[CQ-Contest] Contesting and the FT8 Revolution

wa1fcn wa1fcn at charter.net
Sun Jun 20 19:19:21 EDT 2021

             GE Stan

                 Well some would say " the Genie (FT8) is out of the 
bottle "   You know what that means.....

                         And this will never pass.  I can't help but 
wonder  do you feel DXCC is in great shape

                 and still holds the respected position it once held?   
Be honest ask your friends/club members

                     find out their present views.

                         BoB WA1FCN

On 6/20/2021 12:20 PM, Stanley Zawrotny wrote:
> You are right, Ken. It seems like every few years some comes out with something to ruin DXCC and amateur radio in general - SSB, RTTY, no code, RBNs, SDR, FT8, to name a few. People blame the newest thing that they don’t like and/or don’t fully understand for ruining our hobby. Yet the hobby goes on, getting stronger and more diverse all the time.
> This too shall pass (when something newer makes the hate list).
> "Real radio bounces off the sky."
>> On Jun 20, 2021, at 1:00 PM, AB1J via CQ-Contest <cq-contest at contesting.com> wrote:
>> Hi Bob,
>> You wrote:  The ARRL has destroyed the value of DXCC.
>> ===========================================
>> The ARRL hasn't done anything.  Technological change has.
>> The DX clusters and RBN destroyed the value of DXCC.  That happened quite a while back.  Long before FT8 came along.
>> DXers used to be admired for their skills, knowledge and perseverance.  They used to operate by their wits.  No longer.  That's what ruined DXCC.
>> Name me a DXer you admire who has started from scratch 15 years ago and has over 300 Current confirmed and hasn't used the clusters or RBN..
>> 73,
>> Ken, AB1J
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: wa1fcn <wa1fcn at charter.net>
>> To: cq-contest at contesting.com
>> Sent: Sun, Jun 20, 2021 12:46 am
>> Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Contesting and the FT8 Revolution
>>      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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