[CQ-Contest] Contesting and the FT8 Revolution

wa1fcn wa1fcn at charter.net
Sat Jun 19 20:46:50 EDT 2021

     GE Kostas

         I just wanted you to know you are not the only one to feel bad 
about DXCC.

             In the past couple years a few people have E-Mailed me 
about their feelings

              in regards to DXCC.   The ARRL has destroyed the value of 
DXCC.  It has taken

             me a lifetime (over 50years) to achieve DXCC of 285 on 40 
meters low power.

             They should of separated FT8/FT4 from all other modes in 
Single band DXCC.

             DX with FT8 is fishing in a barrel. Can you imagine the 
DXCC totals on 12 and 10

             meters when the Sunspot cycle improves!  Where is the 
challenge now?!  There

             is none!  I can go on to other FT8 minuses like how it 
destroyed RTTY, how it has

             made some hams lazy and see no need to put any effort into 
becoming a more

             proficient operator in other modes.

                 Ok Kostas I will stop now as I am sure I offended 
enough hams already.

                                 73   BoB WA1FCN

On 6/19/2021 2:46 PM, Kostas SV1DPI wrote:
> Maybe you have right. But I don't feel the same.
> ** The small pistol station revolution
> Having 1 kw and a 2el quad @10m high, I don't feel a big gun. I had 
> the chance to be competitive in dxing because I devoted many hours 
> studying propagation and even more time on the radio. Now there is no 
> chance for me to make something that others do not. They let their 
> computer and play 24 hours per day with better antennas and more 
> power.... So yes small pistols have the chance to work something they 
> had not but not to be competitive...
> ** The station optimization revolution
> I have at least one friend who has a long wire and have worked 290 
> countries the last 3 years, of course in ft8, including pacific, etc. 
> So why to make his station better? I remember that I put my quad 
> higher when I lost a dxpedition, I bought an amplifier the next time, 
> etc... Now there is no chance to loose a dxpedition especially because 
> almost every dxpedition (let me know it - don't forget that the first 
> ft8 robot was Greek and I know some of the guys bought it) uses more 
> than one robots running ft8 all day. And they have not the courage to 
> say it...
> ** The now-casting propagation revolution
> In SZ1A we have a skimmer (maybe you know it even it is out of order 
> the last 3 weeks - we have ordered the damaged parts). We use the 
> results of the skimmer to make our plans in contests. The first time 
> we were keeping ft8 qsos as the CW qsos also. This had as a result to 
> drive us to mistakes in real contesting. While the band seemed to be 
> open the previous days during specific time, it wasn't finally during 
> the contest. So we stopped using the FT8 spots and now we keep only 
> the CW qsos to make our plans.
> ** The marginal bands revolution
> Yes, ft8 helps a weaker station to have a QSO (I don't think "to be 
> heard" is the right expression). I am not a 6m fun but I managed to 
> work 125 entities the last 15 years. Also optimization of antennas, 
> radios, amplifiers, etc, all these years. Someone using ft8, has 
> worked these entities the last 2 years in the lower point of solar 
> cycle using the half length of my boom. But what he will do the next 
> years... What he will work in high part of solar cycle? And why he 
> needs to wait for it? Probably he will play cards because I don't 
> think he will stay in ham radio... If you don't need to improve the 
> station, the antennas, to study and learn propagation, to learn more, 
> to increase your knowledge, etc... what will be the interesting part 
> to keep you in ham radio? I already know someone who stopped to play 
> radio, never installed his new hexbeam, because he worked WAS on 40m 
> in a week with a long wire (WAS is far more difficult from DXCC from 
> Greece), letting his computer to play ever night. Plus another one who 
> had dxcc with all entities in ft8 but he didn't know the QSO procedure!
> In conclusion, I don't care what the others do. I mentioned about 
> others just to show the results. I have not fun with ft8 and this is 
> why I don't use it. If you are pleasant with it, do it. I don't care. 
> I lost my interest for DXing.
> I can not understand how someone has fun with ft8 in contesting. 
> Because the rhythm? Because the nice sound? Because of the pileup? Or 
