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