> because he has the time to go to the toilet while his computer makes 
> some QSOs...
> By the way I am a digital guy! I gave many new ones to west coast guys 
> on RTTY from Iran (EP6T) and I have 329 entities on RTTY. I have tried 
> ft8 and I didn't like it. I abandoned dxcc program while I was HR1, HR 
> on SSB and CW and had over 2850 entities in challenge because of Ft8 
> acceptance by ARRL. I am crying over the money I gave to ARRL. After 
> 25 years in ham radio I continue to play chasing fun in CW/SSB/RTTY 
> contesting (mainly casual but more serious also sometimes) and I don't 
> think ft8 could be part of my contesting habits.
> 73 Kostas SV1DPI
> Στις 19/6/2021 18:24, ο/η José Nunes CT1BOH έγραψε:
>> There is a revolution going on – The FT8 revolution! Like other
>> revolutions, it is a breakthrough and there is no coming back. But 
>> unlike
>> what many think, FT8 mode is fantastic for amateur radio and of 
>> course for
>> contesting.
>> There are several things I can particularly note:
>> ** The spotting revolution
>>   Because of the default reporting option of FT8 applications, every 
>> station
>> that uses JTDX/WSJT applications is constantly spotting all the stations
>> that the decoders hear. Every station becomes a spotting machine of the
>> bands (just like a skimmer) while they are on. The result?! 20.8 billion
>> FT8 spots in 4 years.
>> ** The small pistol station revolution
>> Considering a 2500 Hz bandwidth and weak-signal/Noise Ratio, SSB can 
>> go as
>> low as +10 dB, CW -15 db and FT8 -21dB. To put it in another way, since
>> doubling power results in 3 dB increase in SNR, a 31db difference 
>> means 1W
>> in FT8 versus 1024 watts in SSB.
>> A modest station, suddenly, feels like a new world of propagation has
>> opened to him and this in return brings more and more people to the 
>> bands
>> because of the fun of working stations and paths not before available.
>> There is a virtuous cycle – more spots, more people, more activity, more
>> spots, more people, more activity, …
>> ** The now-casting propagation revolution
>> With such a huge volume of spots, 20.8 billion in 4 years and around 22
>> million spots per day [just for your reference last CQWW CW generated 
>> 6.5M
>> spots], propagation prediction is turning into now-casting propagation.
>> There is no need for propagation prediction anymore because, knowing the
>> propagation pattern from 20 billion spots and getting real 
>> propagation from
>> the 22 million spots per day, real time conditions come from now-casting
>> propagation - any circuit can be determined to be open or close.
>> You can watch my 2021 Contest University presentation about this subject
>> here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-esob7BPtc&t=20340s and/or get the
>> slides of the presentation slides here
>> https://www.contestuniversity.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/There-is-Nothing-Magic-About-Propagation-CTU-2021-CT1BOH.pdf 
>> ** The station optimization revolution
>> This is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of FT8 and of great
>> interest to contest stations. Because of the spotting revolution and
>> because every FT8 station uses exact grid locator, the exact path of the
>> circuits can be drawn. A contest station that uses a simple FT8 
>> skimmer can
>> monitor, 24x7, the potential of any antenna set-up, compare different
>> antennas configuration (A/B testing using different calls), test antenna
>> take-off angles, and adjust this information to available propagation at
>> any time, before or during a contest. “22 million spots per day” are 
>> there
>> available to test your station. I believe every station, DX or 
>> Contest,  should
>> use a FT8 Skimmer, like the stand alone Red Pitaya
>> https://www.redpitaya.com/ to skim several bands at the same time at 
>> a very
>> low cost, provide now-casting information, check antenna and location
>> potential and use that for station optimization. This link takes you 
>> to a
>> visualization of my modest small pistol station (just a simple long 
>> wire)
>> potential on all the bands  https://tinyurl.com/e6767we8 in the last 24
>> hours.
>> ** The marginal bands revolution
>> 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.
>> In any case competitive contesting (SSB and CW) has a lot to gain 
>> form this
>> revolution. Exciting times indeed
>> 73 José Nunes
>> CONTEST CT1BOH - http://www.qsl.net/ct1boh
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